Separated from its heavy metal wheels and loaded on two flatbed trailers, the vintage caboose made its way south to its new home in Savannah, Georgia. There, according to Grace Creek Farm caretaker Chris Wood, the caboose will begin the next phase of its life as part of the extensive collection of the Georgia State Railway Museum.
Wood said heirs of Train sold the farm in February of this year to George and Ashley Wilson. The Train heirs had no use for the caboose and though the unusual memento is not part of the Wilsons’ plans for the estate, they didn’t want to see it scrapped. Rather, they were open to donating it to an interested party.
Wood said he worked with Denton Real Estate agent Jeff Wright who found a contact at the Georgia museum. “We had a deal quickly and the museum is already raising money to restore the caboose to its original condition.”
Owned originally by the Central of Georgia railway system, the distinctive cupola-type caboose dates back to the first half of the 1900s. Wood said Train purchased Grace Creek Farm, at the confluence of Grace, Leadenham and Broad creeks south of St. Michaels and inside Tilghman Island, in the 1960s. “He used the caboose as his office for a short period of time,” said Wood. “It has a wood stove, four bunks and a rolltop desk. It’s still in decent shape.”
The caboose was shipped north from Spartanburg, South Carolina in August of 1971 on the Southern Railway system which by that time had purchased Central of Georgia. In Norfolk, the caboose transferred to the railroad barge ferry operating across the mouth of Chesapeake Bay to Cape Charles near the southern tip of Delmarva Peninsula.
Pennsylvania Railroad picked up the caboose at that point and hauled it to Easton, via Delmar and Clayton in Delaware.
According to a September, 1971 article in the Star Democrat, general contractor Harry Heinshohn took possession of the caboose in Easton and transported it by truck to Grace Creek Farm. Heinshohn had already installed the short section of tracks and rails near Train’s estate home where the 20,000-pound caboose has lived since that time. Wood said many local children made field trips through the years to visit Train’s caboose. Knowing his name, none needed to ask why he was fond of one of railroading’s most iconic features.
A Republican politician with a love of nature and the outdoors, Russell Train found himself in the thick of the blossoming environmental movement in the United States when President Richard Nixon appointed him in 1970 as the first chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality. That council evolved into the Environmental Protection Agency with William Ruckelshaus as its first administrator.
Train succeeded Ruckelshaus as EPA’s second administrator. Serving in that position until 1977, under Presidents Nixon and Gerald Ford, Train is credited with leading environmental initiatives that led to development and implementation of groundbreaking clean water and clean air legislation. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 in honor of his lifelong dedication to conservation.
Retired and living at his Grace Creek Farm, near the waterman’s village of Bozman and in sight of his beloved caboose, Train died in 2012 at the age of 92.
Dennis Forney grew up on the Chester River in Chestertown. After graduating Oberlin College, he returned to the Shore where he wrote for the Queen Anne’s Record Observer, the Bay Times, the Star Democrat, and the Watermen’s Gazette. He moved to Lewes, Delaware in 1975 with his wife Becky where they lived for 45 years, raising their family and enjoying the saltwater life. Forney and Trish Vernon founded the Cape Gazette, a community newspaper serving eastern Sussex County, in 1993, where he served as publisher until 2020. He continues to write for the Cape Gazette as publisher emeritus and expanded his Delmarva footprint in 2020 with a move to Bozman in Talbot County.