How do railroads get their names?

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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby GSC » Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:13 pm

Some lines were originally named for their to-be connected towns, but the locations changed. In NJ, the New Egypt & Farmingdale RR was supposed to be built between the named towns. The charter was amended to allow the route to extend from Farmingdale east to Ocean Grove/Asbury Park. It was further amended to run north to Long Branch. The section actually built was an 8.3 mile section from Long Branch to Belmar, never coming near the chartered named towns. It was absorbed into the NY & Long Branch RR.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby smithdwsn » Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:56 am

It should be very easy for remember and some historic.
I think Amazing City, The Code City ,Georgia Railroad,Grand trunk Western, Chicago Rock Island & Pacific, Boston & Maine, , Clinchfield,Kansas City Southern.
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Re:

Postby steamal » Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:54 pm

salminkarkku wrote:.
The "Georgia Pacific" also. Got as far as the Mississippi River.


The Georgia Pacific ran through West Point, Mississippi, which is close to the Alabama line. (It's also close to Tennessee). In other words, it connected one side of the state to the other. The railroad probably actually started its journey in Georgia. From the River, logs that originated in the South probably made their way West thanks to Uncle Pete.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby younger » Sat Sep 18, 2010 5:53 pm

As to the Georgia Pacific, it apparently began in either Austell or Atlanta (Austell is where the ETV&G and the GP are joined). The June, 1893, issue of The Railway Guide shows the line from Atlanta to Arkansas City as the Georgia Pacific Division of the Richmond and Danville (this was a road that was extended a little beyond its namesake cities, partly by lease; one of the leased roads (North Carolina RR) is STILL leased to the NS). I do not know if the mileposts beyond Columbus, Miss., continued on to the Mississippi, but in modern times, the mileposts between Birmingham and Columbus were numbered from Washington (between Atlanta and Austell, the mileposts out of Chattanooga to Brunswick are used). In time, the line between Columbus and Greenville became the Columbus and Greenville.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:50 am

GulfRail wrote: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........ (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).


Mr. Gulf, noted above are two points within your well-written material that I must question.

First, I believe that the reason that the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 called for the railroad to start at Council Bluffs (vice Omaha) was that there were several existing roads at the time of enactment from Chicago through Iowa to the Missouri River. Suffice to say, they were "not exactly" enthralled with the idea of additional competition from a publicly funded road and no doubt their lobby in Congress ensured such would not move forth. That there were even during 1960 seven routes with Chi-Oma service meant the 'weaks" would be weeded out - and so went the MILW and CGW, as well as the truncating of the CRI&P into Short Lines providing local service .

Now regarding any relation between Union NE and naming the Union Pacific; first who am I to say that is unfounded, but, in view of that municipality was served by the Missouri Pacific (UP today I should note) and that Mr. Google cannot find any reference to that correlation, I have to question such and continue to hold the 'conventional wisdom' that the UP drew its name from the victors in the armed conflict between the several "united" states within the North American continent.

But if you can cite some sources, I'd be delighted to review and if need be, stand corrected.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby wjstix » Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:53 pm

There are a few naming conventions, or at least there were before the "merger era".

Generally the cities, rivers, lakes etc. would be in order geographically. That is, the "AB&C" railroad would start in city A, then run thru city B to get to C. On the Milwaukee Road, the railroad did actually go from Chicago to Milwaukee to St.Paul then on the Pacific (Chicago Milwaukee St.Paul and Pacific RR).

Though far from a hard and fast rule, but many railroads started in the east and worked their way west, so often the names went east to west and/or ended with "& Pacific" or "&Western" (Denver & Rio Grande Western, Chicago and NorthWestern). Of course there were a few west-east routes - the Soo Line (Minneapolis St.Paul and Sault Ste. Marie) was built by Minneapolis millers to provide a cheaper way to ship flour to the east than was available by other railroads.

Before the Civil War, three mainlines were planned out for the transcontinental railroad, from north to south they were the northern pacific, central pacific, and southern pacific. After the southern route's chief supporter, Secy of War Jefferson Davis, left office and became President of the Confederacy, support for the southern pacific route died out in Congress, and they eventually chose to go with the central route. In time all three routes resulted in railroads of course: Northern Pacific, Central Pacific (UP) and Southern Pacific.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby mmi16 » Wed May 15, 2013 4:41 pm

lvanorail wrote:So I'm curious. In my research, I've never found anything specific about it, but have any of you out there heard of a standardized way fallen flag companies were named? I mean it's pretty clear what B&O or Erie were named after. Was it always just the big points they connected?

Now one thing I haven't yet encountered (and I'm somewhat new to railfanning, so please bear with me), but are routes (by which I mean the raillines themselves, rather than the overarching company) named simply for their destinations? And can anyone refer me to what were considered classic routes of days past? Thanks.


Naming railroad companies has all the standardization of how people name their children. NONE!

In it's simplest form naming is done to attract investment to the venture to bring it to it's fruition. Some succeeded and some didn't.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby ExCon90 » Thu May 16, 2013 3:15 pm

Exactly. Railroads have been referred to as the dotcoms of the 19th century and were always seeking investors. That's why so many railroad names end in -- & Western or -- & Pacific. Back in stagecoach days, water transport was regarded (rightly) as much more comfortable than land travel, and not that much slower, so people thought of land transportation in terms of getting from one body of water to another, hence names like Baltimore & Ohio (the river, not the state), New York, Ontario (the lake) and Western, Wheeling & Lake Erie, Ohio & Mississippi (both rivers), later a western extension of the B&O, etc. Other railroads simply used the names of their end points or the territory they served -- Lehigh Valley, Allegheny Valley. My vote for the most explicit was the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby mmi16 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:22 pm

A number of years ago, I came across two documents CSX had prepared prior to the ConRail acquisition in 1999. Those documents traced the lineage of all the lines that had been incorporated into CSX from it's constituant major fallen flag carriers - B&O, C&O, WM, ACL, SAL, L&N - and all the individual carriers that had been merged, aquired, formed, bankrupted, reformed, purchased from bankruptcy etc. etc. etc.

In counting the names - there were well over 500 names mentioned each, for the Chessie side and Seaboard sides of the companies that formed CSX. Lord only knows the corporate lineage of the lines that were acquired from ConRail.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby scharnhorst » Sun Dec 22, 2013 9:30 am

mmi16 wrote:In counting the names - there were well over 500 names mentioned each, for the Chessie side and Seaboard sides of the companies that formed CSX. Lord only knows the corporate lineage of the lines that were acquired from ConRail.



I tried to track down the names of every road acquired by every road that merged NYC, PRR, LV, L&NE, RDG, CNJ, EL, PRSL among other roads and also accounted for the smaller roads that were also eaten up later in the 80's by Conrail and I think I stopped 2,500 names there were more but I gave up. I tried to do this project when I was about 14 years old.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby wjstix » Thu Jan 09, 2014 10:23 am

[quote="lvanorail"] I mean it's pretty clear what B&O or Erie were named after. Was it always just the big points they connected?
quote]

I'm not sure it's all that clear...IIRC the Baltimore and Ohio RR was built to connect Baltimore to the Ohio River, I'm sure many people assume it's referring to the state of Ohio. Erie could be named after the city of Erie, or Lake Erie.

A railroad like Northern Pacific that was chartered in 1864 as the Northern Pacific Railway, and kept that name for the next 100+ years, was pretty rare. Many railroads merged and combined names over the years. Even many names we think of as old "standard" names. Gulf Mobile & Northern + Mobile & Ohio = Gulf Mobile & Ohio. Duluth Missabe & Northern + Duluth & Iron Range = Duluth Missabe and Iron Range.

At one time, the Milwaukee Road was the Milwaukee & St.Paul (often called "The St.Paul" rather than "The Milwaukee") then Chicago Milwaukee & St.Paul, then starting about 1929, Chicago Milwaukee St.Paul & Pacific.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Jan 09, 2014 10:32 am

The Erie Railroad never served Erie PA; in fact I recall a News Photo in TRAINS over 50 years ago that showed a detroued ERIE passenger train in Erie, Pa. The caption read to the effect of 'The ERIE finally makes it to its namesake city.' The ERIE once had the name of New York & Erie:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erie_Railroad

However, the most ambitious name coming to mind has got to be the Quannah, Acme, and Pacific. This was a one-time Frisco subsidiary; who knows if any of it remains in service on the BNSF today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quanah,_Ac ... ic_Railway
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby scharnhorst » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:32 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:The Erie Railroad never served Erie PA; in fact I recall a News Photo in TRAINS over 50 years ago that showed a detroued ERIE passenger train in Erie, Pa. The caption read to the effect of 'The ERIE finally makes it to its namesake city.' The ERIE once had the name of New York & Erie:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erie_Railroad

However, the most ambitious name coming to mind has got to be the Quannah, Acme, and Pacific. This was a one-time Frisco subsidiary; who knows if any of it remains in service on the BNSF today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quanah,_Ac ... ic_Railway



I will ask a few people out here in the Tulsa area if they know anything about the Quannah, Acme, and Pacific and as to if anything is still being used by BNSF today. I'll get back to this post with in the week.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:45 pm

Two other curiosities come to mind: The Interstate Railroad operated 85.71 miles, entirely within the State of Virginia. The New Jersey, Indiana & Illinois was 11.4 miles long, having been built by an industry in South Bend, Ind., southward to Pine, Ind., to reach the Wabash. I can't recall the company's name (could it have been Studebaker?), but it had manufacturing plants in New Jersey, Indiana, and Illinois, so that's the name they gave the railroad.
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Re: How do railroads get their names?

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:22 pm

Singer Sewing Machine was the company with the NJ, I, &, I had an association with. Singer had plants in New Jersey, Indiana, and Illinois. Guess nowadays, knowledge of Mandarin would be helpful in making Singers.

The line today is deeply buried within the Norfolk Southern.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jersey ... s_Railroad
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