Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad - History - 1960s

1960s

The whole railroad industry found itself in decline in the late 1950s and the 1960s, but the Milwaukee was hit particularly hard. The Midwest was overbuilt with too many competing roads, while the competition on the transcontinental routes to the Pacific was extremely tough as well. The premier transcontinental streamliner, the Olympian Hiawatha, despite the innovative scenic observation cars, was cancelled in 1961, becoming the first visible casualty. The resignation of President John P. Kiley in 1957 and his replacement with the fairly inexperienced William John Quinn was a pivotal moment; from that point onward, the road's management was fixated on merger with another railroad as the solution to the Milwaukee's problems.

Railroad mergers had to be approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission, however, and in 1969 the ICC effectively blocked the merger with the Chicago and North Western Railway (C&NW) that the Milwaukee Road had counted on and had been planning for since 1964. The ICC asked for terms that the C&NW was not willing to agree to. The merger of the "Hill Lines"—the Northern Pacific, the Great Northern, and the Burlington Route, as well as the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway was approved at around the same time, and the merged Burlington Northern came into being on March 3, 1970, completely surrounding the Milwaukee Road.

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