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Rebuilding the Bobber Caboose

The Cass bobber caboose is of uncertain origin. Bobber is a generic term for any short four-wheel caboose. Many mainline and short line railroads operated similar cars around the turn of the 20th Century. The one at Cass has a steel center sill and end beams. The car has one distinctive idiosyncrasy in that three of the axle journal boxes are carried in cast pedestals similar to those found on older passenger car trucks. The fourth pedestal is entirely built up of heavy bar stock. Phil Bagdon’s “Cass Roster” calls the caboose a former B&O class K-1, built between 1878 and 1900. This is quite possible, but so far there is no definitive proof. It definitely served for many years on the log trains operated by Elk River Coal & Lumber Co., and successor companies, W.M. Ritter, and Georgia-Pacific, out of Swandale, W.Va. The B&O was the mainline connection for these operations. The caboose was donated by Georgia-Pacific to the Cass Scenic Railroad in 1964, and was used occasionally on special trains, but increasingly rarely after the 1960’s. The caboose was painted and lettered for W.M. Ritter and moved to Whittaker in 1993 as a part of the Camp One exhibit developed by MSR&LHA. While at Whittaker, it received a membrane roof. In 2001, it was moved to the brand-new MSR&LHA Restoration Shop, where it was rebuilt during 2001-2003. The rebuild consisted of the application of new hardwood siding, new platform decking, end sills, and rebuilt window frames and sashes. A new piece was spliced into an outer frame member. The rebuilt car was used during the 2003 season, but relettering was not done until 2004.

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