TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Wabash Cannonball (Was: Old Chicago Numbering)

Wabash Cannonball (Was: Old Chicago Numbering)

Al Gillis (
Sun, 30 Oct 2005 19:44:37 -0800

(Much snippage...

> I recall you mentioning the Wabash office ("The Wabash Cannonball")
> being SxS at one time. Which part of the city did that serve, and do
> you have any idea when it was replaced?

> All info will be passed on to help reconcile old memories!

> Thanks,

> -Paul.

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The 'Wabash CannonBall' a/k/a Wabash
> central office was one of the first, if not the first, central offices
> in Chicago, dating from the early 1900's;

(Much additional snippage)

For younger readers and not particularly Telecom related ... The
nickname for the switching machine at the Chicago-Wabash CO
undoubtably comes as a reference to a very popular tune dating from
the Mid-1930s - "The Wabash Cannonball". Written by A.P. Carter, the
chorus line probably brought to mind the sound of the CO machine on a
busy afternoon:

Listen to the Jingle
The rumble and the roar
As she glides along the woodlands
Through the hills and by the shore
Hear the mighty rush of the engine
Hear those lonesome hoboes squawl
While traveling through the jungle
On the Wabash Cannonball!

The song relates a steam locomotive trip on the Ireland, Jerusalem,
Australian and Southern Michigan Railroad. Legend has it that the I,
J, A and SM was built by Cal S. Bunyan, a younger brother of Paul.

So there you have it!


[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: That is indeed where the phrase
originated. The old fashioned cross bar Sxs offices were very
noisy day and night. One not too far away from my house when I lived
in Chicago was 'Kenwood Bell' (i.e. the Chicago-Kenwood central office
at 61st and Kenwood Streets in the Hyde Park neighborhood. On a hot
summer evening when the workers there had all the windows wide open
(air conditioning was not all that common in the 1950-60's) you could
hear 'Kenwood Bell' clacking from a block away. Wabash was the same
way. PAT]

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