One of the most famous songs of the Big Band era was said to have been inspired by a trip that the songwriting team of Harry Warren and Mack Gordon took aboard the Birmingham Special. It became the big production number in the movie Sun Valley Serenade, which was released in late 1941. The 78-rpm single version of the classic tune, recorded by Glenn Miller and his orchestra, was released in May of 1941 and became perhaps the first recording ever to be recognized by its publisher as a "gold record" when it sold over a million copies in less than a year. The song was, of course, Chattanooga Choo-Choo.  

From the pages of the Official Guide, December 1941

Pennsylvania Railroad Keystone heraldSouthern Ry. System heraldNorfolk & Western Ry. herald

The Birmingham Special

Pennsylvania Railroad
Southern Railway System
Norfolk & Western Ry.
November 22, 1941

125 Train Number 176(3rd)
Daily Miles (Pennsylvania) Services Daily
12 30P Dp 0.0 New York, NY (Penna. Sta.) (ET) C R A Ar 4 45P
12 45P 10.0 Newark, NJ C R A 4 29P
1 31P 58.1 Trenton, NJ C R A
2 01P 85.9 North Philadelphia, PA C A 3 22P
2 09P Ar 91.4 Philadelphia, PA (30th St. Sta.) C R A Dp 3 13P
2 10P Dp Ar 3 12P
2 39P 118.1 Wilmington, DE C A 2 44P
3 40P Ar 186.6 Baltimore, MD C R A Dp 1 42P
3 41P Dp Ar 1 41P
4 25P Ar 226.6 Washington, DC C R A Dp 12 35P
17 Continuing Train Number (Southern) 18
4 50P Dp 226.6 Washington, DC T C Ar 12 35P
5 05P 234.8 Alexandria, VA C 12 15P
5 45P 259.2 Manassas, VA T C 11 35A
6 04P 272.9 Calverton, VA T C 11 16A
6 35P 294.0 Culpeper, VA T C 10 46A
7 02P 311.3 Orange, VA T C 10 18A
7 46P 338.8 Charlottesville, VA T C 9 38A
F 368.7 Shipman, VA T C
F 384.6 Amherst, VA T C
F 386.6 Sweetbriar, VA C F 8 25A
391.7 Monroe, VA T C 8 15A
9 32P Ar 399.1 Lynchburg, VA (Kemper St.) T C Dp 7 55A
(Norfolk & Western)
9 50P Dp 399.1 Lynchburg, VA (Kemper St.) T C Ar 7 50A
10 22P 423.6 Bedford, VA T C 7 18A
11 01P Ar 451.7 Roanoke, VA T C Dp 6 40A
11 11P Dp Ar 6 30A
11 24P 458.5 Salem, VA T C
12 03A 484.3 Christiansburg, VA T C
12 25A 494.9 Radford, VA T C 5 21A
F 510.3 Pulaski, VA T C
F 531.1 Wytheville, VA T C
3 15A Ar 602.8 Bristol, TN-VA (ET) T C Dp 2 40A
2 25A Dp 602.8 Bristol, TN-VA (CT) T C Ar 1 30A
3 10A 627.6 Johnson City, TN T C 12 48A
3 25A 635.9 Jonesboro, TN T C 12 28A
4 00A 659.5 Greeneville, TN T C 11 53P
4 55A 691.8 Morristown, TN T C 11 02P
5 55A Ar 733.5 Knoxville, TN T C Dp 10 00P
6 05A Dp Ar 9 50P
F 6 35A 756.8 Lenoir City, TN T C F 9 10P
F 6 44A 762.4 Loudon, TN T C F 9 00P
F 7 02A 774.8 Sweetwater, TN T C F 8 45P
F 7 20A 788.7 Athens, TN C F 8 26P
7 55A 815.5 Cleveland, TN T C 7 50P
8 50A Ar 844.4 Chattanooga, TN (Terminal Sta.) T C Dp 7 00P
Through Sleeper New York-Nashville
6 Connecting Train Number (Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis) 5
9 10A Dp 0.0 Chattanooga, TN T C A Ar 6 30P
1 35P Ar 151.7 Nashville, TN (CT) T C A Dp 1 55P
Through Sleeper Washington-Memphis
35 Connecting Train Number (Southern) 36
9 15A Dp 0.0 Chattanooga, TN (Terminal Sta.) T C Ar 6 30P
1 50P Ar 165.8 Sheffield, AL (Muscle Shoals) T C Dp 1 20P
6 30P Ar 310.7 Memphis, TN (Union Sta.) (CT) T C Dp 8 45A
9 10A Dp 844.4 Chattanooga, TN (Terminal Sta.) T C Ar 6 35P
10 20A 895.1 Fort Payne, AL T C 5 18P
11 03A 931.6 Attalla, AL T C 4 38P
12 10P Ar 987.4 Birmingham, AL (CT) T C Dp 3 30P
47 Connecting Train Number (Southern) 48
1 00P Dp 0.0 Birmingham, AL T C Ar 3 15P
3 55P Ar 152.4 Meridian, MS T C Dp 12 20P
5 07P 209.1 Laurel, MS T C 11 04A
5 43P 238.0 Hattiesburg, MS T C 10 30A
8 15P Ar 354.6 New Orleans, LA (Terminal Sta.) (CT) T C Dp 8 00A

Train 125-17: 33 stops, 24:40, 40.0 MPHTrain 18-176: 32 stops, 24:15, 40.7 MPH

(Pennsylvania RR Notes)

Note: The northbound Birmingham Special operates combined with Train 176, The Senator, between Washington and New York. Effective as of December 13 [1941] it operates as the third section of train 176. First section is the Cotton States Special and second section is The Sun Queen, both of which make their first trip northbound from Richmond on December 13 [1941]. The normal departure time of The Senator is 1:00 p.m.; all three of the leading sections will leave Washington as soon as their switching is done.

Coaches on all trains unless otherwise noted. All Trains Air-Conditioned.



Sleeping Cars...New York to Birmingham—(8 Sections, 5 Double Bedrooms).

New York to Nashville—(12 Sections, Drawing-room). (Via Southern Ry., N. & W. Ry. and N. C. & St. L. Ry.)

New York to Knoxville—(12 Sections, Drawing-room). (May be occupied until 7:30 a.m.)

Parlor Cars...New York to Washington.

New York to Washington—(Buffet Lounge).

Dining Car...New York to Washington.

Coaches on all trains unless otherwise noted. All Trains Air-Conditioned.


(via N. & W. Ry. and Southern Ry.).

Sleeping Cars...Birmingham to New York—(8 Sections, 5 Double Bedrooms).

Nashville to New York—(12 Sections, Drawing-room) (via N. C. & St. L. Ry., N. & W. Ry. and Southern Ry.).

(Southern Ry. System Notes)

Trains Nos. 17-35 and 36-18—BIRMINGHAM SPECIAL.

Sleeping Cars—New York-Birmingham, 8-Section, 5 Double Bedroom.

New York-Nashville, 12-Section 1 Drawing-room, via Chattanooga and NC&StL Ry.

New York-Knoxville, 12-Section, 1 Drawing-room, southbound. (Northbound No. 42.) (May be occupied until 7:30 a.m. at Knoxville.)

Washington-Birmingham, 12-Section, 1 Drawing-room.

Washington-Memphis, 8-Section Restaurant-Lounge.

Dining Car Service (See Note).


Individual Reclining-Seat Coaches between Washington and Birmingham.

Regularly assigned cars Air-conditioned.

Note: Southern Railway System Dining Car Service
Trains Nos. 17 and 18, between Washington-Roanoke and Knoxville-Birmingham.
Trains Nos. 17-35 and 36-18, between Washington-Memphis (Pullman-Restaurant-Lounge Car).

(Norfolk & Western Notes)

All Sleeping Cars referred to below are Standard Cars—12-Section, 1 Drawing-room—unless otherwise designated.

No. 17

Sleeping Cars...New York to Knoxville. (Northbound in train No. 42.)

New York to Nashville.

Washington to Memphis (8-Section Restaurant Lounge).

New York to Birmingham (8-Section, 5 Double Bedroom).

Washington to Birmingham.

Coaches...Washington to Birmingham.

Dining Car.

No. 18

Sleeping Cars...Nashville to New York.

Memphis to Washington (8-Section Restaurant Lounge).

Birmingham to New York (8-Section, 5 Double Bedroom).

Birmingham to Washington.

Coaches...Birmingham to Washington.

Dining Car.

All Regularly assigned cars Air-Conditioned.