The move of #518554 was one of the most exciting experiences of my life! Months of careful planning and preparation combined with the precise coordination on the part of all the participants ensured a flawless move. The sight of the caboose rolling down the highway will be one that I will never forget.
Norfolk Southern Railway donated the caboose to Fauquier County in 1995. It was quickly moved the following week to the end of the Warrenton Branch track just west of Sander's Quarry. Here it rested for nearly 12 months awaiting final negotiations for the ground on which it was to rest.
The day came on Saturday October, 1996 when all gathered at Sander's Quarry to finally move the car into Warrenton. Saturday was the culmination of months of planning on the part of the move coordinators in order to execute the project. Businesses were proud to take a volunteer part in the historic move and gladly donated their time and resources to see it through.
A 45-ton crane and two semi-tractor trailers were employed for the move. There was but one route into the small town of Warrenton and care had to be taken to ensure there was enough clearance both in height and for turning the load onto somewhat small back roads in the town.
At 8:00 AM, all gathered and talked through the plan for the move. VA Crane positioned themselves and began preparing the crane for the lift. The body would be lifted first and then the wheel sets, both being hauled on separate trucks. Once the body had been separated from the wheel sets, it was carefully swung around and positioned over the lowboy trailer.
Careful attention was spent on blocking and cribbing the body as not to add an inch more height than necessary. The height limit was 17' and we would push every inch of that. At final measurement, when everything was tied down, we measured 16'-8" total. At that height, our Bell Atlantic representative who was with us for the move, would have to ride in front of the convoy and raise two under height wires.
After the body was secured, the wheel sets were loaded. The crane and the truck carrying the wheel sets left to set up on site and prepare for the caboose body's arrival. By the time the body arrived on site, the wheel sets would be unloaded and set into place ready to receive the caboose body.
The trip was approximately five miles into town and would takes us though the country, onto Route 29 and then onto the some back roads heading into the Town of Warrenton. We had police escort and traffic control provided by the Town of Warrenton Police and the Fauquier County Sheriffs Office. To head up our convoy, a lead truck with a measuring pole and the Bell Atlantic representative rode several hundred yards ahead to double check the height of overhead wires.
The trip went flawlessly, gaining much attention enroute from passing cars and road side spectators. By noon we had arrived to our destination and were pleased to find the wheel sets on track with the crane awaiting our arrival. After some maneuvering of the lowboy into position, the body was lifted off and carefully set onto the wheelsets. With a sigh of relief and a cheer from the crowd, the move was complete!
We want to thank all of the people who took part in the move, including the ladies from Shadow Lawn Senior Center who cooked an outstanding chicken dinner for all of the move participants. No one could have asked for a greater team of players and a more exciting experience!