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"Charles O. Sweetwood"
Centennial Rededication

September 9th, 2017


The Western Pacific Railroad Museum at Portola hosted a celebration of the Sweetwood, Charles himself and the legacy of the car at the museum on September 9th. The rededication ceremony was modeled after the ceremonies marking its entry into blood service held at Oakland and Elko in 1951. September 11, 2017 was the 100th anniversary of the car entering service.

This is the story of a unique railroad passenger car. Built to be a traveling office for business executives in 1917, the "Lear Jet" of its day, it would later serve an extraordinary mission gathering life-saving blood for those troops engaged in the conflict in Korea.

Named for a young Army medic who was killed in action in Korea, its ventures were followed in newspapers and radio broadcasts across the Western United States.

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Charles Sweetwood was hired by the Western Pacific on October 24th, 1946. In January 1947, he joined the U.S. Army, after serving three years with occupation forces in Japan, he returned home and re-enlisted early in the spring of 1950 and was again sent to Japan, from whence he was sent to Korea at the outbreak of the war. On September 8th, 1950, just after his 21st birthday, Charles Sweetwood was killed in action while helping wounded comrades under fire. He was the first resident of the state of Nevada, and the first member of the Western Pacific Railroad family, to be killed in Korea.

Visit the Rededication Photo Gallery.

View the Rededication Ceremony video.

Visit the WP 106, Charles O. Sweetwood" history gallery.

View images of:

A special message about the rededication from Eugene Vicknair, Secretary Feather River Rail Society

You are invited to make a donation to help the FRRS
continue the restoration of the "Charles O. Sweetwood"

You are also invited to join the society so you can join us in our preservation and operations activities. Become one of the "Willing People" who keep the spirit of the Western Pacific alive. Please visit our Membership page for more information.

At the rededication on Saturday September 9th, 2017 we had several distinguished guests, who were introduced and recognized:

  • Julia Rigutto Pagan - Julia was one of the original Red Cross nurses who served on the Charles O. Sweetwood. We thank Julia and her family for joining us today and honor her service.
  • Bill Sweetwood and family - from the very beginning of the Red Cross service, the Sweetwood family has been closely involved with the blood procurement project and the operations of this railcar. Charles actually cared for this car when he worked for the Western Pacific in Elko in 1947. We are honored that they have continued that tradition.
  • Diane Remick - daughter of Marty Lummus, who purchased the Western Pacific 106 from the railroad in 1961 and saved it from being scrapped and lost to history.
  • Stephen Walsh - Regional Director of Communications and Marketing for the American Red Cross Gold Country Chapter, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year
  • Maureen Koski - National Disaster Response Team Member, American Red Cross of Northern Nevada
  • Barb Kramer, Disaster Cycle Services Volunteer Partner, American Red Cross of Northern Nevada, which is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year
  • Steve Habeck - president of the Feather River Rail Society
  • Greg Elems - vice-president of the Feather River Rail Society
  • Shane Starr - from the office of Representative Doug LaMalfa - California District 1
  • Pat Morton - Mayor of the city of Portola
  • Robert Meacher - City Manager of the city of Portola
  • Bill Cardoza - District Coordinator for California State Senator Ted Gaines

Learn more about the history and story of the Charles O. Sweetwood car.

Learn more about Nurse Pagan's, one of the original Red Cross nurses that staffed the car,
visit to the museum on July 8th, 2017 .

See how the WPRM got ready for the rededication ceremony.