Union Pacific Corporate History
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This page was last updated on March 1, 2023.
Historic Era (1862-1935)
Union Pacific Railroad
Union Pacific Railroad (UP) operated all UP lines in Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming, and into Ogden in northern Utah. UP was incorporated in July 1897 as a reorganization of Union Pacific Railway, which was in receivership since 1893. Union Pacific Railway (UPRy) had been incorporated in January 1880 as a consolidation of the original Union Pacific Rail Road (UPRR) (chartered-in-1862), the Kansas Pacific Railway, and the Denver Pacific Railway & Telegraph Co. Union Pacific connected with Central Pacific in May 1869 at Promontory, Utah. UP lines in Kansas and Colorado were purchased from predecessor companies.
Oregon Short Line Railroad
Oregon Short Line Railroad (OSL) operated all UP lines in Idaho, Montana, and northern Utah. OSL was incorporated in February 1897 as a reorganization of Oregon Short Line & Utah Northern Railway, in receivership since October 1893. Oregon Short Line & Utah Northern Railway had been incorporated on August 19, 1889 as a consolidation of the original 1881 Oregon Short Line Railway and six other railroads operating in Utah and Idaho. The original OSL Railway began construction in May 1881 at a connection with UP at Granger, Wyoming and was completed across southern Idaho to Huntington, Oregon by November 1884, where it connected with Oregon Railway & Navigation's line to Portland. All OSL lines in Utah were purchased from predecessor companies. OSL (and later OSL&UN) operated the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company under lease from January 1887 until October 1893.
Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Company
Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Co. (O-WRR&N) operated all UP lines in Oregon and Washington. Many UP employees used a simplified OWR&N designation, or an even simpler "OW" or "Oregon". Within the New York Offices, the OWRR&N was simply known as the "Navigation".
Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad
First completed as the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad, between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, the SPLA&SL was known as the "Pedro", as name that is still heard today among older employees.
Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad (LA&SL) operated all UP lines south and west of Salt Lake City, Utah. LA&SL was a name change in August 1916 from the original 1901 San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. The SPLA&SL (and the later LA&SL) were controlled by William Clark until 1903, then jointly controlled by Clark and OSL until April 1921, when UP bought Clark's half interest, making LA&SL jointly owned by UP and OSL, which itself was fully controlled by UP. The connection between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Los Angeles, California was completed on May 26, 1905 at Erie, Nevada.
Classic Era (1936-1982)
On January 1, 1936 the UP leased the Oregon Short Line, Oregon Washington Railroad & Navigation, and Los Angeles and Salt Lake and held purchase options on the director's shares of the OWRR&N. (The Streamliner, Volume 2, Number 1, January 1986, page 37, Q&A 4)
Union Pacific controlled OSL from 1899; OWR&N's predecessor ORR&N from 1899; and LA&SL from 1921. OSL, OWRR&N, and LA&SL were leased for operation by UP in November 1935, and all four railroads were consolidated for single-line operation as the Union Pacific System on January 1, 1936.
Also on January 1, 1936, Union Pacific leased the St. Joseph & Grand Island. As of January 1986, they owned all but 546.8 shares of StJ&GI. (The Streamliner, Volume 2, Number 1, January 1986, page 37, Q&A 4)
When UP applied for control of the StJ&GI, the Pacific & Idaho Northern, and Laramie, North Park & Western intervened; the UP bought the P&IN and the LNP&W. The UP purchased 99.7 percent (24,946.4 of the 25,000 common shares) of the LNP&W and the OSL bought 100 percent of the shares of the P&IN. (The Streamliner, Volume 2, Number 1, January 1986, page 37, Q&A 4)
UP's Coalmont Branch was purchased from the Laramie, North Park & Western Railroad in 1951. (Read more about the LNP&W RR)
UP's Encampment Branch was purchased from the Saratoga & Encampment Valley Railroad in 1951. (Read more about the S&EV RR)
In 1958 control of the Spokane International was acquired and the UP has 99.94 percent of the stock. As of December 3, 1978 the SI leased 10 locos, owned nine covered hoppers, 71 flat cars, one derrick and four cabooses. (The Streamliner, Volume 2, Number 1, January 1986, page 37, Q&A 4)
As of December 31, 1967, UP owned 50 percent of Portland Railway and Terminal Division jointly with the Southern Pacific. (The Streamliner, Volume 2, Number 1, January 1986, page 37, Q&A 4)
In 1968, the UP purchased the Mount Hood Railway. (The Streamliner, Volume 2, Number 1, January 1986, page 37, Q&A 4)
During the 1960s and 1970s, UP controlled the following:
|Camas Prairie RR||50.0% (with Burlington Northern)|
|Denver Union Terminal||16.67%|
|Des Chutes RR||100.0%|
|Kansas City Terminal||8.33%|
|Los Angeles and Salt Lake RR||50.0% (50% OSL)|
|Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal||23.0%|
|Longview Switching Co.||33.3%|
|Mount Hood Railway||100.0%|
|Ogden Union Ry & Depot||50.0% (with SP)|
|Oregon Short Line RR||100.0%|
|Oregon Washington Railway and Navigation||100.0% (through OSL director's shares)|
|Portland Ry & Terminal Div.||50.0%|
|Portland Terminal RR||40.0%|
|Spokane International RR||99.94%|
|St. Joseph and Grand Island RR||100.0% (less 546.8 shares)|
|St. Joseph Terminal||50.0% (with MP)|
|Trailer Train Co.||2.44%|
|Union Pacific Fruit Express||100.0%|
|Yakima Valley Transportation Co.||100.0%|
UP-Rock Island Merger
May 13, 1963
Union Pacific Railroad announced a proposed merger with Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. (New York Times, May 14, 1963)
June 27, 1963
The Board of Directors of Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad voted unanimous approval to accept a proposed merger with Union Pacific Railroad. (New York Times, June 28, 1963)
July 6, 1963
Chicago & North Western Railway applied to the ICC for its own merger with CRI&P. (New York Times, July 7, 1963)
Over the following 18-24 months, several suits and counter suits and shareholder proxy fights kept the Rock Island in the financial news. By early 1965, the ICC began its hearings. The C&NW proposed that C&NW, CRI&P (Rock Island) and CMStP&P (Milwaukee Road) merge to form an Upper Midwest system of railroads, selling any lines south of Kansas City to AT&SF.
UP's proposal would have given UP direct access to Chicago. All of the western roads soon entered the case, asking the federal ICC for some form of consideration, in what would be the longest and most complex railroad merger case heard by the ICC. The case continued for a full 10 years. The ICC finally approved the case on November 8, 1974, but with numerous conditions that UP was unwilling to accept, and UP decided to withdraw its merger application. The ICC dismissed the case on July 10, 1976. (The Historical Guide to American Railroads, 5th printing, 1991, page 91)
June 27, 1966
C&NW let its bid expire on June 27, 1966, and withdrew its bid to merge with Rock Island. (New York Times, June 28, 1966)
Following the expiration of its bid, C&NW and almost every railroad in the nation jumped into the proposed UP/Rock Island merger and sought various considerations to the ICC's approval of the merger.
November 8, 1974
The federal ICC approved the UP-CRI&P merger.
March 17, 1975
CRI&P declared bankruptcy.
August 4, 1975
UP withdrew its application to merge CRI&P due to the financial condition of the company and conditions imposed by the ICC to satisfy the objections of D&RGW and SP.
July 10, 1976
The ICC dismissed the proposed UP-CRI&P merger after UP withdrew its application.
Union Pacific Corporation
Union Pacific Corporation was created on January 30, 1969 to manage Union Pacific Railroad and its non-railroads interests. (New York Times, January 31, 1969)
The corporation's officers were all members of the Executive Committee of the Union Pacific Railroad, located in New York City, and were responsible for the overall financial performance of the railroad, as well as long-term planning.
A New York Times article on December 4, 1966, reported that the bylaws of Union Pacific Railroad were changed while Robert A. Lovett was chairman of the executive committee, expanding the position to include duties held by the president of other corporations. In this manner, the executive committee in the New York office controlled almost every aspect of what was done by the railroad's officers and managers in Omaha, making the transition from Executive Committee to parent company much smoother than other holding companies when they were formed in the late 1960s. The New York Times article specifically covered the new team that would lead Union Pacific in late 1966, which included Frank Barnett as chairman of the executive committee, R. M. Sutton as vice president of finance, and Edd Bailey as president of the railroad. At the time, Union Pacific's chairman of the board was E. Roland Harriman, son of E. H. Harriman.
The following comes from the July 1969 issue of the UP INFO employee newsletter.
Stock Certificates Exchanged -- On January-30, 1969, the Board-of-Birectors of Union Pacific Railroad Company unanimously approved the formation of a new holding company to be known as Union Pacific Corporation. The holding company reorganization was carried out under an exchange offer which was made by the new Union Pacific Corporation to the holders of outstanding preferred and common stock of the Union Pacific Railroad Company.
A control committee of five officers was appointed; they were responsible for the organization and supervision of the stock exchange project. Under their direction, the exchange was completed with a minimum of time and expense.
The actual work of processing the stock certificates was done at the Omaha Union Station. Temporary workers, hired for the duration of the project and supervised by company officials, took over the huge room which had formerly been the site of the Union Station Restaurant.
Here, from May 12 through most of July, the many operations of the stock transfer were handled. Each morning, armored car service delivered the old stock certificates which were checked, verified and canceled. Letters of transmittal received from the stockholders were matched with prepunched certificate cards. These, in turn, were fed into the computer and Union Pacific Corporation stock certificates were printed as output.
The Omaha National Bank was the registrar for the initial issuance of corporation stock. Officials of the bank were on hand each day, verifying the number of shares on each certificate, old and new, and signing each corporation certificate of registrar. In all, approximately 27,000,000 shares of stock have been processed in this manner.
Union Pacific Corporation is now an established reality, and we are looking forward to its long and prosperous future.
Union Pacific Corporation purchased Champlin Petroleum in September 1969. (Klein, page 48)
The following comes from the September 1969 issue of UP INFO employee newsletter.
On August 28, Union Pacific and the Celanese Corporation announced jointly an agreement in principle for a $240 million acquisition by Union Pacific of Celanese Corporation's oil subsidiaries Champlin Petroleum Company and Pontiac Refining Corp.
Champlin and Pontiac have a daily crude oil production of about 30,000 barrels a day in nine states and three provinces of Canada. Together, they have a daily refining capacity of 91,000 barrels, and about 1, 400 service stations in twelve mid-continent states.
F. E. Barnett, chairman and chief executive officer of UP stated, "This is a significant step in our overall diversification program. It will make Union Pacific a more fully integrated oil company and will complement our petroleum activities."
According to Barnett, Champlin and Pontiac will be operated as subsidiaries of Union Pacific. The headquarters offices of the two companies are in Fort Worth, Texas.
Champlin and Pontiac own two modern, full product line refineries, one at Enid, Oklahoma, with a daily capacity of 36,000 barrels and a second at Corpus Christi, Texas, with a capacity of 55,000 barrels. They own three natural gas processing plants in Texas, and two in Oklahoma, and have interest in twelve others operated by other companies.
Champlin also owns and operates private crude oil and petroleum product pipeline systems. The company's service station facilities are modern and functional and include regular city stations, truck stops on important highways and truck stop-restaurant combinations.
Union Pacific's Rocky Mountain Energy Company formed a joint venture with Eastern Gas and Fuel Associates to develop the Reliance coal mine near Rock Springs, Wyoming. The joint venture was to be called Rocky Mountain Associated Coal Corporation. (New York Times, April 7, 1971)
The Reliance mine was opened in March 1910 by the predecessor company Union Pacific Coal Company. By 1939, the mine had produced 10,800,000 tons, and during 1939 was producing 4,000 tons per day. (History of the Union Pacific Coal Mines, 1868 to 1940, pages 150-153)
In 1962, Union Pacific Coal Company was dissolved and all properties transferred to the railroad. (Moody's, 1973 p. 511)
June 26, 1971
All non-railroad properties of the Union Pacific Railroad were transferred to Union Pacific Corporation. (Moody's, 1973 p. 511)
In 1974, Union Pacific Corporation combined its coal mining subsidiary, Rocky Mountain Energy, and its trona, uranium and other minerals mining subsidiary, Union Pacific Mining, into a single company that retained the Rocky Mountain Energy Company name. (Klein, page 49)
Union Pacific purchased control of Overnite Transportation Company.
May 3, 1987 -- The Union Pacific Corporation consolidated two subsidiaries, Champlin Petroleum and the Rocky Mountain Energy Company, into a single group within Union Pacific called the Union Pacific Resources Group. It said the change would permit further cost and productivity improvements in the natural resource businesses. (New York Times, May 4, 1987)
In April 1988, Union Pacific Corporation successfully completed an agreement to purchase full ownership of USPCI, an Oklahoma City-based hazardous-waste disposal company. (New York Times, June 9, 1987; April 5, 1988)
In May 1988, Union Pacific corporate headquarters were moved from New York City, to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 43 miles from Drew Lewis' farm in Schwenksville, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The Bethlehem location was in the top three floors of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's headquarters building. All 120 UP corporate employees were moved from New York City to Bethlehem. (Associated Press, May 11, 1988)
On October 31, 1994, Union Pacific Corporation announced that it would sell its USPCI subsidiary to Laidlaw, Inc., for a reported amount of $225 million. (New York Times, November 1, 1994)
In 1995, Union Pacific Corporation organized all of its natural resource operations (Champlin Petroleum and Rocky Mountain Energy) into the Union Pacific Resources Group, Inc. In October 1995, Union Pacific sold a 17 percent stake to the public in an IPO. (New York Times, October 9, 1995)
On October 15, 1996, Union Pacific Corporation spun off its remaining 83 percent stake in Union Pacific Resources Group. At the time, Union Pacific Resources owned 7.5 million acres of land in the western states that originally came to Union Pacific as mid-19th century land grants. (New York Times, November 17, 1996)
Union Pacific Corporation moved its corporate headquarters from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to Dallas, Texas. A total of 50 jobs were reported as being moved. That same year the corporation moved its chief financial officer and those reporting to him to Omaha, leaving only nineteen headquarters personnel in Dallas. (Dallas Business Journal, April 27, 1997)
April 15, 1999
Union Pacific Corporation announced plans to move its corporate headquarters to Omaha. The move was to be completed by July 1, 1999. Soon after the move, negotiations started to build a new headquarters building. (Dallas Business Journal, April 15, 1999)
(In April 2001, the city of Omaha agreed to handle the acquisition of a new site, and to purchase the old building at 1416 Dodge Street. Construction commenced and the new Union Pacific headquarters building opened three years later, in June 2004.)
In April 2000, Union Pacific Resources Group was purchased by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (Dallas Business Journal, April 3, 2000)
On May 16, 2005, Overnite was sold to UPS. (Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2005)
Merger Era (1983-2000)
Union Pacific acquired control of Missouri Pacific Railroad and Western Pacific Railway on December 22, 1982. Missouri Pacific was merged into Union Pacific on January 1, 1997. The delay in full merger came from MP's long term corporate bonds using MP's property as collateral. To renegotiate those bonds, UP would have had to pay a much higher interest rate, so they just left the bonds as they were, and instead controlled the Missouri Pacific for the 15 years until they were all paid off.
January 8, 1980
UP announced its intended merger with Missouri Pacific Railroad and Western Pacific Railway. (INFO, April 1980, page 4)
September 13, 1982
UP was given ICC approval to control Missouri Pacific Railroad and Western Pacific Railway. (UP Law Department Records)
October 20, 1982
The ICC approved UP's control and merger of Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific. (INFO, November 1982, page 7)
December 22, 1982
UP-MP-WP control and merger was approved by courts, following a suit by SP to block the merger. SP was given trackage rights between Kansas City and St. Louis over Missouri Pacific. D&RGW was given trackage rights between Pueblo, Colorado and Kansas City over Missouri Pacific.
January 1, 1983
Union Pacific control of Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific took effect. This was the formal date that UP took over the accounts and interests of WP and MP. (UP Law Department Records)
The first Western Pacific locomotive was repainted to UP's yellow and gray paint scheme. By December 1983, UP had repainted and renumbered all WP locomotives that UP intended to retain in its fleet.
Union Pacific Corporation announced that it had acquired the last outstanding shares of Western Pacific stock, giving the Union Pacific parent corporation 100 percent control of WP. Prior to the merger Union Pacific owned 87 percent of WP stock. (UP InfoNews employee magazine, July 1983)
May 31, 1984
Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific announced that all of the locomotives owned by Missouri Pacific would be repainted into UP's yellow and gray scheme, using Missouri Pacific lettering. The last MP-lettered yellow unit to be relettered to UP was ex MP MP15DC 1382, completed on November 23, 1993. The last MP blue unit to be repainted and relettered to UP yellow was ex MP GP38-2 2103, completed on August 2, 1994. (Read more about Missouri Pacific locomotives in UP yellow and gray)
January 1, 1986
The operating departments of Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific were combined into a single organization. At the same time, UP ended the brief practice of lettering MP yellow-and-gray locomotives as Missouri Pacific, and began applying Union Pacific lettering on repainted MP locomotives.
November 14, 1986
UP and MKT file with the ICC their intention to merge.
June 17, 1987
Western Pacific Railroad was formally merged into Union Pacific.
OSL, OWR&N, and LA&SL were formally merged with Union Pacific. Previous to this, these roads had been either wholly-owned, controlled, or leased by UP. (part from Union Pacific Law Department records; part from Railroad Retirement Board Employer Determination)
The following roads were merged into OSL on December 29, 1987:
The following roads were merged into Union Pacific on December 30, 1987:
- Oregon Short Line Railroad
The following roads were merged into Union Pacific on December 31, 1987:
- Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad
- Spokane International Railroad
- Mount Hood Railway
May 16, 1988
UP's control of MKT was approved by ICC. (Pacific RailNews, Issue 296, July 1988, page 7)
August 12, 1988
Union Pacific's control of MKT took effect. (Changes [Union Pacific employee newsletter], Volume 2, Number 7, July-August 1988)
December 1, 1989
Missouri-Kansas-Texas was merged into the Missouri Pacific, which itself was part of Union Pacific. MP was formally merged into Union Pacific January 1, 1997.
January 19, 1990
Union Pacific (through its Union Pacific Realty subsidiary) exchanged its 23 percent ownership of Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal to Santa Fe Pacific Realty (a subsidiary of Santa Fe Pacific Corporation, the merged parent companies of AT&SF and Southern Pacific), in exchange for property previously owned by LAUPT. (Railroad Retirement Board Employer Determination)
October 5, 1994
Union Pacific made an offer to buy and merge with Santa Fe Pacific Corporation, the parent company of the Santa Fe railroad. Union Pacific offered $3.4 billion, compared to BN's $2.5 billion. (The Philadelphia Enquirer, October 15, 1994)
UP's offer to merge with Santa Fe was reported as having failed without Lewis' direct involvement while he sought treatment for alcoholism in November 1994. In August 1995, he returned and made a new offer to buy and merge with Southern Pacific. (BusinessWeek, August 20, 1995)
February 21 , 1995
ICC approved UP's purchase of C&NW, under ICC Financial Docket 32133. (Railroad Retirement Employer Determination)
April 25, 1995
Union Pacific Corporation completed the purchase of 71.6 percent of Chicago & Northwestern Transportation Company stock, giving it a total of 99.5 percent of all CNWT stock. (SEC, Union Pacific Form 10-Q, dated August 14, 1995)
May 1, 1995
UP purchase and control of C&NW became effective. (SEC, Union Pacific Form 10-Q, dated August 14, 1995)
July 25, 1995
UP's board of directors approved the merger deal with SP. (Pacific RailNews, Issue 388, March 1996, page 62)
August 3, 1995
UP and SP announced that the two railroads had signed an agreement to merge. (Pacific RailNews, Issue 388, March 1996, page 62)
The offer was reported as $5.4 billion. (BusinessWeek, August 20, 1995)
September 26, 1995
UP, SP, and BNSF sign a trackage rights agreement that, following the completion of the merger of UP and SP, would give BNSF access to shippers in Provo, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, Utah. BNSF would operate over both UP's "Feather River" route and SP's Donner Pass line. BNSF would purchase UP's former WP "Inside Gateway" route in Northern California between Keddie and Bieber, linking its Oregon lines with its California network. BNSF would also serve the Oakland-San Jose area via UP trackage rights.
October 1, 1995
UP formally merged with Chicago & Northwestern Transportation Company. On September 30, 1995, C&NW ceased to exist and ceased compensating C&NW employees. (Railroad Retirement Employer Determination)
C&NW Vanishes -- "Effective at 12:01 a.m. (Central Time) on Sunday, October 1, 1995, the Chicago & North Western Railway Co. (C&NW) will be absorbed into the Union Pacific Railroad (UP)." So read the notice UP circulated to other railroads late in September, concerning the corporate merger and operating amalgamation of the North Western into UP. The notice stated that all transactions concerning the former C&NW lines, including interchanges, waybilling and car management, would be conducted in UP's name after Oct. 1. (PacificRailNews, December 1995, page 10)
November 30, 1995
UP filed with the ICC its application to merge and control the Southern Pacific. The ICC was terminated as a federal agency on January 1, 1996, and the application was transferred to the new Surface Transportation Board. (Federal Register, Volume 60, Number 204, October 23, 1995, pages 54384-54387; Volume 61, Number 72, April 12, 1996, pages 16282-16284)
January 17, 1996
UP's acquisition of SP was approved at a special meeting of the shareholders of Southern Pacific Rail Corporation. The vote was by 85 percent (or 132.5 million shares) of SP's outstanding share. (Pacific RailNews, Issue388, March 1996, page 20)
August 6, 1996
UP control of SP, including D&RGW and SSW, approved by STB. (STB Docket 32760)
September 11, 1996
Union Pacific Corporation was granted control of Southern Pacific Rail Corporation (formerly Rio Grande Industries) on September 11, 1996, with an effective date of October 1, 1996. Southern Pacific Rail Corporation controlled Southern Pacific Transportation Company, Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW), St. Louis Southwestern Railway (SSW, Cotton Belt), and the SPCSL Corporation.
September 11, 1996
"At 10 a.m. Central time today Union Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads consummated a historic merger that may have been contemplated as early as 1869 when the Golden Spike was driven at Promontory Summit, UT signifying the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Union Pacific Corporation completed all transactions needed to transfer control of Southern Pacific to Union Pacific. Union Pacific and Southern Pacific employees, under the guidance of their supervisors, may begin implementing integration plans." (Update Line, Union Pacific Communications Department, September 11, 1996)
As a consequence of the UP-SP merger, the newly combined company would control five terminal railroads:
- Alton & Southern Railway (St. Louis area)
- Central California Traction Company (Sacramento to Lodi, California)
- Ogden Union Railway and Depot Company (Ogden, Utah)
- Portland Terminal Railroad (Portland, Oregon)
- Portland Traction Company (Portland, Oregon)
January 1, 1997
Missouri Pacific Railroad was formally merged with Union Pacific Railroad. (Railroad Retirement Employer Status Determination)
June 30, 1997
D&RGW was formally merged with Union Pacific Railroad. (Railroad Retirement Employer Status Determination)
June 30 1997
SPCSL (Southern Pacific Chicago Saint Louis) Corporation was formally merged with Union Pacific Railroad. (Railroad Retirement Employer Status Determination)
September 30, 1997
St. Louis Southwestern Railway (SSW) was formally merged with Union Pacific Railroad. (Railroad Retirement Employer Status Determination)
February 1, 1998
Southern Pacific Transportation Company (a Delaware corporation) and Union Pacific Railroad (a Utah corporation) were formally merged; UPRR was merged into SPTCo., and the name was changed to Union Pacific Railroad. (SEC Form 8-K, dated February 13, 1998) (Railroad Retirement Employer Status Determination)
Alphabetic Listing of Companies