Caboose Get’s a Renovation

Caboose #6497 aftter restoration in 2023.
Caboose Dishman -Lane Yard 7-01 (3)
interior of caboose looking left 08 07 23
Caboose crew 08 07 23
crew of the caboose display 08 07 23
interior display case right side 08 07 23
lantern on top display case 08 07 23
legend for display case 08 07 23

Restoring History: The Story of Caboose 6497

In the bustling world of railroad history, every caboose has a tale to tell. The journey of Caboose 903980 is one of restoration, community spirit, and honoring the past.

In 1993, CSX Transportation generously donated B&O Caboose 903980 to Operation Pride for Depot renovation. This historic piece found itself in the SouthUnion, awaiting its next chapter. Little did it know, a dedicated group of individuals was about to embark on a mission to breathe new life into its timeworn frame.

Fast forward to March 2002, a work party gathered at the CSX Dishman Lane yard, armed with paintbrushes and determination. Caboose 903980 underwent a transformation – its B&O numbers were replaced, and it emerged as L&N 6497, a homage to an L&N brakeman tragically lost in Tennessee in 1980.

R. J. Corman craned the caboose from the CSX main to Friends’ track on April 26, 2002, marking the beginning of a new era. The inaugural Festival of Trains held in December 2002 welcomed visitors to experience the diner’s charm, Towering Pine’s majesty, and the caboose’s nostalgia.

Over the years, the caboose continued to evolve, with milestones such as being moved further north to the end of the consist in 2005. Just before that, volunteers worked to remove the stove, ice box, bunks, bathroom, and crew seats to create space for birthday parties. In recent years the installation of a functional air conditioning unit was completed, thanks to the generosity of a friend from Wisconsin. In 2002-2004 volunteers removed the stove, ice box, bunks, bathroom, and crew seats to create space for a birthday party/events venue.  (a really bad idea)  In 2005 the caboose was moved further north in the consist, but was never turned around.

But the journey was far from over. In 2023, three dedicated volunteers, Randy Gould, Miliska Knauft, and Dick Webber answered the call to refresh the caboose. With meticulous care, they worked together to paint both the interior and exterior, replaced windows, and restored the interior to its former glory.

The interior exhibit now proudly showcases original components, offering a glimpse into the caboose’s storied past. New additions aimed at captivating the imagination of children further enrich the visitor experience.

None of this would have been possible without the unwavering support of the community. Terry Knauft’s photography captured the essence of the restoration process, while Tom and Jill Debrey’s sponsorship ensured that the project had the resources it needed to succeed.

As the dust settled and the paint dried in August 2023, Caboose 6497 stood as a testament to resilience, passion, and the power of preservation. Its doors are open, inviting visitors to step back in time and experience the magic of rail travel.

So, whether you’re a history enthusiast, a railroad aficionado, or simply curious about the stories hidden within these iron giants, we invite you to pay a visit to Caboose 903980. Come, be a part of its journey, and let its tales of yesteryears captivate your imagination.