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Rio Grande Caboose 01483 Has a New Home

Caboose 01483

Caboose 01483 pictured loaded on lowboy trailer and ready to go! Colorado bound! Photo by Patrick Jaeger.

Photo of DODX 01483, 1994 in St. Louis, photographer unknown.

by Patrick Jaeger

This article originally appeared in the June 2023 Green Light Society newsletter.

Early History

Rio Grande Caboose 01483 started life in 1959 after being built in Denver by the Burnham shops of the Rio Grande. It saw regular use until the demise of the caboose but got a small 2nd lease on life when it was leased by the DODX to be used as an escort car while moving missile parts across the country. The 01483 was the first caboose to be retrofitted and upgraded by the military contractor and the best riding caboose according to those who had the opportunity to ride it across the country. Many of the upgrades it got were for the comfort of the crew on these long-haul trains, including a proper stove, microwave, shower, and bunks. The chairs in the cupola were also upgraded to be more comfortable than the original seats.

DODX Mission

After it was done with its new mission, it was stored in a yard up in Utah for almost ten years before the UP realized that 01483, as well as its three siblings that were also leased to the DODX, were there. When they were originally leased, they were still under the ownership of the Rio Grande, and UP had not yet purchased the railroad. They sent a hospital train in 2005 to get all four back, and then in 2007, 01483 was sold to a private owner in Nebraska. Its new owner had found that through the years, water and rodents had made their way inside the caboose and destroyed the interior, causing it to be removed. It was gutted down to bare steel and floor, with the intent of being converted into the main office for their passenger car restoration business. Sadly, this idea never came to fruition, and the caboose sat empty for years.

Patrick standing in the gutted interior of 01483. Photo clipped from Patrick Jaeger‘s YouTube video. To see the full video visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojBdj1pCMwQ


In December of 2021, the caboose went up for sale again, this time to be purchased by me! After working out a deal, and a whole slew of other things such as transport, cranes, trucks, and county approval, it finally landed back in Colorado for the first time since at least 1995. There is a lot of work to do to bring it back to its original appearance. The outside will be fully restored back to its original single-stripe paint scheme, but the inside will be converted into a livable space. Like a guest house of sorts. Unfortunately, with 99% of the original interior gone, bringing the caboose back to an as-built state would be nearly impossible, without gutting another caboose that could be better preserved.


It's also fitting that the 01483 gets a new lease on life, as its history has always been about changing what it was. Sometime between 1959 and 1970 (as best as I can tell) it was in a pretty good accident but was saved and rebuilt back to what it was. Then when DODX wanted a caboose, 01483 was the test bench for all the new equipment. Bringing a caboose back to life isn't the easiest thing, however. With the FRA 223 Glazing mandate that went into place, the six side windows were simply blanked off with steel as it was not feasible to put in the bulletproof glass. Luckily the other windows were changed out, and were replaced, as well as the six side windows.

The next obstacle will be painting which is happening mid-July. Getting Rio Grande Aspen Gold is nearly impossible, but we can use a few good paint samples on the body to color match. Once the painting is done, we will have to find someone to do the herald. When the DODX repainted it black, they also took a grinder to the logo to ensure it did not bleed through the paint they used. I have gotten some high-quality files of the herald, but finding someone to paint it has proven to be difficult. Sadly, there are no stencils left for it anywhere, making it even more tricky to reproduce.

Editor's Note

We are excited that Patrick shared the latest chapter in the story of caboose 01483.  We are  looking forward to his updates on the his restoration efforts on the caboose.

For those who might not have visited the society website lately, the society maintains a list all captive D&RGW cabooses that are on display, stored near public access or privately owned. You can check out the captive caboose listing here: http://aka.rgmhs.org/1400

Some other good Prospector references on the 1400-series cabooses:

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