Rock Island Requiem - A Book To Review

Discussion relating to The Chicago & North Western, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road), including mergers, acquisitions, and abandonments.

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Rock Island Requiem - A Book To Review

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Jan 19, 2014 9:52 am

Greg Schneider, who has had many a byline appearing in TRAINS, has authored a book deemed worthy to be reviewed by the Wall Street Journal:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1 ... 0386509076

Brief passage:

    Mr. Schneider's book is a master class in 20th-century railroad history, but it is no breezy read for the casual train buff. The "action" takes place in hearing rooms, boardrooms and courtrooms, most notably that of the Hon. Frank McGarr, the long-suffering judge who presided for nine years over the final liquidation of the company's assets. The author might have animated his tale a bit had he limned the personalities and motivations of a few key players—a few he tantalizingly introduces as stout railroad men who began their careers as yard workers. But most remain as shadowy as boxcars passing in the moonlight.
It would appear that this book would be more directed towards those interested in the business of railroading rather than either the historian or the railfan. It would likely be a read much like that of 'Teh Men Who Loved Trains' that was a chronicle of formation and breakup of Conrail.

It appears the major book retailers have this work available at their sites, or in the case of the first, at or through their retail outlets:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rock-is ... 1115263162

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0700619186
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Re: Rock Island Requiem - A Book To Review

Postby BRMarra » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:04 pm

This was a good book. Not a lot of romance, but a lot of hard facts. Well researched, it tells how it all went down...to the bitter end.
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Re: Rock Island Requiem - A Book To Review

Postby CPF363 » Tue Jun 23, 2015 8:13 pm

Had a chance to read the book and found it to be a very well written depiction of the history of the Rock Island railroad between the end of the railroad's bankruptcy in 1948 and its liquidation in the early 1980s. The book describes actions taken by management during the period from 1948 to the beginning of the Union Pacific-Rock Island merger, extensive discussions of the litigation related to the merger application to include the C&NW's proxy war, UP's abandonment of their merger plans, railroad operations up to the last bankruptcy and liquidation.

Certainly, following reading the book, it seems that the Rock Island's last bankruptcy was completely avoidable. UP proposed a solid plan to merge the northern end of the system into their system and sell of the southern end to the Southern Pacific. However, with the C&NW's proxy fight to take the system over themselves, then their ultimate abandonment of their take over plan towards the end of the 1960s consumed much time and resources all coupled with management's deferred maintenance program that ultimately landed the railroad back in bankruptcy in 1980. The UP-RI merger proceedings were a big boon for attorneys without question. The ICC should have granted the merger with the UP at the end of the 1960s after C&NW grew disinterested in the railroad and made conditions of the merger to sell the Omaha to Denver line to the D&RGW for connections with C&NW and MILW and the AT&SF for the Amarillo, TX to Memphis Choctaw line for connections to the IC, Southern and L&N. It is ironic though, in the end, UP basically got the merger they wanted via later mergers with the MKT and SP.
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