By Bill Jones
The D&RG Caboose #17 was built in 1880. By 1895 D&RG Caboose #17 was being leased Railroad, owned by Otto Mears, for 30 cents per day. At this time Mears was building the new Silverton Northern Railroad to Eureka from Silverton. In October 1895, the Silverton Railroad Company purchased the caboose from the D&RG for $350. There is no record of the car being renumbered for the Silverton Railroad and it was probably purchased for use on the Silverton Northern. Later, the car was listed as Silverton Northern caboose #1005. Unlike similar D&RG cars, few structural modifications were made to the car since the Silverton Northern was not required to adopt certain safety improvements required of the D&RG. It therefore retained its distinctive original cupola design and side windows. This car is unique as it is the oldest surviving D&RG caboose and is one of only two that retain the original body and cupola style.
The caboose was probably retired well before 1930 and the car body was used as a storage shed at the Western Colorado Power Company office located adjacent to the SN line. In the 1960's it was donated to the San Juan County Historical Society and moved to Silverton for use as an information booth. Having had its interior walls removed, the car suffered continued deterioration from the elements and vandals.
The Silverton Northern Caboose #1005 is currently being restored by Klinke and Lew of Silverton with grants acquired from the Colorado State Historical Fund.