This brass railroad Caboose or car key is stamped with the letters "C & I" on the front. A thorough search of railroad names past and present only turned up the Cambria and Indiana railroad with the letters "C&I". I would welcome any comments or corrections from anyone who knows more about this line or these letters.
The C&I was a short (57 miles) line in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. It was created initially in 1910 to carry lumber, but a rich coal strike quickly turned it into a very successful coal train- so successful that during the 1930s and 1940s it was honored by being named the richest railroad in America. After WWII, the number of buildings heated by coal dwindled rapidly, and the line limped along after that. In 1995 it divested most of its assets.
Caboose keys are far rarer than switch lock keys and the majority of them are not stamped with the railroad name. Keys from old or unusual lines can be very expensive. They have a rather unique size and shape (very long) and were made by a number of manufacturers who usually did not stamp their name on them, except for Adlake.
This large-top variety is 4-1/2" long and has a solid stem ending in a blunt rounded point. The key is solid brass and heavy- weighing 1.6 ounces!
CONDITION- Excellent. The key has not been cleaned and has a natural patina on it. It shows slight usage wear and is straight with no nicks.
I am offering several other marked and unmarked Caboose keys, all of which came from a Indiana estate collection with no additional information. If you buy several items from me I can combine shipping charges to save money- Ruby Lane cannot automatically do this, so wait until you get a combined invoice from me before paying.