Our Locomotive and Caboose

photo of train

Alco 0-6-0 Locomotive #63

Our 0-6-0 locomotive was built in November 1940 by the American Locomotive Company (Alco) of Schenectady, New York for the Alabama State Docks Commission. Number 63 was used to switch cargo at the docks in Mobile, Ala., from 1940 to 1956. This was the fourth and last steam locomotive ordered by the State Docks Commission from Alco.

Number 63 is a standard gauge steam locomotive. This switch engine and tender weigh 106 tons, was fired by coal, had a maximum boiler pressure of 200 lbs., and its driving wheels are 51 inches in diameter. It is 67 feet long and can hold 8,000 gallons of water and 10 tons of coal.

A total of about 112 0-6-0 type switch engines with tenders survive in the United States. Typically, they have a brakemen's footboard across the front of the locomotive instead of a pilot, and a similar footboard across the rear of the tender. Generally they featured one of three types of tenders: a standard rectangular tender (like ours), a slope-backed tender, or a Vanderbilt tender with its cylindrical tank. The 0-6-0 was probably the most typical of all switch engines.

In 1957, #63 was sold to the Gulf States Paper Corporation in Holt, Ala. In 1959, it was donated to the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Tuscaloosa, Ala., where it was displayed from 1959-1980 in Jaycee Park. In 1980, the locomotive was donated to the Bluegrass Railroad Museum of Versailles, Ky. The board of trustees of the Kokosing Gap Trail moved Number 63 to Gambier, Ohio in April 2001. It has not been fired since 1959 and there are no plans to make this a functioning locomotive.
Funds to purchase, move and restore the locomotive were provided by the community. Total cost of the project was $52,000.

Chesapeake & Ohio wood caboose

For more than 100 years, the caboose was a fixture on the end of freight trains. It has been called by many slang names: crummy, shack, shanty and cabin car. The caboose provided a sheltered vantage point from which trainmen could watch the cars ahead, cook and eat their meals and where the conductor could do paperwork.

Chesapeake & Ohio caboose #90776 was built November 1924 and rode the rails until February 1979. It was donated to the City of Mount Vernon, Ohio, in June 1979 and sat for many years in front of the former Pennsylvania Railroad station on South Main Street. In October 1997, it was donated to the Kokosing Gap Trail and moved to Gambier, Ohio.

This caboose was part of an order of 100 wood cabooses built for the railroad by the Standard Steel Car Company of Baltimore, Md. These cars were numbered 90700 to 90799 and cost $2,728.49 each. The style of this wood caboose was a C&O system standard and other cabooses were built by different manufacturers to this same C&O design. The 90700-series cabooses were unique in that they were built with a center cupola window and also were the last cabooses built for the Chesapeake & Ohio that were delivered riding on archbar trucks.

Unfortunately, this caboose received little maintenance while sitting in Mount Vernon. Windows were broken, the roof leaked and its thin plywood sheeting was rotting. Volunteers removed and threw away the roof, windows, siding, floor and sub-floor. Everything was gone except the steel bracing. What a mess!

Volunteers have constructed, essentially, a new caboose. Installed were a new sub-floor, new oak floor, new double-pane windows and a seamless rubber roof (in place of the old canvas-style roof). The trucks (wheel sets), frame and grab rails were sandblasted and painted. New yellow pine tongue and groove siding was nailed in place on the inside and outside; insulation was added in the walls and ceiling. Carpenters built new bunks and cupola seats, crafted new window shades, and everything got painted in official Chesapeake & Ohio colors. The lettering was generated on a computer to match the original. All the equipment, including locks, stools, lanterns and tools, are authentic Chesapeake & Ohio.

The restoration work was accomplished by volunteers with donations of services, supplies and financial support from the community. Total cost of the project was approximately $14,000.

C&O CABOOSE BOOK
NOW AVAILABLE

Dwight Jones and Phil Samuell have joined forces to produce a 52-page volume covering the detailed history of the C&O 90700 series wood-sheathed cabooses built in 1924.

Click here for more info.