“I hear that whistle blowin…” – York CWRT May meeting

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The Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, railroad station in November 1863 during the Civil War. Rolling stock and trains that passed through this intersection northward from Baltimore followed tracks that led to the Pennsylvania Railroad, headed during the war by powerful businessman and politician Thomas Scott. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.
When I was a kid, my grandparents being enjoyed listening to country and western singer Johnny Cash, whose star-crossed life was recently brilliantly portrayed by actor Joaquin Phoenix in the Hollywood movie “Walk the Line.” Among his most popular (and haunting) songs was Folsom Prison Blues, which evokes memories of an era when the railroads were THE link between American cities and towns, and were the lifeblood of the nation’s economy.
During the Civil War, the relatively young railroad industry began to come of age. It facilitated the mass logistics of moving large quantities of supplies, ammunition, war materiel, and troops to the front, and provided a transportation link for farmers, merchants, and business and social travelers. Perhaps no one has a better grasp of the critical role the railroads here in Pennsylvania played during the Civil War than native York Countian Ivan E. Frantz, Jr.
The Jackson Township resident will discuss “The Pennsylvania Railroad and the Civil War” at the monthly meeting of the York Civil War Round Table at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 in the auditorium of the York County Heritage Trust at 250 E. Market Street in York. Parking and admission are FREE, and the public is quite welcome!


The American Civil War was the first major war to involve railroads on a large scale, either for the transportation of troops, supplies and material or as the target of a military objective. This presentation takes a look at the Pennsylvania Railroad and its involvement with the action that occurred during the Civil War. Because of its unique location the Pennsylvania Railroad played a major role in troop transportation during the entire war in the Eastern Theatre of combat. Two P.R.R. subsidiary companies played major roles in the military action during the Antietam Campaign of 1862 and the Gettysburg Campaign of 1863. And Pennsylvania Railroad employees made major contributions with their involvement in the Federal Government to help answer President Abraham Lincoln’s call to “preserve the Union”. So even though most of the military action took place south of the Mason-Dixon Line, learn how a northern railroad helped the Union prevail in the tide of battle from 1861 to 1865.
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Ivan E. Frantz, Jr. grew up in York, Pennsylvania and graduated from York Suburban High School. After Mr. Frantz graduated from high school he served for 6 years in the United States Navy Nuclear Power Program and was assigned to the nuclear powered cruiser U.S.S. South Carolina, CGN-37. Mr. Frantz is currently employed by the Glatfelter Paper Co. in Spring Grove, Pa. as a machinery mechanic. Mr. Frantz had two Great-Great Grandfathers serve in Pennsylvania Regiments during the Civil War, and is a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Gettysburg Civil War Roundtable.
Mr. Frantz is a member and past president of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society and currently serves on the P.R.R. T. & H.S. board of directors. Mr. Frantz has authored and published articles about the Pennsylvania Railroad during the Civil War, the York, Hanover & Frederick Railway (a P.R.R. subsidiary) and the St. Patrick’s Day Flood of 1936 on the P.R.R. in the KEYSTONE, which is the quarterly journal of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society.

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