The Railroad History Timeline - A Tool for Modelers. 
We've all had timeline questions. "I model 1975, is it accurate to have Chessie cars in my fleet?";  "Were ice reefers still used in 1968?"; "I model Wabash in the steam era, is this PRR boxcar with the 'shadow keystone' logo in my era?" We have assembled this chronological list of important events in railroading since 1945 to address questions such as these. The list is split into three groups, Locomotives, Rolling Stock, and Flags. Locomotives includes dieselization and major changes to paint schemes, locomotive introductions, and when electric operations ended on major lines. Rolling Stock includes changes in standards, operations and designs, and major changes in painting styles. Flags addresses railroad company mergers, spinoffs, abandonments, and major changes to company image that affect locomotives AND rolling stock. Generally only lines 100 miles and longer are covered. While certainly not comprehensive, we have tried to include the most important events that would affect modeling an accurate time frame. If you have an idea for something that you think should be included on this list, drop Craig a line at with the event and the year that it occurred. We make additions to this routinely.
F2, PA's, FA's, RS-2, RSC-2, DS-4-4-10, GE 70-ton switcher, Little Joes introduced.
Central California Traction dumps electrics for diesels.
Temiskaming & Northern Ontario becomes Ontario Northland.
Chicago Attica & Southern closes.
Missouri & Arkansas closes.
Pere Marquette merges into C&O.
Denver & Salt Lake merges into D&RGW.
Alton RR merges into GM&O.
3' gauge Sumpter Valley shuts down.
Chicago Surface Lines acquired by Chicago Transit Authority.
Narrow gauge Newfoundland Railway is acquired by CN.
Nickel Plate Road leases Wheeling & Lake Erie.
Atlantic & Danville regains independence.
RS-3, FA-2, Sharks, C-Liners, SW8, S-3, S-4, RSC-3, AS-16, AS-616, H-12-44, H-16-44 introduced.
Steam outnumbers diesels 2 to 1.
Average train length: 59 cars.
Bangor & Aroostook introduces "State of Maine" paint scheme.
ET&WNC "Tweetsie" narrow gauge line abandoned. Standard gauge continues.
Atlantic & Yadkin merges into Southern.
Rio Grande Southern shuts down.
Pacific Great Eastern reaches CN in Prince George, BC - 1st rail connection.
Southern Pacific de Mexico sold to government, becoming F.C. Pacifico.
Pacific Fruit Express receives their first mechanical reefers.
"The Milwaukee Road" appears in rectangle logo instead of "Chicago Milwaukee St.Paul & Pacific."
Northern Pacific adopts 48" logo for boxcars.
Large "B&O" appears on many hoppers & gons.
Last year for cars with "K" brakes.
PS-2 Covered hoppers introduced.
Pacific Electric sells remaining passenger business to Metropolitan Coach.
McGinnis image hits the New Haven.
Quebec North Shore & Labrador completed.
PRR introduces Truc-Train (solid piggyback train.)
Airslide hoppers, 75' TOFC flats introduced.
ACL cars with large "COAST LINE" in logo first appear.
Allied Full Cushion trucks are banned from interchange.
Average train length: 66 cars.
Big B, little &, and big O appears on B&O.
McGinnis image hits the Boston & Maine.
Trailer-Train established.
Mexico North-Western and Ferocarrill Kansas City Mexico & Orient merge to form Chihuahua-Pacific.
Omaha & Council Bluffs Street Rwy closes.
Chicago Indianapolis & Louisville makes Monon their official name. Reporting marks change from CIL to MON.
Last coal trains run on the East Broad Top.
Wellsville Addison & Galeton appears.
Capital Transit becomes DC Transit.
Waterloo Cedar Falls & Northern sold, becomes Waterloo RR.
Pacific Great Eastern finally makes a rail connection with CP and CN in North Vancouver.
Streetcar service ends in Portland, OR.
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Pere Marquette takes delivery of first post war streamliner.
Roller Bearing trucks begin to appear on freight cars but use spreads very slowly.
Plate B car height standard adopted.
Express cars equipped for messengers must now be marked with a star.
Gothic lettering replaces Roman on Atlantic Coast Line.
Mandatory re-weigh periods go from every 30 months to every 4 years.
PS-5 gons introduced.
Atlantic Coast Line adds Prismo reflector stripes to freight cars.
MStP&SSteM adopts billboard SOO LINE.
Pennsylvania replaces circle-keystone with shadow-keystone logo.
C&O pushes "For Progress" below the "O" and smoothes out the smoke trail.
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The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport becomes Milwaukee & Suburban Transport.
St. Johnsbury & Lake Champlain becomes St. Johnsbury & Lamoille County RR.
Frisco takes control of Alabama Tennessee & Northern.
Public Service Rwy (New Jersey) ends trolley service.
Santa Fe, Great Northern, Louisville & Nashville, New York Central, Pennsylvania end steam operations.
Atlantic Coast Line gives up on purple and silver and goes for black and yellow.
Nashville Chattanooga & St. Louis merges with L&N.
New York Ontario & Western shuts down.
Atlantic & East Carolina fully acquired by Southern.
B&O standard brown boxcars with "Time-Saver Service" and "Sentinal Service" logos appear.
Journal boxes must now be cast into truck side frames for a car to be interchanged.
CB&Q adopts Chinese Red on diesels and freight cars.
UP acquires Spokane International.
Baltimore & Ohio, Northern Pacific end steam operations.
S-10, T-6, FPA-4, GMD-1, SD24 introduced.
SP replaces Black Widow with gray and bloody nose on diesels
Flexi-Van system introduced by NYC.
ACL stops adding Prismo stripes to new cars.
Santa Fe introduces Indian Red paint and "Shock Control" on freight cars.
Andrews trucks banned from interchange.
Transcontinental through sleeper service discontinued.
Last year for Allied Full Cushion trucks.
Macon Dublin & Savannah merges into Seaboard Air Line.
Metropolitan Coach Lines sells remaining Red Car routes to LA Metropolitan Transit Commission.
Streetcar service in Milwaukee ends.
Electric freight operations end on Pacific Electric.
Virginian merges into N&W.
NYC implements Century Green scheme and cigar band schemes.
Ladders up cab unit noses now mandatory.
Nickel Plate Road, Union Pacific end steam in regular service.
"Hydro-Cushion" Underframes introduced.
70-ton hoppers become the clear standard over 55-ton hoppers.
MILW adds "The Milwaukee Road" in gothic billboard style to freight cars.
Tri-Level Autoracks appear.
Santa Fe introduces "big circle" version of the logo.
Southern switches back to black for freight service diesels.
Atlantic Coast Line absorbs Charleston & Western Carolina.
Erie Lackawanna appears (Erie + DL&W.)
Minneapolis & St. Louis merges with C&NW.
Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Norfolk & Western end steam operations.
Santa Fe drops zebra scheme for blue & yellow "book ends" on hood units.
Cotton Belt drops the cotton gin logo.
Southern adopts block style lettering on freight cars.
Average train length: 70 cars.
Cartier Railway completed.
SOO (MSt.P&SSM), DSS&A, WC merge to form the new Soo Line on Dec. 30.
ACL adds "Thanks For Using Coast Line" to boxcars.
CN, CV introduce noodle logos.
"The Western Way" slogan appears on WP boxcars.
Atlanta Birmingham & Coast merges into Atlantic Coast Line on December 31, 1945.
Rutland shuts down.
Lehigh & New England shuts down.
Wabash replaces heart logo with large flag logo.
Pennsylvania drops the shadow from the keystone logo.
Great Northern begins using Glacier Green on many freight cars.
Southern takes control of Interstate Railroad.
Chihuahua-Pacific's mainline through Copper Canyon completed.
ACF introduces the Centerflow hopper.
December: Chesapeake & Ohio takes control of Baltimore & Ohio.
Atlantic Coast Line "Another Cushioned Load" boxcars appear.
Purpose-built wood chip hoppers appear.
Union Pacific adds "Ship and Travel the Automated Railway"
N&W ends electrification on former Virginian.
Power Pooling begins (NKP-LV, UP-CB&Q-PRR are early examples).
UP experiments with "soup can" logo.
Frameless tank cars proliferate.
86' Auto Parts Hi Cube boxcars appear.
Central of Georgia joins Southern family.
Southern introduces radio controlled helpers.
Ann Arbor divorces Wabash and marries Detroit Toledo & Ironton.
Chattahoochee Industrial begins operations.
Norfolk & Western adopts the hamburger logo in December.
Nickel Plate Road, Wabash, Pittsburgh & West Virginia acquired by N&W.
Vermont Railway appears.
Texas & Pacific gets control of KO&G and Midland Valley Rwys.
CN opens Great Slave Lake Railway.
Some new hi-cube boxes built without running boards.
New car orders with friction bearings plummet.
Unit coal train concept catches on.
60' box cars appear in quantity.
Southern's Big John covered hoppers appear.
Canadian Pacific adopts script style lettering.
B&O introduces simplified Capital Dome.
GT noodle logo first appears on GTW.
PRR standardizes MU systems, permitting older diesels from different builders to run together.
Arnaud Railway is completed.
Legendary shortline Buffalo Creek & Gauley closes down.
Legendary logging line West Side Lumber Co. closes down.
Wabush Lake Railway opens.
Southern takes control of Georgia & Florida RR.
Great Northern simplifies their orange and green paint scheme.
Plate C car height standard adopted.
Atlantic & Danville becomes Norfolk Franklin & Danville.
The last Pittsburgh Rwys street car routes are sold to Port Authority of Allegheny County.
Shock Control becomes Super Shock Control on Santa Fe.
Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee closes.
Running boards no longer required on tank cars.