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 Post subject: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:16 pm 

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The postings from Dennis Storzek and G. W. Laepple in a different RyPN thread about assistance from various military reserve units for different rail museums, got me to wondering how prevalent this is these days. A number of years ago, Hoosier Valley started working with an Indiana reserve unit for help with the installation of their ex-New York Central turntable only to have the war in Kuwait short circuit that effort.


Les


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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:02 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:52 pm
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Hi,

Here is an interesting link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Eustis_Military_Railroad concerning the last operating railway battalion in the Army.

Quote:
The 1st Railway Detachment was inactivated on September 30, 1978.


I recall reading about the US Army's work on helping out the Georgetown Loop Railroad in the late 1960s.

I think the Army might not have done anything or a lot less after the 1978.

A good idea to check on.

Doug vV


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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:32 pm 
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I recall that the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum had some trackage laid buy the men and women of the Armed Forces.


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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:59 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:58 am
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In 1991 and 2002, the 33 Combat Engineer Regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces built track at the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario in Smiths Falls, Ontario.

This was a great experience for all involved- the military personnel gained experience in railway construction and maintenance through instruction by our members, and the museum received a huge boost toward completing a couple of important track projects.

It was a pretty interesting way to get free publicity as well- the whole town was wondering why the museum was swarming with military personnel and vehicles.

Steve Hunter


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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 10:55 pm 
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RCD wrote:
I recall that the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum had some trackage laid buy the men and women of the Armed Forces.


Yes, 10 or 12 years ago they helped them.


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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:34 am 

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The Railway Battalion of the National Guard helped us out a couple times, by using our museum as a training ground. We haven't seen them for a while, and IIRC the Battalion is no more, I guess priorities changed with the fighting in the middle east.
Rich C.


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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:15 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:25 pm
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The 714th Transportation Battalion, the last active duty railway operating battalion, was inactivated in June 1972 at Fort Eustis, VA. In the wake of its inactivation the little 1st Railway Detachment was formed to operate the post utility railway, conduct training for military railroaders, and to host Army Reserve railway units during their two weeks of annual training. It was the last active duty railway unit of any kind, and it was inactivated at the end of September 1978. The 1st Rail Det, being a very small unit, had very limited MoW capability (just a handful of people with track tools and the Jordan Spreader now in the Transportation Museum) and a very worn out post railway to deal with back then. I was a member of the unit in 1975 and never heard of anyone in the 1st going anywhere else, before or after my time there, to assist with any museum operations. Given the unit's very limited capability and the condition of the post's own track, that was very unlikely to take place.

There were some Reserve railway operating and railway shop units, but over time they too disappeared, one by one. The last Reserve railway battalion, the 757th Transportation Battalion, with HQ in Milwaukee and widely scattered subordinate companies, was inactivated in September 2015. Concurrently, a new unit called the 757th Transportation Center was activated in Saint Louis. This new unit in a new location preserves the lineage of the old one but is much smaller and has a very different mission, which you can read about here:

https://www.dvidshub.net/news/185774/ar ... nger-class

The article compares the teams of new military railroaders, who receive training in railway operations, locomotive maintenance and MoW in a four-week course, to Special Forces soldiers, whose training is far more extensive. We'll see if this works out.

Someone mentioned a Reserve railway unit in Indiana. I'm not aware of any unit being based there, although members of the 757th did use the now-closed Badger Army Ammunition Plant as a training site at some point. The 757th also spent a great deal of time training at Naval Support Activity Crane, IN.

In Connecticut, the 729th Transportation Battalion was inactivated in 1976. Some elements were retained that went through a series of reorganizations and reflaggings to eventually become known as the 1205th Transportation Railway Operating Battalion. Unlike the 700-series units, the 1205th was not an overseas-deployable unit but instead was much smaller and organized to augment rail operating and MoW civilian employees at Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU), NC. The Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum was likely the recipient of the efforts of the 1205th or one of its various predecessors. The unit was inactivated in September 2006 after spending the final year of its existence transferring personnel to other units or assisting them with retirement. Based in Middletown, CT, its personnel did not have modern MoW machines that one sees on railways today, but instead mainly worked with hand tools. Tie replacement consumed most of their time at MOTSU.

As for "The Railway Battalion of the National Guard," no such unit existed, as the National Guard has never had railway units. If it was an Army railway unit, it either active duty (not after 1978) or Reserve.

With the exception of the small, lone Reserve advisory unit based in Saint Louis, there are no more railway units in the Army or Army Reserve. That being said, all is not lost. There are various types of engineer units in the active Army, Reserve and Guard, and if a museum has a need that would fit in a unit's training plan (such as moving earth, building bridges, etc.), something might be possible.

I also recall reading in Railpace many years ago of a New Jersey Army National Guard unit using its heavy flatbed trucks to move a couple of small switchers (ex-WW II Army, by the way) from a closed industrial site that no longer had rail access, on behalf of a museum operation. Since the Guard answers to the governor, it might be possible to arrange something, especially if your organization has friends in the governor's office.

Keep in mind that all types of units don't exist in all locales, but if your state is home to a National Guard mechanized infantry or armored brigade combat team, or an engineer battalion, group or brigade, you might be in luck because these are the kinds of units that have heavy equipment that a museum typically lacks.

I have heard of Navy Construction Battalions (SeaBee) doing rail-related work but I don't have any details. Marine Reserve engineer units may be of help as well. For example, when Westover Air Reserve Base, MA, hosted a Marine Reserve engineer unit for its annual training and the unit was looking for something to do, the base had the Marines pull up the tracks of the long-unused base railway. Similarly, a reserve component (Army Guard or Reserve) engineer unit lifted the abandoned tracks at Fort Meade, MD, as part of its annual training. While pulling up tracks is not what most museums need, keep in mind that the capability to work on tracks is something you may find in engineer units.


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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 4:04 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:52 pm
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Hi,

Thanks for more than rumor of military needs. I found it odd that there would not be any need for railroad understanding if not a separate unit. I also had forgotten about the National Guard.

I am also a war buff mostly WWII but also the Civil War and the Revolution and it is amazing how transportation effects the strategic military thinking.

I found out recently (while researching this thread) that the Western Front from Normandy to Germany had a large operating railroad. It is never mentioned in histories but makes things make more sense because I did not think the small roads of France could handle the required supplies of an army the size of Eisenhower's.

As an aside, is there anything published (book or internet) about the railroad end of things? I recall how surprised I was recently (past few years) when I discovered the Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and Tokyo Railroad. These little things and others such as the Island of Vis in the Adriatic make very fascinating reading for me.

To all vets, Thank you.

Doug vV


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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 4:58 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:59 pm
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Dougvv wrote:
As an aside, is there anything published (book or internet) about the railroad end of things?


As a start, try looking up the 11th Engineers (Railroad) and their service in World War I.

Here's one thread:
http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/103597-railroad-engineers-world-war-1/

Also, railroads need ties to run on. During WW I there were two American regiments involved with forestry (managing forests and running sawmills), the 10th and 20th Engineers. Two of the important products were trench timbers and railroad ties.

http://www.foresthistory.org/Research/WWI_ForestryEngineers.htm


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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:44 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 2:46 pm
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Location: St. Louis, MO
I had an article on the Army Engineers and their railroad operations in France during World War I in Railroad History #194, spring/summer 2006. This is the journal of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. It covered both standard gauge and 600 mm gauge operations. Copies can be had through rlhs.org. And while working at the Museum of Transportation near St. Louis we had a reserve unit help with some track work at least once, over 12 years ago.

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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:13 pm 

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Location: Southern California
Years and years ago -- maybe decades and decades ago -- some reserve sea-bee units did training exercises at Orange Empire. The word that I heard was that enjoyed out kind of work than the usual work at a youth camp ground that they usually participated in.

At Orange Empire they strung some wires for our on-site electric distribution system; laid concrete storm drain pipe sections to extend a culvert under a yard area; constructed a retaining wall of about 4' high; and welded parts of a cut-apart transfer table back together.

But as I said, this was years and years ago. (I've been a member for about 48 years and some of things seem like yesterday and others like the dark ages.)

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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:15 pm 

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Doug: You asked about military rail operations from Normandy to Germany. The best book on the subject is Railroading in Eighteen Countries: The Story of American Railroad Men Serving in the Military Railway Service 1862 to 1953 by Carl R. Gray, Jr. As a major general he was the Director General, Military Railway Service, 1942-1945.

Ron: In the early 1980s I visited the 226th Transportation Company at Granite City Army Depot, IL, just across the river from Saint Louis. At the time it was organized as a rail car repair unit but later it was reorganized as a track maintenance company. Later still the designation was transferred to a new rail unit being set up at Westover Air Reserve Base, MA, and the unit at GCAD was reflagged with a new number. The unit assisting the MoT was probably the 226th or one of its successors, now gone.


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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:10 pm 

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Hi,

Thanks so much for the lead on the book. eBay also has a photo book by Ron Zeil about railroads in WWII. It is sometimes hard to find leads on books that are about two topics.

Doug vV


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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:33 pm 

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Doug: Ron Ziel's book is excellent as well. It's mostly pictures with captions, while Gray's book is mostly text. If you can buy both, do so.


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 Post subject: Re: Reserve military units help for museums?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:33 pm 
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For the work originally mentioned, it doesn't have to be a RR operating unit. Any engineer unit would be able to move large objects around, as would any Ordnance company/battalion within a heavy mechanized unit.
You just a unit that has a heavy lift capability but should be a reserve unit. You need to approach them in a way that shows them that helping you will check off some manner of training for the year, or will get them a lot of press (no unit commander will shy away from being on TV or the papers for something positive).

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