Charles Dawes - Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway - Stock CertificateInv# AG1100 Stock
Charles Gates Dawes (August 27, 1865 – April 23, 1951) was an American banker, general, diplomat, composer, and Republican politician who was the 30th vice president of the United States from 1925 to 1929. For his work on the Dawes Plan for World War I reparations, he was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925.
Born in Marietta, Ohio, Dawes attended Cincinnati Law School before beginning a legal career in Lincoln, Nebraska. After serving as a gas plant executive, he managed William McKinley's 1896 presidential campaign in Illinois. After the election, McKinley appointed Dawes as the Comptroller of the Currency, and he remained in that position until 1901 before forming the Central Trust Company of Illinois. Dawes served as a general during World War I and was the chairman of the general purchasing board for the American Expeditionary Forces. In 1921, President Warren G. Harding appointed Dawes as the first Director of the Bureau of the Budget. Dawes also served on the Allied Reparations Commission, where he helped formulate the Dawes Plan to aid the struggling German economy, though the plan was eventually replaced by the Young Plan.
The 1924 Republican National Convention nominated President Calvin Coolidge without opposition. After Frank Lowden declined the vice-presidential nomination, the convention chose Dawes as Coolidge's running mate. The Republican ticket won the 1924 presidential election, and Dawes was sworn in as vice president in 1925. Dawes helped pass the McNary–Haugen Farm Relief Bill in Congress, but President Coolidge vetoed it. Dawes was a candidate for renomination at the 1928 Republican National Convention, but Coolidge's opposition to Dawes helped ensure that Charles Curtis was nominated instead. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover appointed Dawes to be the Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Dawes also briefly led the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which organized a government response to the Great Depression. He resigned from that position in 1932 to return to banking, and he died in 1951 of coronary thrombosis.
Dawes was born in Marietta, Ohio, in Washington County, son of Civil War General Rufus Dawes and his wife Mary Beman Gates. Rufus had commanded the 6th Wisconsin Regiment of the Iron Brigade from 1863 to 1864 during the American Civil War. His uncle Ephraim C. Dawes, younger brother to Rufus, was a Major who served under Ulysses S. Grant at the Battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg.
Dawes was a descendant of Edward Doty, a passenger on the Mayflower, and William Dawes who rode with Paul Revere to warn American colonists of the advancing British army at the outbreak of the American Revolution.
Dawes married Caro Blymyer on January 24, 1889. They had a son, Rufus Fearing (1890–1912), and a daughter, Carolyn. They later adopted two children, Dana and Virginia.
Dawes was admitted to the bar in Nebraska, and he practiced in Lincoln, Nebraska, from 1887 to 1894. When Lieutenant John Pershing, the future Army general, was appointed as a military instructor at the University of Nebraska while attending its law school, he and Dawes met and formed a lifelong friendship. Dawes also met Democratic Congressman William Jennings Bryan. The two became friends despite their disagreement over free silver policies.
Dawes relocated from Lincoln to Chicago during the Panic of 1893. In 1894, Dawes acquired interests several Midwestern gas plants. He became the president of both the La Crosse Gas Light Company in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and the Northwestern Gas Light and Coke Company in Evanston, Illinois.
Dawes was a self-taught pianist and a composer. His composition Melody in A Major became a well-known piano and violin song in 1912. Marie Edwards made a popular arrangement of the work in 1921. Also, in 1921, it was arranged for a small orchestra by Adolf G. Hoffmann. Melody in A Major was played at many official functions that Dawes attended.
In 1951, Carl Sigman added lyrics to Melody in A Major, transforming the song into "It's All in the Game". Tommy Edwards's recording of "It's All in the Game" was a number-one hit on the American Billboard record chart for six weeks in 1958. Edwards's version of the song also hit number one on the United Kingdom chart that year.
Since then, it has become a pop standard. Numerous artists have recorded versions, including Cliff Richard, The Four Tops, Isaac Hayes, Jackie DeShannon, Van Morrison, Nat "King" Cole, Brook Benton, Elton John, Mel Carter, Donny and Marie Osmond, Barry Manilow, and Keith Jarrett.
Dawes is the only vice president to be credited with a number-one pop hit. Dawes and Sonny Bono are the only people credited with a number-one pop hit who were also members of the United States Senate or House of Representatives. Dawes and Bob Dylan (as a writer) are the only persons credited with a number-one pop hit to have also won a Nobel Prize.
Dawes was a brother of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
Dawes's prominent positions in business caught the attention of Republican party leaders. They asked Dawes to manage the Illinois portion of William McKinley's bid for the Presidency of the United States in 1896. Following McKinley's election, Dawes was rewarded for his efforts by being named Comptroller of the Currency, United States Department of the Treasury. Serving in that position from 1898 to 1901, he collected more than $25 million from banks that had failed during the Panic of 1893 and changed banking practices to try to prevent another panic.
In October 1901, Dawes left the Department of the Treasury to pursue a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois. He thought that, with the help of the McKinley Administration, he could win it. McKinley was assassinated and his successor, President Theodore Roosevelt, preferred Dawes's opponent. In 1902, following this unsuccessful attempt at legislative office, Dawes declared that he was done with politics. He organized the Central Trust Company of Illinois, where he served as its president until 1921.
On September 5, 1912, Dawes's 21-year-old son Rufus drowned in Geneva Lake, while on summer break from Princeton University. In his memory, Dawes created homeless shelters in both Chicago and Boston and financed the construction of a dormitory at his son's alma mater, the Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.
Dawes helped support the first Anglo-French Loan to the Entente powers of $500 million. Dawes's support was important because the House of Morgan needed public support from a non-Morgan banker. The Morgan banker Thomas W. Lamont said that Dawes's support would "make a position for him in the banking world such as he otherwise could never hope to make." (Loans were seen as possibly violating neutrality, and Wilson was still resisting permitting loans.)
During the First World War, Dawes was commissioned as a major on June 11, 1917, in the 17th Engineers. He was subsequently promoted to lieutenant colonel (July 17, 1917), and colonel (January 16, 1918). In October 1918, he was promoted to brigadier general. From August 1917 to August 1919, Dawes served in France during World War I as chairman of the general purchasing board for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). His proposal to Gen. Pershing was adopted informed the Military Board of Allied Supply, on which he served as the American delegate in 1918. When the war ended in November, he became a member of the Liquidation Commission of the United States War Department. He was decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal and the French Croix de Guerre in recognition of his service. He returned to the United States on board the SS Leviathan in August 1919.
In February 1921, the U.S. Senate held hearings on war expenditures. During heated testimony, Dawes burst out, "Hell and Maria, we weren't trying to keep a set of books over there, we were trying to win a war!" He was later known as "Hell and Maria Dawes" (although he always insisted the expression was "Helen Maria", an exclamation he claimed was common in Nebraska). Dawes resigned from the Army in 1919 and became a member of the American Legion.
He supported Frank Lowden at the 1920 Republican National Convention, but the presidential nomination went to Warren G. Harding. When the Bureau of the Budget was created, he was appointed in 1921 by President Harding as its first director. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover appointed him to the Allied Reparations Commission in 1923. He came up with the solution to the European crisis: The Dawes Plan loaned large sums of American bank money to the German economy. The loans permitted Germany to recover its industrial production while making reparation payments to France and Belgium as required by the Versailles Treaty. In 1929 the Reparations Commission, under Owen Young, replaced the plan with the more permanent Young Plan, which reduced the total amount of reparations and called for the removal of occupying forces. For his work on the Dawes Plan that enabled Germany to restore and stabilize its economy, Dawes shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925.
I should hate to think that the Senate was as tired of me at the beginning of my service as I am of the Senate at the end.— Charles G. Dawes
At the 1924 Republican National Convention, President Calvin Coolidge was quickly selected almost without opposition to be the Republican presidential nominee. The vice-presidential nominee was more contested. Illinois Governor Frank Lowden was nominated, but declined. Coolidge's next choice was Idaho Senator William Borah, but he also declined the nomination. The Republican National Chairman, William Butler, wanted to nominate then Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover, but he was not sufficiently popular. Eventually, the delegates chose Dawes. Coolidge quickly accepted the delegates' choice and felt that Dawes would be loyal to him and make a strong addition to his campaign.
Dawes traveled throughout the country during the campaign, giving speeches to bolster the Republican ticket. He frequently attacked Progressive nominee Robert M. La Follette as a dangerous radical who sympathized with the Bolsheviks. The Coolidge-Dawes ticket was elected on November 4, 1924, with more popular votes than the candidates of the Democratic and Progressive parties combined. The inauguration was held on March 4, 1925.
On March 10, the Senate debated the president's nomination of Charles B. Warren to be United States Attorney General. In the wake of the Teapot Dome scandal and other scandals, Democrats and Progressive Republicans objected to the nomination because of Warren's close association with the Sugar Trust. At midday, six speakers were scheduled to address Warren's nomination. Desiring to take a break for a nap, Dawes consulted the majority and minority leaders, who assured him that no vote would be taken that afternoon. After Dawes left the Senate, however, all but one of the scheduled speakers decided against making formal remarks, and a vote was taken. When it became apparent that the vote would be tied, Republican leaders hastily called Dawes at the Willard Hotel, and he immediately left for the Capitol. The first vote was 40-40, a tie which Dawes could have broken in Warren's favor. While waiting for Dawes to arrive, the only Democratic senator who had voted for Warren switched his vote. The nomination then failed 41-39—the first such rejection of a president's nominee in nearly 60 years. This incident was chronicled in a derisive poem, based on the Longfellow poem "Paul Revere's Ride;" it began with the line, "Come gather round children and hold your applause for the afternoon ride of Charlie Dawes." The choice of poem was based on Charles Dawes being descended from William Dawes, who rode with Paul Revere.
Dawes and Coolidge quickly became alienated from one another. Dawes declined to attend Cabinet meetings and annoyed Coolidge with his attack on the Senate filibuster. Dawes championed the McNary–Haugen Farm Relief Bill, which sought to alleviate the 1920s farm crisis by having the government buy surplus farm produce and sell that surplus in foreign markets. Dawes helped ensure the passage of the bill through Congress, but President Coolidge vetoed it.
In 1927, Coolidge announced that he would not seek re-election. Dawes again favored Frank Lowden at the 1928 Republican National Convention, but the convention chose Herbert Hoover. Rumors circulated about Dawes being chosen as Hoover's running mate. Coolidge made it known that he would consider the renomination of Dawes as vice president to be an insult. Charles Curtis of Kansas, known for his skills in collaboration, was chosen as Hoover's running mate.
After Dawes had finished his term as vice president, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom (known formally as the Court of St. James's) from 1929 to 1931. Overall, Dawes was a very effective U.S. ambassador, as George V's son, the future Edward VIII, would later confirm in his memoirs. Dawes was rather rough-hewn for some of his duties, disliking having to present American débutantes to the King. On his first visit to the royal court, in deference to American public opinion, he refused to wear the customary Court dress, which then included knee breeches. This episode was said to upset the King, who had been prevented by illness from attending the event.
As the Great Depression continued to ravage the United States, Dawes accepted President Herbert Hoover's appeal to leave diplomatic office and head the newly created Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). But after a few months, Dawes resigned from the RFC. As a board member of the failing City National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago, he felt obligated to work for its rescue. Political opponents alleged that, under Dawes's leadership, the RFC had given preferential treatment to his bank. This marked the end of Dawes's career in public service. For the 1932 election, Hoover considered the possibility of adding Dawes to the ticket in place of Curtis, but Dawes declined the potential offer.
Dawes resumed a role in the banking business, serving for nearly two decades as chairman of the board of the City National Bank and Trust Co., from 1932 until his death. He died on April 23, 1951 at his Evanston home from coronary thrombosis at the age of 85. He is interred in Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago.
Dawes belonged to several military, hereditary and veteran organizations. These included the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, the Sons of the American Revolution, the General Society of Colonial Wars and the American Legion.
- In 1925, Dawes was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on World War I reparations.
A Chicago public school located at 3810 w 81st Place is named in his honor.
United States military awards
Distinguished Service Medal citation:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Brigadier General Charles G. Dawes, United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I. General Dawes rendered most conspicuous services in the organization of the General Purchasing Board as General Purchasing Agent of the American Expeditionary Forces and as the Representative of the U.S. Army on the Military Board of Allied Supply. His rare abilities, sound business judgment, and aggressive energy were invaluable in securing needed supplies for the Allied armies in Europe. (War Department, General Orders No. 12 (1919))
- Companion of the Order of the Bath (United Kingdom)
- Commander of the Legion of Honor (France)
- Commander of the Order of Leopold (Belgium)
- Croix de Guerre with palm (France)
According to Annette Dunlap, Dawes was:
- a self-made man who valued hard work and thriftiness tempered with Christian generosity. He spent his life promoting solid Republican values of small government with restrained budgets. Franklin Roosevelt’s philosophy of big government spending was anathema to him.
In 1944, he bequeathed his lakeshore home in Evanston to Northwestern University for the Evanston Historical Society (later renamed the Evanston History Center). Dawes lived in the house until his death. The Dawes family continued to occupy it until the death of Mrs. Dawes in 1957. Since then, the Evanston History Center operates out of the house and manages it as a museum. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the Charles G. Dawes House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Dawes, C. G. (1894). The Banking System of the United States and Its Relation to the Money and the Business of the Country. Chicago: Rand McNally.
- "The Sherman Anti-Trust Law: Why It has Failed and Why It Should Be Amended." The North American Review 183.597 (1906): 189–194. online
- Dawes, C. G. (1915). Essays and Speeches. New York: Houghton.
- Dawes, C. G. (1921). Journal of the Great War. 2 vols. New York: Houghton. online copy vol 1; also online copy v2
- Dawes, C. G. (1923). The First Year of the Budget of the United States. New York: Harper. online copy
- Dawes, C. G. (1935). Notes as Vice President, 1928–1929. Boston: Little, Brown. online copy
- Dawes, C. G. (1937). How Long Prosperity? New York: Marquis.
- Dawes, C. G. (1939). Journal as Ambassador to Great Britain. New York: Macmillan. online copy
- Dawes, C. G. (1939). A Journal of Reparations. New York: Macmillan. online copy
- Dawes, C. G. (1950). A Journal of the McKinley Years. Bascom N. Timmons (Ed.). La Grange, IL: Tower.
The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (CRI&P RW, sometimes called Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway) (reporting marks CRIP, RI, ROCK) was an American Class I railroad. It was also known as the Rock Island Line, or, in its final years, The Rock.
At the end of 1970, it operated 7,183 miles of road on 10,669 miles of track; that year it reported 20,557 million ton-miles of revenue freight and 118 million passenger-miles. (Those totals may or may not include the former Burlington-Rock Island Railroad.)
The song "Rock Island Line", a spiritual from the late 1920s first recorded in 1934, was inspired by the railway.
Its predecessor, the Rock Island and La Salle Railroad Company', was incorporated in Illinois on February 27, 1847, and an amended charter was approved on February 7, 1851, as the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad. Construction began in Chicago on October 1, 1851, and the first train was operated on October 10, 1852, between Chicago and Joliet. Construction continued on through La Salle, and Rock Island was reached on February 22, 1854, becoming the first railroad to connect Chicago with the Mississippi River.
In Iowa, the C&RI's incorporators created (on February 5, 1853) the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad Company (M&M), to run from Davenport to Council Bluffs, and on November 20, 1855, the first train to operate in Iowa steamed from Davenport to Muscatine. The Mississippi River bridge between Rock Island and Davenport was completed on April 22, 1856.
In 1857, the steamboat Effie Afton ran into the Rock Island's Mississippi River Bridge. The steamboat was overcome by a fire, which also destroyed a span of the bridge. This accident caused a series of court cases. In one of the cases, Abraham Lincoln, a lawyer at the time, represented the Rock Island. Lincoln argued that not only was the steamboat at fault in striking the bridge, but that bridges across navigable rivers were to the advantage of the country.
The M&M was acquired by the C&RI on July 9, 1866, to form the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company. The railroad expanded through construction and acquisitions in the following decades.
The Rock Island stretched across Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas. The easternmost reach of the system was Chicago, and the system also reached Memphis, Tennessee. To the west, it reached Denver, Colorado, and Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Southernmost reaches were to Galveston, Texas, and Eunice, Louisiana, while in a northerly direction, the Rock Island got as far as Minneapolis, Minnesota. Major lines included Minneapolis to Kansas City, Missouri, via Des Moines, Iowa; St. Louis, Missouri Meta, Missouri, to Santa Rosa via Kansas City; Herington, Kansas, to Galveston, Texas, via Fort Worth, Texas, and Dallas, Texas; and Santa Rosa to Memphis. The heaviest traffic was on the Chicago-to-Rock Island and Rock Island-to-Muscatine lines.
In common with most American railroad companies, the Rock Island once operated an extensive passenger service. The primary routes served were: Chicago-Los Angeles, Chicago-Denver, Memphis-Little Rock-Oklahoma City-Tucumcari, and Minneapolis-Dallas. The Rock Island ran both limited and local service on those routes, as well as locals on many other lines on its system. In 1937, the Rock Island introduced diesel power to its passenger service, with the purchase of six lightweight Rocket streamliners.
In competition with the Santa Fe Chiefs, the Rock Island jointly operated the Golden State Limited (Chicago—Kansas City—Tucumcari—El Paso—Los Angeles) with the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) from 1902–1968. On this route, the Rock Island's train was marketed as a "low-altitude" crossing of the Continental Divide. The Rock Island did not concede to the Santa Fe's dominance in the Chicago–Los Angeles travel market and re-equipped the train with new streamlined equipment in 1948. At the same time, the Limited was dropped from the train's name and the train was thereafter known as the Golden State. The local run on this line was known as the Imperial, which had a branch operating through the northwestern edge of Mexico.
The 1948 modernization of the Golden State occurred with some controversy. In 1947, both the Rock Island and Southern Pacific jointly advertised the coming of a new entry in the Chicago-Los Angeles travel market. The Golden Rocket was scheduled to closely match the Santa Fe's transit time end-to-end and was to have its own dedicated trainsets, one purchased by the Rock Island, the other by Southern Pacific. As the Rock Island's set of streamlined passenger cars was being finished, the Southern Pacific abruptly withdrew its purchase. The Rock Island's cars were delivered and found their way into the Golden State's fleet soon after delivery.
The Rock Island also competed with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad in the Chicago-to-Denver market. While the Q fielded its Zephyrs on the route, the Rock Island ran the Rocky Mountain Rocket. The RMR split at Limon, Colorado, with half the train diverting to Colorado Springs, an operation known as the "Limon Shuffle". The Rock Island conceded nothing to its rival, even installing ABS signaling on the route west of Lincoln in an effort to maintain transit speed. The train was also re-equipped with streamlined equipment in 1948.
As the Rocky Mountain Rocket was downgraded due to nonrail competition, the route traveled by the train was gradually shortened from 1966 onward. Its western terminus was cut back first to Omaha, then to Council Bluffs. After briefly running without a name, it was renamed The Cornhusker. Finally, in 1970, the train was cut back to a Chicago-Rock Island run entirely within the confines of the state of Illinois and renamed the Quad Cities Rocket.
Other trains operated by the Rock Island as part of its Rocket fleet included the Corn Belt Rocket (Chicago—Des Moines—Omaha), the Des Moines-Omaha Limited (Chicago-Des Moines-Omaha), the Twin Star Rocket (Minneapolis—St. Paul—Des Moines—Kansas City—Oklahoma City—Fort Worth—Dallas—Houston), the Zephyr Rocket (Minneapolis—St. Paul—Burlington—St. Louis), the Choctaw Rocket (Memphis—Little Rock—Oklahoma City—Amarillo) and the Cherokee (a local counterpart to the Choctaw Rocket, Memphis-Little Rock-Oklahoma City-Amarillo-Tucumcari-Los Angeles).
By the time Amtrak was formed in 1971, the once-proud Rock Island was down to just two intercity trains, the Chicago-Peoria Peoria Rocket and the Chicago-Rock Island Quad Cities Rocket, both of which now operated entirely within the borders of Illinois. However, the Rock Island opted against joining Amtrak, in part because the government assessed the Amtrak entrance fee based upon passenger miles operated in 1970. After concluding that the cost of joining would be greater than remaining in the passenger business, the railroad decided to "perform a public service for the state of Illinois" and continue intercity passenger operations. To help manage the service, the Rock Island hired National Association of Railroad Passengers founder Anthony Haswell as managing director of passenger services.
The last two trains plied the Rock Island's Illinois Division as the track quality declined from 1971 through 1977. The transit times, once a speedy 2½ hours in the 1950s, had lengthened to a 4½ hour run by 1975. The State of Illinois continued to subsidize the service to keep it running. The track program of 1978 helped with main-line timekeeping, although the Rock Island's management decreed that the two trains were not to delay freight traffic on the route. By this time, both once-proud trains were down to just two coaches, powered by EMD E8 locomotives entering their second decade of service. With the trains frequently running with as many paying passengers as coaches in the train, Illinois withdrew its subsidy, and the two trains made their final runs on December 31, 1978.
The Rock Island also operated an extensive commuter train service in the Chicago area. The primary route ran from LaSalle Street Station to Joliet along the main line, and a spur line, known as the "Suburban Line" to Blue Island. The main-line trains supplanted the long-distance services that did not stop at the numerous stations on that route. The Suburban Line served the Beverly Hills area of Chicago as a branch leaving the main line at Gresham and heading due west, paralleling the Baltimore and Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad passenger line before turning south. The Suburban Line made stops every four blocks along the way before rejoining the main line at Western Avenue Junction in Blue Island.
From the 1920s on, the suburban services were operated using Pacific-type 4-6-2 locomotives and specially designed light-heavyweight coaches that with their late 1920s build dates became known as the "Capone" cars. The suburban service became well known in the diesel era, as the steam power was replaced, first with new EMD FP7s and ALCO RS-3s, with two Fairbanks-Morse units added later. In 1949, Pullman-built 2700-series cars arrived as the first air-conditioned commuter cars on the line.
In the 1960s, the Rock Island tried to upgrade the suburban service with newer equipment at lower cost. Second-hand Aerotrains, while less than successful in intercity service, were purchased to provide further air-conditioned accommodations that had proven popular with the 2700 series cars.
When the Milwaukee Road purchased new Budd Company stainless-steel, bilevel cars in 1961, the Rock Island elected to add to a subsequent order and took delivery of its first bilevel equipment in 1964. Power for these new cars was provided by orphaned passenger units: three EMD F7s, an EMD E6, and the two EMD AB6s. The power was rebuilt with head end power to provide heat, air conditioning, and lighting for the new cars. In 1970, another order, this time for Pullman-built bilevel cars arrived to further supplement the fleet. To provide the power for these cars, several former Union Pacific EMD E8 and EMD E9 diesels were rebuilt with head end power and added to the commuter pool.
The commuter service was not exempt from the general decline of the Rock Island through the 1970s. Over time, deferred maintenance took its toll on both track and rolling stock. On the Rock Island, the Capone cars were entering their sixth decade of service and the nearly 30-year-old 2700s suffered from severe corrosion due to the steel used in their construction. LaSalle Street Station, the service's downtown terminal, suffered from neglect and urban decay with the slab roof of the train shed literally falling apart, requiring its removal. By this time, the Rock Island could not afford to replace the clearly worn-out equipment.
In 1976, the entire Chicago commuter rail system began to receive financial support from the state of Illinois through the Regional Transportation Authority. Operating funds were disbursed to all commuter operators, and the Rock Island was to be provided with new equipment to replace the tired 2700 series and Capone cars. New Budd bilevels that were near copies of the 1961 Milwaukee Road cars arrived in 1978. New EMD F40PH units arrived in late 1977 and, in summer, 1978, briefly could be seen hauling Capone cars. The Rock Island's commuter F and E units were relegated to freight service or the dead line.
With the 1980 end of the Rock Island, the RTA purchased the suburban territory and remaining Rock Island commuter equipment from the estate, while the Chicago and North Western Railway took over operations for a year before the RTA began operating it directly in 1981. LaSalle Street Station was torn down and replaced with the Chicago Stock Exchange building, with a smaller commuter station located one block south of the old station. The RTA gradually rebuilt the track and added more new equipment to the service, leaving the property in better shape than it was in the Rock Island's heyday, albeit with less track. The Rock Island District, as the Rock Island's suburban service is now known, now operates as part of Metra, the Chicago commuter rail agency.
As the glory years of the Farrington era waned in the late 1950s, the Rock Island found itself once again faced with flat traffic, flat revenues, and increasing costs. The property was still in decent shape, and the Rock Island made an attractive bride for a rail suitor looking to expand the reach of their current system.
The Rock Island was known as "one railroad too many" in the plains states, basically serving the same territory as the Burlington, only over a longer route. The Midwest rail network had been built in the late 19th century to serve that era's traffic. The mechanization of grain hauling gave larger reach to large grain elevators, reducing the need for the tight web of track that crisscrossed the plains states such as Iowa. As for available overhead traffic, in 1958, no less than six Class I carriers were serving as eastern connections for the Union Pacific at Omaha, all seeking a slice of the flood of western traffic that UP interchanged there. Under the ICC revenue rules in place at the time, the Rock Island sought traffic from Omaha, yet preferred to keep the long haul to Denver, where interchange could be made with the Denver and Rio Grande Western, a connection to the Western Pacific for haulage to the West Coast.
The only option for the Rock Island to grow revenues and absorb costs was to merge with another, perhaps more prosperous railroad. Overtures were made from fellow Midwest granger line Chicago and North Western and granger turned transcon Milwaukee Road. Both of these never advanced much beyond the data gathering and initial study phases. In 1964, its last profitable year, the Rock Island selected UP to pursue a merger plan to form one large "super" railroad stretching from Chicago to the West Coast.
Facing the loss of UP's traffic at the Omaha gateway, virtually every railroad directly and indirectly affected by this combination immediately filed protests asking that the transaction be denied. With these filings began the longest and most complicated merger case in Interstate Commerce Commission history. Faced with failing granger railroads and large Class I railroads seeking to expand, ICC Hearing Examiner Nathan Klitenic, presiding over the case, sought to balance the opposing forces and completely restructure the railroads of the United States west of the Mississippi River.
After 10 years of hearings and tens of thousands of pages of testimony and exhibits produced, now-Administrative Law Judge Nathan Klitenic approved the Rock Island-Union Pacific merger as part of a larger plan for rail service throughout the West. Under Klitenic's proposal, the Chicago-Omaha main line, including most of the Rock Island, would go to the Union Pacific. The Kansas City-Tucumcari Golden State route would be sold to the Southern Pacific. The Memphis-Amarillo Choctaw route would be sold to the Santa Fe Railway. The Rio Grande would have an option to purchase the Denver-Kansas City line.
The visionary plan would not be realized until the megamergers of the 1990s with the BNSF Railway and Union Pacific remaining as the two surviving major rail carriers west of the Mississippi. From the vantage point of the 1974 railroad industry, Klitenic's plan was viewed as an unmanageable and far too radical solution to both the granger railroad issue and the larger issue of the future of rail freight transportation in general.
During most of the ensuing merger process, Rock Island operated at a financial loss. In 1965, Rock Island earned its last profit. With the merger with Union Pacific seemingly so close, the Rock Island cut expenses to conserve cash. Expenditures on track maintenance were cut, passenger service was reduced as fast as the ICC would allow, and locomotives received only basic maintenance to keep them running. Rock Island began to take on a ramshackle appearance and derailments occurred with increasing frequency. In an effort to prop up its future merger mate, UP asked the Rock Island to forsake the Denver gateway in favor of increased interchange at Omaha. Incredibly, the Rock Island refused this, and the UP routed more Omaha traffic over the Chicago and North Western.
As a result, by 1974, the Rock Island was no longer the attractive prospect it had once been in the 1950s. The Union Pacific viewed the expense of bringing the Rock Island property back to viable operating condition to be prohibitive. Additionally, the ICC attached conditions for both labor and operating concessions that the UP deemed excessive. Union Pacific unilaterally walked away from the deal, ending the merger case.
Now set free and adrift, both operationally and financially, the Rock Island assessed its options. It hired a new president and CEO, John W. Ingram, a former Federal Railway Administration (FRA) official. Ingram quickly sought to improve efficiency and sought FRA loans for the rebuild of the line, but finances caught up with the Rock Island all too quickly. With only $300 of cash on hand, on March 17, 1975, Rock Island entered its third bankruptcy under Chapter 77 of the Federal Bankruptcy Act. William M. Gibbons was selected as receiver and trustee by Judge Frank J. McGarr, with whom Gibbons practiced law in the early 1960s.
With its debts on hold, Rock Island charted a new course as a grain funnel from the Midwest to the port of Galveston, Texas. The Ingram administration estimated that the Rock Island could be rebuilt and re-equipped at a cost of $100 million and sought financing for the plan. Cabooseless grain shuttles were one cost-effective way to gain market share and help finance the plan internally.
Nevertheless, new and rebuilt locomotives arrived on the property in gleaming powder blue and white to replace some of the tired, filthy power. Track rebuild projects covered the system. Main lines that had seen little or no maintenance in years were pulled from the mud. Rail and tie replacement programs attacked the maintenance backlog. However, the FRA-backed loans that Ingram sought were thwarted by the lobbying efforts of competing railroads, which saw a healthy Rock Island as a threat. By 1978, main line track improved in quality. For example, at the end of that summer, the Illinois Division had no slow orders, and freight velocity was rising. The sale of the Golden State Route to the Southern Pacific had been agreed to. The Rock Island slowly inched towards a financial break-even point, despite the financial malaise that plagued the late 1970s.
Creditors, such as Henry Crown, advocated for the shutdown and liquidation of the property. Crown declared that the Rock Island was not capable of operating profitably, much less paying its outstanding debts. At the same time, Crown invested as much as he could in Rock Island bonds and other debt at bankruptcy-induced junk status prices.
For the previous two years, while the Rock Island invested heavily into its physical plant, the Rock Island brotherhoods had been working under expired labor agreements. The front line operating employees had not had an increase in pay since the existing contracts expired yet remained on the job during extensive contract negotiations. By the summer of 1979, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the United Transportation Union had accepted new agreements. The Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks (BRAC) held firm to their demand that pay increases be back dated to the expiration date of the previous agreement.
The Rock Island offered to open the books to show the precarious financial condition of the road in an effort to get the BRAC in line with the other unions that had already signed agreements. Fred J. Kroll, president of the BRAC, declined the offer to audit the books of the Rock Island. Kroll pulled his BRAC clerks off the job in August, 1979. Picket lines went up at every terminal on the Rock Island's system and the operating brotherhoods honored the picket lines. The Rock Island ground to a halt.
The Ingram management team operated as much of the Rock Island as they could. Trains slowly began to move, with more traffic being hauled every week of the strike. President Jimmy Carter issued a back-to-work order that BRAC dismissed. Still more traffic flowed on the strikebound Rock Island. According to Ingram, "by the end of the sixth week, the Rock Island was handling about 30 percent of its prestrike tonnage with 5 percent of the prestrike onboard train operating personnel. Projections indicated that by the end of November the company would be handling about half of its prestrike tonnage and earning a profit of about $5 million per month. In other words, the company was winning the strike." Seeing the trains rolling despite the strike and fearing a Florida East Coast strikebreaking situation, the unions appealed to the FRA and ICC for relief. Despite the fact that Rock Island management had been able to move 80% of pre-strike tonnage, at the behest of the Carter Administration, the ICC declared a transportation emergency, finding that the Rock Island would not be able to move the 1979 grain harvest to market. This decision came despite the railroad's movement of more grain out of Iowa in the week immediately preceding the order than during any week in its history. The ICC issued a Directed Service Order authorizing the Kansas City Terminal Railway to take over operations.
The Directed Service Order enabled one-time suitors, via KCT management, to basically test operate portions of the Rock Island that had once interested them. On January 24, 1980, Judge McGarr elected not to review the Rock Island's final plan of reorganization. He simply initiated the shutdown and liquidation of the Rock Island, which was what Henry Crown had advocated for from the very beginning. Not wanting to preside over an asset sale, Rock Island president John W. Ingram resigned, and Gibbons took over as president of the bankrupt railroad.
Kansas City Terminal began the process of embargoing in-bound shipments in late February, and the final train battled three days of snow drifts to arrive in Denver on March 31, 1980. Cars and locomotives were gathered in 'ghost trains' that appeared on otherwise defunct Rock Island lines and accumulated at major terminals and shops and prepared for sale.
The railroad's locomotives, rail cars, equipment, tracks, and real estate were sold to other railroads or to scrappers. Gibbons was able to raise more than $500 million in the liquidation, paying off all the railroad's creditors, bondholders and all other debts in full at face value with interest. Henry Crown was ultimately proven correct, as both he and other bondholders who had purchased Rock Island debt for cents on the dollar during the low ebb in prices did especially well.
Gibbons was released from the Rock Island on June 1, 1984, as the estate of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad expired. All assets had been sold, all debts had been paid, and the former railroad found itself with a large amount of cash. The name of the company was changed to Chicago Pacific Corporation to further distance itself from the defunct railroad and their first purchase was the Hoover Company, manufacturer of vacuum cleaners. In 1988, the company was acquired by the Maytag Corporation.
Ironically, through the megamergers of the 1990s the Union Pacific railroad ultimately ended up owning and operating more of the Rock Island than it would have acquired in its attempted 1964 merger. The one line it currently does not own (or operate regularly, other than detours) is the Chicago to Omaha main line that drove it to merge with the Rock Island in the first place. This line is now owned and prospers under Iowa Interstate Railroad.
The company inspired the song "Rock Island Line", first written in 1934 and recorded by numerous artists.
A spur of the Rock Island Railroad that ran beside a small hotel in Eldon, Missouri, owned by the grandmother of Mrs. Paul (Ruth) Henning also inspired the popular television show "Petticoat Junction" in the early 1960s. Ruth Henning is listed as a co-creator of the show, along with her husband Paul, who also created "The Beverly Hillbillies" and executive produced Jay Sommers's "Green Acres."
In 2017, thirty-seven years after the Rock Island folded, a new startup company that owns the rights to the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific name began operating in the southern United States. The new Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad LLC is primarily a shortline holding company, while also providing numerous other railroad services, such as switching, railroad management, railcar fleet management, railcar storage, and locomotive maintenance. The company acquired their first railroad in early 2019 with the acquisition of the Mississippi Delta Railroad. The company rosters 8 locomotives. On April 18, 2020, work completed on painting one of their GP38 locomotives, RILX 4310, into the famous "The Rock" paint scheme. On May 23, 2020, another of their GP38 locomotives, RI 4373, completed being painted in the same scheme named “reborn blue”.
In late May 2020, the company acquired Canadian National 2127 a GE Dash 8-40C and has been painted in 2021 into the Rock Island red and yellow livery to become RI 2127. Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Railroad LLC, dba Rock Island Rail, holds service mark registrations of “The Rock” & “Route Rock" and the "R" trademark.
Presidents of the Rock Island Railroad included:
- James W. Grant, November 27, 1850 - December 22, 1851.
- John Bloomfield Jervis, December 22, 1851 - December 1854.
- Henry Farnam, December 1854 - June 1863.
- Charles W. Durant, June 1863 - August 1866.
- John F. Tracy, August 1866 - April 14, 1877.
- Hugh Riddle, April 14, 1877 - June 6, 1883.
- Ransom Reed Cable, June 6, 1883 - June 1898.
- Warren G. Purdy, June 1898 - December 31, 1901.
- William Bateman Leeds, December 31, 1901 - March 26, 1904.
- Benjamin L. Winchell, March 26, 1904 - December 1909.
- Henry U. Mudge, December 1909 - April 20, 1915.
- Jacob McGavock Dickinson appointed receiver trustee during bankruptcy, April 20, 1915 - June 21, 1917.
- James E. Gorman, June 22, 1917 - June 7, 1933.
- Joseph B. Fleming, Frank Orren Lowden (until his death on March 20, 1943) and James E. Gorman (until his death on March 25, 1942) appointed receiver trustees during bankruptcy, June 7, 1933 - December 31, 1947. Aaron Colnon replaced Frank O. Lowden as receiver trustee on April 19, 1943.
- John Dow Farrington, January 1, 1948 - 1955.
- Downing B. Jenks, 1956–1961.
- R. Ellis Johnson, 1961–1964.
- Jervis Langdon, Jr., 1965–1970.
- William J. Dixon, 1970–1974.
- John W. Ingram, 1974 - January 1980.
- William M. Gibbons appointed receiver trustee during bankruptcy, March 17, 1975 - June 1, 1984.
A stock certificate is issued by businesses, usually companies. A stock is part of the permanent finance of a business. Normally, they are never repaid, and the investor can recover his/her money only by selling to another investor. Most stocks, or also called shares, earn dividends, at the business's discretion, depending on how well it has traded. A stockholder or shareholder is a part-owner of the business that issued the stock certificates.