The ‘Abe’ In Joliet Once Upon a Time

The Abraham Lincoln was one of the top passenger trains operated between Chicago and St. Louis by the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio before the coming of Amtrak in 1971.

The new passenger carrier kept the Abe and another GM&O running mate, The Limited, when it began operations on May 1, 1971.

The Limited name, which had been shorted years earlier from The Alton Limited when the train was operated by the Alton Railroad, vanished on Nov. 14, 1971, when Amtrak began operating its Chicago-St. Louis trains between Milwaukee and St. Louis.

But the Abraham Lincoln name stayed, probably because it was well suited for a train whose route was primarily within the Land of Lincoln as Illinois as long called itself.

The photo above was made at Joliet, Illinois, on Aug. 11, 1972, and shows former Milwaukee Road 31A and 31B. Note the “rainbow era” consist that includes Milwaukee Road and Great Norther cars still wearing their original colors.

The Abraham Lincoln name vanished from Amtrak timetables on Oct. 1, 1973, when RTG Turboliner equipment was assigned to the Chicago-St. Louis trains.

The Abe name returned on Oct. 26, 1975, when conventional equipment replaced the Turboliner equipment on Nos. 302 and 303.

The Abraham Lincoln became the Ann Rutledge two years later. The GM&O had had a train named Ann Rutledge at one time. Ann is thought to have been a love interest of Lincoln at one time.

Although Amtrak had never again had a train named Abraham Lincoln, it did rename its Chicago-St. Louis trains Lincoln Service in 2006 so the spirit of the name continues to live on.

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