A fallen flag, in railfan terminology, is a railroad company that is no longer in existence. Examples include the Pennsylvania Railroad, Missouri Pacific, Rio Grande, etc.

The constant consolidation of the railroad industry means that there are literally hundreds of names no longer in use, although their rolling stock or even engines may be still occasionally be seen on the tracks owned by the companies which bought them out.

As an indication of how much consolidation and merger there has been in the railroad industry in the last fifty or so years, consider that only five Class 1 Railroads from before the Great Depression still exist, to the best of my knowledge. They are:

  1. Union Pacific
  2. Kansas City Southern
  3. Florida East Coast
  4. Canadian National
  5. Canadian Pacific

The rest either went bust, were assimilated by a larger company, or participated in a merger of more or less equals where the merged company carried a name different than any of its constituents.

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