258 Chapters
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Medium 9780253007902

4   The Slow Decline

Lawrence A. Brough Indiana University Press ePub

After an auspicious start in 1902–1903, the next two years of very low production must have been somewhat disheartening. During the business slump after the 1903 financial crisis, car builders everywhere were hurting and a proposal surfaced in 1905 to combine twenty car builders, including Niles, into one giant car-building syndicate. It came to naught but created a lot of excitement at the time. But looking ahead, the directors apparently had enough confidence that business would improve that they authorized an increase in capitalization and an enlargement of the factory.

The years 1906–1907 were just the opposite of the previous two years and it looked like the traction industry was playing catch-up with the huge volume of orders for new cars. In January of 1908, Niles directors authorized the payment of dividends on both common and preferred stock and predicted fair business for the coming year. Orders, however, fell off sharply, but the firm still managed to deliver nearly eighty cars to willing buyers. During the year, an order was received from California for six cars to be used in the San Diego area on the San Diego Southern Electric Railway, which had just changed its name from the National City and Otay Railroad. The cars cost $6,571.15 each ($3901.29 for the body and $2669.86 for the trucks and electrical equipment). The cars were 45 feet 10 inches long and of the California type peculiar to that state, with a closed center section and open sections on both ends. The center section held twenty-eight seats and the open ends twelve seats each.

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Medium 9780253355485

2 The Back Story

Jr., Herbert H. Harwood Indiana University Press ePub

In picking up the South Pennsylvania’s corporate charter and its negligible other assets, Vanderbilt and his allies bought into a legacy of doomed dreams. Until then the history of efforts to build a rail route across Pennsylvania’s “southern tier” had been long and notably unproductive, if not downright dismal.

The first try came in 1837, when the new Cumberland Valley Railroad opened its line through the broad valley between Harrisburg and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and began setting new goals. One ambitious idea was to build west from Chambersburg to Pittsburgh, and gathering political support from communities such as Bedford and Everett, the CV managed to persuade the state to survey a route. The state in turn hired a 37-year-old Danish-born civil engineer, Hother Hage, to run the first railroad survey between the Susquehanna River and Pittsburgh in 1837-38. Hage, who came to the United States in 1819, had worked on building the Pennsylvania state canal system and had become chief engineer of the pioneering West Feliciana Railroad in Louisiana in 1835. A year later he was back in Pennsylvania as chief engineer of the Franklin Railroad, which was to form the southern extension of the Cumberland Valley from Chambersburg to Hagerstown, Maryland, and the Potomac River at Williamsport.

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Medium 9780253018663

10 The Government’s Case

Howard H. Lewis Indiana University Press ePub


The Government’s Case

The government’s case came in two parts. The first, developed to considerable extent in the Final System Plan, was an argument that the country could, if necessary, do without railroads in the Northeast altogether. We thought this contention patently absurd. Indeed, during his examination, one of the government’s key witnesses, Edson L. Tennyson of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, blurted out in exasperation, “Who’s kidding whom? You simply can’t move ore, coal, or grain in the Northeast by land except by rail.” We then set about disproving the government’s assertion by specific examples.

The second prong of the government’s attack was to concede, arguendo, that rail service was indispensable, but to insist that the bankrupt railroads were such hopeless losers that the public, state and local governments and authorities, and the profitable western roads would pay next to nothing for the properties, certainly no more or just a little more than they were worth in liquidation for nonrail use. Their value then would be what the government contended in the Final System Plan. The fundamental thrust of our argument that the government brought the disaster on the railroads was aimed at countering this contention. According to us, if only the government ceased its interference through both regulation and cross-subsidy, the railroads would return to profitability.

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Medium 9780253018663

1 The Age of Innocence

Howard H. Lewis Indiana University Press ePub


The Age of Innocence

My first experience with the Reading was learning in 1971 that we at ORM&H would be counsel for it in its recently filed reorganization, and wasn’t that exciting? It didn’t really excite me. From what I casually learned about the case, it seemed to be a litigation, not a corporate matter, and I expected to have little if anything to do with it.

In the winter of 1972–1973, my mentor, Herbert A. Fogel, who was in charge of the Reading account, decided to ascend to the federal bench, and shortly thereafter my managing partner, William Fuchs, asked me to look into the representation to make sure that our client was being serviced adequately. I dutifully reported that I sensed some unhappiness in my short meetings with Reading’s staff and Drew Lewis, its active trustee, and that their affairs could stand some more hands-on legal representation. He turned to me and said, “OK, you’re it.”

“But Bill,” I replied, “I hate trains.”

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Medium 9781574412383

“The Galloping Gourmet; or, The Chuck Wagon Cook and His Craft”

Kenneth L. Untiedt, editor University of North Texas Press PDF



The trail drive of the American cowboy is well known to the reading and viewing public of the entire world, thanks to the influence of television and movies and their enormous capacity for education. As is also well known, unfortunately Hollywood is not always careful with its facts—indeed, a new folklore might well be said to have developed because of the public media’s part in the passing on of information and mis-information. Such is the nature of oral transmission itself; one might recall: one old cowpoke remembers singing to the cattle to keep them calm; another points out that the average cowboy’s voice was far from soothing, and his songs might well have precipitated (rather than averted) a stampede. Of course, with the dulcet tones of Gene Autry and the Sons of the Pioneers as evidence, the popular view is of the romantic persuasion, as is much of the lore of the American cowboy.

Usually overlooked are the factual matters of the cowboy cook and his rolling kitchen. Of course, “everybody” knows that chuck wagon cooks are genially irascible—“as techy as a wagon cook” goes the old saying.1 George “Gabby” Hayes of the Western movies of the ’40s is an excellent model; and all Western movie buffs know that a chuck wagon looks pretty much like an ordinary covered wagon with a pregnant tailgate. But that’s about as much as most folks know. The day-to-day routine of the cook gets him up hours before breakfast to rustle grub for a bunch of unruly, and often unappreciative, cowpokes. Then there is the day-long battle to keep ahead of the herd, arriving at pre-designated meal-stops with enough time to spare to put together a meal that would stick to the ribs. But all that is a largely unsung epic!

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Medium 9781574412383

“Back in the Saddle Again: Riding the Chrome-moly Horse”

Kenneth L. Untiedt, editor University of North Texas Press PDF

220 Still Movin’ On, Any Way They Can have since ridden over 5,000 miles of Texas back roads and streets with thousands of others astride chrome-moly mounts. It was here that I first discovered that today’s cyclists are yesterday’s cowboys.

Hear me out before you protest.

As we near the end of this century in a society that now rewards conformity over individuality, individualists still find ways to retain their independence. At the turn of the century, many individualists found solitude in becoming cowboys. Others became explorers who set out on their horses to discover new territory.

Both found particular pleasure in sharing an intimacy with the land, its people, and the abundance of nature. Today’s fenced-in, paved-over environment inspires corporate farming and cattle raising. Ours is a place hostile to the horse and cowboy. I believe these same individualists have found the bicycle.

Now I’m going to give you some numbers. But I must warn you that the only accurate horseflesh numbers come from those compiled at the turn of the century. That’s when statisticians, and other authority types, considered the horse an agricultural commodity. Today horses are no longer considered an agricultural commodity. Horses are considered recreational. Therefore, no one keeps tabs on the overall number of horses or horseback riders.

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Medium 9780253005915

6 Meter Gauge in Southeast Asia

William D. Middleton Indiana University Press ePub

Meter Gauge in Southeast Asia. With hardly a smoke cloud from its wood-burning boiler visible, Thai’s 4-6-2 Pacific No. 833 departs from Bang Sue at Bangkok with northbound Banmi mixed train No. 303. The Pacific was built by Japan’s Nippon Sharyo in 1956.



AS RAILWAY SYSTEMS DEVELOPED there were a variety of choices to make. Standard gauge (4-feet 8½-inches) became the most widespread choice, with Europe and North America meeting the need for almost all of the two continents. But in many other areas of the world other gauges were chosen. In eastern Asia there were three principal gauges. To the north, Russia chose a broad gauge (5 feet), while China adopted a standard gauge. Southeast Asia went to still another standard, with meter gauge. For proponents of large-scale railroad integration, the variety created enormous problems, not to mention the sometimes added difficulty of political conflicts. The United Nations, for example, established an office to promote the development of a rail system that that would lead all the way from Southeast Asia to western Europe. With the gauge conflicts and political problems associated with the proposal, little ever came from it.

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Medium 9780253019066

17 National Solutions?

Simon Cordery Indiana University Press ePub

The age of the private railroad passenger train finally ended in 1971. Declining revenues, customers siphoned off by other modes, and bad service precipitated the transfer of most common-carrier passenger trains from the railroads to the federal government. Railroad corporations, which had precious little time for celebrating glittering pasts, saving famous trains, or reducing large deficits, could then put all their energies toward surviving. Chicago remained the hub of the American railroad network, principally by default because no other city could be bothered to mount a serious challenge for a crown no one particularly wanted anymore. The state government of Illinois would step forward to contribute to saving and creating regional passenger services, and a few long-distance trains endured into the 1970s, but the romance and luxury of rail travel seemed the relic of a bygone era.

Government regulation came under renewed attack in the 1970s. The Interstate Commerce Commission botched merger after merger, finally losing the plot completely in the case of the attempt by Union Pacific and Southern Pacific to purchase and divide the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific. That effort began in 1962, but opposition from other railroads slowed the process to a crawl. Moving at a snail’s pace, the ICC failed to render a timely decision, which, along with the added costs of deferred maintenance, meant UP and SP became less interested with each passing year. The Rock Island died amid renewed calls for dismantling the rate-making regime.

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Medium 9780253020635

8 The “Token Yokel” Meanders North

RushJr. Loving Indiana University Press ePub


The “Token Yokel” Meanders North


ALTHOUGH I HAD WRITTEN ABOUT SUCH EVENTS AS THE N&W-Chessie merger plan and even spent a day on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange doing a piece on a partner who represented a Richmond brokerage house, my reporting at the newspaper had not included the railroad industry as a whole or American business in general. We relied on the wire services for that. Most readers who wanted more detailed coverage received the Wall Street Journal. To sharpen the focus of our pages, I had concentrated coverage on business and economic news that had a direct impact on Virginia. In fact, the Times-Dispatch’s business section was the closest Virginia had to a state business journal. It all worked, too. One of my bosses told me that when I had taken over business coverage only about 27 percent of our subscribers were reading the business pages. But, he said, in three and one-half years readership surveys showed the number had jumped to 70 percent.

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Medium 9780253347572

4 The Portly Virginia Gentleman

RushJr. Loving Indiana University Press ePub

When they met, Alfred Perlman and James Symes agreed once again that New York Central shareholders would get 40 percent of the new company and that the Pennsylvania’s owners would hold 60 percent. The “new” company actually would be the Pennsylvania Railroad, but it would assume a new name, Penn Central Corp.

The shareholders approved the merger, and the Interstate Commerce Commission began more than a year of hearings in 1962. As the sessions were getting under way, McClellan was starting his job at the Southern Railway. Although he paid scant attention to rail mergers, his bosses cared, and from their vantage point just nine blocks from the ICC’s ornate quarters on Independence Avenue, they watched with concern as the Penn Central argued its case. Symes and Perlman both defended the size of the proposed railroad, Symes reminding the commission that the combined system would be moving fewer cars than the Pennsylvania carried without any disruptions in its heyday, a reassurance that would help shake the Penn Central’s credibility later.

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Medium 9780253356963

3 - The Omnibus: Travel for All Citizens

John H.Jr. White Indiana University Press ePub

Travel for All Citizens

INNOVATIONS IN THE PRACTICAL FIELD OF TRANSPORTATION IS normally accomplished by mechanics or businessmen, and yet the introduction of the omnibus is credited to a French philosopher and scientist, Blaise Pascal (1623–1662). Late in life this learned man, best known for his work in calculus and fluids, decided to establish public transit in Paris. He advocated horse-drawn carriages that would run over a fixed route to carry ordinary folks around town at low fares. Five routes were established and service began during his final year. However, Pascal's democratic notions that the service would be open to all citizens was thwarted by a government charter prescribing that only “people of merit” might ride in such coaches and excluded soldiers, pages, servants, and laborers. Uniformed drivers and conductors were provided, but the vehicles were slow and the fares high. This pioneer operation expired by about 1675. The concept was reintroduced in 1823 by the operator of a hot bath in Nantes, a suburb of the French capital, who sought an inexpensive way of carrying patrons to his establishment from Paris. The bus proved so successful that service was expanded to other routes, and within five years more omnibus lines were organized. By mid-century thirteen hundred buses were running in Paris. The system, consolidated by royal decree in 1855, was carrying 40 million passengers. That number rose to 120 million by 1867. By this time Paris was a large metropolitan area, having overflowed its ancient walls in the seventeenth century and spread well into the countryside. Great boulevards and broad avenues replaced the crooked medieval streets in the 1850s and 1860s. The population had grown to more than one million by 1850 and would more than double over the next half century. The old “walking city” was obsolete, and Parisians were unwilling to trek for miles from one destination to the next. While the buses were not much faster than a walk, they allowed travelers to rest as the horses plodded along.

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Medium 9780253337979

Appendix 1: Equipment Rosters

Jr.Herbert H. Harwood Indiana University Press ePub

Abbreviations used in these Rosters




American Car & Foundry Company


American Car Company, St Louis, Mo.


The Barney & Smith Car Company, Dayton, Ohio


Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia, Pa.


The J. G. Brill Company, Philadelphia, Pa


Cincinnati Car Company, Cincinnati, Ohio


A. B. DuPont, designer


Fruehauf Corporation


General Electric Company Schenectady, N.Y.


Haskell Car Works, Michigan City, In.


Jewett Car Company, Newark, Ohio


G. C. Kuhlman Car Company, Cleveland, Ohio


Lake Shore Electric Railway, Cleveland, Ohio


Master Car Builder


McGuire-Cummings Manufacturing Company


Niles Car Company, Niles, Ohio


Peckham Truck Company, Kingston, N. Y.

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Medium 9780253019066

5 Financing Railroads

Simon Cordery Indiana University Press ePub

Railroads drew Illinois into a global network of capital and capitalists. Fewer than 50 miles of track existed in the state in 1850; by 1860 the Prairie State’s 2,500 route miles connected it with a world marketplace, thanks primarily to foreign money and the growth of Chicago. The iron for all that track was scarce, and much of it had to come from overseas, primarily Great Britain. Rails told only part of the story: railroads needed rolling stock and buildings, workers and coal, managers and paper, bridges and lumber, land and customers. Finding these required capital, raised in the form of stocks and bonds sold in exchanges far from the state and trading outside of local control.

Railroad financing became increasingly complex as capital needs expanded. The experience of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad—funded in part by progressive artisans and exuberant farmers—was unusual, as was that of the land-grant sustained Illinois Central. There was no such thing as purely private or purely public funding during the first two decades of railroading, if private excludes support of any kind from government entities. Confident assertions like that of Swedish emigrant Gustav Unonius, who wrote “Neither the state nor the city has spent a single dollar” building railroads, bolstered the prevailing laissez-faire ideology but were patently false. The promoters of America’s earliest railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio, created a joint-stock company in which the state of Maryland bought five thousand shares worth $500,000, one-sixth of the initial $3 million offered. The South-Carolina Canal and Rail-Road Company built the first line in the South using state guarantees and municipal monies to stimulate interest and investment in the line between Charleston and Hamburg. And the company destined to be the largest corporation in the world during the nineteenth century, the Pennsylvania Railroad, mixed guarantees that government entities would purchase half of its stock with private investment.1

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Medium 9780253347572

6 “Where the Hell Is Harrisburg?”

RushJr. Loving Indiana University Press ePub

The merger started at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, February 1, 1968, a cold, rainy night in Philadelphia. The system that the marriage brought together was larger than anything American railroaders had ever seen. Penn Central was the longest investor-owned railroad in the world. If coupled end to end, its fleet of cars and locomotives would stretch from New York to Laramie, and its tracks could stretch all the way around the world and then some. In one day all its trains combined traveled the equivalent of halfway to the moon. Even if their cultures had not clashed and even if their computers had blended, they were not prepared, and combining everything the first day made Penn Central almost impossible to manage.

No sooner had they merged than they were plunged into chaos. “It was just a goddamned operating mess,” said one veteran railroader. Routes were changed immediately for some types of shipments, but none of the classification clerks had been taught the 5,000 new combinations of routings. By the thousands, cars began flowing into the wrong yards. As the yardmaster at Selkirk described it: “They’d get a car for Harrisburg, which wasn’t on the old Central, and they’d say, “Where the hell is Harrisburg? I know where Pittsburgh is. Shit! I’ll send it to Pittsburgh.’”

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Medium 9780253356963

7 - River Steamers: White Swans on the Inland Rivers

John H.Jr. White Indiana University Press ePub

White Swans on the Inland Rivers

EUROPEAN SETTLEMENTS WERE WELL ESTABLISHED ALONG THE Atlantic Coast by the beginning of the eighteenth century. The Allegheny Mountains discouraged migration to the west, except for traders, military men, explorers, and the eccentric. A few forts and trading posts were established by the French, which led to territorial disputes with Britain. A war erupted in 1756 between these European powers. Britain won the conflict and established its claim to most of North America. The British Colonial Office prohibited settlement in these territories as a way to end conflicts with the Native Americans who inhabited these vast lands. The peace was kept only temporarily; however, American independence reopened the settlement issue, and by the late 1780s land-hungry settlers began moving into the Ohio country. The only easy route to get there was the Ohio River, so the pioneers gathered at Pittsburgh and were carried down the river in flatboats piled high with people and their sundry possessions. The Ohio River was the east-west branch of two other major inland rivers: the Mississippi and the Missouri. There were also about fifty tributaries large enough to allow navigation by smaller boats, in some cases for several hundred miles. Nature also provided an excellent regional waterway – the Great Lakes. By 1850 the center of the nation was filling up with people. There were a dozen new states and about ten million residents. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and St. Louis were expanding. Most of this growth can be attributed to the rivers.

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