Dual Blog: *RMAN (Retain My Asset Names) Asset Renaming Utility* & * Fostoria Ohio, "The Iron Triangle" Project*

Yeah, we still use Cabeese

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Grade crossings are situated right on the CSX yard feeds in Fostoria. Often the switch engine is not the first vehicle crossing the roads during shunting operations. Yet, by law, any train crossing a road must sound their horn and/or a bell. How is this accomplished if the engine is back a ways on the consist?

The answer is to use an old fashion caboose at the end of your "cut." The cabeese (plural of caboose) are furnished with high pitch whistles that are able to be sounded by a crew member when the yard cut needs to poke out across a road crossing caboose-first.

9/28 Update: BlakeDooley commented and correctly pointed out that "shoving platform cabeese" are also a common modern usage of the caboose. They are used in to carry brakemen to remote cut yards when the ride is too long too just hang on to the last ladder.

In this particular video, the caboose is not first to cross South Poplar Street, which is situated between the two camera views, but rather a GP-38. This yard movement is actually a transfer between the CSX B&O yard and the CSX C&O yard. Having left the B&O yard to pull forward towards the camera, the consist is seen backing eastward, caboose first, over a B&O mainline crossover, and then taking what is referred to as the "Northwest Transfer track" to turn northward. There are four transfer tracks in the B&O/C&O diamond, one in each quadrant, which allow trains to make a 90 degree turn to a perpendicular track before the diamond. The one taken here is northwest of the diamond. Once positioned on the C&O mainline, this little consist is aligned with entering the C&O yard to the south of the diamond. This map may be useful in understanding this video:

I hope to present a caboose-first grade crossing video in the future.

CSX, and even BNSF, take full advantage of these transfer tracks for mainline operations as well. About 30 to 40% of the trains on the B&O or C&O lines through Fostoria make a turn on these transfer tracks.

Updated September 8th, 2018 at 04:13 PM by deneban (Graphics provider changed their domain name -Whisky Tango Foxtrot!)

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  1. mp202's Avatar
    That's not really a surprise by any means. However, the Illinois & Midland still uses their two cabeese on rare occasions. The most recent usage was on the EMDX 1201 CAT Demonstration Train in Peoria.

  2. deneban's Avatar
    Of course they are brought out for publicity, steam, and railfan events. What is different is to see them in daily revenue service with the signs of daily wear and tear and albeit to fulfill a legal requirement! That's a good point an I will revise the post to differentiate.

    PS That I&M was obviously spruced up at one time. You just could not have an SD70AC and three flat cars, the caboose rounded out the consist. Obviously CAT bought or rented this caboose because it does not match the SD70AC paint scheme yellow an white. So I think your caboose is maintained by a historical society or something. What was a shame is they did not repaint the miserable-looking TTX flatcars that had the CAT goods on them. I thought that train was a half-hearted effort and GE had a good laugh.
    Updated September 27th, 2013 at 04:58 PM by deneban
  3. mp202's Avatar
    These cabeese are still used in revenue service, but on very rare occasions. They are used as "shoving platforms" more often than not.

    Here is a picture of an I&M caboose on a Westbound TPW freight.

    (Not my photo)

  4. deneban's Avatar
    Now that is a good point - shove cabeese are used to satisfy a labor union requirement for brakemen, if the yard is beyond a certain distance from the office. So I will give credit for this in the main post as being a required service.

    In the northeast where I am from we never see this because our systems are more centralized, and we don't have remote sorting going on, so they just get on the last ladder. Still I must say these two I&M cabeese look restored. But you've shown me two now on the road, so yeah they are beasts of burden.
    Updated September 28th, 2013 at 03:49 PM by deneban
  5. mp202's Avatar
    They were originally from the Chicago & Illinois Midland, but when the Genessee & Wyoming bought the railroad back in '96(?), they repainted everything orange and black, hence the restored look.
  6. deneban's Avatar
    The defunct Mass Central used the same scheme, in case they are in the market for a four-axle diesel.