The Story Behind the Big Red Caboose


Photo: Liz Crane

You have likely seen a big red caboose parked out in our parking lot. We roll it out from the studio when an Open House is coming up, use it as a box office for larger events, and sometimes it acts as a stage for Santa Claus. People ask us, where does the caboose go when it’s not working our events? What goes on inside? Where did it come from? You wanted the story; here it is.

The 1941 caboose was found in a Craigslist-sourced backyard in April 2006 by Crucible Founder Michael Sturtz. “I had this perfect idea of a caboose for building and was searching for one for quite a long time,” Michael explains. The backyard owners of the caboose donated it to The Crucible.
The catch of a free caboose is moving it yourself. Between a crane operator and a freight truck, Michael and some friends got the caboose out of the backyard. They took backroads back to The Crucible, since the caboose was too tall for tunnels, and it made its grand arrival at the Volunteer Appreciation Party in 2006.

Michael hosted a class on refurbishing the caboose and had selected faculty contribute their own touches. Blacksmithing Department Head Chris Neimer fabricated brackets and hot bended existing pieces to fit the new design, Former Director of Education Carla Hall and Michael made the metal grates for the windows, and Welding instructor Derick Gomez replaced the original wooden doors with welded doors to keep the caboose secure when it was rolled it out into the parking lot.

The caboose is now an office for Daniel Stauber, Workshops Manager, and Ismael Plasencia, Youth Program Associate. While most of The Crucible’s staff are in a separate office space, the caboose is in the studio, where, as you know, most of the action is (🔥 + 🎨 +💥).

Daniel shares, “A big part of my job is interacting with faculty. Having my office in the caboose keeps me right in the middle of the action.” The drawbacks include all the fun that comes with working in a studio – loud forklifts, grinding in the train bay . . . “but I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”

Iz’s favorite part about working in the caboose? “It doesn’t get any more unique than having a fully functioning office in a caboose. There are times when you can hear nearby trains and BART run along tracks and it kind of takes you away for a brief moment. You can’t get that anywhere else! And I do like being on the front lines of the studio, hearing all the equipment, watching students in awe of their experiences. It never gets old.”

Scroll through the gallery to see photos from the interior before it was converted in 2007, and some current photos of the caboose now.

(What happens in the caboose, stays in the caboose.)

April 2006: Caboose found in a backyard

April 2006: Before they had to cut back the trees

April 2006: Grand arrival at The Crucible

April 2006: Original wooden doors

April 2006: Complete with a wood burning stove

April 2006

January 2018: Daniel’s artwork on the walls

January 2018: Metal grates

January 2018: The office

January 2018: The office

January 2018: Hang zone in the Cupola

January 2018: Speaks for itself