Why A.R.C.H.E.S

 

The idea for organizing an association for the study and preservation of Cabeese came to me back in 1971 at the time Amtrak started. Up until that time several railroads continued to operate Mixed Trains (a freight train with a coach or caboose) as their state charters required that they provide passenger service in perpetuity. Often they would meet the "letter of the law" by having the service in the timetable but never making it easy to ride.

 

In addition to not advertising that it existed---the schedules were usually such that serious travelers (other than railfans and mileage collectors) were "convinced to not ride again" Sometimes dispatchers were told to make sure the "mixed" was late when passengers were aboard.

 

Some of my favorite rail experiences center around rides in a caboose: with students in 1964 on the CB&Q across northern Missouri, buddies on the TP&W out of Peoria in 1968 and on the Santa Fe to St. Joseph, MO., in 1971. On this "last run" I invited some non-railfan teacher friends along to try my "caboose chili" and enjoy a game of poker while we rumbled along.

 

As you may have guessed---the Federal law that created Amtrak created a loophole that allowed most railroads to end "passenger service." By a quirk of the law, anyone could come forward to subsidize the losses. On a favorite branch line, I was going to do so (would have been about $300 a year) but a railroad lawyer "off the record" said "You're a teacher...and you can't afford the time and money that our big boys are willing to pay---so you won't have a say." They were right, darn it!

 

In sharing these tales in the 1980's, railfan friends encouraged me to do something to preserve cabooses. Well, I didn't think that I had time. I was teaching, running 25 tours a year for the AAR and busy as President of the St. Louis & Chain of Rocks R.R. (The SL&CR provided FREE train rides with an F-Unit and classic coaches on a scenic track along the Mississippi River.)

 

Again, a Federal bureau (F.R.A.) made recreational railroading a headache. The requirements and paper work for a "once a month, 'five-mile-per-hour,' free admission museum operation" took more time than the actual running. So after 23 years this free admission operating rail museum came to an end in 1995. Now there would be time for cabeese. With the core of SL&CR rail friends, ARCHES was formally arganized. Soon many caboose experts from around the country were joining and sharing their knowledge and interest.

 

 

You are welcome to join us and share our avocation.

 

 

Rich Eichhorst,
ARCHES President

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