Union Pacific has the right name-it’s the last major U.S. rail system whose name has never changed, dating from its charter in 1862 to build the nation’s first transcontinental westward from Omaha, Nebraska. Construction began in 1865, and was completed on May 10, 1869. Also notable for their longevity are Union Pacific’s shield-shaped emblem (1886) and yellow color scheme on its passenger cars and locomotives (1930’s).
Galena & Chicago Union, Chicago’s first railroad, began construction in 1848. In 1855 the Chicago, St. Paul & Fond du Lac was organized to extend northwestward from near Chicago. CStP&F was reorganized in 1859 as Chicago & North Western, which in 1864 consolidated with Galena & Chicago Union. C&NW became employee-owned in 1970. After years of operating affiliation on its main line with Union Pacific but no UP control, all C&NW stock was acquired by UP on April 27, 1995, and UP merged C&NW on June 23 of that year.
What came to be known as the “Omaha Road” began as the Tomah & Lake St. Croix in Wisconsin on April 1, 1863. After expansions and consolidations it acquired the name Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha on May 25, 1880. Controlled by Chicago & North Western after 1882 and operated as a part of C&NW system, comprising the lines north of Elroy, Wis., and Omaha to Minneapolis-St. Paul and Ashland, Wis. The corporation lasted until 1957, and its official identity was maintained until 1972.
Minnesota Western chartered in 1853. Name changed to Minneapolis & St. Louis in 1870. M&StL purchased Iowa Central in 1912, and in 1956 M&StL purchased the latter-day Minnesota Western, a 1924 creation unrelated to the original. Chicago & North Western purchased M&StL’s railroad assets on November 1, 1960.
Litchfield & Madison incorporated on March 1, 1900, to take over an isolated line of Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis between Litchfield and Madison, Ill. L&M built a connection to Chicago & North Western at Benld, Ill., in 1926, and served as the East St. Louis entry for C&NW and Illinois Central. Merged into C&NW on January 2, 1958.
Construction began at St. Paul, Minn. southward in September 1884 under A.B. Stickney. Reorganized as the Chicago Great Western in 1892. System essentially completed through acquisitions of other lines to Chicago, Omaha, and Kansas City by 1903. Merged into Chicago & North Western on July 1, 1968.
Construction began on the Chicago & Rock Island in 1851; renamed Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific in an 1866 reorganization that included the Mississippi & Missouri across Iowa. In 1964, Union Pacific applied to merge CRI&P; the Interstate Commerce Commission took a decade to approve it, with a condition that Southern Pacific purchase the southern half. By then RI had deteriorated and UP and SP no longer wanted it. RI declared bankruptcy in 1975; after a labor strike, it ceased operation on March 31, 1980. The vast majority of RI’s 7000 miles wound up being acquired by other carriers; among the largest chunks were 965 miles to SP’s Cotton Belt; 750 to Chicago & North Western; 750 to regional Kyle Railroad; 645 to a subsidiary of the former Katy (now part of UP); and 550 Iowa Railroad, succeeded by today’s regional Iowa Interstate.
First SP ancestor chartered in Texas in 1851. Sacramento Valley opened in California in 1851. Central Pacific incorporated in June 1861, connected its line to Promontory, Utah, with Union Pacific to form first transcontinental railroad May 10, 1869. San Francisco & San Jose opened in 1864 and was merged by Southern Pacific. CP acquired SP by 1868. Four Texas properties consolidated in 1934 as Texas & New Orleans. T&NO was merged into SP in 1961. Anschutz Corp., owner of Denver & Rio Grande Western, purchased SP on August 8, 1988, retained Southern Pacific Lines as system name. Union Pacific acquired control of SP on September 11, 1996.
St. Louis Southwestern began as the 3-foot-gauge Tyler Tap Railroad, opened in 1877 in eastern Texas. Its successor, St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas, was standard-gauged in 1886. The nickname “Cotton Belt Route” is historic; the emblem, designed by Charles Ware at the railroad’s request, replaced a cotton bale in 1885. StLA&T was acquired by the new St. Louis Southwestern of Jay Gould in 1891. Southern Pacific acquired SSW control on April 14, 1932, strengthening a relationship established in 1919, and operated it as part of the SP system. Ownership conveyed to Union Pacific in the August 11, 1996 SP merger, and SSW was subsequently absorbed by UP.
Northwestern Pacific was incorporated in 1907 by Southern Pacific and Santa Fe to consolidate several smaller roads north of San Francisco. SP bought Santa Fe’s interest in 1929, and merged NWP in October 1992. NWP had no equipment of its own after 1960. Portion north of Willits sold to Eureka Southern on November 1, 1984; portion south leased to California Northern on September 26, 1993. Cal Northern relinquished lease to new company, which adopted NWP name. Northern portion now North Coast Railroad, and all of NWP owned by a local authority.
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.
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.
Taking the same name as the original Sacramento-Oakland part of the Central Pacific, Western Pacific was incorporated in 1903 to extend the Gould empire west of Utah, and was finished in 1909. Santa Fe and Southern Pacific wanted WP in 1962, but neither got it. Union Pacific did, merging WP on December 22, 1981.
Sacramento Northern, a vast San Francisco Bay Area interurban, was formed in 1918 to take over the Northern Electric Co., which dated from 1905. Western Pacific acquired control of SN in 1921 and gradually absorbed its functions and abandoned most of its lines. SN was still an entity when UP acquired WP, and SN, in 1982.
Spokane International was built from its namesake Washington city to a connection with Canadian Pacific at the Idaho-British Columbia border in 1906. Union Pacific acquired control of SI on October 6, 1958.
Chartered in 1851 as Pacific Railroad, opened in 1852, renamed Missouri Pacific in 1870. Major early components included St. Louis & Iron Mountain, chartered in 1851; International & Great Northern (1873); and Gulf Coast Lines, a 1913 merger creation. All, plus others, came under Jay Gould control in 1879. Union Pacific absorbed MP on December 22, 1982, and absorbed operations but didn’t formally merge MP out of existence until 1997.
Incorporated in 1865 as Union Pacific Railway Southern Branch (no relation to UP proper). Name changed to Missouri, Kansas & Texas in 1866. The ampersand was dropped and a hyphen substituted (Missouri-Kansas-Texas) in a 1923 reorganization. Holding company Katy Industries created in 1967. After an off-and-on 3-year courtship, Union Pacific, through subsidiary Missouri Pacific, absorbed MKT (but not Katy Industries) on August 12, 1988.
Evansville & Illinois chartered in 1849 to build north from the Ohio River. System completed from Chicago south in 1872, sold at foreclosure in 1877 as Chicago & Eastern Illinois. Missouri Pacific began merger discussions in 1959. After MP, Louisville & Nashville, and Illinois Central each petitioned the ICC for C&EI control, it ruled in 1963 for MP, stipulating that MP sell L&N the Evansville line, which occurred in 1969. L&N also bought a half-interest in the line from Woodland Jct., Ill., where the ownership split, into Chicago. Missouri Pacific merged C&EI on October 15, 1976.
Chartered by Congress as Texas Pacific in 1871 to build westward from Marshall, Texas; name soon changed to include ampersand. Missouri Pacific obtained stock beginning in 1923, and by 1930 owned all T&P preferred stock and the majority of common stock. MP merged T&P on October 15, 1976.
Midland Valley; Kansas, Oklahoma & Gulf; and Oklahoma City-Ada-Atoka all controlled by Muskogee Comapny and operated jointly. MV incorporated in 1903, acquired KO&G in 1925. KO&G had incorporated in 1918 as successor to bankrupt Missouri, Oklahoma & Gulf. OCAA incorporated in 1923 to acquire Shawnee Division of Missouri-Kansas-Texas, which was reorganizing. Muskogee Co. authorized sale of all rail stocks to T&P in 1962. T&P acquired control in September 1964 but sold OCAA to Santa Fe. MV merged into T&P April 1, 1967. KO&G merged into T&P on April 1, 1970.