Army Hospital Trains at Crissy Field

by Thomas Beutel

I go fishing at Crissy Field at least once a week and I often think about some of the fascinating history of the field. During WWII the Army had built a long 4 track yard to stage hospital trains. You can see pictures of the yard at this link. The yard was situated just north of Old Mason Street, roughly where the lagoon is now.

An article about Letterman hospital summarizes the activity of the time (emphasis mine):

A report at the end of 1944 stated that Hospital Train Unit Service Command Unit (SCU) 1960 operated as many as four full trains a day out of the Crissy spur. In September Letterman had evacuated 6,000 patients by train and expected the number to climb to 8,000 in October. The Surgeon General had stationed forty hospital train cars at San Francisco and planned to increase the total to 111.

It’s pretty amazing to think that four full length passenger trains arrived and departed every day. They had to trundle past the Marina, through the tunnel under Fort Mason and then along the Embarcadero before they were transferred to the Southern Pacific. Here is picture of just such a train at the Marina.



At first the Army contracted Pullman to convert existing Pullman sleepers into troop hospital cars. Pullman eventually built new hospital cars that could be converted to regular service after the war. Models of these troop cars are available in HO and other scales. Rivarossi also produced an HO-scale model of the USATC S100 class switcher that was used at Crissy Field.

I only have one hospital Pullman and an army bunk car, but one of these days my goal is to bring some of my models out to photograph them in natural sunlight with the bridge in the background. These two photos are my guide. You can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background of the first photo.


Crissy Field USATC S100 5000 with hospital cars

Here are my models, arranged roughly the same. I think they would look great in the sunlight with the real Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

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