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Newly renovated!

  • In the heart of Hocking Hills, just 2 miles west of Ash Cave.
  • An authentic 1950s railroad caboose!
  • Five sleeping berths, including two in the cupola.
  • Large deck overlooks a private, woody valley.
  • Fully renovated, inside and out, in March 2016 & 2017 and refreshed in February 2020.
  • For lovers of “tiny homes”, railroad fans, and everyone else.
  • Make your Hocking Hills stay a unique experience!

Availability & Reservations

The Hocking Hills Caboose is available year-round at a variety of affordable rates which vary by day, season, and stay length. Discounts and specials may also be available; follow us on Facebook for more.

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History of the Caboose

Built around 1950

The Hocking Hills Caboose was built in 1949 or 1950 by the International Car Company of Kenton, Ohio. This company specialized in making cabooses and was one of the first manufacturers to build them with steel (versus wood) exteriors.

The caboose was built for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad and was one of 100 cabooses in a series numbered from 5600 (e.g., SAL5607). We do not know the original number of our caboose.
One of SAL's 5600-series cabooses in the early 1950s. While this isn't likely our caboose (there were 100), this would have been it's original livery and window layout. Photo courtesy DieselEra magazine.

Rebuilt in 1970

In 1967, Seaboard Air Line Railroad (SAL) merged with its long-time rival Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (ACL) to become the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad - the Family Lines System (SCL).

In the late 1960s, ACL was just finishing introducing its own modern line of steel cabooses, called the M-5 series. In 1970, SCL began a program to rebuild all the 5600-series cabooses to M-5 standards; these cabooses were called the M-6 series and were renumbered. (Our caboose was number SCL 01146.) Changes included new interior layouts reflecting the reduced need for sleeping bunks, new exterior window configurations, and a new, orange paint scheme.
This is SCL01076, a SAL5600-series caboose rebuilt and renumbered by SCL to M6-series standards. All but 3 or the 100 5600-series cabooses were converted, including ours, which became SCL 01146 and looked just like this one. Photo courtesy DieselEra magazine.

1980s: End of Service

At some point in late 1970s or early 1980s, our caboose acquired its grey SBD Family Lines Systems livery (shown below). Our caboose continued in service as Seaboard Coast Systems became part of railroad giant CSX in 1986. But it's railroad days were numbered. Since the dawn of freight railways, cabooses were legally required for safety purposes. That began to change in the early 1980s, when new radio-based technology to monitor the trains and apply brakes made the caboose redundant. Railroads slowly started retiring cabooses as each state repealed their caboose-requiring laws. By the late 1980s, cabooses were a rare sight on railroads.
This is an M-6 caboose in its final SCL livery. Our caboose would have looked just like this when freshly painted.Photo courtesy DieselEra magazine.

1997: A New Purpose

As railroads retired their cabooses, most were sold for scrap and destroyed. Ours, though, took a different journey. By 1995, it ended up with 17 other out-of-service cabooses from all different legacy railroads at CSX's Parsons yard outside of Columbus. Needing to clear out these cabooses, CSX offered the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad (HVSR) and its members the lot of cabooses for $300 a piece. They accepted, and the cabooses were towed to HVSR, where many were restored for railroad service and remain today. However, HVSR member John Holt had a new plan for his new caboose. He had it towed to a piece of land in heart of the Hocking Hills he owned called Steep Woods, for conversion into a guest cottage.
This is our caboose, The Hocking Hills Caboose, just after it was moved to its current home at Steep Woods. Note the caboose was renumbered from SCL 01146 to SBD 21146 when it became part of CSX.

Here is the caboose ready to accept its first guests in spring of 1997 along with the folks who renovated it.

Renovated in 2016

With nearly 20 passing years since its original conversion to a guest cottage, the caboose was in need of some updating. The cabooses more traditional red & black color scheme chosen by Mr. Holt has been refreshed. Out front we’ve also updated the landscaping and added a new entryway with a more guest friendly set of stairs and landing as you make your way in and out of the caboose. Out back we’ve completely changed the experience of staying at the caboose by adding a large deck overlooking the private, wooded valley of Steep Woods. On the deck, you’ll find a gas grill and a new dining set; perfect for al fresco dining, sitting outside to enjoy nature or late night star gazing. Inside, we’ve updated or replaced most of the mechanicals of the caboose. And visually, when you visit you’ll notice all-new plumbing fixtures, lighting, flooring and décor (paint, bedding, towels, accessories, etc.). Check out our gallery here and our facebook page for pictures of the “new” caboose!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why stay with us? The Hocking Hills Caboose is located in the heart of The Hocking Hills. From the caboose you’ll be just a few miles from Ash Cave, Cedar Falls and Old Man’s Cave. The caboose is under new ownership, and we’re proud of the updates we’ve made in our renovation of the caboose this winter. The most exciting change is the addition of the new deck on the back of the caboose – it’s the perfect spot to sit and enjoy nature during the day or to stargaze at night. If you’ve stayed in the caboose before, you’ll notice LOTS of changes inside the caboose as well; nearly everything been updated! Check out the pictures in our gallery section of the website for a preview. We offer early check-in and late check-out so you can always make the most of your stay in Hocking Hills.
Is The Caboose a "tiny home"? The caboose was way ahead of the Tiny House movement. The caboose offers all the comforts of home, in a small & economic space. The caboose may be red in color, but it’s green at heart. Small homes are of course naturally more green. To keep with that, we’ve also made every effort to make the caboose as “green” as possible. The exterior lighting is on timers, all lights are LED, Nest thermostat, etc.
How much is it to rent The Caboose? The rate varies depending on the number of guests, date of your visit and length of stay. To check availability and obtain a quote for your particular stay, please click the link for an instant availability check and quote.
Do you offer specials or discounts? Yes, a variety of specials and discounts are available:
  • Extended stay: Stay 4 or more nights in the caboose and receive a 10% discount for your entire stay. Discount will be automatically applied to your online reservation.
  • Last minute reservations: Discounts of 5-10% are available for reservations made 6 days or less prior to your stay. Last Minute discounts will be automatically applied to your online reservation
  • Returning Guests: 10% discount for new reservations made by a previous guest of The Hocking Hills Caboose. Guests that return within one year of their previous stay will receive our 10% "frequent guest" discount. The discount will be applied after we receive your online reservation request with a valid coupon code.

If your stay qualifies for more than one special, you will be given the one offering the largest savings. All discounts will be applied to the base rate.
What is the minumum age to rent? You must be 25 or older to rent. As the responsible member of your group you will be responsible for any occurrences during the stay.
What is the minimum stay? All reservations require a two-night minimum stay. Holiday weekends or special event periods may require a three-night minimum.
What is the standard check-in time? Is early check-in available? Standard check-in time is 4:00 PM at The Caboose. Early check-in may be available upon request.
What is the standard check-out time? Is late check-out available? Standard check-out time is 10:00 AM at The Caboose. Late check-out may be available upon request.
What is the arrival & departure process? Approximately one week prior to your stay you will receive an email confirming the details of your stay and with information how to access the unit, directions, etc. It is very important to print this information as you may not have access to data once you enter the Hocking Hills region. There is no check-in required, just proceed straight to The Caboose. On departure, simply lock the caboose door and follow the check-out instructions posted in the unit. In general we ask that you maintain the caboose in a neat and clean condition throughout your stay: clean gas grill, wash dishes and return to their proper location, etc.
Are pets accomodated? Sorry, Pets are not permitted to stay in the caboose at this time..
What is the maximum occupancy of The Caboose? The maximum occupancy at the caboose is 5 people. To ensure your safety, we cannot permit you to exceed the maximum occupancy in or around the facility at any time. No tents, campers or any additional persons are permitted. A fee of $25.00 per person will be charged to your account per day for any violations.
What’s it like inside The Caboose? The Caboose has all the comforts of home: central air conditioning and heat, a kitchenette, a full bath, and five twin size beds, two of which are upper bunks in the “cupola”. The kitchenette is fully stocked with dishes, glassware, silverware, pots and pans. it includes a coffee maker, toaster, microwave, and small fridge/freezer, but no stove or oven.
What is The Caboose stocked with? The Caboose has complete sheet sets, comforters and pillows for all beds. A set of bath, hand and wash towels are provided for each registered guest. The Caboose comes with what should be ample hand and dish soap and a starter set of paper towels, toilet paper, etc.
What do I need to bring? Food items, salt and pepper, foil, paper towels and/or napkins, alarm clock, flashlight, camp chairs.
Can I bring firewood? No. It is illegal to move firewood in or out of Quarantined areas. Violators face up to $4000 fines. Please buy your firewood from local vendors within Hocking County. We ask that you douse fires at night.
May I smoke? The Caboose is non-smoking indoors. A $500 cleaning fee will be added to your bill if smoking was detected. If you smoke outdoors, please properly discard cigarette butts.
Will I have mobile phone service? Cell phone service in Hocking Hills is spotty with most areas not having service. This varies by provider. There are reports that Sprint and T-Mobile subscribers have spotty reception at the caboose; Verizon and AT&T subscribers do not. There is a land line in the caboose with free domestic long distance.
Is the internet available? There is no internet available at The Caboose, as is the case in most Hocking Hills cabins. We are looking to secure service for our guests in the future. You may have the Internet on your mobile device if you are a T-Mobile subscriber.
Where can I find your full rental terms, conditions and policies? A link will be provided in your reservation confirmation email. You may also view it anytime here.

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