This note pad has no passenger content, but it provides some background to the sad demise of the Milwaukee Road. When the Great Northern and Northern Pacific merged into the Burlington Northern in 1970, one of the concessions they made to the Milwaukee Road was to allow it to interchange traffic with BN at “11 western gateways” in North Dakota, Montana, and Washington. Prior to the merger, the Northern Pacific had insisted that any interchanges be made in the Twin Cities, thus denying the Milwaukee the opportunity to earn revenue from freight it initiated east of St. Paul.
According to historian Michael Sol, by 1974 the gateways were adding $27.5 million (scroll nearly to the bottom) in annual revenue to the Milwaukee’s coffers. That didn’t stop the railroad from scrapping the Pacific Coast Extension, a decision that Sol argues was a mistake–he says the western lines were earning a profit while it was the eastern ones that were dragging the railroad down.
It’s hard to tell whether Sol is right, but it is pretty clear that, in the interests of competition, the GN and NP should never have merged. If they hadn’t, we might have three great western railroads instead of just two, formed around the GN, NP, and Milwaukee in the Northwest, the SP-Rock Island, Santa Fe, and Union Pacific in the Southwest, and the SP-Rio Grande, UP-WP, and Santa Fe in the center West. GN president Ralph Budd actually suggested this in the 1920s, but the the NP and GN both loved their connections with the Burlington and neither was willing to give them up.