It’s true the Man o’ War wasn’t a Southern train, but I thought you all might find this interesting
August 5, 2021
From Southern Appalachia Railway Museum, Inc.and East Tennessee Rail Car Services, Inc. in Oak Ridge, TN
For Immediate Release
Man o’ War Train Together Again
Thoughts of the heyday of rail passenger travel bring to mind some of the famous named passenger trains. Some that come to mind include the Twentieth Century Limited, The California Zephyr, The Royal Palm, and The Crescent. After World War 2, these and many other trains were re-equipped with new streamlined lightweight equipment, with railroads investing millions of dollars to purchase complete trainsets from equipment builders that represented the finest in travel anywhere in the world. But nothing lasts forever, and in the 1960s with the interstate highway system rapidly expanding and air travel becoming more common with better schedules and first-class service, railroads began to discontinue their once great passenger trains. Over the next decade, the great American passenger train would all but disappear with many being completely discontinued and a few being handed over to Amtrak upon its formation in 1971.
As trains were discontinued, their assigned trainsets would be broken up. Most cars would be sold for scrap, leaving only a handful of survivors representing the once great passenger trains that served the small towns and big cities of America. Some of the remaining equipment would ultimately find its way to railroad preservation groups across the country. One such group is Southern Appalachia Railway Museum in Oak Ridge, TN.
In 1990, SARM would acquire its first passenger car, the Fort Oglethorpe, from Pandrol Jackson, a railroad engineering and maintenance company. The car was originally built for the Central of Georgia Railway, and later served Southern Railway after those two roads merged. The Central of Georgia ordered this coach as part of a four-car order from the Budd Company in 1945.All four cars were assigned to the Central’s newest passenger train the, Man o’ War, which was named after the famous racing horse. The Man o’ War was inaugurated in July of 1947, running from Atlanta to Columbus twice daily. The entire train consisted of all streamlined equipment built entirely of stainless steel and named after famous military installations along the Central of Georgia lines. The consist included combine car Fort Mitchell, coaches Fort McPherson and Fort Oglethorpe, and was crowned with round end tavern/lounge/observation car Fort Benning. The Man o’ War would provide first class service to the South for 23 years before ridership dwindled, leading to the discontinuance first of the tavern/lounge/observation service in the 1960s, and eventually causing Southern Railway (which merged with the CofG in 1963) to discontinue the train entirely in May of 1970. Since Southern didn’t join Amtrak until 1979, the equipment would continue to see regular service on other Southern Railway trains through the end of the decade. Eventually the cars were sold off to different owners in different parts of the country and scattered.
After SARM acquired the Fort Oglethorpe in 1990 a hunt began, more of a casual curiosity at first, but always there, for the 3 other cars from the Man o’ War. In 1999, SARM would acquire the train’s other coach, the Fort McPherson. This car had roamed as far as Alaska before being brought back home and the acquisition gave the museum half of the trainset. Fourteen years later, the next piece came home when East Tennessee Rail Car acquired the train’s observation car in 2013. ETRC invested its own resources to complete the huge project of moving the Fort Benning from Yakima, WA where the car was found on dead track being used as part of a shopping mall.
Now it is with a great deal of happiness that Southern Appalachia Railway Museum and East Tennessee Rail Car Services are able to make the following announcement. After 31 years of searching for each car, arrangements have been made between the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and East Tennessee Rail Car to bring the final car of the original Man o’ War train set together with its stablemates. Fort Mitchell will join the other cars in Oak Ridge for restoration to original configuration. Coach Fort Oglethorpe has already been restored to operating condition, Fort McPherson is actively being restored. Once the other cars have been completed, the trainset will be fully assembled for the first time since the mid 1960’s. SARM believes this is the only non-articulated streamliner to be reunited and restored to its original configuration.
l C"We never thought this project would be feasible. Especially in the early years we'd sit and discuss or daydream about how fun it might be to do it one day, but never once believing it could be pulled off or we could pull it off. Chris Williams, who passed away unexpectedly in 2016, kept us passively focused on the project for years and always pushed the agenda when the opportunity arose. I think he'd be thrilled right now." Charles Poling, SARM Museum Director and President East Tennessee Rail Car Services, Inc. ar Services, Inc.
Southern Appalachia Railway Museum is a 501(c)3 corporation founded in 1990 in Tennessee
East Tennessee Rail Car Services, Inc. provides rail freight car, passenger car, and locomotive maintenance as well as switching services and equipment leasing.