Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pullman Helps the War Effort

At the beginning of World War II, the B&O Railroad, along with the rest of the nation’s railroads, were not prepared for the massive amount of personnel and material that was to be transported across the country. Of troop movements in the US, 97 percent were handled by the railroads with an average of 1 million troops moved per month. As a result, the United States Government ordered 2,400 Troop Sleepers from the Pullman Company to help prevent overcrowding on regular train service. These cars were fashioned from existing boxcars or were built new based on standard steel boxcar design. Interiors were fitted with 30 bunks, each with two coat hangers and a rifle rack. The bunks were stacked three high and the middle bunk could be lowered to help create a seat for daytime travel. Each car also had drinking water as well as sinks and toilets. The Pullman Company insisted that each car have a porter just like regular Pullman cars in service on the railroads. One bunk was closed off just for the use of the porter.

After the War, the troop sleepers were sold as surplus and were bought by many different railroads. Our Troop Sleeper #7437 was sold to the Western Maryland Railroad which refitted and used the car as part of the wreck train, a special train designed to respond to derailments and wrecks used in Elkins, WV. After the Western Maryland Railway was merged into the Chessie System in the early 1970s the car was declared surplus once again. In 1988 the Troop Sleeper was donated to the Museum and, following its restoration, is exhibited with half of its interior restored to its WWII appearance. The other half of the car was left as modified by the Western Maryland Railway and now contains an exhibit on the B&O in WWII.

Travis Harry
Assistant Curator of Operations