SP-SSW traffic to/from Chicago

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SP-SSW traffic to/from Chicago

Post by SooLineRob » Sun Mar 07, 2010 4:07 pm

Hello forum,

I'm unfamiliar with SP-SSW operations. I have a few questions for the board.

Prior to the SP's purchase of the former Alton route between St Louis and Joliet IL, how did SP and SSW traffic destined to/from Chicago reach the eastern railroads?

Once the DRGW-SP-SSW gained access to Chicago via the former Alton route, where did it go? Did the SP have their own yard in the Chicago area, or did they deliver/receive entire trains to foreign (eastern) roads via the IC trackage east of Joliet?

Thanks in advance,

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Re: SP-SSW traffic to/from Chicago

Post by doepack » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:15 pm

SP traffic to Chicago was originally interchanged in the St. Louis area with the Alton, which later became GM&O, then ICG. Around 1987, the ICG sold the Joliet-St. Louis portion of the line to new startup Chicago, Missouri & Western, but the railroad was ill-managed, and out of business within a year. A new SP subsidiary, SPCSL (Southern Pacific Chicago St. Louis) was formed to take over the bankrupt CM&W, and interchanged with IC north of Joliet at Glenn yard via a trackage rights agreement, since IC still owned the Chicago-Joliet segment. Today of course, SPCSL is now UP, IC is now CN, but from what I've heard, UP doesn't run much freight traffic below Joliet on this route, so I'm not sure if the previous interchange agreements between the predecessor roads still exist...

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Post by 2nd trick op » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:22 am

I think it's reasonable to characterize the former Alton (later GM&O) as primarily a passenger-oriented railroad. It had the most direct route between the gateway cities of Chicago and St. Louis, and was the dominant player in the state capital city of Springfield at the height of the rail-dominated era.

Conversely, Alton freight service was never emphasized, and when it got access to longer hauls, it always played "second fiddle" to carriers like illinois Central for St. Louis traffic and Burlington for the Kansas City gateway.

And up until UP's bid for Missouri Pacific in the 1980's. Cotton Belt was considered primarily a player for transcontinental traffic via Memphis and St Louis. Its famous "Blue Streak" service swung south all the way to El Paso before it headed west. Meanwhile "overland" transcontinental freight moved primarily over the UP; Rio Grande prospered primarily due to local dominance in the mountains of Colorado and Utah and a number of friendly connections, but its curvature and grades were too severe, and its traffic control system too limited, to ever go head-to-head with UP and SP.

Finally, once the "big UP" emerged in the wake of Mr. Anschutz' bold play, it could reach Chicago from the "southern route" (which has easier grades than Sherman Hill and the Wasatch), via the Thebes bridge below St. louis and the former Chicago and Eastern Illinois, which MP controlled by the late 1960's. That, happily, leaves the former Alton main open for redevelopment as a true passenger-oriented corridor.
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Re: SP-SSW traffic to/from Chicago

Post by Engineer Spike » Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:02 pm

I think SP used the BRC Clearing Yard as its Chicago terminal, and interchange point. When I was with BN, before the UP merger, there used to be lots of SP units at Clearing.

SP also had rights over BN. I'm not sure how they were able to justify getting them. Wasn't this for KC traffic?

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Re: SP-SSW traffic to/from Chicago

Post by John_Perkowski » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:56 pm

SP also bought much of the RI when it went under. That would also have given them access.
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Re: SP-SSW traffic to/from Chicago

Post by Zanperk » Mon May 29, 2017 9:13 pm

For the Golden State traffic via KC, they were working a couple of options: buy Soo's ex-Milwaukee Road route to KC, or purchase KC - CHI trackage rights from BN (and NS).

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