He was Looking for the Local, But He Got the Express - Railroad Based Sayings, Figures of Speech, and Jargon

M. Mitchell Marmel posted:
p51 posted:

Not used to so much now, but it used to be a common phrase to tell people, "Next time, take the train," when seeing a car broken down. I guess this was a more modern version of telling a broken down car driver, "Get a horse!"

You also see it in a few Warner Brothers cartoons from the era.

Also from WWII era WB cartoons et cetera:  "Is this/was that trip REALLY necessary?"  


Bugs actually kicked himself off a train because the travel was not necesssary.

Wonder how much freeway and airport traffic would be reduced if this idea would be used again?


The TEXAS SPECIAL:  The REAL RED streak of the golden prairies!

William 1 posted:

She caught the Katy.

Usually signifying heartbreak.  And as these situations seem to oftentimes go, insult is added to injury, so it must be followed with:

And left me a mule to ride...


The TEXAS SPECIAL:  The REAL RED streak of the golden prairies!

"Blow your Stack" and "Blowing off Steam" may date to Steamboat days. "Well-Stacked" and "Gilding the Lilly" are also related to steamboats (Fancy Stacks indicated higher quality accommodations, the Gilding was fancying up a drab boat, usually with gingerbread trim).


David "two rails" Dewey

  I had thougbt of that, but was unsure of "which" steam engine type it could be. Blowing off steam might be necessary on any boiler at times. I also had to wonder about the exhasting into stacks to stop airborn hot ashes (logging) and increase stack air flow via vapor cooling effect.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"


"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.


Yes, running steam up the locomotive stack to provide draft (especially when the engine is standing still) is done, stopping airborne ashes is done with a cinder catcher attachment, or with a patented stack (balloon or diamond). Many steamboats had "escape pipes" ('scape pipes) where the engine exhaust was released, it wasn't used for drafting as in railroad locomotives. Watch the Belle of Louisville run, and you'll see them. When the boiler is at pressure, and still making steam, the safeties will "blow" releasing the excess steam; hence one who is "hot under the collar" might "Blow off Steam." which keeps the boiler from literally blowing up. So it's hard to say just when that saying came about. I know there's some other examples, but I can't think of them right now!


David "two rails" Dewey

Re "well stacked", the way I heard was that it related to stack height rather than fanciness. Here along the Mississippi River, the river often sits between steep bluffs. Steamboats with tall stacks could catch more breeze / draft and so could be fired more easily. Same reason why chimneys on a house are normally built to be at least a bit higher than the roof peak, better draft.

BTW steamboats generally had a pair of smokestacks side-by-side, one on the port side and one on the starboard. This perhaps explains how the term "she's well stacked" came to be transmuted from steamboats into a reference to shapely young ladies.

- Stix

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