Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Moving Troops in World War II

At the start of World War II, the railroads were still king of the castle in the transportation game. Airplanes were around but no major airlines existed to move passengers. Most planes were still only single or double seated with only a few larger aircraft. The country would have to rely on the railroads to help them win the war. They handled 90% of domestic military supply and 97% of domestic troop movements during the war years which totals about one million troops a month. Every possible car was pressed into service because of rationing only limited numbers of new cars were built.
What new cars were built were designed and authorized by the Defense Plant Corporation run by the U.S. Government. The DPC authorized the Pullman Car Company to build 2,500 sleeper cars for use on troop trains. Though the cars were owned by the government, they were operated by Pullman which insisted that Pullman porters were placed on every car. Another 400 kitchen cars were also built to feed the troops on the trains.
The Pullman Troop Sleeper car in our collection is numbered 7437 and was built in May 1944. After the war, most of the cars were sold as surplus. 7437 was purchased by the Western Maryland Railway and converted for use on their wreck train in Elkins, West Virginia. It was retired in 1988 when it was donated to the museum. In 1995 it was restored to its original exterior colors and lettering and the interior was partially restored to show what it looked like while in service. The exterior was refinished again in 2004 and a display on the B&O during World War II was added.
The 7437 is on display and open every day at the museum. Join us November 12 and 13 for our observance of Veterans Day when we will have many displays and programs about World War II. There will be Jeeps, displays on the railroad during the war, and equipment displays about Army, Marine, and Coast Guard.

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