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Nostalgia & History > The "Charles O. Sweetwood"


Date: 11/08/13 23:33
The "Charles O. Sweetwood"
Author: zephyrus

Tomorrow, November 9, 2013, marks the 60th year since the decommissioning of a unique railroad passenger car. Western Pacific 106, dubbed the "Charles O. Sweetwood", was a business observation car built by the Pullman Company. Later owned by the Western Pacific Railroad, it was used for an audacious program of blood procurement to supply the needs of our troops in the Korean War. Loaned to the American Red Cross by the WP, it traveled through California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado for nearly 3 years and collected over 25,000 units of blood. This was the first time a railcar had been used for blood procurement and it was one of the first long distance blood procurement programs ever tried.

The car was named for Sgt. Charles Sweetwood of Elko, NV, a medic who had worked for the WP. In fact, he tended the very railcar that would later bear his name. Sgt. Sweetwood was killed in action on September 8, 1950, doing his duty tending wounded men from the field of battle. He was the first WP employee and the first Nevada native to die in Korea. During its blood service, the car was named in his honor and members of his family rode it and were usually the first to donate at each stop.

The car was decommissioned at Crissy Field in San Francisco, saluted by a full military honor guard and members of Charlie's own 1st Cavalry Division. Later sold to private owners, the car's future looked uncertain.

Today, it has been preserved at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, California. Plans are to return it not only to full operation, but the hope is that once again it could be used by the Red Cross to support and promote their work.

If you would like to help honor Charles' legacy and return this unique piece of history to life, please visit http://www.WPLives.org and donate to the WPRM.

Z

photos - 1: Sgt. Charles Owen Sweetwood; 2: Color guard at decommissioning ceremony at Crissy Field, November 9, 1953 (FRRS archives photo, Western Pacific Corporate collection); 3: One of the bedrooms as it appears in the car today (Eugene Vicknair photo)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/11/13 08:41 by zephyrus.








Date: 11/09/13 03:22
Re: The "Charles O. Sweetwood"
Author: Notch16

What a worthy restoration candidate! Great story. And kudos for the plan to revive the Red Cross connection.

~ BZ

Posted from iPhone



Date: 11/09/13 16:14
Re: The "Charles O. Sweetwood"
Author: EtoinShrdlu

Is this the one purchased by R. Reynolds of Great Western Tours and later spent time at the Wine Train?



Date: 11/09/13 21:22
Re: The "Charles O. Sweetwood"
Author: zephyrus

No, this car was sold to Marty Lummis. I believe WP 105 was the one that Mr. Reynolds had.

Z



Date: 11/10/13 15:56
Re: The "Charles O. Sweetwood"
Author: EtoinShrdlu

OK, wasn't sure. I recall seeing this car sitting next to a building in Marty Lummus's yard, which is now owned and operated by Sims Metals (the yard, not the car).

The car Reynolds bought was the former Pullman Co. pool car named "Philadelphia", and it's claim to fame was that it was the car used by Ignacy Paderewsk, noted Polish pianist, on one of his early US tours.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/10/13 19:30 by EtoinShrdlu.



Date: 11/10/13 17:15
Re: The "Charles O. Sweetwood"
Author: zephyrus

Yes, I would have to check records I don't have handy, but WP 105 is, IIRC, the former "Philadelphia". WP 106 / "Sweetwood" is the former "Pioneer" / "Davy Crockett".

Z



Date: 06/22/17 11:14
Re: The "Charles O. Sweetwood"
Author: Pioneer

I am the daughter of Marcus Lummus owner of the car from 1961 to 1984. My father completely restored the car and renamed it the "Pioneer."

The WP Railway Museum in Portola, Ca acquired the car in 1990. I plan to visit the car with so many memories in September to celebrate its 100th anniversary.



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