The Pennsylvania Railroad GG1: Army-Navy Day Specials

1955 Army-Navy Game

By the mid 1930's the Army-Navy game had become an American tradition, usually contested on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, at Municipal Stadium, in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Railroad saw this event, with the close proximity of the stadium to its railroad, and the large number of traveling game attendees, as an opportunity to advertize to these potential customers the best the railroad had to offer.

In 1936, after many months of planning, the PRR offered, for the first time, special trains serving the Philadelphia game from New York City and Washington, DC. Unlike regularly scheduled trains, these specials brought passengers right up to the gates of the stadium and were parked just outside for easy return after the game.

Operating these game-day specials was and probably will remain the most concentrated and complex single day operation in passenger railroad history and it was done every year for almost 35 years. The Pennsy went all out for Army-Navy Day. Planning sessions were held throughout the year, cars were repaired and cleaned, locomotives were washed and polished, wreck crews were deployed, and scores of extra personnel were assigned to make sure that the operation went smoothly.

There were 38 trains scheduled for the 1936 game and by 1941, a record high 42 trains arrived at the game. During the war years of 1942, 43 & 44, the game was not played in Philadelphia and when it returned in 1945, 8 trains were on the schedule. In 1946, with the country returning to more normal activities, 37 trains were needed. Over the next three decades, as the use of trains declined, the number of trains were reduced with 29 in 1954, 27 in 1958, 18 in 1962 and 4 in 1975, being representative of the waning use.

From the beginning, Army-Navy Day was an all GG1 occasion with as many as 42 arriving at the gates of Municipal Stadium. In its hey day the Greenwich Yard was filled with over 400 pieces of passenger equipment including: coaches, Pullman cars, private cars and diners. The GG1s led every special until the last time they were used in 1975.

Of special interest is what happened each year in the Greenwich Yard. Cleared of all freight activity the yard was prepared for the arrival of the GG1 led special trains. Some sections of the yard did not have catenary and the practice for parking trains in these areas was to allow the GG1 to coast past the "A.C. Motor Stop" sign hanging from the overhead. During the game, switchers would haul the GG1s out and place them on the front of the trains.


Much thanks to Richard Duley who has helped to provide a great deal of the information found on this page.
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Wes Barris