Cockaboose co-creator dies

June 10, 2008 

The last of the “fathers” of USC’s famed Cockabooses died Monday.

Carl Francis “Doc” Howard, who in 1990 along with business partner Ed Robinson came up with the idea for the Gamecocks’ unique tailgating units, died at his home following a brief illness.

Eighteen years ago, Howard and Robinson put their dolled-up railroad cars on the market. The two men had taken two years to acquire the 22 old cabooses, each 45 feet long and 10 feet wide, plus the railroad spur where they are located adjacent to Williams-Brice Stadium. They needed two days to sell 20 units at $45,000 apiece.

In nearly two decades since, the price of a Cockaboose has skyrocketed. Columbia dentist Bill Rentz in recent years put his on sale for $300,000. Most owners put “in excess of $100,000 in them,” Columbia auto dealer Sam Jones said.

A memorial service for Howard will be Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Shandon Methodist Church, with visitation afterward at Carolina Park — not far from the Cockabooses that are his legacy.

— Bob Gillespie

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