Military Car Restoration Project
The Lee Hall Train Station Foundation is dedicated to the restoration of the historic Lee Hall Depot, the last remaining depot on the C&O rail line in Newport News, Virginia. The Depot’s history deals in a large part with the transportation of troops during conflicts from World War I through the Viet Nam era. To enlarge upon these memories and importance to that period of time, the Foundation has set as a goal the restoration of a U.S. Army military hospital rail car, the type of rail car that transported thousands of wounded troops to medical facilities on the Virginia Peninsula and beyond.
Military Hospital Rail Cars were first used in the United States during the Civil War. Improvised box cars funded by relief organizations were used. The pinnacle use of hospital rail cars occurred during World War II when air transportation was in its infancy. The 1945 September issue of Railroad magazine features hospital cars built by American Car and Foundry in St. Charles, Missouri. Each 85 foot car, a “hospital on wheels”, cost $57,000 and incorporated a completely stocked kitchen, ultramodern pharmacy unit, finest sterilizing equipment, ice-activated air conditioning and automate heat control devices. By the Korean War the use of air evacuation increased dramatically, but hospital rail cars still played a critical role in transporting wounded to medical facilities.
Several of these hospital cars were utilized at Ft. Eustis, and after being “decommissioned” were stored on a section of track on the military post. The Foundation was able to request and received one of the cars, and, after dealing with the process, the restoration of the rail car is ready to begin!
A commitment of nearly $50,000 has been made by the Lee Hall Train Station Foundation to cover lead and asbestos removal. Additionally, 259 feet of rail track has been laid to accommodate the rail car. Funds are now desperately needed to complete this restoration project! The Lee Hall Depot has an historic connection to our military community. This rail car, placed at the Depot, will serve as a visual reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that is given by our military personnel in the service of their country.
Your help is requested!! Won’t you partner with the Foundation in this important project?