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Union Pacific Cabooses

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By Don Strack

Drover Cabooses

Drover cabooses came into service to allow cattle drovers to remain with their shipments of cattle as the cattle were shipped to market. During the trip, in accordance with a 1906 law, the railroads were required to stop every 28 hours to feed and water the cattle, and the accompanying drovers provided the needed manpower to speed this work along. Until the mid 1920s, UP apparently used either already retired, or soon to be retired passenger cars to allow the cattle drovers to accompany their herds. After that time, and until the movement of cattle by rail essentially collapsed in the mid 1950s, UP provided what were known as drover cabooses.

UP had 28 drover cabooses, numbered between 2022 and 2088. All 28 cars were converted between August 1927 and July 1931, from the 500 series coach passenger cars (with lengths between 50 and 60 feet), and the 1000-series, 60 foot chair passenger cars, all built between 1882 and 1907. (No roster data available.)

OSL had nine drover cabooses, numbered from 2700-2708, converted in 1928 from 600-series, 60-foot coach passenger cars. Four cars (OSL 2702, 2704, 2705, and 2706) had bunks added in June 1933. (Click here for a roster)

LA&SL had nine steel underframe drover cabooses, numbered between 3484 and 3492. These nine cars were 41 feet 11 inches long and were converted in 1926 from 130000-series box cars, originally built in 1905. All were equipped with bunks. One was retired in 1946, another in 1948, with the rest leaving the roster between 1953 and 1957. (Click here for a roster)

LA&SL also had another seven drover cabooses, with wooden underframes, numbered as 3493-3499. This group of cars was converted in 1924 from the 4100-series coach passenger cars, built in 1891 and in 1901. All were retired in 1925 and 1926, being replaced by the steel underframed 3484-3492 series drover cabooses. (Click here for a roster)

The following table shows UP's fleet of drover cabooses:

Number Series Qty Dates Converted Dates Retired
UP 2022-2088 28 1927-1931 1930-1937
OSL 2700-2708 9 1928 1934-1939
LA&SL 3484-3492 9 1926 1946-1957
LA&SL 3493-3499 7 1924 1925-1926