Thumbnail profiles and heralds of North America's most well-known historic railroads
Tennessee Central Railway
Tennessee & Pacific dates from 1871. By 1900 one of several "Tennessee Centrals" ran east to Emory Gap; western extension reached Hopkinsville, Ky., in 1904. During receivership 1904-1913, TC, divided at Nashville, was controlled by Illinois Central and Southern. After years of unprofitability, TC was split in May 1968 among IC (west of Nashville), Southern (east of Crossville), and Louisville & Nashville (middle). NS operates the east end; Nashville & Eastern the middle, and Central of Tennesee Railway & Navigation a short portion west of Nashville. Two segments were torn up.
Texas Mexican Railway
Texas Mexican, or "Tex-Mex," traces its beginning to the Corpus Christi, San Diego & Rio Grande Narrow Gauge, chartered to build from Corpus Christi to Laredo in 1875. It was renamed Texas-Mexican in 1881 and came under control of the National Railways of Mexico, but after 1902 that interest was held in the U.S. In 1982 NdeM sold Tex-Mex to a private Mexican firm. KCS acquired a 49 percent interest in 1996, and now uses it to link KCS and the newly privatized eastern Mexican carrier TFM, in which KCS also has an interest.
Texas & Pacific Railway
Chartered by Congress as Texas Pacific in 1871 to build westward from Marshall, Texas; name soon changed to include ampersand. Missouri Pacific obtained stock beginning in 1923, and by 1930 owned all T&P preferred stock and the majority of common stock. MP merged T&P on October 15, 1976. Union Pacific absorbed MP on December 22, 1982, and absorbed operations but didn't formally merge MP out of existence until 1997.
Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway
Toledo, Peoria & Western's first ancestor, Peoria & Oquawka Eastern Extension begins construction, began construction in 1855, three years after charter. Renamed Toledo, Peoria & Western in an 1880 reorganization. Half interests bought by Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and Pennsylvania Railroad in 1960. ATSF bought PRR's half after 1976. TP&W merged into Santa Fe on January 1, 1984. Main line sold by AT&SF on February 1, 1989 to new investors, who reused TP&W name. Acquired by RailAmerica in September 1999, still operated as TP&W.
Union Pacific Railroad
Union Pacific has the right name-it's the last major U.S. rail system whose name has never changed, dating from its charter in 1862 to build the nation's first transcontinental westward from Omaha, Nebraska. Construction began in 1865, and was completed on May 10, 1869. Also notable for their longevity are Union Pacific's shield-shaped emblem (1886) and yellow color scheme on its passenger cars and locomotives (1930's).
Deepwater Railway incorporated in West Virginia, acquired in 1902 by Henry Huttleston Rogers, who incorporated Tidewater Railway in February 1904 to build to Norfolk. Name changed to Virginian Railway in 1907. Acquired by Norfolk & Western on December 1, 1959.
First track in Wabash system, Northern Cross Railroad, chartered in Illinois about 1837. The name "Wabash" first appeared in 1853 with organization of Lake Erie, Wabash & St. Louis. Assembled as system by Jay Gould in 1879. In 1915, one of a series of reorganizations created the Wabash Railway. Majority interest later owned by Pennsylvania Railroad. In pre-planning for Penn Central merger, Wabash leased to Norfolk & Western, and effected with merger of Nickel Plate, et al., on October 16, 1964.
Western Maryland Railway
Chartered as Baltimore, Carroll & Frederick Rail Road on May 27, 1852. Name was soon changed to Western Maryland, and opened in November 1862. Baltimore & Ohio acquired a strong minority interest in 1927, and B&O and C&O acquired full control in 1967. WM went into Chessie System in 1973, and B&O formally merged WM on May 1, 1983.
Western Pacific Railroad
Taking the same name as the original Sacramento-Oakland part of the Central Pacific, Western Pacific was incorporated in 1903 to extend the Gould empire west of Utah, and was finished in 1909. Santa Fe and Southern Pacific wanted WP in 1962, but neither got it. Union Pacific did, merging WP on December 22, 1981.
Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway
Wheeling & Lake Erie Rail Road began construction from Martin's Ferry, Ohio, northwest in 1873. Leased by Nickel Plate Road on December 1, 1949. W&LE merged into NKP successor Norfolk & Western, by then a Norfolk Southern subsidiary, on September 16, 1988; spun off in sale on May 17, 1990, by NS to a group which used Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway name.
Wisconsin Central Railway
Wisconsin Central Railway incorporated in 1871, reached Ashland, Wis., in 1877; St Paul, Minn., in 1884; Chicago in 1886; and Superior in 1908. Leased by Northern Pacific 1890-93. Leased in 1909 by MStP&SSM-which gained access to Chicago, north-country ore deposits, and Wisconsin's Fox River valley-until WC's 1932 bankruptcy, after which Soo was WC's "operating agent." WC was folded into Soo Line Railroad in the 1960 merger.
Wisconsin Central Limited
Soo Line, after trying in 1987 to establish an "internal regional" with relaxed work-rules on most of its own lines in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, as the Lake States Transportation Division, gave up the attempt in order to concentrate on its new system including the Milwaukee Road and sold off Lake States' 2300 miles of track to a group of investors who reused the name, and emblem (which dated from 1885), of the prior railroad on the majority of its lines. Wisconsin Central Ltd. ultimately grew to a 3000-mile system, including Fox Valley &Western, Algoma Central Railway, and Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Co., the terminal firm used as the corporate entity to acquire 220 miles of ex-C&NW Upper Michigan lines from Union Pacific on January 27, 1997. Wisconsin Central Ltd. was acquired by Canadian National on October 9, 2001, providing the missing link in CN's Y-shaped transcontinental system.