CARRIERS: Tarnished Plate

In 1916 the famed Van Sweringen brothers bought their first railroad—the Nickel Plate (New York, Chicago & St. Louis R. R.)—from the New York Central for $8,500,000. The road made money steadily for 15 years. But between 1927 and 1929 the Vans made a second, less prudent purchase. After a spectacular tussle with the Taplin interests (Pittsburgh & West Virginia R. R.), which resulted in a virtual corner on the stock market, they bought control of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Ry.

To finance the deal, the Nickel Plate floated $20,000,000 in 6%...

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