Whose idea was it to keep PC going after 1976?

I’ve often wondered this. Who was it at the top that kept PC holding co going after CR in 1976? I know Perlman was terminated by the board after the breakup and Saunders was politely asked to leave too.

Did a new corporate board or CEO get the idea “hey let’s try to save this company and keep it going” or did outside investors buy the stock dirt cheap or something?

In all the books I’ve read its never explained. Just oooop 4/1/76 and CR is here.

I know the breakup trustees forced PC to sell a lot of their NY real estate assets and other subsidiary companies.

Just because the bulk of the railroad properties were conveyed to Conrail the former railroad companies of which Penn Central was the largest and best known still remained in existance to manage the properties that did not end up with Conrail. This included not only railroad lines that were not to be operated by Conrail but real estate and other assets. Properties and facilities remained to be sold, scrapped, leased out or otherwise disposed of and this took a considerable period of time after day one of Conrail in 1976.


Penn Central ceased to be a railroad in 1976 — it did not cease to be a company. It had assets which had to be managed, and while I didn’t follow its activities after 1976 it apparently emerged from bankruptcy as a going concern (and still is, though I can’t remember the new name) — it became just another corporation. The Reading Company likewise remained in existence for quite a while after 1976, as did the other bankrupt estates, as far as I know.

PennCentral is now American Premier, in the insurance business. Whatever Reading Company is called, they now are mainly in the Australian movie theater business. ErieLackawanna successfully liquidated. I think that Central Jersey Industries, the old Central Railroad of New Jersey, is into real estate ownership. I think that Lehigh Valley and Lehigh & Hudson River also liquidated.

Penn Central Corporation became American Premier Underwriters which was acquired by American Financial Group in 1995. As an aside they still own 55% of Amtrak common stock.

For a while in the ’80’s Penn Central owned Sperry Rail Service, the rail defect detection company. The cars were lettered “Penn Central Company” in smaller print above the windows on the side of the car. I have a slide somewhere. So the last official piece of Penn Central rolling stock was a Sperry Car!

How ironic is that considering how often the Penn Central was hitting the ground from 1968 to 1976?

I think that mostly the rails themselves were OK, just a little too far apart now and again, and not always completely upright, there not being much underneath them — but nobody needed a Sperry car to see that. Come to think of it, would the pitching and rolling have interfered with the Sperry cars’ ability to read the rails accurately?


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