Historic caboose refurbished

T he Delaware and Hudson Caboose No. 35843, displayed on the grounds of the Skenesborough Museum in Whitehall, received a facelift recently, thanks to the combined efforts of retired railroaders.
The caboose was donated to the community by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad in the late 1960s. It was originally built in the 1920s and served many D&H crews. Just prior to retirement, it was the assigned caboose of the Hill Freight night run between Whitehall and Rutland where it interchanged with Vermont Railway.
The D& H caboose was repainted in 2002 by Casey Lloyd as a Girl Scout Gold Award project. Since that time it had become badly weathered: the roof needed repairs and the exterior wood was beginning to rot.
The village and town of Whitehall decided to take on the repairs project as a joint effort and they had the perfect person to do the job.
Jim Austin was employed by the village and had already worked on several projects. Most importantly, Austin was also a railroad retiree who repaired and painted railroad cars, particularly cabooses, in what was known as the “cripple yard,” located behind the old Roma Restaurant (now Cook Street Station).
Retired yardmaster Bill Frazier and retired conductor Jim Lafayette learned of the project and set out to obtain the original D&H stencils, circa 1916, from the Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad in Milford, New York. The former D&H logo that had been painted on the side of Caboose No. 35843 was not from the era of the caboose’s manufacturing date.
“We wanted to bring her back to what she originally looked like,” said Lafayette. They even tried to match the “caboose red” color.
“We went through old pictures, but found that the shade of red varied as repair yards often used whatever red was available,” he said. “But I think we managed to get it pretty close to what it might have been. “
Austin repaired the rotted wood, painted the exterior, installed a brand-new rubber roof and returned Caboose No. 35843 to its former glory.
That means a lot to Lafayette.
“Not much is left today of the railroad as we knew it,” he said. “The caboose is a classic example of the golden era of the railroad. It’s nice to have this caboose as a reminder and for kids who otherwise would never know what a caboose was.”
Lafayette said he’d like to thank village and town officials for taking on this task and to also thank Jim Austin for doing an outstanding job.
Carol Greenough, director of the Skenesborough Museum, said the next project for Caboose No. 35843 will be to work on its interior.

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