Lehigh & New England Caboose #512

img

Lehigh & New England caboose #512 is a four-wheel "Bobber", built by American Car & Foundry in 1914. It was one of a six car order assigned numbers 511-516. The car has a steel underframe and is sheathed in wood. There is some evidence that these six cabooses may have had cupolas when built. If so they were all removed long before #512 came to the WK&S. It's interesting that the LNE ordered this batch of four-wheel cabooses in 1914 even though the railroad was already building a roster of eight-wheel cabooses beginning as early as 1912. In a sense #512 was already obsolete when built. Nevertheless, most of the class remained in service into the 1950s and continued on the MOW roster until the end of the LNE in 1961.

The Lehigh & New England was generally profitable. But it was a small railroad located in an area of dense competition. With the inevitable decline of coal and cement traffic, parent company Lehigh Coal & Navigation deliberately closed down the LNE Railroad in 1961 and liquidated all assets. In retrospect the LNE ended on something of a high note and was uniquely spared from the subsequent collapse and bankruptcy suffered by the rest of the northeast rail system. After 1961 a skeleton crew remained to manage the liquidation process. In 1962 caboose #512 was restored in the LNE's Pen Argyl shops and sent to the former CNJ passenger station at Bethlehem presumably as some sort of display. Around 1962 the CNJ station had been leased to the Jaycees of Bethlehem who were attempting to develop the property.

In a letter dated March 1966 the WK&S expressed interest in "borrowing" caboose #512 from the Jaycees. Apparently the WK&S though the caboose could be put to better use as a display at Kempton. Whatever the ensuing arrangement may have been, the WK&S would come to own the caboose outright. During the late 1960s and most of the 1970s caboose #512 was part of a static display of equipment on the back track behind the WK&S Kempton station. The collection included 0-4-0 Cooke locomotive #3, LNE caboose #512, Atlantic City coach #72, a B&O coach and CNJ business car #98. Caboose #512 was about the only piece of WK&S equipment to retain its heritage paint scheme (or an approximation thereof) through the 1960s and '70s. Perhaps the caboose was left as is because the LNE was already out of business by then. Caboose #512 was pulled off the back track in 1978 and underwent a full restoration in 1979. Although fully functional, the caboose has never been used on scheduled trains. It's mostly used as sleeping accommodations for volunteers wishing to spend the night. However, the car may be chartered and has been included with several Photo Freight Specials. After 25 years out in the weather, the caboose underwent another full restoration in 2003. It was repainted again in 2009. This time the caboose was returned to the simple boxcar red paint scheme it may have worn in its early cupola days.

img

Here's a builder's photo of LNE #502 from around 1908. This photo is indicative of how #512 may have looked when new with a cupola and simpler paint scheme.

img

This picture shows #512 at Bethlehem. Note the former CNJ station in the background. Note the crude screens that have been applied over the windows. The side markings "LNE" were an inaccurate addition to the paint scheme.

img

Another shot at Bethlehem.

img

Yet another picture of #512 at Bethlehem prior to coming to the WK&S. Note the paint shadows from where the screens have been removed.

img

An early WK&S shot of #512 when it was part of the Museum Train on the back track. The caboose is coupled between the model railroad car #72 and Cooke 0-4-0 #3. This picture shows yet another not quite accurate variation of the LNE paint scheme.

img

Here's a color close up of the car's logo while the car sat on the back track during the 1960s and '70s. The logo appears to have been a separately applied sign.

img

The pictures above and below were taken after the car was refurbished in 2003. This is how the car appeared from around 1979 to 2009.

img

img

img

Above and below are some interior shots taken after the car was refurbished in 2003.

img

img

img

img

This picture and the one at the top of the page show the car after its 2009 repainting.