The U.S. Army Transportation Museum, located on Fort Eustis, Virginia reflects the
history of the
Army, especially the United States Army Transportation Corps, and
includes close to 100 military vehicles such as land vehicles, watercraft and rolling
stock, including stock from the Fort Eustis Military Railroad. The museum features a
50,000-square-foot main building and four outdoor parks.
The Museum is officially dedicated to General Frank S. Besson, Jr., who was the first four-star general to lead the transportation command, and extends over 6 acres of land, air and sea vehicles and indoor exhibits. The exhibits cover transportation and its role in US Army operations, including topic areas from the American Revolutionary War through operations in Afghanistan.
The museum was established in 1959 in a warehouse using items initially collected for a recruiting exhibit, and got a main building in 1976. An open-air pavilion for aviation exhibits opened in 1987. The buildings, built at a total cost of $765,000, and other capital improvements are funded by the Army Transportation Museum Foundation (ATMF). Since the foundation is prohibited by law from obtaining state or federal grants, private donations are the only funding source.
The exhibits inside the museum building include representative transportation-related materials, presented in a series of dioramas in chronological order. Outside there is a vehicle yard to the south, with road vehicles, amphibious craft, and the aircraft pavilion, and a rail exhibit to the north. Although material is presented on 18th- and 19th-century topics, over half the indoor exhibit space and almost all of the outdoor exhibits are 20th-century-related.
Early truck developments are given coverage with the Mexican Punitive Expedition, Liberty truck, and Transcontinental Motor Convoy exhibits. The extensive Liberty Truck exhibit covers the development and production of the Army's first standardized truck design, a 5 ton cargo hauler produced using interchangeable parts as well as soldier letters about their experiences with the trucks.
World War II receives coverage with several exhibits. Among them is coverage of Operation Mulberry, which was an operation to construct two artificial harbors on the Normandy coast to support the invasion. This operation used 158 tugboats including 74 of the Army's "small tugs" to tow 59 Gooseberry derelict ships to be sunk as breakwalls and the Phoenix caissons and Lobnitz floating piers.
Another exhibit focuses on the Red Ball Express, the massive supply operation that supported Patton's advance after D-Day. Coverage includes photos and paintings of the trucks as well as a diorama of a rest stop/repair depot featuring cargo trucks and a wrecker. Additional materials address the massive fuel and oil consumption needs as well as soldier experiences.
The museum has an extensive Vietnam War exhibit, including a large diorama with the gun truck Eve of Destruction (believed the only surviving Vietnam era gun truck, and named after a protest song and a helicopter, as well as bicycles used by the Viet Cong. The museum has an extensive collection of gun truck images, organized by the truck name, which are also on the museum's web site.
Outdoor exhibits include the vehicle park with a selection of representative vehicles used in the transport command. A marine park has Army water vessels, including a DUKW and a tugboat and various sized amphibious craft including landing craft and wheeled barges.
The aviation pavilion exhibits aircraft, fixed wing and helicopter, from the Korean War to the present, including a HZ-1 Aerocycle, an OH-23 Raven helicopter and a vertical take-off/landing plane. An unrestored Avrocar is in the covered section.
The rail section has several significant artifacts including the railway cars used in the Berlin duty train as well as standard issue tank switchers, and a collection of typical rolling stock including cranes, freight cars and maintenance of way equipment.
Since the museum is on an active military installation, a check-in at the guard station, a possible vehicle search, and a visitor's pass are required. The museum has a gift shop and reference library where research may be undertaken with advance request.
Tue - Sun 9am - 4:30pm
U.S. Army Transportation Museum
300 Washington Blvd Besson Hall
Fort Eustis, Virginia