The History of the
North Platte Canteen
Just ten days after Pearl Harbor, North Platte residents learned "through the grapevine" that their own Company D, Nebraska National Guard, which been training at Camp Robinson, Ark., was going to pass through the city by troop train en route to the West Coast. Family members and friends hurried to the Union Pacific Railroad station, where eventually about 500 residents waited with cookies, candy, cakes, and cigarettes. Among them was Rae Wilson, whose brother commanded the local company.
After a long wait, a troop train rumbled into the station. Excitedly the crowd surged forward. Then came sharp disappointment, for the boys on board were Company D alright, but a Kansas - not Nebraska - National Guard Unit.
Disappointed yes, but someone in the crowd said, "Well, what are we waiting for? Welcome to our city sons, and here's a little something for you." They then passed out to these boys the gifts they had arranged for their own.
This gave Rae Wilson an idea. Why not meet all the trains carrying servicemen and women? She contacted businessmen, housewives, railroaders, and everyone who would help. On Christmas Day 1941, a troop train rolled into the city and the men on board found, to their surprise, smiling young ladies with baskets of treats. Thus was born the North Platte Canteen.
(Published with permission from North Platte Canteen by James J. Reisdorff)
Pull Up a Chair
The Story Continues
From December 25th, 1941 until April 1, 1946 more than 6 million servicemen and women who traveled through Nebraska during World War II fondly remember the hospitality of the North Platte Canteen where every troop train was met by volunteers who prepared and served sandwiches, coffee, cookies, cakes, and other homemade 'goodies' during stops there.
The owners of the Ramada by Wyndham North Platte & Sandhills Convention Ctr and the Canteen Bar & Grille, wish to salute those servicemen and women, and dedicate this restaurant to the Canteen and its volunteers as a reminder of its proud past. After more than 50 years the spirit of the Canteen "returns" to North Platte.
For more information regarding The Canteen, please see our Hostess or contact the Lincoln County Historical Museum.