Nancy Hanks (train)

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The Nancy Hanks II near Atlanta in 1968
An advertisement for the Nancy Hanks II

The Nancy Hanks was a popular Central of Georgia Railway and later Southern Railway passenger train in Georgia running between Atlanta and Savannah. It was named after a race horse that was named for Abraham Lincoln's mother. The name is even older than the mid-20th century train derived from that of a short-lived but famous steam special, the Nancy Hanks. The earlier Nancy operated in 1892 and 1893.

Nancy Hanks II made its first trip on July 17, 1947. The new train's cars were painted blue and gray and, like the first Nancy, each bore a likeness of the famed trotter on the side.[1]

"The Nancy", as it was affectionately known, was an all-coach, reserved-seat train with grill lounge service. It left Savannah daily at 7 a.m. for the six-hour run via Macon's Terminal Station to Atlanta, and returned from Atlanta's Terminal Station at 6 p.m. (18:00). The train had an average speed of 48 mph (including stops) and made the journey in 6 hours.

Black and white passengers were separated on this pocket streamliner until the 1960s. Four "divided" segregated coaches were built by American Car & Foundry (ACF) for Nancy and African-Americans were not allowed to eat in the grill-lounge car. The Central of Georgia was the last major Southern railroad to desegregate, as it ran only in Georgia and did not engage in interstate commerce.[2]

In the 1960s the Central leased a dome car from the Norfolk and Western-Wabash line, where it had operated for a number of years; the car was thoroughly renovated for service on the Nancy Hanks II. The dome parlor-lounge car was 85 feet (26 m) long, made of steel and originally was built by Pullman-Standard. It had a dark-blue exterior and interior upholstery in royal blue and gray. In keeping with the racehorse theme, the lounge beneath the dome was branded the "Saddle & Stirrup."[3]

The Nancy went into steep decline during the 1960s, in tandem with the larger decline of rail service over the years. Southern discontinued the train on April 30, 1971, the day before Amtrak came into being. Atlanta's Terminal Station was demolished the following year.

Some folks say that the Nancy can't run;
But stop, let me tell you what the Nancy done:
She left Atlanta at half past one
And got to Savannah at the settin' of the sun.
The Nancy run so fast
She burnt the wind and scorcht the grass

Author unknown


  1. ^ McKay, Archie (May 1, 1971). "She burnt the wind: Last ride of the Nancy Hanks". The Macon Telegraph. Aboard the Nancy. Archived from the original on 1999-09-01.
  2. ^ Kornweibel, Theodore, Jr. (2010). Railroads in the African American Experience: A Photographic Journey (print). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 9780801891625.
  3. ^ "Dome Car brings new look to Nancy Hanks II".