caboose colors


Ray Hutchison
 

I know that the answer for individual railroads will differ, but I am wondering when the "caboose red" started to be used?  Color photographs (there are not many) of older cabeese show a boxcar red or similar color, but at some point rialroads began to paint their cars in colors that carried through to modern period.  My particular interest is Great Northern, contemporary models (including brass) show the early wood boxcars in caboose red... but before this, what color would they have been painted?

Ray Hutchison
Green Bay WI


Josh
 

Denver & Rio Grande painted their cabooses "brilliant red" starting in the 1870s. It was not until 1916 that they switched to a freight car brown. Basically, red cabooses have existed almost as long as cabooses have.

I recommend browsing this document (yeah, it's over four hundred pages long, but well worth it): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jbXGfg9V3cY0awKamkrwM2JlLSQepapDwU9A3Dx43-M/edit

Under Great Northern it mentions that Great Northern cabooses were red at least as early as 1910.

Josh Bernhard


Jerry Michels
 

Josh thanks for sharing this amazing document!  It should answer a lot of questions.  Jerry Michels


Ray Hutchison
 

Josh, Evan shared this document on this (or another list) a short time ago.  The reference re: GN caboose indirect; the full article is copied here:

The Wenatchee Valley & Northern Ry. Co. has received its new caboose fresh from the makers, the Seattle Mfg.
Co., and it has been put in commission. It has already been appreciated by many passengers, ranchers, fishermen
and others who have occasion to go up the Chumstick valley for the seventeen miles the road is completed. The caboose
is painted red, but of a darker hue than the Great Northern cars. This, in combination with a slight change in its number,
"01," 
might, on a dark night, cause some individual to imagine he saw a gigantic roulette wheel. Some of the train
crew are mourning because the interior was not painted a nice soft green, as was originally intended. Instead, it
has been painted a bright yellow and it is feared it will be hard work to keep the green signal lamps from going out. 

At the beginning of the compendium is the following statement:

Throughout this document, dozens of sources report on the use of “red,”  “metallic” and “mineral” paints. For the most part, these words are interchangeable, referring to paints manufactured from iron oxides. In general, unless a specific shade such as “crimson,” “Tuscan” (Rio Grande Western passenger cars),  “vermillion” (Red Line Fast Freight) or “brilliant” (Denver & Rio Grande cabooses) is specified, “red,” in the context of railroad pigments, often referred to what we may call brown or a brown-red.

So the actual reference(in article in Leavenworth Times from 1906) doesn't give us much to go on: were the GN caboose a light red/vermilion color, and the Wannatche Valley caboose a mineral red or boxcar red?  Was the GN caboose scarlet red and the Wannatche Valley caboose boxcar red?

Inquiring minds still want to know...


Jim Betz
 

Ray,
  I don't think you are taking the date of that article (1906) nor the source (Leavenworth Times, a
newspaper) enough into consideration.  I do not know what color the GN cabeese were in 1906
but, to be perfectly honest, using a newspaper article to determine the 'proper/right' color for a
GN caboose in 1906 seems ... to me at least ... dubious.  It's probably better than nothing at
all but I don't know how much better nor how much stock you should take as it being "a
reliable source".
  It would not surprise me to learn that the GN crummies were tuscan/mineral red in 1906.
But I'd prefer to have a different information source.  At best, it would seem that an article
in the Leavenworth Times is 'good for Leavenworth' ... but since practices on the GN in that
era were considerably different ... it may not apply to what was happening in the Twin Cities.
I believe that the GN and almost all RRs in the early 1900s assigned the caboose to a
specific conductor (as opposed to a "train") and so when the crew was changed out so
was the caboose.  That would mean that if Leavenworth was a division point in the first
decade of the 1900s that any way car the reporter might have seen would be ones that
were assigned to Leavenworth and the lines on either side/around Leavenworth ... but
probably didn't run thru to Spokane, Seattle, etc.  A good guess might be from Leavenworth
to Wenatchee?
                                                                                                        - Jim 


Charlie Vlk
 

There is a cabinet card currently on eXxx showing an early Great Northern caboose with dark color drop shadows on lighter color lettering.  The car body might be varnished natural wood or perhaps a shade of yellow/ ocher.  Lettering is of a style recognizable as a forerunner of STMFC patterns.
Charlie Vlk



On Jul 6, 2021, at 11:14 PM, Jim Betz <jimbetz@...> wrote:

Ray,
  I don't think you are taking the date of that article (1906) nor the source (Leavenworth Times, a
newspaper) enough into consideration.  I do not know what color the GN cabeese were in 1906
but, to be perfectly honest, using a newspaper article to determine the 'proper/right' color for a
GN caboose in 1906 seems ... to me at least ... dubious.  It's probably better than nothing at
all but I don't know how much better nor how much stock you should take as it being "a
reliable source".
  It would not surprise me to learn that the GN crummies were tuscan/mineral red in 1906.
But I'd prefer to have a different information source.  At best, it would seem that an article
in the Leavenworth Times is 'good for Leavenworth' ... but since practices on the GN in that
era were considerably different ... it may not apply to what was happening in the Twin Cities.
I believe that the GN and almost all RRs in the early 1900s assigned the caboose to a
specific conductor (as opposed to a "train") and so when the crew was changed out so
was the caboose.  That would mean that if Leavenworth was a division point in the first
decade of the 1900s that any way car the reporter might have seen would be ones that
were assigned to Leavenworth and the lines on either side/around Leavenworth ... but
probably didn't run thru to Spokane, Seattle, etc.  A good guess might be from Leavenworth
to Wenatchee?
                                                                                                        - Jim 


Josh
 

Hi Ray, Evan shared it in the earlyrail list, which I did not notice until after I had responded to this list. Duplication should be tolerable, I think, since membership does not overlap between the two 100%.

If you look closely at the document, you'll note my name next to Evan's in the contributor's list. He and I created the thing on a whim since we were tired of hearsay and myth surrounding colors, and it ran away from us, growing far larger than I imagined it would. I wrote that paragraph about red pigments myself.

Josh Bernhard


Ray Hutchison
 

(Jim, My note was in response to Josh, who was using that information in the compendium, citing the news article,  to suggest a particular color for the GN cars; my point was that the compendium specifically said that one cannot use the simple designation "red" to specify a color, as "red" was used to describe colors that might range from light red to tuscan red.  And so I also agree with the details in your note here.  Ray)


John Barry
 

Indian Red Way Cars are mid-decade in the future (1966) for those modified with cushion underframes on the Santa Fe.  1974 saw the demise of Mineral Brown in favor of Indian Red on the remaining way cars.  Throughout the period of the list, Mineral Brown was the car body color.

John Barry
 
ATSF North Bay Lines 
Golden Gates & Fast Freights 
Lovettsville, VA


707-490-9696 






On Wednesday, July 7, 2021, 12:57:29 AM EDT, Charlie Vlk <cvlk@...> wrote:


There is a cabinet card currently on eXxx showing an early Great Northern caboose with dark color drop shadows on lighter color lettering.  The car body might be varnished natural wood or perhaps a shade of yellow/ ocher.  Lettering is of a style recognizable as a forerunner of STMFC patterns.
Charlie Vlk



On Jul 6, 2021, at 11:14 PM, Jim Betz <jimbetz@...> wrote:

Ray,
  I don't think you are taking the date of that article (1906) nor the source (Leavenworth Times, a
newspaper) enough into consideration.  I do not know what color the GN cabeese were in 1906
but, to be perfectly honest, using a newspaper article to determine the 'proper/right' color for a
GN caboose in 1906 seems ... to me at least ... dubious.  It's probably better than nothing at
all but I don't know how much better nor how much stock you should take as it being "a
reliable source".
  It would not surprise me to learn that the GN crummies were tuscan/mineral red in 1906.
But I'd prefer to have a different information source.  At best, it would seem that an article
in the Leavenworth Times is 'good for Leavenworth' ... but since practices on the GN in that
era were considerably different ... it may not apply to what was happening in the Twin Cities.
I believe that the GN and almost all RRs in the early 1900s assigned the caboose to a
specific conductor (as opposed to a "train") and so when the crew was changed out so
was the caboose.  That would mean that if Leavenworth was a division point in the first
decade of the 1900s that any way car the reporter might have seen would be ones that
were assigned to Leavenworth and the lines on either side/around Leavenworth ... but
probably didn't run thru to Spokane, Seattle, etc.  A good guess might be from Leavenworth
to Wenatchee?
                                                                                                        - Jim 


Ray Hutchison
 

FWIW, I noticed yesterday that in the Hickox GN Steam & Freight Pictorial collection, the color for the wood cabeese is given as scarlet (and the color for locomotive jackets is given as light olive) 

rh


George Eichelberger
 

During the D.W. Brosnan era on the Southern, cab paint changed from “red” to standard “freight car brown” so Hayne Shop could save the time purging paint shop spray equipment at Hayne shop in Spartanburg. (I painted several HO Overland bay window cabs that way but they were so “ugly”, I stripped and repainted them before they had lettering.)

After Brosnan, SR President Graham Claytor also disliked the color. He said “cabooses should be red” and told Hayne to “paint them like a fire engine”. As the railroad’s President…that was that.

Ike