The year is 1944 and the United States is involved in World War II. The concept of a national interstate highway system is 12 years away. So how do you get something from point A to point B? By ship? What if it is a newly ordered 85 foot ladder truck coming from American LaFrance Corp of Elmyra, NY to Youngstown, Ohio? You load it onto a Pennsylvania Railroad freight car and ship it, of course.
Today, it is not uncommon for a fire truck manufacturer to hop on the interstate or turnpike and drive a new truck to its intended destination. However, a national interstate system didn’t exist till 1956. At that time, vehicles were not built for long distance driving. Milage was poor and fire trucks weren’t exactly designed for comfort. Manufacturers used the primary method of inland transportation, that being rail, to move goods and equipment from one point to another.
In 1944, the Pennsylvania Railroad pulled a freight car onto a siding at the Pennsylvania Railroad Freight Station on W. Front Street in Downtown Youngstown, and unloaded the city’s newest piece of state of the art firefighting equipment. The vehicle cost $18,000.