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Wisconsin State Journal, September 9, 1880. An oyster train was a fast-moving west-bound freight job loaded with ice and fresh-caught crustaceans, probably from Maryland, which was to oysters as California is now to medical marijuana. With a bit of luck, a skilled team of oyster-train engineers could get their still-living cargo to the oyster-crazed riffraff of Chicago in just 36 hours. But this particular team did not have a bit of luck.