West Side Lumber Co. Short Caboose #3

The West Side Lumber Co.’s carpenter shop was very prolific, rebuilding hundreds of flat and skeleton cars, and producing several unique rail cars over the decades. The short #3 caboose and it’s sister #4 are two examples.

These two cars, built in the early 1940’s, are short – only 16 feet long – sitting on 4 foot wheelbase freight trucks that almost touch. Most of the hardware was reused from older cars. They have manual brakes and a straight through air line, with a gauge and air valve in the cupola for train control. The interiors were very spartan, even by West Side standards.

The two cabooses were not liked by the trains crews, with a rough ride and no interior room. They were sidelined and replaced with 24 footers after only a couple of years of service.

Our caboose #3 was repurposed for hauling sand into the woods for the Shay steam engines. The wood stove was removed, a door reversed, and bulkheads were added to hold the sand. Two small ‘windows’ were also added for loading the sand.

Caboose #3 stayed this way until rail service was abandoned in the early 1960’s.

Caboose #4 actually went back into service towards the end of service as #6.

After the West Side shut down, parts of the railroad around the sawmill site were used by two different tourist railroads. Caboose #3 was heavily modified for tourist service, with the cupola seats removed and benches and multiple windows added. We call this the circus caboose period.

In the 1980’s, when the Westside and Cherry Valley tourist line was abandoned, caboose #3 was moved to the Stony Lagoon RV park south of Crescent City CA where it sat until 2010 when it was put up for sale.

After a quick survey of the caboose, it was purchased by the Western Railway Preservation Society and moved to McEwen OR, home of the Sumpter Valley Railroad Restoration tourist railroad.

Restoration has been ongoing since 2013. A pair of 4 foot wheelbase trucks were reconditioned and replaced the incorrect 3 foot 7 inch trucks. A new frame built from the original remains, and the cabin structure is about complete as of 2019. Very little of the original wood survived, but we reuse what we can.

Sister caboose #4, which also survived in a private collection, has been restored and is part of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Museum collection in Nevada City CA. The original interior of #4 is the template for the gutted #3.

Picture Gallery – click on picture for larger view.

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