The NC&StL's energetic publicist in the late 19th and early
20th centuries and General Passenger Agent, Major W. L. Danley,
first conceived the name "Dixie Flyer" for a Nashville
to Jacksonville, Florida, through sleeping car service in 1892.
By 1904, the service extended from Chicago all the way to Miami,
Florida. Danley popularized the NC&StL with such names as "The
Dixie Route," "The Lookout Mountain Route," "The
Battlefields Route" (borrowed from the Western & Atlantic),
and the name that stuck with the public (years later adopted by
the L&N following the 1957 takeover), "The Dixie Line."
By 1914, the "Dixie Flyer" was the nation's premier service
from the midwest to the sunny Florida vacationland. Originating
in Chicago, the "Flyer" was brought south by the Chicago
& Eastern Illinois (early on it was the IC), L&N, NC&StL,
Central of Georgia, ACL, and finally the Florida East Coast from
Jacksonville to Miami.
This period of time, and into the 1920's, was the high point of
NC&StL passenger service in terms of everyday ridership and
overall system track mileage, a total of 1231 miles. The Great Depression,
starting with the Crash of October, 1929, hit the NC&StL very
hard. Ridership plummeted, and several unprofitable branch lines
were either cut back or eliminated altogether.
The seemingly overwhelming demands of World War II, and the strategic
importance of the NC&StL as the primary bridge between the midwest
lines and the southeast, snapped "The Dixie Line" out
of the depression-era doldrums practically overnight.