4th of July 2024 – Let Freedom Ring

The importance of that message and reverence for that date was not lost on the American
Railroads, especially after prolonged World War II. That conflict, among other valuable lessons,
revealed the dangers of imbalance in society and unchecked governance. Railroads and the
Federal Government used those lessons learned to underscore the importance of freedom and
democracy and took that to the Nation by way of the American Freedom Train of 1947.
An ALCO PA diesel-electric locomotive pulled the 1947 train, which carried the original versions
of the United States Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Truman Doctrine, and the Bill of
Rights on its tour of more than 300 cities in all 48 states. ( Alaska and Hawaii did not gain
statehood until 1959) The train toured all of the U.S. states that existed at the time. It surpassed
the famous Rexall Train of 1936 as being first train to visit all 48 contiguous states. The train
ended its public tour in 1948 but was then displayed at the Chicago Railroad Fair. Some may
argue we need a National refresher course in 2024.

The concept was revived and modified with the American Freedom Train, that toured the country
in 1975–76 to commemorate the United States Bicentennial. That version was a blend of
significant Government displays and material objects that were icons within our culture. The 26-
car train was powered by 3 newly restored steam locomotives. The first to pull the train was the
former Reading Company T-1 class 4-8-4 #2101. The second was the former Southern Pacific #
4449, a 4-8-4 steam locomotive which pulled the train through the Western region. The third was
the former Texas & Pacific 2-10-4 #610, which pulled the train in Texas. The three steam
locomotives pulled the train for most regions of the country but in certain cities and regions, tight
curves and light bridges prevented the use of any of the steam locomotives so diesel-electric
locomotives filled in. After the tour, locomotive #2101 was then used on the Chessie Steam
Special and the display cars, converted from former NYC and PC baggage cars, were sold to
Canada for a similar exhibition operation later on. Locomotive #2101 is currently displayed in its
American Freedom Train livery and is on display at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore.
The image of the Liberty Bell was also employed at various times to underscore the message Let
Freedom Ring. Giant Pennsylvania Railroad and its hometown headquarters at Philadelphia
naturally took greater advantage of that theme in the form of the PRR Liberty Limited, that linked
Chicago and Washington and later the Red Arrow Lines, also based in Philadelphia, fielded the
Liberty Liner, which was a refurbished former North Shore streamlined trainset they introduced in
the early 1964 but was retired by 1977.

Model railroaders know the value of freedom we enjoy by pursuing our hobby any way we wish.
That freedom extends to selection of specific locomotives, rolling stock and accessories. A great
place to maximize that freedom is by checking our inventory of everything imaginable to support
the most discriminating requirements. We appreciate the time you spend with us online, by email
and calls to our Customer Service Associates. Above All, we wish you and your family a safe and
Happy 4th of July!!!

Frank Wrabel