America's Fighting Railroads, By Don DeNevi
In America's Fighting Railroads Don DeNevi looks at World War II
from a different approach, the effort on the home-front and how trains
helped win the conflict by moving indescribable amounts of freight as
well as keeping the troops en route to their intended destinations.
During World War I the United States government had taken over the
industry via the United States Railroad Administration (USRA), which
turned out to be somewhat of a disaster as the network
was worn out and rundown by the time that conflict had ended. Learning
from the mistakes of that logistical breakdown the railroads vowed not
to let it happen again when the second war broke out, and while somewhat
worn the industry was indeed much better prepared. Overall, Mr.
DeNevi's book truly offers the greatest insight into the railroads' role
during the second World War and he features some fabulous photography
throughout its pages, albeit all of them are in color.
|Burlington F3A #124-A and an F3B ease through a crossover at Montgomery Tower in Montgomery, Illinois with a manifest freight on the evening of September 9, 1964.|
America's Fighting Railroads
opens with a short introduction that offers you a glimpse of what's to
come, which as you might expect is an overview of rail operations during
the war. The book begins with a first chapter that looks at rail service directly after the
bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and how the industry was in
a far better position to respond than in 1917. You will learn about
Ralph Budd, noted president of the Burlington and Pioneer of diesel
locomotives, who convinced President Roosevelt to engage in a plan that
saw coordinated services amongst the Shippers' Advisory Boards,
Interstate Commerce Commission, and Association of American Railroads.
Budd's efforts during the war helped oversee an efficient transportation
system for the country amongst most major modes of travel; rail,
highway, and waterway.
During chapter one you will get an idea for how the book is
presented. While there is plenty of information offered, Mr. DeNevi
also offers plenty of historic photos from the period, albeit not in
color. Interestingly, there several images of early streamliners
featured. In chapter two, America's Fighting Railroads looks at how the industry began planning for war as early as 1940 with the build of rolling stock and improved infrastructure. One page 35 of this section the author offers statistics and graphs that show just how efficient the industry was during the early years of the war such as grow revenues, net earnings,
and other factors like maintenance, freight car demand, etc. The rest
of this section discusses how the railroad prepared for war following
December 7th and the record traffic year of 1942.
|Grand Trunk Western F3A #9027 sports the newer, simplified red, black, and white livery while a fellow F3A and GP9 #4909 still carry the original, and more elegant, green and yellow scheme as all three units sit on the ready tracks at Elsdon Yard in Chicago on December 31, 1964.|
In chapter three the author begins by highlighting the Military Railway
Service, an organization quite similar to the U.S. Military Railroads of
the Civil War. In reality, in virtually every major war up to World
War II the United States had a similar outfit. The MRS was a well
organized and structured operation, as is to be expected of anything
involving the military. While the MRS during WWII was mostly confined
to individual bases around the country it also was provided support by
the private railroads in some capacities, such as through military
Railway Shop Battalions (or RSBs). The rest of the third chapter looks
at the operations of the Alaska Railroad and White Pass & Yukon
Route. It should be pointed out that the state was of great concern to
the military during the conflict as for some time after the start of the war the Japanese occupied the extreme western Aleutian Islands.
Into chapter four, America's Fighting Railroads looks
at railroad services as the war pressed on into 1943 and 1944. Just as
had been the case in 1942 the industry continued amass staggering
numbers of freight traffic tonnage, which increased through 1944, and
the author once again offers plenty of statistics and figures (on page
75 a nice table is presented showing many of these hard numbers showing
such things as revenue ton-miles, gross earnings, net operating income, rolling stock, etc.). The photographs presented in this section are just fascinating as in other areas of the book
with scenes of military equipment on flatcars (tanks and small boats),
troop trains, and even several streamliners (notably of the Union
Pacific including early views of the City of San Francisco, steam powered Challenger, and City Of Denver).
The final pages of this chapter offers several more tables and
statistics regarding rail movements and equipment in the later years of
the war. In chapter five America's Fighting Railroads looks at
the last weeks and months of the war and summarizes the critical role
the railroads played in the conflict as a whole. One of the more
interesting photos in the entire book is presented here, a view of the
"Spirit of the Union Pacific" which was a B-17 flying fortress bomber
named after the railroad (the company had "purchased" it through a war bond campaign). Unfortunately, the caption never provides information regarding the plane's ultimate fate. The book concludes with a chapter six looking at how the railroad industry planned to continue pushing passenger services after the war. Unfortunately, as we now know those ideas failed in favor of highways and air travel.
|Two of Northwest Steel & Wire's 0-8-0 switchers, ex-Grand Trunk Western units, sit near the shops in Sterling, Illinois on August 19, 1964.|
Finally, the last pages of America's Fighting Railroads features
just a general collection of photos from the period as well as
advertisements and posters. You can see scenes of the old Sacramento
Northern interurban pulling freight duties in California with boxcab
electrics, other interurban lines, scenes from inside large terminals,
more images of military equipment moving by train, as well as additional
graphs and statistics. Again, if you were interested in the subject of
railroad operations during World War II this book is a great book to
have in your collection. In any event, if you're interested in perhaps
purchasing this book please visit the link below which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com, the trusted online shopping network.