Wabash Railroad

Wabash Railroad

Infobox SG rail
railroad_name=Wabash Railroad
logo_filename=Wabashflag.png logo_size=100
locale=Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, and Ontario
end_year=October 16, 1964
successor_line=Norfolk and Western Railway
hq_city=St. Louis, MO
The Wabash Railroad reporting mark|WAB was a Class I railroad that operated in the mid-central United States. It served a large area, including trackage in the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri and Ontario. Its primary connections included Chicago, Illinois, Kansas City, Missouri, Detroit, Michigan, Buffalo, New York, St. Louis, Missouri, and Toledo, Ohio. The Wabash's major freight traffic advantage was the direct line from Kansas City to Detroit, without going through St. Louis or Chicago.


The name Wabash Railroad or Wabash Railway may refer to various corporate entities formed over the years using one or the other of these two names until the name disappeared in 1964 when the Norfolk and Western Railway acquired the Wabash System of railroads. The first railroad to use only Wabash and no other city in its name was the Wabash Railway in January 1877 which was a rename of the Toledo, Wabash and Western Railway formed on July 1, 1865.

Toledo, Wabash and Western Railway (1865)

This railroad was already a combination of several railroads as follows: ["RAILROADS IN NORTH AMERICA; Some Historical Facts and An Introduction to an Electronic Database of North American Railroads and Their Evolution" by M. C. Hallberg (April 24, 2006) [http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/m/c/mch/railroad/] ]

*Toledo, Wabash and Western Railway
**Great Western Railway of Illinois 1865
***Sangamon and Morgan Railroad 1853
****Northern Cross Railway 1847
**Illinois and Southern Iowa Railroad 1865
**Quincy and Toledo Railroad 1865
**Toledo and Wabash Railway 1865
***Wabash and Western Railroad 1858
***Toledo and Wabash Railroad 1858
****Toledo, Wabash and Western Railroad 1858
*****Lake Erie, Wabash and St. Louis Railroad 1856
*****Toledo and Illinois Railroad 1856
**Warsaw and Peoria Railroad 1865

This predecessor of the Wabash System had the Northern Cross Railway [http://oldrailhistory.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=252&Itemid=287 (map)] as its earliest portion which was the first railroad built in Illinois. ["THE RAILROADS OF THE "OLD NORTHWEST" BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR" by FREDERIC L. PAXSON (Volume XVII, Part 1, of the Transactions of theWisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters), October, 1912 [http://www.catskillarchive.com/rrextra/abonw.Html] ] The Toledo and Illinois Railroad was chartered April 20, 1853 in Ohio to build from Toledo on Lake Erie west to the Indiana state line. The Lake Erie, Wabash and St. Louis Railroad was chartered in Indiana on August 19 to continue the line west through Wabash into Illinois towards St. Louis, Missouri, and the two companies merged August 4, 1856 to form the Toledo, Wabash and Western Railroad with a total length of 243 miles. ["Preliminary report on the Eighth Census 1860" by United States Census Bureau (Washington DC: 1862), page 226 [http://www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/1860e.zip] ]

The company soon went bankrupt and was sold at foreclosure. The Toledo and Wabash Railroad was chartered October 7, 1858 and acquired the Ohio portion October 8. The Wabash and Western Railroad was chartered on September 27 and acquired the Indiana portion on October 5. On December 15, the two companies merged as the Toledo and Wabash Railway. That company merged with the Great Western Railway of Illinois, the Illinois and Southern Iowa Railroad, the Quincy and Toledo Railroad and the Warsaw and Peoria Railroad to form the final Toledo, Wabash and Western Railway. It was this group of railroads that formed the beginning of the Wabash System with the rename in 1877.

The Wabash System

Later mergers and reorganizations formed the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway on November 7, 1879, and Wabash Railroad on August 1, 1889.

In 1904, the Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Railway was formed and acquired control of the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad, giving the Wabash access to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as the final step in an attempt to break the near-monopoly of the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central Railroad for traffic to the east. However, the Wabash had overextended itself, and the WPT went bankrupt in 1908; it would later become part of the Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railway. The Wabash Railroad itself was sold at foreclosure July 21, 1915 and reorganized October 22 as the Wabash Railway.

The Pennsylvania Railroad acquired loose control of the Wabash in 1927 by buying stock through its Pennsylvania Company. In 1929 the Interstate Commerce Commission charged the PRR with violating the Clayton Antitrust Act. The ruling was appealed, and in 1933 the Circuit Court ruled that the control was for investment only and did not violate the act.

The Wabash Railway again entered receivership on December 1, 1931. The Wabash Railroad, controlled by the PRR, was organized in July, 1941 and bought the Wabash Railway on December 1.

In fall of 1960, the PRR agreed to a lease of the Wabash by the Norfolk and Western Railway. The PRR's Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad assumed control of the Wabash's Ann Arbor on December 31, 1962. On October 16, 1964 the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (Nickel Plate Road) merged into the Norfolk and Western Railway, and the N&W leased the Wabash and Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railway. On March 31, 1970 the Pennsylvania Company exchanged its last Wabash shares for N&W common stock; that stock was later divested as a condition of the 1968 merger into Penn Central Transportation. The profitable N&W was itself combined with the Southern Railway to form the Norfolk Southern Railway in 1982. The Wabash Railroad Company continued to exist as a legal entity until it was absorbed into the Norfolk Southern Corporation in late 1991.


*Norfolk Southern Railway (1982)
**Norfolk and Western Railway (1964)
***Wabash Railroad (1941)
****Wabash Railway (1931)
*****Wabash Railroad (1889)
******Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Railway (1904 - 1908) later Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railway
*******Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad
******Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway (1879)
*******Council Bluffs and St. Louis Railway (1877)

Toledo - Hannibal Line

Detroit - Chicago Line

Chicago - St. Louis Line

t. Louis - Kansas City Line

Council Bluffs - Brunswick

The track between Council Bluffs, Iowa and St. Louis was constructed in 1877 by the Council Bluffs and St. Louis Railway. In 1879 that railway became part of the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway. Today, most of the line is abandoned (222.4 miles from MP188.56 TO MP410.96) under ICC Decision AB-10 (SUB-NO. 27) by the Norfolk and Western from Kelley, Missouri to Council Bluffs, Iowa and effective January 13 1984.

Iowa portion of line

The Iowa Southern Railroad (ISR) took over 61.5 miles of the Wabash rail line in Iowa to the Missouri stateline between Council Bluffs and Blanchard, Iowa. On August 22 1988 the line was cut back to serve only Council Bluffs. In August 1990 the remaining Iowa Southern line in Council Bluffs was sold to the Council Bluffs and Ottumwa Railroad (CBOA). In May 1991 the CBOA was sold to the Council Bluffs Railway (CBR), an OmniTrax subsidiary. Iowa Interstate purchased CBR on July 1, 2006. [http://www.iaisrr.com/sites/iaisrr.com/files/IAIS_Acquires_CBGR_07_11_2006.pdf] Today the 66 mile route is abandoned between Council Bluffs and Blanchard and is has been converted into a rail trail known as the "Wabash Trace Trail" [http://wabashtrace.connections.net/wbthome2.html] .

Missouri portion of line

A 93-mile portion of Wabash's Council Bluffs - St. Louis line in Missouri between Blanchard, Iowa (other sources show Burlington Junction, Missouri) and Lock Springs was sold to the Northern Missouri Railroad (NMOR) and began operations on February 13 1984. Operations on that line were discontinued in June 1986.

Norfolk & Western abandoned the track between Lock Springs and Chillicothe in 1983, and salvaged this portion of the line in 1985.

Thirty-seven miles of track between Chillicothe and Brunswick was sold to the Green Hills Rural Development, Inc., a Missouri economic development group organized as a non-profit corporation, in 1985. The line was leased, by order of the ICC, to the Chillicothe-Brunswick Rail Maintenance Authority (CBRM) on July 24, 1987. On April 1 1990 the line was leased to the Wabash and Grand River Railway. The Wabash & Grand River Railway's lease was terminated on December 1 1993 due to severe flood damage on the line and the line reverted back to the Chillicothe-Brunswick Rail Maintenance Authority. In 2003, during a dispute caused by inter-community rivalries and jealousies over industrial development along the line, the owner, Green Hills Rural Development, Inc. "sold" the railroad to the City of Chillicothe, MO, (all real estate, rails, tools, rolling stock and locomotives) for $32,500. Thereafter, the line immediately appraised for $1.53 million, not including rolling stock or other tools or equipment and inventory of the short line railroad. On December 8, 2006, the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune reported that the city of Chillicothe sold the majority, about convert|30|mi, of the railroad to Seattle, Washington, based Montoff Transportation, LLC for $976,000. The part of the railroad that was sold had been embargoed since 2004. The city still owns the railroad to the city's industrial park and to a location just east of Chillicothe where future development is planned. Today, the part of the railroad south of Norville has been abandoned and dismantled, and the city has pocketed a large sum of cash.

Moberly - Des Moines Line

The Wabash Railways' line from Moberly, Mo. to Des Moines, Iowa was originally built as part of the North Missouri Railroad property, which was financed, in part, by bonds backed by the "full faith and credit" of the State of Missouri. Public backlash over the default on these bonds led Missouri to enact a state constitution which prohibited such futute investments in "private enterprise".

Jay Gould brought the North Missouri Railroad into his family of Wabash lines in the time period around 1877-79. He envisioned a bold move to encroach upon the operating "turf" of the so called "Iowa Pool" of railroads, by extending his own lines to both Des Moines and Omaha. He was opposed in these efforts by the member railroads of the Iowa Pool, particularly Charles Perkins of the Burlington. A protracted court battle that went all the way to the US Supreme Court resulted in the CB & Q and the Wabash joining forces to build and operate a joint line of railroad from Albia, Iowa north to Des Moines. From Albia south to Moberly, the line was always a Wabash property. This line was important as a bridge to the south for the M & St. L. Railway, interchanging at Albia with the Wabash. An off-branch to Ottumwa, Iowa was operated from 1881 until 1981, when it was abandoned.

The Moberly to Des Moines line had a good traffic base up until the early 1970s, when traffic started to fall off precipitously. Freight traffic included coal mined in Iowa (prior to 1960), agricultural goods, farm machinery,and paper products. A change of personnel in customer service at Des Moines brought about a resurgence in business in the late 1970s and into the 1980s - so much so that the Norfolk Southern largely re-built the line with newer, heavier steel and continuous welded rail in the mid 1980s. The Moberly to Des Moines line had few local industries shipping on it in the 1980s in either northern Missouri or southern Iowa, however, and served primarily as a "bridge" to get the NS to the Des Moines market.

During the early 1990s the NS began to look for ways to save on track outlays and maintenance, and a deal was hammered out with the BN to share access to Des Moines over the old CBQ "K Line" which parralled the Mississippi River from Hannibal, Mo. north to Burlington, Iowa. From there, haulage rights were secured to Des Moines over the BN mainline to Albia, then northward to Des Moines on the old Albia joint trackage. A portion of the line north of Moulton, Iowa, was saved in order to provide access to the national rail system by the Appanoose County Community Railroad (APNC).

The last train on the Moberly to Des Moines line ran in 1994. Interestingly, the Moberly to Moulton Iowa line segment was used extensively in 1993 during the Midwestern Floods of that year, as many observers noted that it was one of the few north-south through routes that were "above sea level" during the flooding. Unfortunately, this was not a factor that could have been used to save the line. Today the line's right-of-way has not been preserved, and is quickly being consumed by other land uses.

Moberly - Hannibal Line (ex-KATY)

External links

* [http://www.wabashrhs.org Wabash Railroad Historical Society]
* [http://www.2-8-2.com/Wabash-ETT.html Wabash Time Tables]
* [http://www.wabash-railroad.com/pg-wab-home.htm Gallery of Wabash Photographs]
* [http://www.mrym.org Monticello Railway Museum]
*Whmc stl photodb|keywords=Wabash|title=Wabash Railroad


* [http://www.spdconline.org/history/Facts/WabashBridge.html The Wabash Railroad and Bridge]
* [http://www.railsandtrails.com/ohiorailwayreport/1902/1850.html History of the Railroads of Ohio]
* [http://www.prrths.com/PRR_hagley_intro.htm PRR Chronology]
* [http://www.earlpleasants.com/search_1.asp Railroad History Database]
* [http://www.oldrailhistory.com U.S. Railroads 1826-1850]
*cite book | author=Stindt, Fred A. | title=American Shortline Railway Guide - 5th Ed.| publisher=Kalmbach Publishing|location=Waukesha, Wisconsin| year=1996| editor=| id=ISBN 0-89024-290-9
*cite book | author=Lewis, Edward A.| title=The historical guide to North American railroads - 2nd Ed.| publisher=Kalmbach Publishing|location=Waukesha, Wisconsin| year=2000| editor=| id=ISBN 0-89024-356-5
*cite book | author=Walker, Mike| title=SPV's Comprehensive Railroad Atlas of North America - Prairies East and Ozarks| publisher=Steam Powered Publishing| location=Upper Harbledown, Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom|year=2004| editor=| id=ISBN 1-874745-17-X
*cite web | title=Abandonment Report (Adobe Acrobat Format)| work=Iowa Office of Rail Transportation| url=http://www.iowarail.com/pdfs/chronabandonments.PDF| accessmonthday=March 2 | accessyear=2006

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