Several years ago, while looking for material on NP boxcar cabooses this following bit on LCL info came out.
Some background info: Carlton, MN is where two subs of NP lines cross; from Superior, WI to Staples, MN; and the Twin Ports /Twin Cities line. In Carlton, there was a small yard and a six mile branch to Cloquet, MN wyed off. All lines from the Twin Ports have climbed out of the Lake Superior watershed, however trains out of Carlton heading compass south or west can still use a help getting started as the steep climb has lessened, but it is uphill for a bit more.
NP Lake Superior Division F-27 No.13 records the destruction of caboose 1428 by fire on the morning of Jan. 8, 1945. The road switch crew went on duty at 4:00 AM in Carlton and in the cabooses stove a fire left by the night crew was still burning. The crew was involved in making up, and then pushing out the local way freights. Prior to pushing out the Third District local at 7:30 AM, they spotted the caboose at the depot so it might be loaded with express. Brakeman North tended to the fire in the cabooses stove and replenished it, as it had burnt down. The crew returning after pushing out of the local, brakemen LeVasseur and North assisted Clerk Baker in loading 44 parcels of express boxes. All men stated that the express was properly loaded and none of it closer than 4 feet from the stove. The caboose was then pushed down the third district main and a 35 car train for Cloquet assembled. The caboose being on fire was first noticed about 8:20 AM and efforts to extinguish the fire were of no use. The Carlton Fire dept. was summoned however fire equipment was found to be frozen. To prevent blocking the main track, the burning caboose was coupled onto and taken to the rip track where it was left to burn.
(Report of Jan 10, 1945 to J A Mercer)
At this time, there were several boxcars being converted to caboose duty. The last car of the lot, 1533 was then chosen to have this work done. This under NP AFE AFE 5064-44. IIRC correctly, 1533 ran in this duty into the early sixties. (There were two other sidedoor cabooses IIRC at this time in express use on the NP.)
On the NP Ollie branch out of Beach, ND, where express and passengers were carried in the caboose, I recall a letter from the crew asked if a partition might be put up to separate the express as peeping from chicks being delivered bothered passengers and crew alike. (Chicks – yesteryear's equivalent of cell phone annoyance.)
If side door cabooses are not your thing, there was also the NP trains between Bemidji and Brainerd, MN. These had cabooses on the front end and back end. A caboose was on the head end there "because of considerable switching and handling of LCL freight with these very long trains", that got shoved out of Bemidji by the yard switcher. (Letter, December 12th, 1939 - E H Jacobs, Superintendent, Minnesota & International)
Credit all above data to NP Rwy files found at the Minnesota Historical Society.
James Dick - St. Paul