Flag, Faith & Freedom Land that I Love

Keep Riding that Freedom Train!

The First Freedom Train, 1947-1949


The first “Freedom Train” circled the United States from September 1947 to January 1949.  Aptly named the Spirit of 1776, the Freedom Train visited three hundred cities throughout all forty-eight states.

The train carried 127 of our country’s most priceless historical documents and six flags.

Americans got to see precious national treasures in their own hometowns!

Freedom Train brochure. Source – National Archives

Tom Clark’s ambitious dream came to life –


Tom C. Clark, Harry Truman’s Attorney General, was the train’s most enthusiastic supporter.

Clark’s goal for the train was to “reawaken in the American people, the loyalty it is known they have for the American way of life.”

When Tom Clark was unable to get Congress to fund the train, he turned to the American people.

The American people gladly pitched in to pay for the project!  Check out the feature photo at the top of the article.


photo from National Archives

Display cases –


Display cases were meticulously designed to keep the documents safe and secure.

click to view letter

The cases were kept at 75 degrees or higher, and humidity was kept between 40-60%.

Click onto the old letter to the right, to read the interesting way they repaired Jefferson’s rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. (Click back arrow to return to this article.)

The train was very popular.  More than 3.5 million people stood in long lines, braving all kinds of weather to catch a brief glimpse of their national treasures.

photo from National Archives

Irving Berlin’s classic song –


Irving Berlin composed the energetic “Freedom Train” to promote the train’s journey.  Complete lyrics are at the end of this article.

It was recorded three times in 1947–by Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters, by Ray Dorey, and by the powerful ensemble of Peggy Lee, Margaret Whiting, Benny Goodman, Johnny Mercer and the Piped Pipers.

Maria Muldaur recorded a bouncy version in 2003 for her beautiful tribute album-A Woman Alone with the Blues…remembering Peggy Lee.

Here is the amazing Peggy Lee ensemble version –


The Bicentennial Freedom Train, 1975-76


A second Freedom Train traveled the country in celebration of our nation’s Bicentennial.

It was organized in the early 1970s by Ross Rowland and a group of his friends.  Rowland was a young, successful New York commodities broker, and a lover of America and vintage steam trains.

Between April 1, 1975 and December 31, 1976, over seven million Americans visited the Bicentennial Freedom Train.  Tens of millions more lined the tracks to wave as it churned by.

The second train dwarfed the first one in size.  Its twenty-six cars were pulled by three enormous steam engines, restored just for the expedition.

photo from freedomtrain.org website

The twelve display cars were filled with over five hundred diverse American treasures.

Exhibits included George Washington’s copy of the Constitution, the original Louisiana Purchase, Judy Garland’s dress from The Wizard of Oz, Joe Frazier’s boxing trunks, and even a rock from the moon.

Read more about the Bicentennial Freedom Train by clicking here.

Is a third Freedom Train heading our way?


There are plans for a third train in 2026!  That would be the quarter-millennial anniversary — 250 years strong!

Fifty years later, Ross Rowland is once again the organizer.

Rowland’s non-profit is called The American Freedom Train Foundation Inc.  It’s a 501(c)(3) organization (EIN: 20-8081202), and donations are tax deductible.

Steve and I will be first in line!

Let’s hope we continue to have more Freedom Trains circling our great land in the years to come!


Lyrics to Irving Berlin’s 1947 Freedom Train –

This song is a train song, it’s a song about a train
Not the Atchison, Topeka, not the Chattanooga Choo-Choo
Nor the one that leaves at midnight for the state of Alabam’
This song is a train song where the engineer is Uncle Sam

Here comes the Freedom Train
You better hurry down
Just like a Paul Revere
It’s comin’ into your home town

Inside the freedom train
You’ll find a precious freight
Those words of liberty
The documents that made us great

You can shout your anger from a steeple
You can shoot the system full of holes
You can always question “We the People”
You can get your answer at the polls

That’s how it’s always been
And how it will remain
So long as all of us
Keep riding on the Freedom Train

You can write the President a letter
You can even tell him to his face
If you think that you can do it better
Get the votes and you can take his place

You can hate the laws that you’re obeying
You can shout your anger to the crowd
We may disagree with what you’re saying
But we’ll fight to let you say it loud

That’s how it’s always been
And how it will remain
So long as all of us
Keep riding on the Freedom Train


Keep riding on that Freedom Train!

–Irving Berling, 1947

The first Freedom Train. Photo from the National Archives

Feature photo (at the top of the article) from the National Archives.

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