Living Here Guide

Cockabooses: Tailgating on the tracks

They’ve been featured on ESPN, described as one thing any college football fan must enjoy before they die, and displayed in magazines ranging from Southern Accents to Playboy. All of it came from an idea late Columbia businessman Ed Robinson had in 1990 – why not put a row of retired train cabooses on a stretch of track beside Williams-Brice Stadium?

The Cockaboose railroad stretches 22 cars from Key Road to Bluff Road, offering private spaces to tailgate for a college football game or to host any other kind of event. Started at a cost of around $40,000 each and now costing more than $200,000, each caboose is owned and decorated by whoever wants to pony up the cost.

And they aren’t just used on game days. An owner can use his caboose for any event they please, since the USC athletics department does not own the land or the structures (outside of the one it bought). Targeted at the who’s who of Columbia when Robinson installed them, there might be one or two on sale per year – just look for a sign in the windows.

David Cloniger