In a dimly lit smoke-filled office in downtown New Beau City, two men sipped whisky and quietly conversed. They came to an agreement, and both men stood up and shook hands. Johnathan T. Goodman, ship builder and water transportation magnet, and who also had interests in the fledgling steel industry was majority owner of the Hudson River Railroad. It is 1864, and Johnathan had just agreed to sell a controlling interest in the Hudson River Railroad to Cornelius Vanderbilt in exchange for the Hudson River Bridge Company. The two men had big ideas and would work together for many years to make the New York Central one of the country’s premier railroads. With Cornelius’ death in 1877, Johnathan would gain control of the New York Central.
At the time of Cornelius’ death, Johnathan Goodman had already secured his majority ownership of the Pennsylvania Railroad through marriage to Caroline Thomson, John Edgar Thomson's only child.
Johnathan’s interest in both steel and railroads led to his attempt to acquire the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, but it was not to be. That task would be left to his son Johnathan T. Goodman, II, who during the Great Depression found himself well poised to undertake a hostile takeover of the B&O. When asked once why he wanted the B&O, Johnathan, II simply replied, “I didn’t. I did it for my father.”
With that said, in 1935, Johnathan chose to undertake one last bold venture by the merging of the NYC, PRR, and the B&O into a single rail system. Of course there was considerable opposition in Washington to this undertaking; however, Johnathan, seldom tackled anything that wasn’t high stakes. It took two years to get it done, but Johnathan’s interests in ship building, sea transportation, steel, coal, lumber, and the railroads gave him the leverage to get the job done, and the Mid-Atlantic Railway System was created. Johnathan later put it so succinctly, “When money talks, the politicians listen.”
Just a year later, Johnathan T. Goodman, II was dead, having passed away one night in his sleep. The reading of his will was of interest to many, but no more so than that of his three sons. In short, the eldest son, Johnathan T., III received controlling interest in the ship building and sea transportation. Edgar T., the middle son, received the controlling interest in his father's steel, coal, and lumber holdings, and finally the youngest of the three, Will B. Goodman, received controlling interest in the Mid-Atlantic Railway System (MARS).
The story of the MARS continues….