I'm not quite following your question. North American railroads have used a caboose since the 1840's (and possibly earlier!) The caboose fell into disuse in the 1980's as they started using a Flashing Rear End Device (FRED). Personally, I miss the caboose at the end of a train.
so everybody agrees, that cabooses where in use very early.
but on the other hand i see a lot of old photos, where no cabooses are shown on trains.
(especially on shorter trains.)
so would i need to include cabooses to short trains or not?
the background for my question:
for my indoors-layout i stand before the decision to make the stations/sidings seven or eight foot long between switches.
if i make them only seven foot, i got room for loco with tender and just four short wagons.
but i am afraid, that a train with just three short wagons plus a caboose looks ridiculous.
If it were my decision to make, if I had the room and hardware (i.e. track etc.) I'd make the siding(s) long enough for the additional caboose with what I was going to run as my standard train. That way if the train had a caboose or not it wouldn't make a difference.
i've got enough track for a well filled spagetti bowl. space is my problem.
46 by 16 1/2 foot ("and don't dare to invade the passege between doors!")
so eight foot between switches is the maximum i think i can do.
In 1950, I worked on a branch line of a class 1 railroad. The branch line local, with caboose, went to the end of the line on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It returned on the following days. Somedays it had just one or two cars, coming or going. The line received little carloads and originated practically none. It was eventually scrapped.
Some shortlines didn't use cabooses, especially if they commonly ran mixed trains. The primary purpose of the caboose was to give the conductor and brakemen a place to hang out when not out on the train working. If they were running mixed trains, then the crew could hang out in the coach or baggage compartment if the car was a combine. This was more common on narrow gauge lines, because they tended to operate beneath the radar of the FRA or whatever the regulatory agency was at the time. The combine wasn't always on the rear of the train, in fact it was typically near the front because it gave the passengers a smoother ride. So long as the rear of the train was marked with flags or lights, then they were close enough to be in compliance with the laws to where no one cared.
As someone modeling, but very unfamiliar with American railroad practices, I have found the magazine "CLASSIC TRAINS" (a sister publication to Garden Railways) very helpful indeed when trying to learn about the American railroad scene of yesteryear.
For instance in the current Spring 2009 issue, on pages 31 - 35, there is an article about a journey in 1965 on a FRISCO mixed train from Kansas City MO to Clinton MO. The article refers to the full passenger service being discontinued in 1953 and the mixed train running from then until 1967. Passengers on the mixed it seems traveled in the caboose. The article also mentions that the stations were Flag Stops, allowing for a run through as often as one would like and those of us who run our short trains at a slow pace will be pleased to know that the 80 mile plus line is said to have had a speed limit of 35 mph. *
* Anyone who knows the line and the area may say whether, or not, that figure was respected.
So, as has often been quoted "there is a prototype for everything".
Kormsen said: "so would i need to include cabooses to short trains or not? "
Prior to the introduction of smaller train crews and end of train devices a caboose was a "must" on almost all trains. Some very short runs that could be considered more a switching move than a train movement would commonly go without a caboose. Flags or rear lights provided protection if the cut of cars had to traverse the mainline for a ways. Also some private tramways would commonly operate without a caboose as they were not common carriers and might merely shuttle between mine and mill or woods and mill, etc.
During the steam era and even early diesel era the standard freight crew consisted of 5 workers; Engineer, Fireman, Conductor, Head end Brakeman or Flagman and Rear Brakeman or Flagman. To be an official train required a caboose on the rear except where passenger trains were concerned. The caboose provided an office for the conductor and place for the rear brakeman to ride and watch out over the train for hot boxes or derailments, etc. Remember that this was in the days before computers and scanners took over much of the paperwork from train crews.
There were of course exceptions to the standard 5 man crews. On some grades where the engine lacked an automatic stoker two firemen were needed to feed the firebox with coal to keep up steam. In earlier times many mountain trains might require a half dozen or so brakemen to tie down or release the car brakes on downgrades at the direction of the engineer's whistle.
Even a one car train required a caboose if it was to travel any distance on the mainline. Caboose hops were common although not desired where an engine was sent out to pick up cars from an industry some miles down the mainline or return from dropping off cars. Mixed trains where the passenger cars were on the rear utilized a seat or two for the crew and displayed the necessary warning lights to the rear. In cases where the passenger car(s) were on the headend it was also common to provide a caboose on the rear of the train. It would not be common for passenger cars to be next to the engine without having a caboose for rear end protection behind the freight cars although it might have been done for relatively short distances utilizing marker lights on the rear.
The introduction of the diesel allowed for the eventual reduction in operating crew on trains which was delayed by existing laws and union rules. Also the computer age relieved the conductor of much of his need for an office. These things together brought about the demise of the caboose.
"there is a prototype for everything".
thanks for the consolation.
so if i understood everything, on passenger trains i don't need cabooses.
and on mixed trains i "can get away" without, if i put the coaches to the end of the train.
saves me a lot of bashing.
i think, diesels, computers and unions will not play any role, my layout going to be somewhere in the second half of 19th century.