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Visit to Utah State Railway Museum Hospital and Post Office Cars

Ogden's Union Station Museums

Visited 03-17-15

Photos were taken with permission, at the Utah State Railway Museum in Ogden's Union station, by WW2HQ staff.

The Utah State Railroad Museum includes several train cars outdoors, as well as an indoor segment. We asked inside about the possibility of seeing and photographing the interior of two of the cars, and were provided a volunteer tour guide for this purpose.

Hospital Unit Rail Car

During the WW2 period, hospital cars, owned by the War Department, were part of a hospital on wheels which could be attached to any main line railroad. Wounded soldiers arriving by ship to U.S. ports could be transported in these hospital cars, under the care of doctors and nurses, while traveling to their various destinations. Hospitals trains included various numbers of ward cars for the stable wounded; ward dressing cars for changing bandages or performing surgery if needed; kitchen cars; and personnel cars.

Staff on these hospital unit cars included a doctor who was a captain or major, assigned to one or two cars; two to four lieutenant nurses; and three to four corp men to aid nurses and help prepare meals. According to museum signs, WWII was a busy time for Ogden's railroad industry. At its height in 1946, Ogden's Union Station serviced up to 140 passenger cars a day. Many of these cars were hospital cars on route to Bushnell General Hospital in Brigham City.

Railroad post office car

Although not specific to WW2, rail cars like this delivered correspondence and packages to and from the soldiers involved in the war and their families and friends. Prior to the 1960s, mail was primarily delivered by train. A mail car was a traveling post office which picked up mail using a black metal hook near the forward door. The hook caught canvas mail bags hanging on a pole arm beside the tracks, and postal workers sorted this mail, then dropped it off at stations along the way, without the need to stop the train. The inside of these cars looked much like interior of post offices in towns across the country, with rows of canvas bags and hooks, sorting boxes and chutes.

The floor in the car we visited was made of small rectangular pieces of wood which had a cushioning effect that allowed the clerks to stand in relative comfort for longer periods of time. This particular car was built in September 1949 and ran Union Pacific routes through northern Utah, southern Idaho and Oregon. It was retired sometime during the 1960's when airplanes and trucks began carry mail.