September 18, 2016: The American Freedom Train Exhibit at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center in Portland, Oregon is now open to the public. The exhibit is set to run through August 2017.
September 2016: The 40th Anniversary American Freedom Train Crew Reunion was held in Portland, Oregon September 16-18, hosted by Laurie & Doyle McCormack. The next will be in Chattanooga, TN in the fall of 2018.
2016: Lionel announces the American Freedom Train in 3-Rail O Scale in their 2016 Signature Edition catalog. Two locomotives and seven cars, with more to follow! Click here to read more.
2012: Third Rail delivers their O scale brass American Freedom
Train GS-4. More
2012: Lowell Smith Signature Series is offering the AFT cars in N Scale. More
31, 2011: Anthony Sava checked in with photos of his new American
Freedom Train 610 locomotive model -- made entirely of LEGO bricks! More
26, 2010.: The latest American Freedom Train Crew Reunion was
held in West Des Moines,
Iowa Sept 16-20, exactly 35 years after the train displayed there.
Harold & Janis Leeper hosted, and a great time was had by
on that here and at John Lewis' AFT
4, 2010: This website has just topped 500 pages... New material
sections for people contributing photographs. Each of the 138
display cities for the American Freedom Train now has
its own page. Hopefully people will contribute photos for their favorite
city. There are also new sections specifically for the
interest of the staff & crew of each train. The 2010 American
Freedom Train reunion is just days away...
2010: John Finnin's excellent HO
model of the American Freedom Train was the cover story
for this month's issue of Railroad Model Craftsman!
2, 2008: This website has just topped 300 pages...
1, 2008: Mamie Eisenhower rode the American Freedom Train
32 years ago today. In honor of the occasion, here is her family recipe
for Green Beans she shared with the AFT staff...
20, 2008: The National Railway Historical Society held
their annual convention in Ft. Worth this week. Lone Star Rails
2008 was quite a hit with the hundreds of attendees who came from
all over the country! Chairman Skip Waters and his crew with the
North Texas Chapter NRHS had a tall order to fill, and they filled
Friday the 20th there was a special presentation of particular
interest to fans of steam railroading, especially those from Texas: The Texas & Pacific 610 and the '76 American Freedom
Train. Special from my standpoint, because I had to lead
too surprisingly, this seminar was the idea of Skip
Waters, himself a lifelong fan of both the T&P railroad
and the AFT. Invited to put on the show was Todd Schannuth (yes,
your editor) who wasted no time calling for back-up -- inviting
subject experts Bob Skillman (AFT veteran from beginning to end)
and Stephen Brown (co-author of the book Texas
& Pacific: From Ox Teams to Eagles) to help out.
Skillman III, Stephen Brown & Todd Schannuth, Ft. Worth
Hilton, June 20, 2008.
Stephen Brown photo.
are my (Todd's) notes about the weekend: First, let
me observe that it's a lot easier looking at a packed ballroom
from the back than from the front. We're smiling here because
we'd just gotten off stage to quite an ovation -- and quite
a relief for the guy on the right. Thank you, Texas!
And thank you Bob, Stephen and Skip!
presentation consisted of a 30 minute video documentary
on the restoration of the T&P steam locomotive and its
time pulling the AFT through Texas, some discussion, and
a Q&A session. The video included some brief segments on
the genesis of the American Freedom Train, its cargo and
cars. It also included interviews with David Pearson (one
time owner of the Texas & Pacific 610) and the late Blair
Lavell who helped restore it in Ft. Worth. Those interviews
seemed to be the biggest hit with the crowd; many people
in the room having fond remembrances of those people and
those days. After the video, I said a few words about the
production and how it fits into my work on a larger documentary
about the AFT. Then Stephen Brown talked about his newest
project -- a book specifically about the T&P 610 locomotive.
He's looking for stories and photos of the 610 throughout
its life. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Then AFT veteran Bob Skillman, wearing his uniform/blazer
from his days in security on the train, took over to relate
a few stories about life on the American Freedom Train --
some funny and some rather poignant. He then handed out
some AFT stickers that were carried aboard the train to
all 48 contiguous states -- from start to finish. They had
been part of a big batch of stickers that was produced to
be handed out to Boy Scout troops who visited the train
-- and these were the leftovers. The stickers traveled all
25,833 miles of the train's journey tucked away in a box
in one of the showcase cars. A neat souvenir with a neat
story! After the seminar I met several attendees I'd corresponded
with for years over the internet -- and who have helped
make this website what it is -- but had never met in person.
I must say, the convention was a lot of fun!
the convention, Bob and I went down to San Antonio. The
Lone Star Brewery where the AFT displayed was once an opulent
palace of a brewery. Now it's just an empty shell behind
a rusting padlocked gate. In Austin, the AFT display site
is only vaguely discernible down the middle of 3rd Street
at Congress. The Whitley Company building with the giant
"W" on its side -- that figures so prominently in a lot
of pics of the AFT in Austin -- is still there. The rails
are either gone or buried (until you get down to the convention
of AFT in Austin by Tom Nosera - taken from atop 4449's
tender. February, 1976.
up in Dallas, we visited Fair Park where the AFT had displayed
and where the Age of Steam/Museum of the American Railroad
collection now sits. In all, it was quite a weekend! Now,
if I could just find a place in Los Angeles that knows how
to make such BBQ...
reminds me... I used to live next to the Kansas
City Barbeque in San Diego (sleazy
bar scenes from Top Gun). It just burned down! Not only
was it real BBQ, but I'm from Kansas City!
Man, I hope they rebuild. But I digress...
21-26, 2008: The crew of the American Freedom Train got
together for their latest reunion -- this time in sunny St. Augustine,
FL. Over 40 AFT crew, family and friends gathered in America's
oldest city for a weekend of fun in the sun. Hosts were Joan "Grape"
Mitchell and her husband Kevin. By all accounts, it was a great
get-together. At the closing banquet/business meeting it was decided
the next reunion would be in Des Moines, Iowa in 2010 with (Harold)
Jim Leeper as host. Des Moines should be dry by then. 2008 group
photo courtesy of Joan Mitchell.
22, 2007: A retraction of sorts... It was formerly reported on
this site (on the "Where
are the Trains Now?" page) that a coach car numbered
2936 was lettered AFT and used on the three-car train that went
along on the test runs of AFT loco #1 (2101) in March 1975. This
is incorrect. The car that was mistaken for a coach was a diner
-- #448, former NYC. We are still looking for anyone who recalls
the car number of the ex-B&O (apparently "Oriole"
series) slumbercoach used on those same test runs. If you have
any recollections or photos of those test runs, please email
us. The coach car in question -- former
NYC coach # 2936, ex PC 2936, ex D&H 2936, purchased by
HIGH IRON CO. in 1972 -- was apparently on the Chessie Steam Specials,
but not the AFT. The 2936 is a stainless steel ribbed Budd coach
car that is now in the collection of the Morristown
& Erie RR, lettered "Morris County". Information
on this car courtesy of Mr. Walter B. Curll Jr.
21 - 23, 2007: Five US Marine Guards & one ALCO engineer --
along with their families and friends -- celebrated the 60th Anniversary
of the 1947 Freedom Train in Memphis, TN. Sherry McCullough and
her family hosted the event (Sherry's father had also been a guard
on the train). Click here for more.
decals for all 26 cars of the American Freedom Train are now
available from Accuen Media! Click
here for more info.
17, 2007: It's been 60 years to the day since the Freedom Train
opened in Philadelphia. Our thanks to all who made this extraordinary
1, 2007: Freedomtrain.org has seen some changes! If you've been
to the site in the past, you'll notice quite a few new things
to keep your interest, especially on the "Where
are the Trains Now?" page.
Yellow Ribbon Express -- Ross Rowland -- the creator of the Golden Spike Centennial
Ltd, Preamble Express, American Freedom Train, Chessie Steam Specials
and Chessie Safety Express -- looks to do it again!
31, 2007 (Looking back, as I am writing this in mid-2008): On
a personal note... It seems I have been around these American
Freedom Train veterans way too long and asked way too many questions.
They got together, voted, and surprised me with the title of 'Official
Historian" of the American Freedom Train. Ross Rowland even
sent me an email of congratulations. I recall it being a very
humbling day. It's quite an honor to be thought of in that way
and I need to acknowledge it somewhere -- so there you go.
Craft Models has offered their new
Reading T-1 locomotive model in authentic American Freedom Train
colors. The paint scheme is the third and final one the T-1 wore
on its Bicentennial run. Also announced is an HO model of GS-4
#4449 in AFT colors!
The Freedom Scrolls have been found! Craig Harmon of The Lincoln
Highway National Museum & Archives has unearthed the scrolls
at the National Archives in College Park, MD. The Freedom Scrolls
were paper scrolls that visitors to the 1947-49 Freedom Train
could sign pledging to uphold their country's legacy of Freedom.
Over three million visitors signed them. While in the process
of his research Craig has amassed the largest compilation of 1947-49
Freedom Train information and images on the internet. Click here to see it!
Check out the MTH Electric Trains 2004 Vol 2 catalog if you like
your O gauge American Freedom Train east-coast-style. MTH is offering
their new Reading T-1 locomotive in AFT colors.
Former AFT car #201 has a new home! On July 1, 2003 (Canada Day),
the car was presented by BC rail to the Prince
George Railway and Forestry Museum in Prince George, BC
Canada, which also owns former AFT #202 -- the "Pie Car". A former
Southern Pacific Golden State 4-4-2 Pullman sleeper (former #9111,
former "Golden River" #212) from 1942, this sleeper provided quarters
for the small number of staff members who actually lived on the
AFT. After the AFT it was sold to BC Rail and given the name Norman
A. McPherson in honor of a past Vice President of Operations and
Maintenance. In 1996 it had a roll in an episode of the Paramount
TV series "The
Sentinel". The car is now in the shops at the museum
undergoing restoration (Sept 2006).
Lee Bishop checked in with photos of Ameican Freedom Train cars
#203 and #205 as they look today. Click
here for the list and then follow the links near "203"
and "205" to see his photos.
Prolific railroad artist Howard Fogg made two paintings of the
1947 Freedom Train. One had been missing for decades. But not
here for the whole amazing story!
Con-Cor International has released their N-scale model
of GS-4 locomotive #4449 in AFT paint! They have also begun shipping their N
Scale model of the entire 1947 Freedom Train. The AFT
staff and crew held their latest reunion in Tucson, AZ over Labor
Day weekend 2002. (See summary below.)
American Freedom Train locomotive #1 was unhurt by the roundhouse
roof collapse at the B&O
Railroad Museum (AFT #1 is stored outside).
Gauge Railroading magazine has published two articles
about the K-LINE American Freedom Train model in their December
2002 the Museum of America's Freedom Trains, in association with
K-LINE Electric Trains, offered a very special addition to K-LINE's
O-Gauge model of The American Freedom Train! Click
here for details!
Day Weekend, 2002 -- The staff of the American Freedom Train held
their latest reunion in Tucson, AZ. Over 50 people were in attendance,
including several invitees from the 1947 Freedom Train. Events
included a trip to Trail Dust Town and a tour of model train maker
Con-Cor, hosted by Mr. Jim Conway and his staff. At the reunion
banquet Mr. Richard Beard, mechanical engineer on the 1947 Freedom
Train, delighted the '76 crowd with stories of the two times he
remembered the 1947 Freedom Train being pulled by steam locomotives.
Later, Mr. Warren E. Motts reminisced about his days chasing and
photographing the American Freedom Train all around the country. Click
here for an image from the reunion.
you worked on either Freedom Train and have never attended a reunion,
please contact the Webmaster and your contact information will be forwarded to the reunion
2002. Locomotive #4449 makes an appearance in Hillsboro, Oregon.
The occasion is the arrival of the ArTrain to the Portland area.
For several days the locomotive displayed with the five-car traveling
art museum. The only difference in its paint from 1976
is its silver stripes on the pilot (cowcatcher). The stripes where
white in '76.
2002. 4449 makes an excursion run from Portland to Bend, OR and
back.. See the Friends
of 4449 for more information on this famous locomotive
and their efforts to keep it running. Images courtesy of Mr. Aaron
B. Hockley. Images Copyright 2002 Aaron B. Hockley
2002. Portland, Oregon. Former AFT locomotive #4449 returns to
her AFT red, white and blue paint for a sold-out excursion run
from Portland to Bend, OR! Don MacDonald shares these images of
Electric Trains releases their first 2002 catalog once
again featuring the American Freedom Train in O-Gauge. New in
this catalog is a rather fanciful "Preamble Express".
The real Preamble Express (diesel locomotive and four cars) preceded
the real American Freedom Train by one year, scouting locations
for the big Bicentennial train.
2001 -- K-Line Electric
Trains, in cooperation with the Museum of America's Freedom
Trains, announces the American Freedom Train in O-Gauge. With
a locomotive, two showcase cars, ten display cars and five passenger/crew
cars, the model promises to be the most accurate and complete
rendition of the AFT ever offered in any scale! A portion of the
sale of each car and locomotive K-LINE sells will go to the Museum
of America's Freedom Trains.
adds an 11th
display car to their O-Gauge model of the American Freedom
Train! Mr. Guenter Schwindt of Germany has created a screensaver for computers that features images of the 1947 Freedom Train and
the 1976 American Freedom Train moving across the screen. If you'd
like a free copy, click
here and email him with your request and he says he'll
send you one. Mr. Brian Bode checked in with some photos of AFT
cars #20 and #33 as they appeared in 1981 in Hilliard, OH. See
are the Trains Now" section for details. Garland
R. Harper checked in with a nice image of the 1947 Freedom Train
VA. See the 1947
Freedom Train timeline. In January 2002 Microscale
Industries debuted their new sets of 1947 Freedom Train decals
in HO and N scales.
4, 2001 -- The Museum of America's Freedom Train's had a display
at the annual 4th of July celebration at the Fillmore
& Western Railroad in Fillmore, CA.
2001 -- The Museum of America's Freedom Trains acquires the last
remaining former AFT railcar that over 7 million Americans passed
Here for the story...
24 & 25, 2001 -- The Museum of America's Freedom Trains had
part of its collection on display at the Fillmore
& Western Railroad's "2001: A Railroad Odyssey"
in Fillmore, CA -- one hour Northwest of Los Angeles.
4, 2001 -- The MAFT directors got the unfortunate news that the
Museum's railcar has been broken into and artifacts stolen enroute
from Woodland to Santa Paula, CA (via Sparks, NV - over Donner
2 & 3. 2001 -- The American Railfan Weekend - Texas
State Railroad, Palastine, TX. The North Texas Chapter
NRHS hosts a weekend of fun to commemorate the 25th anniversary
of the restoration of Texas & Pacific #610 to pull the American
Freedom Train through Texas. Guest speakers included Larry Wines
and Bob Skillman -- both are MAFT members and 1976 AFT alumni.
1, 2000 -- Congressman
Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) asks that an American flag
be flown atop the nation's Capitol to commemorate the 25th anniversary
of the American Freedom Train which opened in Wilmington, Delaware
April 1, 1975.
17, 1997 -- Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) delivers a
speech to Congress commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1947
Freedom Train - 50 years to the day from its opening in Philadelphia.
California News, Events and Trivia
bit of SoCal trivia: In the 2009 Star Trek film, the old blimp
hangers here in Tustin (largest self-supporting wooden structures
in the world) substitute for the hangar bay of the Enterprise.
The Vulcan Science Academy is the Skyrose Chapel in Rose Hills
Memorial Park, a short walk from where some of the author's wife's
family are interred.
sister transporting troops in Germany? If you get the Hogan's
Heroes DVD boxed set, you'll see just that in episode #704 (1970)
"Operation Tiger", as an old stock shot of #4446 (stripped
of running boards and wearing black) is used twice for a night
shot of a "German" troop train. The shot is reversed
left-to-right so the viewer can't really tell that the building
it's passing clearly proclaims "Furniture" on its side.
finale of the recent film "The Italian Job" features
one of Amtrak's oldest bi-level lounge cars dating back to the
1950s -- built for the Santa Fe RR and used on the Super Chief
and El Capitan. Two of them are still in use on the Coast Starlight
(first class passengers only)!
you enjoy Demi Moore's bedroom scenes in Charlie's Angels: Full
Throttle? That's an unused wing of Los Angeles Union Station posing
as her colossal bedroom.
you notice that Howard Fogg print of the 1947-Freedom-Train-by-the-Washington-Monument
in the movie Legal Eagles? It's on a wall in Robert Redford's
apartment in the film.
is finally out of the dome car business in Southern CA. In September
2001, Southern Californians said good-bye to their last pair of
full-length dome cars (they could be found almost daily on Amtrak's
San Diegans between Santa Barbara and San Diego). But don't fret...
Look for them on the American Orient Express. Editor's note 08/2005:
Another Amtrak full dome has recently popped up here and there
in Southern CA, ending a 4 year drought. Editor's note 09/2010:
No more American Orient Express. No more Amtrak domes in SoCal.
A sad state of affairs.
January 11, 2002, Knott's Berry Farm celebrated 50 years of the
Ghost Town and Calico RR with a "golden spike" celebration
attended by hundreds. The amusement park has the largest collection
of original Denver and Rio Grande equipment in the country.
Disney's California Adventure theme park (adjacent
to Disneyland) once featured a life-size tribute to the Western Pacific's
California Zephyr. The locomotive was real, but the cars were not. The front of the locomotive has since been moved to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, CA.
you catch a glimpse of Santa Fe Locomotive #3751 in the movie
"Pearl Harbor"? The scene with the big 4-8-4 steam locomotive
was filmed at Los Angeles Union Station.
Luke Duke is apparently a fan of the 1977-78 Chessie Steam Special. In the 2005 reboot of The Dukes of Hazzard, Johnny Knoxville sports a bright yellow CSS t-shirt in a courtroom scene.