WP668 Caboose Story

2020: WP668 Caboose in San Jose, California.

WP668 is a historic Western Pacific Railroad caboose being restored by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher, a private family in San Jose, California, USA. More information and pictures are added as WP668’s story evolves.

For a summary of the WP668 story, see Katy’s May 2017 Western Pacific Historical Convention slides: “The Story of Western Pacific Caboose 668”. WP668 is the office for Mentoring Standard. Please join the WP668 Western Pacific Caboose Facebook group. WP668 was originally built as a boxcar in 1916. In 2018, the Mayor said that WP668 was the coolest office in San Jose!

Questions, corrections, and additions are welcome!
Please send email to: katy dot dickinson at gmail dot com.

WP668 Caboose History

  • 1916: WP668 was originally built by Pullman as a steel strapped Western Pacific wooden box car in 1916 (during World War I). Boxcar series was 15001-16000. WP668’s steel straps are embossed in several places with the Pullman brand “ILLINOIS. G. U.S.A.”
  • 1943: In October 1943, WP668 was converted to serve as a caboose on San Francisco Bay Area freight trains (during World War II). Two bay windows replaced the original side freight doors. The front and back doors and decks, and interior caboose fittings were installed. 48 Bay Window cabooses were made 1942-1945. WP668 was the last made in 1943.
  • 1976: After serving in the Sacramento area on fruit trains of the Sacramento Northern line, WP668 was retired from active service. WP668 was sold by Western Pacific to a private owner. It may have been this first private owner who removed the front of one of the bay windows and cut out a large window opening in the side of WP668. By 1979, WP668 was stored on the San Francisco waterfront.
  • circa 2000: WP668 was acquired by the Golden Gate Railroad Museum (GGRM) in San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point neighborhood. Restoration by GGRM was planned and started.
  • 2006: GGRM sold WP668 to John Plocher and Katy Dickinson in January 2006 after the museum lost its Hunter’s Point lease in San Francisco. In February 2006, WP668 was moved by truck from San Francisco to storage in San Jose. While in storage, the roof was rebuilt and the ceiling lights were installed. Dickinson-Plocher backyard swimming pool was removed and a very short rail line built in the same location. More in the WP668 Blog: First Look, Move from San Francisco, Restoration Starts
  • 2007: San Jose City Council grants a variance for WP668. Building permits are issued. In May 2007, WP668 was moved onto the very short rail line in the Dickinson-Plocher backyard. The exterior was stripped and painted. Both decks and the bay window were rebuilt. More in the WP668 Blog: Moving Caboose Again, Restoration Continues
  • 2008: Restoration work continues: inside was painted, floor was rebuilt and covered with linoleum, metal roof was installed, electrical and network wiring were completed, stained glass was designed and installed, cactus garden and arroyito were designed and created, historical markings and WP herald were added, ladders and stair handrails were designed and created.
  • 2009: The San Jose City permits were signed off (24 February 2009). Fainting couch restoration complete – couch moves into caboose. Bay Window seat designed and installed. Stair handrails coated and finished, stair lighting installed.
  • 2010: Installed under carriage lighting. Window seat cushion designed and created.
  • 2011: New office rug purchased in Marrakech, Morocco. Stove installed.
  • 2013: Many more WP668 photos collected from 1971-1979 period. Katy Dickinson presented a Caboose Clinic called “The Adventures of WP668: 1916-2013” (December 2013).
  • 2016: Added lights under roof. 100th Birthday Party on 25 June 2016.
  • 2017: Katy Dickinson presented at the Western Pacific Historical Convention, slides: “The Story of Western Pacific Caboose 668” (May 2017)
  • 2018: WP668 celebrated in the Mayor’s “Great 408” program as the “Coolest Office in San Jose

Historic Pictures of WP668

Circa 1960: Oldest known photo of WP668. Published in the NMRA Bulletin, January 1974, p.12 Taken by Eric Bracher, WP668 in 1960s (?) in silver and orange paint (all other photos show WP668 in red with yellow trim) Used with permission of Eric Bracher.


1976
: WP668 photo by Ken Rattenne on King Street in San Francisco (WP668 with sister SN1642). Used with permission of Ken Rattenne.

Videos of WP668

WP668 in the News

2012 WP668 in San Jose, California

2012
: WP668 Caboose in San Jose, California. Photo by Katy Dickinson.

Except as noted, text and images Copyright 2006-2020 by Katy Dickinson, John Plocher.
All photos are used with permission. All rights reserved.