References to Railroad Nicknames

Reference 1

Burlington & Missouri - The Alphabet Line was so named because the sequence of station names followed the alphabet. These stations were, in order, Arlington, Berks, Crete, Dorchester, Exeter, Fairmount, Grafton, Harvard, Inland, Juniata, Kenesaw, Lowell, Mindon and Oxford.

Reference 2

America's Resourceful Railroad was originally the slogan of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad until 1927. In 1927, the name was changed to Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific, but the railroad kept the slogan.

Reference 3

The Bartlett Western in Texas was nicknamed the Route of the Apostles because it had four stations named St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John.

Reference 4

The Atlanta & St. Andrews Bay officially changed it's name to The Bay Line in 1994.

Reference 5

Several railroads were known as the Bee Line. A Bee Line is an old term meaning to take the shortest route. If someone were to make a "bee line" for something, then that person would take the shortest route. The nickname "Bee Line" also referred to several railroads. This particular name, "Bee Line," actually started out as the "B Line," the "B" being short for Bellefountaine, the first road to use that nickname. Two, the Reading in Pennsylvania and the Atlanta, Birmingham & Atlantic apparently had no relation to the others or each other. All the other railroads merged at one time or another, and the nickname "Bee Line" apparently followed these mergers.

The first of these related railroads to use the term "Bee Line" was the Bellefountaine & Indiana that existed from 1852 to 1864. In 1864 through 1868, this line was simply known as the Bellefountaine. This is an other example of how a railroad adopted its nickname. In 1868, it merged with the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati to form the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, also known as the "Bee Line." Also merged into the CCC & I in the 1860s were the Dayton & Union and the Indianapolis & St. Louis. In 1889, the CCC & I became the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis, also known as the "Bee Line." This lasted until 1930, when it became part of the New York Central System. The Dayton & Union split off from the CCC & I in 1917 and was independent until 1936 when it became part of the Baltimore & Ohio. During this time, the Dayton & Union was also known as the "Bee Line," apparently having kept the nickname from it's prior association.

Reference 6

Black Diamonds is a slang term for coal, since both Coal and Diamonds are Carbon based minerals. The Lehigh Valley was a major Pennsylvania coal hauler, and hence the nickname of "Route of the Black Diamonds."

Reference 7

The nickname "Bluff Line" originated with reference to the massive bluffs that followed the Mississippi River in the area. The St. Louis, Alton & Springfield preceded the St. Louis, Chicago & St. Paul. The later adopted the nickname of the former in 1893.

Reference 8

Mead and Englewood in the name of this railroad are both located in Kansas. The railroad never made it to either place and was situated entirely in Oklahoma.

Reference 9

The origin of this nickname was in the corporate fantasy that the line would eventually extend to Tennessee.

Reference 10

The origin of this nickname was rooted in the fact that the bridge across the Kennicott River washed out almost every Spring.

Reference 11

The Jupiter & Lake Worth was so named because it went through Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Juno Florida.

Reference 12

The C B & Q earned the nickname "Chester, By George and Quit" from trainmen of the Carolina & Northwestern that ran between Chester, SC and Edgemont, NC. The railroad picked up many CB& Q cars in Edgemont and headed for Chester, giving rise to this particular nickname.

Reference 13

Chico was the name of the Indian boy mascot of the Santa Fe.

Reference 14

This pike was known as the Chippy Line because of the proliferation of houses of ill-repute along the line.

Reference 15

The Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio was popularly known by it's nickname, "The Clinchfield." In 1925, management gave up and just changed the formal name to it's nickname, "Clinchfiled," until it was taken over by the Seaboard System in 1983.

Reference 16

The "cloverleaf" started life as the Toledo, Cincinnati & St. Louis, an attempt to establish a 3 foot narrow gauge main line in the mid west. That line started in the 1870s, and ended in the bankruptcy courts in 1883. The standard gauge portion of this pike was reorganized at the Toledo, St. Louis & Kansas City. The TSL&KC became the Toledo, St. Louis & Western in 1903.

The Toledo, St. Louis & Western, with 449.71 miles of track, extended from Toledo westward through the fertile expanses of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois to St. Louis. With the Grand Trunk Western, the Clover leaf jointly owned the Detroit & Toledo Shore Line Railroad, whose 59 miles of track connected the automobile cities. The T, St.L & W was incorporated July 5, 1900 in Indiana, as successor to the Toledo, St. Louis & Kansas City, and sold under foreclosure March 27, 1900. A hauler chiefly of lumber, grain and livestock, the Clover Leaf was not a single railroad, conceived, financed and constructed as such, but rather a consolidation of many short lines over a period of years and a series of misfortunes. At one time, it had the distinction of being the longest narrow gauge road east of the Mississippi. The component parts of the line were among the first roads through much of the terriroty they served and their building was of great importance to the rich and rapidly developing territory of northwestern Ohio, central Indiana and Illinois. Parts of it were merged into the Nickel Plate Road.

So far, I haven't been able to determine exactly why it was called the cloverleaf, but the early directors of the railroad chose the Clover leaf as it's herald, and the nickname stuck, often being called "The Cloverleaf."

Reference 17

The Denver Road was originally built to connect the cities of Fort Worth Texas and Denver Colorado. The line started out life as the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway Company in 1873. The Fort Worth and Denver City built north out of Forth Worth and the Denver, Texas and Fort Worth was organized to build South out of Pueblo, Colorado. In 1890, these lines were absorbed into the Union Pacific, Denver, Texas & Gulf, and the nickname Denver Road followed this line.

Reference 18

What else could the L&N and it's predecessors be know as other than the Dixie Line. They even had big 4-8-4s that were known as "Dixies." Now, you wouldn't expect any self-respecting Southern railroad to buy a "Northern," now would you?

Reference 19

The Yazoo Delta, The "Yellow Dog" or simply "The Dog" is a small line in Mississippi that is steeped in history and in Mississippi Delta Blues. According to the story, W.C. Handy heard an unnamed Blues artist sing a song "Where the Southern Crosses the Dawg." So where does the Southern cross the Dawg? It's in Moorhead Mississippi.

The Dog eventually became part of the Illinois Central. I don't know how much of the actual line is left, but there is a short piece of it in Moorhead to commemorate the song.

Reference 20

Dr. Webb was the founder of the Mohawk and Malone Railroad.

Reference 21

DRI is simply a contraction of Davenport and Rock Island.

Reference 22

"Erie" is simply a shortened version of all the various railroads with that name in it.

Reference 23

The WPs main crossing of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is up the Feather River Canyon, so consequently, the railroad is "The Feather River Route."

Reference 24

The Florida East Coast was known as the Flagler System after their founder, Henry Flagler. Flagler first started developing hotels in 1885, but soon realized that Florida needed a good transportation system if his hotels were to succeed. He first purchased the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Halifax River Railway, and the rest is history.

Reference 25

The St. Louis - San Francisco Railway was named such because of the founders hopes of reaching from St. Louis to San Francisco. But as many overly ambitious projects, it never quite made it West of the Rockies.

Frisco is a slang term for San Francisco, and although it may be acceptable in the mid west where the the Frisco makes its home, it is particularly offensive to those of us that grew up in Baghdad by the Bay.

Reference 26

The Fruit Belt Line nickname for these various railroads seems to be a result of the major product they carried rather than any corporate connection. I was able to verify this with the Kalamazoo, Lake Shore & Chicago Railway.

Reference 27

George Washington was a surveyor in the area served by the C&O. Perhaps he surveyed roads that later became railroad grades.

Reference 28

The Jacksonville Short Line was constructed in 1897 to connect the cities of Valdosta Georgia to Jacksonville Florida.

Reference 29

The Green Bay Route refers to this group of railroads that was centered around the Green Bay, Wisconsin Area.

Reference 30

There were a lot of Swedish immigrants who helped build the Great Northern. Gus Nelson was the moniker hung on these workers.

Reference 31

Crandic is simply a contraction of the Cedar Rapids AND Iowa City

Reference 32

Hoosier is a common nickname for all things Indiana, the Hoosier state.

Reference 33

The nickname "Horny Toad Line" referred to the El Paso Subdivision. The Horny Toad is a common animal in this area.

Reference 34

I've been trying to locate information on the Houck Railroads, but have had little success so far. There is information on some of the individual pikes, but Houck isn't mentioned. Perhaps it's the name of the founder.

Reference 35

There is no evidence that I can find that the International Great Northern ever was intended or built as an "International Railroad." It was completely located in Texas. Perhaps this is just another case of big dreams.

Reference 36

The Jacksonville Southeastern Line is named for Jacksonville Illinois, not Jacksonville Florida and I originally thought. A railroad named Jacksonville Southeastern first existed from 1879 to 1890. It merged into the Jacksonville, Louisville & St. Louis and was then merged into the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis Railway. It just continued to be referred to as the Jacksonville Southeastern as a nickname.

Reference 37

The Key System, so called because the map of the railroad looked kind of like a key, was the owner of the San Francisco-Oakland Terminal Railway. The SFOT was the freight operation of the key. The passenger operation was the familiar street car line that connected San Francisco with the East Bay. The Key sold off the freight operation in 1941 to the Santa Fe and Western Pacific and the new operation was called the Oakland Terminal Railway.

Reference 38

Of the pages on the web I've seen, I don't know why it's called the "Laurel Line."

Reference 39

The Merced Canyon and river flows out of Yosemite Valley into the Central Valley of California.

Reference 40

The Morris & Essex Railroad was known as "Methodist & Episcopal" because they didn't work on Sundays.

Reference 41

This railroad was once owned by Henry Ford, so the origin of this nickname is quite obvious.

Reference 42

The Alaska Railroad was known as the "Moose Gooser" because accidents involving trains and Moose were common.

Reference 43

The builders of the Nickel Plate built it to compete with the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern from Buffalo NY to Chicago and another NYC subsidiary going to St. Louis. They then sold it to the NYC at a high price, hence the moniker, Nickel Plate, as if the tracks and equipment was nickel plated.

Reference 44

The Sumpter Valley was known as Polygamy Central because the territory through which it ran was mainly populated by Mormons who, at one time, practiced polygamy. Please note that the LDS church doesn't promote or approve of polygamy that I know of.

Reference 45

The track on this line was in generally poor condition and made the trains take a side-to-side jog resembling the movements of a rabbit.

Reference 46

The Rathole was the Cincinnati-Chattanooga section of the railroad. It had 15 tunnels.

Reference 47

Shouldn't Paint So Fast originated with the failed ATSF/SP merger. When the two railroads agreed to merge, they decided to start painting the locomotives Red and Yellow. On the SP fleet, they painted the SP letters and on the ATSF fleet, they painted SF. It would have been a simple process when the merger was approved by regulatory bodies to paint on the missing set of letters. But the merger was never approved, so for years these locomotives, known as Kodachromes because of their resemblance to the box of film of the same name, were plying the main with their separate SP and SF letters.

Reference 48

The Denver, & succeeded the ASP&P. It still went through South Park, Colorado.

Reference 49

The nickname "southpaw" originated from the CNW's habit of running on the left had track in double track territory.

Reference 50

Maine is a potato producing state. The B&A hauled lots of potatoes. Therefore the nickname of Spud, slang for potato, and Drag, slang for a slow, local freight, stuck.

Reference 51

This pike became known as Stilwell's Road after its founder, Arthur E. Stillwell.

Reference 52

In 1997, after the UP merged with the Southern Pacific, UPs arrogance led them to believe that they could actually make it work. The UP is a well-funded corporation and the SP was used to making do with what they could cobble together. So, for a time after the merger, almost every available siding had a UP train parked on it and crews were dying on the law all over the place.

Reference 53

This nickname originated because Weatherford Texas called itself "The Watermelon Capitol of the World, Mineral Wells was a spa for mineral baths in the 1920s and 1930s and the strict Christian fundamentalist thought of the area banned whiskey.

Reference 54

The Salt Lake, Garfield & Western, the Saltair Route was a 17 mile pike founded in 1906 to take people from Salt Lake City to a resort and amusement park on the Great Salt Lake. The name of the resort was "Saltair." It was an electric railroad, or a Juice Line. That's where the nickname Saltair Route came from. The article I read says that it was electrified in 1917. This line also carried salt from the evaporating ponds on the lake to the Royal Crystal Salt Company processing plant. There was also a short branch from Saltair to Garfield, but that rail was pulled up in the 20s. In his book, Railroad Names, Edson says that the life of the railroad was from 1920 to January 1966. He also has a note that reclassifies it as a steam RR. It's possible that between 1906 and 1917, it used some steam power. My source for the above was an article in the December, 1948 Railroad Magazine.

Reference 55

Hell on Texas Contractors originated with the finances of the railroad. Contractors building the line had a lot of trouble collecting money for their work.

Reference 56

This nickname came from the early day capacity of the roads locomotives to haul 10 cars.

Reference 57

The Penn-Central was one of the classic corporate snafus of all time. It was the merger of two fierce competitors, the Pennsylvania and the New York Central, both of whom faced myriad financial problems because of miles of under performing ROW. This led to just lots and lots of negative press. As one wag said, they could electrify the whole system if they could harness the power of William Vanderbilt rolling over in his grave.

Reference 58

Aunt Mary was apparently used almost exclusively by the black employees of the SP system. The maternal nature of the company reminded them of an Aunt Mary.

Reference 59

The WBT&S was an "orphan" line because it was not connected directly to the rest of the MKT system.

Reference 60

The W&A, Western & Atlantic, was called Grandpa's Road because to get a job there, you practically had to be related to an employee. A lot of people worked for that railroad whose grandpas had worked there previously. The W&A existed from 1842 to 1890, when it became part of the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis system. The NC&St.L eventually became part of the L&N in 1957.

Reference 61

The "Jawbone" refered to a Southern Pacific branch line that ran from Mojave CA to Owenyo CA. It picked up this nickname because it ran through Jawbone Canyon. From a story about Mojave CA in the August, 1950 issue of Railroad Magazine.

Reference 62

The N&C refered to the Southern Pacific narrow gauge branch line that ran from Keeler CA to Laws CA on the eastern side of the Sierras. The nickname was in reference to its original name of "Nevada & California." From a story about Mojave CA in the August, 1950 issue of Railroad Magazine.

Reference 63

The Rathole refered to the Southern Pacific Coast Line that ran from Watsonville CA to San Luis Obispo CA. From a story about the SF to LA Overnighters in the August 1950 issue of Railroad Magazine.

Reference 64

This line was called the Rich Uncle Railroad because it was supposed to have rich relatives in the form of the local Celophane and Pulpwood industries it served, but like most rich relatives, these industries gave the line just enough support to keep the railroad going - no more. From an article on the M&B in the August 1950 issue of Railroad Magazine.

Reference 65

The owner of these railroads, Col. M.W. Savage, also owned the famous race horse, Dan Patch. The juice line was built first, and the steam road (MN&S) came later. Col. Savage originally called the road "The Dan Patch Electric Line." You can read all about it in the August, 1943 issue of Railroad Magazine.

Reference 66

In 1971, the La Salle & Bureau County was caught stealing hundreds of Penn Cental Box Cars. They repainted reporting numbers on these cars and used them as their own. The interesting thing was that the Penn Central never missed them.

Reference 67

The Montana Railroad was called "The Jawbone" because it relied on more talk than action. The name "Jawbone" was applied to the road because hard times came during early construction in the not-so-gay 1890s. The management couldn't promote more financing than it already had from Wall Street, so it had to issue scrip in lieu of money. A not uncommon practice in those days. Employees could buy from the railroad commissary and live in camp cars. If they quit or were fired, they could exchange their scrip for cash, but at a heavy discount. Sometimes as little as 5 cents on the dollar.

Reference 68

The North Staffordshire was called "The Knotty" because their herald was a knot that resmebled a pretzel. It's also the North Staffordshire County Emblem, both civic and military. The origin of the knot is currently unknown.

Reference 69

The K&I was called the Daisy Line because its passenger cars were painted yellow with brown trim, resembling the Black-Eyed Susan, a variety of Daisy.

Reference 70

The Southern New York was called the Leatherstocking Route because it was located in the Leatherstocking region of New York State.

Reference 71

The Tangent Line earned its nickname from the fact that it was just about the straightest railroad ever built. It was built in 1888 and connected the towns of Findlay and Fort Wayne Indiana.
Source: Prof. Milton Hallberg

Reference 72

Many people fondly called the RW&O the "Hojack." It seems that in the early days of the railroad, a farmer in his buckboard drawn by a bulky mule was caught on a crossing at train time. When the mule was halfway across the tracks, he simply stopped. The train was fast approaching and the farmer naturally got excited and began shouting "HoJack, HoJack." Amused by the incident, the trainmen began calling their line the "Hojack."
Source: Prof. Milton Hallberg

Reference 73

The CP was nicknamed "The Wedding Band of the Confederation" because it was the promise of a transcontinental railway link that inspired British Columbia to join the confederation in 1871.
Source: Adrian Ettlinger