Was the NKP the perfect railroad?

Discussion related to the Norfolk & Western, up to 1982. Also includes discussion of the Virginian Railway (1959); Wabash; Nickel Plate; Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway; Akron, Canton & Youngstown Raiload (all 1964); and the Illinois Terminal (1981).

Merger reality

Postby Matt Langworthy » Sat Dec 29, 2007 2:14 pm

Randy Earle wrote:It was the stockholders. They were looking to merge with the B&O and Erie Lackawanna befor the N&W came along.


EL? No, NKP rejected a merger offer from the DL&W (circa 1954). Not only did NKP fear the Lackawanna's debt from NJ taxes and commuter service, but it has also been suggested that NKP's President Lynn L. White was jealous of DL&W's management, fearing he would not be in charge of the post-merger company.

NKP also opposed the E-L merger, fearing a loss of traffic through the Buffalo gateway. Lynn White filed several objections with the ICC, but he was placated when EL offered to build their new classification yard in Buffalo jointly with NKP- at the old DL&W East Buffalo site instead of Binghamton (as originally planned). This joint project became Bison yard.

Echoing the DL&W's merger attempt a decade earlier, EL asked for inclusion in the merged N&W/Wabash/NKP system when it became apparent Penn Central would become a reality. This led to Dereco.
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Re: Was the NKP the perfect railroad?

Postby dinwitty » Tue Jul 15, 2008 8:06 am

I read some blurb somewhere the Van Swerigens owned other lines, and they literally kept slow speed traffic off the Nickel Plate so they could keep the high speed sensitive traffic on the NKP and not block or slow down those trains. Quite a trick.
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Re: Was the NKP the perfect railroad?

Postby GulfRail » Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:58 pm

Perfect for its time, yes, but not for the modern age. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE the NKP, and wish that it had merged with other carriers so that it could have had some "fun" and become a major class one system that would have survived to this day.
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Re: NKP Did a Lot of Things Right

Postby Minneapolitan » Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:02 pm

2nd trick op wrote:And later, the Wheeling and Lake Erie - Toledo to Wheeling with a connection to both Baltimore and Ohio and Western Maryland near Connellsville, Penna, via satellite Pittsburgh & West Virginia.

The Clover Leaf also had a partial interest in the Detroit and Toledo Shore Line.


As I understand it, the Nickel Plate owned 50% of the Shore Line, and Grand Trunk Western owned the other half. So while the Nickel Plate didn't technically serve the Motor City, it basically did, making the NKP system that much more perfect.


rrfoose wrote:...they could have gained the Detroit-KC line and used the Wabash line into St. Louis, instead of the Clover Leaf with all of its restrictions.


I've never heard this. I know that through central Illinois the Nickel Plate route kinda zig-zagged for short distances, but when we look at the railroad in terms of the entire system and the scale of distance here, the route doesn't strike me as terribly inefficient. It looks pretty straight to me.

Here's a satellite map I created showing the Nickel Plate system, undistorted and exact. When we're talking about moving fast freight from points east, those little bumps in Illinois hardly matter. Am I wrong about that segment?

Here we see the Nickel Plate system, with the Detroit & Toledo Shore Line in pink, and the Wheeling & Lake Erie's "satellite" partner Pittsburgh & West Virginia in orange.
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NKP with Partners.JPG
NKP with Partners.JPG (46.17 KiB) Viewed 5852 times
Nickel Plate Road should have merged with ERIE.

Duh.
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Re: Was the NKP the perfect railroad?

Postby rrfoose » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:12 pm

Nice map there! The restrictions I was talking about on the line to StL have to do with width/height of freight cars. Apparently there were some rr bridges, road bridges, and cuts, that would have restricted the use of larger cars today. I forget the exact locations and restrictions off hand, and I'm sure they could have been upgraded with time/money, but as you can see with N&W/NS, it was just easier to use the superior Wabash route!
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Re: Was the NKP the perfect railroad?

Postby Minneapolitan » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:48 pm

rrfoose wrote:It certainly would have been a regional powerhouse, but it still could only have survived in that form for a few years.

Come Conrail in 76, they would have lost all friendly connections east of Buffalo. However, had a NKP/WAB system been around in the 70s, they most certainly would have gotten the EL to stay afloat. This would have been a great route for intermodel - bypassing Chicago and using the EL's wide clearances. But as much as I hate to say it, I still think that NS would have made a play for the "new" NKP system after losing the bid for CR in the 80s. CR and CSX had lines in the north, but they didn't, and would have needed the NKP to survive. Either that or the MP/UP would have gobbled them up too.

Hmm, I wish there were a logical way for the NKP to have survived into the 90s/early 21st century so that I could model NKP SD70M's...ahhhhh...

rrfoose wrote:...but as you can see with N&W/NS, it was just easier to use the superior Wabash route!


If we're going to start talking Wabash, I must say I agree completely with you here! A Nickel Plate/Wabash merger would have been very natural and efficient. And you're right, the Nickel Plate's old "Clover Leaf" from Toledo to St. Louis was simply inferior to the Wabash, not so much for the clearances, but because of that big bulge in the route east of Fort Wayne, as well as the fact that the Wabash route served bigger cities in between, such as Lafayette, IN and Decatur, IL.

Part of a good merger is eliminating duplicate lines (duh, right?). The Nickel Plate from Toledo to St. Louis could have been abandoned completely. This would have still allowed Toledo/Chicago traffic to flow fairly well by transferring at Fort Wayne and abandoning the Wabash route across northern Indiana. Basically, this is what happened under Norfolk & Western. They pretty much got it right. But the strange thing here is that Wabash had by far the straightest route between Toledo and Chicago, straighter than New York Central or NKP. It's a bit of a shame to see it abandoned. I'm surprised no one bought it or spun it off.

Here's another map I made showing a Nickel Plate/Wabash merger. But if you ask me, the Wabash shouldn't have been Nickel Plate's first choice for a merger partner. I address this question on a different thread!
Attachments
NKP-WAB1.JPG
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Nickel Plate Road should have merged with ERIE.

Duh.
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Re: Was the NKP the perfect railroad?

Postby rrboomer » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:30 am

Another consideration is the NKP did not have a direct connection with any western roads in the Chicago Terminal except the Rock Island at Pullman Jct. EL had the same problem. Both were dependent on the BRC.
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Re: Was the NKP the perfect railroad?

Postby Minneapolitan » Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:02 pm

True. But was that really such a big deal? The BRC served pretty much everyone.

I've always figured that if two railroads really want to connect in Chicago, they'll find a way! And it won't be a big deal. That's the whole point of Chicago, no?
Nickel Plate Road should have merged with ERIE.

Duh.
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Re: Was the NKP the perfect railroad?

Postby cap187 » Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:52 pm

Actually we did connect with western roads out of Calumet yard through Pullman Jct. when I started in '68. We had transfer runs to and from the CBQ, Milw, Santa Fe, IC, Rock Is, CNW, as well as the Belt and I might have forgotten some. When I was the west end yardmaster I would send whatever I didn't have room for in Calumet to the Belt including westbound road trains (BC's) with a yard crew.

I started after the N&W merger, but Chicago was still solid NKP and it was a class act.
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