Friday, June 16, 2006

The Steel Bay Window Caboose

Cars of the rails and roads have long been the passion of modelers, collectors, coveters.

The obsession with the automobile diverges into more branches than the Edisto River. Automobiles are loved and lost, stolen and recovered, bought and sold, wrecked and reanimated, raced and chased. People do unseemly things with and within automobiles. They kill for and with them, some are born, but more die in automobiles. Almost everyone gets to drive one. The passion for automobiles is fragmentary, however, something like the way a hand grenade divides its interests.

The love of trains is linear. They are organized into and viewed as lines. Their cars, whether, hopper, flat, tank or box car, engine or caboose make up the diversified forms of carriage. Each railcar has a mission and serves a purpose as a team member. Each railcar depends upon the others in the line, none are more important than the next. They all, quite literally, pull together. When did you last see a Hummer in harmony with a Honda?

Seaboard Coast Line, The Soo Line, The Southern Railway, The Canadian Pacific, Conemaugh & Black Lick Railway, The Aberdeen & Rock Fish Railway are all lines, teams actually. Those who love railroading embrace both the lines as well as the individual railcars. The love of trains is both the love of progress, their trailblazing errands into the wilderness as well as a reverence for the past, the recognition that the history of our railroads rode with the history of our country.

If there is a favorite type of railcar among railroad lovers and the general population, it would be the caboose hands down. Pictured above is a restored "Steel Bay Window Caboose", the anatomically correct term for this railcar. X-657 sits on a short rail siding just outside of Bamberg, SC. Restoration of these much adored cabooses ( or is it " cabeese ? ) has been undertaken by the SC Railroad Museum and the Southern Railway Historical Association which has with some 25 restored examples of the caboose on display in quite a few local SC communities. The are not called antiques, but " surviving equipment " for which there is a: registry

In our running of the back roads and secondary highways, we are becoming more aware of both the presence of the modern living railroad and the memorials to its surviving equipment. We have also come to better understand the relationship of people to their equipment. To urbanites, the automobile is largely fashion and a place to hang your ego's hat. To rural people, their trucks, tractors and the railroad have meant survival.


Anonymous Paul said...

Ilike trains and especially cabooses. :)

7:20 AM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Hi, Paul. The caboose is probably the all round sentimental favorite of all railcars. Engines come in second. I don't recall many humorous or inspirational writing about, say, tank cars. Thanks for your comment.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a romantic soul...

1:05 PM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Quite true, but maybe that's because the caboose is always bringing up the rear.

Then, we recall the expression "pulling the train" which evokes the very soul of romance. Thanks for noticing.

4:35 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

For the Brian Regan fans it's "caboosen!"

12:21 PM  
Blogger Heather said...


Well, for the Brian Regan fans anyhow.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Thanks very much, Heather. We shall strive for greater "cabossensivitity" in our postings.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Windviel said...

We mean, " caboosensitivity ". Sometimes we run our spellchecker off the road.

1:00 PM  

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