Andrew Boyd's Create a Company Challenge

The Yonge Company

Established: April 6, 1979
Headquarters: Whittington Place, North York, Ontario, Canada
Employees: 460
Industries: Property development and management

The story of one of Canada's examples of urban renewal began as a result of family rivalries, angered patriarchs, ambitious young men in their many and a need to turn a case of borderline blight into something worth living with - at least, that was the case before it turned into something special indeed....

The construction of the Yonge Subway, Toronto Civic Square and the Eaton Centre had had a dramatic effect on the city, though for Yonge Street itself the effect hadn't been entirely positive in some ways. The subway had dramatically reduced the road's congestion, but it hadn't been quite so good for the merchants on the street, who had seen many potential customers now race by underground. The Civic Centre had directly led to the Eaton Centre, which while a triumph of mixed-use design and a wildly successful property, it had added to the difficulties for the merchants, even as Eaton's wisely made sure room in the mall existed for many such small businesses and the growing residential population of the area had also increased the customer base. By the time the Centre was completed in 1970, many of the landlords of the smaller businesses along the strip were looking to sell off their properties with an eye towards redevelopment, but the congestion in the area slowed much of this progress, particularly as the office towers on Bay and Cambrai made more of the shoppers live further south.

The results of this became apparent through the 1970s, as Yonge Street North of Queen steadily decayed, even as neighbouring Church Street became the center of Toronto's LGBTQ community in the 1970s and Bay Street to the west saw a stack of office and apartment towers built during the same period. While many of the marquee places remained - Eaton's College Street, Sam The Record Man, Tip Top Tailors, the Hudson's Bay Company - many of the smaller buildings began to be filled with less than desirable tenants, with pornographic theatres, strip clubs and topless bars, massage parlors and the like. Organized crime followed these, and this element ran into particular trouble with the adjacent LGBTQ communities, which frequently battled with these elements in the late 1970s. Even as the City of Toronto made major landscaping additions to Yonge in the 1970s, shoppers found themselves having to live with many of the speedier properties being neighbours with others. It wasn't a good situation, but it was a situation shared with many other major shopping districts as Toronto's big malls built in the 1960s and 1970s - Yorkdale, Sherway Gardens, Fairview, Scarborough Town Centre - and it's spreading suburban development also drew shoppers out of the main street areas.

The situation came to a head in July 1977, when twelve-year-old Emanuel Jaques was murdered by four men at the Charlie's Angels strip club on Yonge. While the boy's killers were all convicted (two were executed for the crime in 1997), the event caused massive protests against these businesses, a situation made worse when Toronto's LGBTQ community began adding to the pressure, which resulted in a number of fights, stabbings, at least two arsons and numerous other incidents in 1977-78. The protests and pressure was intense, and the city began researching multiple ways to clean up the area.

Into this stepped three young sons of prominent Toronto families - Patrik Stefan Eaton, Galen Weston and William Ballard - who organized The Yonge Company in February 1979, with the goal of the company being to sweep what Ballard referred to as "filth" away from the street, to make the street and it's storefronts a haven for small business owners, unique attractions and new stores, restaurants and cafes, music venues and new residents.

Between the protests, violence between the strip's tenants and the LGBTQ community, the city's loud desires for change and now the entrance of powerful interests, the less than savoury businesses saw what was coming and bailed out quickly, as The Yonge Company and other new landlords quickly swept up dozens of properties - by the summer of 1981 The Yonge Company was the landlord at over 70 properties in the downtown core, and in August 1980 they acquired the famed Eaton's College Street building, which became the hub of their efforts. They were soon rivaled by Taurabeck Properties, led by master property hustlers Victoria Taurabeck and Randa Barogianis, who by 1981-82 had nearly 30 properties on their own. Taurabeck's fame for flipping properties here ended up dramatically changed as they too followed The Yonge Company's lead and began leasing as often as possible to smaller and newcomer businesses, while many of the luxury brands began to swell their reach down Yonge south from ritzy Yorkville.

Weston withdrew from day-to-day operations (though he remained a partner) of the company in April 1985 to focus on the building of his titanic Whittington Place, but Eaton and Ballard proved capable runners of the firm as it expanded. Yonge became the best place in town to start a small shop or cafe or restaurant, and even as the luxury brand opened outlets along the street in the mid to late 1980s the people who had come to remove the sad detrius of the past stayed put, which in this case in more than a few cases became major positives for all involved. Ultimately the Taurabeck companies spread out from just Yonge to properties on Queen, Church, Bay, Parliament and Bloor streets, but The Yonge Company instead began moving up Yonge instead, starting with buying up properties in the Yonge-Eglinton area in the late 1980s and then eventually moving all the way up the famed street as far as Steeles Avenue in North York. The revitalization projects continued to be huge moneymakers, even as a few were torn down to make way for other projects, most famously the Toronto Opera House on Wellesley, which opened in 1994. Weston's success on Yonge made the massive Whittington Place, opened in 1993, possible, and with its completion the company moved into the massive complex.

The redevelopment on Yonge and the follow-on development on streets nearest to Yonge - Bay, Church, Queen, Bloor, Jarvis, Dundas - led to the idea that streets could be reclaimed the troubled storefronts led to similar programs on a number of streets outside of downtown Toronto - Spadina, Danforth, Lake Shore West, St. Clair, Bathurst, Royal York, Dundas West, Keele, Dufferin, Victoria Park, Eglinton, Kingston Road - and by the late 1980s it had spread to places like Simcoe and King Streets in Oshawa, Markham Road and Highway 7 in Markham, Hurontario Road in Mississauga and Main Street and Davis Drive in Newmarket, making it possible for enterprising entrepreneurs to find good places to set up their businesses, and forcing many landowners at properties large and small to improve their properties to stay in the game - a challenge virtually all accepted, dramatically improving the city's commercial real estate stock in the 1980s and 1990s and spawning countless imitators all across North America during the same time period.
 
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The Rowland Steam Company

Ever since the end of steam, many rail companies have found that an excellent PR tool is working with preservationists to operate excursions behind surviving steam engines. Often these are locomotives that either worked for the original railroad once, a company the railroad acquired after the end of steam, or a locomotive from a different railroad entirely. In this day and age however, the most important thing is that it's a steamer, which is sure to draw crowds.

Ross Rowland was one of the first ever people to capitalize on these trends, and began this company as part of his vision for big-time steam excursions across the US. Originally, he began leasing various locomotives from F. Nelson Blount under the High Iron Company brand. However, this would soon evolve into an enterprise in its own right starting in the 1970s with one special train - The American Freedom Train. The idea was a train, hauled behind several different steam engines, would carry memorabilia of America's great past. Ranging in nature from Washington's copy of the Constitution to a rock from the moon.

For these trains, Rowland envisioned several steamers to pull the train across all of the states - often within territory they once ran over. Those engines would go on to be Norfolk & Western 611, Santa Fe 2925, Southern Pacific 4458 [1], Reading 2101, and Nickel Plate 759. Afterwards, all of the engines would go on to be leased by Ross, with them being technically owned various railroad museums and preservation groups that'd agree to maintain the locomotives. The train was a natural success in its 1975 and 1976 seasons, and led to more profit for Rowland's company.

By 1980, Rowland owned two of the steamers personally - Nickel Plate 2-8-4 #759 and Reading 4-8-4 #2101. In 1980, he'd add another steamer to the mix - C&O 4-8-4 #614, which would quickly become the teacher's pet of his locomotive fleet. The biggest event for that decade however, would be in the winter of 1984 and 1985, when the ACE project to create a modern coal-burning locomotive went into full swing. Rowland leased the 759 to Burlington Northern, 2101 to the Louisville & Nashville, and 614 to the Chessie System. Both locomotives were operated on coal and freight trains for that time period. The results were phenomenal, and the ACE created its 3000 locomotive soon after.

Meanwhile, the company's steam excursions continued to be major breadwinners. As the locomotives in the company's fleet starting becoming more and more used, Rowland found a need to restore another big steamer. That honor would go to New York Central J3a Hudson #5433, which was owned by the Ohio Railway Museum in Worthington, with her restoration beginning in 1981 and being done by 1983. Other major events would include when Amtrak honored the first run of the Carolinan express train's section to Myrtle Beach, SC by having N&W 611 pull the first ever consist from Chattanooga to Myrtle Beach on June 24, 1986. Out west, Southern Pacific 4458 and Santa Fe 2925 joined Union Pacific 844 to celebrate LAUPT's 50th Anniversary in June 1989.

The 1990s also saw some major events for Ross' team. December 31, 1996 would see Santa Fe 2925 haul the last eastbound consist of her railroad's Super Chief before said service was handed over to Amtrak. Meanwhile, J3a #5433 joined Niagara #6015 and L4a Mohawk #3126 for the 1998 NRHS Convention in Syrcause, NY. Unfortunately, Reading 2101 suffered a flaw in one of its boiler tubes, and was out of commission for most of the decade. In addition, Ross Rowland also bought up Illinois Central Mountain #2613 for use on mainlines in Mid-America.

Due to increased ridership after 9/11 and the resulting regrowth of rail travel, Amtrak fund itself in a troublesome position as their pre-existing heritage and major fleet proved to still not be enough to handle the passengers. As a solution, Rowland approached Amtrak with the idea of dispatching some of his steamers to haul some of the trains, with both Amtrak and host railroads helping to get fuel and water supplies ready. On the morning of September 14, passengers on the Silver Star would be surprised to find that instead of a P42 taking over from the electrics at Richmond, a SCL SD80MAC and N&W 611 would head the train the rest of the way to Miami. Further west in Houston, passengers on the Twin Cities Rocket marveled at the revelation that Santa Fe 2925 would haul their train all the way to the Twin Cities. Last but far from least, Rowland himself would drive the 614 as it hauled the National Limited from Washington DC to Kansas City.

Today, the company still goes strong, though economic downturns have led to Rowland typically only leasing one engine at a time. Nonetheless, Ross always has major plans for his engines, and often acts on them to let the public see big time railroading. These include such spectacles as the 2002 NRHS Convention, where 2925 and her 2-10-4 counterpart 5021 met the Grand Canyon Railroad alongside 3751, another ATSF Northern. Also of note is the 2006 NRHS Convention, where the 4458 was sent to New Orleans. All around, this is one of the most iconic mainline steam excursion companies in America.

That is, aside from a few other such companies in existence...

[1] ITTL, the 4458 went on display at Santa Barbara, and was eventually restored. Now, the 4449 goes on display at the Americas Rail Museum in Jersey City instead.
OOC: Yet another idea derived from @TheMann's Transport America.
 
The Roanoke Heritage Company

It had been only five years since the Norfolk & Western was absorbed into its long-time parent company the Pennsylvania Railroad. During the first few years, many changes came to be for the city of Roanoke, Virginia and its relationship with railroad. The most notable of said plans being that the PRR would be centering more of its locomotive maintenance out of Altoona, PA. This upset many in Roanoke at first, even with the fact that the East End Shops would continue to be used as a maintenance depot for PRR electrics, and even slightly expanded for that purpose. With the later confirmation that the PRR would instead begin using the yards at Crewe, VA people began to wonder what the future of Shaffer's Crossing would be.

However, that would soon turn out be a blessing in disguise come 1972. That year, legendary steam engine operator Ross Rowland came into town as part of plans to develop his American Freedom Train. Eventually, Rowland settled on the idea of having N&W 611, which was on display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation, head the train through the southeastern US when it ran in that area from September to December of 1976. However, the city of Roanoke and VMT also decided they wanted N&W 611 for their own purposes - namely excursion services out of said city. Eventually, Rowland and the City of Roanoke struck a deal with the PRR to acquire the Shaffer's Crossing Roundhouse. As soon as said acquisition was completed, 611 was hauled by a PRR diesel into the shops, and work to rebuild her began. The 611 was generally in good mechanical condition, so she was ready to be tested by April 23, 1975. The next day, an unpainted 611 hauled a short freight from Roanoke to Lynchburg, and performed splendidly. Immediately after, she was repainted into a dark blue, white, and crimson livery for the AFT.

Afterwards, in February 1977, the VMT announced that they would be working with the PRR to continue operating the 611 on excursion trains over the ex-N&W lines out of Roanoke. Weekdays featured a train to Christiansburg in the morning and one to Lynchburg in the afternoon, but weekends would feature longer excursions to Bluefield on Saturday and to Crewe on Sunday. These excursions were massive hits, since the PRR also used these as a way to give people tours of their operations in the area. Eventually, the Seaboard Coast Line decided they wanted their own steam program like the Southern did, and leased 611 for a series of equally successful excursions in the Carolinas.

Too soon, more and more Eastern roads wanted to run the 611 on excursions over their tracks. Including the Erie Lackawanna, Southern, SCL, and the numerous shortline railroads. The Roanoke Heritage Company often would lease other engines like Southern Mikado #4501 and PRR K4 #1361 at first, but they quickly realized that another big engine would be needed. The natural answer was to restore A Class #1218, and the task began in 1978 then was completed in 1980. Like 611, the 1218 would have her fair share of adventures, most notably when she pulled the first ever section of Amtrak's Carolinan for its entire route from Chicago to Kitty Hawk, NC.

Unfortunately, the early to mid 1990s would prove to be a troubling time for the company. During this time, many companies began to make various restrictions on steam excursion usage due to growing traffic, and the decreasing route availability for said excursions among most rail lines. One of the most notable examples was when the Southern . This resulted in financial trouble trouble that could have doomed the company, and forced them to store 1218 back at Shaffer's Crossing until the money to keep her running well could be made again. In the meantime, operating the 611 was still affordable, and the PRR sought to feature her to represent the N&W in the Penn 150 excursions in 1996. Eventually, the PRR decided to keep running these trains after 1996, and 1218 returned to the iron on April 4, 1997.

Following the doldrums of the 90s, the 2000s would present itself with new opportunities and expansions. In mid-2000, the company bought and restored several PRR diesels that were being retired in favor of new models, among them several ex-N&W engines that were promptly restored. Another steam engine also arrived in the former of K Class Mountain #105, which had been on display in Williamson, WV beforehand. The 105 has since joined the operational crew, and often doubleheads with 611.

OOC: Special thanks to @TheMann for letting me borrow the Amtrak idea.
 
It should also be known that the steam locomotive operators in North America are able to operate their fleets because of the presence of Vektris Engineering's Special Fabrication Division and its facilities at Valparaiso, Indiana and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, both of which are capable of fabricating huge pieces for the locomotives, including the special alloy side rods for N&W 611 and NYC 5433, which were made by Vektris by them doing a 3D scan of the originals, modifying them for the use of better bearings and then making them by billeting a complete block of the special alloy, the blocks made by Bethlehem Steel's famed mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, specifically for the purpose. 🙂
 
It should also be known that the steam locomotive operators in North America are able to operate their fleets because of the presence of Vektris Engineering's Special Fabrication Division and its facilities at Valparaiso, Indiana and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, both of which are capable of fabricating huge pieces for the locomotives, including the special alloy side rods for N&W 611 and NYC 5433, which were made by Vektris by them doing a 3D scan of the originals, modifying them for the use of better bearings and then making them by billeting a complete block of the special alloy, the blocks made by Bethlehem Steel's famed mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, specifically for the purpose. 🙂
My brother actually worked at the Valpo plant while he was in college. I remember he convinced the manager to invite me to see the process of 611's spare rods being designed in 2017.
 
TheMann's Companies in this thread:

Done:
- Petro-Canada Energy
- Westland-Reynard Automotive Corporation
- Vektris Engineering Corporation
- Robinson Heavy Industries
- Pacific Truck and Engineering
- Lionsgate Entertainment
- Atlantic Shipbuilders
- The Northern Company
- The Yonge Company
- Anik Power Systems
- Panoz Auto Development
- Hong Kong Biotechnica
- Republic of Gamers
- The Toronto Bus Company
- Commodore Technologies
- Bennett Technocraft
- Tremblay-Gauthier Land Development
- Vector Automotive
- Canadian National Railways
- Second Planet Resources
- Fisker Automotive
- American Motors Corporation
- Pacific Alliance
- Nuclear Energy Corporation of Canada
- Faulkner Corporation
- Roberts Cameron Miller
- Bowring Brothers

To Come: (planned out but not done yet)
- Sterling Russell Evans
- Excalibur Machine Works
- Olympia and York Development
- Dalsa Technologies
- Canadian Pacific Corporation
- T. Eaton and Company
- TH3 Kanati Design
- Canadair
- ATI Technologies
- Campeau Corporation
- Research in Motion
- Falconbridge
- Nortel Networks Corporation
- Shaw Communications
- Magna Corporation
- Seagram Company
- Polymer Corporation
- Sam The Record Man
- Cray Computer Corporation
- Desjardins Commonwealth
- Pacific Western Bank
- Ferranti Beaulieu
- Sierra Semiconductor
- Atlas Kishanti
- Astral Communications
- Mylisia Fresh Foods
- Empire Laboratories
- Vickers Aerospace
- Steel Company of Canada
- Peace Collective
- Allied Canadian Brewers
- TM4 Electrodynamics
- Stasis Apparel
- Haudenosaunee Advancement Corporation
- Western Blackfoot

EDIT 1
Done: Vector Automotive
Added: Second Planet Resources, Ferranti Beaulieu, Sierra Semiconductor, Atlas Kishanti, Astral Communications, Roberts-Cameron-Miller, Mylisia Fresh Foods and Empire Laboratories
EDIT 2
Done: Canadian National Railways, Fisker Automotive and Second Planet Resources
EDIT 3
Done: American Motors and Pacific Alliance
EDIT 4
Done: Nuclear Energy Corporation of Canada, Faulkner Corporation, Roberts Cameron Miller and Bowring Brothers
Added: Vickers Aerospace, Steel Company of Canada, Peace Collective, Allied Canadian Brewers, TM4 Electrodynamics, Stasis Apparel, Western Blackfoot and Haudenosaunee Advancement Corporation
 
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you need help?
Instead of creating my own company I'm working on public domain companies. Killing two birds with one stone the first business is the General Steel Co. own by Firebrand's father "Emerald" Ed Reilly and have the Ingot Steel Plant as his first steel plant. Some very basic dates for General Steel Co.:

1920 - "Emerald" Edward Reilly find the Ingot Steel Plant out of Knickerbocker City. Over the next decade he builds this into General Steel, one of the biggest steel companies in the U.S.

Stuff created by @Enigmajones
"
The Reilly family originated in Ireland, but only arrived in the United States in the late 1830's, when the merchant Sean Reilly and his extended family relocated from rural Kilkenny for the shores of opportunity and settled on Long Island, some in the farmland, and some in Knickerbocker City. By the 1870's there were two distinct families, the Long Island Reilly's who owned a lot of farmland, and the Knickerbocker Reilly's who owned highly valuable land in the large metropolis. The Knickerbocker Reilly's were also highly influential in politics and were acclaimed as kingmakers. In 1920, this family is led by Donald Reilly, whose brother Walter is a senator for the state of Langeiland .

It was to these people who Edward Reilly, known to his friends as Emerald, of the Long Island Reilly's went with his plan. Owning vast plots of land, decided, with some investment from his distant cousin's that he would build a steel mill, whose massive size would triple usual production. With this plan, by 1923 he would return the cousins investment and take full control of the Steel being made. Only 32 when he made this leap, he would suddenly found the General Steel Company and with his vast personal fortune built a model community in his home town built as the home of General Steel. Although initially independent, this area was annexed into Knickerbocker City in 1985 and is known as Reilly Heights. .

While he trumpeted the new community, he personally bought new property in the city, building a 35 story palace for his family and close friends just off Boer Square, in the center of Knickerbocker City. In honor of the new titan of industry, the building quickly gained the nickname the Emerald Palace, and is currently a land mark. General Steel would not be his only endeavor. Banking and construction were next and eventually led into other industries. In 1960 at the age of 69, Emerald Ed Reilly was one of the most wealthy and influential men win all of Knickerbocker City. His cousin's, who had once carried the most acclaim, were now sitting in his families shadow and his eldest son, Rod Reilly, at the age of 35 is ready to take control of the company.

Rod had gained quite the reputation as a playboy and traveler, making a well known sojourn to the East where he took in martial art's training and buddhist monks. On a trip to the Philippines, he met and befriended the elder Harry "Slugger" Dunn, who was serving in the Navy. After talking with his father, Rod had Slugger transferred from the Pacific to Fort Jameco ( a fort owned by the military in Knickerbocker City) and eventually honorable discharge. Slugger soon became the valet of Rod. Bored of his lifestyle, he chose to become a vigilante, known as the Firebrand. Aided by Slugger, who trained and aided him as Ray O'Light, sort of similar to Kato, the two hit the scene in 1950 and quickly became an enemy of the police and the criminals."


Hawken (Field) Spaceport is located in Knickerbocker City and the General Steel still exists in the future and still owned by the Reilly Family.
 
Vector Automotive

Established: August 20, 1971
Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan, USA
Employees: 1,228
Industries: Automobiles and auto parts

Car makers tend to be companies of vast size, even those founded by a single person or a handful of individuals like Henry Ford and William Durant, particularly with the massive investments needed in modern times to make a car that meets all modern safety standards and has all of the technological advancements many modern car customers demand. That hasn't, however, stopped some ambitious individuals from trying their luck at making cars themselves, and the massive growth of smaller 'boutique' auto makers all across the world in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s showed that there were indeed plenty of these ambitious people out there.

Gerald Weigert, Ryan Caldwell and Lee Brown were three of these people, the former two barely out of college and the latter a well-known auto body repairman and fabricator when they founded what was then known as the Vehicle Design Force in Los Angeles in 1971, with the goal of developing a car unlike any other. The company showed off its first project at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in 1976, but that project didn't get built, though the second one, the Vector W2, did indeed be completed as a running, driving prototype, powered by a twin-turbocharged Chevrolet V8 paired with a General Motors automatic gearbox. The drivetrain may not have been exotic, but the sharp-edged design certainly was, and the car was a sensation that saw the company gain a number of investors, the company aiming to use the money gathered to develop the vehicle into a practical supercar. They were entirely successful, and the Vector W8, the first examples of which were delivered to customers in May 1985, showed where the work had gone.

The W8 claimed to be the fastest production car in the world at the time, a claim that was entirely plausible. Made almost entirely from aircraft-grade aluminum, carbonfiber and Kevlar composites, the W8 was powered by a turbocharged 6.3-liter Chevrolet V8 making a claimed 655 horsepower (dyno testing showed this figure was actually a touch conservative....) and 745 foot-pounds of torque, driving the rear wheels through an Allison five-speed automatic transmission with a driver override, and the chassis was built with racecar-style inboard suspension and anti-roll bars as well as huge, grippy tires, and the interior was designed around digital displays (and a head-up display, a first in a production vehicle) and high-quality interior components, with Vector advertising that the cars were meant to last the life of the owner - and with the quality of the materials and construction, few argued. 422 examples were built between 1985 and 1992, and despite a price tag of a whopping $455,000 (in 1989 money no less), the cars found eager buyers, and quickly became a style icon of the 1980s. The company's finances were helped by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and race team owner Al Holbert joining the company in the late 1980s, and the company produced its successor the W8, the M12, starting in 1992.

The M12 took everything good about the W8 and turned it up to eleven, as well as adding a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system, a revolutionary pneumatically-shifted semi-automatic gearbox and a screaming, designed-for-the-purpose 6.0-liter V12 engine hat produced 545 horsepower in initial versions, though later cars pushed that as high was 630 horsepower. A very different animal but just as fast, but much more smoothly styled and much easier to drive fast, and the M12 was quickly followed by the track-ready M12S and open-top M12R roadster. Far more successful than the W8 with 2200 built between 1992 and 2001, the M12 was followed by the M15 flagship in 2000 and the smaller M16 model beginning in 2002, as the company moved to a new HQ in Torrance, California, which included bigger facilities for the company to operate out of, while the M15 and M16 began a trend in Vector cars for the vehicles to have the driver's seat in the middle of the car with a passenger on either side, an arrangement first seen in the McLaren F1. Stylistically, each new generation evolved from the previous, and with each generation the company grew in size, producing more and more cars.

In May 2008, in preparation for the introduction of the company's newest flagship, the Vector R20, and with a new smaller car and a super-sedan on the drawing board, Vector moved across the United States from California to a brand new, $265 million facility in Detroit, Michigan, adjoining the newly-completed Motor City Raceways, a ultra-high-tech racetrack built on the former Coleman Young Airport, which has closed in 2002. The new facilities allowed the company to use the racetrack for testing pretty much all the time, and as many of the surrounding residents were car enthusiasts or race fans themselves (a not-uncommon thing in Detroit, of course) the company's new digs gave the company new facilities to work with and access to many of the best engineers and ideas from the big four American mass-produced automobile makers. The move proved a very good investment, particularly as the massive facility allowed the company to engage in racing teams and advanced design projects as well as their own car production.

As of 2020, Vector Automotive has 1,228 employees and its Detroit facility produces roughly 2500 cars a year, and while they are sold all over the world its perhaps not surprising that the best markets for the company are those in the United States and the English-speaking Commonwealth.
 
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Flyover Pacific Railroad Company
Established: May 22, 1966
Headquarters: Peoria, IL, USA

One of the most lucrative shortline and class II rail companies of recent times, this company has its roots in the troubled era of Northeast/Midwest railroading in the 1960s. During this time, numerous branch and secondary lines were abandoned by the major railroad companies of the region. While this did allow the railroads to divert major capital to the routes that were still sufficiently profitable, it began to leave behind many people who bitterly perceived these abandonments as the railroads, their best links to the outside world before roads came, abandoning them. That would be the point where the more entrepreneurial members of society would step in, and create their own impact in the American railroad scene. This was a time that would lead to the successful railroads like Iowa Pacific or Genesee & Wyoming evolving into iconic international conglomerates, with plenty of other smaller, but still successful companies emerging.

The Flyover Railroad Company is one of these businesses that emerged during this time. This company has its roots in 1966, when a group of local business owners and farmers banded together to continue operating the Pennsylvania Railroad's branch line from Peoria to Decatur. Referred to as the Decatur Central Railroad, this line would prove itself a fairly profitable line, shuttling aggregates and other local produced materials between the two cities. Nonetheless, it was clear that there were more lines still that could be revitalized to serve similar purposes.

In the modern age, this company has since come to own several railroads that sometimes went from shortlines and became major class II carriers.
- Decatur Central: The line that started it was was this leg of the PRR's Peoria Branch from Decatur to Peoria. Formed in 1966, this line is a modest money-maker, though it has since been easily eclipsed by the other railroads under the Flyover Central's umbrella.
- Traverse & Franklin: Originally running over the ex-PRR from Traverse City to Grand Rapids, the company eventually bought up some ex-NYC lines from Grand Rapids to Franklin, OH via Jackson, MI.
- Indiana Interstate Railroad: At first, this line ran over a network of dropped NYC and PRR branches that ran from Cairo, IL to Indianapolis via Vincennes, IN. However, this railroad's big break would be when, as part of their Monon takeover, the Erie Lackawanna coughed up the ex-Nickel Plate Indianapolis Division from its namesake city to Michigan City. This would lead to the company enjoying further expansion thanks to the traffic from Lake Michigan.
- Ohio Central: This route starts over a former NKP line from Cleveland to Zanesville. Then, it runs over a former PRR secondary line to Morrow, where an entirely new line was built to the city of Hamilton. This railroad primarily shuttles plastic, minerals, steel, coal, and various agricultural products.
- Virginia Creeper Scenic Railroad: Best known for its preservation thanks to the efforts of photographer O. Winston Link, who photographed the line in its heyday as a common carrier. This is one of the few purely tourist operations owned by the railroad, and runs over the former N&W Abingdon Branch from its namesake of Abingdon, VA to West Jefferson, NC. Three ex-N&W 4-8-0s run over this route: 382, 396, and 429 with happy tourists from late spring and into the early autumn.
- Texas & Oklahoma Railroad: Despite its name, this shortline runs almost entirely in the former state. Namely over an ATSF line from Sweetwater to Chillicothe. Regardless, this is still a relatively profitable route for the company.
- Fargo & Southern: Running from its namesake North Dakota city to Ortonville, Minnesota, this line was abandoned by the Milwaukee Road, but rescued by locals who were determined to save the railroad that made many of their communities. Today, it enjoys a peaceful life as a light freight hauler with the occasional excursion train.
- Cadosia & Hudson River: Born out of the ashes of the NYO&W, this railroad runs its lines from Scranton to Cornwall, NY still mainly as a way to serve various communities in New York and Northeast Pennsylvania. It is a favorite of the Steamtown NHS collection when it comes to running steamers on excursions. Indeed, some run over the entire route then some into the New York area.
 
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My brother actually worked at the Valpo plant while he was in college. I remember he convinced the manager to invite me to see the process of 611's spare rods being designed in 2017.
I doubt it took a lot of convincing. The Spec Fab boys at Vektris like to refer to themselves as the "Special Forces of Manufacturing", and say "when we hear 'it can't be done', we take that as a challenge." Normally such cockiness would to me result in a laugh, with the number of times they've done the impossible, I don't think anyone laughs at such a statement from them any more....
 
OOC: This one is for you @Andrew Boyd 🙂

Canadian National Railways

Established: March 27, 1915
Headquarters: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Employees: 84,954
Industries: Rail, road, seaborne and air freight transportation and logistics

Divisions:
- CN Rail
-- Illinois Central
-- Newfoundland Railway
-- Canadian Atlantic Railways [1]
-- New England Central [2]
-- Lehigh Valley [3]
-- Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific
-- Bessemer and Lake Erie
-- Northwest Territory Transportation
-- White Pass and Yukon Route [4]
-- Jamaica Railway
-- Panama Canal Railways [5]
- CN Intermodal
-- Canadian Intermodal Terminals Company
-- Walker-Matthews Manufacturing (50% owner) [6]
-- Reimer Yellow Roadway (25% owner)
-- CN Roadfreight
-- Terra Transport (33% owner)
- CN Marine
-- Newfoundland Shipyards (20% owner)
-- Marine Atlantic
-- Marine Caribbean
-- American President Lines (40% owner) [7]
- CN Air Transport
-- Wardair Logistics (51% owner) [8]
- CN Infrastructure
-- Joubert, Kenneth and Murray Transport Construction
-- Montreal Locomotive Works (21% owner)
-- Canadian Bridge Company (50% owner)
- CN Communications
-- Allstream Communications (50% owner)
-- Canadian Microwave Communications
- CN Lands
-- Fairmont Hotels and Resorts (22.5% owner)
-- CN Tower and Attractions
-- Western Canada Landholdings
-- The Northern Company (22% owner)
-- Sir Henry Thornton Technical College

The second-largest of Canada's 'Crown Corporations', Canadian National Railways was born from a need to keep a number of disparate railways built during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries from failing, as well as manage the government-owned railroads that had, up until that point, been a source of considerable trouble for many communities and the politicians who were connected to them. From that inaucpicious World War I beginning grew one of the most-respected railroad companies in the world, a company known for the ability to serve customers across eleven Canadian provinces and all three of its territories, as well as twenty-nine U.S. states, with lines reaching from the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, Louisiana and Alabama to north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska, Nunavut and the Northwest Territores, as well as from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, as well as its ships and airplanes being able to deliver cargo all over the world.

Much of that success, and the massive profits that go with it - CN hasn't failed to turn an annual profit since 1982 - comes from high-quality management and a history of innovation. It's in-house technical college has produced hundreds of thousands of skilled personnel, and virtually all CN leaders have come from backgrounds further down in the company, a reality that has given the company an impressive esprit de corps as well as a history of good relationships with its operating unions, and in modern times the company's self-sufficiency and effective transportation system has allowed it to become an indispensible part of Canada's economic landscape.

After the Canadian goverment merged together the government-owned Prince Edward Island, Intercolonial, National Transcontinental, Hudson Bay and Newfoundland Railways with the bankrupt Canadian Northern Railway in 1915, it was able to merge the Grand Trunk Railway into the system in 1919 (despite multiple rounds of lawsuits by stockholders, dismissed by Ottawa primarily owing to the GTR's long history of not living up to its commitments and preferring to pay dividends to English stockholders than meet its obligations to the Canadian Government) but struggled to gain a cohesive identity until the promotion of former Pennsylvania Railroad manager Sir Henry Thornton to the CNR's chairman's seat in 1922.

Thornton, who ran the CNR from 1922 until 1948, built the CNR into a massive, efficient system that served its communities very well, creating much of the ethos that has guided CNR ever since. The company gained a repute for engineering excellence and technical advancements and, in Sir Henry's words, "Doing the job right the first time." The company under Sir Thornton and his successor, Sir Anthony McConnville, developed many technical innovations, including the development of continuous welded rail and the use of concrete crossties instead of treated wooden ones, one of the first developments of cab signals for a mainline railroad, the development of a radio network that spanned the nation that would later become the genesis of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, building many hotels along the line, creating a special division for ever-better fare from railroad restaurants and dining cars and creating a huge fleet of luxurious passenger trains that became known as the 'Great Canadian Fleet'. Thornton's motive-power managers created the Transcona, Asenalven and Beausejour locomotive shops specifically to advance the development of steam locomotives and perpetually challenge the Montreal Locomotive Works and Canadian Locomotive Company to advance their knowledge and designs.

McConnville, who was a two-star General of the Canadian Army during World War II who organized much of the logistics that kept his country (and others) moving during the War, assumed CNR's leadership after Sir Thornton's death in 1948, and McConnville completed CNR's dieselization, as well as developing numerous new types of cars and loading systems, including the first 'skids' and 'railboxes' for less-than-carload shipping, piggyback and container operations and bulk cargo trains of all kinds. Under McConnville, CNR began expanding into the United States, and McConnville's successor, Sir Leonard Robitaille, massively expanded this, taking advantage of the shakeouts of the 1970s in the American railroad industry to allow CN to get into many new markets in the United States - New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Louisville - with that number expanding further in the 1980s to include cities as far south as Oakland and Salt Lake City. The completion of the Ontario North and James Bay Projects in the 1970s led to CN electrifying most of its main lines in Ontario and Quebec, and the building of additional electrical generating capacity in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada led to the same there in the 1980s, as well as the wires stretching far into the United States. In 1984, CN and CP both passed their passenger trains off to a new Crown Corporation, Via Rail Canada, which became a major player in its own right as a result of its growth - and that same year, Via began the construction of the St. Lawrence River High Speed Rail System, which began operations across its entire length from Detroit to Quebec City in 1995. (By 2000 Via's operations on the St. Lawrence River HSR and its feeder lines, as well as in Atlantic Canada, Alberta and British Columbia were making them substantial profits.)

After reaching far into the states in the 1980s, CN completed the lines to the iron mines of Nunavut's Melville Peninsula in the 1990s, as well as the pathways that allowed commerce to much more easily make its way to the impoverished (at the time) Northern communities, while the telecommunications division became a major profit maker in the 1980s and 1990s. Line construction and acquisition in the 1980s and 1990s brought the company heavily into the auto industry and resulted in the company carrying vast loads of goods it hadn't before, such as bauxite, bituminous coal, crude oil, ethanol and anthracite. CN began to rebuild its cabooses with air compressors controlled from the trains' head end in the late 1980s, with remote-controlled mid-train helpers following in the early 1990s. After a particularly ugly incident at Dundas, Ontario in April 1989 caused by a runaway that resulted in broken-open tank cars spilling contents into Lake Ontario, CN began using a fourth man on longer and heavier trains carrying hazardous materials in late 1989, setting a standard that other North American railroads followed in the 1990s. Ever-more-powerful diesel and electric locomotives from all of the major builders in the 1990s made heavier trains possible, and CN's heavily-built main lines, designed and constructed that way during the times of Sir Thornton, had few difficulties handling it.

After a rocky early 1990s as a result of the turbulent leadership of Paul Tellier (who became CN's president in February 1992 but passed the leadership off to Alexandra Miller in August 1997), Tellier was followed by new President Alexandra Miller and technical wunderkid Jason Pateros, who joined Tellier's CFO Michael Sabia in being the "Aces Trio" that led CN until Sabia's retirement in 2015. During that time, CN made its largest acquisition ever in the Illinois Central in 2007, took over the Jamaica Railway from its province in 2000 and took over the operation of the Panama Canal Railway in 2002. The major acquisition spread the company's reach far beyond its original reach, but the company had by then also taken on such projects as the building of a new line from the end of the former Chicago Great Western all the way to Wyoming and the Powder River Basin coal fields and the rebuilding of the ex-Southern Pacific Siskiyou Line from Portland, Oregon, to Redding, California, which began operation for CN in its newly-rebuilt form in 1997, only to be extended south to Sacramento, California, in 2000 and Oakland, California, in 2005.

As of 2020, Canadian National Railways employs nearly 85,000, and retains the well-deserved reputation for technical innovation, centered around its Technical School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and its white-collar Management School in Montreal, Quebec. CNR owns nearly 13,000 locomotives and nearly 250,000 freight cars, as well as its subsidiaries owning a sizable amount of their own rolling stock. CNR and Southern Pacific has been allies and friendly with each other for decades, with this most seen on the parallel main lines the two operate between Salem, Oregon, and Redding, California, where the two routinely send trains over each other's systems to clear bottlenecks.

[1] The name taken by the combined Prince Edward Island Railway, Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway and Dominion Atlantic Railway when the DAR was bought by CN from CPR in 1991 and the whole set was merged together in 1994
[2] The new name taken by the former Vermont Central after its new lines acquired by the company as part of the creation of Conrail
[3] Acquired by CN as part of the Conrail creation at the behest of the American government, which turned out to be an excellent investment
[4] The White Pass and Yukon Route follows the OTL route from Skagway to Whitehorse, where it was linked to CN's Alaska Main Line from Edmonton to Fairbanks upon its completion in 1959. The line was rebuilt as a standard gauge line during WWII, and the line was purchased out of bankruptcy by CN in 1982
[5] Owned by the Panama Canal Authority, operated by Canadian National
[6] Walker-Matthews was the company that came up with the revolutionary 'RailBox' systems for the carrying and handling of less-than-carload freight in the mid-1960s that, along with containers and piggyback traffic, made it much easier for railroads to attract new customers. The design was originally done for Southern Pacific and Santa Fe, but the ATSF's share in the business was sold to CN as part of the ill-fated merger between the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe that ended up being blocked by Washington
[7] American President Lines was purchased out of a bankruptcy court by Southern Pacific and Canadian National in 1992, with SP getting the larger piece owing to their larger investment. CN and SP have been frequent partners and allies since SP was placed in the ownership of its employees in 1982, a not-uncommon thing for a number of North American railroads
[8] When Wardair became part of Canadian Airlines in 1989, its air freight divisions were sold to CN, which sold 49% of it to DHL in 2002
 
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The Richard Jensen Steam Company

Begun in the 1960s, its founder, sales Richard Jensen managed to somehow amass a collection of four steam engines: those being GTW Pacific #5629, and three Burlington Route steamers: Northern #5632 and Mikados #4960 and #4963. During the 1960s this was a profitable enterprise, 5629 often worked in Indiana while 5632 and 4960 pulled excursions on native rails in Illinois. However, financial issues began plaguing Jensen in 1966, especially when the Chicago & Western Illinois Railroad, which had agreed to lease Jensen some space in a roundhouse, decided to let the lease expire.

This was where some of the greats of the modern American rail preservation movement started to take action. Walt Disney and Buster Keaton in particular provided heavy funding to allow Jensen to lease the area for long enough to get everything out of the roundhouse. By August 23, 1967, everything had been moved to safety at the Rock Island's Burr Oak Yard in Blue Island, IL. Jensen was grateful to Hollywood's help in saving his collection, and even allowed Walt to name an engine - "The Man Behind Mickey" chose to name the 5629 "Ruth F. Disney", after his sister.

After that near miss, it seemed that all four of the locomotives would never run again. Then however, the newly-formed Burlington Northern came wanting #5632 for excursions on ex-CBQ rails. A year of work later, and the 5632 pulled her fist BN fantrip from Chicago to Galesburg, IL. Meanwhile, various eastern railroads began to see the 5629 ("Ruthie" as Jensen affectionately called her) as a perfect candidate for fantrips. One of the first railways to lease her for such a purpose was the Strasburg Railroad, which ran her for several weeks in 1972 over their mainline from Lancaster to Strasburg.

Unfortunately, the early 1980s would pit Jensen in financial trouble again, due to massive spending on maintaining the locomotives. Not helping was the fact that Jensen often had to help pay for insurance and the movement of rolling stock that was being leased for mainline excursions. Thankfully though, there would be yet another route to salvation for his four engines.

The 1970s Oil Crisis had lead to many being wary of the use of oil - in part to avoid using up all of the oil in the Americas and other western countries. As a solution, commodity broker and steam engine owner Ross Rowland announced that he would be working with designers from around the world to create a steam locomotive that could work with modern rail equipment and be more efficient than anything that came before. Jensen saw this as a way out, and promptly allowed Jensen and his team to work on 4960 and 4963. Rowland's team, now called the American Coal Enterprises, set to work at once when the two Burlington Mikados arrived to his company's location at the ex-Erie yard in Scranton, PA.

Both mikados were rebuilt almost from the ground up until the only things that were left from their previous lives were the frames and cabs. Stronger 300 psi boilers were applied that featured Belpaire Fireboxes and the Gas Production Combustion Chamber created by Argentine designer Livio Dante Porta, and their original tenders were replaced with an entirely new 12-wheel design, which had an on-board water treatment system had Porta had designed in his native Argentina. New flue sheets, roller bearings, pumps, fittings, and running gear to low tolerance specifications from raw material also contributed and made these two some of the best in modern steam. To reflect these changes, the locomotives were also repainted into the dark blue and orange livery of the American Coal Enterprises. Soon, these two engines were among many coal-burners that Rowland's team sent across the US to various American railroads to prove the ideas of the ACE 3000. The two mikados were sent to the Lousiville & Nashville's mainline from Corbin, KY to Nashville, TN. Both engines performed near flawlessly, and were even operated over the L&N's fully electrified Cincinnati - New Orleans mainline.

Nonetheless, both Mikados eventually returned to Jensen, who proudly used both locomotive's profitability to maintain the 5629 and 5632 as well. Today, all four engines still run proudly.
 
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