PASSENGER TRAINS OF YESTERYEAR


| January/February 1984

(This article catches the human side of train travel, especially for people living in small towns, as recently as 10 years ago. While it deals with names and numbers and schedules of trains, it captures the meaning of old time trains to the people who rode them and who gathered at the station to watch them arrive and depart. Trains of olden days were really basic to the Era of Steam which evokes fond memories.)

Many changes have been made by the railroads since World War II diesel power, centralized traffic control, welded rails and piggy-back trains but the public has fond memories of the passenger trains, both local and fast, which were abolished in the '50s and '60s.

Passenger trains were an essential mode of transportation until after World War II when autos, highways and later interstates, changed travel. Crack passenger trains of the L & N serving our area included the Dixie Flyer, Dixieland, Dixie Flagler, Dixie Limited, Hummingbird and the Georgian. The trains ran between Chicago and Jacksonville, Florida, with sleepers (pullmans), dining cars and day coaches.

Their stops were limited locally to Henderson, Madisonville, Earlington for water; Nortonville, a connection with the Illinois Central; Hopkinsville and Guthrie in Kentucky and Springfield and Nashville, Tennessee.



The trains that most people knew and appreciated were 51 and 52 'no names.' Number 51 ran the 158 miles from Evansville to Nashville in four hours and 55 minutes, from 1:40 p.m. to 6:35 p.m. with 19 regular stops, 12 flag stops (you could actually flag the train to stop for boarding, even if you had to use a flaming newspaper for a flare), two water stops and one coal stop with a hand-fired steam locomotive.

I was raised in the little village of Adams, Tennessee, and train time was always special to the community. Someone was always on hand to see those arriving and departing.