Camp Claiborne was like grand central station in 1943!
Imagine getting your basic training on steam locomotive operation and maintenance!
With the advent of World War II, Camp Claiborne, in Louisiana, was considered home base for the organizing and training of railroad battalions for use overseas, particularly in the North African theater of war.
Officers and enlisted men were often old hands from the famous railroads of the day including the B&O and the Delaware Hudson Railroads. Many had to adapt to the ARMY way of doing things, however, which included relearning their skills from the ground up!
Their main purpose was to repair damage to the trains and keep them running under combat conditions. The men were required to field strip and reassemble a steam locomotive under field conditions, THE ARMY WAY!
Camp Claiborne even built 50 miles of track all the way to Camp Polk for the train to run on during live fire exercises!
They actually bombed the track on purpose!
Camp Claiborne was eventually decommissioned in 1945 after the war ended and is now a national park. Not much is left of the sprawling base.
Let us know if you know or know someone that worked on the railroad at Camp Claiborne! We would love to have you share your thoughts!