202 203 THE AMERICAN SHORT LINE AND REGIONAL RAILROAD ASSOCIATION The American Short Line and Regional Rail- road Association (ASLRRA) has been the voice of the short line industry since 1913, when 22 short line railroad managers met in Atlanta, GA, to form the Short Line Railroad Association (SLRA) of the Southeast. The new organization’s central purpose was to deal with legislative matters, primarily on the federal level. Annual dues were five dollars. By 1915, its membership had increased to 75. In 1916, the SLRA of the Southeast combined with the SLRA of the Southwest to form the Short Line Association of the South, with 115 members. That year, there were 254,037 miles of railroad track in the United States. Between 1917 and 1921, more short line organizations merged together to increase the ranks of the newly formed American Short Line Railroad Association (ASLRA). In 1997, the ASLRA merged with the Regional Railroads of America to form the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA). Today, the ASLRRA continues its mandate of repre- senting the interests of the American short line industry, and railroads, in general. Its current membership is 550 rail lines and 500 suppliers and contractors. Short line railroads are thriving today and are an important part, both of the railroad industry and the national economy. Short lines connect the rural communities of America and provide a viable and affordable means of transportation for goods and people, not served by the larger railroads. They operate and maintain 30 percent of the country’s railroad mileage – approxi- mately 50,000 miles – and account for nine percent of its freight revenue and 12 percent of all railroad employment. But for decades throughout the 20th century, the survival of short line railroads was far from assured. Hard times began in the 1920s. Truck- ing competition was increasing, and the legis- lative agenda in Washington was tilting toward the newer way of delivering goods and services, imposing burdensome regulations on railroads, while subsidizing the trucking industry with government-built highways. At the beginning of the Great Depression, 50 percent of all short lines reported net losses. By its end, that num- ber had increased to 65 percent. The downward trend continued into the