Welcome to the Connellsville Canteen!
From 1944 until 1946, about 800 women of all ages met 600,000 troops who passed through the B & O Railroad station. From offices here, volunteers furnished food and drink twenty-four hours a day and chauffeured personnel to their homes.
Connellsville's canteen operated from 1944 to 1946 at the town's Baltimore and Ohio Railroad station on the railroad's double-track main line, which hugs the bank of the Youghiogheny River. Connellsville is situated about midway between B & O division points at Cumberland, Md., and Pittsburgh on B & O's main route, between the national capital at Washington and Chicago. Military, freight, and scheduled passenger trains all stopped at Connellsville to change crews, engines, or both, giving a few minutes" pause at the station. During the stops, soldiers were met by canteen workers, on duty "round the clock, offering food. Over the course of the war, some 800 women volunteers served 600,000 members of the armed forces.
At the Connellsville, Pennsylvania canteen:
"Dear Ladies:"I wish to thank you for the splendid way you receive servicemen in your city. In traveling over a great portion of the eastern United States, yours is the only city to offer such service as meeting the trains with free food and refreshments. I am stationed in the south (Portsmouth, Virginia) which treats servicemen with little regard. I talked to several servicemen on the train and they said it was the first such treatment they had received. It is great work!"Thanking you again for the fine treatment received and hoping you will continue to do the good work."
Simon W. Benth,Seaman 2cU.S. Navy"
"To Whom it May Concern:"
"This is only a piece of paper but it carries with it a great amount of thanks and appreciation for the very kind manner in which you ladies treated us when our train, fortunately stopped in your city. It is things like what you are doing that brought to us boys a touch of home which we have missed so much. We left the Connellsville Canteen with our spirits greatly boosted.
"Please thank everyone who participated in helping to make such a worthwhile as yours. The best of luck from Headquarters Company, Third Battalion,253rd Infantry, 53rd Division."
Pfc. Marvin E. Smith, Memphis, Tennessee
Pfc. A. J. Marttek, Detroit
Pfc. Hugh Morris, Bend, Oregon
Pfc. Albert E. McDevitt, Pennsylvania
Pfc. Paul E. Schatz, Greenfield, Mississippi
Pvt. Edward Barkdull, New Jersey
Pfc. Michael Polyak, Chicago
Pfc. August Disparti, Chicago
Pfc. Max Lipschutz, Philadelphia
Pfc. Albert Fosbrook, Philadelphia
Connellsville's canteen was typical of the community-sponsored canteens that sprang up at railroad towns far removed from big cities. Others well remembered by World War II veterans include the canteens at North Platte, Nebraska, which served six million servicemen and women from 1941 to 1946, and at Lima and Dennison, Ohio, the latter of which was operated by the Salvation Army. In Pennsylvania, the USO (United Service Organizations) set up lounges or canteens for members of the armed forces at major train stations, including the Broad Street, 30th Street, and North Philadelphia stations in Philadelphia; and the Pennsylvania Railroad stations at Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.