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 Post subject: Re: Help with Colors of US NAVY Caboose, Bureau of Aeronauti
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2020 6:42 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:28 am
Posts: 461
Location: Ipswich, UK
Tim Moriarty wrote:
Quote:
I visited the Museum at Fort Eustis in early October 1998 and the paintwork on that caboose looked fairly fresh then....


My estimate of 25 years later is really just a "guess-timate" and quite possibly the caboose was completely rebuilt even earlier. I well remember it, however, sitting in the enginehouse, completely stripped down. I attended a locomotive engineer course at the post in the summer of 1998 and I may well have seen it then.


Whilst looking for some other information today, I found the leaflet given out from my 1998 visit to the musum which gives details of the Caboose at Ft Eustis.
It is said to have been built by the 763rd Railway Shop Battalion in the late 1950's.
Quote -"It uses both the bay windows and a "Montana Rail Link" cupola, a tall cupola centered on the roof. The base is a 36 foot box car, and contains one large and one small room, and two bunk areas. It was used on Fort Eustis until 1972"

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 Post subject: Re: Help with Colors of US NAVY Caboose, Bureau of Aeronauti
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2020 1:07 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:25 pm
Posts: 311
Quote:
Is the caboose in La Plata MD a real Navy caboose. I've been under the impression the La Plata caboose was used on the other US Navy line off the Pope Creek Branch, to the weapons station. Last I saw that caboose, it was solid red with black lettering.

The one in La Plata did indeed come from Indian Head. In the 1990s I was able to arrange access to the restricted area of the base in Indian Head where I was able to examine the caboose inside and out. I considered trying to arrange for its donation to our local rail buff group, the Chesapeake Railway Association; however, the CRA already had two cabooses, both on the Walkersville Southern Railroad, and the WS didn't need any more cabooses. How much it would cost to transport and restore the caboose for passenger rides was also unknown, but it would certainly have been substantial. Fortunately the caboose was instead moved by rail to the interchange and its present location and restored for display there. I didn't witness the movement myself but I saw pictures taken at the time.

The Navy line to NAS Patuxent River has been gone for much longer and I'm not aware of any rail equipment from that operation that still survives. It could be out there, but I'm not aware of it.

Quote:
Whilst looking for some other information today, I found the leaflet given out from my 1998 visit to the museum which gives details of the Caboose at Ft Eustis.
It is said to have been built by the 763rd Railway Shop Battalion in the late 1950's.
Quote -"It uses both the bay windows and a "Montana Rail Link" cupola, a tall cupola centered on the roof. The base is a 36 foot box car, and contains one large and one small room, and two bunk areas. It was used on Fort Eustis until 1972."

There is a widespread belief that rail operations by uniformed Army personnel at the post came to an end with the June 22, 1972 inactivation of the 714th Transportation Battalion, but that's just not true. I know this because I was personally involved.

In the aftermath of the 714th's inactivation there remained a need for a unit to operate and maintain the post railway, provide rail training classes, and to sponsor two-week annual training rotations by Army Reserve railway units. The platoon-sized 1st Railway Detachment, a TDA organization, was formed from remnants of the 714th. I arrived there at the end of March 1975, straight from basic training at Fort Jackson, SC. Our barracks building, with both trainees and permanent party personnel, was located close to the enginehouse. There were only enough of us to fill half of the one-story, H-shaped building, and personnel from some other unit(s) were on the other side. (The building still stands but was converted to office space long ago.)

Initially I and others didn't start training but we were instead put to work organizing a mess in what was called the Engineers' Coal Yard next to the James River. At the time I was told that, when the 714th was inactivated, the stored rails, ties, tie plates, etc., were bulldozed off to one side to clear some space, so our job was to organize it. We stacked ties, moved rails, and stacked thousands of tie plates by hand.

In January 1992 I visited the post and found that the stacks of tie plates still remained, monuments of a sort to the forgotten little rail unit. A few years later, during another visit, I learned that the steel we had so carefully recovered and stacked had been sold for scrap. The track materials were never used and our efforts under the hot summer sun were all for naught.

Eventually a training class started, but Army Rail was very small by that point and there were only five of us in the class. On Monday of the last week I received orders for Germany and soon I was gone.

The main instructor for our rail classes was SSGT Jesse Harsley whom you'll find here:

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/158 ... se-harsley

In 1976 the Army deleted railway MOSs (MOS = Military Occupational Specialty) from the active component but they remained in Army Reserve units. That meant someone who was a dispatcher (I think that was 65K) or a brakeman (65J) was reclassified as a 71N, "transportation specialist." A locomotive engineer friend back at Fort Eustis was reclassified as a "heavy equipment operator."

Even without railway MOSs the unit continued on for a short while longer until it was inactivated at the end of September 1978, leaving rail units only in the Reserve.

As for the caboose, I can personally attest that it was in service in 1975 because I rode in it back then. In particular I remember its small cupola, the shortest I'd ever seen. Unfortunately I didn't own a camera back then and didn't take any pictures. The tall cupola didn't arrive until many years later after the caboose was stripped down to its steel underframe and completely rebuilt with a very different appearance. The fact that its old, rotting walls and ceiling were removed and an almost entirely new caboose was built may now be forgotten.

If I recall correctly, the caboose was tacked to the end of passenger trains that ran around the loop track on a weekend when there was an open house in the summer of 1975. Instead of the usual fatigues, we train crew members wore khakis for the occasion. I still remember the surprised look on the face of one of my fellow members of the 1st Rail as the train ran down the track. The wooden caboose was rocking back and forth and its structure was clearly not very stable, and the ride was accompanied by a lot of squeaking and creaking. The steam locomotive now on display at the museum was used to pull several trains around the loop three times, and then a problem developed that took it out of service. From what I'm told by those who remained in the 1st Rail after I departed for Germany, it never ran again and it became a museum piece.

And as for displays at the museum, I've found errors in the descriptions accompanying some displays. For example, there is a European-style caboose on display and the sign that I saw with it said that it was used as a crew car for the Berlin Duty Trains, the night sleeper trains running between Frankfurt, Bremerhaven and Berlin. You'll find a picture on this webpage:

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/printer-f ... -11112----

That's not true. The cabooses were used as escort cars for Army freight trains going in and out of West Berlin as they passed through East Germany. As a Berlin Duty Train conductor I never stepped foot on or inside those cars because Army conductors weren't assigned to the crews.

To clarify things, "conductors" were really more like passenger car hosts. A German conductor riding with the train was the true conductor. In West Germany we had Deutsche Bundesbahn conductors. Going through the DDR we had Deutsche Reichsbahn conductors.

The freight trains had MP guards, a radioman, a Russian-speaking interpreter (could be military or civilian) and a train commander (lieutenant or captain) but there was no need for a train conductor.

Instead of a caboose, the crews on the Berlin Duty Trains rode in a car that was half baggage space and half compartments. One of the compartments had a large, built-in radio for the radioman to stay in touch with higher headquarters along the route through East Germany. The two MPs shared a compartment, the train commander had one, the German conductor had one, as did the interpreter and, lastly, so did I, the conductor.

Another museum display I came across (not related to rail) featured a mannequin wearing a field uniform and an 82d Airborne Division shoulder patch. This represented Transportation Corps personnel who had taken part in the invasion of Panama as members of the division. This seemed odd since TC units typically aren't found in an Airborne division and I found that the actual unit involved was under XVIII Airborne Corps, not the 82d. It couldn't have possibly participated in the parachute jump over Panama because this was a non-Airborne unit under XVIII Abn Corps, and it was equipped with very large forklifts that couldn't possibly be loaded into transport aircraft and dropped by parachute. I pointed this out to one of the staffers and he was a little embarrassed because he had conducted research for the display and had dressed up the mannequin to include all of the insignia.

The folks at the museum do the best with what they have but that doesn't prevent errors or misunderstandings from arising.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with Colors of US NAVY Caboose, Bureau of Aeronauti
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2020 11:01 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:53 pm
Posts: 459
Location: Annville, PA
This caboose color definitely leans toward the orange side of Scarlet and is quite similar to what I was tossing over the side for the Western Maryland in my Reading thread. So, will it float or not?... LOL

Offhand, I'd say it's a Federal Standard-based International Orange.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with Colors of US NAVY Caboose, Bureau of Aeronauti
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2020 2:16 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:53 pm
Posts: 459
Location: Annville, PA
In the black and white picture provided, the caboose appears to still be lettered for the Norfolk and Western so its general appearance at that time would be somewhat close to this...


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 Post subject: Re: Help with Colors of US NAVY Caboose, Bureau of Aeronauti
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2021 5:07 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:25 pm
Posts: 311
It is said to have been built by the 763rd Railway Shop Battalion in the late 1950's.
Quote -"It uses both the bay windows and a "Montana Rail Link" cupola, a tall cupola centered on the roof. The base is a 36 foot box car, and contains one large and one small room, and two bunk areas. It was used on Fort Eustis until 1972."


Historical note: The 763d had been a Reserve unit sponsored by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad and the Lehigh Valley Railroad and ordered into active service on July 20, 1943. Following service in the ETO during WW II it was inactivated almost immediately upon its return to the USA on December 28, 1945. Unlike so many other Reserve rail units, this one remained inactive in the post-war years. (Most others were reactivated in Reserve status although they were typically skeletal in strength.) The unit was redesignated as the 763d Transportation Battalion (Railway Shop), allotted to the Regular Army and reactivated at Fort Eustis on August 19, 1955. It remained active there until its final inactivation on June 3, 1965.

Perhaps the design of the rebuilt caboose with the larger cupola was inspired by the Montana Rail Link, but not the original one built by the 763d. The battalion was inactivated in 1965 while the MRL began operations in 1987.

The inactivation of the 763d was likely influenced by the expanding of the Vietnam War effort and its requirements for more manpower. One junior officer in the battalion said, "I got orders in March 1965 to be reassigned to the 8th Army in Korea the coming July. About a month after that, nearly every lieutenant in both battalions [714th and 763d] received orders to report to Danang in Vietnam around the same time."

The 714th remained active during most of the war years but was inactivated during the drawdown in mid-1972. The post railway was then in the hands of the little 1st Railway Detachment, but certainly the funding and manpower weren't there to keep the operation, to include the rolling stock, in good shape. The fortunes of Army Rail paralleled those of the civilian rail industry at the time as railway MOSs were deleted from the active Army, soldiers working on various post railways were replaced by civilian employees, and the 1st Rail Det, the last active duty rail unit, was inactivated in 1978.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with Colors of US NAVY Caboose, Bureau of Aeronauti
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2021 5:52 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:51 pm
Posts: 248
Location: Ipswich, Mass., Phoenix, AZ
Tim- Thanks for the very informative postings. I'm retired from the Army and tried to follow the activities of Army railroads through the years. I was a Combat Engineer and while stationed in D.C. would occasionally have to travel to Fort Belvoir on business and when I had time I'd ride their 44-tonners to the interchange to pick up coal. At Benning in the '80's the track to main post was still intact and we once loaded our battalion out using the main post facilities. Much more convenient than Sand Hill! After retiring my company had a contract to rebuild the railroads at 44 Army bases. I took part in that effort at Bayonne N.J. Army Terminal and Oakland. Neither exist anymore. We also rebuilt Fort Carson, Pueblo Army Depot and Fort Campbell railroads. Neat work. It was all interesting and lots of fun. Ned


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 Post subject: Re: Help with Colors of US NAVY Caboose, Bureau of Aeronauti
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 12:37 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:25 pm
Posts: 311
Ned: At Fort Belvoir you probably met Dan Seymour and possibly his father, both of whom worked on the post railway. Instead of GE 44-ton locomotives, the post had two GE 80-tons (very similar in appearance) to pull its trains. The departure of combat engineer units and the end of handling coal for the nearby DC prison complexes largely spelled the end for the post railway and by August 1993 the last locomotive and a boxcar were parked just east of Telegraph Road, close to the CSX interchange in Newington, for movement. The locomotive went to Letterkenny Army Depot, PA. The track was lifted from the line's south end up to John J. Kingman Road, but for reasons unknown to me the rest was largely left intact, although it is now heavily overgrown and missing in segments. A Route 1 widening project eliminated the concrete railway bridge running above the road.

In the early 1990s a civilian employee at the post engineer office told me there was consideration being given to extending VRE service onto the post, with the warehouses just west of the Route 1 bridge being torn down in favor of a bus-rail transfer point. The bus service would bring commuters up Route 1 to board trains there. Apparently this never went beyond the planning stage. After the trains had stopped running, a new, rubberized crossing was installed at John J. Kingman Road, perhaps indicating future intentions to reactivate the line, but this never happened. With the expansion of office workers on post, being relocated from elsewhere, there was also a proposal to extend Metrorail service to the post. There were two proposed routes and one of them, an extension of the Blue Line, clearly was to run down the right-of-way of the old post railway, but again this never came to pass.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with Colors of US NAVY Caboose, Bureau of Aeronauti
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2021 11:47 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 2:46 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Virginia
I was able to make contact with a lady at the ST Mary's county historical society and they have a collection of photographs that was donated by a gentleman several years ago. She described them to me over the phone and it sounds like there are some very interesting scenes including construction of the RR facilities at NAS PAX in 1944. Hopefully some images of the caboose in there as well. I'm going to drop off a thumb drive next week and she will scan each photo for me for a small fee.

There's also a plaque near the parking lot of the pass office outside Gate 1 where the ROW enters the base. There are several photos on that...I'll stop by and get a picture of that sometime...

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