I have always loved trains. I have many fond memories of the old steam engine trains and the “streamliners,” the fast trains in the 1940s that had diesel engines. Amtrak just isn’t the same.
One of my favorite songs is “Washbash Cannonball,” which Roy Acuff recorded for the first time in 1936. With all due respect to Mr. Acuff, I prefer the version that was recorded by Boxcar Willie. This Youtube video has lots of good train photos, which is why I selected it for my blog post.
When I was a child, I lived in a small town where many people used to go to the depot to meet the trains, even if they were not expecting anyone that they knew to arrive on the train. The arrival of a passenger train was a social event. Meeting the train was done in small towns all over America. A few people, like me, used to go to the train station to see a “streamliner” passing through the town without stopping.
The Wabash Cannonball was a fictional train, according to Wikipedia. There is a line in the Roy Acuff version that goes “She came down from Birmingham one cold December day. When she pulled into the station, you could hear all the people say: There’s a girl from Tennessee; she’s long and she’s tall — she’s a combination on the Wabash Cannonball.” I have always wondered if this is a reference to a girl or a train.
I read this on Wikipedia: “… some popular versions of the “Wabash Cannonball” seem to be as much about that tall glamorous girl from Tennessee, as about the train.” This indicates that the lyrics refer to a girl, not a train, but why was she “a combination on the Wabash Cannonball”?