Veterans Day

We honor the men and women that have served our Great Nation in the various branches of the Armed Services and respectfully remember those that have given for their Country. Many aspects of our society have changed but the importance of this day must remain aloof and untainted from contemporary debates and division that we frequently witness.

One aspect of our military history that has changed drastically is the role railroads would play in any future global conflicts. Up through the conflict in Vietnam, the American Railroads have put forth a heroic effort at moving the troops and material necessary to assure victory. Technology has materially altered the entire scope of warfare and accordingly, railroads traditional participation would be greatly diminished aside from some strategic freight moves.

Because of the sheer volume of servicemen and women that that had to move on short notice, railroads frequently scrambled to press every serviceable piece of equipment in action to accommodate that traffic. Accordingly, troop trains were often comprised of older, non-air-conditioned equipment. The Pullman Company built a fleet of “Troops Sleepers” and support cars that were essentially built from the specifications of contemporary box cars and the Pennsylvania Railroad renovated a series of box cars into crude coaches. Prior to 1950 most of those trains were hauled by steam locomotives and the sum total of that less than luxurious travel io one reason why the troop trains are not fondly remembered.

Freight fleets were more easily expandable but motive power was another matter. Railroads often struggled to field enough locomotives to handle the influx of traffic on top of their regularly scheduled service. That demand gave often gave older locomotives and freight cars an extended lease on life.

The other end of the spectrum recalls when every Commander-in Chief traveled by train, a practice that vaporized after 1960. FDR was an avid rail traveler, and his armor-plated private car Ferdinand Magellan was often seen trailing a special train late at night all through World War II. Those Presidential Movements (identified as POTUS) were a mixed blessing for the railroad in part since all switches ahead of the train had to be spiked then un-spiked after the special passed and FDR preferred a leisurely speed of 45 to 50 MPH. Then the special had to stop at every mealtime since FDR did not like to dine on a moving train. All of that had to be accomplished under the crushing volume of wartime traffic.

So today we look back at the interdependence of the Armed Forces and railroads by way of historic images from the past. If you have the day off and spend time working on your own model railroading empire, we guarantee that our current selection has something that will enhance your model railroad journey.

FAW, MBK, Inc.