|Northbound Mixed Freight Passing Hard Red Winter Wheat
|Northbound Manifest Passing Ripe Winter Wheat in Late May, 1977
|Northbound Manifest at Summit of Concho Hill
|Northbound Climbing Concho Hill at Dusk
|Northbound U-Boats, with Concho to the Left of Train at the Top of the Hill
|Southbound Approaching Concho -- January 1978
|Eastbound Crossing North Canadian River Bridge in Oklahoma City at Dawn
|Westbound Crossing the Diamond at Calvin, Oklahoma
|Westbound Southern Pacific Power at McCloud, Oklahoma
|CRI&P 301 West Meets F-Units In Oklahoma City -- July 1978
|4448 East Climbing Grade out of River Bottom, Before Flames Appeared
|Crewman on Third Unit Has Just Extinguished the Fire, As 4448 East Crawls Past Abandoned Junk of Eastern Oklahoma
|4448 East at Harrah, With Fire Extinguisher Visible on Railing of Third Unit
|CRI&P 357 South at Bison, Oklahoma
|321 South at Chickasha
|Last Train North of Kingfisher
|Three Different Paint Schemes Just South of Cimarron River
|How I Choose to Remember the Rock Island -- Southbound Approaching El Reno Beside Winter Wheat Waiting for the Ground to Warm
|Same Train South of El Reno Beside More Winter Wheat
To see my other posts, go to waltersrail.com.
To see my photographs on Flickr, go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpwalters/.
To see my photographs on Flickr, go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpwalters/.
Postscript: October 2020: My friend Dale Jacobson recently provided by email some interesting detail on the Rock Island proceeding before the Interstate Commerce Commission, information of which I was previously unaware. Because it presents a more fully rounded picture of the last days of this lovely but forlorn railroad, Dale has permitted me to quote him directly:
I recently looked at your blog on the Rock Island RR (RI) again. I was a bit skeptical of your accusation that the ICC was "dilatory" when it came to dealing with the proposed RI/UP merger. So, I checked what Bill Marvel wrote about this merger proposal in the book he put out on the RI called The Rock Island Line. I first met Bill in late 1969 at an interlocking tower in downtown D.C. He was working for the National Observer, a Wall Street Journal sponsored newspaper, as its arts columnist. I guess it was better than covering the cop beat in Denver, where he grew up and got his start as a reporter. After retiring he became an independent writer. This book on the RI, one of his favorite RR's, is one result of his efforts.
Starting on page 140 in a sub section called "Merger Madness" Bill gives a brief, but pretty thorough, synopsis of what happened and why it took so long for the ICC to render a decision. The madness started in June 1962 when Ellis Johnson of the RI met with Donald Russell of the SP to talk about a merger. In September UP joined the talks. In both cases the proposed merger of RI with either of these stronger RR's made lots of sense. The result was that RI stock rose from $20 to $26 per share.
The following summer UP formalized its offer for the RI, and the RI Board of Directors approved and recommended approval by the stockholders. Feeling threatened by the loss of interchange traffic with the UP, CNW's President Ben Heineman made a counteroffer and filed the plan with the ICC. This plan called for a merger of the RI, CNW and MILW RD. Alarmed by this proposal the ATSF and MOPAC announced they were in merger discussions and invited other western RR's to join in. Thus, Heineman's proposal put the UP-RI merger proposal onto a "side track."
In late 1964 UP recommended that the RI hire Jervis Langdon Jr. as its CEO. He had just brought the B&O back to health, and UP thought he might be able to do the same for the RI as well as aid in merger negotiations. However, the opposition of other RR's continued to grow. The DRGW and WP joined the fray. With both the UP and CNW offers to consider the RI stockholders waffled and failed to give the UP a needed majority of votes. A federal judge ordered there be another vote. UP upped its ante promising to pour $200 million into the decaying RR. This time the stockholders overwhelmingly approved UP's proposal. New locomotives and freight cars for the RI followed.
The DRGW challenged the merger proposal announcing it wanted RI's trackage east to the Missouri River and trackage rights almost everywhere on the SP. CNW meanwhile wanted the RI to sell everything south of Herrington, KS, to the ATSF. Meanwhile the ATSF was proposing splitting the RI with MOPAC and CNW. All this time MOPAC was buying up ATSF stock, and then asked the ICC to bundle all the petitions and counter petitions into one giant merger case. The SOO Line seconded this idea. The UP, SP, and RI also agreed to this idea. And thus was born the most complicated RR merger case in the ICC's history.
Proceedings rolled on through 1967 into 1968. By that time the case had generated 43,000 pages of testimony. Meanwhile, the RI was losing $$$, and its situation was getting desperate. Most of the testimony was arcane arguments about which RR would lose traffic to which other RR. Langdon was becoming exasperated as his thinking was there were already too many RR's in the area.The number needed to shrink. If all the RR's could do was argue, Langdon felt the ICC had to make that happen.
Nothing happened in 1969. The Dept. of Transportation then proposed consolidating all these Midwestern RR's into three systems. No one paid any attention. And by this time the RI was getting less than 10% of the UP's traffic at Council Bluffs, IA. The RR couldn't handle any more. Langdon left the RI to become a trustee of the Penn Central. William Dixon took his place. There were now 155,000 pages of testimony.
Now more trouble arose. In response to galloping inflation in August 1971 President Nixon had imposed a price and wage freeze. That October RR workers were due a wage increase. Dixon worried that if the wage increase, when allowed, were made retroactive to the start of the freeze the RI would be crippled. The employees were apparently willing to give the RI a break, but then had to contend with the bad winter of 1972-1973. At one point the Colorado line was blocked for five days. By the summer of 1973 only two RI freights were running at 55 mph, both on the Golden State route. That fall brought a rush of business which the power short RI had to meet by leasing anything and everything it could get its hands on. That's when we started seeing all that foreign power in El Reno. And John Ingram became the RI's president.
On November 8, 1974, after 11 years, 300 lawyers and now over 200,000 pages of transcripts the ICC gave its conditional approval to the UP/RI merger. The conditions were:
the DRGW get the RI trackage to Omaha;everything south of KC would go to the SP;ATSF would get the Choctaw Route to Memphis;jobs would be protected; andsome traffic arrangements would be preserved.
All this was too much for the UP, especially since the RI's Omaha mainline was now virtually worthless. And thus the RI withered away eventually to be dissolved. So ends Marvel's discussion of this merger debacle.
In fairness to the ICC it had never had any case like this. At the time the RI was liquidated it was the largest liquidation of any company this country had ever seen. The ICC wasn't really interested in seeing such a large liquidation and had no idea what would happen once it occurred. As it turned out the knotty issues of this merger proposal were due to the RI's parts being worth more than the value of the whole RR. Look at a map of the RI, and you'll see that a significant portion of it is still in use. By becoming Langdon's Midwest Borg the UP has ended up with virtually everything the SP and CNW wanted. That includes the Golden State line and the Spine Line. The Iowa Interstate RR (IAIS) has been renovating the Chicago - Council Bluffs route [well, west of Bureau, IL, as the CSXT got the line east to Joliet, and METRA owns the tracks between Chicago and Joliet. IAIS has trackage rights over the CSXT portion, and IAIS and CSXT have trackage rights over METRA into the Chicago area]. Thanks to eating up the MKT UP also has RI's Texas mainline through Oklahoma. The Iowa Northern runs a part of the former mainline to the Twin Cities between Cedar Rapids and Manly, IA. There are other RR's operating former RI trackage as well. We've visited three of them in Oklahoma.
So, to call the ICC dilatory is, in my humble opinion, being overly harsh. By the time the ICC is abolished and replaced with the STB (Surface Transportation Board) and RR mergers biforcated into "major" and "minor" mergers in 1995, the ICC had outlived its usefulness. However, this had as much to do with the greater freedoms RR's were given in rate making and other areas under the Staggers Act in 1980 (in part a reaction to the UP/RI merger proposal) as due to the ICC's own faults.
The RR's are what created the ICC and most of the RR regulations passed by Congress up into the 1920's, and they also were happy to see the ICC go away.