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The Pan American

The original article of the 1926 all Pullman Pan Pan American Radio Star Farewell Pan Hello Amtrak

The original article of the 1926 all Pullman Pan

Pan American Radio Star

Farewell Pan Hello Amtrak

For the U.S. passenger train, one era ends but another begins.

{photo1 Final Pan at Mobile, crew waving farewell
{photo2 Frank O Lavernge, April 1970

On Friday afternoon, April 30, L&N's Pan- American-and dozens of well-known "name" passenger trains of our nation's other railroads- departed from their respective terminii for the last times. The next day, May 1, new Amtrak streamliners of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation made their bow on 21 intercity and long-distance routes across the nation. A century-plus era of passenger service by individual American railroads thus ended. But the inaugural runs of the Amtrak trains signaled the dawn of a new era, with promise of brighter days for U. S. rail passenger service. That service in L&N Land could be said to have had its genesis with two small predecessor railroads, the Pontchartrain and the Lexington & Ohio. Both roads were chartered in 1830 (rivaling each other as "first west of the Alleghenies"), and both offered passenger service of sorts by the mid- 1830's over their respective routes out of New Orleans and Lexing- ton, Ky. Another L&N-Land pioneer was the State Oeorgia's Western & Atlantic, which was surveyed 1837. By the mid-l9th Century, the W&A was run- fling through passenger trains over its newly Com pleted line from Atlanta to Chattanooga; Just four years later, the Nashville & Chattanooga dispatched its first passenger runs from the Tennessee capital to Lookout Mountain and a connection with the W of A in downtown Chattanooga. Even before its main line to Nashville was completed pleted, the L&N provided a kind of passenger service first to Elizabethtown, then progressively southward to "end of track," with stage coaches taking passengers around the uncompleted gaps in trackage! Inaugural passenger service between L&N's namesake cities began November 1, 1859, and our rail road's first public timetable advertised two trains making the 185-mile trip each way in about nine hours. Then-on the eve of the Civil War in April 1861-a Louisville-Memphis passenger service was created. L&N trains from the main line at Bowling Green connected at Guthrie, Ky., with the recently finished Memphis, Clarksville & Louisville, which, in turn, joined the Memphis & Ohio at Paris, Teun. These new rail services offered obvious advantages to travelers in speed, convenience and dependability over competing stage lines and steamboats. The nine- hour Louisville-Nashville schedules were three times faster than those of the stages which took 27 hours for the one-way trip. Ads in 1861 Memphis news- papers declared that running times to Louisville- about 28 hours over the "new lines"-bettered the best river-packet times between the cifies by 50 hours! Qf course, on-train amenities offered the passen- gers in the 1860's and 1870's were spartan. Generous quantities of soot and cinders showered in through open windows, and dining service was virtually non- existent, except for whatever "vittles" the hardy traveler could carry himself, or bolt down at in- frequent meal stops! However, sleeping-car service was introduced on the L&N as early as 1869, when Rip Van Winkle palace sleepers began running out of Louisville to Nashville and Memphis. With L&N's growth as a major Southeast-region cairier m the 1880's and 1890's, our passenger ser- vice was greatly improved. L&N introduced long- distance "name" trains, featuring equipment which gave patrons much more comfort and safety in travel than ever before. And railroads all across America were fast becoming the prime movers of both passen- gers and freight. The through-car~service of the L&N," proclaimed timetables of that period, "is unsurpassed by any line in the South. Sleepers are the latest-model Pullman vestibuled buffet cars, and coaches are equipped with all modern improvements." By the late 1880's, two solid through passenger trains steamed daily between New Orleans and Cincinnati. Meanwhile, with completion of the Henderson Bridge across the Ohio River in 1885 and standardiza tion of track gauges in 1886, the L&N started a St. Louis-Nashville sleeping-car line. That was followed in 1892 by a Nashville-Jacksonville, Fla., through sleeper, promoted by Major W. L. Danley, NC&StL; general passenger agent, as The Dixie Flyer. A com- panion Nashville-Atlanta sleeper became The Quick- step. Success of those services and the Florida resort boom led to a long-distance winter-season train, launched by the L&N, the NC&StL and the C&EI in December 1901. Called The Chicago-and-Florida Limited, the new train became the first of a succession of superbly equipped and elegantly decorated name trains to link the Midwest with beaches and resorts in the Sunshine State. Year-round Midwest-to-Florida travel was further spurred in 1908 when the C&EI, L&N and NC expanded the already popular Dixie Flyer sleeper into a solid train, then ran it straight through daily from the Windy City to Jacksonville. In 1910, on L&N's Cincinnati-Gulf Coast main line, the New Orleans Limited became the premiere train over that route. With the 1900's also came heavier, steel coaches and Pullmans, steam vapor heating, electric lights, lounge and dining cars. (L&N's first three diners went into service in 1901.) The zenith of passenger service on America's rail- roads was reached in the 1920's. Rail travel was "it" in the jazz era, and more people rode the crack limiteds and expresses than ever before . . . or since. In 1921, over one billion passengers were carried by the railoads, a record which was never surpassed. Even so, in that busy, hectic decade, our industry began to feel pinches from auto, bus and air competi- tion. The "passenger problem" began to be mentioned with more frequency in rail publications, including this magazine. L&N's most celebrated passenger train, The Pan- American, was born in the 1920's. Inaugurated on December 5, 1921, the Pan was an immediate success, so a Memphis connection was soon added. Then, in May 1925, the Pan became all-Pullman, with new cars ordered especially for her consist and power- ful new locomotives (delivered in 1926) to speed her over the hillier divisions of the railroad. The Pan created an unforgettable saga, with on- train radio sets and valet service in the '20's; air conditioning throughout in the '30's, and more new equipment; the famed WSM trackside broadcast. Bwtween 1933 to 1945; and a dining-car cuisine which got rave notices from leading gourmets. Perhaps the late, great country singer Hank Williams best summed up the affection for our flagship train when he sang: "I've heard your stories about your fast trains But now i'll tell you about one.... She's the Beauty of the Southland! Listen to that whistle scream It's the Pan-American On her way to New Orleans!" Above and beyond the call of duty. . How begin to term the role of the L&N, NC&StL, C&EI our sister carriers in moving unprecedented numbers of military and civilian passengers during World War Two In 1939, L&N trains carried about 3.2 million pas- sengers; by 1944, our passenger traffic volume had swollen to 12.4 million travelers. Extra cars on regular trains and frequent "second sections" helped move troops and other travelers. Extra seats and tables were added in diners to increase their capacities, maximum utilization was made of all passenger equip- ment and motive power. Included were 16 diesil electric locomotives, delivered in 1942, to wheel Pan Americans, Southlands and Dixie Limiteds lengthened far beyond their normal consists by war-time traffic And great credit must go to the tireless efforts over long hours given by train and dining-car crews,porters, MOS 'N ANDY" AT 60 MPH-Lounge-car radios (complete with individual headsets) ollered thrilled travelers on ? Pan tv~th their favorite radio shows in the 1920's. Photo was reproduced from magazine page. agents, and hosts of other employees who height- ghted L&N's notable contributions in support of America's war effort. The age of the streamliners dawned in L&N Land, in December 1940, with two Midwest-Florida coach speedsters, the South Wind and Dixie Flagler More streamliners undoubtedly would have followed had not the war curtailed production of locmotives and passenger cars. In the immediate post war ~ years (1946-1950), new trains did come: the Humming Bird, from Cincinnati to New Orleans; the Georgian, first operating from St. Louis to Atlanta, then becoming a Chicago-Atlanta overnight train (via C&EI-L&N-NC&StL) with a St. Louis section; the City of Memphis, NC&StL's bid for Nashville-Memphis travel; and the C&EI's Whippoorwill dayliner, between Chicago and Evansville. 'The fast overnight Gulf Wind made its debut on its Jacksonville-Pensacola-New Orleans route in 1949. Late that same year the famed Crescent (which used L&N rails on the Montgomery-New Orleans portion of its run from New York) received new ~~stainless-steel R.P.O's, coaches, Pullmans, and solarium-observation cars. A fleet of stremilined reclining-seat coaches and sleepers (the named after various types of Pines) purchased the mid- 1950's further augmented our new trains and services introduced in the post-World War two years Interstate Commerce Commission figures show that between 1945 and '1958, American rail- roads and the Pullman Company spent more than $1.3 billion for new passenger locomotives and cars. Further, the railroads' postwar bid for passengers with new trains was matched by faster schedules, attractive reduced-fare schemes, stepped-up advertis- ing, new stations, and many other innovations. Total expenditures for these improvements-including the new motive power and equipment-were borne en- tirely by the railroads themselves. By the late 1950's and early 1960's, competition from automobiles, airlines and buses began to cut deeply into rail passenger traffic. Growing subsidies from all levels of government went toward new and improved highway systems and airports. The rails' share of intercity passenger travel, as high as 73 per- cent during World War II, fell below 30 percent after 1960. In 1946, L&N passenger-miles traveled totaled 1.3 billion. By 1966, they had declined 85 percent to 203 million miles! There followed a very necessary reduction of pas- senger services by railroads, the L&N included, as little-patronized locals and branch4ine trains were dropped and other runs were consolidated to provide essential service over principal routes. Regarding charges of down-grading trains which were leveled at railroads after such service reductions, President Kendall responded vigorously. This maga- zine carried his remarks. Mr. Kendall pointed out that, with a diminishing patronage, railroads were forced to take steps to reduce some services to offset revenue A,' 1 losses while continuing enough service to accommo- date remaining passengers. The public-he added- tends to overlook what railroads actually did do to woo patronage hefore they had to initiate service reductions. The shift of much mail and express traffic from passenger trains to other modes in the 1950's and 1960's also hurt the overall rail passenger picture. Further thrusts of subsidized highway and air com- petition brought the railroads' share of intercity travel to under 10 percent by the late 1960's. Those factors, plus mounting deficits which cut deeply into overall revenues for all lines with pas- senger services, led to creation last year of the Na- tional Railroad Passenger Corporation. The Amtrak trains, launched on May 1, followed. Under the Con- gressional Act which set up NRPC, railroads which joined the corporation were then permitted to dis- continue (on April 30) all non-revenue-producing passenger trains and/or those trains not designated in the overall Amtrak system. As we bid farewell to the Pan and other well-known trains, recognition surely must go to countless L&N; men and women, living and deceased, who, over the years, gave life and purpose to our passenger service. Over telephones, ticket and baggage counters, on trains~ in dining cars and sleepers and in many other places little observed by the public, these employees served our patrons ably and well and caused praise to be heaped on L&N train travel. On April 30, 1971, the Pan-American, the Geor- gian, Gulf Wind and many other great trains high- balled into history. But in their wake roll the stream- liners of Amtrak. Railroaders everywhere wish them well as they introduce a new age of rail transportation. photo credits SO LONG, PAN-No. 8's crew wave goodbyes as they bring famed flyer into Mobile April 30 for last time. From top left: Engineer W. E. Harper, Fireman Melvin Maize; Trainman Robert Christen; and Conductor C. B. Greene I SERVICE WITH SMILE-Dedicatzon of Sleeping-Car Porter Frank 0. LaVigne made on L&N exce'ptional.

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