My Model Train Collection –
Lionel's 1947 American
Freedom Train (AFT) Items
The 1947 American Freedom Train (AFT) was conceived as an opportunity to reflect on the meaning
of American citizenship at a time when the nation was finding a new and central role in world affairs.
Americans had experienced a decade of pre-war economic Depression. They made sacrifices
in foreign lands throughout World War II. They were entering an age of post-war prosperity
with opportunities unknown in all of human history. And they were unsure of the reassurances
at the sudden dawn of the nuclear age and Soviet expansion into countries just liberated
from fascist oppression in Europe and Asia.
With President Harry Truman in the lead, some in the national government believed Americans
should pause and reflect, to experience a "rededication" to the principles that founded their country.
President Truman loved trains, and his use of the "whistle stop" campaign train still epitomizes
this icon of the electoral process. Attorney General Tom Clark and his staff proposed a train that would
travel to communities in every state of the nation, taking with it dozens of "documents of liberty."
The result, they hoped, would enable Americans to rediscover for themselves just how hard-won
their freedoms were. Clearly, they hoped to enable personal reconciliations with the still-fresh
sacrifices and human costs of war, and to impart a sense of meaning and worth to those sacrifices.
Lionel produced TWO different sets which together consisted the entire 7-car American Freedom Train:
6-21791 - Freedom Train (TMCC Alco PA Diesel #1776) – which included:
6-14531 – Freedom Train ALCo PA-1 Powered A Unit
6-39085 - Freedom Train Heavyweight Passenger Car 3-Pack – which included:
6-39070 – Freedom Train Baggage Car # 1896
6-39071 – Freedom Train Sleeper "Glen Fee"
6-39072 – Freedom Train Sleeper "Penn Square"
6-39073 – Freedom Train Observation Car "Central Plains"
6-39086 – Freedom Train Exhibit Car # 3465
6-39087 – Freedom Train Exhibit Car # 3489
6-39088 – Freedom Train Exhibit Car # 3510
Below is the consist sequence of the 1947 American Freedom Train:
I have set 6-21791; currently looking for set 6-39085.
The brand-new PA-1 locomotive (part of set 6-21791):
(click for a larger image)
The American Locomotive Company (ALCO) of Schenectady, New York, had agreed since the inception of the idea
to furnish the train's motive power. This pledge supplied the legendary PA-1, co-built with General Electric.
It was built in August 1947: construction number 74696.
Freedom Train Baggage Car – SANTA FE 1896 – The Freedom Train Power/Tool Car (part of set 6-39085):
On loan from the Santa Fe Railway, this 6-axle heavyweight baggage car was returned to the railroad
and back into regular service. While on the Freedom Train it was named/numbered "SANTA FE 1896"
and had a large round Great Seal of the US on the left side (engineer's left) and a large round
America Heritage Foundation seal on the other.
Freedom Train Exhibit Car - PENNSYLVANIA 3510 (part of set 6-39085):
This exhibit car carried a pair of gold eagles on its sides. The car had electrical hookups for power
where it was available at display sites. This took the load off the tool/power car mentioned above.
Exhibit car interiors were painted varying shades of soft green. Bronze captions ran above the various
groups of documents which were arranged in chronological order.
Freedom Train Exhibit Car - PENNSYLVANIA 3489 (part of set 6-39085):
This exhibit car carried large gold letters (on both sides) proclaiming "FREEDOM TRAIN".
Freedom Train Exhibit Car - PENNSYLVANIA 3465 (part of set 6-39085):
This exhibit car carried a pair of gold eagles on its sides.
Freedom Train Pullman Car - PENN SQUARE (part of set 6-21791):
The first of the three Pullmans on the train, the Penn Square had six compartments and three drawing rooms
and was built in July 1925 (plan 3523A, Construction Lot 4887). It carried large gold letters on both its
flanks proclaiming "FREEDOM TRAIN". Presumably, the Penn Square was eventually scrapped.
Freedom Train Pullman Car - GLEN FEE (part of set 6-21791):
The Glen Fee (plan 3523A, Lot 4970, car code 2789) had six compartments and three drawing rooms and was
delivered on 27 July 1926. It operated on the New York Central's 20th Century Limited before and after
the Freedom Train, until 1963. While on the Freedom Train, two large gold eagles graced its sides.
Freedom Train Observation Car - CENTRAL PLAINS (part of set 6-21791):
The Pullman observation car Central Plains was built Sept-Oct 1926 (plan 3959E, Lot 4971) with three
compartments, two drawing rooms, and an observation lounge. While on the Freedom Train the car
carried two large renditions of the Great Seal of the US on its sides. Harry Truman gave a speech
in Pittsburgh, PA from its rear platform.
Additional information about the American Freedom Train –
both the 1947-1949 and 1975-1976 versions can be found on this website:
This page last updated: October 7, 2023