By the early 1880s Gould had built the Wabash into a formidable
Midwestern system by reaching Chicago and Detroit with route miles
surging to over 3,500. Alas, however, this is where Gould’s dream began
to die. In 1884 the railroad was out of cash and fell into bankruptcy and Gould eventually lost all control of the company. While the railroad’s former lines began to be auctioned off a group of investors
and shippers managed, in 1888, to hold together much of the original
Wabash system and reorganizing it as the Wabash Railroad Company in the
spring of 1889 (and which would become a recurring theme throughout the
early 20th century).
By the 20th century the railroad began to rebound by improving
operations and building new, more efficient, connections to a number of
markets it already served. However, another setback occurred when the
railroad was again reorganized in 1915 as the Wabash Railway. This
reorganization was another result of a grand dream to build a true
transcontinental, this time by Gould’s son, George, who attempted, and
failed, to add the Wheeling & Lake Erie and Wabash Pittsburgh
Terminal Railway to the Wabash as part of his transcontinental plan (much of this failure was the result of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s opposition to the company’s entrance into Pittsburgh).
|SW9 #368 pulls switching duties at the Kedzie and 79th Street yard in Chicago on April 9, 1965.|
The company never had an extensive passenger fleet although it did provide high-quality service with names like the Banner Blue Limited and Midnight Special. Most legendary, however, was the Wabash Cannon Ball, which operated between Detroit and St. Louis. The train's status was so popular with the general public that it survived right up until Amtrak in 1971 after the N&W attempted to discontinue it in the 1960s! Following its latest grand dreams going awry and the Great Depression,
which found the railroad once again (and for a final time) reorganized
as the Wabash Railroad Company, the system became known as a
high-speed Midwestern rail artery with a highly diversified
traffic base ranging from auto parts to produce, a trait that many
continue to remember it for even today.
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Diesel Locomotive Roster
The American Locomotive Company
|C425||1000-1006 (Became N&W property before delivery.)||1964||7|
The Baldwin Locomotive Works/Lima Locomotive Works
|SW8||120-121, 125-126, 128-132||1950-1953||9|
|E7A||1000 (First), 1001-1001A, 1002||1946-1949||4|
|E8A||1000 (Second), 1003-1015||1949-1953||14|
|F7A||1100-1108, 1100A-1108A, 1140-1154, 1140A-1154A, 1165-1188, 1165A-1188A||1949-1953||96|
|H24-66 (Train Master)||550-557, 600-608||1954-1956||17|
Steam Locomotive Roster
|B-2 Through B-8||Switcher||0-6-0|
|E1 Through E4||Atlantic||4-4-2|
|F-1 Through F-7||Mogul||2-6-0|
|I-1 Through I-6||Consolidation||2-8-0|
|K-1 Through K-5||Mikado||2-8-2|
Notable Passenger Trains
Banner Blue: (Chicago - St. Louis)
Blue Bird: (Chicago - St. Louis)
City of Kansas City: (St. Louis - Kansas City)
City of St. Louis: (St. Louis - Denver - Cheyenne - Los Angeles)
Des Moines Limited: (St. Louis - Des Moines)
Detroit Arrow: (Chicago - Detroit)
Detroit Limited: (St. Louis - Detroit)
Kansas City Express: (St. Louis - Kansas City)
Midnight Limited: (St. Louis - Kansas City)
Omaha Limited: (St. Louis - Omaha)
Pacific Coast Special: (St. Louis - Pacific Coast)
Red Bird: (Chicago - Detroit)
St. Louis Limited: (Detroit - St. Louis)
St. Louis Limited: (Des Moines/Omaha - St. Louis)
St. Louis Special: (Kansas City - St. Louis)
The Midnight: (Chicago - St. Louis)
"Wabash Cannon Ball": (St. Louis - Detroit)
|Two cabooses, #2720 and #2772, sit at the 75th and Western Street yard in Chicago on April 9, 1965.|
During the mid-20th century, the company was under PRR
control for over 30 years beginning in 1932. However, the Pennsy was
ordered to relinquish its majority stock
ownership in the 1960s when it planned to merge with the New York
Central. With the Norfolk & Western and Nickel Plate already in
serious merger discussions it was decided to allow the Wabash to be
included with the N&W and NKP. In 1964 the Wabash and Nickel Plate
became new divisions of the N&W and the Wabash-controlled Ann Arbor
Railroad was handed over to the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton. Today
the railroad continues to live as its former main lines remain an
important artery for operator Norfolk Southern.
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Other Classic Railroads Of The Midwest
Burlington, "Way Of The Zephyrs"
CA&E, "The Roarin' Elgin"
C&NW, "Route Of The '400'"
Rock Island, "Route Of The Rockets"
D&M, "The Turtle Line"
DT&I, "We Have The Connections"
GB&W, "The Green Bay Route"
IC, "The Main Line Of Mid-America"
IT, "The Road Of Personalized Services"
IHB, "Connects With All Chicago Railroads"
CMStP&P, "Route Of The Hiawathas"
Monon, "The Hoosier Line"
Nickel Plate, "High Speed Service"
"Ship Soo To And Through The Upper Midwest"
St. Louis Southwestern
MN&S, "The Dan Patch Line"
M&StL, "The Peoria Gateway"
The Missabe Road
MoPac, "Route Of The Eagles"
CGW, "The Corn Belt Route"
DW&P, "Delivered With Pride"
BRC, "The Belt"
EJ&E, "Chicago Outer Belt"
KCS, "Route Of The Southern Belle"
Lake Superior & Ishpeming
Santa Fe..."All The Way!"
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway
UP, "We Will Deliver"