Pacific Electric Flat Top Caboose

Over the last year, the Pacific Electric class C-30-2 caboose has become an obsession of mine. Considering how much data is out there on the different interurbans and streetcars, I am always surprised at the lack of information there is on the freight equipment. What I am putting on this page is more data than I have found ANYWHERE online or published in books.

Donald Duke Collection
Pacific Electric built eight “bobber” single-truck cabooses at the Torrance Shops in 1921. Number 1957 was captured here in 1937.

1900, San Bernardino. April 19, 1942.

In the late 1930’s, the Pacific Electric was using a mixed bag of bobber caboose, home made caboose, and converted boxcars. As the equipment aged, the Pacific Electric started to look for a replacement.

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, the Pacific Electric looked at it’s parent road, the Southern Pacific as a source of inspiration. The Southern Pacific had a huge fleet of C-30-1 and C-30-2 caboose that worked great for them. The Pacific Electric decided to build ten caboose based off of the C-30-2, and they were exact copies, minus the cupola.

Donald Duke collection / Golden West Books .
Photographer: Harold F Stewart possibly Frank J Peterson
Date: Sept 16 1945
Railroad: Pacific Electric
Line: PE San Bernardino Line / State Street yard
Car#: PE 1969 caboose
Locomotive #:
Location: State Street Yard
Notes on Negative Sleeve: PE 3:00pm Extra Leaving State St. Sept. 16 1945
Image notes:
Steve Crise scan
310 963 9265

The Pacific Electric C-30-2 were built in 1938 and 1939, numbered between 1960 and 1969. When they were built, the Pacific Electric followed the lettering standard of the Southern Pacific, using just the initials and the number for identification. The Southern Pacific used this style of lettering until 1946, I do not know when the Pacific Electric changed.

Image scanned from a 4 x 7.5 inch print from the Paul Koehler Pacific Electric collection.
Photographer: W.C. Whittaker
Date: February 1 1948
Caboose: PE 1961
Location: Long Beach
Notes on back of print: Collection of W.C. Whittaker 25 Blithdale Terrace Mill Valley CA 94941 Long Beach 2-1-48 1961
Image notes:

The above picture from 1948 is a great source of information. It shows that the Pacific Electric followed the Southern Pacific in spelling out the full road name, and it clearly shows the data that modelers look for. This is my favorite picture of a Pacific Electric C-30-2 that I have seen.

Donald Duke Photo
Location: Beverly Hills
Car #: Caboose 1965
Notes on Slide Mount:
Image Notation: Scanned from a color transparency with Bessler slide duping machine.

Starting in 1948, the Southern Pacific began painting the hand rails on their caboose white, the Pacific Electric followed suit. Unfortunately, the date when the Pacific Electric did so has apparently been lost to time, yet if you want to know the exact date that a PCC car ran to Santa Monica…..

*edit* came across this image of 1960 from 1950 with white handrails

The final paint scheme of the flat tops was again a copy of the Southern Pacific. The SP changed both the lettering and the paint scheme in 1955, and I have not been able to track down an exact date that the Pacific Electric started to paint their caboose this way.

These cars were painted in the traditional boxcar red, except the ends were painted in Daylight Orange. The Billboard style lettering is the only time that the road name was applied below the windows.

I have seen images stating that these cars were in use as late as 1962, however they could have lasted until the merger of 1965.


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