Wabash Railroad “follow the flag”

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The October 1959 timetable (front, back cover, map, and three pages of condensed schedules, above) is from my collection. Click to enlarge, and click on the enlargement to enlarge further. Wabash  and Frisco were unique in that they ran both east and west of St. Louis, Wabash to Detroit and Kansas City (and on to LA via UP) and Frisco to Birmingham (and on to Florida via Southern) and Oklahoma (and on to Texas via MKT). By the time of this 1959 timetable, Wabash was no longer in the Chicago-Detroit market, as they had been in co-operation with PRR.

The four pictures below are from David R. Sweetland’s Wabash in Color. First, the Detroit-St. Louis Wabash Cannonball at Ft. Wayne, 1956, Emery Gulash, photographer. Second, a rare interior Wabash view, a dome coach on the Chicago-St. Louis Blue Bird, 1960 photograph by Al Holtz. (Go to “Wabash” under “categories” on this blog to see another shot of each of these trains, though exterior, not interior.)

Third, the City of St. Louis leaving St. Louis, 1960, also shot by Al Holtz. As a kid I saw the City of St. Louis many times at Pomona, CA, and tried to imagine it east of Kansas City behind its blue Wabash power, such a contrast to the Union Pacific yellow train. As a passenger on this route, as on UP’s Chicago trains, the contrast between West and East  was striking, especially in summer. You left LA to cross bone-dry mountains and desert, slept and woke in Weber Canyon, Utah, then spent the day on the plains of southern Wyoming, slept and woke in lush, green farm country. Watching the City of St. Louis in Pomona, occasionally I would spot a Wabash car but it would always be wearing UP yellow.

The fourth picture from Sweetland, a photo from the Don Ball collection, shows the eastbound City of St. Louis arriving Mexico, MO in the early fifties. The train had left LA in mid-morning, stopped in Las Vegas in the evening, Salt Lake City the next morning, on to Denver by the second evening (but via the UP Overland Route, not through the Rio Grande’s Rockies), and by its second morning stopped in Kansas City. It was due at St. Louis just past noon.

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Below is a “C. T. Art-Colortone” post card. The back reads: “A new travel thrill awaits you in the perfectly air-conditioned glare-proof domes on the new Wabash streamliner “Blue Bird.” This ultra-modern train leaves St. Louis every morning and leaves Chicago every afternoon. All “Blue Bird” coaches and the observation parlor car feature domes for your travel pleasure.”


The two shots below are reproduced from Audio-Visual Designs post cards. The first is included to show the latter-day color scheme for diesels compared to the original, the second to show the contrast between Wabash cars painted in UP yellow versus Wabash’s own color scheme, in this case a car in the later all dark blue scheme.



Below are covers of a few route guides from my collection. If Wabash published glossy folders about their trains, I don’t have any–which is the case for many railroads. I think the glossy folders came along too late for all but a handful of western carriers who were still courting passengers. Below also is the cover of  the 4/28/63 timetable, which was only a folder, and a letter to 15-year-old me from a nice Mr. Rohlfing, of Wabash.

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I add the picture below both because I have a large, framed colorized print of it hanging in my bedroom (from the wall of a depot, I would guess) and because I discovered it on another “Streamliner Memories” blog, http://streamlinermemories.info/ (I’m at streamlinermemories.com). My framed print is captioned “Wabash Streamliner ‘Blue Bird’ with its modern domes on Pullmans and coaches glides through beautiful Forest Park, St. Louis, en route to Chicago.”



This entry was posted in Wabash, Wabash Blue Bird, Wabash Cannon Ball and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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