Historic Day for the City of New Orleans


For several decades, Illinois Central passenger trains were part of the daily ritual of life in the Mississippi towns of Batesville, Grenada, Winona, Durant and Canton.

That continued unabated when Amtrak took over in 1971, although the number of passenger trains was fewer in number.

The IC decided during the 1990s to shift most of its freight to another route in Mississippi between Memphis and Jackson.  That route had less steep grades.

Amtrak was told it could move its City of New Orleans to that route or pay to maintain the other route to passenger train speeds. That route wasn’t being abandoned, but it would not be maintained for 79 mph speeds.

So Amtrak moved and two other Mississippi cities, Greenville and Yazoo City were added to the Amtrak map.

It is a Saturday evening at Chicago Union Station, Sept. 9, 1995. For the final time, the City of New Orleans will depart for its namesake city and stop at Batesville, Grenada, Winona, Durant and Canton.

The occasion passed without fanfare or ceremony, but I made it a point to record the last station sign to note service to the cities soon to drop off the Amtrak map after 24 years.


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