Brochure and Timetable for Wabash Railroad's Blue Bird or Cannon Ball Streamliner, "Modern Service in the Heart of America," 1953

Summary

The Wabash Railway, with origins dating back to 1838, was a strong Midwestern carrier until Amtrak took over the national passenger railroad system in 1971. The legendary song "The Wabash Cannon Ball" told of a mythical "death coach" for hobos. The song became so popular that, in 1950, the Wabash Railway gave that name to its Detroit-to-St. Louis day train.

The Wabash Railway, with origins dating back to 1838, was a strong Midwestern carrier until Amtrak took over the national passenger railroad system in 1971. The legendary song "The Wabash Cannon Ball" told of a mythical "death coach" for hobos. The song became so popular that, in 1950, the Wabash Railway gave that name to its Detroit-to-St. Louis day train.

The Wabash Railway, with origins dating back to 1838, was a strong Midwestern carrier until Amtrak took over the national passenger railroad system in 1971.

The legendary song "The Wabash Cannon Ball" appeared in a 1904 sheet music revision of the early song, "The Great Rock Island Route," based upon a tall tale about a mythical "death coach" for hobos. Multiple versions of this song were recorded, beginning with the Carter family's version in 1929, and into the 1930s and 1940s by such artists as country music singer Roy Acuff, blues artist Blind Willy McTell, and crooner Bing Crosby. The song became so popular that the Wabash Railway finally exploited the name recognition and christened its Detroit-to-St. Louis day train the Wabash Cannon Ball in 1950. This efficient, diesel-powered line was not of an integrated streamlined design but offered comfortable seating and reasonable-priced dining. This popular line ran until 1971.

This 1953 brochure features two of the Wabash major Midwestern lines, both offering "modern service in the 'Heart of America'"--the modern diesel-powered "Blue Bird" streamliner and the comfortable diesel-powered "Cannon Ball."

Detailed Description
Artifact

Brochure

Date Made

1953

Subject Date

26 April 1953

 On Exhibit

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Object ID

2012.67.12

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. In Memory of John A. Barrett.

Material

Paper (Fiber product)

Color

Multicolored

Dimensions

Height: 5.5 in

Width: 2.75 in

Inscriptions

Text on front reads in part: TAKE THE / Blue Bird / OR THE / CANNON BALL / MODERN SERVICE / In the Heart of America / Condensed TIme Table / Effective April 26, 1953

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