• "Tennessean" passenger train

  • Discussion related to the Norfolk & Western, up to 1982. Also includes discussion of the Virginian Railway (1959); Wabash; Nickel Plate; Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway; Akron, Canton & Youngstown Raiload (all 1964); and the Illinois Terminal (1981).
Discussion related to the Norfolk & Western, up to 1982. Also includes discussion of the Virginian Railway (1959); Wabash; Nickel Plate; Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway; Akron, Canton & Youngstown Raiload (all 1964); and the Illinois Terminal (1981).
  by curmudgeon
Hi all -

Can anyone tell me which railroad ran this train in the '50's, & what it's route was?



  by bill haithcoat
This train ran from Washington, D.C., to Memphis(with through sleepers from New York). Its route was NY-WAS-lynchburg,Roanoke,Bristol, Knoxville, Chattanooga,Huntsville,Memphis.

The New York-Wash through sleeper segment was PRR. The Washington to Monroe/Lynchburg was Southern. From there to Bristol it was Norfolk and Western. At Bristol it became a Southern Railroad train AGAIN. Yes, very unusual to be on the same railroad twice, separated by another road.

There were two other trains which did something similar. The Pelican,same as above, except after Chattanooga it went to Birmingham and New Orleans

And the Birmingham Special, same as above but only to Birmingham.
  by bill haithcoat
Terry, I gather that you are a locomotive buff, from some of your other questions. I am not so much--more into the passenger equipment. But here are some further thoughts on the Tennessean, which went through my hometown of Chattanooga.

It began in 1941 as a beautiful stainless steel all coach streamliner, along with the Southerner, a train which went NY to NOL on the exact route of today's Crescent.

Sleepers were added very soon to the Tennsessan, for short hauls, i.e. Bristol to Memphis, Chattanogoa to Memphis and Bristol to Nashville.(that Nashville car being transferred to the NC&STL in CHA). These were heavyweight sleepers and in the earlier years they had silver painted sides to resemble streamlining. That paint job thing did not last too long.

Soon sleepers were aded from NY to Memphis and in 1949-50 when SOU got a lot of new cars, new 14 roomette 4 double bedroom sleepers were put on from NY to MEM and WAS to MEM.

So this was a train of lighgweight coaches, lounge, diner , through sleeper some headends cars. Some heavyweight pullmans,and, increasingly, headend.

The N&W locos were the handsome J class 1600 series. Southern at first had diesel on one part of the SOU route and modernized steam on the other. Can't remember which was which. EITHER stream-styled steam from WAS to Monroe/Lynchburg and diesel from Bristol to Memphis or vice versa.

The train was not kept up, however. By 1953 the public timetable was no longer listing it as a streamliner. By the 60's when I rode it to college only the sleeper(cut back to Knox to Mem) was still streamlined. All the coaches and other cars were heavyweight, mixed Southern and N&W and some modernized Southern.

Its very final years it amounted to more or less nothing. sort of a one coach connection with the Pelican (also dwindled down to very little) at Chattanooga, to Memphis, arriving there about 2 a.m., of all the ungodly times for a train to terminate at its final destination.

  by curmudgeon
Hi Bill -

Thanks for the great overview of this train!
Seems to me folks on this forum are the most helpful, knowledgeable & least egotistical bunch I've run across.
A big "ATTABOY" to all! :-D

As you gleaned, I'm a steam engine nut, so it won't surprise you to learn my question was prompted by this painting:

I don't recognize the styling or colorscheme on this Pacific and wonder if it's authentic or just "artistic license".
(Anyone feel free to jump in if you recognize it. :wink: )

Further details on the train (I know nothing about passenger traffic; rode from Cal to Tn in the early '50s, but I was too young to remember):
Who handled the Nash/Mem, Hunts/Mem portions?
Were single cars/small cuts run separately for short hauls( (you mention the Nash. car to NC&StL @ Chatt.)?
If so, would this have been into another passenger train or a mixed consist?
Finally, why sleepers on, say Bristol/Nash - assuming Bris/Knox/Chatt/Nash, seems it's surely less than 300 miles - was scheduling such that it took 10 hours or more, or was it for passengers who'd been on the train prior to Bristol?

Again, thanks for your input.


  by bill haithcoat
So far as I can tell, the photo is legit, I do think it had a stream-styled loco which looked like that.I know some of its diesels were alcos.

The sleeper from Bristol to Nashville was transferred in Chatta from the Tennessean to an overnight ATl - Nash local of the NC&STL(later taken over by LYN). I think you are questioning why not a shorter route from say Knox to Nash--yes there was, but SOU did not go that way. Guess with the Chattanooga stop it made for more ridership.

Persons from further away, like NYC, would have made a car to car transfer in Bristol to get into that pullman.

There were no mixed train nvolved in this.

Interesting point about that sleeper exchange in CHA---CHA had two stations so that lone sleeper had to be hauled by a switcher from one station to the other in the dead of night in each direction. I always got a kick out of that. Would love to have been on it for such a wierd switching operation.

  by curmudgeon
Thanks again, Bill -

Once more with straight info.
On the night switching - seems it couldn't have been good for sleeping! :-D

The engine in the illustration may be Southern, though the green shade is way off, but I haven't found pics of a Southern streamliner - my understanding is they were sufficiently (& deservedly) proud of their Ps4's.

How "up" are you on SP's "Daylights"?
Have a question posted this forum about that, too.


  by bill haithcoat
I am sure the engine is legit. If the color is a little off, maybe so but keep in mind that this was 1941 (perhaps SOU had not even settled on its green color yet) and also there was probably only one locomotive reconstructed like this for this train. I did find out the stream styled steam went from WAS to Monroe only, diesel south of Bristol . The schedule was such that only one such engine would have been needed.

You had mentioned the timing of the Bristol-Nash trip. It left Bristol about 5-6 p.m. got to Nash next morning about 6.Keep time change in mind, Bristol on EST, Nash on CST. Other direction, left NASH about 9 p.m. got to Bristol next day about 10 a.m. Keep in mind the CHA-NASH train was a multi-stop local, and of course allow some transfer time in CHA. All trackage below was Bristol was SOU except of course the CHA-NASH route.

There was a railroad called the Tennessee Central which went directly from KNOX to NASH, by-passing CHA. But that line did not get nearly the traffic SOU got. Whether some time in the very distant past a sleeper went that way, can't be sure. I am 60 and only got back to the early 50's in memory, and don't have many 30's or 40's timetables.

Strange the Nashville-NY market was not very well served. The only service other than this was through cars PRR NY to CIncinnati, Louisville and Nashville from CINN to NASH. There were through sleeprs on L&N 's Pan American from NY to Nash, NY to MEM and NY to LOU. So I guess most people used that route.

Sorry, no good specific info on the Daylights---too bad I am not really a locomotive person. I know those trains were strikingly beautiful.
  by bill haithcoat
Terry, last but not least, I realize you are probably much more interested in steam engine info than the above. I will see what I can find out over the weekend and can hopefully provide some more info on Monday, unless somebody else steps up to plate.

I am not a computer expert and do not know hwo to send photos over the web. Plus, I am at work and cant be seen spending too much time on this on my job. I have no computer at home.

I realize from your other posts that you are already aware of the Tenn. Central.

Do you have any good books on locmotives? There are quite a few out there.

  by curmudgeon
Hi Bill -

I've lived in & around Nashville since mid-50s (with several 1-2 yr moves aound the country, including Atl.) so am familiar w/L&N, NC&StL & TC, but not passenger services.
You mentioned lack of such here, and while all 3 had it, Nashville was quite the "small town" city until the mid/late '70s!

Southern adopted the color after it's owner visited England ('20s?) & was struck by the rainbow of liveries so common there, particularly their Southern Railroad's green & gold!

I have a few books, spending most of my "extra" $$ on model steam. :-)

Folks add pix to posts here, but I dunno how either, so I copy & paste links.

I appreciate your time & effort to share your knowledge - passenger service was certainly the most striking aspect of railroading, especially in light of the fact that it was almost ALWAYS a moneyloser!

Re: Daylights - it's only the late '40s/early '50s consist of the "Sacramento" section I'm interested in.


  by bill haithcoat
Here is your locomotive scoop! Yes, number 1380 was for real. It is a pacific PS 4 4-6-2 alco, built schenectedy 1923. Re-styled by Otto Kuhler in 1941 for Tennessean service. It is the only steam loco to be re-built as "streamlined" by SOU. It hauled it WAS to Monroe only.

You asked about the color. Most of the shots I saw were black and white. In the the only color shot I had, it was hard to tell if it was the same green or not. Regarding my comment the other day about how far back SOU went with its green, I had forgotten that the 1926 Crescent Limited had both green engines and green cars. So, yes, I too, now remember that it went on back as you say.

One thing I did notice--the shot you posted had three stripes along the bottom at the front of the engine. In those I have at home, some had two stripes, some had three. So obviosuly one stripe either got added or deleted sometime later. And all of these are "real shots", not drawings.

Parenthetically,changing the subject a little, I may have given you the impression that I thought Nashville did not have too much rail service. I only meant specifically NASH to NYC. Other places, plenty of service , like Chicago, Atlanta, Cincinnati , Florida, Gulf Coast, etc. All of my favorite NC&STL trains in CHA also came through NASH.

By the way, are you familiar with the very beautiful/handsome J class fully streamlined N&W locos? They pulled their trains for many years, possilby the last regularly scheduled steam in the U.S. I assume you know all about that. If not, you should pursue it. Such locos pulled this train, and the Pelican and the Birmingham Special(referred to earlier) from Monroe to Bristol.

  by curmudgeon
Hi Bill -

REALLY great work! :wink:

I'd no idea Sou ever had a streamliner!

When I saw the painting (which it definitely is, thus the extra pilot stripe & "off" color - artistic license!), my first thought was of N&W's Js. I knew the colors weren't right & a quick search for a pic showed it to be sumpin' very diff.
It also reminded me of an NC&StL J-class "Yellow Jacket" but I knew it certainly wasn't that.

Knowing what to look for, I can track it down now.
I can't tell you how much I appreciate the time & trouble to which you went!
If you ever want to know about steam engines (obviously, NOT that I know everything! ), gimme a holler. :-D

Re: Nashville passenger service - understand that I wasn't being peevish, I wasn't offended in the least - I knew of several to the south, but not many to the major northeast cities, and my comment about Nashville is simply true.

Thanks so very much for your willingness to pursue this for me!


  by erie2521
Just ran across this post. It got me reminiscing about my days as a graduate student at Virginia Tech 1957-9. I saw the Tennessean a number of times. As someone mentioned, the Lynchburg-Bristol segment was over the N&W. When I first moved there, the power was N&W J's (4-8-4) but by the time I left they were using Southern diesels. Ted
  by younger
[quote][/quote]I can add to Bill Haithcoat’s information concerning the Tennessean that he posted 4-28-05.

In 1942, there was a 10 section, 3 double bedroom car running between Washington and Memphis. Apparently, the demand for first class service moved the Southern to put this car on. Heavy weight sleepers were still being operated Bristol-Memphis and Bristol-Nashville in the mid-fifties.

In the beginning, the Southern used diesel engines between Bristol and Memphis, and its streamlined steam engine between Monroe and Washington (down in the morning, and back in the evening). Why Monroe and not Lynchburg? It was a division point on the Southern, and apparently it cost less to allow the N&W to run their engines and engine crews between Monroe and Roanoke/Bristol than it would have to run Southern engines and crews between Monroe and Lynchburg. After the War, Southern began using diesel engines between Washington and Monroe (for a time, it used a diesel engine from Washington to Monroe on the Birmingham Special and from Monroe to Washington on the Pelican).

When I first rode this train, in June, 1956, the lounge car was no longer operated as an observation-lounge, but as a mid-train lounge. When I next rode the train, in early January, 1958, there was no lounge car, and the Southern diesels ran through between Washington and Memphis.

A correction to Bill Haithcoat’s comment 4/29/05 concerning the Tennessee Central–it ran between Harriman (50 miles west of Knoxville) and Nashville; :-) the Southern handled a Knoxville-Nashville sleeper east of Harriman.

In response to Curmudgeon, 5/2/05, the Southern had not one, but five streamliners: the Tennessean, the Southerner, the Crescent (after 1950), and the New Royal Palm (winter season train), and the Royal Palm (except in winter when the New Royal Palm was running.

In response to Erie2521, I was in college Bristol from 1954-1959, and spent many an evening after supper at the station, taking in the J that was to take the Pelican out that evening.
  by west point
Monroe was the change of SOU diesels ( usually Es Later or Fs earlier ) when Sou had all Es on other trains. The Js went to Monroe as only Sou had a steam and diesel servicing facility. SOU had conductor LYH and north but SOU crew ran the steam at times LYH <> Monroe. ( What a gig 8 miles ). Another diesel crew north of Monroe. And then when SOU sill ran some steam to WASH it ran a Separate steam crew on a separate steam smokeless steam engine ALX <> WASH.

Early on the power south of Bristol was an Alco DL-109s. However the prime mover proved unreliable so SOU started using Fs. But they just had few passenger Fs with ATS so not very many different Fs made it to Bristol. ATS was in effect all way to Memphis.

Finally last Alcoa built 6 Pa-2s with the 244 prime mover ( sometime referred to as PA4s ). They were assigned to the Tennessean to Memphis. The A-1-A truck configuration allow very fast operations Bulls gap - thru Knoxville to Chattanooga. Then west of Stevenson Al to Memphis., using the ATS to exceed the normal 79 MPH.

The heavyweight Pullman sleeper Bristol <> Nashville once ran on the Tennessee Central Harriman <> Nashville. The route was very slow ( Even I-40 today is no picnic thru there today.) TC killed passenger service so the car was rerouted thru CHA on NC&SL CHA <> Nashville. Enroute time were much less than TC routing. It was a 10 section, compartment, 2 double bedroom Pullman car. Car was an essential political service to the capitol of Nashville. Driving to Nashville. Many nights when political was high gear second Pullman often assigned. Sometimes a coach following the sleeper(s). driving was a night mare just 5 - 6 hours Bristol - west of Knoxville on Us11E or !!W and US 70 on to Nashville.
Train was quicker By way of CHA.