In 1969, Hersheypark received a donation from Reading Railroad Company – a rare red caboose. It was briefly used as a children’s ride in 1970, and by the mid-1970s became the Lost Children’s Caboose. It served that function until 2006, and then remained in Hersheypark until March 2014, when it was donated to the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum.
This caboose, #92938, was built in September 1942 – when steel was only allowed to be used for the war effort during World War II.
As a result, this caboose was made out of wood, a material not otherwise used for such a purpose since 1920. The cabooses made during the war were all made out of wood, making them rare compared to all the other years made from steel. (That’s interesting, given the US Mint released steel pennies in 1943.)
This train car was a little red caboose, often called a Northeastern Caboose, and was placed adjacent to several kiddie rides – Helicopters, Whipperoo (later Wells Cargo), Space Age, Motorcycles (named Traffic Jam today) – in an area approximately where Music Box Theater stands today.
The caboose was originally a walk-through ride at a charge of 10 cents in the 1970 season. This was essentially a flop and the walk-through was discontinued in the 1971 season. It was then used as a place parents could have parties for their children. It eventually became Lost Children’s Caboose, a place where children who were disconnected from their parents could be taken until their parents were found. In 2006, the caboose was discontinued for this purpose with a new building having a Lost Children’s Corral next to The Claw.
In 1980, the caboose was relocated when Hersheypark expanded and Pirat and Cyclops were added. The caboose was moved to a spot where Tip Top had been located (it had been removed after the 1979 season).
It remained in this location behind the Music Box Theatre until it was removed from the park in 2014.
Reading Railroad Heritage Museum
The caboose is currently in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, at a train yard for Reading Railroad Heritage Museum. Pictures of the removal of the caboose from Hersheypark and installation at the train yard can be seen here.
The caboose is in storage at the facility in Hamburg, and is always in need of general upkeep, repainting, and other work. If you are interested in volunteering with the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum to help, check out their website. Like many historical societies and museums in Central Pennsylvania, assistance is always welcome.