Saturday, June 19, 2010
C&O Watchman's Shanty from World War II
In 1942, the United States FBI learned of a Nazi plan to sabotage strategic railroad targets in the United States. Two teams of highly trained saboteurs had been landed by German submarines along the northeast coast. Fortunately, they were captured before they could fulfill their objectives, but nonetheless, terror was struck in the hearts of Americans and American businessmen as they realized how vulnerable America was.
Interrogation revealed that their targets included locations on the Pennsylvania, New York, New Haven and Hartford, New York Central, Great Northern, and Chesapeake & Ohio railroads. For the targeted railroad serving Lynchburg, the Chesapeake & Ohio, one of the results of planning-by-preventing was to construct, locate and man small structures, manned by watchmen around the clock, at railway tunnels, trestles and bridges. Many were in use by the end of 1942. After the war, the "watchboxes" served track walkers who patrolled the railroad daily. In 1977, C&O was destroying the shanties and I was able to obtain one, move it home and restore it. The color scheme pictured is how it looked when built in 1942.