The first Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad (RF&P) cabooses were wooden construction built as early as 1904. Over the years, they were modified to keep them in service or sold.
The RF&P purchased its first modern, all steel cabooses in 1970 from the International Car Company in Kenton, Ohio for $29,741. Shortly thereafter, Southern Iron and Equipment ofAtlantic, Georgia built additional cabooses numbered 921 through 923 and 931 through 933.
The first three cars from the International Car Company were numbered 901 through 903. The design included many new safety features including improved entry steps, glass windows with screens, hand brakes, adjustable high back seats, and electric lights. This car, No. 904, built in 1974, was part of the second series that ran through No. 907. The earliest steam-era cabooses were painted bright vermillion enamel. No. 904 caboose was painted blue with yellow trim and white lettering.
The caboose provided train crew with a shelter at the rear of the train. From here they could exit the train for switching or to protect the rear of the train when stopped. They also used windows to inspect the train for problems such as shifting loads and broken or dragging equipment. The conductor kept records and conducted business from a table or desk in the caboose. For longer trips the caboose was used as a living quarters, and was very frequently personalized and decorated with pictures and posters.
The Commonwealth of Virginia required a caboose on all freight trains operating in the State until 1988. The Virginia Caboose law was repealed that year no longer requiring the use of cabooses and eventually a number of them went completely out-of-service.
In 1956, a special train consisting of fourteen cabooses and two passenger trains operated for fathers and sons between Richmond and Quantico Marine base. The Marine Corps provided the sons and their fathers a tour of the base and a 1unch in the mess hail before returning to Richmond.