Pickering Lumber Company Caboose #4
A Short History by Whitney Haist
The loggers called their shop built cabooses, “crummies,” as they were equipped with only the most basic amenities for the rear train crew to ride, observe the log cars and control the train brakes. Nonetheless, the crummy was a huge improvement for crews riding inside out of the weather over the early days of logging railroading where the crew road on top of the logs.
extraordinary example of such a caboose with roots dating
back to the late 1930s in northern California’s Tuolumne County, is
Lumber Co, (originally the Standard Lumber Co, dating back to 1901)
number 04. The
caboose is the only known
summer of 1938, a B&B gang member was killed
on Chinaman Creek trestle and the Company made no formal investigation
prompted several enginemen to contact the local office of the
Firemen and Enginemen. A meeting was called where, with
of the BFE and the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen in attendance, the
Bobber caboose #01 was replaced with a new #01, followed by #02 and #03. These three were reputed to utilize the frames and trucks of short Russel log cars, although #02 had a entirely wood frame (which was the deciding factor for its non-use during the 1971 Sugar Pine Railway revival). Cabooses #04 and #05 were constructed from shortened log cars of steel construction. The attached photo of #04 was taken in October, 1947 in Twain Harte, CA and exemplifies the "family" look of cabooses #01 - #05.
was disposed of before the railroad ceased
operations in 1964. Caboose #02 may still exist in private
possibly at a winery in
PLA member Warren Smith, at age 17 had the
foresight to rescue Caboose #04 from the scrapper for a purchase price
$350.00. The car
was moved by rail from
Standard, CA to
04 Moves to Brightside
Moving the caboose was not without challenges as development around the Smith homestead including the BART tracks made it extremely difficult for truck access. The cupola was removed after several weeks of preparation to make the caboose a legal height load. The day of movement to Brightside on June 9, 2011 started with the difficult job of turning a 70’ tractor trailer in a 75’ yard. Once the lowboy truck was in place the caboose was winched forward on crude snap track. The rail was rusty, the wheels were rusty and the truck bolster had not rotated in nearly half a century. As the trucker slowly winched the car towards the trailer, the rear truck, lead axle, outside wheel flange smoothly and quietly climbed the rail, traversed the head and dropped to the ground. With two track jacks, a 3-ton come-a-long and some creative ingenuity, the truck was re-railed and caboose moved to Brightside.
Work to do
Contrary to the moniker “crummy”, the subject car displays carpentry and metal workmanship of high quality for a shop built rail car. It is our intention to replace the rot damaged end sill, framing, siding (back to bead board), windows, and roof. The floor and seats in the cupola are peppered with small dents in the soft wood. This, of course came from the loggers spiked boots, and patina like this will be left, as is, to tell it’s own story.