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Union Pacific Cabooses

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By Don Strack

Wooden Box Car Cabooses (with and without cupolas)

Like all railroads, Union Pacific has always retained large numbers of obsolete and, retired rolling stock for its own use in non-revenue service, mostly for the, maintenance of its tracks, right-of-way, and bridges and buildings. Special, trains made up of equipment needed for maintenance have always been operated, whenever, and wherever the work is needed, and special trains all need, cabooses. From available photographs and records, in the wooden caboose era, work trains for maintenance-of-way (known as Roadway Service on UP) usually, used cabooses converted from former box cars. These converted cabooses, noted, in equipment records and on car diagram sheets as "Box Car Cabooses," were assigned to maintenance-of-way trains as required, and in times of heavy, traffic, to regular mainline trains as well.

The first Box Car cabooses were converted in 1904-1906. These 75 cars, numbered as, 2300-2374, were converted (including the addition of cupolas) from 34-foot box, cars in the 45000 and 46000-series, all originally built between 1882 and 1886.

In 1917, an additional 42 Box Car cabooses were added; 24 cars numbered from 2375-2398, with another 16 cars numbered to fill in the retired, and now empty number, slots in the 2300-2374 group of cars. These later Box Car cabooses were simpler, in design, not having cupolas atop the body of the 34-foot car, and were converted, from 65000, 66000, and 68000-series box cars originally built in 1893 and 1898.

These Box Car cabooses remained in service until as late as 1957, when the last, number, 2348 was retired. The earlier retirements began almost as soon as the cars were, originally converted. As just mentioned, 16 of the original 2300-2374 group, needed replacement in 1917 when the later group was completed. Retirements, continued throughout the years of the 1920s through the 1950s, usually because, of wreck damage, or from being simply "worn out."

Following is a table showing these 116 early examples of cabooses assigned to UP's, maintenance-of-way trains:

Number, Series Qty Date, Converted
2300-2324 25 1904
2325-2344 20 1905
2345-2374 30 1906
2375-2398 25 1917
2300-2374(fill-in) 16 1917