January 31, 1898

Harriman and Investors Purchase Most of UP's Assets

E.H. Harriman, former president of the Illinois Central and president of Union Pacific (1904-1909), spent the next decade reorganizing the company and reacquiring other major portions of the railroad, such as the Oregon Short Line and the OR&N. The new company was named Union Pacific Railroad Company. Harriman spent more than $240 million improving the line from Omaha to Ogden. His initiatives included investing in modern locomotives, freight and passenger cars, eliminating curves and reducing grades, replacing wooden bridges with steel or masonry, constructing cutoffs, reducing mileage, improving water supply, enlarging operations yards, installing heavier rail, and double tracking by the hundreds of miles. Ultimately, Harriman’s rehabilitation of the company returned UP to prosperity. He was unsuccessful in reacquiring a line from Denver to Galveston.

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By the turn of the century, E.H. Harriman had built an empire of railroads. His properties included the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific. SP leased CP in 1885, which became a "non-operating subsidiary" of SP by 1888, according to the ICC.

In 2012, Union Pacific celebrates the shared stories that have shaped our country since 1862. To mark our 150th anniversary, we invite you to explore how the nation’s largest railroad came to be and how UP continues to build America with innovation and tenacity, touching the lives of nearly every citizen.