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Underground Railroad: 1943

Underground Railroad: 1943

January 1943. "Chicago, Ill. A Baltimore & Ohio Railroad train about to depart from Union Station via the Alton Road to Saint Louis." The streamliner Abraham Lincoln. Photo by Jack Delano, Office of War Information. View full size.


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Abraham Lincoln / Ann Rutledge Passenger Trains

One train was aluminum and the other was Cor-Ten steel.

Also surviving

is the Locomotive from this train, #50, sans shovel nose. It is also at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis.

A survivor

The Abraham Lincoln and its counterpart Ann Rutledge were mostly aluminum train sets originally ordered by the B&O. The rivets in the photo help identify them as aluminum; most lightweight cars were welded steel but aluminum welding techniques were not widely used until the mid-40's. Thus aluminum lightweights used the traditional riveted construction.

The B&O initially trialed the aluminum sets on the Royal Blue between New York and Washington D.C., but found the ride to be too rough for their premier service. The train sets were sent to the Alton, where they served on the Chicago-St. Louis route through GM&O ownership and into the 60's.

You can still go see the observation car in this photo, fully restored and complete with its drumhead sign, at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis.

Lincoln Service

Interestingly (or, perhaps, not) Amtrak's daily train between Chicago and St. Louis is called the Lincoln Service.

Same train, different end

Here's what the front end of the Abraham Lincoln looked like. Beautiful!

According to Wikipedia, the train consisted of a baggage mail car, three coaches, a diner car, two parlor cars (see attached interior image), and the observation car we see in the photo at the end.

After much searching

this train was royal blue and light grey in colour, the coaches were reworked heavy-weight older coaches instead of new aluminum cars being introduced.

Alton Aboard!

To add possibly a little light to the subject, Alton, Illinois is a smallish town north of St. Louis, about eight miles up the Mississippi from its confluence with the Missouri. Without regard to the vicissitudes of track ownership, etc., you can trace the rail line north from Alton to Chicago, through towns such as Springfield and yes, **Lincoln**, Illinois, roughly along the path of Interstate 55. Likewise, heading south from Alton, you generally follow the path of the river (or at least, the Chain of Rocks Canal) crossing the river on the lower level of the 1909 Free Bridge (since 1942 called the MacArthur Bridge, as in, Douglas), and easing into the rail yards on the Missouri side.

As an aside, the upper level of the MacArthur Bridge carried Route 66 for a time. Now it is closed to vehicular traffic.

Jack Delano

My hero! Another terrific train photo.

B&O owned/controlled the Alton

until March 1943 when it regained it's independence after 12 years. That's why this train is leaving Chicago Union Station headed for St. Louis (using B&O equipment) on the Chicago & Alton Railroad rather than leaving Central Station where the other B&O trains terminated in this era. B&O had no trackage of it's own as a direct route Chicago to St. Louis. Today Amtrak is upgrading this line for 110 mph "Lincoln Service" Chicago to St. Louis.

B&O at Union Station

Baltimore and Ohio acquired control of the Chicago and Alton RR in 1930, and renamed it the Alton Railroad. The B&O retained control of the ARR until 1943 when it regained its independence. The Alton RR disappeared again in 1947 with its merger into the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio RR Syatem.

C&A trains into Chicago used Union Station, along with the PRR, CB&Q and the Milwaukee Road. B&O Main line trains to the East Coast continued to use Grand Central Station while they had control of the Alton, hence the photograph of the Abraham Lincoln at Union Station.

Seventy years later

The view is the same except for the rolling stock.

Great Photo

An excellent photo. Trouble is that the B&O used Chicago Grand Central station until it was torn down, then they switched to Union Station.

I'm confused here

Okay, this may be a dumb question but I don't know much about trains so that's my excuse. The train is in Chicago. The caption on the train says "Baltimore and Ohio" and we are told that the train is running along the "Alton Road to Saint Louis." Is it going to Baltimore, Ohio, or St. Louis and what is it doing in Chicago?

["Baltimore & Ohio Railroad" is the name of the company, founded in 1827. -tterrace]

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