Locked Pullman-owned HW sleepers as coaches

George Eichelberger


John Horvath is always a source of great information!

I have been an HO modeler since the 50s. The “nuts and bolts” have always interested me but since SRHA acquired literally tons of documentation from Norfolk Southern, I’ve been able to learn much more about operations. I’m not sure why, maybe the material is not available (?), the emphasis is typically on “hardware”. IMHO understanding the “hows” and “whys” makes the nuts and bolts all the more interesting.

Something I have always been curious about….

I was in the Marine Corps 1965-68 and spent several months at MCRD SD late ’65 and early ‘66 in electronics school. That school, like NTCSD is long gone. That was my first time in California when "The Beach Boys”, “surfers” and SantaFe PAs were part of the local scene. I took a Marine/Navy bus to the Naval Hospital once and was struck by the size of the facility. Vietnam was just getting started and it was full of wounded Marines. (I was in-country 66-67 but never got a scratch.)

What I’d like to know more about…

During WWII, the large Army hospital at Charleston received many troops from the ETO. The hospital MAINS heading west would drop cars at various hospitals along their route. Cars to the west were typically interchanged at Chicago and the remaining cars were carried in scheduled trains. The detailed orders for those trains, cars, diners, nurses and attendants were quite detailed and usually returned the cars to Charleston as deadhead moves. (I think I offered to distribute a copy of my Cocoa Beach RPM presentation on those MAINS same time ago. It could stand updating with all the new information that has been located but I’ll make the offer again.)

I realize major events in the ETO occurred before the PTO but there are simply no references to movements to or from the west coast, incl. SD in the Charleston files. Was that because the ETO was mostly US Army and the PTO was Navy? I know entire MAINS of new Marines from Parris Island, SC were sent to the SD POE. Wounded Marines would have been returned east as the Pacific Islands campaigns progressed..

Are you aware of any archives or sources that discuss MAINS to and from the west coast POE’s. I assume the same USAX hospital cars were used but I do not have much data on that. (The Army Transportation Corps at Ft. Eustis, VA did not respond to my inquiry.)


On Oct 16, 2022, at 5:28 PM, Jeff Cauthen <overland28@...> wrote:

I'm like Ike, this is new info. Very interesting and very small lettering.

Jeffrey Alan Cauthen

San Diego  California 

On Sunday, October 16, 2022, 02:21:47 PM PDT, GEORGE EICHELBERGER <geichelberger@...> wrote:


VERY interesting!

This is the first time I’ve heard of the “coach” lettering on Pullmans. Of all of the Southern passenger car data I’ve read, that marking has never come up.

It appears DF Bunch (Superintendent or Chief Dispatcher for the Charleston Division) may not have been clear on the designation as he mentions “berths are not to be made down” or possibly the cars were a combination of “de-frocked” Pullmans and cars still in that service.

Charleston was home to several naval facilities but there are no references to MAINS operating to/from the Charleston POE during Korea in the SRHA archives.  With the 1952-53  Florida “season” about to start, I could understand Pullmans moving to Charleston, Jacksonville, Columbia and Washington, DC. (But not tourist cars to be used as coaches?)

Thanks for the info!!


On Oct 16, 2022, at 3:51 PM, John S. Horvath <jsh.trains@...> wrote:

Further on the subject of HW sleepers with the word “COACH” added below the car name, attached is an undated photo of SOU-owned LAKE HARNEY so lettered. This car was withdrawn from Pullman operational lease at the very end of 1964. Perhaps your archives has a list of all SOU-owned HW sleepers that received this designation.
Also attached are photos of Pullman-owned LAKE EATON without the lettering in 1963 and with the lettering in 1964. An initial review of photos in my files suggests that the application of “COACH” below a car name first began circa 1964. I have no dated photo earlier than 1964 that shows this lettering.
John S. Horvath
From: John S. Horvath
Sent: Sunday, 16 October, 2022 2:57 PM

Subject: Pullman-owned HW sleepers as coaches
I saw your post on the PCL. A couple of thoughts…
First of all, the tourist sleepers that the Southern used for coaches on a short-term basis in 1952 were almost certainly on Pullman’s active roster due to the Korean War. I spot-checked some of the tourist-car numbers and the cars seem to fall into two broad categories although I did not check every car number listed in the document you posted so there may be exceptions:
  • Cars that had already been sent to government storage or were in indefinite storage in a Pullman yard somewhere but were reactivated for the Korean War circa 1951. Note that this reactivation applied to railroad-owned cars as well. For example, there were dozens of ‘section’ cars owned by the NYCS that had been stored in various NYCS yards after the LW sleepers had been delivered that were returned to service in late 1950, presumably due to the Korean War.
  • Cars that had been used in tourist service but had their AC deactivated and were renumbered circa 1951.
In either case, these cars were likely used solely for MAINs related to the Korean War.
It would not surprise me if many of these tourist cars were already on hand in the Charleston area. I did some looking online and there were a number of military installations in or near Charleston, with the Navy base being the largest it appears. So, some of these cars could have already been staged in the Charleston area on government property for use in MAINs.
Separate from these tourist cars used as coaches, it appears that the use of HW sleepers still in Pullman service as coaches was not uncommon. In some cases, the word “COACH” appears in small letters beneath the car name on the side (this appears on cars both owned by Pullman as well as a railroad) and in some cases it does not. I’ve attached photos showing both variants.
This has gotten me to wondering if somewhere in some archived Pullman Co. records there is a list of all HW sleepers that had “COACH” added below the car name. It would be interesting to see how many cars were so designated. It appears that this lettering appeared in the ‘60s as I happen to have photos of the same car (P3410B WOODLAND) both without (in 1960) and with (in 1964) this lettering.
John S. Horvath
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