“Jack, did you hear the whistle? Live your life with passion, son. Always listen for the whistle.”
In 1984, the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad sold a 100-mile line of railroad track to retired USAF pilot and real estate entrepreneur, Jack Haley, who had a dream to buy a railroad. A year later on Christmas Eve 1985, Jack, as president and chief executive, took possession of their Iowa Division, renaming it the Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad, having secured a $75 million cash loan with General Electric. It was the largest privately-funded American railroad company formed in the 20th century to a non-railroad entity. Overshadowed by controversy and his tenure short, he became legendary as the short line and regional operator in the United States who helped change the railroad industry forever.
Jack approached living with unbridled enthusiasm. As he entered the last decade of his life, working as CEO of his company, flying his airplane, and traveling like a gypsy, his desire to live every day to the fullest never dimmed. He never stopped hearing the whistle. This is his story.