Wabash Railroad

The Wabash Railroad(reporting mark WAB) was a Class I railroad that operated in the mid-central United States. It served a large area, including track in the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri and the province of Ontario. Its primary connections included Chicago, Illinois; Kansas City, Missouri; Detroit, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; St. Louis, Missouri; and Toledo, Ohio.

American Class I railroad
Wabash Railroad

Wabash system map, early 20th century

The Wabash’s City of St. Louis streamliner in the 1950s.
Headquarters St. Louis, Missouri
Reporting mark WAB
Dates of operation 1837 (1837)1964 (1964)
Successor Norfolk and Western Railway
Track gauge

4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm)

Length 2,524 miles (4,062 kilometres)

The Wabash’s major freight traffic advantage was the direct line from Kansas City to Detroit, without going through St. Louis or Chicago. Despite being merged into the Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W) in 1964, the Wabash company continued to exist on paper until the N&W merged into the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) in 1982.

At the end of 1960 Wabash operated 2,423 miles of road on 4,311 miles of track, not including Ann Arbor and NJI&I; that year it reported 6,407 million net ton-miles of revenue freight and 164 million passenger-miles.[citation needed]

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1886 system map

The source of the Wabash name was the Wabash River, a 475-mile (764 km)-long river in the eastern United States that flows southwest from northwest Ohio near Fort Recovery, Ohio across northern Indiana to Illinois where it forms the southern portion of the Illinois-Indiana border before draining into the Ohio River, of which it is the largest northern tributary. The name Wabash is an anglicization of the French name for the river, Ouabache. French traders named the river after the native Miami tribe‘s word for the river.

The Wabash Railroad resulted from numerous mergers or acquisitions as shown by this table:[1]

  • Norfolk Southern Railway (1982)
    • Norfolk and Western Railway (1964)
      • Wabash Railroad (1941)
        • Wabash Railway (1931)
          • Wabash Railroad (1889)
            • Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Railway (1904–1908) later Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railway
              • Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad
            • Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway (1879)
              • Council Bluffs and St. Louis Railway (1877)
            • Toledo, Wabash and Western Railway
              • Great Western Railway of Illinois 1865
                • Sangamon and Morgan Railroad 1853
                  • Northern Cross Railway 1847
              • Illinois and Southern Iowa Railroad 1865
              • Quincy and Toledo Railroad 1865
              • Toledo and Wabash Railway 1865
                • Wabash and Western Railroad 1958
                • Toledo and Wabash Railroad 1858
                  • Toledo, Wabash and Western Railroad 1858
                    • Lake Erie, Wabash and St. Louis Railroad 1856
                    • Toledo and Illinois Railroad 1856
              • Warsaw and Peoria Railroad 1865

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