Delaware & Hudson, calling itself the longest-lived transportation company in the U.S., dates to an 1823 charter of the Delaware & Hudson Canal Co. “The D&H” operated the first steam locomotive on rail in the U.S., the Stourbridge Lion, in 1829. Amid modern Northeastern U.S. railroad uncertainty, D&H came under Norfolk & Western’s wing in 1968; returned to independence in 1972; expanded as a forced competitor to the new Conrail in 1976; was acquired by Guilford Transportation in 1984; was placed in bankruptcy by Guilford in 1988; was sold to Canadian Pacific in January 1991; became part of subsidiary St. Lawrence & Hudson in 1996; reverted back to CP in 2000; and was placed under control of the Soo Line in 2001. D&H remains a Soo subsidiary but is operated as part of CP’s overall system.
Cayuga & Susquehanna completed in 1834 between Owego and Ithaca, N.Y. Consolidation of successors Delaware & Cobb’s Gap and Lackawanna & Western in 1853 formed the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western. Track gauge converted from 6-foot to standard on March 15, 1876. Exploration of combination with Erie Railroad began in 1954, and merger occurred October 17, 1960, as Erie-Lackawanna.
Denver & Rio Grande incorporated in 1870 to build south from Denver as 3-foot-gauge. D&RG leased the affiliated standard-gauge Rio Grande Western, building southeast from Salt Lake City, in 1882. Dotsero Cutoff opened in 1934, forming connection with Denver & Salt Lake; D&SL merged on April 11, 1947. Denver & Rio Grande Western was acquired by Philip Anschutz in 1984. On August 9, 1988, Anschutz bought Southern Pacific and adopted that name as the operating label for the combined system. Union Pacific acquired control of SP on September 11, 1996.
Construction began from Denver west in 1902 as Denver, Northwestern & Pacific; reorganized in July 1912 as Denver & Salt Lake. Moffat Tunnel, named for DNW&P founder David H. Moffat, opened February 26, 1928. Denver & Rio Grande Western acquired D&SL stock beginning in 1930’s and merged D&SL on April 11, 1947.
Detroit, Toledo & Ironton created in 1905 merger of Detroit Southern and Ohio Southern, the latter previously the Detroit & Lima Northern. Under control of Henry Ford 1920-1929. Sold to Pennroad Corp., allied with Pennsylvania Railroad, in 1929. Wabash and PRR subsidiary Pennsylvania Co. bought out Pennroad in 1951. Pennsylvania Co. sold DT&I to Grand Trunk Western June 24, 1980; GTW merged DT&I December 31, 1983. GTW parent Canadian National sold DT&I in 1997 to RailTex, which reorganized it as regional Indiana & Ohio Railway. RailTex was bought by RailAmerica in 2000.
Pleasant Bay Railway incorporated in March 1898. In 1899 PB purchased Toledo & Ottawa Beach and renamed itself Detroit & Toledo Shore Line. Sold in 1902 jointly to Grand Trunk Western and Toledo, St. Louis & Western (the “Clover Leaf”). Line fully opened to Detroit in 1903. TStL&W interest passed to successor Nickel Plate Road in 1923, then to Norfolk & Western in 1964. Grand Trunk Western bought N&W’s half interest in 1981 and immediately merged D&TSL.
Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railway incorporated in 1887 as a consolidation of several Upper Michigan ore-country railroads. The “South Shore” came under Canadian Pacific control in 1890. It was reorganized in 1949 after a 12-year bankruptcy as Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railroad. Name changed to Soo Line Railroad as the DSS&A corporate structure survived in the December 31,1960, amalgamation with Soo and Wisconsin Central.
Earliest predecessor Duluth, Virginia & Rainy Lake, a logging road, dates to 1901, and soon was purchased by Canadian Northern. Line extended north to Fort Frances, Ontario, in 1908, renamed Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific in 1909, and reached Duluth in 1912. With Canadian Northern, became part of Canadian National in 1918. DW&P still exists on paper but is operated as part of CN.
Erie-Lackawanna was formed October 17, 1960, by merger of Erie Railroad and Delaware, Lackawanna & Western. (The hyphen was dropped in 1963.) In 1968, EL was forced onto Norfolk & Western but kept separate; EL filed for bankruptcy June 22, 1972, after damage by Hurricane Agnes, and was among the properties conveyed to Conrail on April 1, 1976.
New York & Erie chartered in April 1832. The first train ran in 1841 on 6-foot gauge track. Reorganized as Erie Railway in 1859. Entire system was standard-gauged on June 22, 1880. Erie merged with Delaware, Lackawanna & Western October 17, 1960, to form Erie-Lackawanna.
Gateway Western (GWWR) is a 408-mile regional linking East St. Louis, Ill., with Kansas City, created on January 9, 1990. Originally the Kansas City, St. Louis & Chicago, the line came under Chicago & Alton control in 1878, but was never a profit-maker under successors Alton Railroad, GM&O, and Illinois Central Gulf. On April 28, 1987, ICG sold the K.C. line, and the Chicago (Joliet)-East St. Louis main line, to new 633-mile regional Chicago, Missouri & Western. Ill-fated CM&W soon went bankrupt. Southern Pacific, through new subsidiary SPCSL Corp., bought the Joliet main line on September 29, 1989; this route passed to UP in the 1996 SP merger. Santa Fe, always wanting St. Louis-area access, arranged for a New York investment firm to purchase CM&W’s K.C. line, which created Gateway Western. After the BNSF merger in 1995, Santa Fe no longer needed the route, and KCS acquired GWWR on May 5, 1997.
Formed as Georgia & Florida from four short lines in 1906. Acquired by Southern Railway in February 1962, and merged into Southern’s Central of Georgia when Southern absorbed CofG on June 1, 1971.
Canada’s Grand Trunk Railroad dates to 1852. Western extension reached Port Huron, Mich., by 1858 and Chicago in 1880. GT’s financial problems extending Grand Trunk Pacific to Canada’s west coast brought GT under government ownership and into Canadian National in 1923. CN incorporated Grand Trunk Western in 1928 to consolidate GT properties in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. In 1970 CN created Grand Trunk Corp. to operate its three major U.S. subsidiaries: GTW, Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific, and Central Vermont. GTW still exists on paper but is operated as part of Canadian National.
Minnesota & Pacific chartered in 1857. Its successor, and others, renamed by James J. Hill to Great Northern in 1881. Absorbed in March 1, 1970 Burlington Northern merger, along with Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Northern Pacific; and Spokane, Portland & Seattle.
Green Bay & Lake Pepin was chartered in 1866, opened in 1871, and finished across Wisconsin in 1873. After control by a Lackawanna affiliate, reorganized as Green Bay & Western in 1896. Eastern extension to Lake Michigan incorporated in 1890 as Kewaunee, Green Bay & Western, absorbed by GB&W after World War II. Shortline firm Itel Corp. acquired GB&W in 1979. In 1991 Itel combined management of 255-mile GB&W with that of Fox River Valley, a 214-mile regional linking Milwaukee and Green Bay spun off to Itel by Chicago & North Western on December 19, 1988. On August 28, 1993, Wisconsin Central Ltd. acquired GB&W and FRV, placing them under a new subsidiary named Fox Valley & Western.
Guilford Transportation Industries dates from 1977, when Timothy Mellon of Guilford, Conn., helped form a holding company that in June 1981 entered railroading by acquiring, and placing under GTI, the Maine Central and its subsidiary Portland Terminal. GTI in June 1983 acquired the Boston & Maine, and its subsidiary Springfield Terminal, a tiny former Vermont interurban. Guilford eyed expansion west and in January 1984 acquired the Delaware & Hudson from Norfolk & Western. After two labor strikes, GTI, to cut costs, leased parts of MEC and B&M to Springfield Terminal, which had different work rules. An attempt to do the same with D&H was rebuffed, so GTI cast D&H into bankruptcy (D&H was sold in 1991 to Canadian Pacific). Today GTI calls its lean network of B&M, MEC, and ST the Guilford Rail System.
Gulf & Mississippi was Illinois Central Gulf’s first major 1980’s regional spinoff, on July 10, 1985, but the 715-mile carrier-comprised mostly of two parallel ex-Gulf, Mobile & Ohio north-south lines in Mississippi-was never healthy. It was facing bankruptcy when MidSouth, in part to preserve the then-hot regional-spinoff movement, acquired G&M through new subsidiary SouthRail Corp., on April 14, 1988. Most G&M lines survive under Kansas City Southern.
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio incorporated November 10, 1938, to acquire Mobile & Ohio (which dated to 1852) and Gulf, Mobile & Northern (to 1890), a deal completed in September 1940. GM&O merged with Illinois Central on August 10, 1972, to form Illinois Central Gulf.
Illinois Central was chartered in 1851 to build north-south through Illinois. Renamed Illinois Central Gulf with August 1972 GM&O merger. After shedding more than two-thirds of its mileage in the 1980’s, mostly to new regionals, ICG on February 29, 1988, changed its name back to Illinois Central. Canadian National purchased IC on February 11, 1998, and merged it on July 1, 1999.
The Champaign-Urbana (Ill.) streetcar system bought by William B. McKinley in 1890 was the foundation of an electric interurban system that expanded and became Illinois Traction System. Parent Illinois Power & Light bought Illinois Terminal Railroad, an Edwardsville-Alton line, in 1928. In the post-interurban era, nine Class 1’s formed a company to jointly acquire IT, done in June 1956 as the Illinois Terminal Railroad Co. ITRC was purchased solely by Norfolk & Western on September 1, 1981, and operations were integrated on May 8, 1982.
Kansas City Southern, which began as the Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf in 1890, was completed to the Gulf of Mexico in 1897. The KCS name dates from a turn-of-the-century reorganization in which founder Arthur Stilwell was ousted. KCS acquired Louisiana & Arkansas in 1939, and remained a stable mid-sized system until the 1990’s, when, beset with mega-mergers all around, began expanding by acquiring regional lines and linking up with Mexico, marketing its newly expanded system under the banner the Nafta Railway.