Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

"The Pan-American" From Cincinnati To New Orleans. "The 20th-Century Limited" From Chicago To New York. "The Humming Bird" And "The Burlington Zephyr".

Postcard photo of The Louisville and Nashville Train named "The Pan-American".
The Train first entered service in 1921 and was Streamlined in 1940. The photo is of the original Heavyweight Train. Because the Postcard mentions the Train having a radio, it is thought that this Postcard dates from the Mid-1920s to the 1930s. The Train stopped running in 1971, after Amtrak assumed most Railroads' Passenger Services.
Author: Louisville and Nashville Railroad.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Pan-American was a Passenger Train operated by The Louisville and Nashville Railroad (LandN) between Cincinnati, Ohio and New Orleans, Louisiana. It operated from 1921 until 1971. From 1921 to 1965, a Section served Memphis, Tennessee, via Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Pan-American was the LandN's Flagship Train until the introduction of The Humming Bird, in 1946. Its name honoured the substantial traffic the LandN carried to and from the Seaports on the Gulf of Mexico. The Pan-American was one of many Trains discontinued when Amtrak began operations in 1971.

1930s and 1940s
Historic American Steam Trains and Railways.
Available on YouTube at

Postcard depiction of The Louisville and Nashville Railroad Train, "The Humming Bird", which travelled from Cincinnati, Ohio, to New Orleans, Louisiana. Connections to Chicago and St. Louis were made through other Railroads.
Date: Circa 1940s-1950s. Use of Linen Postcards was widespread during this time.
This Train began Service in 1947 and made its last run in 1969.
Source: eBay.
Author: Louisville and Nashville Railroad.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Postcard depiction of The Louisville and Nashville Train, en:Pan-American (Train), as it passes by the Transmitter of en:WSM (AM), Nashville. The Radio Station installed an outdoor Microphone, to pick up the Train's Whistle, as it passed the Station's Transmitter on its way between Cincinnati and New Orleans. Because of WSM's clear Channel Coverage, the Train's Whistle could be heard in all the, then, forty-eight States, via Radio, on weekdays.
Date: Circa 1933, when WSM began broadcasting the Whistle, to 1940,
when the Train was Streamlined.
Source: page.
Author: Curt Teich, Chicago.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Louisville and Nashville introduced the Pan-American Train on 5 December 1921. A Section of the Train diverged at Bowling Green, Kentucky, to serve Memphis, Tennessee. At the outset, the Train carried both Sleepers and Coaches, and was noteworthy for its All-Steel Construction, in an era when Wood Heavyweight Coaches were still common.

The name honoured the substantial traffic The Louisville and Nashville carried to and from the Seaports on the Gulf of Mexico. It covered the 921 miles (1,482 km) from Cincinnati to New Orleans in twenty-six hours, soon shortened to exactly twenty-four hours.

The Train proved popular with the travelling public, and, in 1925, was re-equipped as an "All-Pullman" (no Coaches) Train. The economic pressures of The Great Depression forced the Pan-American to start carrying Coaches again in 1933.

Postcard photo of the Interior of The Dining Car of The Louisville and Nashville Train, "The Pan American". This shows a Heavyweight Train and the people are wearing circa 1930s' clothing.
The Train was Streamlined in 1940.
Source: eBay.
Author: Louisville and Nashville Railroad.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Like many Louisville and Nashville Trains, the Pan-American experienced a surge in passengers during World War II, carrying four times its normal traffic. The Pan-American lost its title as The Louisville and Nashville's Flagship Train, in 1946, with the introduction of the faster Humming Bird Train over the same route.

Although never fully Streamlined, the Pan-American began receiving Streamlined equipment in 1949. The Southbound Pan-American carried "Through Sleepers" for Nashville, Tennessee, Louisville, Kentucky, and Memphis, from New York City, conveyed by The Pennsylvania Railroad in Cincinnati. Further South, in Montgomery, Alabama, it received New York-New Orleans and Washington-New Orleans Sleepers from The Southern Railway's Piedmont Limited.

1935 Train Journey From Chicago To New York On "The 20th-Century Limited",
Once America's Premier Train, Run By The New York Central Line.
Available on YouTube at

A promotional film made in 1935 by The New York Central Lines. Features a journey on
"The 20th-Century Limited", once America's premier Train. Background information from

"The 20th-Century Limited" was an Express Passenger Train operated by The New York Central Railroad from 1902 to 1967, during which time it would become known as a "National Institution" and the "Most Famous Train in the World".

In the year of its last run (1967), The New York Times said that it " . . . was known to railroad buffs for sixty-five years as the World's Greatest Train". The Train travelled between Grand Central Terminal, in New York City, and LaSalle Street Station, in Chicago, Illinois, along the railroad's famed "Water Level Route".

The New York Central Railroad inaugurated this Train as direct competition to The Pennsylvania Railroad, aimed at Upper Class, as well as Business, Travellers between the two Cities. It made few Station Stops along the way and used Track Pans en-route to take water at speed; after 1938, it made the 960-mile journey in sixteen hours, departing New York City, Westbound, at 6:00 P.M. Eastern Time and arriving at Chicago's LaSalle Street Station, the following morning, at 9:00 A.M. Central Time., averaging sixty miles per hour (97 km/h). For a brief period after World War II, the Eastward Schedule was shortened to fifteen and a half hours.

"The 20th-Century Limited" was known for its style, which has been described as "spectacularly understated . . . suggesting exclusivity and sophistication", as well as for its speed; passengers walked to and from the Train on a plush, Crimson Carpet, which was rolled out in New York and Chicago and was specially designed for "The 20th-Century Limited". "Getting the Red Carpet Treatment" passed into the language from this memorable practice. "Transportation Historians", said the writers of The Art of the Streamliner, "consistently rate the 1938 Edition of "The 20th-Century Limited" to be the world's ultimate passenger conveyance — at least on the ground".

Burlington Zephyr Passenger Train approaching the Station
and waiting passengers at East Dubuque, Illinois.
Date: April 1940.
Source: This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's
Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID fsa.8a05519.
Author: John Vachon, Office of War Information.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Pioneer Zephyr was a Diesel-Powered Railroad Train, formed of Railroad Cars permanently articulated together with Jacobs Bogies, built by The Budd Company in 1934 for The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB and Q), commonly known as "The Burlington". The Train featured extensive use of stainless steel, was originally named "The Zephyr", and was meant as a promotional tool to advertise Passenger Rail Service in The United States. The construction included innovations such as shot welding (a specialised type of spot welding) to join the stainless steel, and articulation, to reduce its weight.

On 26 May 1934, it set a speed record for travel between Denver, Colorado, and Chicago, Illinois, when it made a 1,015-mile (1,633 km) non-stop "Dawn-to-Dusk" dash in thirteen hours five minutes, at an average speed of seventy-seven mph (124 km/h). For one section of the run, it reached a speed of 112.5 mph (181 km/h), just short of the then US land speed record of 115 mph (185 km/h). The historic dash inspired a 1934 film and the Train's nickname, "The Silver Streak". 

The Pioneer Zephyr Train entered the regular revenue service on 11 November 1934, between Kansas City, Missouri; Omaha, Nebraska; and Lincoln, Nebraska. It operated this and other routes 
until its retirement in 1960, when it was donated to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, where it remains on public display. The Pioneer Zephyr Train is generally regarded as the first successful Streamliner on American railroads.

The passengers, including "Zeph the Burro", that rode The Pioneer Zephyr
on the "Dawn-to-Dusk Dash", gather for a group photo in front of the Train,
after arriving in Chicago on 26 May 1934.

Group photo of the "Dawn to Dusk Club", passengers, who rode aboard The Pioneer Zephyr during its promotional, record-setting, run from Denver to Chicago, on 26 May 1934, to mark The Century of Progress World's Fair.

[Author: All stories, claiming that the above image of "Zeph the Burro" actually represents a close resemblance to the Author of this Blog, are entirely apocryphal and should be treated with a great deal of scepticism.]
This File: 24 October 2011.
User: Centpacrr.

In 1953, the Pan-American was one of several Louisville and Nashville Trains to receive new Lightweight "Pine"-Series Sleeping Cars from Pullman-Standard. Throughout the 1960s, the decline of passengers using Trains in the United States took its toll. A "Counter-Lounge" replaced the "Diner-Lounge|" in 1965.

The Pan-American began handling some of The South Wind's Through Traffic in 1970, after The Penn Central withdrew from joint operation. By 1970, the Train had shrunk dramatically: between Cincinnati and Louisville it might carry a Baggage Car, Coach, and Dining Car, with a Sleeper for New Orleans, added in Louisville. Amtrak did not retain Service over the Louisville and Nashville
route and The Pan-American ended on 30 April 30, 1971.

In the words of Kincaid Herr, Official Historian of The Louisville and Nashville, the Pan-American "came to be the symbol of The Louisville and Nashville's Passenger Service." The Train was made famous by WSM Radio's nightly broadcast of The Passing Train's Whistle. Some Pan-American passengers were lucky enough to sit in comfortable Lounge Chairs, and hear the sound of their own Train's Whistle, from a Wood-Cabinet Table Radio, tuned to WSM, in the Observation Car. The broadcasts began on 15 August 1933.

The Pan-American inspired several songs:
"Pan-American Blues" (1926) by DeFord Bailey;
"The Pan-American" (1948) by Hank Williams;
"Pan-American Boogie" (1949) by the Delmore Brothers.

"Pan-American Blues" was one of two "Railroad" songs recorded by DeFord Bailey (the other being "Dixie Flyer Blues", so-named for a train of The Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad). Bailey frequently saw the Pan-American Train, at Nashville's Union Station, in the 1920s, but the inspiration for the name came from one of his Foster Sisters, who noted that "it was the fastest around." Bailey, with his harmonica, imitated the sound of the Pan-American's Whistle, and it quickly became one of his most-requested performances at the Grand Ole Opry and elsewhere.

"Pan-American Blues".
By DeFord Bailey.
Available on YouTube at

The Pan-American Train started its Southbound Journey at Cincinnati Railroad Station and called at the following Stations: Newport; Latona; Louisville; Bowling Green (where some Trains could divert to Memphis, and call at Russellville, Guthrie, Clarksville, Paris, McKenzie, Milan, Humboldt, Brownsville, Memphis).

Those Pan-American Trains not going to Memphis would continue from Bowling Green to: Nashville; Decatur; Birmingham; Montgomery; Flomaton; Mobile; Pascagoula; Ocean Springs; Biloxi; Gulfport; Pass Christian; Bay St. Louis; New Orleans.

"The Pan-American".
By Hank Williams.
Available on YouTube at

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...