passenger trains, the porters, bartenders, cooks, waiters, stewards,
and other crew member
often shared tiny compartments in the ends of the passenger cars as
they traveled on long runs.
On freight trains, crew members congregated in the caboose when not
out working on the train.
An early wooden caboose, like the one before you, would be heated by
a wood or coal stove, and
would offer the only heat a crew member would find on a freight train,
except in the locomotive cab itself. On a cold winter's night, brakemen
could be quite reluctant to leave the warmth of the
caboose to run out and apply the hand brakes, or inspect the train during
a stop at a station.
The caboose was headquarters for the conductor.
As boss on the rails, the conductor supervised all
the train crew including the engineer. The conductor furthermore gave
work assignments on the train, and could order the engineer to speed
up or slow down, make an unscheduled stop, or any other command. He
was, therefore, responsible
for everything that happened on a train, good or bad. The caboose, his
center of operations on
a freight train, was usually furnished with a table or a desk, a bunk,
restroom, sink, and stove
for heat. Tools for use on the train were stored in the caboose's cupboards
and boxes slung on the outside of the caboose between the wheels. Lanterns
hanging from the rear of the caboose served
as warning to other trains approaching from behind, much the same way
as an automobile's tail
lights do today.