Discuss Detroit Archives - July 2007 Railroad Question Previous Next
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Jimg
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Username: Jimg

Post Number: 930
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 7:31 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

In "Detroit Moan", recorded in 1936, Victoria Spivey sings "I'm gonna leave Detroit if I have to flag number ninety-four". I'm assuming this refers to a railroad.
Does anyone have info about trains during depression-era Detroit? Was she referring to a train? And, if so, where did the train go?
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Aiw
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Post Number: 6361
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 7:36 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Paging Douglasm...
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Fury13
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Username: Fury13

Post Number: 2307
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 7:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"94" has to be a train number...
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Jimg
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Username: Jimg

Post Number: 931
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 7:49 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yeah, I thought that too...and 94 does (now) connect Detroit/Chicago. Is that where the designation for I-94 came from? A train? Or from Victoria's recording? lol
It would be neat to have something in writing about this.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 3938
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 8:16 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Definitely wrong about the 94 referring to the Interstate. Besides, there were no Interstates prior to 1956.

Railroad locomotives had numbers, and some freight routes also were named or numbered.

The Interstate Highway numbering is the polar opposite of the US Highway system in force during the late 1950s in an attempt as to not confuse the highways in any area.

The US system from the 1920s had the lowest numbers in the Northeast, and the Interstate numbering was lowest in the Southwest. N/S roads were odd numbers, and E/W were even numbers--in both systems.
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Flyingj
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Username: Flyingj

Post Number: 25
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 8:17 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

no, I-94 isn't it-since her dad was a flagman I'm willing to bet it's slang or euphemism for freight-hopping
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Detroitplanner
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Username: Detroitplanner

Post Number: 1417
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 8:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I-94 is an interstate designation. It is the second highest Interstate in the United States, with the Highest being I-96. All E-W Interstates are numbered even, while N-S interstates are odd. The numbers start in the south with I-10 and gradually work up to I-94/I-96.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 3939
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 8:21 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

If I-96 is the highest, then what about I-275, I-375, or I-696 in metro Detroit???
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Clark1mt
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Username: Clark1mt

Post Number: 91
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 8:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I-4 is the lowest numbered continental Interstate, not I-10. And I-94 is only the second highest if you're only considering even #'s. (I-95, I-97, I-99 all exist).

And 3-digit Interstates don't count.
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Rooms222
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Username: Rooms222

Post Number: 38
Registered: 04-2005
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 8:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

My guess is it might be the Wabash Cannonball. A version of the song was a hit in 1936.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W abash_Cannonball

(Message edited by rooms222 on September 13, 2007)
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Detroitplanner
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Username: Detroitplanner

Post Number: 1418
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 8:49 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Clark, those are 'loops' or beltways for I-96 or I-75 (I-375 is higher :-) )

By highest I was referring to geography.

http://travel.howstuffworks.co m/question656.htm

(Message edited by Detroitplanner on September 13, 2007)
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 3940
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 9:09 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

There were a number of pre-Bluegrass railroad songs. One was named something like the Crash of ole '94 or something close.

They were usually (stupid songs) about engineers of steam locomotives, who were running late and would "pour on the coal" and crash the freight train and kill everybody. Those engineers were made to be heroes when,in effect, they were stupid to the point that making up a few minutes meant they needed to derail and tie up the ROW for a few days--real time savers...
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Jrvass
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Username: Jrvass

Post Number: 213
Registered: 01-2007
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 10:39 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I nterstate_highway_system#Termi nology
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56packman
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Username: 56packman

Post Number: 1739
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 10:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

the three digit interstate numbers indicate the route into or around a city. a three digit number beginning with a two (2XX)goes around one side of a city, a 3XX goes in and out of the center of a city and terminates near the city center and a 4XX is a complete ring around a city. The fact that it is a three digit number tells you that it is an ancillary city freeway, not part of the normal interstate route.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 3944
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 - 11:37 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Still, those three-digit I-freeways are interstates, even if they remain totally within one state. But those near state lines might even be truly "interstates."
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Japes
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Username: Japes

Post Number: 29
Registered: 02-2007
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 12:04 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

An odd number leading a 3 digit (1xx,3xx,5xx,7xx) means it doesn't reconnect with an interstate/intrastate at the end.

An even number(2xx,4xx,6xx,8xx) means it reconnects with the same or another 2 digit interstate/intrastate at the end.
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Burnsie
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Username: Burnsie

Post Number: 1153
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 8:21 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"An even number(2xx,4xx,6xx,8xx) means it reconnects with the same or another 2 digit interstate/intrastate"

Except for I-275, which was never completed to I-75 at its northern end as originally intended.
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Johnlodge
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Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 2413
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 9:09 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"They were usually (stupid songs) about engineers of steam locomotives, who were running late and would "pour on the coal" and crash the freight train and kill everybody. Those engineers were made to be heroes when,in effect, they were stupid to the point that making up a few minutes meant they needed to derail and tie up the ROW for a few days--real time savers..."

LY, I have to take exception at you calling a Johnny Cash song "stupid". :-)

Well they gave him his orders at Monroe, Virginia,
Said: "Steve, you're way behind time,
"This is not 38, this is Ol' 97,
"Put her into Spencer on time."

Then he turned around and said to his black, greasy fireman,
"Shovel on a little more coal.
"And when we cross that White Oak mountain,
"Watch Ol' '97 roll."

And then a telegram come from Washington station,
This is how it read:
"Oh that brave engineer that run ol 97,
"Is lyin in old Danville dead."

'Cos he was going down a grade making 90 miles an hour,
The whistle broke into a scream.
He was found in the wreck with his hand on the throttle,
Scalded to death by the steam.

Oh, now all you ladies you'd better take a warning,
From this time on and learn.
Never speak hard words to your true-lovin' husband.
He may leave you and never return.
Poor Boy.
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Mustangford
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Username: Mustangford

Post Number: 1
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 2:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well the Odd numbers North and South and even East and West do not apply to I-69 from Lansing to Port Huron :-)
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Detroitplanner
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Username: Detroitplanner

Post Number: 1419
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 3:17 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Odd's are spurs, Evens are parts of beltways.

I-696 does not connect back up into I-96 either! Beltways are different animals onto themselves because one could argue that I-275, if you use I-96 to US-23 does connect back up with I-75.
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Iheartthed
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Username: Iheartthed

Post Number: 1623
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 3:21 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I read somewhere that odd-leading triples meant it was within the central city of the region and even's the opposite... like I-375 and I-275.
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Fury13
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Username: Fury13

Post Number: 2321
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 3:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Lyard, Johnlodge: "Wreck of the Old 97" is a classic. The first million-selling record in country music (by Vernon Dalhart in 1925).

97 was the train (route) number on the Southern Railroad. The 97's engine was actually designated Southern #1102. The wreck occurred in Danville, Virginia in September 1903.

There was in fact real pressure to make the trains run on time. The 97 was a "fast mail" train, under a lucrative contract from the U.S. Post Office (Congressional monetary appropriation). If the trains were late the contract could be yanked. Engineers were put on notice that late times could mean their jobs.

The line in the song, "This is not 38, but it's Old 97," refers to the point that engineer "Steve" Broadey was used to running a passenger train, number 38. He's being reminded that the 97 is a top-priority mail train.

(Message edited by Fury13 on September 14, 2007)
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 3947
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 4:16 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Maybe the US Post Office will use that song as a rationale for getting their over-the-road semis moving along at 97 MPH...
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Douglasm
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Username: Douglasm

Post Number: 933
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 4:33 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"Hello Andrew? This is Doug returning your call...."

I'm not going to be much help here. I don't have any Official Guides anymore so I can't really research any passenger train numbers, although I did find a list of "named" trains that operated in Michigan. Unless it's an unnamed mail train or local (a very real possability), it appears there was not a passenger train with the designation #94 operating in the state.

It would take a lot of digging, but if someone could find a copy of The Official Guide To Railways and Steam Navigation Lines Of The United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico And Cuba (commonly refered to as "The Official Guide to Railways) from that era, they could check the timetables for Michigan railroads.

Sorry.....
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Johnlodge
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Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 2454
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 4:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Nice story Fury, thanks.
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Fury13
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Username: Fury13

Post Number: 2327
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 5:00 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I would bet that train 94 was a mail train or a freight train, with no seating for passengers. The Spivey lyrics, "...if I have to flag number ninety-four" makes it sound like it's not something she really wants to do.
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Douglasm
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Username: Douglasm

Post Number: 934
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 6:00 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sure ain't U.S. 94, unless there's a Detroit in South Florida.
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Jimg
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Username: Jimg

Post Number: 932
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 6:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Douglasm, thanks for that info. And to everyone else who's chimed in with stuff...Fury13, that's my take as well - she doesn't sound too enthused about having to flag 94.

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