Origins of "Air Line" in SAL name : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

What is the origin of the term "air line" in the SAL name? Was there ever any affiliation with aviation?

-- carl esposito (, February 27, 2001


Some "Air Line" railroads:

Michigan Air Line Railroad (Ran NE out of Jackson, Michigan Waycross Air Line (see Goolsby's new book on the AB&C Independence Air Line (interurban between KC & Independence Mo.)

I have a whole list...will post an update when I find it.

-- Buck Dean (, March 06, 2001.

The railroad use of the terms 'Air Line' and 'Coast Line' describe the basic operating theory of each company. During the 1800's most large towns were located along the seacoast, at a river's mouth. The "Atlantic COAST LINE RAILROAD" followed the copast. Its tracks went inland to find narrow points where it could cross the rivers, but then turned back to the coast , to connect the towns. The "Seaboard AIR LINE RAILROAD" built tracks that were straight as an,when we say that two points are 653 air line miles apart, we are using the term 'air line ' in the same means 'as the crow flies', and has nothing to do with airplanes. There was, however, a Seaboard World Airways, but I dont think there was any connection.

-- Bill Donahue (, February 28, 2001.

The SAL wasn't the only railroad with "Air Line" in it's name. There were a few others. Without looking 'em up, I can think of the Great Chicago-New York Electric Air Line RR, a proposed "as the crow flies" 3rd rail line between the Windy City & The Big Apple, which completed a few miles in NW Illinois. And, I've seen sheet music titled THE AIR LINE MARCH, dedicated to the president of "The Air Line Railroad"(?) It was dated 1854, but I haven't found which "Air Line" it was written about.

-- Tom Underwood (, February 27, 2001.

No aviation background as this term pre-dates aviation. In the 19th century, the term was popularly used to describe the shortest distance between two points. Similar to the term" as a crow flys"..

The term was meant to imply the shortest route between two points, but as we all know .....! But then truth in advertising was not a big priority at the turn of the century!

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, February 27, 2001.

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