Caboose number 0583, built in 1917, was one of the last wooden-sided cabooses on the Atlantic Coastline Rail. A train conductor’s office was stationed in the caboose, and he rode back there with the engineer and the flagman. The flagman rode in the raised cupola in the center of the car so he could keep an eye on the main body of the train. If he noticed a problem, he would stop the train and then walk back a mile up the track to place warning markers in case another train should come along.
The caboose contained a coal stove, bunk beds, a table, wash basin, water container, tools and spare parts, and a valve for the air brakes.
In 1970 the railroad company decided to retire the caboose, and it was bought by Dr. James West, a physician and the mayor of Lakeland. The caboose was placed on a siding, where Dr. West used it as an office. He installed a commode, cabinets and an examining table, and the caboose was outfitted with electricity.
Dr. West’s wife, Ellen, who also served as Dr. West’s nurse, donated the caboose to Cracker Country in 1983, five years after her husband’s death.
Built 1917, moved to Cracker Country in 1983, first Florida State Fair 1984