A railroad quiz: Remember when?

January 19, 2011

When we talk about Class I railroads (the largest of railroads with annual freight revenue of at least $378.8 million), most of us can name the carriers in a matter of seconds.

They are BNSF, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific — seven, in all.

When some of our older heads signed on, back in the 1960s, the list was quite longer — and occasionally we see a couple of those names, barely visible, painted on old boxcars or even an aged yard locomotive.

In fact, for rails beginning their careers in 1970, there was 58 separate Class I railroads — 51 more than today.

Following is a list of those 58, with an explanation of their fate in parenthesis. How many do you recall?

  1. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (now part of BNSF)
  2. Atlantic Coast Line (now part of CSX)
  3. Baltimore & Ohio (now part of CSX)
  4. Bangor & Aroostook (downsized and absorbed by a shortline)
  5. Boston & Maine (now part of Pan Am Railways)
  6. Bessemer & Lake Erie (now part of Canadian National)
  7. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (now part of BNSF)
  8. Clinchfield (now part of CSX)
  9. Central RR of New Jersey (merged into Conrail* and New Jersey Transit)
  10. Chesapeake & Ohio (now part of CSX)
  11. Chicago & Eastern Illinois (now part of CSX and Union Pacific)
  12. Chicago & North Western (now part of Union Pacific)
  13. Chicago Great Western (now part of Union Pacific)
  14. Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific (now part of Canadian Pacific)
  15. Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (now part of Union Pacific and regional Iowa Interstate)
  16. Delaware & Hudson (now part of Canadian Pacific)
  17. Denver & Rio Grande Western (now part of Union Pacific)
  18. Detroit, Toledo & Ironton (now part of Canadian National)
  19. Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range (now part of Canadian National)
  20. Elgin, Joliet & Eastern (now part of Canadian National)
  21. Erie-Lackawanna (merged into Conrail*)
  22. Florida East Coast (no longer a Class I railroad)
  23. Fort Worth & Denver (now part of BNSF)
  24. Georgia Railroad (now part of CSX)
  25. Grand Trunk Western (now part of Canadian National)
  26. Great Northern (now part of BNSF)
  27. Gulf, Mobile & Ohio (now part of Canadian National)
  28. Illinois Central (now part of Canadian National)
  29. Kansas City Southern
  30. Lehigh Valley (merged into Conrail*)
  31. Long Island (now wholly a passenger railroad)
  32. Louisville & Nashville (now part of CSX)
  33. Maine Central (now part of Pan Am Railways)
  34. Missouri-Kansas-Texas (now part of Union Pacific)
  35. Missouri Pacific (now part of Union Pacific)
  36. Monongahela (merged into Conrail*)
  37. Monon (now part of CSX)
  38. New York Central (merged into Penn Central; then Conrail*)
  39. New York, New Haven & Hartford (merged into Penn Central; then Conrail*)
  40. New York, Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate) (now part of Norfolk Southern)
  41. Norfolk & Western (now part of Norfolk Southern)
  42. Northern Pacific (now part of BNSF)
  43. Pennsylvania Railroad (merged into Penn Central; then Conrail*)
  44. Pittsburgh & Lake Erie (now part of CSX)
  45. Reading Railroad (merged into Conrail*)
  46. Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac (now part of CSX)
  47. St. Louis San Francisco (Frisco Lines) (now part of BNSF)
  48. St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) (now part of Union Pacific)
  49. Seaboard Air Line (now part of CSX)
  50. Soo Line (now part of Canadian Pacific)
  51. Southern Pacific Lines (now part of Union Pacific)
  52. Southern Railway (now part of Norfolk Southern)
  53. Texas & Pacific (now part of Union Pacific)
  54. Toledo, Peoria & Western (now part of BNSF, and also shortline)
  55. Union Pacific
  56. Wabash (now part of Norfolk Southern)
  57. Western Maryland (now part of CSX)
  58. Western Pacific (now part of Union Pacific)

* Conrail was created by Congress to absorb bankrupt Penn Central. Conrail susequently was returned to the private sector and split apart — its separate portions acquired by CSX and Norfolk Southern.