Classic Streamliners - TRAIN​CYCLOPEDIA

A Gulf, Mobile, & Ohio train at Joliet, Illinois. The train is led by EMD E7 No. 100, August 1963.
By Lawrence and David Barera (Flickr: Joliet GM&O Aug 1963 3-17) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad
The Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad (reporting mark GMN) began in 1917. Its predecessors were the New Orleans, Mobile and Chicago Railroad, New Orleans Great Northern Railway. The first World War had forced government operation upon the company; and in 1919, when it again became an independent railroad, it chose Ike Tigrett to charter its new course. At the end of 1925 GM&N operated 466 miles of road and 574 miles of track; that year it reported 419 million ton-miles of revenue freight and 12 million passenger-miles. By 1940, the GM&N was 827 miles in length.

Mobile and Ohio Railroad
The M&O was chartered in January and February 1848 by the states of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. It was planned to span the distance between the seaport of Mobile, Alabama and the Ohio River near Cairo, Illinois.

At the end of 1925 M&O operated 1,161 miles of road and 1,536 miles of track; that year it reported 1785 million ton-miles of revenue freight and 49 million passenger-miles.

The Mobile and Ohio Railroad was conceived after hard times in Mobile following the Panic of 1837. The port was not generating the business that it had before the panic and businessmen and citizens in the city were inspired with a plan for a railroad to restore commerce to the city. The first section of track opened for service in 1852 between Mobile and Citronelle, Alabama and was constructed in 5 ft gauge. The line made it to Columbus, Kentucky on April 22, 1861, steamboats were then used to connect with the Illinois Central Railroad at Cairo.

The start of the Civil War shortly after the completion of the line saw it converted to military use and it quickly became a military target for both sides during the war. Following the conflict the M&O had to be almost entirely rebuilt and was facing near total financial ruin due in part to an unpaid debt of $5,228,562 that had been owed by the Confederate government. It was placed in receivership in 1875 and did not emerge until eight years later.

By 1870 the operators had seen the need to complete the line all the way to Cairo and make it the northern terminus instead of Columbus, but financial problems stood in the way. Finally on May 1, 1882 the extension to Cairo was opened. The company then acquired the St. Louis and Cairo Railroad, which was narrow gauge. They converted it to 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in standard gauge and had a line from Mobile to St. Louis, Missouri.

In 1896 the company decided to build a line from its Columbus, Mississippi, terminal toward Florida. On June 30, 1898 the Tuscaloosa to Montgomery line opened in Alabama, along with two short branch lines. That same year they decided to build a 39-mile line from Mobile to Alabama Port and Bayou La Batre, naming it the Mobile and Bay Shore Railway. It was completed in 1899.

The M&O's stockholders and bondholders accepted a stock exchange plan in 1901 from Southern Railway. A merger of the two was attempted in 1902 but vetoed by Mississippi governor James K. Vardaman. Thereafter the M&O continued operations under Southern's control. From 1908 the M&O was considered to be a highly prosperous railroad, but net income declined sharply after 1926 and by 1930 the M&O had a net deficit of almost $1,000,000. On June 3, 1932, the M&O went into the receivership yet again. Southern was accused of having violated the Clayton Antitrust Act by using the M&O for its own profit at the expense of the M&O, though the case was dropped in 1933. Southern sold its M&O bonds in 1940 to the Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad. The GM&N was then combined with the M&O to form the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad.

From 1952 to 1972 the headquarters of the GM&O were in Mobile, Alabama at 104 St. Francis street. The President of the GM&O Railroad during this period was G.Paul Brock. The Railroad retained the passenger terminal at Beauregard Street for additional offices.

At the end of 1944 GM&O operated 1,950 miles of road, including NOGN; at the end of 1950 it operated 2,898 route-miles. At the end of 1970 route mileage was 2,734 (3,946 miles of track); GM&O reported 8,285 million ton-miles of revenue freight and 44 million passenger-miles for that year.

The GM&O Railroad was the first "large" railroad in the United States to replace all its steam locomotives with diesels.

On August 10, 1972 the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad merged into the Illinois Central Railroad, forming the 9,600-mile north-south Illinois Central Gulf Railroad. In 1996 Illinois Central spun off some of its redundant trackage, including most of the former Gulf, Mobile and Ohio. Most of this trackage was acquired by other railroads.

On February 11, 1998 the Illinois Central was purchased by the Canadian National Railway (CN) with the integration of operations beginning on July 1, 1999.

A Gulf, Mobile, & Ohio train at Joliet, Illinois. The train is led by EMD E7 No.100, August 1963.

Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad
The Gulf, Mobile and Ohio (reporting mark GMO) was a Class I railroad in the central United States whose primary routes extended from Mobile, Alabama, and New Orleans, Louisiana, to St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, as well as Chicago, Illinois. From its two parallel lines through eastern Mississippi, the GM&O also served Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama, as well as Memphis, Tennessee. The railroad operated from 1938 until 1972, with headquarters in Mobile, Alabama.

The Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad was created as the reorganization of the New Orleans, Mobile and Chicago Railroad in 1917. The GM&O was incorporated in 1938 to merge the Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad and the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which was accomplished in 1940. The GM&O later bought and merged the Alton Railroad in 1947.

Isaac B. Tigrett, a native of Jackson, Tennessee, was president of the GM&N from 1920 and of the GM&O from 1938 to 1952, and oversaw the development of the road from a nearly bankrupt operation into a thriving success. He was the great-uncle of Hard Rock Cafe founder Isaac Tigrett, also a native of Jackson.

Gulf, Mobile and Northern herald.
Snake River Farms Wagyu Brisket

Passenger Trains

In addition to the GM&O's most popular train, the streamlined Rebel (New Orleans - Jackson, Tennessee 1935-1941; extended to St. Louis thereafter), the railroad also operated a number of other named trains. These include:
Alton Limited (later simply The Limited): (Chicago - St. Louis)
Abraham Lincoln: (Chicago - St. Louis)
Ann Rutledge: (Chicago - St. Louis) (operated 1937-1947 by the Alton, 1947-1971 by GM&O, 1971-2009 by Amtrak)
Gulf Coast Rebel: (originally Mobile - Union, Mississippi, later extended to St. Louis)
Midnight Special: (Chicago - St. Louis)
Night Hawk: (St. Louis - Kansas City)
Prairie State Express: (St. Louis - Chicago)
The Rebel: (New Orleans - Jackson, Tennessee - St. Louis)
The Mail: (Chicago - St. Louis)

Gulf, Mobile and Ohio caboose No. 2867 is on display in a park just south of Rienzi, MS.
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio caboose No. 2951 is on display in downtown Madison, MS.
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio caboose No. 2954: re-numbered by ICG as No. 199044, preserved by the Monticello Railway Museum in Monticello Illinois.
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio caboose No. 2994 is on display at the depot in downtown Corinth, MS.
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio caboose No. 2997 is on display at the depot in downtown Booneville, MS.
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio SD40 No. 950: the first SD40, currently in Illinois Central marking as No. 6071, donated to the Monticello Railway Museum in Monticello, Illinois.
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio GP35 No. 631 currently owned by the SARM in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The unit is non-operational and in much disrepair.
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio parlor-observation No. 5998 from the 1935 "Abraham Lincoln" train is on display at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, MO.
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Pullman "Judge Milton Brown" is on display and used by American Family Radio at the Casey Jones Village in Jackson, TN
Gulf Mobile and Ohio (Reading and Northern) 425 is currently operational at the Blue Mountain and Reading Railroad in Port Clinton, Pennsylvania
Gulf Mobile and Ohio F3 No. 800A is currently inoperational on display as the Seaboard Air line No. 4033 at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, in Miami, Florida.

In the media
Sonny Boy Williamson recorded the song GM&O Blues in 1945.

A GM&O EMD E7 and passenger cars were featured in the 1967 film In the Heat of the Night. Although the film's opening and ending shots of the GM&O are implied to be in a fictionalized version of Sparta, Mississippi, GM&O had ceased all passenger service south of St. Louis, Missouri eight years before filming was done in 1966. The actual filming location was Sparta, Illinois. The location where the GM&O locomotives and cars were filmed was in Sparta Illinois also. The train was leased from GM&O with a train crew to comply with union and operating rules of the road. The train came from Metro St. Louis, Missouri and traveled south along a GM&O right of way towards Sparta Illinois. At the time of filming, GM&O had not merged yet with the Illinois Central Railroad. The opening scene of the film shows the train crossing a main street in Sparta at night with the bright headlamp on the lead engine approaching town from an overhead shot. This was done using a scaffold across the tracks. This scene shows Virgil exiting the train and entering the depot station. The train was then driven south to an available turntable and parked for the night turning the engines around for the return trip to Sparta to shoot the final scene which was shot the following day and was among the final scenes of the film showing Virgil boarding the train and saying goodbye to Gillespie. As the train leaves Sparta, a close up shot of Virgil riding in a passenger car was taken by helicopter as the train travels the opposite direction with the scene expanding the view showing it meandering through the countryside as it leaves Sparta.

In popular music, the GM&O line is referenced in Adrian Belew's "The Rail Song," a nostalgic song about the heyday and subsequent decline of the American railroads. Originally on 1983's Twang Bar King album, the song can also be found on the Desire of the Rhino King compilation and in an acoustic version on both The Acoustic Adrian Belew and the Salad Days compilation.

The album cover of the 1989 Traveling Wilburys song End of the Line features an upside down photograph of the Ann Rutledge at Lincoln, Illinois in 1953.

See also:

Alton Railroad

Illinois Central

Canadian National

Railroads of the U.S.A.

Gulf, Mobile and Ohio herald.

A Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Slideshow.

Mobile and Ohio Railroad herald. - NFL Jerseys and Gear
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