Exactly when troop kitchen cars were converted into cabooses 1039 and 1043 is unknown but they both appear on the Alaska Railroad Equipment Register No. 12-G from 1963. Both are still in use today by the Engineering Department and have the suffix E added to the number. Usually you will find them with ditcher crews or Locomotive Cranes as outfit cars on long term projects. When assigned to a specific crew a graffiti style tag is added near the door on the side or end of the car such as B&B#6.

These strange looking cabooses changed over the years, along with their assignments. They were home away from home for the snow fleet for many years. Today 1039E is the most complete, still retaining roof walk and ladders. Two oil stoves and two oil bunkers filled through the roof and serviced by a ladder on one side are spotting features. The center side doors were sheeted over and vestibules were built into each end after the collision posts and diaphragms were removed. On one end a back up light was centered over the door and a window cut in to the right of the door provided the conductor a rear view while seated.

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Photo courtesy of John Combs
Commentary by Pat Durand