Southern railway's saftey patrol Washington specials : LUSENET : Southern Railway : One Thread

For some years, the Southern ferried thousands of school saftey patrol members (crossing guards) on a visit to our nation's capital. I was one of them as an excited seventh grader in the Spring of 1962 from the Fulton Co (Ga.) school system. Does anyone have knowledge of the scope of this long did it go on or other details? Looking back, it was probably a rather distasteful trip for the chaperones as well as the train crew ! Also, I would not be surprised to learn that the trips were possibly the brainchild of a RR marketing agent struggeling to bring in revenue as rail passenger traffic began to decline. I still have a SR paper placemat from the dining car.

-- Greg Hodges (, November 25, 2000


In the 70's I fired on a lot of these trains. They continued for a while after Amtrak took over passenger operations. The last one I saw was in 1981. It was a Superliner train pulled by a SDP40F and a F40. They must have planned to unload at Alexandria. SR ran the trains with too long a schedule. The trains could not arrive too early or be late at Washington. I understand that they had to match up with the chartered busses. On the North Charlotte District (Greenville to Salisbury) we had to drag along at low speed to dodge trains and kill time. You never wanted to stop one of those trains. The kids would bail off in a heartbeat. They found some climbing around on a yard engine once after a stop. Sometimes they would carry a spare Pullman for a crew car. The younger trainmasters and trainmen would try to put that car to good use by hitting on some of the accompanying school teachers. Some told me they scored. Also I heard that they had to keep the girls and boys in separate cars, for similar reasons. In my days the trains often ran as second sections of trains 5 & 6, in the Piedmont. In older days I saw them running as second sections of 38, the Crescent. In Claytor days we had four either freshly painted or freshly washed E8's. On one trip in 1974 a train had three brand new GP38-2's and a FT boiler car. I also heard that on another occasion they had to substitute Alco RS3's plus the boiler car for a set of passenger engines that derailed near traintime. The school boy patrol cars in my day were all streamlined. We also ran what they called "Diesel Orientation Specials". These were ferry trips to let school kids experience riding a train.

Ben Lee - engineer, North Charlotte District

-- Ben Lee (, November 27, 2000.

I took the classic school safety patrol trip in 1954. I was a seventh grader at Lena H. Cox Elementary off Bankhead HiWay in Atlanta. The trips had been going on for a few years before then and seemed to a kid to be something that had gone on forever.

My Dad (M. D. Hester) worked for Southern (Fireman and then Engineer on the Atlanta to Greenville run), so I was one of the few kids who had to be good, because all the crew knew me and I could not get away with anything.

My kid brother took the same trip two years later when he hit 7th grade.

As far as "distaste" went, my Dad said he disliked the "going to and from private schools in VA" trips more than the safety partrol trips. These were of course unchaperoned and back then nobody trusted any body who wen to a private school.

-- Stephen Hester (, March 18, 2001.


-- Uranus Tobangus (, April 05, 2001.

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