Winter Storms Paralyze US Railroads

The aftermath of the blizzard in Evansville, IN.

January 13 1918, Chicago–The United States’ railroads had been struggling to keep up with the new demands imposed on it by the war.  This had led to the nationalization of the railroads in December under the direction of Treasury Secretary McAdoo.  One of the most pressing issues was an increasing lack of rolling stock in the Midwest and West, as the railroads had been reluctant to move empty freight cars back from the East Coast ports.  McAdoo’s USRA was working to alleviate this problem, with a dedicated “Freight Moving Week” set to begin on January 14.  However, before this could begin, the Midwest was hit with terrible winter weather.  Temperatures ranged between -10 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit across the Midwest, with blizzard conditions dropping a foot of snow across the area.  In some of the worst conditions seen so far in the 20th century, the railroad system temporarily ground to a halt, setting back McAdoo’s efforts.

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