Historic Pendleton caboose finds new home

CAMP PENDLETON  — An emblem of Camp Pendleton’s past has finally reached a destination where its true history can be remembered.
Until recently, what is now known as the “Camp Pendleton Caboose,” was left to fade into history on the base’s Range 131. However, the Mechanized Museum’s officials recognized its historical significance and opted to make the museum its permanent home for this relic.
“The museum plans to restore, preserve and use the caboose in conjunction with the museum’s 80-ton locomotive,” said Brian Platzer, one of the museum’s volunteers. “It’s going to be used for the historical education and enjoyment of Marines, their families and the public.”
Now that it has reached its final destination, the caboose will have its famous camouflage-paint job repainted to match the one that was recognized on base during parades and events in support of operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
“We’re going to repaint it so it represents its own history,” said Steve Bovee, who was the railroad overseer when the base had a working railroad system. “The interior would also be an ideal location to display panels with the historic timeline of this transcontinental railroad.”
The caboose was built by the American Car and Foundry Company in 1928 as part of a 225-car order for the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. From 1928 until 1991, the caboose was put to use on countless freight trains all over the railroad system.
The “Camp Pendleton Caboose” was then purchased in 1991 from the Santa Fe Railroad for $4,500 by base logistics. Upon delivery, the caboose was given a fresh camouflage paint job to embody the Marine spirit of the base it serves.
It was then used to welcome returning troops from Desert Storm and was part of the train holding the returning Marines onto Camp Pendleton just before the 1993 flood. The flood wiped out most of base’s railway leaving the caboose without a home.
“The caboose earned national presence on television on all the major channels,” Platzer said. “In 2010, the caboose was recreated as a H-0 scale model by Athearn, who is a major producer of model trains.”
Thousands of models of the “Camp Pendleton Caboose” are for sale at hobby shops across the nation and on the Web, and Bovee said he has sold more than 30 of these caboose models in his store already.
Since its historical significance is now prevalent, on Jan. 17 the caboose was moved as a training exercise from its old location by 7th Engineer Support Battalion.
The “Camp Pendleton Caboose” can be viewed at the Mechanized Museum located near the Ranch House on the corner of Rattlesnake Road and Vandegrift Boulevard.
For more information, call the Mechanized Museum at (760) 725-5758 or visit www.the mech.org.

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