Trains Timeline: a 75 year journey


The 1970s
1GM&O and IC merge to form Illinois Central Gulf. Bob Ferge; J. David Ingles collection
2Amtrak’s first French-built Turboliner delivered. J. David Ingles collection
3American Freedom Train 4-8-4 No. 4449 steams through a crossing at 50 mph just before dawn on Dec. 22, 1975, on Southern Pacific north of Bakersfield, Calif. Tom Gildersleeve
4Eight diesels in Bicentennial paint schemes gather at Belt Railway of Chicago 87th Street yard for portrait to mark Trains 35th anniversary. Mike Schafer


January 4

Last run of Lake Cities ends Erie Lackawanna’s Chicago-Hoboken service.

March 1

Burlington Northern formed in merger of CB&Q, GN, NP, and Spokane, Portland & Seattle.

March 22

Western Pacific goes freight-only, drops Salt Lake City-San Francisco California Zephyr service.

April 24

Budd offers carbuilding division for sale.

June 21

Penn Central files bankruptcy petition.


TRAINS publishes only all-electric issue.

September 1

States of Colorado and New Mexico open Cumbres & Toltec Scenic on former D&RGW Antonito-Chama narrow gauge.

September 7

William H. Moore named president of bankrupt PC.

November 7

BN 7-mile Flathead Tunnel opens.

December 1

Alfred E. Perlman named president of Western Pacific.



John W. Barriger named chief executive officer of Boston & Maine.

May 1

Amtrak begins operations.

May 17

Two-day strike by Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen shuts down U.S. railroads.

May 24

TRAINS hires J. David Ingles as associate editor.


SCL takes delivery of red, white, and blue GE U36B 1776, first diesel to wear a paint scheme in honor of U.S. Bicentennial.

July 4

Last run for CN excursion 4-8-4 6218.

July 16

United Transportation Union strikes Southern, UP, and eventually 8 other roads.

July 31

Monon merged into Louisville & Nashville.


Chicago’s Grand Central Station razed.

November 14

Amtrak names Chicago-Cleveland-New York train, restored May 10, Lake Shore Limited, starts Milwaukee-Chicago-St. Louis through service.

December 6

Auto-Train Corp. begins Lorton (Va.)-Sanford (Fla.) service.


March 22

PC raises $114,360 in three-day memorabilia auction.

April 1

Pacific Great Eastern changes name to British Columbia Railway.

April 4

Lehigh & Hudson River files bankruptcy.

May 1

Amtrak unveils first refurbished trainset on Broadway Limited.

June 1

C&NW sold to its employees.

June 26

Erie Lackawanna declares bankruptcy.

July 23

Fire destroys Cass Scenic locomotive shop.

August 10

1GM&O and IC merge to form Illinois Central Gulf.


Chessie System image introduced.


TRAINS publishes last annual all-diesel issue, honoring EMD’s 50th anniversary.

September 8

EMD holds 50th anniversary open house at La Grange, Ill.

October 30

Two ICG electric suburban trains collide in Chicago, killing 45 and injuring 356.

November 16

GE unveils E60C prototype electric locomotive, built for Arizona coal hauler Black Mesa & Lake Powell.


TRAINS publishes last annual all-steam issue.


First application of Family Lines System name, on Clinchfield excursion 4-6-0 No. 1, with Clinchfield, L&N, SCL, and Georgia Road names.


February 3

Providence & Worcester resumes independent operation.

February 20

Patrick B. McGinnis, former boss of Central of Georgia, NH, and B&M, dies.

April 1

Penn Central trustees submit comprehensive reorganization plan.

June 10

Amtrak receives first EMD SDP40Fs.

June 15

B&O, C&O, and Western Maryland made subsidiaries of newly created Chessie System.

July 4

Southern 2-8-2 4501 embarks on five-day inaugural Roanoke Chapter NRHS Independence Limited, following Wisconsin stint with Great Circus Train.

August 11

2Amtrak’s first French-built Turboliner delivered.

September 19

CN 4-8-2 6060 begins excursion service.

October 16

Ann Arbor declares bankruptcy.


January 1

Norfolk Southern Railway bought by Southern.

January 2

President Nixon signs enabling legislation for Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973, which will lead to creation of Conrail.


Amtrak restores service to Dallas by extending Laredo-Fort Worth Inter-American to St. Louis, inaugurates Oakland-Bakersfield (Calif.) San Joaquins.

June 16

Milwaukee Road ends electric service.

June 20

British Columbia Railway’s ex-CP Royal Hudson 4-6-4 2860 begins excursion service.


ICG’s Central Station in Chicago razed.


D&H overhauls ex-Monongahela Baldwin “Sharknose” RF16s 1205 and 1216.


Amtrak introduces GE E60C electrics.

November 8

ICC approves UP-RI merger.

December 3

Hal Carstens starts Railfan Magazine.


February 26

USRA releases Conrail Preliminary System Plan.

March 1

Paul H. Reistrup becomes Amtrak president, succeeding Roger Lewis.

March 17

Rock Island declares bankruptcy.

March 28

3American Freedom Train steams out of Washington, D.C., behind 4-8-4 No. 1, ex-Reading 2101, to begin two-year, 17,000-mile journey.

May 12

Restored SP Daylight 4-8-4 4449 performs first road test in preparation for American Freedom Train assignment.

July 31

4Eight diesels in Bicentennial paint schemes gather at Belt Railway of Chicago 87th Street yard for portrait to mark TRAINS 35th anniversary.


Amtrak introduces Amfleet equipment into Northeast Corridor service.


Amtrak gets first GE P30CH diesels.


January 28

T&P 2-10-4 610 steams up in Fort Worth for American Freedom Train’s Texas tour.


Amtrak gets first EMD F40PH diesels.

April 1

Conrail opens for business upon conveyance of rail assets of PC, EL, RDG, LV, CNJ, L&HR, and Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines. P&LE and AA stay out. D&H expands from 699 miles in three states to a six-state, 1,400-mile system. In Michigan, Hillsdale County and Michigan Northern are first of modern “spinoff” short lines and regionals.

May 29

Santa Fe discontinues Super C.

July 10

ICC dismisses UP-Rock Island merger case following UP withdrawal.


Durham & Southern bought by SCL.


GE delivers first Dash 7 diesels.

September 20

Rohr-built Turboliners enter service in Amtrak’s Empire Service (N.Y.) Corridor.

October 7

Sesquicentennial of opening of Granite Incline in Massachusetts, first railway in U.S. and a predecessor of Old Colony and the New Haven.

October 15

C&EI and T&P merged into MoPac.

October 26

C&NW Chairman Larry S. Provo, who led employee ownership plan, dies in Chicago.

October 31

CP and CN issue first joint “VIA” public timetable.

November 1

Amtrak vacates L&N depot in Louisville.

November 4

President-elect Jimmy Carter holds first post-election press conference at his campaign headquarters in SCL depot in Plains, Ga.

December 9

John W. Barriger III, 77, influential railroad president and architect of “super railroads” acclaimed as rail renaissance man, dies in St. Louis.

December 15

Derailment of Amtrak San Francisco Zephyr in Nebraska blamed on SDP40F diesels; BN temporarily bans the units, and Amtrak ultimately replaces them with the F40PH.


January 12

VIA Rail Canada created as CN subsidiary.

January 14

Conrail’s ex-Erie Youngstown commuter trains make last runs from Cleveland Union Terminal, last “steam road” trains to use the edifice.

January 19

To cope with subsidy cuts and a brutal winter, Amtrak annuls six trains and suspends several others. Most resume by February 28.

February 14

W. Graham Clayton, 65, retires as SR chairman, assumes new post as Secretary of Navy.

May 2

T&P 2-10-4 610 joins SR steam program.

May 7

Chessie System begins operation of Chessie Steam Special to honor sesquicentennial of B&O.

May 15

Amtrak GG1 4935, restored to 1943 livery of Brunswick green with pinstripes, dedicated at Washington Union Station.

June 30

Last Railway Post Office in U.S. or Canada operates on Conrail’s New York-Washington train 3.

July 13

Display of first diesel painted for Family Lines System.

July 29

TRAINS Managing Editor Rosemary Entringer dies at age 52.

August 5

Otto Kuhler, noted rail artist, industrial designer, and inventor, dies at age 83.

August 20

T&P 2-10-4 610 develops a maximum 4090 drawbar horsepower during dynamometer test during Alexandria-Monroe excursion on Southern.

December 19

Milwaukee Road files bankruptcy.


January 18

Budd unveils SPV2000, successor to RDC self-propelled car.

April 1

VIA becomes separate corporation.

July 1

Paul H. Reistrup resigns Amtrak presidency, replaced by Alan S. Boyd.

July 10

N&W struck by Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks; management runs trains for duration of 82-day strike.

September 29

VIA Rail Canada absorbs Canadian Pacific passenger services.

October 13

D&H’s four PA’s end service for Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, face sale to dealer and export to Mexico.

October 31

Amtrak operates last train out of St. Louis Union Station.

November 1

Missouri-Illinois merged into MoPac.


January 1

Railroad Magazine ceases publication after 72 years; rights to name acquired by Railfan.

January 1

Last run of Rock Island’s Chicago-Peoria and Chicago-Rock Island Rockets.

January 12

50th anniversary of opening Great Northern’s 7-mile second Cascade Tunnel, longest in U.S.

February 1

Southern conveys operation of Southern Crescent to Amtrak.

February 26

Amtrak Superliner cars enter service.

March 3

Ex-Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson 4-6-4 2839 joins Southern steam program.

June 30

For first time, Conrail reports net income, $29.4 million for second quarter 1979.

August 28

Rock Island clerks walk off job in pay dispute, followed next day by UTU.

August 29

Bangor & Aroostook quits the potato-hauling business.

September 1

NKP 2-8-4 765, taken from Fort Wayne display, steamed up for first time since 1958.

September 11

Conrail and Santa Fe begin New York-Los Angeles all-TOFC train via Streator, Ill.

September 26

Kansas City Terminal, SP, and Rio Grande take over Rock Island trackage under ICC directed service order.

October 1

Amtrak discontinues Floridian, National Limited, Lone Star, North Coast Hiawatha, and Hilltopper.

October 6

BN completes construction of 112-mile line into Wyoming’s Powder River coalfields.

October 8

Amtrak North Coast Hi, Lone Star, and Floridian run eight days past their October 1, 1979, cut-off as a result of a Wichita (Kans.) judge’s order.

Go to the 1980s »

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