Saturday, July 20, 2013

North Platte Canteen

Why would anyone go to North Platte Nebraska?

For us - it is along the way to the Oregon Coast and Northern California.  We are headed to San Jose for Matt and Sierra's wedding in September.

And a few years ago I heard about the North Platte Canteen and how it met troops on trains going to the Pacific Theater during World War II.  Here's a video that tells the story.


It begins 10 days after Pearl Harbor when a small group of people in the small town of North Platte got ready to meet the train for a 10 minute stopover at the Union Pacific Station.  Although troop movements were secret, the heard through the grapevine  'their boys' were going to be on the train.  They got together some baked goods and a few gifts and got ready to meet them.

Instead, the train carried men from Kansas.  The folks decided they were not going to take their cookies and candy and bread and other things back home with them and gave them to the surprised service men.

Rae Wilson, a single 26 year-old was one of those that met the train.  
She was thinking her brother was on the train.  She was struck by how appreciative the men were and wrote the following letter to the editor of the local paper:

The next day the idea caught on and preparations began to meet more trains.  Committees were organized, whole communities (over 125) were mobilized.  The next train pulled in to North Platte on Christmas Day.  What a surprise for the troops on a long trip.  Coffee, conversation and someone who gave them a memory of a lifetime with their generosity and hospitality.

Over the course of the war, over 6 million service men and women were met by those that manned the North Platte Canteen!  

This is astounding!  For people to meet the trains, they traveled a long way.  This was during a time when gasoline and other things were rationed.  

Sadly, the train station was demolished in the 1970's.  But many artifacts and memorabilia have been moved over to the Lincoln County Museum in North Platte.
Including the original doors to the Canteen.
The museum had a good display of pictures from the Canteen
I am really glad we got to stop in North Platte.  The story of the Canteen and the thousands of volunteers that made it work and the profound appreciation of all that took part in the hospitality was a great one to learn more about.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!