Our “Bobber” Caboose

In 2019, we had an offer for a 1916 “bobber” caboose for use by our community fair as a museum. Three intrepid board members made the trek to its location near Brookville to check it out. It rested along with another caboose in the woods, partially covered by tarps and looking like a lot of work. But, one member said “we need a challenge”, so arrangements were made to try and get it to Spartansburg.

Our caboose as it was found in the woods. (The caboose in the foreground of the second picture is also being rescued by another group)

The photos below show the caboose being prepared for its trip out of the woods and to the hauler that would transport it to its next home

33′ ash logs were used as skids

I am guessing some folks who saw our caboose as it traveled gave it some curious glances.

Our Bobber made it to Spartansburg mostly without incident. It was unloaded and unceremoniously dragged to its temporary home inside our largest livestock barn.

Once the caboose was settled, undercover for the first time in over 100 years, work began to rebuild, repair and rejuvenate the once proud Pennsylvania Railroad #476544 and Lake Erie Franklin and Clarion Railroad #7.

Records from the LEFC RR have been archived and, thanks to Dr. Maccaferri at Clarion University, we were able to locate and photograph records of the acquisition and retirement of the #7.

PRR #476544 LEFC #7 on the rails
Purchase of the PA RR cabin car by Lake Erie, Franklin and Clarion Railroad
Specifications of the PA 476544
Notice of the sale of the LEFC #7
Replacement documentation

The caboose was sold in 1953 and probably sold again fairly soon. We don’t have exact dates, but eventually it ended up as a cabin in the woods, was abandoned and found again before being offered to the fair.

Work began with uncovering what the tarps had hidden and removing the particle board that had been added to protect it somewhat from the weather; then removing the multiple layers from the roof.

Once the particle board was removed and what was left of the old siding from the other side, some problems were found with the beams. Those were replaced and strengthened. The original siding was retained on the ends of the car as much as possible.

Replacement tongue and groove for the siding was repurposed from a poultry barn that was being torn down just down the street from the fairgrounds. Windows on the sides and in the cupola had to be rebuilt or replaced and those were hand built to fit the original spaces.

3-story barn from Scarem’s poultry barn on Jefferson St
Tearing up the flooring from the 3rd floor
Tongue and groove flooring installed on the caboose
New window framing

The inside of the cabin car had been changed somewhat to accommodate what was needed for the camp. The observation area and storage is intact on one side. It had been painted white at some point, although it was hard to tell after all the years of waiting to be rescued.

We were able to chip off some of the probable original paint from one of the doors. We matched it to a color called “cucumber salad”. There were a couple spots that looked like it might have been a pale yellow at some time in its life, but we decided on the green.

In August of 2021, the caboose, with its new exterior paint and new rubberized roof, was relocated to its home near the stage and home show buildings on the Spartansburg Community Fair grounds. Some of the iron railings were re-installed. Still others are waiting for repair and duplication.

The frame on the front and back ends were revamped and a quick deck and steps were added so that visitors to the fair could check it out. Some pictures of the restoration project were posted inside

The PRR symbol is a temporary placeholder until painting next spring (2022)
The north end of the cabin car
Documentation from LEFC RR
The south end of the cabin car
Spartansburg depot (original and new) and JC Bell- Agent for the Spartansburg station
PA RR Cook stove similar to one that may have been in the car
Seating and storage area allowing access to the cupola- there would have been a duplicate on the opposite side which was removed

During the summer of 2022, additional upgrades were made to the caboose. The tongue and groove flooring that we tried to repurpose did not hold paint. So, new tongue and groove was installed and painted. Banners were added to indicate the PRR and LEFC road numbers and display the PRR designation.

Several hundred people visited the caboose and museum during the 100th fair. We look forward to having the caboose open for visitors in the summer and again for the 101st fair in 2023.

To finalize our project we are hoping to find some wheels and axles to make the caboose look more realistic. There are also some additional trim pieces that need to be refurbished and installed.

We are happy to have been able to rescue this proud PRR Cabin Car and help it to be useful again.