MILW Pacific Extension abandonment question

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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MILW Pacific Extension abandonment question

Postby D.Carleton » Sat Jun 26, 2010 2:59 am

When the road reorganized in 1977 the decision was to rationalize the system west of Miles City, MT. Was there any discussion at any level for the state/states effected to buy the railroad to maintain service?
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Re: Pacific extension abandonment question

Postby vermontanan » Mon Jun 28, 2010 5:26 pm

This website is a wealth of information on the Western Extension abandonment:

http://milwaukeeroadarchives.com/Bankru ... ruptcy.htm

--Mark Meyer
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Re: Pacific extension abandonment question

Postby D.Carleton » Fri Jul 16, 2010 3:50 pm

vermontanan wrote:This website is a wealth of information on the Western Extension abandonment
That's like saying Babe Ruth is a baseball player. This is a very impressive amount of information, thank you for sharing.

I ask because it seems to have become an annual ritual for the State of Montana to raise some sort of complaint or another about their constituent farmer's grain rates. The latest salvo came today. No one may see the future and as such it is not proper to lay blame for a lack of forethought. However, blaming someone else (BNSF) for one's lack of foresight would be equally discrepant.
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Re: Pacific extension abandonment question

Postby vermontanan » Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:30 pm

As a native Montanan, I can tell you that there are certain things Montanans have a mind set about and nothing with change it. Examples are: 1.)Most dislike the idea of a daytime speed limit (it used to only be "reasonable or prudent"), 2.)Most dislike the idea of a general sales tax (Montana doesn't have one, although there are room taxes and some city sales taxes), and 3.)Most think that Montana is unique in being a one-freight-railroad entity.

It's unfortunate that the deregulation of 1980 coincided with the time that the Milwaukee Road pulled out of Montana. Prior to this, rates from one point to another where both points were served by more than one railroad were the same. After that, the rates could be competitive. What Montanans don't realize is that they're not alone. Even as this year's census will put the population of Montana at almost 1 million with their one freight railroad, it's no different than places like San Diego, Las Vegas, Southern Idaho, and most of Florida that have a more people, sometimes a lot more people, and one freight railroad. And, unlike Montana, places like Southern Idaho and Las Vegas have always only had one freight railroad. But Montana's where one will hear the complaint regularly.

The other thing Montanans fail to realize is that it even if the Milwaukee Road was still around, it wouldn't be around. What I mean is there is a possible misconception that the Milwaukee Road's presence would have kept shipping rates in line all these years. In reality, that didn't happen becuase the Milwaukee couldn't have competed anyway. As Montana grain shifted to be destined primarily to Portland/Vancouver and Kalama, and as the majority of the grain started being shipped as full-train "shuttle" trains, the circuity of the Milwaukee's route from the primary grain producing areas of Montana to those ports, and the profile (up to 6 helper districts, depending on how you count it compared to zero in most cases for BN/BNSF) would have made competition from the Milwaukee a non-starter.

In other words: Yes, they're complaining in Montana. This, too, shall pass. Until next year. Stay tuned.
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Re: MILW Pacific Extension abandonment question

Postby e57bmotor » Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:44 pm

Yes. In fact the State of South Dakota did purchase the Milwaukee Road line through the state (west of Mobridge) and into Montana. Purchase may be the wrong word; the bankruptcy trustee gave the line the State of South Dakota in exchange for the State and its subdivisions not levying any taxes on the railroad. The State then leased the line to the BN to operate. The BNSF is finalizing the 2010 purchase of the line from the State of South Dakota.

In Montana, things went different. I was in the state legislature at the time (in Montana). The State was desperately broke and did not have the money to forgive taxes or purchase the line. The trustee wanted to sell the Montana holdings to the state of $35,000.000.00 but the state simply did not have the funds. In addition, the trackage was in very poor condition; almost the entire line would have had to be completely rebuilt. We took the following tack:

The state did not purchase the line and the trustee had the trackage ripped up to avoid paying taxes on the line. All grading, bridges and tunnels were left intact. The Montana Legislature then passed legislation creating a railbank - one of the upshots (which remains in the law today) is that any transportation or utility user was given the right of eminent domain condemnation on the line. In other words, while the property went to local governments for lack of tax payments or to the adjoining property owners, any utility, railroad or pipeline can automatically gain possession of the Milwaukee Road trackage and facilities to put them to use. Parts of the Montana Milwaukee Road holdings are in use today by the BNSF and local shortline railroads.

In Washington and Idaho, the states gained control of the Milwaukee holdings through other means and today the main line and several branches (those not used for railroading) are fully developed trails just waiting for a return to rail use. Hope this helps. e57bmotor.
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Re: MILW Pacific Extension abandonment question

Postby fredmcain » Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:38 am

e57bmotor wrote:Yes. In fact the State of South Dakota did purchase the Milwaukee Road line through the state (west of Mobridge) and into Montana. Purchase may be the wrong word; the bankruptcy trustee gave the line the State of South Dakota in exchange for the State and its subdivisions not levying any taxes on the railroad. The State then leased the line to the BN to operate. The BNSF is finalizing the 2010 purchase of the line from the State of South Dakota.

In Montana, things went different. I was in the state legislature at the time (in Montana). The State was desperately broke and did not have the money to forgive taxes or purchase the line. The trustee wanted to sell the Montana holdings to the state of $35,000.000.00 but the state simply did not have the funds. In addition, the trackage was in very poor condition; almost the entire line would have had to be completely rebuilt. We took the following tack:

The state did not purchase the line and the trustee had the trackage ripped up to avoid paying taxes on the line. All grading, bridges and tunnels were left intact. The Montana Legislature then passed legislation creating a railbank - one of the upshots (which remains in the law today) is that any transportation or utility user was given the right of eminent domain condemnation on the line. In other words, while the property went to local governments for lack of tax payments or to the adjoining property owners, any utility, railroad or pipeline can automatically gain possession of the Milwaukee Road trackage and facilities to put them to use. Parts of the Montana Milwaukee Road holdings are in use today by the BNSF and local shortline railroads.

In Washington and Idaho, the states gained control of the Milwaukee holdings through other means and today the main line and several branches (those not used for railroading) are fully developed trails just waiting for a return to rail use. Hope this helps. e57bmotor.


I have become very interested in the rebuilding of the Milwaukee Road's Pacific Coast extension which I firmly believe is entirely doable. This post from four years ago only helps reinforce and confirm what I already suspected. But what about support? Can we find the support to do this?

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
Fred M. Cain,
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Not afraid to use my own name
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Re: MILW Pacific Extension abandonment question

Postby vermontanan » Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:57 pm

fredmcain wrote:I have become very interested in the rebuilding of the Milwaukee Road's Pacific Coast extension which I firmly believe is entirely doable. This post from four years ago only helps reinforce and confirm what I already suspected. But what about support? Can we find the support to do this?

Regards,
Fred M. Cain


Fred: You will certainly find support among the revisionist historians who, with regard to the Pacific Extension, attempt to explain why things turned out the way they didn't. But among those who would actually put up the money for such a venture, you will find no support. There is no reason to invest in the high-cost route, which is the ex-MILW all the way, with the exception of Snoqualmie Pass. It is much more cost effective to invest in additional capacity over existing, more-efficient routes which, in addition, have some online traffic, unlike the Milwaukee Pacific Extension. Reinstatement of the ex-MILW line from Easton over Snoqualmie Pass to Cedar Falls to Monroe to route crude oil and coal (destined for places like Cherry Point and Roberts Bank) away from downtown Seattle would be highly desirable from an operating standpoint, but likely not desirable to area residents, some or which are already protesting these trains on their current route. But east of Easton - through operational headaches like the Saddle Mountains and especially St. Paul Pass - you'll find no one with actual operations experience that would want to invest putting a railroad back there.
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Re: MILW Pacific Extension abandonment question

Postby fredmcain » Thu Jul 17, 2014 3:04 pm

vermontanan wrote:
fredmcain wrote:I have become very interested in the rebuilding of the Milwaukee Road's Pacific Coast extension which I firmly believe is entirely doable. This post from four years ago only helps reinforce and confirm what I already suspected. But what about support? Can we find the support to do this?

Regards,
Fred M. Cain


But among those who would actually put up the money for such a venture, you will find no support. There is no reason to invest in the high-cost route, which is the ex-MILW all the way, with the exception of Snoqualmie Pass.


Vermontanan,

I'm not sure but I think you and I might have discussed this on another group. I have put out some feelers and have come up with what you said. No support from anyone with money. Doesn't look too hopeful, does it?

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
Fred M. Cain,
New Haven Railroad fan
Not afraid to use my own name
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Re: MILW Pacific Extension abandonment question

Postby vermontanan » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:43 am

fredmcain wrote:I'm not sure but I think you and I might have discussed this on another group. I have put out some feelers and have come up with what you said. No support from anyone with money. Doesn't look too hopeful, does it?

Regards,
Fred M. Cain


Fred,

Hopeful depends on the viewpoint. Those of us who understand that rebuilding the Milwaukee (rather than investing in more efficient existing routes) would actually be a detriment to increasing rail capacity in the Northwest are indeed encouraged by the lack of support. That indicates many understand its lack of utility.

Mark Meyer
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