Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Wabash Railroad

The Wabash Railroad was a large railroad system serving the mid-central United States. The first railroad to use only Wabash in its name began in 1877 and was a rename of the Toledo, Wabash and Western Railway formed in 1865. In 1991 it was merged into Norfolk Southern Railroad. Its main freight advantage was its direct route between Kansas City and Detroit without having to go through Chicago or St. Louis.

Wabash Railroad train; photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

The Wabash Railroad christened the day train between Detroit and St. Louis the Wabash Cannonball, named for a popular folk song, "The Great Rock Island Route," making it the only train named for a song. The Carter Family made one of the first recordings of the song in 1929. The 1936 Roy Acuff version has sold over 10 million records. Each version included a variation of the chorus and eventually the song became known as the Wabash Cannonball.

Oh, listen to the jingle, the rumble and the roar
As she glides along the woodland, o'r hills and by the shore
She climbs the flowery mountain, hear the merry hobos squall
She glides along the woodland, the Wabash Cannonball

The Wabash Cannonball survived until the creation of Amtrak in 1971.

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