In the mid-1950's, after an ample number of steel baywindow cabooses had supplanted the wooden ones on the Carolina & North-Western, the old hacks were retired. Two of the ancient wooden ones managed to survive for some time past their prime. X6101 was sold to Tom Hartley, the conductor who had lived in her for nearly 30 years on innumerable trips between Lenoir and Edgemont. Used as a garage for nearly 20 years, the old hack burned down in the late 1960's when a generator being used to keep beehives warm threw some sparks and ignited a fire.
X6103 was purchased by a C&N-W engineer, Parks Russell. He moved it a short distance away from the shop and converted it into a garage. Despite the conversions, it was largely original except on its long end. It managed to sit for over 40 years on this hill until 1996. Matt Bumgarner discovered it while researching the railroad and endeavored to have it saved and preserved. Unfortunately, it was not to happen.
Prior to the unit being purchased by Bumgarner and a local historical society, it was sold to another local resident who wanted to convert it into a playhouse for his daughter. However, hope sprang anew when he contacted the society and said he wanted to donate it for restoration. But while the historical society waited for him to call and say "come and get it", he waited for them to "come and get it". Both sides waited. Neither side called. The resident ran out of patience and destroyed the caboose in his backyard.
Bumgarner happened to be driving by the day after the destruction occurred. He naturally was distraught by what happened, and the owner expressed regret at not at least making a phone call. The only thing salvaged from the caboose was a door, a cupola window, the ends above the door which still bore the number of the cab after 40 years, and some brass interior grab irons stamped PRR, indicating the original builder of the grand caboose, which was constructed in 1880.
The pix below document the terrible loss, one of the greatest to railroading history in western North Carolina. Today, all that verifiably remains of the C&N-W is an old motorcar ...