COBWEB CORNERS: Any word on Caboose Number 409?
By Mel McFarland
One of those things that inspired me to own a caboose happened as a kid. I saw this old caboose and was really interested in it. It sat near Divide off US 24 through the 1950s. Since then I know most of its history, but the end is still a mystery. Maybe one of you knows “the rest of the story.”
This car was built in 1887 as Colorado Midland Caboose Number 409 and was later modified for special uses. In 1919 its name changed to Midland Terminal Caboose 3. In the 1940s it was used at the big gravel quarry operation east of Divide. After the line was scrapped in 1949, the car was moved over to a nearby ranch house and sat there until about 1963. In 1965 I found it again, much worse for its years. It had been moved down into Colorado Springs, and many of the loose items on it were gone. The windows and doors were gone, and the old cupola had been taken apart. The roof of the cupola sat over the old hole in the roof were the cupola had been. It next got moved behind Ghost Town, where it looked like it was going to get fixed up, but instead it was totally dismantled. Along the way I took pictures of it now and then.
I moved away and generally forgot about it until I started to write my book on the Colorado Midland in the 1970s. A friend said he knew who had some of the parts, including the cupola roof, but he would never tell me who. In the 1980s, when I wrote my book on the Midland Terminal, the subject came up again. I never did get a name, and it has been many years since I saw that friend.
I have owned my own caboose since 1983, and it has served me well. I occasionally show it to interested neighbors. I don't know about Caboose Number 409. The last time I saw it was about 1970. I regularly get reports of people seeing cabooses here and there, but usually they are not cabooses. I do know of some others, like the Rock Island one near 30th and US 24, a D&RGW caboose in Rockrimmon near Woodman Valley, one up Ute Pass somewhere and one in downtown Fountain. As for 409, a friend even thought about recreating it by building a duplicate, but he never did. If you know parts of its story that I do not, I would enjoy hearing more of "the rest of the story."