COBWEB CORNERS: The caboose that inspired me
By Mel McFarland
During the cold winter I told the story of the caboose that inspired me to own one. I saw this old caboose and was really interested in it. It sat near Divide off US Highway 24 through the 1950s. This car had been built in 1887 for the Colorado Midland. In the 1940s, it was used at the big gravel quarry operation east of Divide. When the line was scrapped in 1949, the car was moved over to the ranch house. It sat there until about 1963. In 1965 I found it again, much worse for its years. The caboose had been moved down into Colorado Springs, and it was missing many of its loose items. 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 where the cupola had been. The next move was 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 am now the owner of some of the last parts. I received a phone call from a man who had bought a little house in Colorado Springs, and here were some of those parts. Would I like them? I was right over with my pickup! The fellow who seems to have done the dismantling lived in this man's house, and the parts were in a huge pile of "stuff" in a workshop behind the house. It had a note explaining what it was. That fellow has moved away, but the present owner of the house, thankfully, did not just throw out the pile. He set it aside after hearing of my search, and now a big board from the end of the caboose hangs across my living room!
I bought my caboose in 1983. It was the object of newspaper and TV stories when I got it, and a dozen years later when I moved with it to a new neighborhood. The students in my classes in Fountain wondered what I wanted with a caboose! I occasionally show it to interested neighbors. I use it for an art room or for quiet writing, and in a pinch as a guest room. I even have a tape recording of what it sounds like in a caboose as it runs along on the track. That way it is just like riding in it, but a lot smoother!
Mine is not as nice as the one on Santa Fe in downtown Fountain. I remember when that one was not so nice as it sat off C&S Road. Cabooses are used in many a little town where the railroad was important. I am amazed as I travel when I see one in a yard or on a farm. I even found one in Texas with a tile roof!