CRIME: Boomerang

In 1926, a handsome, excessively rugged individualist named George Plummer Mc-Near Jr. bought the bankrupt Toledo, Peoria & Western Railroad for $130,000 down (price: $1,300,000). The road had one great asset—transcontinental freight trains used it to get around Chicago.

In a short time, McNear was making money on his "two streaks of rust." Then he started battling labor unions. In 1929 he rode a cowcatcher through an engineers' picket line to break his first strike. In 1941, he took on the railroad brotherhoods again, rode out shootings and fires, finally refused Government arbitration and lost his road by seizure.

When he...

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