Railroad Stories: Military Trains Were Everywhere in the 1940s

Military trains were a common sight during World War II.

| Good Old Days

I was 11 years old in 1941, when World War II began. The railroads immediately became the means of transportation for the military. It was a daily occurrence to see passenger trains moving in each direction with waving soldiers hanging out of every open window. Freight trains were an equally common sight. Military priority took preference over all civilian travel. It was next to impossible for anyone other than military personnel to travel by rail.

Gas rationing grounded automobiles. Since I was too young to drive, it wasn't an option for me anyway. This, coupled with my need to travel, brought me to the bus. I made many trips between Denver and Buena Vista, Colo.

In 1947, I joined the Navy in Denver, and was given a week to return to Buena Vista, Colo., to settle my affairs before heading to boot camp. They gave me a voucher to catch the train, and when I expressed my preference for the bus, I was informed that the military only used the railroad.

I reluctantly boarded the train for what was to be a very enjoyable and memorable trip. We headed south, making two passenger stops. A swing to the west took us to our next stop. We had just entered the Royal Gorge, when the train stopped and the passengers were allowed to step out and admire the view of the sheer rock canyon and the suspension bridge, 1000 feet above.

The trip resumed, and I have to say, it was the most scenic adventure I've ever had. It was also educational. I learned to close the window in a tunnel. The smoke and cinders have to go somewhere, and if the window is open, they'll go in it. The trip lasted nine hours and was a day well-spent.

I am sorry to say, that experience is no longer available. I didn't realize that trains were passing into history until they were gone.

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April 27-28, 2019
Asheville, N.C.

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe today

Capper's FarmerWant to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at Grit.com — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $22.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds