Since this year’s July 10 is the day that the famed Odakyu 7000 Series Romancecar makes its last official run after 38 years of service, we thought it only fitting to celebrate 710 Day with the rail-themed 1974 Datsun 710 brochure. On the cover, Nissan referenced the Wabash Cannonball, a train with a murky history, a supernatural origin story, and a song written about it.
Several American folk singers have recorded versions of a song called “Wabash Cannonball,” about a train that traveled across the US. Parts of the Wikipedia entry seem to indicate it was an actual train that ran in the lat 1800s. By the 1930s, though, it had attained near mythical status with origin stories like these:
Utah Phillips states that hobos imagined a mythical train called the “Wabash Cannonball” which was a “death coach” that appeared at the death of a hobo to carry his soul to its reward.
Or this one:
Another theory states that the song is based on a tall tale in which Cal S. Bunyan, Paul Bunyan’s brother, constructed a railroad… After two months of service, the 700-car train was traveling so fast that it arrived at its destination an hour before its departure. Finally, the train took off so fast that it rushed into outer space, and for all is known, it is still traveling through space.
I had never heard of the Wabash Cannonball, but JNC‘s resident music expert Patrick Strong turned me onto the song. Apparently in 1974 it was still in the public consciousness enough that Nissan would put a reference to it on the cover of a brochure. If anything, it offers proof that even trains need to be remembered.