Moffat caboose arrives at Granby railroad museum

Director Dave Naples helps direct the crane as it lowers the 32,000 pound original Moffat caboose on Saturday at the Moffat Road Railroad Museum in Granby.
Amy Golden /

A crane hoisted a 32,000-pound caboose into the air and brought it to its new home at Moffat Road Railroad Museum in Granby.

On Saturday morning, crews first placed the trucks — the wheel part that the caboose sits upon — onto the display tracks. The two pieces went down surprisingly easy for weighing 8,000 pounds each.

The crane made it to the museum later that same day and the 32,000 pounds of crane settled like it was meant to be there.

The rusty and faded red caboose is in need of some work, but the piece is an exciting one that has been a long journey to the Moffat Road Railroad Museum. Director Dave Naples intends to restore the historical piece back to what it was 100 years ago.

What makes this caboose so special is the fact that it was originally part of the Moffat Road Railroad, according to Naples.

“It’s a Moffat Railroad equipment and there are very, very few of that left,” he said.

Naples said the all-wooden caboose was built in 1905 for the Denver Northwestern & Pacific Railroad, known as Moffat Road, the highest standard gauge railroad ever built in the United States. The railway was supposed to go from Denver up Rollins Pass and all the way to Salt Lake City, but ended up terminating in Craig.

In 1911, the railroad was renamed the Denver & Salt Lake Railroad, but the caboose continued to run on those tracks.

The caboose was in a wreck in the 1930s that destroyed the wooden parts of the structure. A new steel caboose was put on top of the original frame, which still bears the Northwest & Pacific insignia.

“That’s the only original frame that we know of from Northwest Pacific,” Naples said.

Around that same time, the trucks were switched from friction bearings to the safer and more common roller bearings. The caboose was bought by the Denver Rio Grande Railroad in 1947.

The Denver Rio Grande repainted the caboose. Later it was sold to ALCO, a chemical company that re-outfitted the caboose as a weed sprayer by altering the front end.

Director Dave Naples, second from left, helps to align the Moffat caboose onto the trucks for its permanent home on Saturday at the Moffat Road Railroad Museum.
Amy Golden /

Rio Grande bought back the caboose as a weed sprayer, which is what it was used for until it was decommissioned in 1983.

The caboose was sold as scrap, but a couple driving by the scrapyard bought it with the intention of making it a fun house. It sat in their backyard for 30 years, and they never altered it.

A man bought the caboose with the intention of restoring it, but only removed the front end. Naples said he has been in negotiations with that man for three years, finally agreeing to $7,000 for the caboose and half the moving costs.

Naples plans to restore the caboose back to its previous condition, putting in a front end and painting it back to its original color — black. The work is relatively inexpensive, as far as train restoration goes, but will still cost thousands of dollars.

“That piece has to be here,” Naples said. “This is where it belongs. Now it’s here and we will restore it.”

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