DL&W Merger with the Nickel Plate Road

Discussion relating to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, the Erie, and the resulting 1960 merger creating the Erie Lackawanna. Visit the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society at http://www.erielackhs.org/.

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DL&W Merger with the Nickel Plate Road

Postby XC Tower » Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:16 am

Years ago, I talked to an old NKP engineer friend about this. He said that he could tell something was up with this at the time, saying "Things were being streamlined for a merger with the DL&W as it was the dominant railroad."....How actually close did this come to be?....It is something that is definitely in the "What if?" category of imagination....
Thank you for any insight on this.



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Re: DL&W Merger with the Nickel Plate Road

Postby Cactus Jack » Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:21 pm

It is a bit subjective and confusing but basically it came pretty close. It is reported that it was NKP President John Davin that approached DL&W President William White sometime in the late 1940’s. NKP and DL&W were natural partners as DL&W needed a western extension and NKP needed an eastern outlet.
By the late 40’s or early 50s DL&W had purchased a substantial block of NKP stock. Of course ICC approval was needed among other regulatory issues and of course internal politics. Davin, a much unremarked manager was at the helm of NKP during it’s best years but died of cancer on January 17, 1949. Some NKP BOD and major shareholders did not want DL&W acquisition of their road and it is said they actively recruited Lynne L. White (no relation to William) from C&NW to kill the prospect. It is also recorded that Bill White met with the NKP BOD and was perhaps a little arrogant or pushy or in some way alienating to them and the die was cast for NKP to resist. It seems a bit odd if that happened as White did not make too many of those kinds of mistakes. White soon moved on to the NYC and Perry Shoemaker came in as President of the DL&W. Shoemaker tried, maybe half heartedly to woo NKP to no avail and I think the ICC made DL&W put the NKP shares in trust.
About 1958 Shoemaker sold off the substantial NKP holdings to help their terrible cash flow position, especially after Hurricane Diane and mounting commuter losses. White, who was by that time President of the D&H chastised him for that, or so it has been reported.
Shoemaker then tried the three-way with DL&W – D&H-ERIE that D&H backed off from and which resulted in Erie Lackawanna. White later became President of the EL (1963-1967) and Shoemaker went to CNJ.
Lynne L. White died in 1964 before the N&W takeover, by lease of Wabash and purchase of Nickel Plate.
In my mind it was a merger DL&W/ NKP that should have happened, it was possible but likely the NKP shareholders made out better with N&W in the long run.
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Re: DL&W Merger with the Nickel Plate Road

Postby XC Tower » Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:34 pm

Thank you for the insight on this....I will try to look up my ex-NKP engineer pal to ask him his feelings on this....He is at least in his late 80's now...This will serve as a catalyst to visit which I have no excuse to not have done sooner...



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Re: DL&W Merger with the Nickel Plate Road

Postby edbear » Sun Aug 05, 2018 7:57 pm

The DL & W owned about 629,000 shares of NKP stock, 15.27%, in 1956. It paid a $1.50 a share dividend. The NKP probably would not even have been lukewarm to merge with the DL & W by this time as it had quite a bit of mileage in high tax New York (which NKP had on a smaller scale) and high tax New Jersey plus a sizeable commuter operation. The NKP stock sold for as much as $33 per share in 1956. DL & W sold the NKP stock and joined up with the Erie.
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Re: DL&W Merger with the Nickel Plate Road

Postby Greg » Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:33 am

The DL&W missed its chance in the 1920's when the NKP was more receptive. It may have survived further into the CR era if this had manifested and would have potentially alleviated a merger with the Erie.
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Re: DL&W Merger with the Nickel Plate Road

Postby Cactus Jack » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:52 pm

Hard to say about a 1920's DL&W NKP merger.

The Transportation Act of 1920 required the ICC to look into consolidations of railroads. The report didn't come out until something like 1929 but when it did, both the NKP and DL&W fell under the C&O umbrella. In fact NKP would actually fall in with the C&O in as part of the Van Sweringen Allegheny Corporation (or maybe it was Van Ness?).

NKP was owned by the LS&MS until anti-trust reared it's head and NYC spun it off to the Van's in 1916. With it went J.J. Bernet a brilliant railroader. BY 1922 Bernet had picked up the Clover Leaf and the Lake Erie & Western. The Van's wanted to create a super Nickel Plate by merging C&O, NKP, Erie and Pere Marquette in the mid 1920's. In 1926 the ICC denied the merger.

Hard to say what could have happened but likely NYC would have pitched a fit before the ICC among others and it would probably not have been the DL&W in the driver's seat. NYC had some sort of minority ownership in DL&W too if I recall and had a member seated on the DL&W Board of Managers. That era and the Van's financing and interrelated companies still leave me confused so sorry if I misrepresented something here. It sure is fun to think about.
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Re: DL&W Merger with the Nickel Plate Road

Postby Greg » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:38 am

Cactus Jack wrote:Hard to say about a 1920's DL&W NKP merger.

The Transportation Act of 1920 required the ICC to look into consolidations of railroads. The report didn't come out until something like 1929 but when it did, both the NKP and DL&W fell under the C&O umbrella. In fact NKP would actually fall in with the C&O in as part of the Van Sweringen Allegheny Corporation (or maybe it was Van Ness?).

NKP was owned by the LS&MS until anti-trust reared it's head and NYC spun it off to the Van's in 1916. With it went J.J. Bernet a brilliant railroader. BY 1922 Bernet had picked up the Clover Leaf and the Lake Erie & Western. The Van's wanted to create a super Nickel Plate by merging C&O, NKP, Erie and Pere Marquette in the mid 1920's. In 1926 the ICC denied the merger.

Hard to say what could have happened but likely NYC would have pitched a fit before the ICC among others and it would probably not have been the DL&W in the driver's seat. NYC had some sort of minority ownership in DL&W too if I recall and had a member seated on the DL&W Board of Managers. That era and the Van's financing and interrelated companies still leave me confused so sorry if I misrepresented something here. It sure is fun to think about.


Thhe Lackawanna/Nickel Plate talks were in the early 20's. From what I recall in the article the DL&W was to join the NKP and another road. The articleis now behind a pay wall.
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