Tennessean (train)

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Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleSoutheastern United States
First serviceMay 17, 1941
Last serviceMarch 30, 1968
Former operator(s)Southern Railway via Norfolk and Western Railway
TerminiWashington, DC
Memphis, Tennessee
Distance travelled1,155.1 miles (1,859.0 km)
Average journey time23 hours, 50 minutes
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)45 (southbound), 46 (northbound)
On-board services
Class(es)Deluxe Coach Train, Through Sleeper service available
Seating arrangementsReclining seat coach, Tavern-lounge coach
Sleeping arrangementsOpen sections, roomettes, double bedrooms and compartments
Catering facilitiesOnboard dining car
Entertainment facilitiesRadio
Rolling stockAir conditioned cars built by the Pullman Company
Track owner(s)Southern Railway

The Tennessean was a named passenger train jointly operated by the Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W) and the Southern Railway (SOU). Inaugurated on May 17, 1941, its route ran from Washington, DC, to Lynchburg, Virginia, on the SOU, then on to Bristol, Tennessee, on the N&W, terminating at Memphis Union Station via the SOU. The St. Louis Southwestern Railway inaugurated a new passenger train, the Morning Star from Memphis to Dallas, specifically to provide close connections with the Tennessean at Memphis.

Intended to replace the Memphis Special as the preeminent carrier on the Washington–Memphis run, one of its critical duties was the transportation of mail for the Railway Mail Service division of the Post Office Department. The train's almost immediate success was further bolstered by a sharp rise in passenger traffic during World War II. The Tennessean carried a Bristol-Nashville sleeping car, a Chattanooga-Memphis sleeper, and a New York-Memphis sleeper.[1] The heavyweight Pullman sleeping cars were painted silver to help them blend in with the train's stainless-steel, streamlined baggage cars, dining cars, coaches, and observation cars. Following World War II, streamlined sleeping cars replaced the heavyweight sleepers on the Tennessean.

The amenities provided on the Tennessean were gradually curtailed as Southern Railway attempted to reduce operating losses. By the early 1960s, the train carried only coaches and a single Pullman sleeper, in addition to the railway post office car and express and mail cars. Due to a decline in overall ridership, and Southern Railway's determination to escape the expensive burden of operating Memphis Union Station, the Tennessean was discontinued on March 30, 1968. This discontinuance ended all Southern Railway passenger train service to Memphis, allowing abandonment of Memphis Union Station.


  1. ^ Schafer, Mike; Welsh, Joe (1997). Classic American Streamliners. Osceola, Wisconsin: MotorBooks International. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-7603-0377-1.

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