“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Tullahoma in Coffee County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

The Red Caboose

The Red Caboose Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, April 24, 2014
1. The Red Caboose Marker
Inscription.  The car displayed here is a side bay window model caboose built in 1964 by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad at the company’s South Louisville yards. The exterior is restored to the original L & N red. The purpose of a caboose was to provide crewman a better view of potential problems with the train. Some of the earliest cabooses were designed with a cupola or “crow’s nest.” As train cars became taller, however, the side bay window was introduced. The early wooden L & N cabooses were distinguished by cupolas, while the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St Louis Railway cabooses were designed with the side bay window style. After the NC & St. L merged with the L & N in 1957, the L & N incorporated the bay window design.

The Flagman
Originally, the flagman’s main responsibility was to protect the rear of the train from mishaps or collisions. When idle on the tracks, he placed red flags, and lit fuses and lanterns far to the rear, to warn approaching trains. Since the invention of radio in the 1920s, the dispatcher has taken over the function of alerting approaching trains, and the flagman’s duty is to assist the brakeman

The Red Caboose Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, April 24, 2014
2. The Red Caboose Marker
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in switching cars in and out of the train.

The Conductor
The caboose was the office car of the train. The conductor, the flagman, and the rear brakeman normally rode in the caboose. Contrary to popular belief, the conductor was in charge of the train—not the engineer. His responsibility was to check the waybill, and inventory of each car’s content and destination, and direct the train crew in setting or picking up cars for the train.

The Brakeman
If the train needed to be stopped, the rear and front brakemen worked in tandem using hand brakes on each car. After air brakes were introduced in the early 1870s, brakemen were used to switch rails and couple cars.

Today, the caboose is obsolete. Instead, a small device with a flashing red light mounted on the last car protects the rear of the train and measures the air brake line pressure. Detect detectors placed every twenty or so miles along the track tell the crew if there are any problems.

The rail line between Nashville and Chattanooga was completed in 1854. A spur line to Manchester and McMinnville was added in 1855. This made Tullahoma an important railroad junction in lower middle Tennessee. The two lines are still in operation today as CSX and the Caney Fork and Western Railroad, respectively. Switcher crews service customers from Wartrace to Sherwood, and at least two shippers use

The Red Caboose image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, April 24, 2014
3. The Red Caboose
the railroad, the L.P. Gas Distributor and the Kokomo Grain silo.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Railroads & Streetcars. A significant historical year for this entry is 1964.
Location. 35° 21.786′ N, 86° 12.6′ W. Marker is in Tullahoma, Tennessee, in Coffee County. Marker is on N E Atlantic Street. The marker is located in Caboose Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Tullahoma TN 37388, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Railroad Town (here, next to this marker); Fortress Tullahoma (a few steps from this marker); Tullahoma Veterans Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Verandah Hotel — RR Depot and Dr. Cowan House (within shouting distance of this marker); Provost Marshall's Headquarters South Jackson Street (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Livery Stable (about 700 feet away); L.D. Hickerson House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Wilson-Crouch (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tullahoma.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on July 13, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 543 times since then and 72 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 13, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 2, 2022