22 - An Explanation of the “Jay Gould System” of Railroads

by John Tennison — History of Boogie Woogie

Of all the railroad tycoons of nineteenth century, Jay Gould was perhaps the most notorious and hated.  In 1880 (three years prior to the birth of George W. Thomas, Jr. in 1883), Jay Gould acquired control of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, & Southern;  the Texas & Pacific; and the International & Great Northern Railroads.  As a result of Gould’s control of these three railroads, and his ruthless desire to maximize his own profits, Gould had advertisements published that emphasized travel on these railroads as a single system, one that came to be known as the “Gould System of Railroads.”  Maps in timetable brochures for these railroads emphasized the routes in the Gould System with bold lines that suggested travel through and to certain destinations served by the Gould System, thus resulting in a flux of travelers through or to these destinations.  Other advertisements in magazines and public signs emphasized travel involving locations served by the Gould System (See photo of Texas & Pacific sign in Deep Ellum below.)  It was easier to travel on a route that had already been programmed for travelers, as compared to switching to a competitor’s line for which porters and others might be less motivated to provide assistance.  Thus, not only does the migratory route from Little Rock to Houston that I have proposed for the Thomas family seem most likely from a standpoint of geographical efficiency, such a migratory route also seems most probable because all three railroads were part of the Jay Gould System.

Ultimately, all three of these railroads merged into the Missouri Pacific Company, which later merged into today’s Union Pacifc Railroad Company:

On May 12, 1917, the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern was merged with the Missouri Pacific.

On March 1, 1956, the International & Great Northern was merged into the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company.

On October 15, 1976, the Texas & Pacific was merged into the Missouri Pacific.

In 1982, the Missouri Pacific Company merged with the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

© 2004-2008 John Tennison — All Rights Reserved

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