Have you noticed anything different about the caboose outside The Forks Market? Something's changed, and it's super cool.
It's open! Climb up the stairs on the front of the caboose, push open that old wooden door, and travel back to the 1930s.
This caboose has seen more of Canada than most of us ever will. It was built in the 1930s at the Point St. Charles Shops in Montreal and has put on a lot of miles since.
Until 1988, when it was retired at the Transcona Shops right here in Winnipeg, the caboose traveled the CN lines from coast to coast housing the conductors and crews of the trains it capped off.
Back in the day, the caboose was where the conductor and crew worked, slept, and likely huddled around the wood fire with a celebratory drink along the way.
The crew would hang out there from time to time to monitor the brake and air pressure and to log the number and contents of each train car in front of it.
On September 15, 1992, the Canadian National Railways donated Caboose #76602 to The Forks as a nod to all the thousands of train crews that traveled through The Forks years ago.
Trains and railways are an important part of The Forks' history. Before it was the great hang-out spot it is today, The Forks was gravel, rail ties, and a whole lot of trains. The Forks – then called the East Yard – was where the trains would stop to load up and receive cleaning and maintenance.
Now, we treasure gifts like Caboose #76602 as a reminder of one of the many things this land once was before we called it The Forks.
So please, walk to the back of the caboose, take a seat on the bench to your right, look out the window at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, and try to imagine The Forks bustling with trains, horses, and the people that worked so hard to maintain all of it.
Other posts that might interest you: