UP Wages Rock Island Merger Battle

As the Rock Island found itself with either redundant or non-existent routes to key Midwest cities, it looked to merge with a more prosperous railroad. The timing was right for Union Pacific, which was looking to create a super-railroad that would serve a route from Chicago to the West Coast. Not until late 1974 — after years of contentious arguments from other rail players — did the Interstate Commerce Commission make its ruling in favor of the merger. The ICC eventually approved a plan that would designate four “super” systems to cover rail service throughout the western U.S. and give UP the Chicago-Omaha main line. Ultimately, however, the UP-CRI&P merger did not become a reality because of the regulatory delays and numerous "conditions."

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Only a few months after the ICC approved the merger, the Rock Island filed for bankruptcy in March 1975. Days later, Union Pacific terminated its merger agreement, citing the decline of the Rock Island, and asked the ICC to deny the application. In 1980, the Rock Island ceased operations.

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.