News: Streamline Train Inauguratrion (1949)

Contact:  Janet
Email:  stan@wiclarkcountyhistory.org

----Source: Clark Co. Press: Neillsville, WI; Aug-1949

About 2,000 people attended the inauguration of the sleek streamlined "400's" railroad train's first stop at the Merrillan station.

In honored positions were Mr. and Mrs. John Clune, 94 and 93. respectively, who helped to dedicate the stop. Mr. Clune is the oldest living engineer of the railroad, having retired 23 years ago after service with the railroad for 57 years. The Clunes have been married for 69 years. As a boy of age 14 Clune helped lay the first railroad tracks through Merrillan. The engines which would be the best of those days would be museum pieces today.

Now, 80 years after laying the first rails, Clune helped to dedicate the "400", one of the nation's crack streamline trains - the Northwestern's pride of the 20th century.

A lot of other people, including George Purnell, energetic president of the Merrillan Commercial Club, have had considerable backing from other communities of the area in the 14-year effort to stop the "400" at Merrillan. The high school bands of Neillsville and Alma Center were at the celebration, as was a large proportion of the Neillsville National Guard service company, also color guards of American Legion and V.F.W. posts of many communities in the Black River and Trempeleau River valleys.

As the southbound."400" came slowly along the track between walls of people to its stop at 5:02 p.m., the bands struck, up appropriate tunes to touch off the formal dedication ceremonies.

Descending from one of the cars were Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Mike, both in full and colorful Indian regalia. They wer 'c followed by Archie H. VanGorden, Mrs. VanGorden and their daughter. Arch wore a western 10 gallon hat upon his head.

The dedication was held quickly, with the Clunes participating. Judge Bruce F. Beilfuss of Neillsville did the honor of cutting the ribbon.

Men, women and children from Merrillan, Neillsville, Granton, Marshfield, Greenwood, Black River Falls, Alma Center, Taylor and- Hixton clambered aboard for the dedication excursion to Adams and back.

There were 95 passenger excursion tickets sold at $3.68 each with an additional nine passengers who boarded the streamliner for Milwaukee or Chicago.

The northbound "400" waited at Adams for the excursion group, and returned with them at 7:14 p.m.

Dee Zimmerman said that many long term residents of the area can remember the "400" train which ran from Minneapolis to Chicago with a return trip from Chicago to Minneapolis. It was named the "400" because a one way trip was scheduled to take 400 minutes. She has memories of a comfortable & enjoyable ride on the "400 " from Minneapolis to Chicago to attend the University Of Minnesota football team play the Northwestern team at Chicago, IL.

 

 


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