The Last in Line

The caboose at the end of a freight train is a thing of the past. They have been replaced by technology as railroads cut wages and other expenses. In their place is a small, oblong box on the end of the train called a ETD (end of train device).

It is not uncommon to find cabooses on static display at museums or near historic railroads. In Auburn, California, an example of one of the last batch of a caboose ordered by Southern Pacific is outside the old Auburn Train Depot. This is a bay window C-50-7 caboose that was built by SP in 1978. This is a very young caboose indeed because ten years later, it was uncommon to see a caboose at the end of a freight train. SP # 4604 was coming to the end of an era.

I headed to Auburn with the intention of sketching the SP caboose. I set up my sketching chair and took up my position behind the caboose as if I was watching a freight train receded down the tracks. Only this caboose was going nowhere anytime soon.

To my left is the large concrete sculpture of a Chinese “Coolie” railroad laborer. This 22 foot tall , 70 ton statue was created by Dr. Kenneth Fox. Fox was a local dentist who created other large concrete statues. Some of the other statues can be found on the opposite side of Highway 80. As well as the gold panner representing Claude Chana near the historic downtown.

Dr. Fox passed away on November 17, 2020 at the age of 95. His massive sculptures are sill found around Auburn including his controversial nudes of mythical warriors that stand outside of his former dental office. They are collectively known as the “Great Concrete Statues of Auburn”.

Most of these statues where created in the 1960s and 70s but they were a little too graphic for Auburn at the time. School bus routes were rerouted so buses would not pass by the topless Amazonian women.

I would love to return to Auburn and sketch these oddities in concrete.

There still standing after 50 years. The archer (on the left) at 42 feet tall, is the tallest statue that Dr. Fox ever created.

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