A Fallen Flag is a rather poetic term that refers to a railroad company that is no longer in existence due to bankruptcy or merger. Since the late 1950s the North American railroad industry has undergone an epic brand consolidation. In fact, presently only four Class I railroads still exist under their original names. The surviving brands are the Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, Kansas City Southern Railway, and Union Pacific Railroad. Why is this important? I am not sure, but I came across this logo of a Fallen Flag while on a recent stroll and did a little research. Yes I read cereal boxes as well.
1959: Southern Pacific moved more ton-miles of freight than any other US railroad.
1965: Southern Pacific’s bid for control of the Western Pacific is rejected by the ICC.
1967: SP opens the longest stretch of new railroad construction in a quarter century as the first trains roll over the Palmdale Cutoff through Cajon Pass.
May 1, 1971: Amtrak takes over long-distance passenger operations in the United States; the only SP revenue passenger trains thereafter were the commutes between San Francisco and San Jose.
1980: Now owning a 98.34% control of the Cotton Belt.
1984: The Southern Pacific Company merges into Santa Fe Industries parent of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, to form Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corporation.
1985: New Caltrain locomotives and rolling stock replace SP equipment on the Peninsula Commute, marking the end of Southern Pacific passenger service with SP equipment.
October 13, 1988: Rio Grande Industries, parent of the Rio Grande Railroad, takes control of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The merged company retains the name “Southern Pacific” for all railroad operations.
1989: Southern Pacific acquires 223 miles of former Alton trackage between St. Louis and Joliet from the Chicago, Missouri & Western. This marks the first time that the Southern Pacific has served the Chicago area on its own rails.
March 17, 1991: The Southern Pacific changes its corporate image, replacing the century-old Roman Lettering with the Rio Grande-inspired Speed Lettering.
1992: Northwestern Pacific is merged into SP, ending NWP’s existence as a corporate subsidiary of SP and leaving the Cotton Belt as SP’s only remaining major railroad subsidiary. Of interesting note, the Northwestern Pacific’s south end would be sold off by UP, and turned into a “new” Northwestern Pacific.
1996: The Union Pacific Railroad finishes the acquisition that was effectively begun almost a century before with the purchase of the Southern Pacific by UP in 1901, until divestiture was ordered in 1913. Ironically, although Union Pacific was the dominant company, taking complete control of SP, its corporate structure was merged into Southern Pacific, which on paper became the “surviving company”; which then changed its name to Union Pacific.
1996: The merged company retains the name “Union Pacific” for all railroad operations.
See also: Fallen Flag: Ouabache / Wabash