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Portola in Plumas County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Western Pacific 106 "Charles O. Sweetwood"

Business Observation Passenger Car

 
 
Western Pacific 106 "Charles O. Sweetwood" Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 22, 2016
1. Western Pacific 106 "Charles O. Sweetwood" Marker
Inscription.  The unique history of this passenger car makes it one of the most important artifacts in the museum's collection. When built by the famous Pullman Company in 1917, this car was named the "Pioneer" and was part of Pullman's executive lease fleet, the early 20th century equivalent of today's fancy business jets. Companies would charter such cars, complete with on-board staff including porters and cooks, for executive travel. The car was renamed "Davy Crockett" in 1927 and spent time at the Pullman shops near Chicago being used as a "party car" by employees. In 1942, the Western Pacific purchased it for use as their Superintendent's Car for its Eastern Division. Renumbered 106, its new home was Elko, Nevada.

In 1946, a young Elko resident named Charles Sweetwood joined the WP as a carman. One of his duties was caring for the 106. In 1947, he enlisted in the Army as a medic. After getting married in early 1950, he returned to duty and on September 8, 1950, while serving in the Korean Conflict, was killed in action saving the lives of wounded comrades. Charles had just turned 21.

The Western Pacific had decided to support the troops
Western Pacific 106 "Charles O. Sweetwood" Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 22, 2016
2. Western Pacific 106 "Charles O. Sweetwood" Marker
in Korea by pursuing an audacious plan to use a railroad car as a rolling blood bank in cooperation with the Red Cross. Nothing like this had ever been tried before and the car chosen, WP 106, was renamed in Sgt. Sweetwood's honor. He was the first WP family member killed in Korea. The car was dedicated in two big ceremonies, one in Oakland, California, the other in Elko, then it spent nearly 3 years travelling over 28,000 miles between California and Colorado. Typically, a member of Charles' family rode the car and was the first to donate blood wherever it stopped. Blood collected on the car was sped to Oakland via the California Zephyr, then processed to be sent overseas. The work done using this car is considered to have helped save the lives of thousands of soldiers.

It was retired in 1961 and in the 2010s was acquired by the FRRS. The long term plan is to return the car to service and use its extraordinary story to inspire support for blood donation and veterans care programs. It is dedicated to the memory of Charles Sweetwood and his comrades.

builder • Pullman Company
built • September, 1917
type • Business Observation
plan number • 2502C
serial number • 4490-3
overall length • 81' 11"
operating weight • 185,880 lbs
acquisition • acquired by FRRS
 
Erected by
Western Pacific 106 • "Charles O. Sweetwood" image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 22, 2016
3. Western Pacific 106 • "Charles O. Sweetwood"
Western Pacific Railroad Museum.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public WorkPatriots & PatriotismRailroads & StreetcarsWar, Korean. In addition, it is included in the Military Order of the Purple Heart series list.
 
Location. 39° 48.213′ N, 120° 28.567′ W. Marker is in Portola, California, in Plumas County. Marker can be reached from Western Pacific Way Ό mile west of Main Street. Marker is mounted directly on the subject passenger car, on exhibit in the Western Pacific Railroad Museum yard. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 700 Western Pacific Way, Portola CA 96122, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Union Pacific Railroad 6946 (a few steps from this marker); Western Pacific Railroad 6424 (a few steps from this marker); Southern Pacific Railroad MW208 (a few steps from this marker); Western Pacific Railroad 501 (within shouting distance of this marker); Railroad Rail (within shouting distance of this marker); Western Pacific Railroad History (within shouting distance of this marker); Pullman Company 8300 (within shouting distance of this marker); Western Pacific Railroad 484 (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Portola.
 
Also see . . .
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1. Western Pacific 106 • "Pioneer". Feather River Rail Society entry:
This old Pullman is probably the most famous single passenger car from the Western Pacific Railroad and, for a time during the 1950's, was one of the most famous railroad cars in the western United States when it helped gather the blood that saved the lives of countless soldiers wounded in the Korean War.(This link presents interior photos of the car.) (Submitted on December 27, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. A Higher Calling: the story of Western Pacific’s “Charles O. Sweetwood”. Western Pacific Red cross PDF:
Named for a young Army medic, its ventures were followed in newspapers and radio broadcasts across the Western United States. This photo shows us the end of its journey in 1953. To fully understand the scope of what was achieved, we need to step back farther and review the context that led the creation of the “Charles O. Sweetwood”. (Submitted on December 27, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

3. Re-Dedication Of The “Charles O. Sweetwood”. Heritage Rail Alliance entry:
On September 9, 2017, the museum hosted an amazing group of guests who came to honor and rededicate the Pullman built Business Observation car Western Pacific 106, also known as the “Charles O. Sweetwood”. Sergeant Sweetwood was Killed in Action while tending his
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wounded comrades in South Korea on September 8, 1950. For his actions under fire, he was awarded:
• Purple Heart
• Combat Medical Badge
• Korean Service Medal
• United Nations Service Medal
• National Defense Service Medal
• Korean Presidential Unit Citation
• Republic of Korea War Service Medal (Submitted on December 27, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 18, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 25, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 44 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on December 27, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Mar. 3, 2021