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50 years ago this month: May 1959

By | May 4, 2009

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50 years ago in railroad history … A supplement to the Classic Trains Online Look Back e-mail newsletter

Chesapeake & Ohio on May 7 launches mail and express service between Grand Rapids and Petoskey, Mich., using Railvans – a predecessor of today’s RoadRailer railcar/semitrailer hybrids. . . .

Chicago & North Western, seeking to modernize its accounting system, looks toward the feasibility of a “large-scale computer.” . . .

The Philadelphia Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society marks the 25th anniversary of the first GG1 electric – No. 4800, a.k.a. “Rivets” – with a commemorative plaque for the locomotive and a 4800-powered fan trip on May 17. . .

Great Northern begins work on a line change 1.5 miles east of Merritt, Wash., on its main line through the Cascade Range; included are 4,744 feet of new track and the replacement of 3-, 8-, and 10-degree curves with a single 3.5-degree curve. . . .

Rising traffic forces dieselized Nickel Plate Road to fire up five 0-8-0’s for switching duty at Conneaut, Ohio. . . .

EMD announces five new diesel-locomotive models, the last to be powered by its famous 567 prime mover: normally aspirated RS1325, GP18, and SD18 and turbocharged GP20 and SD24; intended for branchline and suburban service, only two RS1325’s are built, for Chicago & Illinois Midland. . . .

On May 25, the ICC releases its first comprehensive study of U.S. passenger-train service, calling for commuter subsidies, tax relief, and revised work rules; significantly, it rejects the Hosmer Report’s prediction of end of passenger service by 1970. . . .

Baltimore & Ohio buys three Budd Slumbercoaches and on May 29 establishes (with Missouri Pacific) through Slumbercoach service between Baltimore and San Antonio, the only interline Slumbercoach in U.S. . . .

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the National Railway Museum at Green Bay, Wis., take place on May 30.

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