D&RGW Cabooses

In the postwar period, Rio Grande rostered primarily two groups of cabooses. The first was a series of home-built steel cabs, designed to replace existing wooden cabooses, eventually totaling 91 cars.*  These were built in batches of ten, between 1940 and 1959. (As these all-steel cars came into service, remaining wooden cars were rapidly retired.) The second group consisted of two orders of modern, wide-vision cabooses built by International Car (ICC) in 1966 and 1976.

There were also four ex-D&SL steel cabooses retained for various uses, such as yard transfers and weed spraying.

* 01490 was a special order built for the Utah Railway.

Navigate to: D&RGW Rolling Stock

Rio Grande’s Home-made Steel Cabooses: Nos. 01400 – 01490

Below are photos of a few later Rio Grande cabooses (i.e. WW2 to present). Good data on these hacks is available at Don Strack’s Utah Rails D&RGW Caboose page .

Here is the Folio Sheet of the series 01470 to 01490. (It’s a photo of a reproduction mounted in the “Ski Train” museum caboose in Hot Sulphur Springs). A point to note is that, unlike all the earlier cars, 01470 through 01490 were built of welded design and thus lacked riveted seams.  (I found it ironic that this particular folio was hanging in a riveted car, but whatever…!)

The Rio Grande 01400 series cabooses were unique. They were built in the railroad’s own shops and to its own design. Distinctive Rio Grande features include: the posts at the corners; the ladder tops which end pointing up at an angle, rather than curving down to the rooftop (unlike many model cabooses); the extra-height cupola; the cupola side window style. Also note the two marker lights, added late in their careers. The one on the right corner was red and was used as the usual EOT marker. The one over the door was white and was used primarily to give the crew illumination out the back. This would be handy for night backup moves, for instance. It was seldom illuminated during daylight.

Modeler’s notes: the only semi-accurate models of these cabooses in HO are in brass (OMI) or in resin (ProtoWest). The Athearn caboose is a Santa Fe prototype and is the correct length, though the windows are completely different from the D&RGW cabooses, the roof has far too much arch, the roofwalks curve with the roof instead of being flat, the trucks are too close together, and the cupola is too short. In other words, it’s a stand-in only. Your other option is to scratch-build, which I have done.

Albrecht-014xx-19780924 An unidentified caboose but possibly 01485 (it’s one of the welded cars) is trailing on an eastbound train consisting of pigs and autoracks.  It’s exiting Gore Canyon on 9/24/1978. Note the one-stripe paint scheme. NEW PHOTO

(detail from a larger photo by Ken Albrecht)

drgw01405_001 Caboose No. 01405 rests outside the Burnham shops in Denver, May 1984.It was built in 1940 in the first group of steel hacks, and  originally was painted in the solid black scheme with white lettering (flying Rio Grande herald). It is of riveted construction, as were all cabooses up through 01469. Note that the side windows have not been plated over, a rare feature at this late date.


Here are three views of caboose No. 01408, in four-stripe paint, seen at Roper Yard (Salt Lake City).

The time is July 1983. The windows have been changed to sealed panes, and have not been plated over.

(Photos by Warren Johnson. )






Caboose #01423
TOP: Here it sits by itself in Alamosa (downtown) on 5/16/1999. This cabin was used on the local to Antonito, and was one of the last Rio Grande cabooses in active service. As with most cabooses active on the Rio Grande in the early 1980s, the body side windows were plated over with steel (only the end door windows were left).

NEXT: Several other looks at 01423, taken in March 2002 at Alamosa’s east yard.UP kept the caboose in Alamosa for the local service right up until the sale of the branch to San Luis Rio Grande in June 2003. The caboose was sold along with the rest of the branch, and was used by the SLRG until the sale to Permian. Sometime after these photos, the car was tagged by local nocturnal street “artists”. Ownership was transferred circa 2004 to the “Wagon Wheel Gap” tourist line between South Fork and Creede.  However, the line never used most of their rolling stock for anything, and so the caboose was stored on a spur in Monte Vista just north of the highways 160 – 285 intersection until being sold to a private owner circa 2015. It now resides in Albuquerque.The 01423 was built in 1942.

Here is a page of walk-around photos of 01423, many of which are close-up detail views. These photos were taken in Monte Vista on 12/27/2009.

Albrecht-01427-19780919 An incredible shot by Ken Albrecht of No. 01427.  Ken hiked into Gore Canyon on a couple of occasions and got multiple shots like this of the Rio Grande operating in very forbidding terrain…  That’s tunnel 36 just ahead. NEW IMAGE






Caboose 01441, on display at Walsenburg, Colorado.  Ignore the paint on this one, if you can…  For many years it was painted in a pale yellow shade.  Sometime around 2015 the town repainted it in a bright red, I guess because cabooses are supposed to be red?  Anyway, by 2021 the red was beginning to fade on the sunny side, leaving this horrible hodgepodge of inaccurate colors.

All that being said, the car itself is legitimate. It was probably built in December 1944.  Originally it, like all the others, wore the solid black scheme.  At some point it acquired the gold/silver/4-stripe scheme, then ended its days in the solid gold scheme.

If you need access to a Rio Grande caboose for measurements, inspection, or whatever, this is your car.  There’s absolutely no obstructions to it, save the chain-link fence on the north side that only messes with photography.

It still has the famous raised numerals; see the photo.

These five photos taken on 2/21/2022.

DRGW 01448DRGW 01448 Numerals


Caboose 01448, on display at the museum in Hot Sulphur Springs. This caboose had previously been on display at the Winter Park ski area, as an exhibit for the Ski Train and skiing in general, hence the bogus herald. It was given to the Hot Sulphur Springs museum in 1999, but it still has most of the skiing exhibits inside. The interior had been gutted for the exhibits, so there’s no authentic railroad interior left (including the cupola). We toured it while still at Winter Park; I have video of that experience, as well as stills from this visit at HSS.

(Second) The famous raised numerals of Rio Grande steel cabooses, visible in this oblique photo of No. 01448. The cast-iron numerals are mounted on spacers to hold them beyond the car body.

(third) The cupola end entry.

(fourth) Interior exhibits.

(fifth) Interior exhibits.

(sixth) Interior exhibits.

(seventh) Cupola interior– seriously remodeled.

(eighth) Display showing the moving process.

Albrecht_01449-1978092x No. 01449, freshly shopped and repainted (even the trucks look clean), on the tail of an eastbound in Gore Canyon.  It’s around 9/20/1978.

Ken Albrecht photo. NEW IMAGE

DRGW014x2 Riveted caboose, possibly 01452 but the fourth digit is only a guess, on 4/08/1984.  It was on the tail end of the CSUX coal train coming out of Coal Creek Canyon, with a pair of GP40-2 helpers behind it.  Though we can’t quite make the number, you can see:• Raised numerals
• Air vent pipe
• Toilet vent elbow
• Axle generator pulley
• Blanked windows, well-fitted
• Fully-modernized cupola windows, including the conductor’s elbow in the breeze
JNG_WP2 No. 01454, Photo from early summer 1966. Note that this caboose and No. 01479 below do not have the number painted on the cupola on the side facing the middle of the car. This seems to be a feature of the black scheme. The blurred lettering below the number says “RADIO EQUIPPED”.
DRGW01455 Probably May or June 1968: caboose 01455 trails a westbound freight into the Moffat Tunnel. It’s in the original all-black paint scheme. Items of interest: yellow handrails and ladders; “firecracker” radio antenna on the cupola; windows replaced with single-pane glass but still with wooden sashes; raised numerals on the carbody side (the oblique angle helps to see this feature). Caboose built in 1947. Photo by someone in my family using my dad’s camera. UPDATED LARGER IMAGE
Albrecht_drgw01475_1973ish Caboose 01475: a welded caboose in the unique 2-stripe scheme. These stripes were applied to cabs when outfitted with radio equipment. Later when radios became portable and ubiquitous the stripes were ignored, removed, or lost when cabooses were repainted.  This great shot by Ken Albrecht shows 01475 rolling through Glenwood Springs sometime around late winter 1972 or 1973.
SSJ_WP4 Caboose 01479: a welded-construction caboose seen at West Portal in 1967. Not a great photo, but my sister the photographer was only about 15 at the time, so we’ll cut her some slack! Note how smooth the cupola face seems, as compared to riveted-construction cabooses. It also has the small pipe above the cookstove.   Also note the sealed, single-pane side windows. This car is fully modernized.
Albrecht_01488-19780921 Caboose 01488, headed east out of Gore Canyon on September 21, 1978.  Note the cupola number bleeding through from a previous repainting.  (It wasn’t visible in a photo from 1976.) NEW IMAGE

Ken Albrecht photo.

DRGW01489 1996 Caboose No. 01489— Feb, 1996, near Ft. Garland, CO, headed east. This hack was built in 1959, the very last of the home-built cabooses to leave the shop. It is of welded construction. Note that the windows have been plated over (circa 1984). Also note that a previous paint job is showing through the peeling paint, revealing two different shades of gold/orange. This caboose originally wore the same scheme as No. 01405 above.  It’s now lost its raised numerals. Note the axle generator on the rear truck, inboard axle. Also see the “SOUTH POOL ONLY” stencil. NEW LARGER IMAGE

Wide-Vision Cabooses

Rio Grande had 25 wide-vision cabooses (overhanging cupola), all built by International Car.  The first 15 (01500-01514) were built in 1966. The cupola is slightly offset toward one end.  The second order, 10 cars, came in 1976 and were slightly different, having a centered cupola and minimal roofwalks.

1966 Group, Nos. 01500-01514

Albrecht_0150x Caboose in the series 01500-01509 (the last digit is obscured).  It’s heading westbound into Gore Canyon on a freight on 9/24/1978.NEW IMAGE

Detail from a larger image by Ken Albrecht.

DRGW01505_1995_1DRGW01505_1995_2 Two views of a very unusual movement indeed! On July 1st, 1995, a long eastbound manifest freight passing through the Glenwood Springs area was punctuated by Rio Grande wide-vision caboose No. 01505. I have no idea why a caboose was on a mainline freight at this date, unless it was simply being transported for storage or something. These two shots are captured from camcorder video, and were taken near Chacra from a moving car on I-70.

This car is now in a railroad museum in Chandler, AZ.

drgw01510_adrgw01510_b Top: Caboose No. 01510 at the Pueblo railroad museum by the historic depot (out of service) , 5/16/1999.

Bottom: opposite side.

DRGW01513 2020



Caboose 01513, in Colorado Springs. This particular caboose has been hanging around the city for a couple of decades. At some point just prior to 2009 a local group of volunteers repainted it in a very non-prototypical Rio Grande scheme.  UP still uses it for local switching and backup moves.
Top: on 2/17/2020.  To my eye the zebra-striped area above the rear deck looks like original paint.

Middle and bottom:  views on 2/19/2022 just after sunset, thus the odd coloring. All the windows have been blanked, but it’s only used as a shoving platform now. For the uninitiated, the actual Rio Grande never used the Action Road herald on anything in conjunction with the silver-stripe scheme. It’s still pretty nonetheless.  NEW IMAGES

1976 Group
Rio Grande had ten of these (01515-01524, built 1976). Built by International Car, these are similar to the first series, except for the centered cupola, the abbreviated roofwalks, the addition of side ladders, and the different layout of the porch railings / ladders. They were delivered in the solid Aspen Gold paint scheme and the chevron reflective stripes on the ends.
Albrecht_01515-19780924 Caboose No. 01515 is seen in Gore Canyon on 9/24/1978. NEW IMAGE

Ken Albrecht photo.


DRGW01516 2020DRGW01516 2020

Caboose No. 01516— at Pueblo (out of service).Top: 5/16/1999. Notice that the steps are missing.

Middle: opposite side as the top view. Note that the steps have been reattached. (2/17/2020)

Bottom: Opposite end of the car.  Note the red corners on the reflective panel to the right.  These were only used on the cars 01515-01524, and correspond with red outer striping on the roof ends (when present), and red corner decals on the sides (also see photos below).  Some cars also had red stripes along the step-well edges instead of white. (2/17/2020)

DRGW01519-JT-Denver-3-31-76-4DRGW01519-JT-Denver-4-1-76-5 Caboose No. 01519, right after delivery. Photos by and courtesy of John Tudek, D&RGW carman. Both shots were taken at Burnham on Track #4, upon delivery International Car Co. Built 3-1976  under AFE 8355 for $48,093.41, Bank Mortgage Series HH.

Top:  March 31, 1976

Bottom: April 1, 1976

This car was later on display in Baytown, Texas in 2008 but unknown if it is still there.


drgw01522 Caboose No. 01522 works the local at Monte Vista, 5/14/99. It was commonly used in the early UP era on the Pueblo-Alamosa run (and the daytime branch movements out to Monte Vista or Antonito).
drgw01522_a Caboose #01522 another view, at Monte Vista, 5/14/99.
DRGW01522 7-20-2001DRGW01522 7-20-2001 Caboose #01522, two more views on the line between Alamosa and Antonito (July 20, 2001).  These were the last views I got of it in service. Note that the crew is still riding up in the cupola here.

UP 5521 was the power that day.


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