The railcar that visitors see when they enter the National World War II Museum in New Orleans is the passenger car named “North Platte.”
It is a nod to the iconic North Platte Canteen that fed and comforted 6 million service men and women during the course of the war, the Union Pacific publication, Inside Track, wrote.
Just a few steps inside the museum’s main entrance, visitors find themselves standing in a 1940s-era train station. Visitors are asked to choose a service member to follow into war as they enter the museum. They’re encouraged to use a digitally enabled “dog tag” to listen as a veteran of their choice recounts their personal war experiences. The railcar they enter is named “North Platte.”
For those too young to know the true cost of war, the National WWII Museum is a place to experience the unsettling sights and sounds that are all too familiar to those who lived through the war, Inside Track said.
The museum was built in 2000 and opened as the D-Day museum. It became the national WWII Museum in 2003.
The North Platte rail car gets lots of visitors. In 2018, the museum was ranked by Trip Advisor as the No. 1 attraction in New Orleans, the No. 3 museum in the USA and the No. 8 museum in the world.
“The train took our fighting forces away from their loved ones and sent them to war,” said Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, president and CEO of the National WWII Museum. “This train station gives our guests a feel for these poignant leave-takings that occurred in every corner of the country.”
The true-to-life rail car experience is just one way the museum communicates stories from World War II. As visitors come across detailed accounts of the brutal four-year-long war that changed the world forever, emotions often overflow, the museum’s website says.
Union Pacific donated $250,000 to the museum.
“We supported the rail car experience because of our connection,” said Union Pacific’s Brenda Mainwaring, vice president of public affairs for the southern region. “When I think about the role the railroad played in the lives of all those people who were affected by WWII… I do get choked up. It’s tangible evidence of how important that time was to our history. To be part of the story is special.”
The National WWII Museum is located at 945 Magazine St. in New Orleans, La. It is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. The website is HERE.