Builder: International Car Company, Kenton, Ohio
Date Complete: April 1976
Built as: Norfolk & Western Railway 555012
In 1976 the Norfolk & Western Railway (N&W) placed an order for one hundred new cabooses with the International Car Company. Cabooses from that order, of which the museum's 555012 is one, were the last cabooses for the N&W.
The car's configuration and appointments came directly from the company catalog and are typical of the last generation of cabooses built for America's railroads.
Cabooses often were assigned to specific train crews and replaced on a train when the crew changed. This caboose, however, was a pool caboose: it stayed on the train even when the crews changed. That arrangement saved time, and crews received extra pay to serve on pool cabooses.
The color of 555012 probably reflects tradition rather than function. In the early days engineer could glance back at his train and easily spot a red caboose. Spying the car meant the train had not accidentally split in two.
The car was retired in 1990 after only fourteen years of service. Electronic devices that monitor brake pressure and unsafe conditions had made cabooses obsolete. Norfolk Southern donated 555012 to the museum in July 1990.