This is a form of campaigning. A whistle-stop campaign is characterized by lots of brief visits to small towns and hamlets. Short speeches are made to several dozens of citizens, hands are shaken, babies kissed. Then, the whole entourage (literally!) packs it up and heads down to the next town.

The original whistle-stop campaign was undertaken as a rail journey. In an era before the Eisenhower Interstate System or ValuJet, rail transport was the best way to move from one town to another, in a given region. The candidate would pull into the local train station, step out to the fully-bunted end of the last rail car, and make his (or her) plea from the make-due platform. The train whistle is, of course, the origin of the term.

Candidates still do this, but it usually involves a bus, anymore.

The whistle stop (or whistle-stop) is originally a railroad term for a listed station or stopping place where trains do not stop unless signaled to do so by passengers or stationmasters. The purpose of this is to save time on the route at stations which have low and/or infrequent traffic. There are two possible origins for the term - the first is that the train would usually signal its approach to the station by sounding the train whistle, so that passengers could move out into view on the platform. The other is that some references indicate that the station itself would sound a whistle or other signal in order to indicate that the train should stop.

The term later came to mean any quick intermediate stop during a journey.

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