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WP&YR goes Khaki

770th R.O.B. PAGE by Boerries Burkhardt and Mike Peltier

The history of the United States Military Railway Service goes back to January 31, 1862 when Congress gave President Lincoln authority to place the country's telegraph lines and railroads under military control when he judged the public safety required it. On February 11, 1862, D.C. McCallum, the General Superintendent of the Erie Railroad was appointed Brigadier General, Military Director a nd Superintendent of Railroads in the United States, by Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton. This included the authority to "take possession of, hold and use all Railroads, engines, cars, locomotives, equipments, appendages and appurtenances, that may be required for

the transport of troops, arms, ammunition and military supplies of the United States." After the War Between the States, by Executive Order on August 8, 1865, the Military Railway Service ceased its control over any Railroads in the United States. After the Spanish-American war, between 1899 and 1917 was a very peaceful time for the Military Railway Service, however peaceful times came to halt in May 1917 when the M.R.S. was mobilized to support the Allied Forces in the First World War (1914-1918). The M.R.S. force comprised nine regiments: 5 constructions, 3 operating and a shop regiment. Regiments were commanded by a Colonel


- 770th R.O.B. PAGE of the Corps of Engineers, and the Executive Officers were experienced and practical railroad men in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Fifty-one M.R.S. units with 69,000 men served overseas during WWI. Drawing from the experience in WWI, the M.R.S. was reorganized from regiments to battalions based on the organization of American railroads where a Division Superintendent is in charge of all departments: track and bridges, locomotives and cars, and the operation of trains. Thus the basic unit for the M.R.S. was a battalion of four companies: "A" Company was 2 platoons of trackmen and 1 platoon of bridge carpenters; "B" Company was a 2 platoon roundhouse force and a rip track" platoon for the repair of cars; the largest was "C" Company, the operating company consisting of train crews. A fourth Company the Headquarters and Service Company provided dispatchers, operators, and telephone line repairmen, plus men for messing, housing and supply operations. American railroad divisions are grouped into districts headed by a General Superintendent, and districts are grouped into regions under the jurisdiction of a General Manager. General Managers report to the Vice-President in Charge of Operations. Thus the M.R.S. was organized with Railway Grand Divisions under Superintendents, reporting to a Manager in command of four M.R.S. departments: Maintenance of Way and Structures, Maintenance of Equipment, Operation, and Stores. In February 1939 Colonel Carl R. Gray Jr. was transferred from command of the 326 Combat Engineers 101 Division and assigned to duty as the Manager, Military Railway Service, with the rank of Brigadier General. General Gray served in that capacity with full authority to effect transfers and distribution of men and material throughout WW2. He was promoted to Major General and became the Director General, supreme commander of the Military Railway Service in 1945. This article is drawn from General Carl Gray's book Railroading in Eighteen Countries, The Story of American Railroad Men Serving in the Military Railway Service 1862 to 1953. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1955 and individual interviews. Story continues with the lease of the WP&Y to the United States Military.


- 770th R.O.B. PAGE WP&YR Weekly Report (1943) Hq. 770th R.O. Detachmend FEBRUARY 5, 1943 Rotary plow with engines 81 and 62 in charge of the writer, were held at Carcross from 10:30 AM, February 5th until 12:15 PM, February 6th, awaiting improvement in storm conditions, at which time it was decided that weather was such as to make possible the efficient operation of the rotary. All other traffic was held at terminals until line could be cleared by rotary. FEBRUARY 6, 1943 Southbound Rotary: Rotary fleet with engines 81 and 62, while passing over north Fraser Loop switch, derailed lead engine trucks and all drivers of engine 62 due to wide gauge of track at frog. Moderate wind from the north with temperature 30 degrees below zero. Northbound Rotary: At 2:11 PM Rotary extra 66-69 left the shops and plowed up as far as Mile Post 16.5. On account of heavy snow and very high winds still blowing on the hill, they were unable to get through and returned to Glacier where they tied up for the night. FEBRUARY 7, 1943 Storm conditions increased. Very strong winds from the north with temperature 30 degrees below zero. Unable to rerail engine 62 at Fraser Loop switch due to severe weather conditions. Engines ran low on water and it was necessary to 20 "snow-up". An attempt was made to return rotary fleet engines 66-69 from Glacier to Shops but was unsuccessful due to bad snow drifts near Mile Post 11. Engine 256 was dispatched from Shops at 12:17 PM to plow out line to Glacier and enable Rotary to return to shops. Rotary and Engine 256 arrived at Shops at 3:10 PM. To be continued.


Baldwin #72 at Whitehorse. Boerries Burkhardt Collection

Builder Baldwin Locomotive Works Built No. Type 2-8-2 Tecnical Data Tracfive effort 21,600 lbf (96 kN)

May 1947 73351

Officially retired in 1964 and used as a stationary boiler from 1964 to 1969. Not official were many runs of the engine by it self down to the Skagway depot during this time. Jack Hoyt former Manager was so angry about this, that he chained the engine and tender to the rail. Mostly damaged in the major Skagway roundhouse fire at September 1969. All but its chassis was scrapped in 1974. The chassis was sold to Silver Dollar City in 1977. S.D.C. sold out to Dollywood in 1986. Chassis scrapped in 1999. The frame still exists at Dollywood. Her drivers are now under engine #70. In the back we see former WP&YR engineer Occi Selmer at his cabin near the Whitehorse enginehouse. Page 21



Maybe the last time forever at Whitehorse YT in Sept. 1982. Burkhardt Collection - 22 -

August 12, 1905 Jumped Track Locomotive on W.P.&Y. Road Goes to Bottom of Canyon Near Summit A most thrilling accident and narrow escape of two men from death occurred shortly after midnight this morning on the White Pass & Yukon railroad about two miles south of the summit and between the big suspension steel bridge and the tunnel when locomotive 66 jumped the track and dashed down the rough and rocky mountain side to the bottom of the canyon several hundred feet below. Engineer Simpson and Fireman Jerry Moriarty saved their lives by jumping just as the engine left the track. The former escaped without a scratch but the latter was injured somewhat by being thrown heavily upon the ground as he jumped. No. 66 had come out from Skagway as one of the helpers of the night freight train, three engines always being employed to bring heavy trains to the summit. It was on its way back to Skagway when the accident occurred. One report is that the track spread and another is that a bridge which had just been finished gave away. We her it will be possible to recover the engine or whether it is worth recovering after rolling down the rugged mountain side, has not been learned. This is the first accident of the kind which ever occurred on the White Pass railroad during upward of then years operation.

Superintendent Of White Pass on Trip to States Mr. J.C. Hoyt Superintendent of the White Pass and Yukon Route left on Tuesdays train for Whitehorse. Mrs. Hoyt left the following day to join him in Whitehorse. From there they flew to the states on Thursday; Mrs. Hoyt to Seattle, Portland and Namoa, Idaho to visit relative; and Mr. Hoyt east to Erie Pennsylvania to see about the purchase of diesel engines.

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Vol 1 No 21 Thursday January 15, 1953


EDITOR: THE THUNDERBIRD Boerries Burkhardt Maschmuehlenweg 105 D-37081 Goettingen Germany Phone: +49 (551) 296-3488 Fax: +49 (551) 296-3489 Email: Internet:

Contributors : Cone, Lauriston VT / USA Forero , Robert A. NJ / USA Johnson, Eric L. Vancouver B.C. / CAN Motis, Deane E. Seattle WA / USA Peltier, Mike Whitehorse YT / CAN Mulvihill, Carl E. Skagway, AK / USA

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