The old caboose car on the Leelanau Trail is receiving a bit of TLC this summer. A dedicated volunteer crew leader has taken on the project as his own and has been scheduling painting bees throughout the spring/summer. An enormous amount of prep work was needed to blast off the rust and old paint. The primer coat was a dark maroon color.
The Leelanau Trail runs along a former rail bed, most recently used by the Leelanau Scenic Railroad. The railroad operated between Greilickville and Northport. Long ago, one of the most important uses of the railroad was providing transportation to and from Traverse City for people who lived in Leelanau County. Now the rails have been removed and it’s a multi-use trail used for biking, walking and skiing in the winter. The trail property- all 185 linear acres- is owned, operated and maintained by TART Trails, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
TART’s caboose identified as #2938 has a bed, a bathroom, table and
chairs, and a stove. Cabooses were used as a place for eating and sleeping, conductors would use the space to do paperwork and it’s where the train brakeman would “throw switches” to slow down or stop the train. They would also radio information about the train to the engineer up front. Cabooses were painted “boxcar red” for high visibility. After World War II, however, the “little red caboose” started showing up in many different colors. The caboose will go from red to yellow this year, with many helping hands and paint brushes to get it there. Go for a bike ride and check it out. The caboose is located on the Leelanau Trail at the Carter Road intersection, on the west side of Traverse City just outside the city limits.