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 Post subject: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 2:14 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:03 pm
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Purpose built funeral cars were fairly common among street railways and perhaps some interurban lines. But what about other railroads? The Oahu Railway and Land Company converted a second class coach into a funeral car in 1900 and built a new car in 1901 specifically for funeral service. Did any other railroad have a similar service using purpose built equipment?

Jeff Livingston


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 2:18 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
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Location: Tucson, Arizona
Steam roads typically transported human remains in the baggage car. Exceptions such as Lincoln or FDR typically required modifications to the car. In FDR's case, a window was removed from the car that his casket was placed in.

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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 2:36 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
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Location: Northern Illinois
That's a different service, handling human remains between stations to get them back to the desired city for burial.

Funeral cars, at least as developed by the street railway industry, were cars that could be chartered to take the body and the entire funeral party from the church or funeral parlor directly to the cemetery. The business developed because at the time the street railways likely had lines past all the churches in a city, and also out to the suburban areas where the cemeteries were located, and the roads were typically in poor condition for a good portion of the year. One thing about funerals; you can't schedule them for when the weather is good. The business died out as both roads and automobiles became better.

Both the Aurora Elgin & Chicago and the Chicago Rapid Transit catered to this business, transporting funeral parties from the city to the cemeteries in the western suburbs. The CRT had elevators at several elevated stations for the caskets.

I'm not aware of any "steam" railroad that offered the service.

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Dennis Storzek


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:09 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:34 am
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Location: Port Jefferson, NY (LIRR MP 57.5)
The USATC had a fleet of dedicated "mortuary cars" that were used during and after World War II to transport the remains of fallen servicemen to their home cities for burial. The cars were converted heavyweight Pullmans with the windows blocked out.

-Philip Marshall


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:14 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
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While I wouldn't be too overly surprised to find that some railroad someplace did it, I've never heard of any either, and Dennis has summed up the reasons very well.

Streetcars and Interurbans typically served both the churches and cemeteries quite well, and could easily accommodate these special moves, while a regular railroad would most likely not have such convenient access.


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:35 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:03 pm
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Gentlemen,

Thank you. In the case of the OR&L the funeral car service was from Honolulu to the Pearl City Cemetery, a distance of about 11 miles. The service was offered daily at a cost of $1.00 per corpse and 50 cents round trip for the living passengers. There was at least one documented occasion where the funeral train carried remains from Ewa back to Honolulu, about 18 miles, for internment there. I suspect that remains may have been moved from the further reaches of the OR&L's main line to Honolulu but I have not specifically looked for documentation. So far it appears that the OR&L may have been unique in providing this service operating as a common carrier.

Jeff Livingston


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:31 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
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Location: Northern Illinois
Was this on a regularly scheduled train (carrying other paying passengers) or a special trip just for the funeral?

After writing what I did above, I got to wondering how many funerals were arranged by enterprising funeral directors using regular scheduled train service. Most of the railroads that passed suburban cemeteries had a stop near the main gate; on the north side of Chicago the C&NW had a station just outside of Calvery Cemetery on the south side of Evanston, and the old Milwaukee Road line to Evanston had a stop just outside of Graceland cemetery called Buena Park. These stops were established because visiting the cemetery was once a popular weekend excursion, but there was nothing to prevent an enterprising funeral director from buying tickets for all the mourners and shipping the casket express. The only thing to prevent it would be lack of a baggage car on the train. Now I wonder how much of this business there might have been.

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Dennis Storzek


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:33 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
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Jeff Livingston wrote:
Gentlemen,

Thank you. In the case of the OR&L the funeral car service was from Honolulu to the Pearl City Cemetery, a distance of about 11 miles. The service was offered daily at a cost of $1.00 per corpse and 50 cents round trip for the living passengers.


Offered daily? Was there that much demand? Wow.


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:24 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:58 am
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The 42" gauge Prince Edward Island Railway often ran funeral trains between Charlottetown and the cemetery at Sherwood, a distance of only 0.9 miles. They would use a baggage car to carry the dearly departed and coaches for the guests, typically pulled by a gleaming 4-4-0.

However, the PEIR owned no dedicated funeral cars and this service died out with the onset of the automobile.

Steve Hunter


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:22 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
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Location: Southern California
philip.marshall wrote:
The USATC had a fleet of dedicated "mortuary cars" that were used during and after World War II to transport the remains of fallen servicemen to their home cities for burial. The cars were converted heavyweight Pullmans with the windows blocked out.
A recent issue of Railroad History published by the R&LHS) had an article about the movement of bodies being returned from Europe after the end of WWII. The government photos used to illustrate the article were those taken to document the government program; some of the cars used look like re-purposed hospital cars.

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Brian Norden


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:07 am 

Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:03 pm
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Gentlemen,

Thank you for your continued input. We know very little about these two OR&L funeral cars other than what can be gleaned from period newspaper accounts. The conversion of a second class coach into the first funeral car is based on empirical evidence only. Not photos of either car have been located and the disposition of both cars after the last internment in January 1906 is unknown. The service was offered daily but likely not used as often. The search will continue.

Jeff Livingston


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2016 10:31 am 

Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:34 am
Posts: 424
Location: Port Jefferson, NY (LIRR MP 57.5)
Brian Norden wrote:
philip.marshall wrote:
The USATC had a fleet of dedicated "mortuary cars" that were used during and after World War II to transport the remains of fallen servicemen to their home cities for burial. The cars were converted heavyweight Pullmans with the windows blocked out.
A recent issue of Railroad History published by the R&LHS) had an article about the movement of bodies being returned from Europe after the end of WWII. The government photos used to illustrate the article were those taken to document the government program; some of the cars used look like re-purposed hospital cars.


Here is a Life Magazine photo from 1947, taken at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in New York City:
Image
Image from http://members.trainweb.com/bedt/wardeadreturn/btwardeadreturn36a.jpg


More images here: http://members.trainweb.com/bedt/milrr/batbtww2repat.html

-Philip Marshall


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Funeral Cars
PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:48 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2145
Location: Northern Illinois
philip.marshall wrote:
Brian Norden wrote:
philip.marshall wrote:
The USATC had a fleet of dedicated "mortuary cars" that were used during and after World War II to transport the remains of fallen servicemen to their home cities for burial. The cars were converted heavyweight Pullmans with the windows blocked out.
A recent issue of Railroad History published by the R&LHS) had an article about the movement of bodies being returned from Europe after the end of WWII. The government photos used to illustrate the article were those taken to document the government program; some of the cars used look like re-purposed hospital cars.


Yes, many (all?) the mortuary cars were rebuilt hospital cars. By the time the repatriation of remains was in full swing, the war in the Pacific had ended and with it the need to transport badly wounded servicemen. But, to the first comment, many of those hospital cars were initially rebuilt from Pullman lounge cars and all room sleepers, so that statement is also correct.

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