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3 Sin and the Aspiring Reporter

Loving, Rush, Jr. Indiana University Press ePub

CHAPTER 3

Sin & the Aspiring Reporter

ONE FIRST–CLASS PASSAGE

THE DOWNWARD SLIDE OF THE RAILROAD INDUSTRY continued as the 1950s progressed. Cloistered at the University of Richmond in a world of history studies and college activities, I rarely noticed what was happening. I did read about trains being discontinued because they lacked riders. Even those that linked Richmond with Washington, where I would go to sit in on the Senate’s proceedings, were only half full.

While those coaches contained a moderate load, many other trains were carrying hardly any passengers. One afternoon I took the train to South Boston, a city on the North Carolina border just east of Danville, to visit a classmate. It was the same train my grandfather had captained, and I found a disturbing change. Instead of a line of passenger cars and a gleaming green steam locomotive, the train consisted of a nondescript diesel and two coaches, both of them nearly empty.

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Medium 9780253347572

21 “Why the Hell Do We Need Four Tracks Out Here?”

Rush, Jr. Loving Indiana University Press ePub

Switching his support for deregulation had been one of Stanley Crane’s last acts as president of the Southern Railway. In September 1980 he turned 65 and under the railroad’s retirement rules was forced to step down. Having been in the post only three and a half years, Crane wanted to stay, for he had only just begun to have fun. Nevertheless, the rule was rigid, and he moved out of his spacious office on the eleventh floor and into a modest room tucked away in the recesses of the headquarters building.

One hundred forty miles north of the Southern’s Washington offices, Ed Jordan continued to be pelted with criticism from USRA and even some of his own directors. He was burning out. The spirit and the fight that had spurred him on during Conrail’s creation and start-up had disappeared. His indecisiveness had led to confrontations with USRA’s new chairman, whose staff was growing openly more critical of Conrail’s management. Two of USRA’s directors who headed western railroads had despaired of him totally and were urging his removal.

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Medium 9780253018663

9 The Rail Use Case: Ours and the Government’s

Howard H. Lewis Indiana University Press ePub

9

The Rail Use Case: Ours and the Government’s

It was essentially the transferors’ burden to demonstrate the value of their properties in continued rail service. The government’s primary contention, by contrast, was that absent Congressional action expressed in the Rail Act, the railroads in the Northeast would simply have disappeared, replaced by trucks on a much expanded highway system, ships on an enhanced intercoastal waterway, increased air freight, and I guess snowshoes. The government believed its role was counterpunching, that is, demonstrating that our contention would not have worked and that our properties would be largely ignored by profitable roads, or at best bought for a pittance no greater than what they would have yielded in liquidation for nonrail use.

My approach of beginning at the end of the case by imagining oral argument had the advantage of focusing my mind and the work product it developed, so that I didn’t range over a mass of fact and speculation trying to find the compelling argument emerging from the jumble like weeds sprouting in a yard. Admittedly, it had the disadvantage of limiting inquiry, so that I might well overlook a big piece of evidence which a less structured, more open investigation might have revealed. The truth is, however, I really had no choice, since the timetable set by the court effectively precluded any kind of full-range inquiry given the limited resources available to me and my own physical capacity.

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Medium 9780253337979

8. The End of the Line: 1930–1938

Jr., Herbert H. Harwood Indiana University Press ePub

The stock market had taken a dive, to be sure, but most people believed it was only a temporary hiccup — perhaps a little worse than in 1921, but nothing for serious concern. Even so, interurban lines like the Lake Shore had much to worry about. On January 18, 1930, Fred Coen wrote his mysterious master, “A. Hayes,” and began:

The time is not far distant when the question of the future policy to be followed in regard to the Lake Shore Electric must be determined. In other words, whether this railway can be rejuvenated and rebuilt so that it would be the same as an electrified steam railroad and made a profitable institution or whether it is to be abandoned, or partially abandoned, and recover therefrom as much as possible in the way of salvage or sale as a going concern.

He went on to propose a consulting study to determine the LSE’s fate. Coen then hinted at his own feelings by recommending the consultants who had helped Samuel Insull successfully rebuild and modernize his Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee and Chicago, South Shore & South Bend — implying that perhaps the LSE might be made into “an electrified steam railroad.” Whether or not there was any such hope, the letter clearly recognized that continuing to operate the system as it then existed was undoubtedly doomed.

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Medium 9780253017772

PORTFOLIO THREE: OWI: Across the Continent on the Santa Fe

Reevy, Tony Indiana University Press PDF

PORTFOLIO THREE

OWI: ACROSS THE CONTINENT ON THE SANTA FE

If Chicago was, and is, the great city of American railroading, during World War II the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway

(AT&SF) was, by any measure, one of the great transportation companies. The Pennsylvania Railroad was, by many standards, more important to the United States, the servant of its industrial heartland, but the

Santa Fe was one of the major transcontinentals.1

It was also an innovator, pioneering in its attempts to advance its passenger traffic by encouraging tourist travel. These efforts included acting as a patron for artists of the American West, making notable innovations in advertising, and encouraging the parallel evolution of the famed Fred Harvey Company and its “Harvey Houses” and “Harvey

Girls.” These innovations had ripples throughout American society, including the development of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as an internationally significant art center, and the great and lasting popularity of the

Grand Canyon as a tourist attraction.

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Medium 9780253005922

8 Postwar Metamorphosis

J. Parker Lamb Indiana University Press ePub

During my senior year in high school (1950–51), I was immersed in recording the diminishing presence of steam locomotives in Meridian. Unfortunately, the GM&O dropped its fires so quickly that I was never able to photograph one of its steam-powered trains in action. But there were still opportunities on the other three roads (SR, IC, and M&BR). I was extremely fortunate that the cold weather of the fall and winter of that school year gave me my only opportunity to record local steamers with billowing smoke plumes. Indeed, my rarest steam locomotive photo was taken on a frigid day when I casually dropped by the SR/IC yard for a quick inspection and saw, to my astonishment, a Birmingham train about to leave behind one of Southern’s largest engines, a simple articulated 2-8-8-2.

I had seen photos of these mountain engines operating in their usual territory between Birmingham, Atlanta, Knoxville, and Asheville, but I never expected to see one on the relatively flat lines of the AGS. In subsequent years I discussed this rarity with Frank Ardrey and other Southern observers, and none could recall such a movement. I finally concluded that this could have been just an unusual substitute engine for the normal 2-8-2 or a shakedown run for the articulated giant fresh from an overhaul at the Finley shops in Birmingham. But the real reason will always remain a mystery.

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Medium 9780253011275

Chapter 5 The Road to Ride

Bill Marvel Indiana University Press ePub

The Rock Island was usually not the shortest, nor the fastest, nor the most prosperous railroad between the cities it served. So it had to try harder.

Even in the worst of times, the railroad did its best to field a fleet that gave passengers a run for their money. And when times were flush, the Rock Island often ran ahead of the pack. It was among the first with onboard dining and streamliners. It innovated restlessly, if not always wisely. Its trains might run in the red, especially toward the end, but they ran.

As soon as the track was down and open for business in 1852, two daily trains left Chicago for Joliet. Within months the dozen passenger cars provided by contractors Henry Farnam and Joseph Sheffield could no longer meet demand, and 16 additional cars were ordered. Trains ran full, hauling passengers from Chicago’s passenger house to the end of track, wherever that might be. By 1856 the road was advertised “the Shortest, Quickest and Safest Route” to Kansas and Nebraska—though it had reached neither destination. The roadbed was raw, the crude wooden benches were hard, but tens of thousands of immigrants were already riding Rock Island trains on the first leg of their journeys to the Great American Frontier. Within the decade, they would ship their produce to eastern markets via Rock Island.

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Medium 9780253347572

5 An Eleventh Hour Surprise

Rush, Jr. Loving Indiana University Press ePub

As McClellan—now at the Central—watched the merger’s inevitable approach, he and the other junior officers of the two railroads grew increasingly apprehensive. Although they could not imagine its impact, they were about to be caught in the middle of the biggest debacle the transportation industry had ever experienced. For McClellan it would be a watershed that would determine everything he was to experience or do for the rest of his life.

If the Central had joined with the C&O–B&O and the Pennsy with the N&W, it would have created two competitive lines. Instead, they were being amalgamated out of fear, not from some grand dream of creating a better transport system. “I didn’t think it was a particularly good merger, but we were trapped into some kind of merger,” Perlman said later. They had too many tracks, too many yards, too much railroad, and they needed to cut back by consolidating. It did not seem normal for two such fierce competitors to join up. “Those of us inside the New York Central or Pennsy said, ‘This is an unnatural act! Not the way to go. This is crazy. It’s going to be a monopoly,’” said McClellan. In his view, railroads got lazy and unimaginative when they held monopolies.

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Medium 9780253347572

2 Meeting the Blue-eyed jew from Minnesota

Rush, Jr. Loving Indiana University Press ePub

Life on the Southern Railway in the mid-1960s was interesting for McClellan because this was one of the most progressive railroads in the United States. It was automating its maintenance operations, both in the shops and on the tracks themselves. McClellan’s boss, Bob Hamilton, had outraged his competitors at all the other railroads by developing a new jumbo hopper car that enabled the railroad to cut the price it charged for hauling feed grain from the Midwest to the chicken farmers of the Southeast. The marketing department was building the first computer system for tracking the movement of freight cars, three giant IBM computers in a massive operations room atop an old freight warehouse in downtown Atlanta. Overseen by a former air force colonel, the computer system was based on the one used by the Strategic Air Command to track its bombers. The computer center was tracking thousands of freight cars so that any shipper could call the Southern and find out where his carload of merchandise was, right down to the train it was on and the station it had just left.

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Medium 9781742207407

Ulan-Ude to Vladivostok

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

The Trans-Siberian’s last leg covers a staggering 3648km as it rolls into Russia’s ‘wild east’. This region has always lived by its own rules. ‘Moscow is far’ runs the local mantra. The people, like the countryside, are a bit wilder and more rugged than their Western brethren. Travelling this way before the Trans-Siberian was built, Anton Chekhov wrote that it ‘seethes with life in a way that you can have no conception of in Europe’. And that’s still apt.

Out the window, the taiga and Stalin-era housing blocks may seem similar to back west, but off the tracks lurk surprises such as Blagoveshchensk, a border town of tsar-era buildings on the Amur River; Birobidzhan, Stalin’s failed ‘Zion’; and the charming riverside city of Khabarovsk. The railway ends at the stunning mountains-meet-ocean setting of Vladivostok, a once-closed navy port that today is Asia’s uniquely Russian rising powerhouse.

AFeb–Mar Still the season for snowy delights, yet not too dark or too slushy.

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Medium 9780253353832

10 A Diverse Inventor

William D. Middleton Indiana University Press ePub

As an inventor, Frank Sprague presents us with a complex character of sometimes seemingly contradictory traits. On the one hand, he provides a textbook example of the “inventor’s shop” model of focused, directed research on a specific set of design problems—working with his colleagues and employees methodically testing and revising designs in a disciplined shop environment. On the other hand, he also displayed characteristics more in accordance with the “lone inventor” stereotype—jotting down ideas and plans as they occurred to him, on nearly any design problem that presented itself during his daily business. Throughout his career, Sprague relied on both spontaneous creativity in recognizing and meeting design challenges, and disciplined, methodical work in refining his ideas. He combined both of these traits with an indomitable sense of purpose and tireless zeal for pursuing and promoting his ideas, as well as asserting his priority to specific inventions or design elements, particularly when he believed himself to be in the right. He must at times have seemed to his “opponents,” and probably to some of his colleagues as well, as something of a gadfly. He did not accept failure easily, and at times persevered against the odds to his cost. We will return to this aspect of Sprague the inventor below.

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Medium 9780253353832

11 An Inventor and Engineer to the End

William D. Middleton Indiana University Press ePub

In July 1927 Frank Sprague moved into the 70th year of his life, and one might have expected him to begin easing up on the level of his work, or to have begun to enjoy the pleasures of a life of semiretirement. But this, of course, would not have been Frank Sprague. From the time of his youth onward he had always held these strong interests in an extraordinary range of diverse topics, and he would hold them throughout his life.

Sprague, working with his eldest son, Desmond, would continue his long-running work on his Sprague Safety Control & Signaling Corp. until well into the 1930s. He was in his 69th year when he began work on his innovative dual car elevator design in 1926. And before the end of the decade he would begin his work on his patented Universal Electric Sign System which would use massed electric lamps to display a great variety of signs in either still or moving arrangements, and which could move in different arrangements and at different speeds. At least one example of the Sprague sign technology used was a large moving sign that he designed as part of the Time-Fortune exhibit at the 1933–1934 Chicago Century of Progress Exhibition.

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Medium 9780253011275

Epilogue Pieces of the Rock

Bill Marvel Indiana University Press ePub

More than three decades after its death, the railroad that Union Pacific President John C. Kenefick once called “a bag of bones” remains a pretty lively skeleton. An arm or leg might be missing, but thousands of former Rock Island rail miles still get regular exercise.

Most of the old Memphis-Tucumcari Choctaw Route has gone to weeds with the exception of a 74-mile Oklahoma segment operated since 1996 by Arkansas-Oklahoma, which, incidentally, decorates the nose of its red and yellow diesels with the familiar Rock Island herald.

The 57-mile Fordyce & Princeton and the 26.2-mile Ouachita Railroad operate two segments of Rock Island’s otherwise silent Arkansas and Louisiana lines.

The Kansas City–St. Louis line is being reclaimed by nature and by hikers. Only a few miles from Vigus to Pleasant Hill, Missouri, survive as the Missouri Central. Out on the rolling high plains of Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado, Rail America’s Kyle Railroad hauls grain and roofing material over the route of the Rocky Mountain Rocket. Kyle’s trains begin their trek in Belleville but stop well short of Denver and Colorado Springs in Limon, site of the old Limon do-si-do. Denver Rock Island, a switching road, serves a few miles of Rock Island trackage on the northern fringe of Denver.

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Medium 9781770906730

20: TELESCOPE PEAK REVISITED

Neil Peart ECW Press ePub

Dante’s View

TELESCOPE PEAK REVISITED

APRIL 2014

AFTER RIDING UP the steep switchbacks to the mile-high lookout of Dante’s View, in Death Valley National Park, I straddled my motorcycle at the edge, looking west, and thumbed the kill switch. All was suddenly quiet and still, and I sat for a few minutes, facing that majestic vista, seeing it—and feeling it—as I had so many times before. For seven hours and almost 500 miles, I had been wandering the backroads of California’s Mojave Desert, so I was a little sore and tired, and ready to “get there.” But I would not have missed that unparalleled viewpoint, and hadn’t even considered passing by the winding little road up to Dante’s View.

Eighteen years and dozens of visits had not dulled its radiance. If anything, knowing the place so well made it more alive, with memories of viewpoints, hiking trails, mountaintops, and perhaps most vital of all, so many stories, personal and historic. Since my first sight of Death Valley, under a full moon in late 1996, to two days of filming scenes for my instructional DVD, Taking Center Stage, in various locations around the park in early 2011, my senses have been thrilled and my imagination inspired by one of my favorite landscapes.

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Medium 9780253347572

20 Son of Penn Central

Rush, Jr. Loving Indiana University Press ePub

Just as Penn Central’s woes had spawned Amtrak and the government-run passenger system, Conrail brought on rail deregulation. The new railroad could not turn a profit, and while there were a number of causes, the nation’s strangling regulatory system was at the heart of them, dooming any chance for success.

USRA had laid out a business plan for Conrail that foresaw losses during the railroad’s start-up years, but everyone had hoped the red ink would soon fade. Nevertheless, at the beginning of its third year of operation, Conrail continued to lose money at the same rate Penn Central had hemorrhaged—$1 million a day. At Conrail’s start, Ed Jordan had amazed many by integrating the marketing, operating, and financial departments of five railroads with no disruptions. Now he was waging a valiant effort to stem the losses, but he never seemed to make much progress. So hopeless was Conrail’s plight, Jordan and his chief financial officer were refusing to certify that the company’s financial performance was in line with the business plan that USRA and Congress had mandated.

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