In 1935, thanks to assistance via a U.S. Reconstruction Finance Corporation loan,
the Baltimore & Ohio purchased two streamlined trainsets from
American Car & Foundry. One train was built using aluminum and used
as the Royal Blue while the other of Cor-Ten steel and sent west for use as the Lincoln
on the Alton Railroad between St. Louis and Chicago. Overall, the
train included eight cars; a baggage-mail car, three coaches with
reclining seats to hold 64 passengers each, a diner-lunch counter car,
two parlors, and a round-end parlor-lounge-observation. For power the
train used an 1,800 horsepower semi-streamlined boxcab diesel locomotive built by the Electro-Motive Corporation, #50. Painted in deep, royal blue with gold trim, just like the Royal Blue, it was the first streamlined train to serve St. Louis and Chicago.
Interestingly, the Alton Railroad soon picked up an additional
streamliner when President Daniel Willard became dissatisfied with the
aluminum-built trainset and sent it west in 1937 after less than two
years of service. This resulted in the aluminum trainset being renamed
as the Abe Lincoln while the original Cor-Ten steel set became the Ann Rutledge
(President Lincoln's first love). In 1937, the same year the two
streamliners began operations on the Alton the Baltimore & Ohio took
delivery of six sets of new streamlined diesels from EMC known as the
EA (and booster EB) numbered 51-56. Some of these new unis were
assigned to the Abe Lincoln and Ann Rutledge. Capable of producing 3,600 horsepower combined the design set the standard for later cab models manufactured by the builder.
Typically, the train could complete the run between St. Louis and Chicago in just over five hours averaging a speed of nearly 55 mph. Unfortunately for the B&O, the Great Depression and the straining demands of World War II put too much stress on the carrier to carry out its hoped for plans with the Alton Railroad and formally sold the line to the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio on May 31, 1947. Interestingly, the GM&O apparently saw the Abe Lincoln as a useful train as it continued to use the name for the next 24 years although it adopted the Alton's red paint scheme as its primary livery for its passenger trains.
|The GM&O's Abe Lincoln is working its way southbound through Chicago on March 30, 1971. The next day, Amtrak will take over intercity passenger rail services.|
One of the B&O's original trainsets remained in use with the
train until the GM&O began cutting back services in the latter
1960s. Even after Amtrak ownership the Abraham Lincoln continued
to operate between St. Louis and Chicago although the carrier also
extended the train to Milwaukee. In 1976, Amtrak even revived the Ann Rutledge and the name survived for decades until 2009 when it along with the Abe Lincoln were discontinued and renamed simply as the Lincoln Service.
Still, it's rather amazing that for a train with no, true long term
aspirations when it was started by the Baltimore & Ohio all those
years ago its route and part of its name continues to survive today.
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