Cabooses were used as traveling offices, bunkrooms and kitchens. They housed the conductor and brakemen and provided a vantage point from which to monitor the train’s progress. In the 1980s, railroads started to utilize Flashing Rear End Devices or FREDS. These computers monitor the brake system and inform the engineer of the status of the train. Railroads also installed automated lineside detectors to check for such things as overheated bearings and dragging equipment. FREDs and lineside detectors eliminated the need for a caboose and rear end crew members, making the red caboose a nostalgic memory in railroad history.
In the following descriptions, (N) indicates narrow gauge and (S) indicates standard gauge.