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GN,NP AND MR. WHY

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GN,NP AND MR. WHY
Posted by ndbprr on Thursday, February 13, 2020 1:57 PM

I model the PRR and know very little about these three railroads.  What business interest or demand caused 3 class 1 railroads to build in the very north part of the country.  Seems like this was overkill from day 1.  What am I missing about this?

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Posted by garya on Thursday, February 13, 2020 5:05 PM

ndbprr

I model the PRR and know very little about these three railroads.  What business interest or demand caused 3 class 1 railroads to build in the very north part of the country.  Seems like this was overkill from day 1.  What am I missing about this?

 

I assume by MR you mean the Milwaukee Road, which was the Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific.   Many have questioned the Pacific extension of this road.

The Great Northern was a strong railroad, connecting the Puget sound area with the Great Lakes.  It was privately financed, and seemed to have fairly good performance. The Northern Pacific was a competitor road, built with land grants, with a tumultuous history.  Timber, mining, and agriculture were important for both roads.  

Gary

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Posted by PRR8259 on Thursday, February 13, 2020 5:09 PM

If you model the PRR, perhaps you should be aware that Pennsylvania had more miles of Class 1 railroad than any other state, and as the use of hard coal waned, and the Government subsidized transportation via enabling the trucking industry with our private tax dollars, it killed several Class 1 railroads in Pennsylvania.  In particular the Lehigh Valley, and others, never made one dime of profit after the PA Turnpike NE Extension was even partly opened (on virtually same parallel alignment as the railroads) in 1956.  That is the most telling stat.  The loss of money and profit was immediate and profoundly damaging to those railroads, combined with over-regulation.

In the West, roads like GN and NP and MR and WP and D&RGW all were built with a purpose to serve sometimes far flung shipping interests, and in a nutshell, it has been "easier" for them to remain profitable.  The West was not at all overbuilt like Pennsylvania was.

It's a longer and far more complicated story than this short response, I am sure...

Respectfully submitted--

John Mock

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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, February 13, 2020 6:50 PM

The three roads you mention contected the industrial East with the Northwest and the products of the Nortwest to the industrial East. Chicago was the main gateway to the Northwest. 

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, February 13, 2020 8:49 PM

I remember reading some history on the CMSt.P&P. (MILW), and there were some in the inner circle of the railroad management that also questioned the expansion.

It got to be a serious financial drain on the whole system.  Trackage in the 70's was terrible, many derailments and accidents.  On some remote accidents, damaged cars wer left on the ROW or even shoved out of the way and left.

Mike.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, February 13, 2020 8:55 PM

mbinsewi
On some remote accidents, damaged cars wer left on the ROW or even shoved out of the way and left.

Norfolk Southern did that last year on Horseshoe Curve.  I would think they would have some scrap value, but they are still sitting their, off the tracks.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:09 PM

That's interesting, Henry.  Some of the MILW. accidents were in such remote mountain areas, that it was almost impossible to retrieve anything, without spending more money that they didn't have.

From the pictures I seen, some of these include the open auto racks.  Ouch! Surprise

Mike.

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Posted by SPSOT fan on Friday, February 14, 2020 7:10 AM

The three northern transcons benefitted significantly from a large off traffic on their lines, and, with the exception of MILW, where quite strong! There is significant lumber traffic on the western part of these lines, while the eastern halves have a good amount of grain and other agricultural products to ship. Perhaps even more importantly, the railroads (GN/NP via CB&Q) connected Chicago, the railroad center of the country, to Seattle (and also Portland), which was and is a major port for export to Asia. So there was a lot of traffic.

But still, the line could really only support two railroads, and the Milwaukee got there last, so had to build their line through the worst parts of the north, for example Snoqaumie Pass, where the Milwaukee crossed the  Cascades suffered heavy snowfall. This contrasted heavily to the other two, GN with a well engineered direct, fast line, and NP with a line that connected all the largest cities on the route (i.e. Pasco, Bozeman). Milwaukee didn’t even reach the largest city between Minneapolis and Seattle, Spokane!

Another interesting thing about this line was that the NP, the first of the three, was chartered by Abraham Lincoln during the civil war. This was significant as at the time the US governement lacked southern representatives, so the next tanscon was put up north where it benefited northern states as opposed to down south.

So there was a lot of demand on this route, but three railroads may have been too much, considering the demise of the Pacific Extension! Still that line may have been more feasible had GN/NP not worked together so much and not mergered into Burlington Northern in 1970 (Teddy Roosevelt did bust up Northern Securities for a reason!).

Regards, Isaac

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Posted by dehusman on Friday, February 14, 2020 8:19 AM

If you look closely there were numerous lines along most corridors.   The PRR competed with the B&O, NYC and Erie  east-west along the Great Lakes, they competed with the RDG, B&O, NH and CNJ along the eastern seaboard.  The midwest had the MP, KCS, ICG, SSW/SP, GM&Oand ATSF vying for traffic between Chicago and the Gulf.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by NittanyLion on Friday, February 14, 2020 2:46 PM

Railroads ship minerals, timber, and bulk agricultural products very well. The upper midwest produces all three in vast quantities. 

At one point, Butte Montana was the largest city west of Chicago, until you got to San Francisco. All because of copper. 

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Posted by basementdweller on Saturday, February 15, 2020 7:44 AM

Trains magazine January 2019 has an excellent in depth article about this topic.

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Posted by basementdweller on Saturday, February 15, 2020 4:24 PM

.

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, February 17, 2020 10:39 PM

SPSOT fan
Another interesting thing about this line was that the NP, the first of the three, was chartered by Abraham Lincoln during the civil war. This was significant as at the time the US governement lacked southern representatives, so the next tanscon was put up north where it benefited northern states as opposed to down south.

Originally in the early 1850's the federal government planned out three possible transcontinental routes to the Pacific - the northern pacific, central pacific, and southern pacific routes. This work was largely done by the War Department (today's Defense Dept.), and President Pierce's Secy of War favored the southern route. However, by the time the decision was made on which to choose that Secy of War - Jefferson Davis - was otherwise occupied, so the Central route was the first chosen, followed in 1864 by the northern route. 

The NP was important in that it connected the Great Lakes (and later the Mississippi) to the Pacific Ocean. GN followed later, generally following a much more northerly route. Both were able to tap into great amounts of natural resources - lumber and later grain from the farmlands that grew up along the lines, and later still coal, oil, and iron ore. Once they bought the CB&Q, which had a first-rate mainline between St.Paul and Chicago, the railroads connected the east and west, with raw materials heading to the east and finished products to the west.

Stix

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