Follow the Flag offers the first authoritative history of the Wabash Railroad Company. Like most major American carriers, the Wabash grew out of an assortment of small firms, including the first railroad to operate in Illinois, the Northern Cross. Thanks in part to the genius of financier Jay Gould, by the early 1880s what was then known as the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway reached the principal gateways of Chicago, Des Moines, Detroit, Kansas City, and St. Louis. In the 1890s, the Wabash gained access to Buffalo and direct connections to Boston and New York City.
The Great Depression forced the company into another receivership, but an effective reorganization during the early days of World War II gave rise to a generally robust road. Its famed Blue Bird streamliner, introduced in 1950 between Chicago and St. Louis, became a widely recognized symbol of the “New Wabash.” When “merger madness” swept the railroad industry in the 1960s, the Wabash, along with the Nickel Plate Road, joined the prosperous Norfolk & Western Railway, a merger that worked well for all three carriers.
Immortalized in the popular folk song “Wabash Cannonball”, the Midwestern railroad has left important legacies. Today, 40 years after becoming a “fallen flag” carrier, key components of the former Wabash remain busy rail arteries and terminals, attesting to its historic value to American transportation.
The book is published by Northern Illinois University Press. The audiobook is published by University Press Audiobooks.
“A major contribution to our understanding of American railroad development.” (The Journal of American History)
“One of the best in the genre of traditional corporate history.” (Technology and Culture)
“A well-written, in-depth history of the railroad.” (Trains Magazine)
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