Army vehicles are loaded onto rail transport cars in the foreground. Meanwhile, in the background, army vehicles sit on flat cars ready to roll out.
Army vehicles are loaded onto rail transport cars in the foreground. Meanwhile, in the background, army vehicles sit on flat cars ready to roll out.

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — An unlikely railroad presence can be found at the home of the 101st Airborne Division.

About a dozen rail spurs lay side-by-side, allowing for quick loading of railcars. The 101st Airborne Division boasts it can be anywhere in the world within 36 hours. Army officials contend they can move up to 275 cars loaded with military equipment per day.

In 2001, Fort Campbell dedicated a new rail spur connecting to CSX’s main line near Hopkinsville.

“We have facilities on post to marshal 250 rail cars for loading at one time,” Maj. Gen. Richard Cody said in October 2001. “This (rail spur) means we can now load up real quickly as well as bypassing downtown Hopkinsville.”

Before the rail spur, the Army used surface streets to move equipment from Fort Campbell. That, however, added hours to the deployment time.

“If we tried to do 100 cars it would take us 10 hours,” Shirley Ezell, with Fort Campbell’s transportation office, told The (Clarksville, Tenn.) Leaf-Chronicle in October 2001. “Now it’s just a matter of minutes. … When you’re working on that timeline, 10 hours makes a big difference.”

At a cost of $20 million to build 4.3 miles of tracks, the project was completed about two months ahead of schedule.

“Seeing that first train operate was really an accomplishment. It feels great,” Corps senior construction representative Roy Tyler told The Leaf-Chronicle in October 2001.