During the First World War, many people across the country knew Lynchhurg as "Lunchburg." The City earned this nickname because of its famous Red Cross Canteen Service to soldiers traveling by train through Lynchburg. From 1917 to I919, dedicated and patriotic young women of the Lynchburg Red Cross dispensed food and cheer to thousands of troops at the Southern Railway Station on Kemper Street.
"Lunchburg" became a nationally-recognized canteen (or refreshment) stop because most trains carrying troops from training camps in the South to embarkation ports in the North passed through Lynchburg.
Operating from its "hut" at the Southern Railway Station, the Canteen Service prepared and served light refreshments to servicemen, including coffee, tea, sandwiches, fruit, cakes, and candy. The all-volunteer staff handed out magazines, postcards, and cigarettes, comforted ill soldiers, and treated minor injuries in a small hospital rom. Their smiling faces and words of cheer boosted the morale of American troops headed to war "over there" in Europe.
Lucille McWane Watson, Commandant of the Lynchburg Red Cross Canteen Service, remembered that "during the intense heat of the summer of 1918 a troop train commander wired in for drinking water. When the train arrived, barrels, tubs and coolers full of clear ice water were waiting along the platform, enough for 500 thirsty travel-worn men."
Images courtesy of the Lynchburg Museum System