cornfield meet

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The two locmotives involved in a "cornfield meet" in the early 20th century, apparently on the Boston & Maine Railroad according to the cab-side lettering.


cornfield +‎ meet. Early railroading collisions often occurred out in the country alongside a cornfield, rather than the trains passing safely in a station or siding. Originated in the U.S.; in use since at least the 19th century. The term also comes from the staging of events where two old steam locomotives would be purposely run head on at each other, often in a open field.


cornfield meet (plural cornfield meets)

  1. (US, rail transport) The accidental head-on collision of two trains.
    • 2007, Eddie Campbell, The Black Diamond Detective Agency (page 137)
      [A 1899 man discovering ragtime:] Now they're writing music that sounds like a cornfield meet.
  2. (US, rail transport) A near-collision in the same situation.


See also[edit]


  • CHAPMAN, Robert L., 1986; New Dictionary of American Slang, 3rd edition; Harper & Row, p. 83.
  • IRWIN, Godfrey (ed.), 1931; American Tramp and Underworld Slang; London: Scholartis, quoted in "Hobo Terminology", Original Hobo Nickel Society.
  • McINTYRE, Terry L., 1969; "The Language of Railroading"; American Speech 44: 243-62.