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Routes of the Freedom Trains

By | July 22, 2016

Follow the complex paths of the 1947-49 Freedom Train and its 1975-76 successor

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As part of America’s bicentennial celebration, the American Freedom Train spent 21 months touring the country, displaying 500 artifacts of the nation’s history — ranging from George Washington’s copy of the Constitution to a moon rock — to more than 7 million visitors in 48 states. That journey, celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2016, was the successor to a train that toured the nation with 126 historic documents for 29 months beginning in September 1947. Powered by an Alco PA locomotive, the original Freedom Train traveled over 37,000 miles on more than 50 railroads, and had more than 3 million visitors. Using documents in the Trains archives, online records, and information from those involved in the 1975-76 effort, we’ve reconstructed the routes of both trains. If you think they’re hard to follow, imagine planning them.
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15 thoughts on “Routes of the Freedom Trains

  1. This map needs some fixing. The 1975-76 effort did not go to Camden NJ on Oct 16 and 17th, the train went to Atlantic City on the PRSL both ways, It did go thu Camden NJ to get down to Atlantic City. Please fix this.

  2. Can see politics in play from some of the cities that were included. Example; Wichita Falls, Texas which was home of Senator John Tower.

  3. I worked for the transportation Dept. for a school district, I was assign to take group to Long Beach site.
    spend the day with the Freedom Train in the 70’s. Nice to get a easy job.

  4. Bill Donaldson: if you look again carefully at the photo of the Friendship Train locomotive, you will note that it is NOT 4449. It is an AC-7 cab forward, as per the lettering on the side of the cab. These locomotives were numbered 4151-4176, so the locomotive in the photo is either 4159 or 4169. See page 81 of “Cab Forward” by Robert J. Church, Revised Edition, 1982.

  5. I remember well the original Freedom Train’s visit to Lincoln, Nebraska in September, 1947. My family drove to Lincoln, about 70 miles. We stood in line, saw the train’s exhibits, and stored the memory as one of the best in my youth. I have not found a photo of the train in Lincoln, but one must exist. If so, could you share it or tell me where it can be found?

    Many Thanks, Bob Gallamore

  6. Yes, the former SP 4449 was the lead locomotive on the Freedom Train, at least so in Southern California. I saw it.

  7. I watched the 1975-76 Freedom Train come through Manitowoc WI. on the C&NW Lakeshore line. I seem to remember it heading north towards Green Bay, but it could have been heading in the other direction towards Sheboygan. Can’t say for sure anymore, all these years later. It’s one of two steam locomotives I recall watching come through Manitowoc, the other being C&NW R-1 1385, which was heading north to Green Bay. Watched both of them come through from the same restaurant parking lot near our airport .

  8. I believe there was a train run the year before the 1975-76 “Freedon Train”. That train was named the “Preamble Express”, and at least when I saw it was pulled by UP E9 #951 in a Red, White & Blue “bicentennial” paint scheme and four matching heavyweight cars . I believe the purpose of the “Preamble” train was to evaluate the routing, display sites, track conditions, security requirements, etc for the Freedom Train to be run the following year. Did the “Preamble” train also visit all “Lower 48” states?

  9. Let’s not for get aft #1 ex-reading t-1 2101 you see this loco at the b&o museum in baltimore the first tender is with reading t-1 2100 the second tender ex-nyc is in elkhart in at the NYC museum

  10. I was in Birmingham, AL where the SP 4449, numbered X4449 for its American Freedom Train run, turned the train over to the ex-Reading 4-8-4 T1 #2101, numbered 1 for its run with the ATF. The exchange was necessary because the X4449 drivers were too large to easily negotiate the next stage of trackage, which was had some quite tight curves. I have photos of the locomotives posed side by side for the ceremonial hand-off. There are also some similar photos taken that day posted on the internet.

  11. Our family watched the Freedom Train arrive in Santa Barbara for the new year and toured on the first display day of 1976! Lucky to live here.

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