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The Mysterious White Trains of the Cold War

Ever since the United States ended the Japanese-led invasion by dropping two atomic bombs in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world had been terrified of another nuclear strike. Upon seeing the immense power of nuclear weapons, several nations worldwide began amassing arsenals of nuclear weapons to use them in case of another pending war.

Even though World War II has ended, there were many speculations that nations such as the Soviet Union, the United States, and other countries were building up their collection of weapons of mass destruction.

Start of the Cold War

The year 1945 saw the end of the Second World War when Nazi Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, followed by  Japan’s formal surrender on September 2, 1945. However, the fear of atomic weapons’ power has led several nations to start developing their mass destruction weapons. Two of the world’s superpowers, namely the USA and the USSR, were at odds with each other on ideological, economic, and geopolitical issues. The tensions between these two superpowers were so intense that both nations were speculated to have amassed nuclear weapons, ready to be launched as a pre-emptive measure to another World War. The belief was that whoever had the most nuclear weapons will be the one making the demands. Both USSR and the USA were at a standstill with no accurate information about the number of nuclear weapons each nation had already amassed.

The Mysterious White Trains

Since the 1950s, the United States has begun mass producing and transporting their weapons of mass destruction across the country. Trains disguised as belonging to the Department of Energy’s Office of Secure Transportation were used to regularly move weapons from the Pantex plant in Texas across states to weapon silos. The trains were originally painted white, which gave them the name “White Trains”. The color white was used to cover the trains to reduce the nuclear weapons emitting heat signatures. While the US had repainted the trains numerous times to avoid being noticed, these trains continued to be referred to as white trains.

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Someone Took Notice

The 1950s was a paranoia time, with Americans unsure of when the next nuclear strike will happen. With the Cold War between the USA and the USSR in the background, people began noticing people and other activities very meticulously. One man named Jim Douglass, who resided near a naval base, noticed how white trains would regularly deliver nuclear weapons. Douglass started a non-violent campaign to let other Americans take action and protest nuclear weapons’ amassing. His group, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, was able to generate a nationwide protest that the USA buckled in to pressure and discontinued using the white trains to transport weapons.

However, this result was not a complete victory since the USA is still believed to be transporting nuclear weapons using more elaborate and discrete transport methods.

Riley Brown
Written By Riley Brown

Riley is a history, lifestyle, and entertainment writer living in San Diego. He received his bachelor's degree in Journalism and Multimedia from the University of Oregon. His work has been featured in many finance and lifestyle publications throughout the US. When he is not writing, Riley enjoys reading and hanging out at the beach with his dog.


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