Where’s the Caboose?

Something unusual happened to me last week–I was delayed by a freight train.

As I sat there waiting, I became a bit nostalgic.  My husband and I were raised just outside Chicago–where long train delays are a daily frustration.  Chicago boasts the greatest number of lines coming in to and out of any city in North America, and prides itself for hauling the most freight-mostly coal and farm products.

Minnesota is only eighth in its railroad lines and carries primarily iron ore and farm products.  Fortunately for Minnesota residents, waiting for a train is a rare phenomenon.

So, I sat there reminiscing, enjoying the sounds of the wheels and the squeaking of the couplings as they went down the tracks.  Reflexively, I was counting…1, 2, 3, caboose….1, 2, 3, caboose…The last car came into sight and the gates chimed their opening, but I felt a little cheated–the last car– was just another boxcar.  What happened to cabooses?

7 thoughts on “Where’s the Caboose?

  1. Oddly enough, I knew that there were no cabooses anymore and a few months ago I could have even told you what the three letter abbreviation stands for for the thing that replaced it, but it has since escaped me.

    When we lived in Winona, we would often have to wait at the intersection for the freight train to go on through. The line ran right through town and along the highway from where I-90 crossed the Mississippi all the way into town. Getting caught at the intersection and seeing the trains along the highway was the highlight of my son’s day. Then again, we would often get caught there on purpose. There’s a train yard not too far from our house where we live now, but somehow it’s just not the same.

      • I talked to my son and he said the caboose was replaced by the FRED (flashing rear end device), although UP calls them EOTs. We also had a bit of a discussion of whether or not there’s a caboose at the train yard. My husband doesn’t think so, but my son does. We’ll try to swing by next week and see if we can find one for you.

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