Trains Timeline: a 75 year journey


The 1980s
1Rock Island shuts down operations, at 7,500 miles the largest U.S. abandonment. James Claflin; J. David Ingles collection
2With Frisco merger, BN reached into the Southeast. Mike Condren
3Union Pacific broadened its empire with MoPac to south, Western Pacific to Bay Area. Steve Forrest
4Gilford equals secondhand power: Maine Central ex-Rock Island U25B leads D&H train. Hal Reiser
5North Western joined BN in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. High Green Graphics: J.L. Hickey
6Soo Line bought Milwaukee Road, spun off Lake States. Mike Danneman
7Red locomotives or not, Southern Pacific & Santa Fe parallel merger went up in smoke. Mike Danneman


January 23

Amtrak AEM7 900, first Swedish-design electric built by EMD under ASEA license, makes trial run at Wilmington, Del.

February 29

Milwaukee Road ends revenue service west of Miles City, Mont.

March 31

1Rock Island shuts down operations, at 7,500 miles the largest U.S. abandonment.

June 24

Detroit, Toledo & Ironton acquired by Grand Trunk Western.

September 8

Linn H. Westcott, assistant to Al Kalmbach from beginning of his publishing company, TRAINS editorial director in 1940s, and Editor Emeritus of MODEL RAILROADER, dies at age 67.

October 4

Smithsonian reactivates 2-4-0 John Bull, making it the oldest operable U.S. locomotive.

October 4

Chessie carferry Badger sails out of Milwaukee for Ludington, Mich., for last time.

October 14

Staggers Rail Act, partially deregulating railroads, signed into law by President Carter.

October 20

Rock Island’s 965-mile Kansas City-Tucumcari (N. Mex.) line sold to SP’s Cotton Belt, and 645-mile Herington (Kans.)-Dallas line sold to new Katy subsidiary Oklahoma, Kansas & Texas.

November 1

CSX Corporation created as holding company tor Chessie System and Family Lines.

November 21

2Frisco merged into BN.

December 2

Illinois Secretary of State issues Certificate of Dissolution for The Pullman Company, chartered Feb. 22, 1867, as Pullman’s Palace Car Co.

December 3

Last continuous daily fuel-fired steam operation in U.S., at Northwestern Steel & Wire in Sterling, Ill., changes to diesels.


January 1

Northern Alberta Railways becomes Peace River Division of Canadian National.

January 17

UP Challenger 4-6-6-4 3985 fired up for first time in 22 years, at Cheyenne, Wyo.

May 11

Rail traveler Rogers E.M. Whittaker, known by the pseudonym E.M. Frimbo, dies at age 82.

May 1

Last Auto-Train arrives at Sanford, Fla.

June 16

Guilford Transportation Industries, solely owned by Timothy Mellon, purchases Maine Central.

August 13

Freeman Hubbard, Editor Emeritus of Railfan & Railroad and former editor of Railroad, dies at age 87.

September 1

N&W takes over Illinois Terminal.

September 28

Illinois Central Gulf becomes first revenue RoadRailer operator, operating 80 trailers over 370-mile Louisville-Memphis route.

October 14

Al Kalmbach, TRAINS’ founder and publisher, dies at age 71.

December 10

Cincinnati Union Terminal Company dissolved.


January 1

Southern absorbs Kentucky & Indiana Terminal.

March 8

Last steam-heated Amtrak train, the Florida-New York Silver Star, ceremoniously departs Washington behind New Jersey Transit GG1s, including 4,877 repainted in PRR Tuscan Red.

May 26

South Dakota borrows $30 million to buy, and $30 million more to upgrade, 482 miles of Milwaukee Road trackage, contracts with BN to run it.

June 1

Southern and Norfolk & Western assume common ownership under Norfolk Southern Corporation. Norfolk Southern Railway name reverts to Carolina & Northwestern.

June 2

Soo Line obtains control of Minneapolis, Northfield & Southern.

October 1

CP Rail exits passenger business with last run of Montreal commuter train 255, service turned over to government agency MUCTC.

October 8

White Pass & Yukon shuts down.

November 4

SCL acquires railroad assets of Georgia Road from Georgia Railroad & Banking Company.

December 22

3Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific merged into Union Pacific.

December 29

L&N merged into Seaboard Coast Line, whose name is changed to Seaboard System (Family Lines System label dropped), a unit of CSX. Among survivors: Atlanta & West Point, Western Railway of Alabama, and Columbia, Newberry & Laurens.


March 18

C&NW acquires Rock Island’s Twin Cities-Kansas City “Spine Line.”

April 14

Mudslide covers Thistle, Utah, and D&RGW main line, forcing Rio Grande Zephyr to return from Salt Lake City to Denver over UP.

April 24

Last run of RGZ, last privately operated, railroad-owned intercity passenger train in U.S.; Amtrak officially shifts San Francisco Zephyr from UP in Wyoming to D&RGW, renames it California Zephyr (but train stays on UP account Thistle line blockage).

April 30

Alfred E Perlman dies at age 80.

May 1

Western Maryland stock acquired by C&O, operations taken over by B&O.

May 6

Last runs of Georgia Railroad’s Atlanta-Augusta trains 103 and 108 as mixeds.

June 20

Budd delivers last Amfleet II cars to Amtrak, completing order for 125 coaches, 25 cafes.

June 28

4Guilford Transportation Industries buys Boston & Maine; D&H deal approved but not effected.

July 15

Amtrak California Zephyr quits temporary Union Pacific route across Wyoming for D&RGW.


Norfolk Southern introduces Thoroughbred corporate scheme on locomotives.

September 27

Santa Fe Industries and Southern Pacific agree to form holding company called Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corp.

October 20

Last run of U.S. Steel’s 21-year-old Atlantic City (Wyo.) Mine railroad.

October 30

First revenue trip of Amtrak Auto Train.

November 1

British Columbia opens 81-mile electrified Tumbler Ridge coal branch.

November 17

Canadian Parliament passes Western Grain Transportation Act, eliminating restrictive “Crows Nest Pass’’ freight rates and paving the way for CP’s $500 million Rogers Pass line relocation.

December 31

GTW merges Detroit, Toledo & Ironton.


January 1

ATSF merges Toledo, Peoria & Western.

January 4

Delaware & Hudson officially becomes part of Guilford Transportation Industries.

August 15

5First C&NW coal train leaves Powder River Basin on new 107-mile Shawnee Junction (Wyo.)-Joyce (Neb.) connector to Union Pacific.

September 1

Amtrak absorbs Washington Terminal Company.

September 20

Steve Goodman, singer/songwriter who composed the song “City of New Orleans,” dies in Seattle, Wash.


Philip Anschutz buys Rio Grande Industries, parent of Denver & Rio Grande Western.


January 6

Alaska Railroad transferred from federal to state ownership.

February 19

6Soo Line approved as purchaser of Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific.

April 30

Conrail sells 237-mile Canada Southern to CN and CP for $25.2 million.

July 10

First big modern regional created as ICG sells 757 miles to Gulf & Mississippi.

July 15

Bombardier, successor to MLW, quits new-locomotive field.

August 29

Dedication of renovated St. Louis Union Station retail and hotel complex.

September 16

Conrail takes Pennsylvania K4s 4-6-2 1361 off Horse Shoe Curve display, replaces it with Pennsylvania GP9 7049.

September 26

Kentucky Railway Museum fires up L&N 4-6-2 152 for the first time.

October 25

First run of BN’s propane-fired GP9.

October 30

Pere Marquette 2-8-4 1225 steams for first time in 34 years, at ex-AA shop in Owosso, Mich.

November 1

Santa Fe, SP begin painting diesels in red-and-yellow SPSF merger paint scheme.

December 24

ICG sells 681-mile Iowa Division to Chicago, Central & Pacific for $75 million.


February 8

Combined VIA trains 4-6 collide with CN freight near Hinton, Alberta, killing 23.

March 3

Maine Central and Portland Terminal struck by Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, leading to lease of these lines by Guilford’s Springfield Terminal in fall 1986.

March 31

ICG sells 403 miles, Meridian, Miss.-Shreveport, La., to MidSouth Rail Corp.

April 26

Indianapolis Union Station retail complex opens.

May 19

Insurance crisis — Tuscola & Saginaw Bay and Hillsdale County resume operations after two-week shutdown due to insurance carrier bankruptcy.

July 1

CSX Transportation succeeds Seaboard System Railroad, becomes agent for Chessie System.

July 24

7ICC nixes Southern Pacific & Santa Fe merger.

August 16

Break-in run for N&W A-class 2-6-6-4 1218 out of Birmingham, Ala.

September 5

C&NW sells 965 miles from Winona, Minn., west to Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern.

November 19

Last run of C&NW C628s in Michigan, last U.S. common-carrier six-motor Centurys.

December 15

VIA gets first GM F40PH-2s.


January 1

Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo merges into CP Rail.

January 4

Amtrak’s Colonial collides with a three-unit Conrail engine at Chase, Md., killing 16.

January 20

BN, Conrail claim first coast-to-coast, double-stack container move without routing around Chicago, from Seattle to Croxton, N.J.

February 20

Philip R. Hastings dies at age 62.

March 25

Conrail goes public at $28 a share.

March 26

NS steams up N&W 2-6-6-4 1218 at Birmingham for excursion service.

April 12

First trip for Pennsylvania K4s 4-6-2 1361 out of Altoona. Pa., and on Nittany & Bald Eagle.

April 28

IC reaches goal of 3244 miles with sale of 633 ex-GM&O miles to Chicago, Missouri & Western.

April 30

Baltimore & Ohio, the nation’s first railroad, is no more as CSX officially merges it into C&O.

May 8

David P. Morgan retires as TRAINS Editor.

June 30

ICC again rejects SP&SF merger.

July 19

Red River Valley & Western begins service on 667 ex-BN miles in North Dakota.

August 1

C&O vanishes into CSX.

August 31

Seaboard System merges into CSX.


First Amtrak Viewliner completed at Beech Grove shop.

October 11

Soo Line sells 2002 miles of Lake States Transportation Division to Wisconsin Central.

October 31

Montana Rail Link begins operations on 907 miles of ex-BN.


January 12

GM says it will end locomotive assembly at EMD’s La Grange (Ill.) plant, move work to Diesel Division at London, Ontario.

February 29

ICG ceases to exist as railroad assumes old name of Illinois Central.

April 1

CM&W declares bankruptcy, first among new regionals.

April 14

MidSouth Rail acquires Gulf & Mississippi.

May 4

Frisco 4-8-2 1522 steams up at St Louis’s National Museum of Transport.

June 20

Guilford casts D&H into bankruptcy.

July 1

Virginia repeals law requiring cabooses on all trains, last of its kind in U.S.

August 9

Anschutz Corp. (Rio Grande Industries) purchases Southern Pacific for $1.8 billion.

August 12

Union Pacific purchases Missouri-Kansas-Texas for $110 million.

August 29

Nickel Plate 2-8-2 587 steams up at Amtrak’s Beech Grove (Ind.) shops.

September 23

Ownership of 49 miles of B&M Connecticut River line conveyed to Central Vermont, then to Amtrak for Montrealer restoration.

October 1

Last run of CN’s TerraTransport narrow gauge in Newfoundland.

November 1

TRAINS’ publisher launches quarterly pictorial sister TRAINS ILLUSTRATED.

November 14

Transportation Secretary Jim Burnley announces rules for random drug testing for 4 million transportation workers, including 90,000 rails.

December 10

After much delay, C&NW sale of 208 miles to Fox River Valley complete.


February 1

Santa Fe sells TP&W to new operators.

February 10

Fire destroys Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge roundhouse, damages all six 2-8-2s.

May 4

CP opens Rogers Pass line, including 9.1-mile Mount Macdonald Tunnel, Canada’s longest.

May 22

Amtrak inaugurates Atlantic City service.

July 5

Santa Fe FP45s repainted in red and silver, signaling coming of “Super Fleet.”

July 17

Kalmbach Publishing Co. moves from Milwaukee to 21027 Crossroads Circle, Waukesha.

August 9

Willard V. “Andy” Anderson, TRAINS editor 1948-1952 and MODEL RAILROADER managing editor for 20 years, dies at age 80.

September 17

EMD La Grange open house marks 50th birthday of FT 103, draws 27,000 visitors.

September 30

ICC approves sale of CM&W’s Chicago-St. Louis line to Southern Pacific.

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