Troop Trains

 

 

 

 

Troop Trains in American History

 

 

 

 

Although I write many articles on scheduled train travel, I’m really much more interested in special movements (Presidential specials, circus trains and the like). One type of special movement important throughout American rail history has been troop trains. The first war in which trains were used to carry Americans to battle was the Mexican War in 1846. Trains were first used on a large scale to transport armies in the Civil War. Extensive use of trains to carry troops occurred in both World Wars. These trains were referred to by railroad personnel as “mains”. Between 1941 and 1945 almost all American soldiers rode a train at some point (over 40 million military personnel). In addition, military personnel on leave as well as POW’s rode the rails. During this period, railroads committed on average a quarter of their coaches and half their Pullmans to running troop trains ,of which there were about 2500 a month. Some months they carried over a million riders and on some days as many as 100,000 traveled. Many of these trains ran over normally freight-only lines, especially if accessing a military base.

Railroads such as the Pennsylvania and the New Haven committed even more of their equipment because of their strategic locations. Filling an ocean liner in New York or Boston harbor with 13,000 troops involved as many as 21 trains. These might require over 200 coaches, 40+ baggage cars and over 30 kitchen cars.

Troop movements of over 12 hours were assigned Pullman space, if available. Pullmans sometimes slept 30,000 members of the armed services a night. This effort was helped by the fact that Pullman had about 2,000 surplus cars, mostly tourist sleepers, which had been stored instead of scrapped. When extra equipment was required for larger-than-normal troop movements, the government would request removal of sleeping cars from all passenger runs less than 450 miles. This resulted in extra standard sleepers for those times when, for instance, many troops from Europe were being transferred to the Pacific.

In 1943 and again in 1945, the government ordered 1200 troop sleepers from Pullman-Standard and 440 troop kitchen cars from ACF. These designs were based on a 50-foot box car equipped with “full-cushion” trucks capable of 100 mph. The center-door sleepers slept 30 in three-tiered, crosswise bunks. While not up to the same standards as the rest of its equipment, Pullman treated these cars service-wise as if they were the same – linen and bedding changed daily, etc. The Korean War again saw troop trains, but by Vietnam the numbers were down. This was due to availability of more large airplanes and also to the reduced capacity of the railroads. After the Korean War, some use of rail was made for reservists going to summer camp. I remember Lackawanna trains in the summer going to Camp Drum near Watertown from New Jersey.

My one and only involvement with troop trains was to go from Junction City, Kansas to Oakland, California in September, 1965. I never made a written record of this trip (who expected to be writing about it 25 years later and besides I had other things on my mind). I was part of a large movement of several trains but not in a position to know how many trains were required, what type of equipment was required, or the routes. Both men and equipment went West and not all trains took the same route.

The 1st Infantry Division consisted of 15,000 men and tons upon tons of equipment. As much as possible, our equipment was packed in containers which we trucked to rail sidings. Vehicles were driven on flat cars and then tied down. Fortunately, Fort Riley, Kansas had ample sidings at several spots. It was on the Union Pacific. Junction City was not a big rail center; it was named for the junction of two rivers, not the junction of two railroads (although a Katy branch once ran there and a Union Pacific branch to Concordia was intact but out of service). The Rock Island ran on the other side of the fort (a 104-mile branch between Belleville on the Colorado line and McFarland on the Tucumcari line), but was not used at all for this troop movement.

The trip began early in the morning (doesn’t everything in the Army?). I rode in a Union Pacific sleeper consisting of 4 double bedrooms, 4 compartments and 2 drawing rooms. I was approximately fifteen cars back but every once in a while I could spot at least three cab units pulling us. Our diner was also Union Pacific and had real china, glasses and tablecloths. While I was an officer, I understand that everybody in the division had comparable transportation. A 1940-era draftee would have felt out of place.

1965 was near the end of good intercity rail transportation. My understanding was that Pullman was contractor to the military to assemble the equipment. They pulled equipment from railroads all over the country. The resulting trains looked like the “rainbow trains” in the first years of Amtrak.

We ran day and night, but held up several times for as long as two hours. We went west to Denver, then through Wyoming to Utah. At Ogden, we ended up on the Southern Pacific “Overland Route” through Reno and Sacramento to Oakland. The trip was almost 1900 miles and not as interesting as trains in the East. Remember Reno in the middle of the night: not very sophisticated looking place! The only real excitement was as we neared Oakland and each grade crossing was protected by National Guardsmen (the first train had delays because of war protestors). At Oakland, we pulled onto a siding that ran right on to the dock. This gave us only a short walk to the transport that sailed us across the Pacific.

Returning home a year later, I flew all the way to New York and then took a dilapidated New York Central train out of Grand Central. 1966 was about the low point of New York Central service (Penn Central only got worse), but I didn’t mind.

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REFERENCE SECTION

Military Rails Online
A GREAT site!
Military Railroads in the Civil War List of United States Railroads
USATC steam locomotives

CSX Military Movements

Military Movements from NERAIL

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nycentraltrooptrain1950

(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)

Big job looms, the New York Central is ready. Start of the Korean War in 1950. The New York Central Railroad had what it takes to move the military.

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troopfreedomtrain

Freedom Train Postcard

When I was much, much younger, I had a bunch of Freedom Train postcards, I cut them up for my stamp collection!

History of the 1947 Freedom Train
1975-1976 Freedom Train story
Museum of American Freedom Trains
Route of the 1947 Freedom Train
The cities, the mayors, much more

The Merci Train
More about Merci Train
Merci Train picture

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Military Transportation By Rail

Another subject I have always had an interest in is military transportation by rail. One use was the “white train” that was used to transport nuclear weapons from Pantex in Amarillo, TX to various military bases. Another use was the government / military “MX” plan to put missiles on rails and transport them around the United States thus making it very hard for “foreign powers” to track the where abouts of the missiles therefore making it hard to destroy the weapons. I was never a big fan of putting missiles on trains because the next logical step would have been to pass laws making it illegal to take pictures of trains in the interest of national security.

I’ve heard that the Southern Pacific would run special trains off of the Tucumcari line and bury these trains in the yard so that nobody would know that they were there. Usually they would had a white caboose and the people on the back of the caboose taking a smoke break carried weapons. Usually these trains would come in at about 3 or 4 in the morning, spend the day buried in the yard and leave the next night shortly after midnight. This would allow them to get out in the desert and be hidden again by daylight. This pattern would be repeated until they reached their destination.

I’ve always wondered if the white trains were a decoy. While everyone was watching them, the military would ship the stuff in the week before in a bunch of ratty looking old boxcars, or by plane or truck. That way if someone were to hijack the white train, all they get would be a bunch of empty boxes.

In July 2006, one of our reader’s responded: “They were real, they carried missiles, were white for a while until realizing the soviet satelites tracked them… and they ran from the Pantex plant in Amarillo, TX for 32 years – right throught the populated United states with nary a problem.”

Southern Pacific’s east/west traffic artery in Houston sees frequent military movements since the Port of Beaumont has become an important military port. Recently the ATSF handled heavy traffic out of Beaumont for a international military exercise in New Mexico. SP handles military traffic to and from Ft. Polk, Louisiana and Ft. Bliss in El Paso. Houston’s Barbours Cut container port is also used from time to time to handle military moves. Traffic was extremely heavy thru Houston during Desert Storm. Trains had cabooses used for the armed military escorts. Recent military trains have not had cabooses, allowing the common FREDs do perform sentry duty.

All the armor installations have rail connectivity (and the US military tends to own it’s own locomotive’s to switch around on-post). Ft. Lewis in Washington (the state) uses rail quite a bit, shipping tanks to Yakima test range for training missions, moving equipment from one fort to another. BN does all the work delivering to and picking up from Ft. Lewis. I don’t know if they switch on the base, or if the base has an active railroad crew and Army switcher.

Hospital rail cars were used to move wounded troops during wars beginning with the Civil War and ending with the Korean War. They ranged from flat cars in the Civil War to specially designed cars in the Second World War and Korean War. Now they use airplanes.

I heard a story about the Southern Pacific east of Tucson, Arizona. A military transport trains, with two (2) cabooses filled with marine guards bringing up the rear, was preparing to leave the Tucson yards and head east. The SP had given a radio to the marines in the cabooses so that they could talk with the engineers in the front of the train. As the train was leaving the yard, the engineer told whomever was using the radio in the cabooses something to the effect of “You all settle in back there now. We’ve got about 8 hours of travel ahead of us and so you might as well get a good nights sleep”. The engineer got a typical “Roger” to the message.

As the train was making it’s way out of town, it came across a track side detector east of the yard. Southern Pacific detectors in the area have “female” voices. The young marines had quite a time trying to respond to that female voice announcing that there were no defects! “Hello?” “Come back to me” “Where are you?” “Are you all alone?”

Finally, the engineer came on the radio and with a great deal of patience explained why that female would not be responding to his inquiries.

How about locomotives’ liveries? In WWII, obviously the steam engines were painted BLACK with big white numbers, usually on the tender and cab, and “United States”. During the diesel age, the engines are usually blue (Navy and Air Force) or black or gray (Army) with white numbers and “United States xxxx” with xxxx denoting the branch. “Steel Rails to Victory” written by Ron Ziel, about 1960, covers WWII pretty well with some action shots in Europe. And ALCo couldn’t build diesel RR locomotives because their prime movers were so good in SUBMARINES.

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trooptrainschedules1941

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koreanwarnyc

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The New Haven and the Military

In Weymouth along the Greenbush there was the Naval Ammunition Depot, its annex in Hingham, and the Bethlehem Steel shipyard in Hingham. The Bethlehem Steel shipyard in Quincy. In Hull there was Ft. Revere and supposedly some 16″ guns brought into Hull via rail during WW2. In South Weymouth the Plymouth line’s tracks pass right by the rear gate of NAS South Weymouth. Of course Camp Edwards on the Cape interacted with the NH. I’m curious about all aspects of the NH’s interaction with all military sites in its service area, small installations or large: NAS Cherry Point, RI, Westover AFB in Springfield, National Guard units, Groton, Submarine base, CT, Boston Navy Yard?

The New Haven had a switching yard (totalling about ten miles of track) at Camp Myles Standish. The New Haven was responsible for troop train movements and freight/supply for the camp. None of the yard remains as of today, although the ROW from Taunton to Mansfield can still be explored (one cannot get across Rte 495, however). Camp Miles Standish was a major staging area for the Boston Port of Embarkation in Boston Harbor. Camp Miles Standish was just one of many Army bases located in the Boston area. A Port of Embarkation was a place where troops were actually put on board troop ships and sent off to the war zones. On the New Haven side, the actual Port of Embarkation was the Boston Army Base on the South Boston waterfront. This was served by “Government Yard” which was adjacent to Commonwealth Pier and the Boston Fish Pier. Boston Navy Yard (Charlestown) was on the B&M side of the river. The NH did serve the Military RR in the Quonset point Fleet docks,and the Davisville RI. complex where the Groundpounders were.

There is substantially more to see, from a railroad perspective, at the old Hingham Ammunition Depot annex in Hingham, MA. Known as Wampatuck State Park today, the tracks leading into the Hingham Ammunition Depot annex were refurbished sometime during the 1960s in anticipation of processing rail shipment during the Vietnam War, which apparently never happened. The tracks leading into this facility cross Route 3A near the Hingham/Scituate line and if you walk about a mile into the woods along the tracks you’ll find plenty of tracks and plenty of structures from WW2.

Most of this discussion so far has involved WW II.There are two other aspects — first the NH sponsorship of two military railway reserve outfits, the 729th Railway Operating Battalion and the 749th Railway Operating Battalion in WW II. The 729th served in Europe. The 749th served in the Philippines. The 729th was reorganized, again with NH sponsorship postwar, and served in the Korean War. The 729th was the predecessor unit of the present 1205th railway unit of the Army Reserve.

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Guarding New York Harbor, Governors Island has always been some kind of a military installation; now just an administrative place. It was reached by a ferry that left from the slip next to the Staten Island Ferry.

Surprisingly, at one time, Governors Island had its very own railroad.


The G.I.R.R. was only 1-3/4 miles long, but it was completely equipped with 3 cars and an engine. It was one of the smallest railroads in the world. There are no traces of the railroad on the Island today.

(Landfill from the excavation of the Lexington Avenue subway line in 1901 was responsible for the expansion of the Island to its current size.)

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Even the Coast Guard uses Railroads!

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Camp Trains on the New Haven
Like troop trains, camp trains were extra movements too.

I’ve seen a picture of a string of Pullmans stored at Cedar Hill. The caption says that the cars were pulled from storage in numerous locations. But looking from right to left in the picture there are a few cars that are out of place. The Pullman green car reads Northern Pacific above the windows, the next car looks like it is Union Pacific, and two cars to the right the paint scheme looks like Illinois Central. So what are these cars doing in Cedar Hill? Kind of strange to use Pullmans from the west just to hall kids home from camp.

These cars were all under lease to Pullman no matter what RR owned them and Pullman could use them in differing areas when they saw traffic such as the camp moves. Too many people think of passenger trains in a parochial was as all being matched and that was not the case in 90% of the trains. It was about available cars and space configuration. The main Pullman facility at Sunnyside was a riot of colors and road names due to interlining of space to NY station.

In addition to the summer camp trains for the kiddies, there were also summer camp trains for the grown-ups – National Guard soldiers going to the Cape, Fort Devens, and other training areas.

The early 1960’s were the last years for many of these veterans as day one of Penn Central they made it known that they would not handle any more camp specials over any part of the former NHRR. By this time were no heavyweight Pullmans in regular use and Amtrak was only three years into the future.

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Anyone getting any ideas about enlisting in the US Army reserve (yes, they have railway units) should realize ahead of time that, in the future, USAR intends to recruit its personnel from industries with the skills it seeks so it can focus on combat training during drill weekends and annual training. That means they’re looking for people who are already railroaders who can bring their skills to the unit, where they will spend their limited training time preparing for combat. If you seek to get rail training and significant experience by joining the Reserve, it’s not going to work, and as a member of the Transportation Corps you may just find yourself driving a truck in Iraq – perhaps not quite what you had in mind.

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Ammunition Trains on the New Haven
Various coastal defense gun batteries existed in New England up through World War Two. These included some very large gun installations such as the 12 inch coastal guns at Battery Milliken in New Bedford.

From places such as Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois and other govermnment munitions plants, or munitions storage sites (such as Hawthorn Naval Weapons Depot, Nevada), the New Haven Railroad would have been the only way to transport munitions (artillery shells, propellants, fuzes) to such coastal defense sites.

Munitions would have travelled in appropriately placarded boxcars, which may or may not have had military escorts. As individual cars carrying Class A Explosives, handling of such would have required special notice to the train crews.

Ammunition and other military shipments of a dangerous nature always required and still do require special handling. Cars have to be placed no closer than five cars from the engine or caboose. The cars often had escorts from the military and sometimes they had speed restrictions too. Of course these cars could not be humped. Both humps at Cedar Hill had a track behind the hump called the “Dynamite Track” which would often be used for cars of this nature if they moved in a regular freight train. Sometimes cars with certain items were moved in special trains and sometimes these trains would not necessarily move via the main lines.

 

Issues of the Coast Artillery Journal
feature numerous articles on Coast Artillery railway units and equipment. Here are a couple of samples:
Sep-Oct 1942: Railway Machine Shop Cars
Nov-Dec 1942: The Railway Artillery is Ready to Roll

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Viet Nam Troop Trains

vietnamprotests


Picture above is protestors blocking a troop train.

Over 40 million men and women served in W.W.II and almost every one of them rode a Troop Train during that war. In the latter part of the war on any given day over one million servicemen were riding a Troop Train. The US was averaging 2500 Troop Trains a month.

We continued to use trains to transport soldiers during the Korean War. Large numbers of military units in the eastern half of the US rode trains to the West Coast to ship out to Japan, and then Korea.

The last major troop train to be used was in 1965 when 15,000 men and their equipment from the 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) rode the rails from Ft. Riley, Kansas, to Oakland, California on their way to Vietnam. I never realized at the time I “rode” in it that it was the last major one. Makes sense though. By 1965, passenger was passé. It was probably tough to find all the equipment. What we had was a bunch of “rainbow” trains.

During W.W.I and W.W.II railway bridges and tunnels were guarded to prevent sabotage from disrupting the critical flow of troops and supplies. When the 1st Infantry Division deployed to Vietnam many of the same bridges were guarded against American war protesters trying to stop the Army from sending solders to another foreign battle ground. Times had changed since the Pearl Harbor generation rode the rails to war.

My one and only involvement with troop trains was to go from Junction City, Kansas to Oakland, California in September, 1965. I never made a written record of this trip (who expected to be writing about it 25 years later and besides I had other things on my mind). I was part of a large movement of several trains but not in a position to know how many trains were required, what type of equipment was required, or the routes. Both men and equipment went West and not all trains took the same route.

The 1st Infantry Division consisted of 15,000 men and tons upon tons of equipment. As much as possible, our equipment was packed in containers which we trucked to rail sidings. Vehicles were driven on flat cars and then tied down. Fortunately, Fort Riley, Kansas had ample sidings at several spots. It was on the Union Pacific. Junction City was not a big rail center; it was named for the junction of two rivers, not the junction of two railroads (although a Katy branch once ran there and a Union Pacific branch to Concordia was intact but out of service). The Rock Island ran on the other side of the fort (a 104-mile branch between Belleville on the Colorado line and McFarland on the Tucumcari line), but was not used at all for this troop movement.

The trip began early in the morning (doesn’t everything in the Army?). I rode in a Union Pacific sleeper consisting of 4 double bedrooms, 4 compartments and 2 drawing rooms. I was approximately fifteen cars back but every once in a while I could spot at least three cab units pulling us. Our diner was also Union Pacific and had real china, glasses and tablecloths. While I was an officer, I understand that everybody in the division had comparable transportation. A 1940-era draftee would have felt out of place.

1965 was near the end of good intercity rail transportation. My understanding was that Pullman was contractor to the military to assemble the equipment. They pulled equipment from railroads all over the country. The resulting trains looked like the “rainbow trains” in the first years of Amtrak.

We ran day and night, but held up several times for as long as two hours. We went west to Denver, then through Wyoming to Utah. At Ogden, we ended up on the Southern Pacific “Overland Route” through Reno and Sacramento to Oakland. The trip was almost 1900 miles and not as interesting as trains in the East. Remember Reno in the middle of the night: not very sophisticated looking place! The only real excitement was as we neared Oakland and each grade crossing was protected by National Guardsmen (the first train had delays because of war protestors). At Oakland, we pulled onto a siding that ran right on to the dock. This gave us only a short walk to the transport that sailed us across the Pacific.

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fortrileylocomotives

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During Operation Desert Storm, Fort Riley could deploy an entire division in 28 days. Now an entire division can be deployed in about seven days. This is made possible with a recent $13.5 million expansion project of the rail yard at Camp Funston.

The newly expanded yard will be opened with a ceremonial golden spike event at 11:30 a.m. April 1 “It gives us a tremendous capability to increase the speed of deployment and make it a rapid deployment,” said Richard Wollenberg, installation transportation officer, Directorate of Logistics. “Now, we are really back to where we should have been five or six years ago when the war began, and so we’re looking at moving an entire brigade out of here in a day and a half; that’s 200 rail cars every 12 hours and 400 rail cars every 24 hours.”

Brig. Gen. Randal Dragon, deputy commanding general-support, 1st Infantry Division, and James Young, Union Pacific president, will drive in the golden spike, signifying the completion of the project and opening of the rail yard.

Shown below is a picture of what Camp Funston used to look like.

campfunston

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1917-04-28-guardsmen-killed-by-a-train

We had an inquiry from the New York Guard concerning this incident. (newspaper at top) The New York Guard is compiling its history and requested our help.

eastcreek

Shown above is an overhead view of the New York Central Railroad bridge over East Creek. The location is on the New York Central Mohawk Division between Little Falls and Amsterdam.

eastcreekstreetview

We found a “street view” of the bridge view” of the bridge from the parallel State Route 5. The railroad bridge looks to be a two truss bridge. It would have carried four sets of tracks in 1917 (only 2 now).

eastcreekrailbridge

So this is the spot where the two NY State Guardsmen were killed in the First World War.

They were walking on the track and hit by a NY Central M&E Train and died instantly

Then Google Maps had an actual picture of the bridge

Elsewhere, the New York Guard had a First Provisional Regiment guarding the aqueduct to NYC, one man was struck by a train and lost his legs and died. That was down near NY City. The Second Provisional Regiment guarded the Erie Canal, bridges, Niagara power houses and munition plants all upstate. These were the State active duty part of a NY Guard reserve force statewide of 15,000 during WWI replacing the National Guard when it was activated.

The New York Guard has the complete history of the First but nearly nothing on the Second and they are trying to piece things together from news articles, etc.

Of course, that was just WWI. The NYG was again organized in WWII, and finally stayed in place starting in the 1950s.

There was also have a train incident on a bridge 9 miles east of Elmira, and a sniper incident on that same bridge.

The New York Guard is the State Defense Force of New York State. The New York State Guard is one of the largest and best organized State Guards in the United States and is historically derived from Revolutionary and Civil War era State military units that were reorganized several times in American history in response to various international and domestic crises.

Organized under the Military Law, State of New York, the New York Guard cannot be federalized and cannot be deployed outside New York State without the consent of the governor.

Members of the New York Guard are entitled to many of the benefits accorded members of other components of the ‘Organized Militia of the State of New York,’ the legal collective term describing the New York Army and Air National Guards, New York Naval Militia and New York Guard. These include ‘military leave’ for employees of state or local governments and many private employers.

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Merci Train


The symbol of the Merci Train is a frontal view of a steam engine with flowers on the pilot which are symbolic of Flanders Field, where many American “Doughboys” from WW1 are buried. The drawing was adopted as the official symbol of the French Merci Train Committee, and a plaque of the drawing was placed on each of the Merci box cars. The committee also had gift tags made bearing the symbol, and one accompanied each of the more than 52,000 gifts that came in the box cars.

The Merci Train was a train of 49 French railroad box cars filled with tens of thousands of gifts of gratitude from at least that many individual French citizens. They were showing their appreciation for the more than 700 American box cars of relief goods sent to them by (primarily) individual Americans in 1948. The Merci Train arrived in New York harbor on February 3rd, 1949 and each of the 48 American states at that time received one of the gift laden box cars. The 49th box car was shared by Washington D.C. and the Territory of Hawaii.

Parades and ceremonies of welcome were conducted in the state capitols and major cities of almost all the states. The largest and most attended was in New York City where more than 200,000 people turned out to welcome that state’s assigned box car.

A description of all of the gifts that were in the box cars would fill many books, and the stories of the origins of those gifts would fill many more. The box cars themselves were antiques by 1949, having been built between the years of 1872 and 1885, which means that those still surviving today are more than 100 years old.

Forty-and-eights were French 4-wheel boxcars used as military transport cars (the term itself refers to the cars’ carrying capacity, said to be 40 men or eight horses). Built starting in the 1870s as regular freight boxcars, they were originally used in military service by the French army in both World Wars, and then later used by the German occupation in World War II and finally by the Allied liberators.

During the war years the cars ferried troops, prisoners of war, horses, freight, and infamously the Jews and others the Nazis considered “undesirables” rounded up in France and sent to concentration camps and likely death in the Holocaust. Trains of “Forty-and-eights” were frequent targets of opportunity for Allied fighter-bombers operating over occupied France, since they likely held German troops or supplies; unfortunately sometimes a train of prisoners was indistinguishable from a troop train.

In 1949, France sent 49 of those boxcars to the United States (one for each State then in existence and one for Washington DC and Hawaii to share) laden with various treasures, as a gift for the liberation of France. This train was called the Merci Train, and was sent in response to trains full (over 700 boxcars) of supplies known as the American Friendship Train sent by the American people to France in 1947.

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hospitalcar

Hospital Cars

The cars were operated in WW2 in both the European and Domestic Theatres. The trains (at least in the USA) were equiped with at least one car equipped as an operating room to perform any emergency surgeries that might be needed during transport. There was another car that was more like a clinic or doctors office for changing dressings.

The whole idea of a hospital train was to provide a fully equipped hospital on wheels to take to where it was needed and to park. These were more like med-evac flights of today where a large # of patients are transported out. The operation of these trains was more or less for supervised care of patients while in transport.

The use of a Hospital Train today for disaster relief in many ways doesn’t hold up as they really aren’t a hospital on wheels, they are more like a really big/long super-capable ambulance. An Army CSH (pronounced “CASH” today’s decendent of a MASH unit) is much more capable and able to get to where people need them. A hospital train is dependendent on rails being intact where’as a CSH can be trucked or flown in avoiding destroyed RR tracks.

A scenerio that could work well for a hospital-train might be to have some to evac hospitals or nursing home before a disaster avoiding the need to assemble a large convoy of ambulances.

I would have to say the best way to get a hospital to a disaster is if near water, hospital ship (US has 2 USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort), anyplace else, Military “tent hospital” (parts are also containerized)like an Army CSH. The Army CSH can be flown in using planes that can use improvised landing strips, or they can be trucked in. An Army Cash also has field kitchen facilities capable of serving large numbers of people including staff and a full patiend load. They can also set up shop in buildings.

Very briefly, railway surgery was the medical specialty devoted to caring for railway employees, and sometimes non-employee family members or injury victims. A railway surgeon was a physician who practiced railway surgery. Railway surgeons provided a wide range of care including trauma care and occupational health services. They worked out of their own offices or at hospitals and clinics the railroads established. Many employee timetables contained a listing of them.

See more about

hospital trains

rhoadeshospitaloandw

Rhoades Hospital was built during WW2 and was served by the Ontario & Western who ran numerous hospital trains into this facility near Utica, New York.

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An old train that has always interested me was the New York Central Rexall Train.

The engine was an L-2 Mohawk #2998 or #2873 (I have conflicting stories). It was the predecessor to the L-3a dual purpose Mohawks (4-8-2’s) 3000-3024. The NYC used 4-8-2 Mohawks for fast freight service on the water level route hence the name Mohawk not Mountain. The Mohawks started in the 2500 and 2600 L-1 class and moved to the L-2 2700,2800 and 2900 classes. These were all freight engines with 69″ drivers. I believe the Rexall engine and one other were rebuilt with 72″ drivers and counter balance for higher speeds. The 3000 series L-3 class had several subseries (a, b, and c) that were built by Alco and Lima. The 3000-3024 were the only dual purpose engines. The last series of Mohawks were the L-4a and b 3100 series engines. These were real brutes and all were dual purpose engines. These were the final extension of the 4-8-2 type on the NYC and the 4-8-4 Niagara 6000-6025 S-1a, S1b and 5500 poppet valved S-2 were built in 1945-46.

I do know that Bert Daniels, who was road foreman of engines for the NYC, was the engineer on this train which ran from September 15, 1936 until November 21, 1936. From the news clippings it appears that this train was some kind of Convention Special tour train. The articles state that it was a 12 car train with air-conditioning which had a streamlined engine identical to the Commodore Vanderbilt engines that pulled the 20th Century Limited at that time. It also had an auxiliary booster engine on the trailer wheels that gave an additional 15,000 lbs. of tractive effort in starting. Was this engine a precursor to the Niagara type engines? The article states that the engine had 4 drivers to a side instead of the customary Pacific type. The only photos of the engine are mostly frontal and seem to show a 4 wheel leading truck. The train was nicknamed “Old Roxie” and from the schedule that is included in the book appears to have traveled from Boston to Albany, NY then through PA, Ohio, Ind, Ill, Iowa, Ky, W.Va, Va, NC, SC, Ga, Tenn, Miss, Ala, Fla, and ended up in Chicago then on to Seattle. The book states that this train covered 29,000 miles overall. At one point while on the NorthWestern it had covered 14,000 miles without being shopped. The only thing that had been done to it was inspections. It was also an oil burner because coal wasn’t available in the Southwestern area. Instead of a “Johnson Bar’ it had a wheel reverse gear and also had automatic train control.

Pictures and info on the Rexall Train appear in Arthur Dubin’s “Some Classic Trains” (or “Some Classic Trains II”). It was an exhibition train which Rexall (United Drug Company) packed with demonstrations and exhibits of all of the company’s wares and took around the country to show to its many pharmacy franchisees.

Rexall Train of 1936. These rolling drug stores exhibited common Rexall products, and offered new and improved “suggestions” on how to configure local Rexall stores to a “common plan” using the latest and most modern materials, including adding soda fountains. The Rexall train was intended primarily for the annual Rexall Druggists Convention of the era, and was their show piece. It was primarily a demo train for the druggists, and not a retail store for the public. The public still had to use the “in place” Rexall stores in their immediate areas. It is interesting to note that the term “druggist” was used back then. Today,we call them “pharmacists” or “pharmacy technicians”. “Rexall” seems to have gone away. The last time I saw a Rexall store was in the mid 60s. Since then, well, a different named drug store is on every corner these days. Never heard of a Walgreens, Hooks, Rite Aide Longs, Eckerds, or CVS train yet.

Aubrey Wiley has created a WebPage about the

1936 Rexll Train in Virginia.

burtdanielspicture

Bert Daniels, engineer on the Rexall train, had an unusual career with the New York Central.


He became a freight engineer, then served in World War I with the 54th Transportation Corps in Europe. After the war he returned to Utica and in 1925 was advanced to passenger engine service. Two years later he became road foreman of engines, a position he held until 1940 when he was promoted to supervisor of fuel and locomotive performance. In 1942 he was promoted to trainmaster at Rochester, and was transferred to Utica in 1943.

In 1953 he requested a return to road service. His seniority was intact and he had his pick of trains on the Mohawk Division. His choice was the Ohio State Limited.

The engine was NYC 2873, a Mohawk 4-8-2 converted to burn oil for this use on the train and the streamline cowling was inspired by the Commodore Vanderbilt Hudson 5344. The locomotive lost its streamline cowling after use on the Rexall train and converted back to burning coal.

I picked up a lot of information frpm New York Central online forums.

The train was painted blue and white, with red lettering on the locomotive, white lettering and black roof on the cars. The cars were all fairly stock Pullman cars (mostly parlors) which received rounded roofs and full width diaphragms to create the appearance of a streamliner. Other than the streamlined roof and the diaphragms little was done to modernized the cars, though most interiors were stripped.

The cars used were as follows and all cars were Pullman owned at the time that the train ran. The first name is the car’s Pullman name, the second (in quotation marks) is its Rexall name, the car’s previous configuration and dispositions are also provided:

Whitney, Rexall “Kantleek”, baggage-club – to Alton 419, to GM&O 419.

Haldeman, Rexall “First Aid”, 16 section sleeper – to Pullman tourist sleeper 4278, to SPMW 5554.

Lanesville, Rexall “Ad-Vantage” , 36-seat parlor – to PRR coach 1205 (1942)

Norwich, Rexall “Research”, 36-seat parlor – to PRR 1204 (1942)

Bolton, Rexall “Bisma-Rex”, 36-seat parlor – to PRR 1202 (1942)

Halifax, Rexall “Cara-Nome”, 36-seat parlor – to PRR 1203 (1942)

Hadlyme, Rexall “Klenzo”, 36-seat parlor – to Tourist car 6070, to MP (1950)

#22 ex-Wanakena, Rexall “Symphony”, originally a 16 Section sleeper rblt. to a dining car – to ACL

Hingham, Rexall “Adrienne”, 36-seat parlor – to Tourist car 6071 – to MP (1950)

Montwait, Rexall “Mi-31”, 36-seat parlor – to Tourist car 6072 – to MP (1950)

Ridgeville, Rexall “Joan Manning”, 10 Compartment sleeper – to Royal American Shows (1958)

Newport, Rexall “Puretest” – to NP business car 4 (1941)

Kentleek (originally Pullman Plan 2415H) was configured as a generator – workshop – storage car, probably one of the earliest examples of head-end power being used. The generators were needed for powering the AC, lights and display motors. Not open to the public.

First Aid, built to Pullman Plan 2412F, retained its 16 Sections for the Rexall crew and staff and was not open to the public.

Ad-Vantage, Research, Bisma-Rex and Cara Nome, all were stripped of their interiors and set up for displays, with Ad-Vantage also featuring a soda fountain. All four cars were open to the public and featured the many products that Rexall made.

Klenzo, built to Pullman Plan 2916, was stripped of its interior and set up as an 88-seats lecture car which doubled as a dance hall after hours. The Rexall band accompanied the train on its tour and provided music for the staff, as well. This car was not open to the public, only to pharmacist and druggists.

Symphony, originally built to Pullman Plan 2412C it was rebuilt by Pullman into a Plan 4004 dining car, which served the crew and staff of the train, as well as feeding druggists lunch, but not open to the public.

Adrienne, built to Pullman Plan 2916, was also stripped of its interior and set up as an 88-seats lecture car. This car was not open to the public, only to pharmacist and druggists.

Mi-31, built to Pullman Plan 2916, was stripped and converted to a bar-lounge-dance hall car, where store owners and druggists were entertained. The car was not open to the public.

Joan Manning, built to Pullman Plan 2416, retained its compartment configuration and was used by the train’s crew and staff. The car was not open to the public.

Puretest, built to Pullman Plan 2502B, was a 4 Compartment private observation car, was said to be used by the Rexall president.

I believe the shroud material removed from the locomotive at the end of its tour and stored at West Albany for a few years, probably going into one of the scrap drives during WWII.

bertdanielsdinner

Bert Daniels was a close friend of my grandfather Ken Knapp.

When he went from Trainmaster to the Ohio State Limited, he took a vacation in Europe. Mr. and Mrs. Daniels even brought me back a present! I got small cloth patches with the emblams of Nice, Cannes and Monaco. My grandmother sewed these on my sweater (and sewed them on other sweaters as I grew).

Now the rest of the story! 50+ years later I live in Nice, France and my busness involves Monaco.

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