Weighing in at around 15 tons or so, but typically only 10 by 30 feet, old cabooses are massive marvels no long made by the rail industry. But if you want a ready-made, weather-resistant and flood-water-lofted house, there are much less adorable places to start your search.
The newest tend to be decades old, and steel is the norm though they are scarce – wooden ones are even more rare. For those looking actually buy their own to dwell in, the TinyHouseBlog advises: “You can purchase a caboose from several brokers or even government liquidation services.”
“Most railroads stopped using them around the 1980s, and quite a few went to scrap, so the prices of the ones that are left have increased … What you want to look for is a refurbished caboose or a caboose that is railroad surplus. You will have to pay to have the caboose moved by rail or truck to your property.”
Some are meticulously maintained and little modified, at least from the outside, looking as rail-worthy as they were the day they rolled off the production line and down the tracks (even if updated on the inside).
Others, like this one on Mercer Island via ApartmentTherapy, have been strategically cut, rejoined and expanded to accommodate more modern living requirements.
In this case, heat, water and electricity were demanded, and more open-window space was desired. Still, much of the original detailing in the bathroom, along the ceiling and on the exterior were left intact.