INPR Caboose 47 - Thunder Mountain Line - Horseshoe Bend - The caboose served several functions to the railroads over the last 100 years with its origins dating back to the 1840's. It had become a fixture at the end of every freight train traveling across the plains becoming an American icon. The caboose was the office for the conductor, brakeman and flagman becoming a home away from home. The conductor had a place for the switchlists, wheel reports and waybills to be kept during the train's journey. Before the invention of the airbrake, it was the brakeman's job to walk forward on top of the cars turning a wheel applying hand brakes on each car. After the inrduction of air brakes, the brakeman would throw switches and couple cars. The flagmen were responsible for signaling approaching trains that the train had stopped on the mainline. The caboose had bunks for sleeping, stoves for cooking and restrooms. It was also used to store tools, supplies, first aid kits, couplers and re railing frogs. Due to the location at the end of the train, inevitable slack would jolt crew members riding in the caboose as the train started and stopped.
Original cabooses wer built with cupolas giving the crew a good observation point at the rear of the train. In the 1920's, new designs and construction led to the invention of the bay window caboose. This projecting sidewall on each side allowed crew members to view each side of the train. As railroad technogly changed with larger cars,remote switches, hours of service, and End of Train Devices, the cabooses function became less importan. Today many cabooses are still in service on tourist railroads, seen at museums and used for cabins.