• Virginia Tolles

Pet Peeve # . . . Oh, I've Lost Count

I think all trains should have names -- not numbers. Names tell a lot about trains, where they're from and where they're going. They add excitement and make you want to go there, too!

Consider this old Illinois Central brochure. It shows Electromotive division E-8 locomotives pulling Pullman cars. They show those trains going to Chicago, New Orleans, Miami, Springfield, Dubuque, and Waterloo. Didn't Napoleon meet his match in Waterloo? Wrong Waterloo! That one was in Belgium. Considering the route, this one was probably in Iowa, although there are also Waterloos in New York and Alabama.

Consider the names of the routes: Land o' Corn. Well, you know that train runs through the farmland of central America. Large fields of corn ready to tassel come to mind.

Public Domain Photos / Pixabay

When I rode the train, while I was growing up, I rode the City of New Orleans. Colorful posters at the ends of the passenger compartment advertised other routes. The most memorable was the City of Miami with palm trees, beach umbrellas, sand, and water luring the traveler. I was ready to go! I could visit my grandparents another time! Ooh rah!

More recently, although still many years ago, I rode Amtrak's Twilight Shoreliner between Alexandria and Newport News in Virginia. The name makes one think of following a jagged shoreline -- and, indeed, there is some of that scenery near Boston, where the train originates, and south of Alexandria, Virginia, as the rails pass over rivers and inlets. Now, sadly, that route is known simply as Northeast Regional trains 66/67 (65 on weekends). NER 66/67 tells us nothing! Nothing, at all!

Long-distance trains have names; for example, the Southwest Chief, derives from the train's history with the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. The California Zephyr, Empire Builder, City of New Orleans, and others all take their names from their histories with their predecessor railroads. So, too, should the regional trains. After all, they have histories, too!

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