N&W 7902 - Expanded to a Question about NKP & Wabash

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sun May 26 12:53:55 EDT 2019

I have a very good friend, a Southern guy, who retired not too long ago from NS general offices.

Like most Southern folks, he didn’t have much good to say about the N&W or how it worked.  For instance – the coal business.  According to Southern folks, N&W should be operating unit coal trains and not fooling around with all that fancy export business.  Lost on them was the fact that N&W didn’t have any power plants on line that could accept unit trains, nor did it have any mines that could load them.  Also lost on them was the nundreds of millions of dollars N&W made over the years hauling coal the way it did.

About 1984 or 1985 I had a conversation with my friend and asked him how the railroad was doing.  Not too well, he said.  If it wasn’t for that billion dollars we had in the bank, we wouldn’t be doing well at all.

Lost on him was the fact that N&W was the one who’d put that billion in the bank.  The Southern certainly didn’t do it.

- Ed King

From: NW Mailing List 
Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2019 8:40 AM
To: NW Mailing List 
Subject: Re: N&W 7902 - Expanded to a Question about NKP & Wabash

On Sun, May 26, 2019 at 6:47 AM Ed wrote:

  Bill - 

  That rather graphic imagery is intended to display for all to see the displeasure felt by Mr. Burnett toward the post-Robert Hall Smith Norfolk and Western.  Smith was the President who retired in 1957 and who was replaced by Stuart Thomas Saunders, an ambitious man who wanted to become the president of the largest railroad in the country, the Penn Central, and did so, with disastrous results.

  The Richard Freeman Dunlap referred to ran the railroad after a time, and evidently his work was displeasing to Mr. Burnett.  I’m sure that it was displeasing to the Wabush and NKP folks, but being the “mergees” is never an easy thing.  I’m certain that nothing the N&W did after that merger would have been pleasing to the WAB/NKP folks.  And I’m equally sure that none of them was asked whether they wanted to “get in bed” with the N&W.  

  Hope this helps.

It's starting to help. Please, all involved, continue this thread with details. This is the real history of the N&W, the "how things worked" in the field during this time of the merger. Yeah, there are boardroom histories about the expanding N&W but what was the real impact? What has been posted so far, about conflicts between cultures over who could better run a railroad, fleshes out the dry business history of these mergers (it also echos what I've heard about the recent merger, of how the Norfolk & Western was "Southernized" as N&W people were marginalized or pushed out).

This is a good time to caputure these details, since the number of those who went through these mergers in the '60s is dwindling.

Bruce in Blacksburg

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