“The Little Red Caboose behind the Train (I)”


In this maudlin ballad, a young conductor is taking his bride to the city for their honeymoon. The train collides with the express, and the bride is killed. Now the old white-haired conductor "rides all alone In that little red caboose behind the train."


This is one of several songs by this name, all set to the tune of "Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane"; you should check out the others as well, as they're sometimes hard to untangle. It should also not be confused with the dance tune "Little Red Caboose," as recorded by Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas.

It looks like Vernon Dalhart rushed his recording into print before the author's. - PJS

Roud for some reason lumps at least the first two "Little Red Caboose" songs, though they are clearly different in purpose (Caboose I is a song about a young woman's death, Caboose II is about railroad life). - RBW

Cross references

  • cf. "Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane" (tune) and references there
  • cf. "Little Red Caboose Behind the Train (II), (III), (IV), (V)" (tune, structure)


  • Barney Burnett & Bob Miller's Hinky Dinkers, "Little Red Caboose" (Brunswick 446/Supertone S-2074, 1930)
  • Vernon Dalhart, "Little Red Caboose" (Velvet Tone 1893-V/Diva 2893-G/Harmony 893-H [as Mack Allen], 1929)
  • Bob Ferguson [pseud. for Bob Miller] & his Scalawaggers "Little Red Caboose" (Columbia 15616-D, 1930)
  • Bob Miller, "Little Red Caboose" (Grey Gull 4286/Van Dyke 74286, 1930 [as Miller & Burnett]) (Victor 23693, 1932; Montgomery Ward M-4337, 1933)
  • Red River Dave (McEnery), "Little Red Caboose" (Musicraft 285, 1944)
  • Rocky Mountaineers, "Little Red Caboose" (Columbia [UK] FB-1249, 1935)


  1. Cohen-LSRail, pp. 261-263, "The Little Red Caboose behind the Train" (2 texts; tune referenced. The "A" text is this piece;"B" is "Little Red Caboose (IV)")
  2. Botkin-RailFolklr, p. 455, "The Little Red Caboose behind the Train" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Roud #4762
  4. BI, BRaF455


Author: Words: Bob Miller (tune by Will S. Hays)
Earliest date: 1929 (recording, Vernon Dalhart)
Found in: US(MA) Canada