Hopewell Depot gets a caboose. We’ve been searching quietly over the years, but the quest is going into high gear. It would help define the complex for passersby who aren’t sure what the building was. It would give kids – young & old – a thrill to see one up close and walkthrough for fun. It would add a powerful dimension to our mission to educate the public about the internal railroads of Dutchess. Thanks to generous donations a Caboose is now at the Depot Park!
“Disappearing everywhere, the caboose is nevertheless a nostalgic favorite. After defining the end of the train for over a century, it is being replaced by a gadget – the “End of Train Device” – hung on the last freight car to monitor brake line pressure. Hardly a substitute for a part of American Folklore, but advances in electronics and communications have made the caboose unnecessary … Most railroads built their own preferred configuration … and while commonly thought to be red, many were painted for their railroad’s colors. They functioned as the conductor’s office, a temporary home for the crew, and a refuge from the elements and the locomotive’s smoke and sparks. They had stoves for cooking and heating, bunks, lockers, and a desk. Later ones had plumbing, electricity, radio communications, and even air conditioning.”
Adapted from “The Caboose” in Foster, Gerald, A Field Guide to Trains, NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1996