Was it the exodus of textiles and precision industry that caused the decline of B&M and New Haven RRs or management not keeping up with the times?

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Was it the exodus of textiles and precision industry that caused the decline of B&M and New Haven RRs or management not keeping up with the times?
Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 6:20 PM

If you look at a map of New England RRs the map is carpeted with rails and the mills that they served. From about 1965-1979 the region lost 2/3rds of its trackage and well as most of its mills. Its sad biking thru quint mill towns to see stations with no tracks and bike paths with the abandoned foundations of mills next to the tracks. How could the states like CT,VT,ME,RI just stand by and watch there livleyhood go down the Free Trade Drain?

 

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Thursday, April 26, 2018 10:50 AM

That and increase competition from truckers.  The New Haven was saddled with an extensive money losing passenger operations which only got worse with the completion of interstates and turnpikes.

Many of the Mills did not leave the country but fled the Northeast high labor and tax rates to go to locations in the south

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Posted by dmoore74 on Thursday, April 26, 2018 12:20 PM

Much of both the B&M and the New Haven were built by buying up competing lines, so you ended up having more than one line serving many spots.  Lines had to be discontinued to rationalize the railroads.  Another reason industries left was high utility costs.  Of course many of the businessses that left New England for the South have since moved most or all of their manufacturing overseas.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, April 26, 2018 10:26 PM

The B&M's East-West line from Boston to the west is still busy.  However, most of the rest of their lines were N-S and involved in local business or Quebec traffic.  As has been pointed out much of what's left of that short haul has gone to trucks.

Some of the NH traffic was also N-S, like the Connecticut Valley lines which connected to B&M's line further north, or the Worcester line which hauled a lot of Maine potatoes.  The E-W lines were done in by the PC merger which put the traffic on the ex-B&A.

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Posted by Gramp on Friday, April 27, 2018 12:07 AM

Pride goeth before a fall. 

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, April 29, 2018 9:06 PM

Is there much business on the Freight Main Line (formerly MeC/B&M) from the Canadian border westward?

Johnny

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, April 29, 2018 9:31 PM

Deggesty

Is there much business on the Freight Main Line (formerly MeC/B&M) from the Canadian border westward?

 

Are you talking about the MeC line thru Mattawamkeag to NB, or the line thru St. Johnsbury to PQ ?  Much of the line fom Portland to St J has been out of service for years.

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, April 29, 2018 9:47 PM

MidlandMike

 

 
Deggesty

Is there much business on the Freight Main Line (formerly MeC/B&M) from the Canadian border westward?

 

 

 

Are you talking about the MeC line thru Mattawamkeag to NB, or the line thru St. Johnsbury to PQ ?  Much of the line fom Portland to St J has been out of service for years.

 

The route of the Gull, through Bangor. 

Have you seen a D&H ETT--which has mile posts reading from the New Brunswick border or thereabouts? This line is listed as the Freight Main Line in a Springfield Terminal ETT that I have.

Johnny

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Monday, April 30, 2018 11:10 AM

The Poughkipisee Bringe fire in the 1970s may have had something to do with the demise of railroading in NE without that bridge all traffic had to go thru PC/Conrail.

 http://www.catskillarchive.com/rrextra/pbpj743.Html 

 

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Posted by dmoore74 on Monday, April 30, 2018 5:08 PM

CandOforprogress2

The Poughkipisee Bringe fire in the 1970s may have had something to do with the demise of railroading in NE without that bridge all traffic had to go thru PC/Conrail.

 http://www.catskillarchive.com/rrextra/pbpj743.Html 

 

 

PC had already diverted as much traffic as possible away from the Poughkeepsie Bridge route as soon as they merged the New Haven.  There are long standing rumors that PC was responsible for the fire because they didn't want anyone else to have the route.

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Posted by nhrand on Tuesday, May 01, 2018 9:19 AM

Here are some thoughts about some specifics of the question:

"exodus of textiles"  - the exodus was to the southern states in the U.S.A. where labor was cheap and labor laws relaxed.

"precision industry"  -  precision instruments and tools (or technology in general) do not require heavy raw materials nor do they produce high volume heavy-weight shipments that generate profits for railroads.

"How could states stand by"  -  the New England states in general were progressive and had high labor standards that they were generally not willing to compromise to retain industries that depended on low wages.  If anything, government regulation of railroads, unregulated competition, and political support for the demands of the unions were major factors in the colllapse of the railroads.

"down the free trade drain" - foreign competition was not a significant factor in the demise of railroads such as the New Haven, etc.  The free trade question is a modern issue that did not apply to the New England railroads.

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Posted by 54light15 on Tuesday, May 01, 2018 1:30 PM

Regarding the Poughkeepsie Bridge fire, the common rumour was that Penn Central wanted the bridge abandoned and they deliberately disabled the fire fighting system. I used to live in Poughkeepsie and there was a lot of lore about the fire, my ex father in law was the fire chief for the Town of Poughkeepsie until 1981(the bridge is in the City of Poughkeepsie) and his general knowledge was that the PC set the fire. And by the way, Andy and Steve's bar has excellent chili. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, May 02, 2018 3:22 PM

The business base of New England didn't keep up with the times and insure the continuation of heavy industry that required rail delivered raw materials.  Many don't understand just how much traffic is actually required to operate and rail line and make a profit - after accounting for ALL the expenses that are required to operate, maintain and improve to the current state of the art operations.  Much more traffic than the New England carriers could eek out of the dying New England industrial base.

         

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, May 02, 2018 3:33 PM

Somewhere along the line the folks in New England decided to switch to service economy vs one based on heavy manufacturing and that hit the rails hard in that specific region.    I am just surprised at what the rails let go of in New England.   

As I remember things Bangor and Arostock railway used to handle a lot of potatoes by rail (didn't they have almost a unit train business in hauling potatoes?).......not sure they do that anymore.    Cranberries and Cranberry derivative products used to be shipped by rail as well.    Oil to the NE was shipped by rail to heat homes........not sure that exists much anymore either.   All of that probably moves by truck now.

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Posted by dmoore74 on Wednesday, May 02, 2018 3:52 PM

CMStPnP

Somewhere along the line the folks in New England decided to switch to service economy vs one based on heavy manufacturing and that hit the rails hard in that specific region.    I am just surprised at what the rails let go of in New England.   

As I remember things Bangor and Arostock railway used to handle a lot of potatoes by rail (didn't they have almost a unit train business in hauling potatoes?).......not sure they do that anymore.    Cranberries and Cranberry derivative products used to be shipped by rail as well.    Oil to the NE was shipped by rail to heat homes........not sure that exists much anymore either.   All of that probably moves by truck now.

 

BAR potato business died when PC didn't see any need to expedite it and consignees ended up receiving frozen potatoes.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Thursday, May 03, 2018 7:25 AM

Of course, one New England textile mill operated into the 1980s before shutting down operations. It used any profits to diversify its assets before it ceased production and became solely a holding company...

http://www.investorsfriend.com/why-warren-buffett-bought-berkshire-hathaway/

 

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Thursday, May 03, 2018 11:52 AM

Thom Mcan Shoe Company Building Trackside next to B&M/NYC RR Worchester MA-The Worcester Business Center boasts a long history as a landmark of Worcester Industry.

Built in 1917 and originally designed for manufacturing, the building was bought and rehabilitated by the Thom McAn shoe corporation in 1965 and served for many years as the company’s headquarters. Until it’s closure in 1996, the facility housed hundreds of Thom McAn employees dedicated to providing high quality footwear to people across the country.

http://worcesterbusinesscenter.com/about-the-building/

Most of us know this building as the onetime home of Thom McAn Shoe Corp., but it began life as the home of Richard H. Long’s automobile manufacturing company.

After success in his father’s shoe business and then his own automobile manufacturing business (purchased as the Bela Body Co. in 1918, but renamed the R.H. Long Machinery Co.), Long went on to politics. He ran for lieutenant governor in 1912 and lost. He bought a newspaper, the Boston Telegram, believing it would help bolster his political career, and it might seem that it worked, as he was nominated by the Democratic Party to run for governor of Massachusetts in 1918. But his opponent was someone who would become even more famous – Calvin Coolidge – and Long was not successful. When he failed to receive the nomination to run a third time, he turned back to his manufacturing business and planned a $1 million plant on Millbrook Street in Worcester.

There, Long manufactured his own design, a car he’d named after the state where it was manufactured – the Bay State – and car parts for the Franklin, as well as other automobile models.

But by 1926, his company ceased operations on Millbrook Street, and the building entered a period of some obscurity before renovation in 1965 gave it a new lease on life as the headquarters of Thom McAn Shoe Corp. Construction of Interstates 290 and 190, with their junction nearby, gave the name on the side of the building more prominence, though Thom McAn needed no help from the highways. By the time it opened its Worcester headquarters, it was already a prominent and successful company. Thom McAn left the Millbrook Street building in 1996, and in 2008 the building was renovated to become the Worcester Business Center.

- Melissa McKeon, Corresponden

 

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Thursday, May 03, 2018 1:26 PM

The sheetz was starting to hit the fan and the textile industry was in decline by 1965-Warren Buffet-"I knew its business -textile manufacturing – to be unpromising, I was enticed to buy because the price looked cheap. Stock purchases of that kind had proved reasonably rewarding in my early years, though by the time Berkshire came along in 1965 I was becoming aware that the strategy was not ideal."

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Posted by Paul3 on Saturday, May 12, 2018 12:20 AM

The death of the NH (and other New England roads) was a long, long time in coming.  The NH's zenith was the mid-1920's, and it actually starting going downhill just before the Great Depression.  The early 20th Century for the NH was one of excess; J.P. Morgan would sign any railroad lease, buy out any trolley line, control any ferry service with the idea they would grow themselves out of any debt.  It had worked 'til then, after all.  Well, as we know now, it worked up to a point.  And that point was when competition came in the form of other states and highways.  Add a heavy debt load, ruinous leases, and bad decisions (see: NYW&B), the NH of the 1920's was in no position to handle a big downturn in traffic...and then the Great Depression hit.

The American industrial revolution started in New England because of several factors:

1). Skilled Labor (to build the factories and machines)
2). Unskilled Labor (to run the factories)
3). Power (water, steam, then electricity)
4). Transportation (harbors, roads, canals, railroads)

At the time, the American south and mid-west were lacking in all 4 of these areas.  As new inventions arrived (like steam powered mills), industrialization was no longer tied to flowing rivers.  As railroads got more efficient, transportation became cheaper and cheaper and factries could be located where land was plentiful and cheap.  As time moved on, the south and mid-west grew in population (and education) and many more people (skilled and unskilled) were available.  The south was more attractive because labor, land, taxes, and heating bills were all cheaper than other places.  Some New England factories were already packing their bags and moving south pre-1930.

What really didn't help the NH out were things like the TVA, which brought electricity to the American mid-south in the 1930's.  Many New England factories started moving to take advantage of the cheapest electricity rates in the nation.

WWII was a welcome boost to NH's bottom line and got them out of their Great Depression bankruptcy, but the inevitable post-war economic drop off, dieselization, 200 new passenger cars, and the attempt to buy a new RoW left NH Pres. Howard Palmer vulnerable to a proxy battle from F. C. Dulmaine, Sr. who wanted to cash in his stock value rather than invest in the railroad as Palmer did.  After FCD, Sr.'s death, his son Buck Dulmaine took over.  He was cut of different cloth and again invested in the railroad.  This left him open to a proxy battle from Patrick McGinnis, who thought he could cut his way to prosperity.  After just a year and change in power, he moved on to the B&M and his lawyer, George Alpert took over.  Alpert, not a railroad man, continued the McGinnis program, and the railroad slid into bankruptcy after the Connecticut Turnpike opened (the last year of profitability for the NH was when they hauled all the material needed to build the turnpike).  While all this infighting was going on, factories were moving away, coal was dying, and passengers were flocking to the air shuttles.

What business the American South didn't steal from New England, foreign countries grabbed in the 1960's and 1970's.  Penn Central arrived in 1969 and proceeded to try and abandon as much of the NH as the ICC would allow (including allowing the Poughkeepsie Bridge to burn and not even try to repair it...yet it still stands some 40 years after the fire as a state park, loaded down with a concrete walkway).  The NH actually had a pretty good TOFC service from Boston to NYC, even through the late 1960's.  Yet PC threw it away.

As for the states involved, not too many people dream of being a mill worker.  Here in Massachusetts, we have the best public school system in the USA.  We've heavily invested in our education for decades, which resulted in us going from a factory system to a technology system.  Sure, today there's not too many opportunities to get your hand caught in a textile mill like my great-grandmother's 12 year old sister did, but there's plenty of tech. companies that get started around these parts and prosper here.  We found a thing they can't move south or overseas: our people.  Massachusetts is ranked 11th in GDP out of the 50 states yet 44th in area, so we must be doing something right.

 

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Saturday, May 12, 2018 1:15 PM

Rock Hill SC is one of many southern towns that have Abandononed textile mills in my freight rail and bike travels some have been gone since the 1970s about the same time that the mills in the north shuttered doors.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Church+St,+Rock+Hill,+SC+29730/@34.9370896,-81.0102629,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x88568892bb9caaf9:0x8975fb6ce1586d4e!8m2!3d34.9370896!4d-81.0080742?hl=en

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, May 14, 2018 3:44 PM

MidlandMike

 

 
Deggesty

Is there much business on the Freight Main Line (formerly MeC/B&M) from the Canadian border westward?

 

 

 

Are you talking about the MeC line thru Mattawamkeag to NB, or the line thru St. Johnsbury to PQ ?  Much of the line fom Portland to St J has been out of service for years.

 

After Springfield Terminal took over the operation of the MeC and the B&M, and let the CP have the track from Mattawamkeag to the New Brusnswick border, it apparently reset the mileposts from Mattawamkeag to the Albany area, placing the zero milepost at Keag--and called the line "Freight Main Line." About the same time, the D&H continued the mile posts to its connection with what is now the NS at Kase (near Sunbury)--and called the line "Freight Main Line."

This is the line I was wondering about, as to how much traffic it has.

Johnny

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