Army-Navy Specials

Discussion relating to the PRR, up to 1968. Visit the PRR Technical & Historical Society for more information.

Army-Navy Specials

Postby ExCon90 » Wed May 13, 2015 3:20 pm

(The following appeared in the May issue of Cinders, the newsletter of the Philadelphia Chapter NRHS, and is posted here with permission of the author and of the editor of Cinders for those interested:)

It Will Never Happen Again!!!

For many years the Pennsylvania Railroad operated direct special train service to South Philadelphia's Municipal Stadium (later John F. Kennedy Stadium) to bring fans to the annual Army-Navy football game. This writer has compiled some facts and figures to show what a huge event this was and that it will never be repeated (at least to this magnitude) in the future.

The PRR specials started running in 1936 with 38 trains; this frequency increased to 42 trains in 1942. A 1950 diagram of train and platform locations at the west end of Greenwich Yard showed 38 trains at 11 temporary platforms. Some of this freight yard trackage was not totally electrified for the train lengths, and locomotive crews on the Pennsy's famed GG1 electrics were instructed to "drop the pans and coast to a stop"!

There were two passenger access ramps to the Stadium, one directly to Terminal Avenue and the other to adjacent 11th Street. When there were Baltimore & Ohio game-day trains, riders unloaded and loaded by crossing Broad Street to reach the B&O tracks. During the 1940's and 1950's an average of 18,900 coach and 4,300 first-class fans used the gridiron specials. Normally, 30-plus GG1's were involved, along with 275 coaches, 38 buffet-parlor cars, 135 Pullman parlor cars, day-use sleepers and lounge cars.

A number of the Army-Navy trains had dining cars, and some featured special "collectible" game menus. A few trains were diesel- and steam-powered, but steam locomotive use ended in 1954. Multiple-unit electric coaches first appeared in 1958, and some of those that ran may hold the record for the longest MU trains ever operated.

For advance planning, the PRR kept records of the team standings, in which victories could result in as many as three more trains to operate. Fans were as fickle then as they are today. The Pennsy's total one-day work force (not counting on-train employees) usually exceeded 200, including ushers, railroad police, coach cleaners and supervisors.

Special trains originated from New York, Washington, Philadelphia suburban points as well as Baltimore, Trenton, Newark and Atlantic City. Four U. S. Presidents, we believe, attended the game via POTUS (President of the United States) trains, they being Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. The Army-Navy game tradition lasted into the Penn Central/Amtrak era with GG1's last being used in 1975, with Amtrak F40 diesels and Amfleet cars then becoming the norm. In 1988, Amtrak operated no trains, and a 50-year tradition was ended.

--Roy L. Hudson

Also worth mentioning is that the Delaware Extension, from ARSENAL interlocking south of 30th St. to STADIUM, at the west end of Greenwich Yard, was signaled for Rule 251 (one direction on each track), and in the midnight hours of Saturday morning the signals were reversed on the northerly track (normally for movements away from STADIUM) to govern movements towards STADIUM on signal indication. (On game day, both tracks were used for movements towards STADIUM before the game, and after the game for movements away from STADIUM, New York trains on the northerly track and Washington trains on the other.) During the game the signals on the southerly track (normally for movements towards ( STADIUM) were flipped to provide for outbound movements on that track. After the last departure the signals were returned to their normal functions. (Just imagine the testing alone that had to be done to accomplish that.) At some point (I don't remember the year) they put in Rule 261 on both tracks permanently.
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Re: Army-Navy Specials

Postby JimBoylan » Sat May 23, 2015 9:40 am

In 1968, the train from Paoli was 14 Silverliners, which deadheaded Westbound that morning. In the early 1990s, New Jersey Transit ran Baseball Specials from Atlantic City to this yard. Then, early in this century, Mr. Levin ran Army-Navy trains for injured soldiers and sailors from Washington, D.C.
For some years, the diagram showed B&O trains (from Annapolis?) sharing the same yard as PRR trains, instead of being on the West side of Broad St. There were probably also trains from West Point, N.Y. Were they routed CNJ-RDG-B&O from Northern New Jersey or PRR?
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Re: Army-Navy Specials

Postby Statkowski » Sat May 23, 2015 9:28 pm

There were probably also trains from West Point, N.Y. Were they routed CNJ-RDG-B&O from Northern New Jersey or PRR?


The United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y. was served by the West Shore. Trainloads of USMA cadets traveled over the NYC and PRR to Philadelphia, the hand-off between the two railroads being just outside of the PRR's Jersey City terminal where the New Jersey Junction Railroad, a New York Central lessee, connected the West Shore's Weehawken terminal with lines radiating westward from Jersey City. The NYC probably supplied the passenger cars.

Army-Yale games, on the other hand, were served by the NYO&W and NYNH&H, with the NYNH&H providing the cars, and motive power. The routing would be NYNH&H New Haven, Conn. to Campbell Hall, N.Y., then NYO&W to Cornwall, N.Y. over its own tracks, and then use trackage rights on the West Shore down to West Point, N.Y.
Ex-NYNH&H SS Opr
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Re: Army-Navy Specials

Postby ExCon90 » Sun May 24, 2015 1:42 pm

I believe the B&O trains originated at Camden Station, where the midshipmen transferred from the Baltimore & Annapolis, while it lasted. After that they used B&A buses from Annapolis, but still the B&O to the stadium.
And yes, the West Point trains all had NYC coaches. I suppose someone somewhere has a photo of a GG1 pulling a solid train of NYC coaches down the corridor.
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