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Caboose 0575 On-Going Restoration

When the D&RGW began to abandon their narrow gauge lines in the 1950's they donated a number of cabooses to Colorado towns that were served by the narrow gauge. Caboose 0575 was donated to the City of Ouray in June of 1953. On April 6, 1953 it arrived in Montrose on a standard gauge flat car and, although the narrow gauge tracks were still intact from Ridgway to Ouray, there was no narrow gauge motive power to bring it to Ouray. On April 18th it was trucked to Ouray on a lowboy provided by the Colorado Highway Department and using a winch truck rented from the D&RGW. The caboose was placed on Main Street south of the Beaumont Hotel where the Ago Gallery is currently located. The caboose was used as the Chamber of Commerce information booth until 1977 when the Chamber moved to a building at the swimming pool. In September of 1977 Ouray County crews moved the caboose to the south end of the swimming pool parking lot (Photo 1). At some point the City of Ouray donated the caboose to the Ouray County Historical Society.

The caboose has been stabilized and partly restored several times since coming to Ouray. In 1979 Bill Jones of Silverton supervised extensive repairs to the caboose with the goal of preventing further water damage. The caboose was painted in its original 1886 lettering style as shown below:

In 1991 to 1993 the Ouray Woman's Club funded an extensive restoration to its 1953 appearance (see below for a view in 2000). For several years after this restoration members of the Ouray County Historical Society, dressed in railroad overalls, gave historical presentations at the caboose to visitors. These talks focused on the caboose and the history of the Ouray branch of the D&RGW.

By 2006 the caboose had deteriorated significantly with the end sills and roofing being the most serious problems and needing immediate attention. There were also a number of other major structural problems. In the Spring of 2006 the Ouray County Historical Society and the Ridgway Railroad Museum have entered into an agreement that will provide for the restoration and interpretation of D&RGW Caboose 0575. Under the terms of the agreement, ownership of 0575 will remain with the Ouray County Historical Society. "The purpose of this agreement is to build on OCHS's philosophy of 'cooperation and community' and to provide for the immediate preservation and restoration of the caboose by the Ridgway Railroad Museum who will take over responsibility for its maintenance," said Tom Hillhouse, President of the Ouray County Historical Society.

On Tuesday May 30, 2006 the caboose was moved from the Ouray Hot Springs Park (Fellin Park) to the Ridgway Railroad Museum site at the corner of CO 62 and US 550 in Ridgway (See Pictures of the Move). The caboose is now displayed along with the Ridgway Railroad Museum's other D&RGW narrow gauge equipment: box car, cattle car, drop bottom gondola and camp/outfit car. D&RGW Caboose 0575 is a uniquely important artifact of the railroad history of Ouray County. The Boards of both OCHS and RRRM unanimously agreed that this agreement will be in the best interest of the caboose and the people of Ouray County. The agreement provided for a prominent plaque acknowledging the financial contributions of The Woman's Club of Ouray, The Massard Foundation and the Citizens of Ouray.

The pictures below trace the progress on our restoration of Caboose 0575

1) Caboose 0575 on May 30, 2006 before movement to Ridgway

2) West end before restoration - 5/30/06

3) The rotted endsill removed from the west end of the caboose - June 20, 2006

4) The smokestack is repaired - June 23, 2006

5) Rotted Windows with Lexan "glass" are removed to use as models for new windows - June 23, 2006

6) End beams repaired with epoxy in preparation for splicing with new wood - July 10, 2006

7) End beams spliced and new end sill in place - August 6, 2006

8) New Windows in place - August 8, 2006

9) West End Sill painted and coupller reistalled 8/28/06

10) West end hardware back on 9/14/06

11) The Siding Crew with west end siding removed - 9/18/06

12) New siding installed on west end - 9/18/06

12) Painting the west end - 9/30/06

13) West end after trim added and painting

14) East end with new siding and painted - 9/3-/06

15) The work crew removing more than two dozen bolts from the rotted east end. 10/14/06

16) The East End with all hardware removed and ready for sill restoration - 11/25/06

17) One of the unusual features of this caboose is that the corner boards are rounded. The photo shows the corner board with the paint removed with the use of a heat gun. Notice the plugged holes. We believe these are evidence of where an earlier grab iron (the white metal piece in the photo) was attached. Either there were two different garb irons, or it took two tries to get it installed. 12/01/06

18) June 4, 2007 - Rod Hollaway and Tom Hillhouse are busy removing all of the siding on the north and south side of the caboose as well as all of the cupola siding. Bill Pratt is removing several layers of roofing.

19) June 4, 2007 - All of the siding has been removed and most of the roof. Keith Koch is beginning to cut the new siding boards from the enormous stock on the right. Karl Schaeffer and Bill Pratt continue the tough job of removing the old roof. When all of the siding was removed Keith won a bet with Karl that there originally was a center window on the north side.

20) June 4, 2007 - Keith and Karl working on the caboose roof while Tom Hillhouse works on the work car roof walk

21) June 5, 2007 - We were surprised to find that the north and south sides of the caboose (but not the ends) had been covered with rosin paper. Here we see half of the new south side siding in place over a new application of rosin paper. Bill Pratt is still working on removing tar from the roof.

22) June 27, 2007 - Caboose 0575 sporting new siding, new roof, new windows, and new window molding.

23) June 28, 2007 - Judy Harrah works on painting the letter boards.

24) July 9, 2007 - The new letter boards are up as well as the nailing boards for the roof material overhang.

25) July 9, 2007 - The repaired center. intermediate and side sills on the east end are readt to acccept the new end sill.

26) July 14, 2007 - Jim Pettengill lettering the caboose.

27) July 14, 2007 - Rod Holloway trimming the roofing material

28) August 14, 2007 - The new end sill is installed.

29) August 14, 2007 - Stenciling done, window shades installed and new roof walks are being installed.

30) September 11, 2007 - Restoration Complete!!!!

31) May 10, 2008. Museum member Jim Kottkamp has donated two railroad caboose lanterns to the museum for use on aboose 0575.

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