On July 11, 1957, the Texas and Pacific Special, with eleven passenger coaches, two baggage cars, and one baggage dormitory car, arrived at Valley Forge State Park with 576 Texan Boy Scouts and their leaders for the 1957 National Scout Jamboree. The excited group joined Scouts from across the nation – 52,580 in all – along with 30,000 visitors. Valley Forge was transformed into a 25,000-tent city with a theater carved out of a hillside the size of Yankee Stadium.
On the way, the “TP Special” had stopped in Washington, DC for tours of the White House, the Capitol Building, the Washington and Jefferson memorials, Arlington National Cemetery, and Mount Vernon. While in Valley Forge, the Scouts heard from Vice President Richard Nixon, watched fireworks displays, learned the history of Valley Forge, and were treated to an aerial show by the US Air Force Thunderbirds. One day trip took them to New York City to see the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty, Radio City Music Hall, and the United Nations. On another day they traveled to Philadelphia to see Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Carpenter Hall (where the first Continental Congress met in 1774), the home of Betsy Ross, and the World War II U-boat-fighting submarine, USS Hake.
On the final night of the Jamboree, the story of Scout founder Braden Powell was told. The stadium lights were turned off, and over 52,000 candles illuminated the memorable scene. The Texas Scouts boarded their train for home, first stopping at Niagara Falls, then travelling through Canada to Detroit. The Ford Motor Company played host to the group, giving them an exciting look at a huge factory assembly line – and a shiny new car produced in just minutes. For many boys, it was the trip of a lifetime.
Image Credit: National Park Service