The Louisville and Nashville Railroad, The Dixie Line
The Louisville and Nashville Railroad, a railroad synonymous with the
southern states and southeastern US, served major cities from New
Orleans and Memphis to St. Louis, Atlanta, the western panhandle of Florida, and later Chicago. The
L&N is also one of the few classic fallen flags to never have had
its original chartered name changed at any point throughout its history,
serving its home state and the
southeast for over 120 years known as simply the Louisville &
Nashville. Interestingly, despite its status as a southern road the L&N derived a significant portion of its revenues from the movement of coal as it served numerous mines in the state of Kentucky. While the railroad would become part of the burgeoning CSX
system it was a highly respected and well-known transportation company
for much of its existence. Today, many of its principal routes remain in use.
Louisville & Nashville U30C #1479 leads an empty string of coal hoppers through Ravenna, Kentucky on May 23, 1981.
The L&N has its beginnings in 1850 when the State
of Kentucky granted a charter for the railroad to build between its
namesake cities. It took nine years for the railroad to complete its
original main line and it opened in 1859 with a connection to Memphis established by 1861. The Civil War all but halted construction
on the railroad and because L&N lines ran through both North and
South territory the railroad had several miles of track destroyed
through the course of the war.
Notable Passenger Trains
Azalean: Operated between New York and New Orleans in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Railroad, Southern Railway, and Atlanta & West Point.
Crescent: Southern Railway's premier passenger train
which operated between New York and New Orleans in conjunction with the
Pennsylvania Railroad, Atlanta & West Point, and the L&N (which took it to New Orleans).
Dixie Flagler: Operated between Chicago and Miami in conjunction with the Florida East Coast Railway.
Dixie Flyer: (Chicago - Florida)
Dixieland: Operated between Chicago and Miami in conjunction with the Florida East Coast Railway.
Piedmont Limited: Another of Southern Railway's passenger
trains which operated between New York and New Orleans in conjunction
with the Pennsylvania Railroad, Atlanta & West Point, and the
L&N (which took it to New Orleans).
Southland: (Detroit - Florida)
South Wind: Operated between Chicago and Miami in conjunction with the Florida East Coast Railway.
Following the war and throughout the rest of the 19th century the L&N spent most of its energies building
new railroad and acquiring others. In 1879 it purchased the
Evansville, Henderson & St. Louis which, while it was not completed
to St. Louis it had a very good start connecting Evansville, Indiana.
The L&N during this time also took over the Montgomery & Mobile
and New Orleans, Mobile & Texas giving the railroad access to the
Deep South and Texas. It also took control of the Nashville,
Chattanooga & St. Louis in 1880 giving it access to much of
Tennessee and Atlanta.
By the time this photo was taken the L&N was growing increasingly disinterested in passenger services; seen here is E7A #799 having arrived at Dearborn Station in Chicago with its train on December 26, 1969.
To the east the Louisville and Nashville gained a connection to
Cincinnati via the Cincinnati & Lexington in 1881. By the next
decade in the 1890s, the L&N had a vast network in Tennessee and
Kentucky giving it access to the rich coalfields of the southern
Appalachians and by the turn of the 20th century [in 1905] it had a
direct main line to Atlanta, Georgia. Through the early part of the
20th century the railroad would continue to expand in the east, mostly
in the additions of branch lines to further serve the coal regions and
by the time construction and acquisitions died down during this time the L&N found itself reaching the eastern tips of Virginia.
From this point forward the railroad spent most of its
resources and energies upgrading lines and property. Aside from the
railroad’s coal regions, which provided it with significant profits, by
being “centrally” located in the southern region and serving eastern as
well as western markets it also earned a large amount of revenues from
handling freight and passenger trains. For instance it worked
with railroads such as the ACL, FEC, PRR, B&O, Southern, and other,
smaller lines. With this alliance it handled well-known passenger
trains such as the Piedmont Limited, Crescent, and South Wind. Of course, the railroad also owned a few notable trains of its own including the Pan American (Cincinnati-New Orleans) and Dixie Flyer (Chicago-St. Louis-Florida).
Interestingly the L&N never reached Chicago until 1969 when the railroad took over the Chicago & Eastern Illinois’ main
line and gained a direct connection to the city from Louisville when it
took control of the famous, albeit rather small, Monon Railroad in
1971. Both roads were small, regional systems but provided the L&N with new markets that it did not previously reach. The 1970s also signaled the end for the Louisville &
Nashville’s independence. It was during this time that it came under
the Family Lines System banner along with the Clinchfield, Seaboard
Coast Line (a merger between the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line),
and a number of other smaller lines. For more information about the classic L&N system please click here to visit the Louisville & Nashville Historical Society's website. For further reading about the L&N please click here.
L&N FA-2 #360 is adorned in the road's earlier black livery with gold lettering as it leads a freight extra, probably somewhere in Kentucky (the author did not know the exact location), during July of 1964.
Diesel Locomotive Roster
The American Locomotive Company
16-19, 24-29, 34-68
300-321, 350-369, 383-384
The Baldwin Locomotive Works
The Electro-Motive Corporation/Electro-Motive Division
Two L&N C420s, #1358 wearing the Family Lines livery and #1320 the standard grey and yellow, roll through the yard at Corbin, Kentucky on May 24, 1981. The railroad was quite fond of Alco's diesel designs, owning 16 of this model and more than 200 altogether.
With this came a new livery
applied to all of the railroads (with sub-lettering stenciled under
locomotive cabs identifying company) and gone was the L&N’s famous
gray, yellow, and red livery (which, interestingly, the new Family
Lines’ livery also used the same colors). As the 1970s gave way to the 1980s the L&N
would officially be merged out of existence. When the Family Line System
became the Seaboard System Railroad in 1982 under the CSX
Transportation banner, along with the Chessie System, there was little
need for so many different company names and the L&N along with its
other allied roads were merged out of existence that year. While the
L&N is no more today the system and railroad it left behind
continues to be an important part of CSX’s southern lines.