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  full story
She burnt the wind
Last ride of the Nancy Hanks

Editor's note: Archie McKay was city editor of The Macon Telegraph when this story appeared on the front page May 1,1971.

By Archie McKay
The Macon Telegraph

ABOARD THE NANCY - If the press, railroad officials and historical society buffs were removed from Friday's run of the Nancy, there would have been few passengers.

From an old ballad, author unknown:

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.

And that's what killed the famous train.

"You see these people out there by the tracks crying and waving those signs? Well, if they had been aboard the Nancy at least once in the past 10 years we wouldn't be making this last run" said one Macon Central of Georgia Railroad official.

Most of the passengers were newcomers to rail travel who had trouble keeping their balance when walking, a sight which upset the rail buffs aboard.

"You see these people, I wish to God they had been aboard last year or even last week. We could have saved this train," said Al Langley, president of the "Iron Horse Inn," a self-billed Railroadiana- American in Augusta.

The engine was well tended with five people front. John Whitaker, road foreman, looked over the shoulder of several former engineers who wanted to "take the throttle" of the Nancy one more time.

Miss Nancy Hanks II made her first trip on July 17, 1947. The new train boasted deluxe coaches, a grill and lounge car, and even a maid. The cars were painted blue and grey and, like the first Nancy, each bore a likeness of the famed trotter on the side.

Unfortunately, patronage declined on the once proud train, and, so did the grand service. But things were put together again Friday for the last run

Southern borrowed porters, maids and other professionals from such crack trains as "The Southerner" which runs from New Orleans to New York, for the last run.

A potpourri of the Nancy's last run:

  • About 50 people turned out for the beginning of the last run Friday at 11 a.m. at Macon's terminal station.

  • Jim Saville, ticket agent, said reservations had been sold out for two days.

  • Mostly unconcerned railway workers stood around in groups and complained that "we sure could have used some of these people last year."

  • Food remained good on the Nancy until the last. The menu featured "Nancy Burgers," corned beef and eggs and Middle Georgia vegetables.

  • Wesleyan Station, where once students boarded and got off, had perhaps its largest crowd in years on the outbound leg of the trip. On the return trip, hundreds lined the campus area across from Rivoli Drive and were greeted with the long blasts from the diesel horn.

  • Mrs. T.C. Wylley of Tennelle. a frequent passenger on the train, placed a small bouquet of flowers on the table in the dining car on the outbound trip.

    "I just enjoyed you so much over the years," the card read.

  • Bolingbroke citizens fired up a bonfire so that photographers could catch a picture of them waving goodbye to the Nancy.

  • Tift College students turned out with most of the city of Forsyth to say goodbye to the Nancy.

  • It seemed to newsmen that everyone along the tracks knew it was the last ride. Even remote shacks out among the grain fields of Monroe County contributed their quota of small children and adults to wave at the train.

  • Maconites aboard included Mrs. Marie Kelley of 626 College St.; Mrs. A.W. Lang Jr. of 1472 Virginia Ave.; and Mrs. Rene Harrison of 231 Alexandria Drive.

       Passenger service to return in four years?
       When Mid-Georgia said goodbye to 'Nancy'


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