Thursday, May 13, 2021

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The Trophy Train Comes to Pennsburg
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
2021-04-21

            It was almost 102 years ago, in May of 1919, when the World War I Trophy Train, also known as the Liberty Loan War Train, paid a visit to our area.

Two open cars on The Trophy Train brought contained can-

nons, a whippet tank, and an armored car for visitors to see.

            Marking the "War to end all Wars", local residents were encouraged to sound bells and whistles on May 5th to celebrate a day of peace.  They were also encouraged to decorate their homes and fly the flag of the United States during a week-long celebration.

            There were 24 such rolling museums touring the United States in April and May of 1919 during the Victory Loan Drive, carrying relics and other items arranged as a memorial to victory.  They were a reminder to people to honor their commitments to fund drives to support the war effort. Now that the war was over, the bills needed to be paid.

            The May 9, 1919 issue of the Town and Country reported that older residents of the area never recollected that so many people had gathered in Pennsburg for any event as the visit of the War Trophy Train.  It was reported that the crowd was too large to

estimate.

            Pennsburg and Collegeville were the only two stops for the train on the Perkiomen Line of the railroad.

            People began gathering at 9:45 a.m. for the 10 a.m. visit.  They waited anxiously until the train finally arrived at 10:35 a.m. for its scheduled one-hour stay.

            Only about three-quarters of the crowd were able to pass through the 74-foot baggage car carrying the smaller exhibits during that time, even though guards kept the visitors moving rapidly.  On display in that car were American, French, and German helmets, machine guns, gas masks, aerial torpedoes, German rifles, naval mines, hand grenades, and hundreds of other items. 

            But, there was ample time for visitors to view the two open cars containing

The 74-foot baggage car carried WWI artifacts that

included American, French, and German helmets,

machine guns, gas masks, aerial torpedoes, German

rifles, naval mines, hand grenades, and hundreds of

other items. 

cannons, a whippet tank, and an armored car.  The battle-scarred whippet tank was used to help break the Hindenburg Line, also known as the Siegfried Line, which was a heavily fortified area that ran several miles in France.

            In addition, local war veterans spoke about their war experiences from the front of the train.

            It was a reminder that war comes with a price – on the battlefield and at home.

            E. Pusey Passmore, governor of the Third Federal Reserve Bank appealed to the people of this district saying, in part, "The ideas for which this nation fought have been vindicated on the field of battle and the money price of that victory, the greatest and most momentous victory of all history, must be paid promptly and in full share."

            The area communities overwhelmingly responded.

            The Perkiomen Valley, from Schwenksville to Palm, exceeded their goal by $50,000 according to District Chairman John P. Kline.

            In Berks County, H. W. Kemp, Chairman of Washington Township, reported over $23,000 and more coming in.  In Lehigh County, Emaus (before the second 'm' was added), reported their goal of $171,000 was reached and surpassed with a total collection of $185,800.  


 

 

 

 

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