List of all the presidents of the SR : LUSENET : Southern Railway : One Thread

Hi. I am a student at Boston University, and one of my assignments involves researching the SR. I'm trying to find a list of all the Presidents of the SR to aid and accompany my research, but so far I have not been able to compile an accurate list. Any help would be much apprciated. Thanks in advance.

-- Roheet Shah (, February 25, 2003


Samuel Spencer (first prez, friend of JP Morgan got it all started from the remains of the Richmond & Danville. Died in tragic RR accident)

W.W. Finley, (took over for Spencer, career cut short by death)

Fairfax Harrison (brilliant Virginian aristocratic lawyer. Gave the SR its "style" with green locos, Southern Crescent,etc. Began the RR's transition from passenger/tourism orientation to a true investor in developing the land, resources, and industry of the south. Arguably the best prez ever. Certainly had the most style.The Southern serves the South.

Ernest Norris- A no-nonsense freight man all the way. Perhaps the greatest financial whiz prez the RR ever had. Rebuilt the finances from the devastating 20's with WWI left-over debt and managed to rebuild the railroad. Loved diesels.

Harry DeButts- Same tradition as Norris. Very cognizant of the bottom line and superb infrastructure, including building advanced yards and was a bigger diesel fan than Ernie.

D.W. Brosnan- A tough old coot. Drove the company to excellence and started physical and financial performance standards that carried the railroad for decades.

Graham Claytor Jr.- Smart as Brosnan, but with a heart. A true railfan's railroader, and easily the most beloved president by modern day railfans.

Stanley Crane- Smartest thing was not screwing up what Claytor accomplished.

Harold Hall- Not pres very long, and gave up our beloved RR to N&W, who then proceeded to ruin it.

Comments are my humble opinion,

Matt Bumgarner

-- Matt Bumgarner (, February 25, 2003.


Right on! When I came to work for Southern in 1977 we were first among equals in the railroad business. the Operating ratio from my 1977 Financial report was 71.9. Today it is around 86 or 87. I asked a very high ranking officer one time why with all the personel reduction, no cabooses, computers, etc. it cost 15 cents more on the dollar to operate the railroad than it did 26 years ago and he went catatonic on me. Funny thing is, all the top managers are N&W men. Could this have something to do with it?

-- Tony Skeen (, April 22, 2003.

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