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FALLEN FLAGS PART III
By Jim Herron
Photos courtesy of George Ellwood

In looking at all of the Class I railroads that have vanished since World War II, we will continue our review of the mergers, abandonments, bankruptcies and absorptions of railroads in the past fifty-two years. We have seen the loss of steam, passenger service and finally the railroads that made the U.S. great.

So onward to our last installment of Fallen Flags:

Lehigh Valley (A GREAT RAILROAD) - “The Route of the Black Diamond” (anthracite coal) the 1,100 mile route in the Northeast, filed for bankruptcy in 1970. Lehigh Valley folded into Conrail in April 1976.

 

Erie Lackawanna - a 1960 merger of Delaware Lackawanna & Western merged into Erie Railroad combining a 3,190-mile route system. It was declared bankrupt in 1972 and went into Conrail in 1976.


Lehigh & Hudson River Railroad - a 95-mile route was forced into Penn Central in 1969 and in 1976 wound up in Conrail.

 

Penn Central - a 19,000-mile merger of PRR and NYC RR and New Haven RR ended in April of 1976. It was split by Conrail taking up its’ freight system and the formation of Amtrak for its passenger service.

 


Jersey Central Lines - a 573-mile route (Central RR of NJ) filed for bankruptcy in 1967 and was swept into Conrail in 1976. State-owned NJ Transit took up passenger service.

 

Reading Lines - a 1,277-mile hodge-podge, the route of John O’Hara’s novels, was a major coal hauler. It went bankrupt in 1971 and lasted until 1976 when it entered the Conrail system.

 

Pennsylvania/Reading Shoreline RR - a 322-mile line folded into Conrail in 1976. Ann Arbor RR - a single-track 293-mile line went bankrupt in 1973.


Detroit, Toledo & Shore Line - 50 miles of double track. Grand Trunk Western absorbed it in October of 1981. Illinois Terminal RR Co. - a 447-mile primary freight hauler was sold to Norfolk & Western in September 1981.


Toledo, Peoria & Western - a 24- mile system was bought by SF & PRR. In 1979 was absorbed by AT&SF in 1979 and by the Santa Fe in 1983. Minneapolis, Northfield & Southern - a 77-mile interurban freight hauler was bought by Soo Line in June 1982.


Georgia & West Pont - a 302-mile Georgia railroad was bought by Seaboard Coast Line in 1983. Clinchfield RR - a 306-mile route was absorbed into SCL in 1977 and got lost in the CSX absorption in 1983.


Louisville & Nashville - this 5,645-mile system overshadowed parent Atlantic Coast Line in size in 1966. It is credited with beginning the modern merger movement when in 1955 it absorbed NC & St Louis. It became a victim of the Seaboard System in 1983.


Seaboard Coast Line - a 9,000-mile route lost passenger lines to Amtrak. Its’ subsidiaries, Clinchfield, L & N and Georgia West Point became a part of CSX in 1983.


Quanah, Acme & Pacific - a 119-mile subsidiary of Frisco went to Burlington Northern in 1981. Frisco - a 4,388-mile route, it was absorbed in 1980 by the Burlington Northern.


Rock Island - a poor man’s Burlington, it had a 700-mile route system. It died a quiet death through liquidation in 1980.


Western Pacific - the California Zephyr route went to Union Pacific in a mega merger with MP in 1982.


Southern Pacific - got caught up in the mega-merger craze and its parallel route system was taken over by Union Pacific in 1995 (not very smoothly, I might add!). Union Pacific RR - finally bought out its chief rival in the transcontinental race of the 1860's, The Southern Pacific RR.


Santa Fe - a great route system and probably the most well known railroad in America was taken over by profitable Burlington Northern becoming BNSF.


CSX - a combination of the B&O, C&O, Chessie System, Seaboard Coast Line and a conglomeration of other railroads was formed in 1978, after the mergers.


Burlington Northern - bought out the AT&Santa Fe RR a few years ago becoming one of the largest railroads in the nation behind the Union Pacific.


Conrail and Amtrak are still going. Amtrak is just barely remaining operative through the largesse of US taxpayer subsidies. Conrail was parceled out between CSX & NS RR. Last year, ending the government’s participation in cargo hauling. The Conrail logo and colors will be added to the fallen flags. Considering that 125 railroads existed during World War II, there are few emblems and railroads left. Almost all of those are freight haulers. It looks like Congress is about to downsize Amtrak and eliminate many of the unprofitable long haul routes in the very near future. This will leave Amtrak running the heavily traveled northeast corridor.

So stay tuned for any updates on any further changes.

 
 
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