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TIMELINE for the
1975 - 1976 Bicentennial
October 16, 1972
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
The American Freedom Train Foundation, Inc. was formed.
Summer and Fall, 1974
The Preamble Express scouted the route of The American Freedom Train. The American Freedom Train display cars took shape at fabricators in Richmond, CA and Venice, FL.
December 14, 1974
Portland, OR
Former Southern Pacific 4-8-4 "Daylight" steam locomotive # 4449 was removed from Oaks Park for restoration to pull the AFT. (Retired 2 Oct 1957 , placed in the park 24 April 1958.) The restoration took longer than was hoped and the AFT was in danger of starting her tour pulled by diesels.
December 18, 1974
Alexandria, VA
President Ford inaugurated The American Freedom Train from the rear platform of the Preamble Express. Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck performed at the inaguration.
February 13, 1975
Ft. Worth, TX
Former Texas & Pacific 2-10-4 steam locomotive #610 moved from display site to restoration site. The 610 was planned to pull the AFT through Texas in 1976. Her restoration was a local effort -- with no financial support from the AFT Foundation.
February 27, 1975
Baltimore, MD
Former Reading 4-8-4 steam locomotive # 2101 was removed from Striegel Supply & Equipment for a lightning-fast restoration to pull the AFT. The clock starts on the "30 Day Miracle".
March 28, 1975
Cameron Station, VA
Departure of the entire train behind locomotive #1 (former Reading #2101), a rusting hulk just one month earlier. A short christening ceremony took place at Alexandria, VA.
April 1-4, 1975
Opening Day! Free admission, courtesy of the DuPont Corp. Governor Sherman W. Tibbett attended. The train displayed at Delaware Park.
April 6-9 , 1975
Displayed at the Erie Blvd Team Track.
April 11-12 , 1975
Displayed downtown at the foot of College Street along Lake Champlain.
April 14-15 , 1975
Displayed along Canal Street.
April 17-18 , 1975
Displayed along West Commerical Street. The first display site that was an advance ticket sellout.
April 20-27, 1975
Displayed near the harbor, opposite Pier 4.
April 21, 1975
Portland, OR
Locomotive #4449 steamed up for the first time in some 19 years.
April 29 - May 1, 1975
Displayed along Dutton Street at Merrimack.
May 3-5, 1975
Displayed on the site of the Norton Company at Stores Street.
May 6, 1975
New York
By Selkirk, NY an auxiliary tender and the HICO heavyweight observation car 'Splendid Spirit' had joined the train. The Splendid Spirit was only on the train through Columbus, but the aux tender remained with the T-1 locomotive through the end of its run in 1976.
May 7-12, 1975
Displayed at the Genesee Valley Regional Market.
May 9, 1975
Portland, OR
4449 test run to Skamania pulling BN caboose.
May 12, 1975
Portland, OR
4449 test run to Wishram, WA with 1875 tons of freight (roughly the weight of the AFT).
May 14-20, 1975
Displayed at the Buckeye Booster Tracks - West of Cleveland Stadium.
Second week of May, 1975
Cleveland, OH
AFT locomotive #1 (#2101) repainted into second paint scheme. This is likely when concessions cars #20 and #33 were added to the train.
May 16, 1975
Portland, OR
Locomotive 4449 christened. Heads to Swan Island, Oregon for display.
May 22- June 2, 1975
Displayed at the Defense Construction Supply Center.
June 4-11, 1975
Displayed next to Riverfront Stadium.
June 13-15, 1975
Smallest town visited by the AFT -- but it drew crowds outnumbering the population of the town by several fold.
June 17-19, 1975
Displayed at Interstate Industrial Park.
June 20, 1975
Portland, OR
Locomotive #4449 departed Portland for Chicago via Sacramento, Denver and Omaha (over much of the path of the original Transcontinental Railroad) to meet the AFT. For the trip to Sacramento the locomotive pulled three passenger cars, one SP and two Amtrak. The second car was Amtrak 3501. The third car was Amtrak chair car #7508.
June 21 - July 6, 1975
Longest stop for the AFT -- 2 weeks! Displayed at the Penn Central Depot at 17th & Vernon Highway. Hank Aaron visited the train. The AFT welcomed its 1,000,000th visitor on June 29 - Mrs. Rebecca Robinson. She was given a color TV set.
June 22, 1975
Sacramento, CA
4449 displayed with SP Bicentennial diesel #9389 and steam locomotive CP Huntington. When the locomotive left Sacramento 6/23 it was pulling three SP passenger cars.
June 28, 1975
Denver, CO
Locomotive 4449 displayed in Denver. As the locomotive left Denver, it was only pulling a BN Caboose - #10437 (ex-NP 10911 exx-1063). As of 2002, the caboose was sitting in Vaughn, MT.
June 30, 1975
Near Dorchester, NE.
Traveling east, locomotive 4449 just clipped the rear corner of a stalled dump truck on a construction site. Some creased sheet metal skirting, but little other damage.
July 2, 1975
La Grange, IL
Locomotive 4449 arrived at GM's EMD plant to wait for the AFT.
July 8-9, 1975
Displayed at ADA (the Amway plant).
July 11-12, 1975
Displayed at Western Michigan University, along Stadium Drive.
July 14-16, 1975
July 18-21, 1975
Displayed along Water Street at the foot of Main Street.
July 23-26, 1975
July 28 - August 3, 1975
Displayed on Navy Pier. Locomotive #1 (#2101) spotted nearby at the Merchandise Mart.
August 2, 1975
La Grange, IL
Locomotive 4449 left GM's EMD plant to join the AFT in Chicago.
August 4, 1975
Proviso Yards
Locomotive #4449 took over from #1 in a nose-to-nose ceremony. The T-1 locomotive went into storage at EMD until moving to Birmingham, AL in January 1976 to be worked on at the Southern shops.
August 5-6, 1975
Displayed on Galena Spur, adjacent to Crown Point Plaza.
August 8-10, 1975
Displayed at Camp Grant.
August 12-13, 1975
August 15-18, 1975
Diplayed on the grounds of the National Railroad Museum. Their car shed still has an 8 foot plaque commemorating it!
August 20-24, 1975
Displayed at Truax Field.
August 25, 1975
The AFT crossed the Mississippi River for the first time.
August 26-30, 1975
Displayed at Minnehaha Falls Park. Hubert Humphrey visited the train.
September 1-4, 1975
Displayed at West Acres Regional Shopping Center.
September 7-10, 1975
Displayed at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds.
September 12-14, 1975
Displayed along Jackson Street.
September 16-21, 1975
Displayed along Railroad Ave between 6th & 7th.
September 23-28, 1975
Displayed at Union Station. Mike Love of The Beach Boys gave a benefit concert for the train on the 26th. The AFT welcomed its 2,000,000th visitor. 4449 sidelined with "tram" out-of-spec. Burlington Northern diesels pulled the train from here to just before Salt Lake City.
October 2-5, 1975
Displayed at the old Denver & Rio Grande depot.
October 7-8, 1975
October 10-13, 1975
Displayed at the Amtrak Station, Burlington Yards on Montana Ave.
October 12, 1975
Meanwhile, back in Omaha...
Locomotives AFT #4449 and UP #8444 doubleheaded to Cheyenne. 8444's overhaul had been rushed to completion for possible use on the AFT in case #4449 could not be repaired quickly.
October 14, 1975
Somewhere in the mountains...
The AFT crossed the Continental Divide, staying the night at Pocatello, ID.
October 15-18, 1975
4449 rejoined the train at Ogden and pulled it into Salt Lake City. Apollo-Soyuz cosmonauts visited train and were given Lionel HO models of the train -- the smaller diesel sets with only 4 cars. Hey, it was the cold war.
October 19-20, 1975
Displayed at Defense Depot Ogden
October 22-24, 1975
Displayed at the Union Pacific depot on Capitol.
October 26-29, 1975
Displayed downtown at the Burlington Northern (Amtrak) depot near First and Bernard.
October 30, 1975
Cascade Mountains
The AFT passed through famous Cascade Tunnel, longest in the United States.
October 31 - November 4, 1975
Displayed at King Street Station. Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson steam locomotive # 2860 and train displayed with the AFT for 3 hours on the 1st of November.
November 5-9, 1975
Displayed at Ft. Lewis.
November 11-14, 1975
Displayed at Portland Union Station. A fireboat on the river saluted 4449's triumphant return.
November 15-17, 1975
Displayed in the center of Willemette University.
November 19-22, 1975
Displayed between 2nd & 3rd Streets.
November 24-26, 1975
Displayed next to the Nugget Casino.
November 28-30, 1975
Displayed in Old Town Sacramento, railhead of the first transcontinental railroad and future site of the California State Railroad Museum, also designed by AFT designer Barry Howard.
December 1-3 , 1975
Displayed at 1776 W. Weber (a temporary address created just for the train).
December 2, 1975
Stockton, CA
Somebody replaced #4449's number boards with #99, her train number in her glory days working the coast route for the Southern Pacific. The boards were soon replaced.
December 5-8, 1975
Displayed at Oakland Army Base.
December 9, 1975
San Fransisco Bay
The AFT crossed lower San Francisco Bay on Southern Pacific's Dumbarton bridge.
December 10-13, 1975
Displayed on the Presidio. 4449 was spotted at Aquatic Park near the Embarcadero, unable to make the curve in the tunnel under Ft. Mason with the rest of the train.
December 14-17, 1975
Displayed at the College Park Yard.
December 18, 1975
The road to Fresno.
Locomotive #4449 retraced the same tracks over which she made her last revenue run in 1957.
December 19-21, 1975
Or so the story goes... At Fresno (or maybe before) the Southern Pacific diesel helper crew wouldn't move the train unless the AFT cars were in the order on their manifest. Showcase cars 40 & 41 were reversed. The resourceful AFT crew simply put new numbers on the cars -- 40 became 41 and vica versa. Everyone was happy and the train was allowed to move. (They never did put the numbers back.)
December 22, 1975
The Tehachapi Mountains
The AFT negotiated famous Tehachapi loop on the way to the San Fernando Valley and Pomona. Note that the train did NOT head to Los Angeles. Ever. The mayor had decided that the $2 price of admission was too much to expect Los Angelenos to pay to see priceless artifacts they could simply go to Washington, DC and see for free.
December 23-30, 1975
Displayed at the LA County Fairgrounds. Snap track was laid out into the parking lot to make a place for the train. The local RR museum later took advantage of the temp track and moved Southern Pacific 4-10-2 steam locomotive #5021 into their fairgrounds collection before the track was ripped back up.
December 25, 1975
Pomona, CA
AFT security chief John Manning arrived at the display site by helicopter dressed as Santa Claus. Locomotive #4449 was also dressed as Santa!
December 26, 1975
Pomona, CA
Christmas party for the AFT staff and crew.
The Road to Santa Barbara
Without turning facilities at Santa Barbara, the train had to be towed backwards and out-of-order after doing some switching at the Montalvo wye.
January 2-4, 1976
Displayed just Southeast of the Southern Pacific depot.
January 4, 1976
La Grange, IL
T-1 #1 left EMD for Birmingham, AL for an overhaul and a repaint while awaiting the AFT.
January 5-8, 1976
Displayed next to the ocean liner Queen Mary.
January 9-13, 1976
Displayed at Angels Stadium. Buzz Aldin (second man on the moon) visited train. As did Mickey Mouse. At one point, the que line circled the entire stadium.
January 14-18, 1976
Displayed at Miramar Naval Air Station - Top Gun - later made famous as the setting of the 1985 movie by the same name.
January 17, 1976
Birmingham, AL
Over a thousand miles away... Locomotive 2101 posed for pictures outside the Southern Railway's Norris steam shop. 2101 had been in storage at La Grange , IL until early January, then had moved over the N&W through St. Louis and down to Birmingham on the Southern Rwy for maintenance and a new paint scheme.
January 19-20, 1976
Displayed on the service track next to the depot, about 2 blocks from the famous Mission.
January 22-23, 1976
A "hold-up" was staged by masked horsemen at the edge of town. The theatrics were coordinated by local communities to welcome the train with some wild-west flair.
January 24-28, 1976
Displayed at Arizona State University. Singers Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash gave a benefit concert for the train on the 27th. The AFT crossed paths with the "Bicentennial Wagon Train to Pennsylvania " for the sole time.
January 29 - February 1, 1976
February 3-6, 1976
Displayed at Kirtland Air Force Base.
February 4, 1976
Ft. Worth to Wichita Falls, TX
Break-in run for former Texas & Pacific steam locomotive #610 over BN's Ft. Worth & Denver subdivision.
February 7, 1976
Wichita Falls to Ft. Worth, TX
Locomotive #610 test run from Wichita Falls to Ft. Worth with 29-car freight train and Colorado & Southern SD7 diesel #815 in tow.
February 7-9, 1976
Displayed at the airport. Locomotive #610 was supposed to pick up the train here, but delays in its preparations pushed that back to Austin.
February 11-14, 1976
Displayed on the grounds of the Lone Star Brewery.
February 15-17, 1976
Locomotive #610 took over from #4449 in a side-by-side ceremony on the 15th. On the 16th, #4449 moved light to Ft. Worth.
February 18, 1976
Austin to Houston move.
The Goodyear blimp followed the train for a while
February 19-24, 1976
Displayed at Union Station. 93,000+ people visited the train in Houston.
February 26-28, 1976
Amon Carter Jr, benefactor of locomotive 610's restoration, made an appearance with the locomotive. The AFT closed at 10PM in Ft. Worth on the 28th and opened in Dallas at 10AM on the 29th!
February 29 - March 4, 1976
March 5, 1976
Ft. Worth, TX
Locomotive #4449 took over from #610.
March 6-8, 1976
Displayed at Sheppard Air Force Base.
March 10-14, 1976
Within an hour of arrival locomotive #4449 began to list to one side in the soft mud and had to be moved. The crew enjoys a BBQ on their own grill, fabricated by the locomotive crew out of a steel barrel.
March 15-18, 1976
Locomotive #4449 was modified for Multiple-Unit (MU) operations -- a job that would be completed later with brake modifications in North Little Rock , AR. Trailing diesels could now be controlled from an electrical box in the cab of 4449.
March 19-23, 1976
Displayed at Lawrence Stadium
March 24-26, 1976
Alf Landon, senior statesman and one-time presidential hopeful, toured the train.
March 27-30, 1976
Displayed at the GM plant in Fairfax with UP Centennial locomotive #6909 doing the switching honors -- not an easy trick for the largest diesel locomotive ever built. The train welcomed its 4,000,000th visitor.
March 31 - April 3, 1976
Displayed at the foot of the Capitol Building. At this stop a celebration was held in honor of the train's one year anniversary. Much of the AFT Foundation brass was present, including AFT designer Barry Howard.
April 4-11 , 1976
Displayed at the foot of the Gateway Arch at Wharf St. (The tracks are no longer there.) A staff golf cart mysteriously disappeared into the Mississippi.
April 13-15 , 1976
The 76th stop of the trip. Wheels on the 4449 were turned at the Missouri Pacific shops.
April 17-22, 1976
On the road to Memphis -- the first real test of the MU-equipped 4449 controlling trailing diesels. Train displayed along the Mississippi near Mud Island. Temp tracks across a busy street were laid for the loco and train. Then the section across the street were pulled up , effectively stranding the train.
April 24-26, 1976
April 28 - May 1, 1976
Displayed near the Old Capitol building.
May 3-9, 1976
Displayed next to the Superdome. In Birmingham on the 9th , locomotive 2101 made a test run through Bessemer after repairs and painting.
New Orleans
Locomotive 4449 got a full FRA Annual Test right where she was spotted. This included a hydro-static test to 25% over rated boiler pressure -- all with a very curious crowd looking on.
May 11-13, 1976
The AFT had a tie-in promotion with the America's Junior Miss Pageant.
May 13, 1976
Mobile, AL
Locomotive 4449 left Mobile for Columbus a day early and was routed differently than the train for reasons of weight.
May 15-17, 1976
May 19-25, 1976
The DAV donated a flag plaza and a van to the train -- giving the military contingent a place to relax. The van was driven from stop to stop.
May 27-31, 1976
Locomotive #1 took over from #4449 in a side-by-side ceremony on Memorial Day. 4449 went into the Southern Shops that 2101 just came out of.
May 31 - June 2, 1976
June 4-6, 1976
June 7-10, 1976
The local men's semi-pro baseball team challenged the women of the AFT to two or three innings of softball.
June 12-13, 1976
June 15-17, 1976
June 19-21, 1976
June 23-24, 1976
June 25-27, 1976
June 29 - 30, 1976
Displayed at the C&O Canal National Historic Park.
July 1, 1976
Stopped for a short ceremony in Hagerstown where 2101 was restored. Mamie Eisenhower was on board from Gettysburg to York. C&O diesel #1977 assisted part of the day -- this same loco would push the 2101 into the B&O Railroad Museum less than two years later.
July 2-5, 1976
The 4th of July, 1976. America is 200 years old! Displayed at the New Cumberland Army Depot near Harrisburg.
July 6, 1976
The AFT went through Altoona and then famous Horseshoe Curve on the way to Pittsburgh.
July 7-10, 1976
Displayed at Union Station.
July 11-12, 1976
Displayed between 5th and 6th Street and between Morgan and Bridge Street.
July 14-15, 1976
Displayed next to Little League Blvd, between Walnut St and Hepburn.
July 17-18, 1976
July 19-21, 1976
Displayed at the former Erie-Lackawanna passenger terminal. Historical tidbit: On the 20th, NASA's "Viking 1" landed on Mars. The AFT left Scranton July 22 at 5:20 PM, headed over Mt. Pocono. Two E-L GP35s and a PC Geep were used as helpers.
July 23-25, 1976
Displayed on the grounds of the Mennen Company. Loco 2101 spent some time in the shops of the Morristown & Erie Railroad -- her tender sticking out like a dog too big for its doghouse -- while the rest of the train headed to New York.
July 26, 1976
The Hudson River and Manhattan
Long Island Railroad diesels pulled the train through (under) Manhattan/Penn Station where the 2101 couldn't go. LIRR handed the train off to Penn Central GG-1 electic locomotives after exiting the tunnels. Steam locomotive #2101 stayed behind for light repairs at Morristown and then the engine, two tenders and the crew car travelled through Selkirk via the old NYC West Shore, the ex-NYC mainline back, and up the old New Haven to rejoin the train at New London, CT.
July 27 - August 1, 1976
Actually Elmont, NY -- displayed at Belmont Park racetrack.
August 3-5, 1976
Displayed at High St.& Railroad Ave. Tuesday - Thursday 8 AM to 10 PM
August 6-9, 1976
Hurricane Belle forced an early closing on the 9th. Train moved to higher ground near Union Station to wait out the storm.
August 10-12, 1976
August 13-15, 1976
Repainting the train continues -- with a lot of it done while in Meriden. Amtrak offered visitors a look at their new Amfleet high-speed coaches, a couple of which were parked nearby.
August 17-19, 1976
August 21-23, 1976
August 24-26, 1976
August 26, 1976
Locomotive 4449, fresh out of the shop, headed to Atlanta to pick up a Southern excursion train for a trip to DC.
August 28, 1976
Atlanta, GA
Two-day Southern Steam Excursion trip with AFT locomotive 4449 began today. Atlanta to Alexandria, VA. The eighteen-car train hit 80mph between Culpepper and Manassas, VA. The price of a ticket behind 4449? $44.49, of course.
August 27-29, 1976
August 30 - September 1, 1976
September 2-6, 1976
September 8-11, 1976
The Miss America Pageant was held while the AFT was in town. Miss America visited the train.
September 12-15, 1976
According to John Finnin: The Display Cars were spotted between the Todays Post Newspaper and The Sears Warehouse, The 30,31,32,20,33,40,41,200,201,202,203,204 and 205 were sitting behind the Sears warehouse. The T1, Aux Tender and the PNWC76 car were sitting on the industrial main and had to be moved when the Reading was switching cars into the industrial park. So, the T1 had to be kept under steam and ready for movement.
September 17-20, 1976
Displayed at Martin-Marietta Industrial Complex. A lot of Exterior repainting took place at this stop.
September 21-23, 1976
September 25-29, 1976
AFT locomotive #1 pulled her train into Washington DC at 8:17 AM. Displayed on the grounds of the Pentagon. Locomotive #4449 took over from #1 (former Reading 2101). This was the last time 2101 would be with the AFT.
September 30 - October 3, 1976
October 5-7, 1976
Lady Bird Johnson visited the train.
October 8-14, 1976
October 15-16, 1976
October 18-19, 1976
October 20-24, 1976
October 25-27, 1976
October 29 - November 1, 1976
Displayed at the state fairgrounds.
November 3-4, 1976
Displayed at the Donaldson Center Industrial Air Park.
November 6-8, 1976
November 9-11, 1976
November 12-15, 1976
The train displayed at the Charleston Army Depot.
November 16-18, 1976
The train displayed at Hunter Army Airfield.
November 19, 1976
Florida State Line
The AFT stopped on a bridge as the train crossed into state #48 -- the last of the contiguous states. The crew celebrated by shooting fireworks out the door of the crew car.
November 20-23, 1976
The train displayed at the Imeson Industrial Park.
November 25, 1976
The Road To Tallahassee
Mary Jayne and John Z. Rowe rode the AFT. Part-time historians, the Rowes would keep the memory of the AFT alive through magazine articles for the next two decades -- long before the internet would make records like this one possible.
November 26-28, 1976
Displayed near Doak Campbell Stadium at Florida State University.
November 30 - December 1, 1976
The train displayed at the Sam Wall Industrial Park.
December 3-6, 1976
The train displayed at the McCoy Jetport.
December 7-9, 1976
December 10-15, 1976
The train displayed at the Amtrak Station near 37th Ave N.
December 16-19, 1976
The train displayed at Main Street on Old Camp Track.
December 21-24, 1976
The train displayed at Riviera Beach FEC Mission Spur.
December 26-31, 1976
Miami, FL
The end of the line for the American Freedom Train-- display city #138. Mile number 25,833 was recorded on an official plaque and milepost. December 31 was closing day. Over seven million people had passed through the display cars of the American Freedom Train. Ross Rowland returned to lock the door after the last visitor and declared the American Freedom Train offically closed. The staff threw a grand party to ring in the New Year -- and went their separate ways in the morning.
January 3, 1977
Washington, DC
Date of letter from President Gerald R. Ford to Ross Rowland thanking him for the American Freedom Train on behalf of all Americans.
January 14-16, 1977
Miami, FL to Birmingham, AL
The 4449 locomotive begins its journey back to Portland, OR pulling a nine-car Amtrak excursion train to Birmingham, AL. The locomotive would spend the rest of the winter at the shops of the Southern Railway in Birmingham.
April 13-May 1, 1977
Birmingham, AL to Portland, OR
The 4449 locomotive completes its journey back to Portland, OR pulling the Amtrak Transcontinental Steam Excursion from Birmingham, AL to Portland, OR. The locomotive went into covered storage, awaiting an uncertain future.
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