Sunday, December 28, 2008

The KCS and Heavener (Part 5)

Here's another blog about the KCS.  I think there may be one more if the readers will tolerate it.  I grew up in a two-generation railroad family.  Not only was my father a conductor for the KCS in freight service, my grandfather, Frank Bissell, was a brakeman in passenger service.  During World War II many, many troop and munitions trains passed through Heavener.  The crews for these trains were the same crews who operated the civilian trains.  Civilian travel was restricted because of the priority given to military needs.

The trains took young men off to boot camp as shown below and transported the soldiers across the country as needed.  Sometimes the troops were mixed in with civilian trains but often they rode on dedicated trains.  I can remember being at the depot with my parents when troop trains passed through.  Because Heavener was a division point the trains stopped to change crews.  Some times local citizens would distribute cookies, sandwiches, and other goodies to the young men.  My grandfather told me it was very hard for him to watch the young men go off to war because he had both his sons in the service. (My uncle Ray was in the 5th Air Force in the Pacific and my uncle Roy was in the Army in Europe.)  He also acquired a set of the wildest stories imaginable from the antics of the soldiers.  However, very few (if any) of these stories can be repeated here in polite company.

Some times we would get a troop train of a different sort.  German prisoners of war were transported by rail to inland camps to make escape more difficult.  For the most part these prisoners caused no problems.  While the picture below is not from the KCS (actually it is a POW train in Europe, note the single wheels under the cars) it is illustrative of the mode of transport used in many cases.  The other mode was to use a regular set of passenger cars.

The third form of military trains was the munitions trains.  Again, this is not from the KCS but we did see train after train pass through with armaments of all kinds on them.

The next and final blog I will do on the KCS will deal with the controls used to ensure safety of operation.


At December 30, 2008 at 6:06 PM , Blogger Bill Hinds said...

Hey Glen Thanks!
We will not just tolerate another blog about the KCS, but I look forward to it.

I do remember seeing lots of military equipment and stuff on the trains but I do not remember the troops or German prisoners. I guess I just wasn't aware of it all at the time.

At December 30, 2008 at 8:59 PM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

Thanks, Bill. The KCS was a very important part of the lives of many of us in Heavener. I hope the blogs I have written have stirred your memories (and the memories of others who either had relatives working for the KCS or who may have worked on it themselves). I hope someone else will blog a little about their experiences with the KCS.


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