Monday, December 3, 2018

The B&O Railroad Goes to War

Part VII: September -- November 1918
The Great War came to an end in the fall of 1918. In Europe, the allies advanced along the Hindenburg Line and launched the Meuse-Argonne offensive. In the United States, William G. McAdoo, Director-General of the United States Railroad Administration (USRA), visited several railroad systems and delivered stump speeches to encourage the purchase of additional war bonds and raise morale of railroad workers at home. He famously declared to Pennsylvania Railroad employees in Altoona, Pennsylvania: "Every bad order locomotive is a Prussian soldier." McAdoo traveled on the B&O and delivered speeches in Cumberland, Keyser, Grafton, and Charleston.

[B&O Railroad Museum Collection]

At this late stage of the war, employees in the service continued to perish in combat and fall to the Spanish Influenza outbreak. More than 25,000 Americans in the service fell victim to this worldwide epidemic. Even with the war winding down, employees continued to leave their jobs to serve in the military.
Pfaff, formerly an employee within the Valuation Department in Baltimore, served in France with the 539th Engineers, U.S. Army. On October 15, 1918, Pfaff became another victim of the Influenza epidemic. [B&O Railroad Museum Collection]
Even with the war winding down, employees continued to leave for the service. In the office of the Auditor of Passenger Receipts in Baltimore, a total of twenty five employees left to serve during World War I. [B&O Railroad Museum Collection]
In late September – early October, just weeks before the armistice, General John J. Pershing, commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, wrote to the war department, demanding immediate assistance in straightening out his military railroads in France. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, reached out to who he felt was the best railroad man in the country: President Daniel Willard of the B&O Railroad. Willard immediately accepted a colonelcy in the U.S. Army Engineers and was ordered to the front as soon as possible. Local Baltimore tailors were called in to fit him with a uniform. 

Willard never got the chance to go to France or fulfill his role in the U.S. Army. On October 5, his eldest son Harold Nelson Willard died. On October 9, Harold’s wife DeVoe Holmes Willard also passed away. Both were taken by the Influenza epidemic. Stricken with grief, Dan Willard was unable to accept his army appointment. 

As early as September 29, Germany approached the United States seeking a cessation of hostilities. It was not until November 11, 1918 that the Armistice was signed ending World War I. [B&O Railroad Museum Collection]
By wars end, the B&O Railroad Company sent 6,794 employees into military service. Of those, ninety seven did not return. Another one hundred and three employees were wounded. One employee is known to have earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the military's second highest medal for gallantry. The railroad transported hundreds of thousands of troops along the eastern United States and serviced several Army cantonments as well. 

The B&O performed exceptionally under government management of the nation's railroads. American railroads regained control over their companies in March of 1920. Though politically opposed to Woodrow Wilson and federal control of the railroad, Dan Willard was a valued leader in the industry and did everything asked of him and the B&O during the war period. At home and abroad, the B&O Railroad played a critical role in American involvement during World War I. 


By Harrison Van Waes
Curator, B&O Railroad Museum

The B&O Railroad Goes to War is a multi-part blog series commemorating the centennial of American involvement in World War I. This is the concluding section. Thank you for following along during this anniversary.


Baltimore & Ohio Employee Magazine [September 1918 - December 1918]

Hays T. Watkins Research Library & Archives, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

B&O Railroad Museum Debuts Late Author’s Memorial Book Launch

Baltimore, MD - Tuesday, October 9 at 5:30pm the B&O Railroad Museum will host James D. Dilts Memorial Book Launch debuting the author’s monumental work, The World the Trains Made, A Century of Great Railroad Architecture in the United States and Canada. This recently published book is the first comprehensive study of the broad range of structures built in North America for the railroads during their heyday, from high-rise office buildings to resort hotels to roundhouses and shops. Dilts delves into the personalities of the people who conceived these structures and examines the creative new uses that have been found for many of them today. Included in this lavishly illustrated, full-color volume is more than a hundred of the finest examples of fourteen different building types.
Jeremy Kargon of Morgan State University remarked, “Over the course of a century, industrialists, engineers, architects, and laborers created a robust material culture to support rail transportation and its passengers. Dilts’ book comprehensively documents that lost world and the history from which today’s North America emerged.”
Other books written by Dilts include The Great Road: The Building of the Baltimore and Ohio, the Nation’s First Railroad, 1828–1853; A Guide to Baltimore Architecture (with John R. Dorsey); and Baltimore’s Cast-Iron Buildings and Architectural Ironwork (with Catharine F. Black). Courtney B. Wilson, Executive Director of the B&O Railroad Museum, commented about his longtime friend, “Jim was an iconic figure to anyone even remotely interested in the B&O and its embryonic fits and starts. His masterwork, ‘The Great Road,’ is a must read. His early history of the railroad is unparalleled.”
On the evening of Tuesday, October 9, Mr. Wilson will welcome the Baltimore community to join him as they honor Dilts’ and his lifetime work devoted to historic preservation.  Recently donated items from James Dilts’ extensive personal library will be on display during the book launch. The collection includes notes and photographs from his first book The Great Road as well as never-before-seen research material for his new work, The World the Trains Made: A Century of Great Railroad Architecture in the United States and Canada. After brief remarks at 6pm, light refreshments will be served.
RSVP required by October 5 to Kathy Hargest, / 410-752-2490 x 207.
B&O Railroad Museum
901 W. Pratt St.
Baltimore, MD 21223
Free Parking

Friday, September 14, 2018

The B&O Railroad Goes to War

Part VI: June -- August 1918

The sixth of June is most often linked to the mighty "D-Day" landings during World War Two.  Before 1944, Americans remembered that day because of the fighting at Belleau Wood during the "Great War." 

On June 1, the Germans went on the offensive at Belleau Wood, facing off against an allied force of U.S., British, and French forces. The 5th & 6th Marines were brought up at the double quick to reinforce the French on the flank. With the Marines was 28 year-old Thomas H. Wales of Weston, West Virginia. Before the war, Wales served in the peace time force as a Marine. Before and after that stint he held a number of positions with the B&O in Weston . Once war was declared by the United States, Wales reenlisted in the Marine Corps on April 19, 1917. By August, Wales was serving in France.
The employee record for Thomas H. Wales. He first served in the Marine Corps between 1912 and 1917. Just two months after returning to the company he was back in the service. The record inaccurately lists him as returning to work in November of 1918. He was killed in action in June. [B&O Railroad Museum Collection]

A young Thomas Wales before the war. [B&O Railroad Museum Collection]

On June 6, 1918, elements of the 5th & 6th Marines took part in an assault on the German lines. They were met with heavy machine gun fire and engaged in fierce hand-to-hand combat. By the end of the fighting that day the Marines suffered over one thousand casualties, including Wales who was killed during the assault. The B&O mourned his loss. 

Back home, the B&O continued to promote the Third Liberty Loan through public relations activities and in the Employee Magazine. Many locomotives were outfitted with American flags and painted Liberty Loan slogans.  The company also campaigned for the "Second Red Cross War Fund," which netted $13,873 from the employees in Baltimore by the beginning of August.

In the summer of 1918, Barling used his locomotive B&O #1148 to secure $9,000 worth of Liberty Loan subscriptions in the Locust Point and Riverside areas of Baltimore, Maryland. [B&O Railroad Museum Collection]

On May 25, the United States Railroad Administration (USRA) announced a wage hike for a number of railroad workers in the industry. A wage commission formed by Director-General William G. McAdoo found that the current wage levels did not match the rising cost of living. In August, the USRA made another progressive move for railroad workers. In several locations, the agency opened railroad ticket schools to train women. There were not enough men to fill this role, so the government turned to women to fill this void. Upon completion of their training they were paid the same wage as a man doing the same job. 

"Mrs. Mary Chapman, coach cleaner at Fairmont. She has been in the service for a year and is in a class all by herself when it comes to a woman doing a man's work. She can couple steam hose, test air brakes and make repairs and do any other work that is to be done on a passenger train." [B&O Railroad Museum Collection]

B&O Railroad Museum Collection.
Throughout the summer of 1918, the B&O continued to make an impact both at home and abroad. Overseas, B&O employees took part in the Allied counter offensives that would ultimately help end the war. At home, all employees gave what they had and more to the Third Liberty Loan Drive. At home, women were going above and beyond with new opportunities in the work force. 


By Harrison Van Waes
Curator, B&O Railroad Museum

The B&O Railroad Goes to War is a multi-part blog series commemorating the centennial of American involvement in World War I. Follow along with this series through November 2018.


Baltimore & Ohio Employee Magazine [June 1918 - August 1918]

Hays T. Watkins Research Library & Archives, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum