Milwaukee Road in the 21st Century

JKD Jul 11, 2007

  1. k-59

    k-59 TrainBoard Member

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    Again, the problem was over capacity. Yes, railroads are good at long hauls, which is why the GN and NP were already built and they live on as part of BNSF. The misguided part was the government fixing the rates below level of maximum profitability, which had the feature of allowing (and sometimes forcing) marginal lines like the Pacific Extension to survive. This rate structure didn't allow railroads to negotiate contacts for services in competitive fashion, but instead give them a fixed amount per mile. Obviously, the more revenues miles you had to spread the cost over the better off you were. But in a competitive market the Milwaukee road would have had trouble establishing market share and the line would have been forced out.

    As to the point, about capital investment. You've missed the entire point of the scheme. The idea was to burden the railroad with debt so it could buy the copper from the copper companies to increase their profitability so their stock price would go up, etc. The railroad failure was immaterial to the copper barons as their investment had already been realized via this manipulation. But for the other share-holders and bond-holders, the usual way of measuring an investment is it's return on capital and have the hard time imagining that the Pacific Extension was anything other than a loser in that category.
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Unfortunately what you've written is untrue. It's pretty much repetition of the same old stuff. The data is all there which supports my statement. It's not just wishful "fandom", I actually have the information in hand. (From company files.) Yes. The Anaconda company was a huge influence. However, their interest was only Montana. Contrary to their beliefs and desires, going further west put even more money in the bank.

    There was plenty of room out west. Fact- The MILW had a HUGE chunk of the grain business in Montana and Washington. It had huge timber holdings in three states. MILW, not GN, NP, nor latecomer to Puget Sound UP, had the largest amount of the port business out of Seattle! The truth is what I stated above in #97. The money was bleeding horribly from their midwest branch lines, year after year. After abandoning Lines West, they'd originally planned a 6500 mile core. (I have one of the original hand drawn company maps.) Starting with nearly 9600 miles, they ended up with about 3300. That's nearly 5000 miles of Lines East, which were dumped, in order to survive as a shaky remnant.

    Not just the electrics, but the Pacific Extension paid for itself, over and over again. It was used to bankroll the east end's needs for decades.
     
  3. k-59

    k-59 TrainBoard Member

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    You aren't actually disputing what I am saying. I never said that the line couldn't cover it's operating expenses, I said it was a bad use of investment capital, which was propped up by bad government policy. I would very much like to know how the line provided a market return to it's investors given that the railroad went bankrupt in 1925. Furthermore, saying that the Pacific Extension was more profitable than a bunch of Midwestern branch lines is damning with faint praise, since the Midwest was one of the most overbuilt area in the nation.
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    What I am talking of is the building west story.

    The CM&STP was aswim in a sea of competition. Overbuilt as you say, which I noted (#97) initially. (Such as NP, CB&Q, RI, CNW, CGW, pre-M&St.L, The Omaha, Wabash.) Choices: They could do nothing and struggle with a good chance of altogether failing, try to sell or merge, (scant chance), or try something new.

    They already had two lines to the Missouri River country, and long before ACM interests had sent parties from ends of both to Montana. It was the copper money which years after offered them salvation, regardless of any pockets lined and that was the choice they made. Over objections, they went on west to the coast and it paid off, handsomely. In the end it was clinging to those midwestern lines which sucked the bank accounts down.

    As to that bankruptcy, read "The Investor Pays", by Max Lowenthal. Also spend some time on this web site: www.themilwaukeeroadarchives.com
     
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  5. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

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    I just happened to browse through that issue of Trains the other day, and read their little blurb. I am so tempted right now to go directly to their Facebook or Twitter feed and post our rebuttal to their notion that the Pacific Extension was a blunder.

    Interestingly enough, long ago, insiders of the Canadian Pacific actually specifically stated that the building of the famed Kettle Valley Railway was the greatest blunder in railroading history. I can't remember if that one made the hit-list in Trains magazine.
     
  6. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

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    So, I recently acquired a copy of "The Milwaukee Railroader" from 2003 with an article where Art Danz gave the background for his "Lightning Bolt" Hiawatha scheme.

    I was discussing other potential fantasy paint schemes with someone else who seemed convinced that if the Milwaukee was still around, the Art Danz paint scheme probably wouldn't have lasted until the present day. Apparently, it may actually be too simple, and not 'modern' enough. I was trying to get a handle on how often other railroads change their paint schemes.

    Some, like BNSF, seem to change them everyday, but most usually seem to keep the same scheme for at least a decade, or so, before any major changes. Of course, there is also the Union Pacific, which hasn't really changed it's paint scheme at all, except for subtle little details now and then.

    I've been thinking that the Milwaukee Road, even a modern one, that was maybe a little more prosperous would probably still have a notion of not overspending money if it wasn't necessary. Also the Hiawatha scheme seemed to be generally well liked by the railroad and its employees, so it more than likely would have stuck around for a long time before any updated paint schemes came around.
     
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  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hmmm. Well, there seems to be as much variety in paint schemes these days, as pre-mega-merger era. What I see more of, (too much), are the tacky re-stencils, leaser rust buckets and such. Yuck. Really classless in their penny pinching. But that's the modern business philosophy as taught.

    The Art Danz "Lightning Bolt" seemed to be well liked. Probably due to that Hiawatha emblem. Easy to maintain. Why not keep it? A bit different from the BNSF situation, which they have struggled to form an identity which equally blended BN heritage and the Santa Fe- and created a big mess instead.
     
  8. u18b

    u18b TrainBoard Supporter

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    Maybe this will give everybody a happy day.

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yeah. This was pure class in a paint scheme.
     
  10. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

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    That's perfect: We just need to figure out how to apply it to a modern loco.

    There's one of these up on Ebay right for only $3500, :whistle:.
     
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    N Scale??? If so, someone is really, REALLY reaching for money there.
     
  12. Randy Stahl

    Randy Stahl TrainBoard Member

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    The Milwaukee is still alive!

    The lasting legacy of the Milwaukee are employees. Many Milwaukee employees have gone on to management with other carriers and for the most part have been successful because of the Milwaukee background. I can think of dozens who proudly carry their pedigree from the old Milwaukee road. As the years go on the numbers are falling. More and more retirements, deaths and some who simply left the industry for greener pastures.

    For the time being though the Milwaukee road is still alive in the methods and professionalism of its employees!


    Randy Stahl
     
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  13. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

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    So, now for something completely different: No one can remember if the Milwaukee Road actually had an RDC, but between Jeff King, and I, they do, now. :love:
     

    Attached Files:

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  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    No. They had no RDC's. But they did have several types of gas-electrics/diesel motored cars. From purchased McKeen to home shop builds. And when it came to outright passenger cars, actual ones or their own built "branch line combines".

    That RDC does look good....
     
  15. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

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    Well, i'm trying to convince someone to build a bulldog for me, but I doubt that would make it into the 21st century category.
     
  16. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I think it was last month when I saw someone talking about a "Bulldog" in HO. (Not here. :( ) I believe they wanted one that had run on the Northern Montana Division.
     
  17. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

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    I've just been checking updates on the WSDOT’s project to replace the old Milwaukee Road trestle in Tacoma. They recently built a connection off the old Milwaukee line that curved up into the gulch and joined it with the rail line to Lakewood and Nisqually where it joins onto the BNSF mainline to head south, effectively bypassing the curves and single track tunnels on the BNSF main line around Point Defiance. The bypass line, apparently owned by Sound Transit conveniently enough, will be the new route for Amtrak and Sound transit trains once it is upgraded, but I can also almost imagine such a connection being used to allow Milwaukee Road Portland-bound trains an easier route out of Tacoma.

    Not that the gulch isn't much more valuable from a railfan point of view, but any railroad operating in the 21st century would logically look to cut operating costs wherever possible. Also, an operating scheme like that probably wouldn't be too popular with BNSF or UP, since Milwaukee Road trains bound for Portland would enter the BNSF line at Nisqually instead of going up the gulch and then all the way around and south to the old Chehalis Junction.
     
  18. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Is the old "Prairie Line" still intact from the southern end, north to about Lakeview? So this new connection would be a potential through route again?
     
  19. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

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    It appears to be from the reading I have done. The connection is already there, going south from the old Tacoma freight house: you can see it on google street view.
     
  20. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

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    Here's another what if: Former Southern Pacific NRE GS14B, a unique engine that National Railway Equipment built from a Southern Pacific MP15DC, with a center cab arrangement and a pair of Cummins 700hp truck engines are under the hoods. Maybe something the Milwaukee Road could have done with some of those MP15 ACs it bought, not that there would really be any reason to rebuild an MP15 since they are generally still currently in operation.

    [​IMG]
     
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