US Railroads

Discussion in 'USA' started by Earthican, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Since the railroad was the primary method for national travel in the 1930's and '40's, I occasionally search items of interest, such as: how many people can a US coach-car carry? I came across this site which has many "route maps" of that era -- almost too many.

    It seems regional railroads organized on a "trunk line" system, perhaps similar to the "hub" system of today's airlines.

    The list is so long that I had to browse for a while but eventually recognized many of the large operators such as

    New York Central
    Baltimore and Ohio
    Great Northern
    Chicago Great Western
    Union Pacific
    Southern Pacific
    also some Canadian railroads

    For viewing the "route maps", right click the image and select "View Image" on most browsers. If not any more clear, there is usually a larger image available.

    "Route maps" are nice but if you want to see the actual rail lines you will need to do more searching. I found this for the Pennsylvania.

    Route Map

    Of course the US Army chartered trains from the regional Reception Centers to the many new training camps -- mostly 'down South'. But soldiers on leave, before going overseas, often took the train home and back to camp.

    Units moving to their Port of Embarkation also moved by chartered trains -- a whole Division by several trains. Soldiers often described these "troop trains" as slow and low priority based on their time spent on sidings letting other trains pass.
  2. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    What an interesting post thank you for the link Elsie
  3. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson Member

    There are some terrific WW2 Troop Train videos posted on YouTube now.
    Well worth checking out. One of many:

    "Evocative World War II-era film following a troop train: the coordination of effort; its staging and assembly of cars, cargo and passengers;
    its heavily guarded journey through the American countryside; and the food, sleep, exercise, training, drilling and recreation of its soldier-passengers."
    Earthican and Owen like this.
  4. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Thank you for the additions, open to all things railroad.

    I just read this yesterday. It is from Peter Layton Cottingham's memoir of his time with the First Special Service Force. He describes his train travel from Fort Harrison, Colorado to Swan River, Manitoba. This is the first account that could name all the 'rail lines' he used to get home. His father worked for the railroad so I guess these details stuck better with him than others.

    Great Northern to Minot, North Dakota
    Soo Line to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
    Canadian Pacific to Regina, Saskatchewan
    Canadian National to Swan River, Manitoba

    Looking at the route maps his trip may have been even more indirect than it sounds.

    For a portion of his travel he did get to ride on the engine with the engineer and fireman. Apparently at 60 miles per hour the engine "was bucking and heaving and jerking from side to side" -- "about to jump the rails". I don't think they push the remaining steam engines to their limit anymore.
  5. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    I came across this itinerary of a soldier traveling from Columbia, S.C. to Minneapolis, Minn.

    On this website I noticed FDR making an inspection tour of bases and factories from 13 to 29 April 1943 -- all by train. I found the list impressive.
  6. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Marion Sanford of the 30th ID described his trip in August, 1942 from central Alabama to For Riley KS, where he took basic training:

    He was not allowed off of the train until the last day, not too far up the tracks Fort Riley, and then only to eat a meal at the rail station.

    Attached is train tickets he had left over from a separate trip back to Fort Riley in 1943.

    Train Ticket - Front.jpg
  7. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    This veteran had a particular memory of the last of the steam train era.

  8. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    can still hear the haunting sound of the Canadian Pacific steam train leaving Calgary for the daunting trip through the Rockies at 10p.m. most nights in

    the long past days of the 60's…sounds that stay with you…

  9. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day earthican,sm,26 dec,2013, had a great train trip from norfolk virginia to halifax.we had handed our carrier back to the us navy,after leaving the pacific when the jap war ended.the crew got the train on the warf were we tied was great,a pull down bed, just like you see in us films.a smart porter would come round telling you what mealtime you went was all 1st class,we stoped at different towns the main one was new york.but we could not leave the a matter of interest.that night joe chanpion boxer was defending his was 1946.he won.the trip took 3 days.i think they could do it faster but wartime condisions may have slowed us down.regards bernard85 :icon_sleepy:
    Fred Wilson likes this.

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