Darius W. Gaskins, Jr.
Former President and CEO, Burlington Northern Railroad
Former Chairman, Interstate Commerce Commission
Darius Gaskins may have the most diverse resume of any Class I railroad CEO, dare we say, ever. Trained as an aeronautical engineer and PhD economist, Gaskins had always wanted to work in the federal policy arena. The career path that ultimately brought him to the CEO position at Burlington Northern is not only a bit unexpected, but fascinating as it repeatedly intertwines with the front-page headlines of the day. To wit:
As an aeronautical engineer in the U.S. Air Force during the height of the Cold War, Gaskins finds himself assigned to aerial surveillance projects designed to spy on the Russians.
As a professor of economics at UC-Berkeley, Gaskins frequently arrives on campus amidst the lingering smell of tear gas from student protests of the Vietnam War.
At the US Department of Interior, Gaskins’ work as a policy director for the outer continental shelf coincides with a national energy crisis that creates long lines at American gas pumps.
This intriguing professional journey ultimately lands Gaskins an appointment as Chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission in the Carter administration. Deregulation of the airline and trucking industries is well underway, and the Staggers Act, which will deregulate railroads, is on the verge of passage. Once again, Gaskins finds himself on the front row of history as this pivotal legislation rescues an entire industry from financial demise.
Gregarious and jovial with a keen intellect and a curious mind, Gaskins’ tenure at the BN was marked by an unprecedented period of innovation. Click into the links below to read how an aeronautical engineer turned economics professor turned political appointee used his substantial talents to help restore the rail industry to prosperity.
Gaskins and Hall of Fame advisory group Chair Brooks Bentz at the Gaskins home in