How do railroads get their names?

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Postby JimBoylan » Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:19 pm

salminkarkku wrote:Not the same peckerwoods that sent a report to the ICC saying that they owned three locos, 0-4-0 hayburners of the "Missouri" class! I haven't found a company name to go with it.
The last exhibit in the picture book "Anything But Steam", a 1925 collection of official Interstate Commerce Commission motive power photos that fit the title, may be the passenger equipment for this road! I'm sure its the last full size passenger mule car to be run by a U.S. railroad.
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Postby JimBoylan » Thu Apr 19, 2007 2:06 pm

Can you think of a line that covers more ground than Cincinnatti, New Orleans & Texas Pacific? Atlantic & Western is a bit vague as to how far a destination, so how about Kansas City, Mexico & Orient?
An eminent rail historian told that the Temiscaming & Northern Ontario was discovered to be a colossal fraud that ran nowhere near that Quebec place, so after a provincial takeover, it had to be called the Ontario Northland!
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Postby salminkarkku » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:59 am

There was the "Atlantic & Pacific", the Santa Fe main line in NM -AZ, which was originally chartered in NY.
The "Georgia Pacific" also. Got as far as the Mississippi River.
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Postby henry6 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 1:50 pm

JimBoylan wrote:Can you think of a line that covers more ground than Cincinnatti, New Orleans & Texas Pacific? Atlantic & Western is a bit vague as to how far a destination, so how about Kansas City, Mexico & Orient?
An eminent rail historian told that the Temiscaming & Northern Ontario was discovered to be a colossal fraud that ran nowhere near that Quebec place, so after a provincial takeover, it had to be called the Ontario Northland!


There were a lot of roads on the east coast that ended with "and Western" which means they took in a lot of territory west of actual end of track. And I suppose there were many west coast roads with "and Eastern' in their titles which did the same. Even the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western as it titled itself got no further west than Buffalo, NY although it did get about 70 or so miles east of the Delaware River to Hoboken, NJ and the west shore of the Hudson River. It would be a fun winter evening excercise to go through some old Official Guides, though to see how many roads would answer the question.
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Postby salminkarkku » Fri Apr 27, 2007 1:57 am

In Maine there was the
EUROPEAN & NORTH AMERICAN, 1868-82,
claiming to cover two continents and an ocean!
It aimed to run from Bangor ME to Sydney in Nova Scotia, where it was to have a port for trans-Atlantic steamers. The idea was that passenger liners would terminate there, and travelers would use the railroad to get to Boston or to New York (the latter via Nashua and Worcester, usefully avoiding The Center of the Universe on Massachusetts Bay, the place where "orphan" and "often" were pronounced the same).
This was fine in the 1860's, where all boats on the Atlantic were horrible barf-buckets on which no-one would want to stay on for a day more than necessary. But boats quickly improved and became luxurious, so the railroad only built to the international border at Vanceboro and connected with the CP. All the great trans-Atlantic liners continued to terminate at Manhattan, NYC, until planes took over. The ENA became part of the "Maine Central".
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Postby salminkarkku » Sat Apr 28, 2007 2:11 am

There were two short line railroad companies named after America:

AMERICAN CENTRAL RAILWAY 1868.
This proposed a line from Tiffin in Ohio to Omaha. It only managed to build from Galva IL to New Boston on the Mississippi, and was taken over by the CBQ the year after it opened.

AMERICAN MIDLAND RAILROAD 1889.
I haven't found out what this one wanted to do. It opened a useless line between Findlay OH and Fort Wayne IN, running parallel to the NKP, and quickly became the "Findlay, Fort Wayne & Western". The "Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton", which should have known better, leased it as the "Cincinnati, Findlay & Fort Wayne" in 1903. The CHD had the direct main line between Cincinnati and Toledo, also a main line from Cincinnati to Indianapolis and Springfield IL, but took on too many pointless railroads in western OH and went completely bust in 1917. The CFFW was then given back to its owners, who waxed their own butts trying to run it for two more years before junking it in 1919.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby scharnhorst » Wed Jan 21, 2009 4:24 pm

How about these short lines:
Skaneatlas Junction Shortline Railroad it ran from Skaneatlas to Skaneatlas Jct.
Marcellus & Otisco Lake Railroad it ran to both locations.
Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railroad it to went to all 3 locations.
Lovonia, Avon, & Lakeview Railroad
Ontario Central which operated in Ontario County.
Genasee & Wyoming Railroad which operates in the 2 countys in which it operates in.
Alaska Railroad which operates only in Alaska

how about these regional Canadian railroads.
Ontario Southland railroad which operates in southern Ontario
Ontario Nortland which operates mostley in Ontario
British Columbia Railroad which operated in the Province
Quebec Central which operates in the province.
Toronto, Hamilton, & Buffalo Railway.
Great Slave Lake Railroad
Matagami Railroad.
Fossmill Railroad which was named after the lumber mill it once served.
Last edited by scharnhorst on Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby umtrr-author » Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:43 am

Along the lines of the G&W there is also the Cambria and Indiana, the (mostly) coal hauler in the state of Pennsylvania.

Then there was the Central Railroad of New Jersey, which was reasonably appropriate given that the mainline ran through what is generally considered to be Central New Jersey. I'm sure there are other railroads that were closer to fact than fiction in their names.
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Re:

Postby NE2 » Sat Jan 24, 2009 4:04 pm

JimBoylan wrote:Can you think of a line that covers more ground than Cincinnatti, New Orleans & Texas Pacific? Atlantic & Western is a bit vague as to how far a destination, so how about Kansas City, Mexico & Orient?

The "Texas Pacific" actually referred to its connection (through affiliated lines of the Queen and Crescent Route) to the Texas and Pacific Railway at Shreveport.

Personally I like the Boston and Albany Railroad, from Boston, Georgia to Albany, Georgia.

There are also cases of names being reused - the Everett Railroad is no longer near Everett, Pennsylvania, and the Central New York Railroad is in south-southeastern New York. The Waterloo Railway, originally near Waterloo, Iowa, keeps moving around to different IC branchlines, and the Connecting Railway, a short belt line in Philly, later absorbed the Pennsylvania, Ohio and Detroit Railroad, a disconnected group of leased PRR lines in Ohio and Michigan.
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Re:

Postby GWoodle » Sun Jul 26, 2009 6:40 pm

BR&P wrote:A Hundred? Old railroad companies number in the thousands. Sometimes a given section of track was owned by several companies, as one went bankrupt and a new company was formed to operate it.

I don't have the title, but the late Joe Gross published a book some years back listing every railroad company his research turned up - and I am sure there are even more that have come to light since. Maybe a web search would find that book, or maybe someone here knows the details.


I once read a book that claimed there were many more railroads proposed than ever built. The organizers may have had enough money to get a state charter or do a survey. They may have a survey crew to follow the horse trail. The CB&Q was able to get a charter that let them build from Aurora to someplace west on the Mississippi. They may have bought another branch line that added Quincy to the mix. High charges on the Chicago & Galena made them build a new line from Aurora to Chicago. The old Aurora Branch is still there to be used.

If you get a Ghost Rails book of abandoned lines, you will find some lines were meant to compete with the big road that was built. They may have served a local mine or forest area till the goods ran out. Some of the lines were bought by the big road and scrapped to eliminate the weaker outfit.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby nyandw » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:57 pm

Rahway Valley Railroad
Crosses over the Rahway River in Central NJ between Summit and Roselle Park/Cranford Junction on the CNJ RR line. http://www.trainsarefun.com/rvrr/rvrr.htm Image
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby Allen Hazen » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:45 am

Re: "A Hundred? Old railroad companies number in the thousands."
Even limiting things to railroads that actually got built, the total number of companies in the U.S. must be in the thousands.
In the 19th Century even very short segments that were soon incorporated (and perhaps were intended from the start to be incorporated) into larger systems tended to be built by separately chartered corporations. The full "genealogical trees" of the Boston and Maine and the New Haven, as they existed in the 20th C, included something like two hundred railroad companies each! I think this was less the case in Canada, but even in Canada there was some of this: what is now the Canadian Pacific line from Calgary (where it joins the CP's east-west main line) north to Edmonton, Alberta, was built in the late 1800s by the Calgary & Edmonton Railway. (From CP's point of view this undoubtedly made sense: if the line was successful it would be a CP feeder whoever built it, and if it flopped the CP wouldn't be out of pocket the way they would if they had built it as their own branch. Only when the ancestors of CN started connecting Edmonton to the East and West a decade or two later did it become important for CP to control the C&E.)

The term "Fallen Flags" was popularized among railroad fans by a series of articles in "Trains" in the 1970s, with short descriptions of the Class 1 railroads that were no longer with us: inder the I.C.C.'s definition at the time, something like 140 different railroads qualified as "Class 1" at the end of World War II.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby scharnhorst » Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:57 pm

Allen Hazen wrote:Re: "A Hundred? Old railroad companies number in the thousands."
Even limiting things to railroads that actually got built, the total number of companies in the U.S. must be in the thousands.
In the 19th Century even very short segments that were soon incorporated (and perhaps were intended from the start to be incorporated) into larger systems tended to be built by separately chartered corporations. The full "genealogical trees" of the Boston and Maine and the New Haven, as they existed in the 20th C, included something like two hundred railroad companies each! I think this was less the case in Canada, but even in Canada there was some of this: what is now the Canadian Pacific line from Calgary (where it joins the CP's east-west main line) north to Edmonton, Alberta, was built in the late 1800s by the Calgary & Edmonton Railway. (From CP's point of view this undoubtedly made sense: if the line was successful it would be a CP feeder whoever built it, and if it flopped the CP wouldn't be out of pocket the way they would if they had built it as their own branch. Only when the ancestors of CN started connecting Edmonton to the East and West a decade or two later did it become important for CP to control the C&E.)

The term "Fallen Flags" was popularized among railroad fans by a series of articles in "Trains" in the 1970s, with short descriptions of the Class 1 railroads that were no longer with us: inder the I.C.C.'s definition at the time, something like 140 different railroads qualified as "Class 1" at the end of World War II.



The reason for one railroad to be made up of many small paper railroads going back many years ago is to get tax brakes and or bonds to build. The railroad builds the line and leases it out to anouther railroad that will use it. In reality the railroad useing the line is the owner of the paper railroad.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby GulfRail » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:26 pm

The Rock Island's name (Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific) is actually derived from the fact that the RI was built to connect to the Union Pacific at Omaha (infact, some of the materials that built the Union Pacific were delivered on the Rock). The reason that the UP began at Omaha instead of Chicago was because Lincoln and other leaders of the day wanted to have the UP sell land in the underpopulated Nebraska Territory. After Lincoln's assassination, the people of Nebraska thanked him for building the UP between Omaha and Lincoln by renaming their capital city of Lancaster to Lincoln. (Contrary to popular belief, the name Union Pacific had nothing to do with the civil war, but rather with a suburb of Omaha named Union, Nebraska)

Other times railroad names reflect shattered dreams of their promoters. The St.Louis-San Francisco originally had a subsidiary named the Atlantic & Pacific, which was to built to connect the SLSF to Los Angeles and San Francisco, but during the panic of 1893, it lost control of the A&P, which became the AT&SF's fabled route between Chicago and LA. The Chicago Great Western was originally meant to build all the way to Denver, but a lack of funds prevented that venture. The Texas & Pacific was originally meant to connect the Southern Pacific in Los Angeles to the city of New Orleans. Obviously unhappy about this, SP built their own line between LA and New Orleans. But the T&P had the last laugh when SP requested trackage rights on the T&P between El Paso and Dallas to relieve their congested Sunset Route, and they refused. The D&RGW originally hoped to build south from Santa Fe, NM to El Paso, TX in Raton Pass, but after the "Railroad Wars," it was forced to build westward. The Western Pacific was constructed by the Gould family in an attempt to give the D&RGW access to San Francisco. Then the D&RGW would merge with the Missouri Pacific, creating a San Francisco-Salt Lake City-Denver-Pueblo-Kansas City-St. Louis route.

Other times a railroads name is just plain misnamed. The Missouri Pacific was originally named the Pacific railroad (after a suburb in Saint Louis, Pacific, MO), but after being re-organized and taken over by Jay Gould, it was renamed the Missouri Pacific. Later on, George Gould would try to merge the D&RGW and Western Pacific into the MoPac, which would have made the name actually mean Missouri Pacific, but he failed.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby NE2 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:42 am

GulfRail wrote:(Contrary to popular belief, the name Union Pacific had nothing to do with the civil war, but rather with a suburb of Omaha named Union, Nebraska)

Other times a railroads name is just plain misnamed. The Missouri Pacific was originally named the Pacific railroad (after a suburb in Saint Louis, Pacific, MO)

Um... I think you have the egg and omelette reversed here. Union, I believe, came from the fact that the UP was uniting the traffic from several railroads east of Omaha into one trunk line to California. The Pacific Railroad was supposed to reach the Pacific, but didn't make it. Each suburb was, like Katy, Texas, presumably named after the railroad.

Also, your history of the A&P is a bit off. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_a ... c_Railroad (which I wrote a couple years ago).
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