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22 Their Greatest Task

RushJr. Loving Indiana University Press ePub

CHAPTER 22

Their Greatest Task

ONE FIRST–CLASS PASSAGE

THE MELTDOWNS OF 2014 HAPPENED BECAUSE THE RAILroads were back in their days of glory. Without a business boom there would have been no strain on capacity. Unquestionably the good times had returned. The trick was to make certain that they did not go away and that surges of traffic were handled smoothly. The next year, 2015, the coal business declined significantly, and railroad earnings fell at Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific. Because they no longer were impoverished by overregulation, all the railroads remained financially healthy. Nonetheless, they were facing a serious challenge. Just as it had taken decades to change the way they dealt with the intermodal market, the railroads had to uncouple themselves from the traditional ways of running trains.

Making such a shift will depend on the quality of the men and women who oversee America’s rail systems. Good times for a company are created by good chief executives, and they continue because of good CEOs. That will be the key to the railroad industry’s future. The day BNSF’s shareholders voted to sell to Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett told Matt Rose, “I want you to run the company like you’re going to own it for the next 100 years.” That is the sort of chief executive the railroads will require if the industry is to avoid more meltdowns, because twenty-first-century railroads must be flexible and plan ahead. They must think beyond conventional rules and concepts, like true entrepreneurs.

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Medium 9780253019066

7 Illinois Railroad Labor

Simon Cordery Indiana University Press ePub

As Confederate forces were winning the Battle of Chancellorsville and Union troops prepared to lay siege to Vicksburg, a group of disgruntled railroad engineers met secretly in Marshall, Michigan. Unhappy about the treatment they were receiving at the hands of their supervisors, they decided to assert their republican rights and defend themselves from arbitrary rule. They formed the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), a fraternal order fighting for decent working conditions and offering insurance protections. Firemen, conductors, trainmen, and other groups created their own organizations in the 1860s, challenging the conventional belief that capital and labor shared a common interest in the profitable operation of railroad corporations.

A period of often dramatic conflict on the railroads followed formation of the brotherhoods. Wage cuts and layoffs led to strikes but owners and managers fought back. The proud industrial peace of the railroads was shattered by walkouts and murders. Financial panics and technological change led to violence and confrontation in Illinois, most notably in 1877, 1888, and 1894. These were the visible manifestations of a seemingly limitless well of unhappiness and subterranean conflict. But the railroads could bring the nation’s economic activity to a virtual standstill, hastening the quest for alternatives. Worse for the industry, federal regulators responded to public complaints about monopoly power by restricting managerial autonomy. The peace of pioneer railroading had been shattered.

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Medium 9781770906730

19: NOT ALL DAYS ARE SUNDAYS

Neil Peart ECW Press ePub

Return of the Snowdancer

NOT ALL DAYS ARE SUNDAYS

MARCH 2014

THE TITLE IS A WEST AFRICAN SAYING, describing what in that part of the world is a cultural ambivalence toward life’s … vagaries. Some good days, some bad days. Into each life a little rain must fall. Ski trails may turn to ice. Every silver cloud has a dark lining. Not all days are Sundays.

Interesting that the “Sunday” metaphor seems to be fairly universal, not only in the West, but in many regions of Africa and Asia where Christian missionaries have been active. Despite choosing a different day of the week, the tradition is maintained among Jews and many Muslims—an ideal day of rest and ease, and sometimes prayer. I defer to Aldous Huxley’s father, who said a walk in the mountains was the equivalent of going to church. This reporter would maintain that the same equation applies to other pleasurable activities in nature, like the display of devout snowshoeing in the opening photo.

That day, though, was a Sunday, in every sense. It was early February, in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec—a day that was everything that season, in that place, ought to be. Over two feet of snow covered the ground and clotted on the trees, the sky was pearly gray in a light overcast (often a harbinger of snow, like the proverbial “white sky”), and the temperature was in the single digits Fahrenheit. Cold, but not bitter cold.

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Medium 9781855209510

Chapter 22 - Ema on Steroids

Gordon Lund Brooklands Books ePub

In this chapter of the book I go on to disclose a car that for all intents and purposes is a road going Elan, but is in fact a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A car that is virtually a racing car on the road, but has pulled back just a little bit to make it driveable on the road.

When I was a teenager I had a genuine BSA Gold Star Motorcycle. The BSA publicity at the time stated that this motorcycle was never intended as a touring motorcycle but more suited to the open road or track. How right they were for just like a highly tuned Elan, any vehicle intended for the race track is going to be a real handful on public roads.

Close ratio gearboxes and competition clutches do not make for comfortable road mannered vehicles.

My BSA Gold Star, a stunning DB32

When Tony Penzato of Bath approached me at Donington in 2005 and said that he had bought my written off Elan Sprint, affectionally known as EMA, from the salvage auction, I was a little apprehensive at first as to what he would do with her. Next time I saw Tony and the car was at Malvern Lotus Car Show in 2010 and to say the least I was taken aback a bit.

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Medium 9781855209626

Chapter 2: E28

Andrew Everett Brooklands Books ePub
Medium 9780253355485

3 Why?

Jr., Herbert H. Harwood Indiana University Press ePub

So whatever possessed Vanderbilt to take on this kind of challenge? The common story is that he became enraged at what he thought was the Pennsylvania Railroad’s support of the New York, West Shore & Buffalo Railway, a projected new line directly paralleling his New York Central’s main line between New York Harbor and Buffalo.

Perhaps. Or perhaps not.

Certainly, 1881 was not a year that helped Vanderbilt’s chronic hypertension. It was now the golden age of predatory railroad building, and his system was a prime target for those who wanted to bite into some of its lucrative markets or who were simply well-heeled corporate blackmailers aiming to be bought out, either by the victim or by some other aggressor. Most likely in the latter category was a line formally called the New York, Chicago & St. Louis—but better known by all as the “Nickel Plate Road”—which in 1882 completed a well-built line between Buffalo and Chicago that shadowed Vanderbilt’s Lake Shore & Michigan Southern main line the entire way. In those days, too, railroad construction moved right along; the 524-mile Nickel Plate was completed in 18 months. Along the way, the Nickel Plate’s promoters adroitly played Vanderbilt off against his father’s old nemesis, Jay Gould. The wily and tough Commodore might have done otherwise, but the junior Vanderbilt capitulated almost immediately and bought control of the Nickel Plate three days after its opening in October 1882.1

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Medium 9780253355485

6 The Syndicate Forms

Jr., Herbert H. Harwood Indiana University Press ePub

All this was happening before the South Penn was even fully organized and its financing put in place. And that took some time because Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Gowen, and their allies wanted to keep the project tightly controlled by those with a direct stake in its success without the risk of PRR agents or any other interlopers buying into it.

Typically, major new nineteenth-century railroad projects were initiated by promoters who relied on the public to put up the bulk of the needed funds—often, of course, reserving enough voting stock for themselves to control the enterprise. Typically, too, the initial stock and bond issues were designed to cover something close to the full estimated cost of building the road, so that theoretically the project would be fully funded from its start. Not so the South Penn. Instead, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and Gowen put together a relatively small, closed investor syndicate of wealthy, like-minded allies. This syndicate was to put up the entire $15 million estimated construction cost and, in return, control the finished railroad. Initially there was to be no outside funding whatsoever, not even from investment banks. (Some syndicate members were banking executives, but they did not directly represent their companies.)

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Medium 9780253020635

Introduction: A Mix of Love and Luck

RushJr. Loving Indiana University Press ePub

INTRODUCTION

A Mix of Love and Luck

ONE FIRST-CLASS PASSAGE

PROBABLY I WOULD NOT HAVE BECOME A SUCCESSFUL WRITER if my parents had not brought me up on Shakespeare and the King James Version of the Bible. The Bible is a wonderful collection of great stories. And it pictures a lot of chaos, stories of people slaying each other and begetting everybody.

But it also has some parts that inspire order out of the chaos, much like the rulebook of a railroad: the Ten Commandments, for one thing. They can be very useful to anyone who tries to establish any order in a chaotic world. After all, the Ten Commandments have been the mainstay of Western civilization.

My friend Walter Wells recently told me an interesting story about the Ten Commandments. Walter, who retired not too many years ago as executive editor of the International Herald-Tribune to oversee his world-class vineyard in Provence, is a vestryman at an Anglican church in Paris. He said that the senior warden at St. Cuthbert’s, somewhere in England, came across their vicar and found the man to be most distraught. It seems his bicycle had disappeared, and he could only conclude that it had been stolen by someone in his congregation. The vicar had only recently arrived in that parish and felt he was at a disadvantage.

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Medium 9780253018663

4 The Beginning

Howard H. Lewis Indiana University Press ePub

4

The Beginning

Finally, in July of 1975, the government issued its Final System Plan, with a supplement issued in September. The plan followed a Preliminary System Plan dated February 20, 1975, which consisted of almost a thousand pages setting out in great detail the reconfiguration of the railroad system in the Northeast. In an effort to offer a sort of gesture toward maintaining competition in the industry, the Preliminary System Plan proposed a purchase by the Chessie of the Reading and the Erie. After considerable study on the part of the Chessie by a substantial team headed by one of its senior executives, James White, the Chessie declined the offer. That Chessie study became the foundation of our valuation claim in the case as it finally evolved.

The Chessie’s rejection meant that the government’s reorganization was to lead to Conrail, which would include all property “used or useful in rail transportation.” It also invited an analysis of what precise property was in fact “used or useful”—what cars, locomotives, lines of railroad, yards, offices, etc.—a prospect that delighted the mass of lawyers assembled to represent either the government or the railroads in reorganization, now referred to collectively as the “transferors.” The fights that ensued ranged from the fundamental to the silly. A few examples may illustrate the problem.

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Medium 9781855209510

Chapter 23 - Established and Independent Lotus Dealers

Gordon Lund Brooklands Books ePub

In the 70s and 80s it was exceedingly difficult to source spare parts for the Elan, Elan +2 & Europa, as Lotus Cars were endeavouring to forge their way into the supercar market. As Lotus began producing cars which were more sophisticated than the earlier models and found that they had cash flow problems, spares production for older models was not high on the agenda. Original Lotus dealers came and went which left a large discontinuity in supply of spares and indeed of the specialists available who had knowledge of the older cars. Some of the older dealers did in fact stay faithful to their enthusiasts while others were happier to go up market into the new generation cars and forget about the older models.

As an alternative, some enthusiasts of the breed considered that there had to be another way and set up their own business, perhaps in partnerships, to start a sales and servicing concern that could provide a valuable asset to owners of the older cars.

As examples of the above I have picked out four notable concerns at different points on the spectrum who have made major contributions to the continuing popularity of first generation Lotus road cars.

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Medium 9780253018663

6 Fear and Exhaustion

Howard H. Lewis Indiana University Press ePub

6

Fear and Exhaustion

Prior to Reading, my workweek would consist of the normal five days plus a half day on Saturday. I’m not an early person, and would arrive at the office at about nine thirty, intentionally missing the early morning phone calls, which gave me the option of returning only the ones I wanted to. I usually didn’t leave until around six, getting home around seven thirty for drinks and dinner with my wife, Maxine (the kids, Rudy and Howard, often ate earlier, though we all ate together on the weekends). I took the usual holidays off: Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and even Thanksgiving, though for reasons peculiar to my family situation, that one was more a chore than a pleasure, involving two large family meals with too much food and too little real conversation. I was able to take, usually in two segments, about a month of vacation, which mattered more to me than weekends and holidays. Though not the most involved father in the world, I still enjoyed being with my kids, and my wife’s company was a constant pleasure.

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Medium 9780253355485

15 Epilogue: Ghost Hunting Along the South Penn

Jr., Herbert H. Harwood Indiana University Press ePub

Many historians seem to take it for granted that the original Pennsylvania Turnpike alignment followed the defunct railroad right-of-way. It did, but mostly only in a general way, not as a duplication of the line that was surveyed and partly built. As we have just noted, except for the tunnels and a few short stretches here and there, there was very little precise correlation between the two. (There is even less now, since three tunnels—Sideling Hill, Rays Hill, and Laurel Hill—were bypassed between 1964 and 1968.) The South Penn’s engineers aimed for a maximum grade of 1 percent, with the exception of the east slope of Allegheny Mountain (at 1.8 percent) and the west slope of Laurel Hill, where 6 miles of 2 percent were necessary. To accomplish this, the railroad constantly curved through the rugged mountain territory to build up its grades gradually and avoid more hills. The Turnpike engineers could get away with triple the railroad’s ruling grade and so could cut a straighter path, deviating from the rail line as much as 3 miles. That left a lot of cuts, fills, and culverts out there that have been untouched since 1885. Not even in those relatively flat, easy areas where the South Penn had fixed a route but never built—such as the Cumberland and Raystown-Juniata valleys—did the Turnpike precisely follow the railroad survey.

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Medium 9780253019066

6 Conflagrations and Expansion

Simon Cordery Indiana University Press ePub

The railroad-building surge of the 1850s made Chicago into an international marketplace and would help the North win the Civil War. Railroads transformed Illinois by bringing in people and capital, mechanizing and growing the grain trade, and dramatically expanding the labor force. A national financial downturn in 1857 caused an immediate drop in traffic volume, brought expansion to a halt, and tipped many railroads into bankruptcy, but local services temporarily kept them running and allowed the system to adjust to the new mileage.

The 1860s and 1870s witnessed the trauma of Civil War and the excitement of transcontinental railroading. The war caused little direct injury to Illinois railroads, though the closure to civilians of the Mississippi River and additional wartime traffic meant deferred maintenance, damaged track, and worn-out rolling stock. Illinois was the fastest-growing state in the Union during the Civil War because of its network of railroads, migrants entering from the Confederacy, and the increased importance of Chicago as a transshipment center. When the conflict began the industry seemed ready to contribute, though few could have predicted how much the railroads had to offer the war effort.

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Medium 9780253220738

7 In Recent Times

Edited by Don L Hofsommer and H Roger Indiana University Press ePub

No industry remains static, else it atrophies and perishes. Railroads in Iowa underscore the intrinsic truth of that statement. Since the 1960s the railroad scene has undergone monumental changes. It has been a fluid period, ironically somewhat reminiscent of the building and consolidation process of the nineteenth century. A combination of happenings, including massive line abandonments, corporate mergers, regulatory reforms, start-up shortlines and regionals, and technological betterments has reshaped railroading throughout the state.

Any observant person who today roams the Iowa landscape will notice the remains of former rail lines. Although some of these abandoned rights-of-way may have been obliterated by farmers seeking to increase their production acreages and urban dwellers wishing to build structures or expand their yards, hundreds of miles remain somewhat intact, albeit nearly always chocked with weeds, brush, and trees. But a few pieces of these one-time routes of the iron horse have become public hiking and biking paths, products of an active statewide rails-to-trails movement. Testifying to the popularity of these recreational resources, the Heritage Trail follows sections of the Chicago Great Western (CGW) in eastern Iowa, and the Wabash Nature Trail follows portions of the Wabash in southwestern Iowa.

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Medium 9781770906730

1: ON DAYS LIKE THESE

Neil Peart ECW Press ePub

ON DAYS LIKE THESE INTRO LIKE THE FIRST VOLUME in this series, Far and Away: A Prize Every Time, these stories grew over three years of my life, work, and travels. Likewise, the manner of relating them, the voice, still aims at the feeling that someone you know took the time and care to write the best letter he could—to share his life, work, and travels.Several thoughts along those lines have come my way recently. One was the inventive short-story writer George Saunders, who defined the difference between all the informal writing that fills our world (and its ether) and what he could only call “literary” writing. His was a one-word distinction: “Revision.”An avant-garde fictionist from an earlier generation, David Markson, never owned a computer, right up to his death in 2010, at age eighty-two. As reported in the New York Times during a late-life correspondence with a younger poet, Laura Sims, she printed out and mailed him some of the online comments about his work. Though they all intended admiration, Mr. Markson was not impressed.

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