Van Sweringen 1920s Railroad Merger

Discussion relating to the B&O up to it's 1972 merger into Chessie System. Visit the B&O Railroad Historical Society for more information. Also discussion of the C&O up to 1972. Visit the C&O Historical Society for more information. Also includes the WM up to 1972. Visit the WM Historical Society for more information.

Van Sweringen 1920s Railroad Merger

Postby CPF363 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:45 pm

In the 1920s, the Van Sweringen brothers began working towards a big merger of several midwestern and northeastern railroads to include the Nickel Plate, Erie, Chesapeake and Ohio, Pere Marquette and Hocking Valley. They made a few attempts to formally merge all five systems into one railroad, however, the ICC ultimately objected to merger; the ICC only allowed the C&O to merge with the Pere Marquette. A few questions: What would have happened if these railroads had won approval from ICC to merge? What would N&W have done considering they ended up with the Nickel Plate in the 1960s? Would this have prevented to Erie's bankruptcies in 1938 and 1972? Would the merged system end up closing much of the parallel Erie west of Hornell or Youngstown in favor of using the Nickel Plate? Would the merged system have survived the depression? How would the B&O, PRR and NYC handle such a merger and would one or more of these merge with N&W? Would the D&H be ultimately brought into the merged system at a later date?
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Re: Van Sweringen 1920s Railroad Merger

Postby erie2521 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:30 pm

After the merger had been denied, the Vans tried another strategy. They announced on February 7, 1927 that the Chesapeake & Ohio would be the centerpiece of their system and the other roads would be sold to them. That one was rejected in 1929. Another unsuccessful attempt would have involved the construction of an 80-mile line connecting the Erie Buffalo line at Portage with the Nickel Plate near Dunkirk to create a New York to Chicago route that bypassed Buffalo but nothing came of that one either. (This route would have included a tunnel through a hill between Arcade and Bliss – a rarity in upstate New York.) Following the defeat of their Chesapeake & Ohio plan, the Vans formed a holding company in 1929 called the Alleghany Corporation to manage their railroads. One of the consequences of this was that some of the C&O coal traffic bound for Chicago was diverted to the Erie at Marion, OH.

In 1932 the Interstate Commerce Commission recommended the merger of all of the railroads in the east, with the exception of New England, into four systems. One of these was the Van Sweringen system which included the Chesapeake & Ohio, Nickel Plate, Erie, Hocking Valley, Lehigh Valley (I think), Pere Marquette, Wheeling & Lake Erie and part of the Pittsburgh & West Virginia. Each system included dozens of regional and short lines. This Van Swerigan system included the Bath & Hammondsport, Dansville & Mt. Morris, Genesee & Wyoming, Pittsburgh, Shawmut & Northern and the Prattsburgh. The Lackawanna was assigned to another system headed by the New York Central. Nothing came of this either.



The C&O-PM merger, incidentally, did not occur until after World War II. Ted
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