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The Rahway Valley's 'Other' Caboose

The Rahway Valley's 'Other' Caboose
By Jeff Jargosch (c) 2013

Visiting CNJ Caboose #913 - - at Kenilworth on October 30, 1967, keeps Link's combine company. RV Engineer Frank Froat is standing in the pump house door enjoying this sunny fall day. Photo taken by Walt Switz.

The Rahway Valley purchased their eight wheel caboose from the Lackawanna Railroad in 1937. The caboose was 32 feet long and had a steel under-frame. The caboose’s long wheelbase leaf spring truck assured a smooth ride. It was pretty nice digs for the conductor to work his wheel reports. The caboose’s coal stove was a good place to heat up a cup of coffee. Rumor had it that #102 was not the only caboose the Rahway Valley ever had. Some have hinted at a #101 that was used much earlier. A flat car had carried that number and was reported to have rusted away in the weeds, a supposed left over from the time of original construction. The flat car notes are sketchy, and nothing concrete has come to light so far. As to a previous caboose, nothing has come up about it either. As far as we know, #102 was the only hack on the RV.


But, Number 102 did have a follower after all. #102 had gone to scrap years (supposedly burnt either by vandals or intentionally) before.


As word got out that the Rahway Valley Railroad was open to allowing rail enthusiast space to work on privately owned railroad equipment, mainly O. Winston Link’s ex-Rutland combine. Link’s wooden car had occupied a siding next to the engine house for some time, undergoing restoration.


A fan had purchased an old Central Railroad of New Jersey wood caboose. #913, I’m guessing originally #913 - -, as these cars were numbered (numbers #91155 - 91394). The caboose was built on the bones of a USRA boxcar from the early teens, and rode arch-bar trucks. The caboose had been “modernized” with a steel under-frame and its original board sheathing had been plywood covered.


The caboose turned up in Cranford at the CNJ’s yard and was to move to the siding at Kenilworth. When the morning run was made to Aldene for the interchange freight, the conductor got notice to pick up the old way car. Just for fun, it was decided to couple the red caboose to the end of the string of cars and run like in the old days. The crew got into the idea and the red CNJ car was run as the Rahway Valley’s own. The fun lasted a few times and the car made its way in with Link’s combine where its new owner could begin restoration.


We wonder where this car is today. Hopefully the caboose is in fresh paint, dreaming of its days as a CNJ and more importantly, as a Rahway Valley caboose.

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