Jeep-Trains Research Archives

Willys Jeep trains and trams were used all over the United States to pull visitors and tour groups through parks and cities. CJ-2As, CJ-3As, CJ-5s and CJ-3Bs

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William Edwin Pidgeon’s Jeep Train Illustrations

• CATEGORIES: Artists/Drawings, Features, Old Images • TAGS: .

UPDATE: I thought this was a good post to revisit. I’ve added an obit to the post at the bottom.

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Originally Posted November 18, 2013: Australian Bill Pidgeon (Wikipedia) had a successful career as an illustrator, painter and correspondent from the 1920s through the 1970s. A three-time Archibald Prize winner, one of Bill’s descendants (Peter Pidgeon) has created a wonderful website devoted to Bill’s life. Among the items the site includes are drawings and photos of jeep trains encountered by Bill in the Pacific war-theatre during his trip as a war correspondent for The Australian Women’s Weekly. In his ‘war letters‘ are some detailed observations about daily life in Borneo following it’s release from Japanese control.

One of Bill’s more interesting observations was recorded in Borneo. On August 16th, 1945, he wrote:

From Labuan another four and a half hours of sitting on a barge like a redhot waffle iron will bring you to the area occupied by the 24th Bgde. This is the land of the celebrated jeep train. Steam engines used to haul the train from Weston to Jesselton but on their hurried way out the Nips did their best to incapacitate the locomotives and the RAAF filled the boilers full of holes. So the engineers put iron tyres on the jeeps and shoved them on the rails and hooked the trucks behind.

Here is an example of an illustration and photo published on the site. There are others from an August 4-6, 1945, letter:

1945-08-04-bill-edwin-pidgeon-jeep-train-ill2 1945-08-04-bill-edwin-pidgeon-jeep-train1An additional illustration sketched by Bill that might interest restorers includes a detailed look at designs and colors used to mark one jeep train.

 Obituary from the February 18, 19i81, issue of The Age, out of Melbourne, Australia:

1981-02-17-the-age-melbourne-victoria-aussi

 
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Winter Park Villager: A DJ-3A Surrey Pulling a Matching Trailer

• CATEGORIES: Advertising & Brochures, DJ-3A, Features, Old News Articles, Postcards • TAGS: , .

UPDATE:  The two post cards at the bottom of this post were on eBay several years ago. I recently came across some newspaper clippings that give background about the Winter Park Villager tram’s purpose. The service began November 28, 1966, but I could not find an end-date.

This first article discusses the jeep tram’s beginnings:

1966-11-13-the-orlando-sentinel-winter-park-villager-lores

Article dated November 13, 1966, from the Orlando Sentinel

This next article notes that Monday, November 28th, as the launch date for the jeep tram service.

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Article dated December 1, 1966, from the Orlando Evening Star

This short article from March of 1967 describes some of the tram’s stops:

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March 03, 1967, in the Orlando Evening Star

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This Winter Park Villager shows a DJ-3A Surrey pulling a matching trailer in Winter Park, Florida. One of these postcards is currently on eBay.

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Here’s another view of the same combo. One of these postcards is currently on eBay

winter-park-the-villager-post-card

 

 
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1960 Article on the Los Angeles Arborteum Jeep Train

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old Images • TAGS: .

This June 25, 1960, article the Los Angeles Times shares the news that the jeep train would be expanded to two trams, rather than just one. Based on other articles, it appears the one-tram jeep train was started sometime around 1955.

1960-06-25-losangeles-times-jeep-train-lores

 
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1944 Article on the Burma Jeep Trains

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old Images, Old News Articles • TAGS: .

The article shares information on why the GI’s had to use jeeps on the tracks and the dangers they faced. The photo is from a later newspaper.

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January 31, 1945, in the Evening Sun, Baltimore, Maryland.

From the Tucson Daily Citizen, October 23, 1944:

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Tucson’s CJ-5 Garbage Jeep

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old Images, Old News Articles • TAGS: .

In 1963, the city of Tucson, Arizona, was looking to save money on garbage costs. That summer an experiment was tried whereby a CJ-5 towing three garbage trailers was used to cut garbage transportation costs. I could not find any information on how long the experiment lasted.

This first photo showing the jeep, trailers and how a trailer was dumped into a larger truck, was published in the Tucson Citizen May 24, 1963:

1963-05-24-tucson-citizen-cj5-garbage-jeeps-lores

This article from May 22, 1963, published in the Arizona Daily Star, provides more information on the experiment:

1963-05-22-arizona-daily-star-jeeps-garbage

 
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CJ-5 Modified Into a Train Engine

• CATEGORIES: Features, Unusual • TAGS: , .

Roger Martin shared this Canadian Jeep Junkee photo of a CJ-5 that (I think) has been transformed into a train engine. I tried to learn more, but had no luck. It’s unclear to me where this might be located.

jeep-train-cj5

 
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Postcard of Wisconsin Deer Park on eBay

• CATEGORIES: Features, Postcards • TAGS: .

UPDATE: Here’s another example of a Wisconsin Dells Jeep Train, probably from the mid-1960s.

View all the information on eBay

“3-1/2 x 5-1/2 (Standard Size) postcard.”

1965-wisconsin-dells-jeep-train-postcard1 1965-wisconsin-dells-jeep-train-postcard2

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Originally Posted April of 2017: Seth spotted this postcard depicting a jeep pulling visitor trams at the Wisconsin Deer Park at the Wisconsin Dells. Opened in the 1950s (see history here), the park still operates, but there’s no evidence that the trams are still used, The closest thing to a jeep tram is a kids train.

jeep-safari-tour-jeep-jeep-train-wisconsin-dells1 jeep-safari-tour-jeep-jeep-train-wisconsin-dells2

 
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1960s(?) Postcard Pete’s Cave “Shepherd of the Hills Farm” on eBay

• CATEGORIES: Features, Postcards • TAGS: .

I don’t think I’ve run across this Jeep-Tram setup. I don’t know much about Shepherd of the Hills Farm, but I did learn that it was a book from 1907 by Harold Bell Wright that became a tourist destination that then played some role in the rise of Branson, Missouri, as a tourist destination.

View all the information on eBay

“Vintage Postcard of the Farm Tour pulled by an old Army Jeep at Pete’s Cave in Shepherd of the Hills in Branson MO
Size Standard 3 1/2 by 5 1/2
Circa 1960s”

petes-cave-shepherd-of-the-hills-postcard-jeep1 petes-cave-shepherd-of-the-hills-postcard-jeep2

 
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Chimpanzees and Battery Powered Jeeps

UPDATE: A newspaper article from May 20, 1950, published in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, provides more information about the jeep-driving circus chimp named Nero. He passed away later in the year.
1950-05-20-st-louis-globe-circus-chimp-jeep-drive2-lores

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Originally Posted January of 2013: This 1950 postcard shows some chimpanzees driving a battery powered jeep.  They were part of a Chimpanzee show at the St. Louis zoo started in 1925. Chimps were taught to ride bicycles, tricycles, motorcycles, ponies, a Great Dane, and more. You can learn more about them in the January 8, 1951, issue of Life Magazine.

“VINTAGE POSTCARD – CONDITION: VG. DATE/ERA: 1950s-60s. Standard Size 3.5×5.5.”

View all the information on eBay

1950-chimpanzee-stlouis-zoo-jeep-train-postcard1

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You can view some additional pictures at Jalopy Journal (scroll part way down the page). The quality seems good enough that they may be from Life Magazine, but I tried, but failed to locate their original source. Here is one of the images.

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On December 13, 1950, several newspapers announced that Nero had passed away. Here’s an article from the Southern Illinoisan:

1950-12-13-southern-illinoisan-nero-chimp-dies

 
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January 1950 Popular Mechanics Article on Tinkertown

• CATEGORIES: Features, Fire/Police/Industry Vehicles, Unusual • TAGS: , , .

UPDATE: Jerry contacted me about a locomotive jeep he would like to restored (see near bottom). He noted that it was used at Tinkertown and found this older post while hoping to learn more. So, this post is a complete redo of an early post that focused just on photos in a January 1950 issue of Popular Mechanics.

It is probably no surprise that the Los Angeles metroplitan area was a hotbed of theme parks and carnivals following World War II. In particular, there was Beverly Park, which is claimed to be the park that stimulated Disney’s interests in theme parks.

One of those carnivals was a traveling kiddie carnival called Tinkertown. Articles show it existed at least from 1950 through 1952, operating in Monrovia, Wilmington, Los Angeles, and other LA area towns.

1951-12-06-wilmington-daily-press-tinkertown-carnival-lores

December 06, 1951, Wilmington Daily Press, Wilmington, California. Tinkertown Kiddie Carnival announcement.

Tinkertown appears to have owned, at one time or another, at least four unusual jeeps. One was a fire jeep made from a CJ-2A, shown below in red.

A second jeep appeared to have been a stretched (probably surplus) WWII jeep made into some kind of fire jeep used to tow a small Ferris wheel.

The article above refers to the jeep as a “fire engine”; perhaps it was modified during WWII? Here’s a better image:

1950-01-popular-mechanics-stretched-jeep-lores

A third jeep-related setup was a train possibly made from a jeep (or jeep-engine-powered at the very least). It is pictured here:

 

The fourth known jeep was a jeep turned into a locomotive. It’s the one Jerry now owns (along with two of the tram cars), one he’d like to restore. It’s in surprisingly complete condition. He’s hoping to learn more about the manufacturer and/or Tinkertown. Here’s a photo of his train:

jerry-tinkertown-train-lores

Here’s how it looked in 1950:

Continue reading

 
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Fairchild Gardens Jeep Train Postcard on eBay

• CATEGORIES: Features, Postcards • TAGS: .

UPDATE: Still available.

(05/20/2019) This jeep-train carried visitors through Fairchild Gardens.

View all the information on eBay

“Postcard Florida CJ-5 Rambler Jeep Fairchild Tropical Garden”

jeep-train-fairchild-gardens-postcard1 jeep-train-fairchild-gardens-postcard2

 
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Jeeps in the Detroit Salt Mines

• CATEGORIES: Features, Fire/Police/Industry Vehicles • TAGS: .

I saw a reference to jeeps in Detroit’s salt mines on Facebook. After a some research, I found a few more images. The salt is used exclusively as road de-icer.

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https://ephemeraldetroit.blogspot.com/2015/06/salt-city-beneath-detroit-booklet-1971.html

 
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Daytona Beach Trains & Jeeps

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

Thanks to Roger Martin for pointing out these series of jeep pics from 1950s Daytona Beach. These were all posted to the Greetings from Daytona Beach Facebook page.

  1. These 1959 photos show Charlie Fogg’s Beach train, which ran a four mile round trip pulling one or more trams. You can see it’s a jeep under that train facade. That might even be a CJ-3B.
    1959-daytona-beach-jeep-ride3 1959-daytona-beach-jeep-ride1959-daytona-beach-jeep-ride2
  2. This one looks to be a second version of Mr. Fogg’s beach train:
    1960s-daytona-beach-charlie-fogg
  3. CJ-3B sporting a dog racing sign:
    1954-dog-racing-daytona-beach
  4. This ice cream vendor might be a CJ-3A:
    1956-ice-cream-vendor
  5. Mr. George Tetter, the Ice Cream Man, at Daytona Beach with his CJ-5:
    1980s-mr-tetter-ice-cream-man-cj5
  6. Two 1946 photos of an early jeep (MB/GPW) tram at Daytona Beach:
    1946-mb-gpw-jeep-train-daytona-beach2 1946-mb-gpw-jeep-train-daytona-beach

 

 
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Highland Hammock State Park Jeep Trains, Sebring, FL

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old Images • TAGS: .

UPDATE: There’s another Hammock State Park postcard on eBay. The original post is from 2013.

“This is a very cool black/white postcard that shows a jeep “Conducted Tour – Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring Florida” It is unused, but has a hand written date of 1955 on the back. It is in excellent condition.”

View all the information on ebay

hammock-state-park-cj2a-1955 

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Original Post from 2013:
Highlands Hammock State Park ran tour trains from at least 1948 – 1962.  As the first photo shows, they started with a CJ-2A.  It looks like a set of benches on a platform with wheels.  By 1962, the park shifted to CJ-5s.  It also appears they added sides.  I images that was safer.  These are all from the State Archives of Florida.

http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/56346

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http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/56343

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http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/78488

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More Tour Jeep — Jeep Train Photos

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: , .

Derek Redmond shared some more jeep-train and tour jeep photos he’s uncovered on various sites. Cool stuff!
La Roche-en-Ardenne  Belgium 1980 Spa Belgium

AtlanticCity

 
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Postcard from Fantastic Caverns on eBay

• CATEGORIES: Features, Postcards • TAGS: , .

UPDATE: Another postcard with this image is back on eBay.

(08/01/2015) You can learn more about Fantastic Caverns here: http://www.ewillys.com/2012/11/22/bill-visits-the-fantastic-caverns/

“Springfield Missouri~Jeep & Tram Thru Fantastic Caverns~1960s Postcard”

View all the information on eBay

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Het Nationaal Modelspoor Museum

• CATEGORIES: Willys Wagons • TAGS: .

Netherland’s National Train Museum includes one of the oddest wagons I’ve seen. Thanks to Scott for sharing this photo from Facebook.

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Baraboo Circus Jeep Train Postcard on eBay

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old Images • TAGS: , .

UPDATE: There’s another Baraboo Postcard on eBay.

(08/04/2014) This CJ-5 used to ferry visitors around Baraboo. I visited Barboo about two decades ago, but never saw it. It must have already been gone.

http://www.circusworldbaraboo.org/our-treasures/history-of-circus-world/

This jeep and tram toured through Baraboo, pointing out various circus sites, including final resting spots in Walnut Hill Cemetery.

This jeep and tram toured through Baraboo, pointing out various circus sites, including final resting spots in Walnut Hill Cemetery.

 
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Lewis and Clark Cavern Jeep Railway Postcards on eBay

• CATEGORIES: Advertising & Brochures, Features, Old Images, Postcards • TAGS: .

UPDATE: This was last published in 2012. A couple of the postcards are back on eBay.

Originally published November 10, 2012: The Lewis and Clark Cavern was Montana’s first State Park and is located here. You can read about the history of the caves here.  In 1947 the Montana Standard published an article about the cavern accompanied by the photo and caption below. You can view the entire article in this PDF file.

Here are three postcards related to this Jeep Railway.

1. View all the information on eBay

2. I haven’t seen this one on eBay in a while …

3. View all the information on eBay

 
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Conch Jeep Train Key West, Florida

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

UPDATE: Mark shared this closeup photo of the Jeep Train ‘Engine’.

conch-tour-train-key-west-mark-lores

Original Post — Jan 19, 2013: Here’s a jeep train out of Key West, the ‘world famous ‘Conch Tour Train‘.  You can still find the Conch Tour Trains wandering Key West.  Here’s a picture of one.  It looks to be a CJ-5.  Here’s an article about them.

conch-tour-train-key-west2

Vintage Conch Tour Train Pics:  Check out all those shrimp boats in the background. you can just make out the jeep trapped under the shell of the train body.

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/77312.  Picture taken by Barron, Charles.

conch-tour-train-key-west-floridamemory

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/77286.  Picture taken by Barron, Charles.

conch-tour-train-key-west-floridamemory2

 
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1943 Photo of Jeep Hauling Cargo Car on eBay

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old Images • TAGS: .

One of the better jeep train photos.

“1943 Press Photo Pvt. Ward directs the jeep carrying cargo and three others. This is an original press photo. 6 –The jee takes on cargo at the loading platform in an air depot. The jeep has only one small trailer. In jeep is Sgt. D. Kelly. of Betava, N.Y. Pvt. Ed. L. Ward, of Kenton, Ohio, directs from the platform, while Pvt. Henry Martion. of Great Falls, Mont, is in the truck on platform. Sgt. M. J. Bacciarina, from Merced, Calif., stands at rear of trailer.Photo measures 9 x 7.25 inches. Photo is dated 08-20-1943.”

View all the information on eBay

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St. Augustine Jeep Train

• CATEGORIES: Features, Postcards • TAGS: .

Another example of a Jeep Train. This one is from St. Augustine.

View all the information on eBay

st-augustine-postcard-jeeptrain1 st-augustine-postcard-jeeptrain2

 
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1943 Photo of Jeep Riding the Rails

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old News Articles • TAGS: .

This photo and caption was published in the Toledo Blade, August 13, 1943.

1943-08-19-toledoblade-jeep-on-rails

 
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Arboretum Jeep Train Postcard

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was on eBay. Here’s another one of these rare Arcadia Jeep Train postcards.

This postcard depicts how tram visitors used to tour the former Santa Anita ranch of “Lucky Baldwin”, who made millions in silver.  According to the website, “Occupying the heart of the historic Rancho Santa Anita, The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden is a unique 127 acre botanical garden and historical site jointly operated by the Los Angeles Arboretum Foundation and the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation and located in the city of Arcadia.”

The park is located here.

 
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Swiss Inspection Jeep

• CATEGORIES: Features, Willys Trucks • TAGS: , .

Paul spotted this unique Inspection Willys Jeep Truck at Just a Car Guy’s blog. I would guess this was sold as a truck with no bed. What’s odd is the extra cab thing on the top. Looks like it was part of another vehicle.

http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2015/03/swiss-rail-road-inspection-willys-jeep.html

swiss-railroad-inspection-jeep