This Day in Indiana History - April 28, 1941 - James Whitcomb Riley Begins Regular Passenger Service

A Day in Indiana History - April

The New York Central railroad rolled their new passenger train, called the James Whitcomb Riley, on April 28, 1941. The train offered deluxe, daytime service between Cincinnati, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois via Indianapolis, Indiana. The train joined the other luxurious trains that New York Central called the Great Steel Fleet. In a short period of time it became one of the New York Central's top passenger trains. They named the train after famous Hoosier poet and writer, James Whitcomb Riley.
James Whitcomb Riley (October 7, 1849 – July 22, 1916)
A native of Greenfield, Indiana, James Whitcomb Riley wrote several books and published many poems. His poems were popular with children, earning him the sobriquet "Children's Poet," as well as the "Hoosier Poet," because of the Hoosier dialect he adopted for his poetry and performances. Riley died of a stroke in 1916. At his wake in the Indiana Capitol Building 35,000 people filed past his casket.
The James Whitcomb Riley
The train debuted sporting a sleek design that featured a shrouded steam locomotive. The elegant gray and red train departed Cincinnati, Ohio at 8:15 AM as Train #3 and arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana at 9:00 AM. After a ten minute layover, the train departed Union Station and completed the 302 mile trip by 12:45 PM. Designated Train #4 the James Whitcomb Riley departed Chicago for the return trip at 4:40 PM, arriving in Indianapolis at 8:10 PM. After a ten-minute layover, the train departed, arriving in Cincinnati at 11:10 PM. In 1948, the s New York Central upgraded the locomotives and the service. Amenities of the train included a tavern-lounge, grill-diner, and tavern-observation complementing lightweight coaches. The train maintained its name and luxurious amenities until the mid to late 1960's. During that time rail, authorities lengthened the timetable to accommodate more stops along the route. The name was finally discontinued 0n October 30, 1977, replaced by the Cardinal.