That’s right! Rails West! had a fascinating background. It started as a simulation history professor Martin Campion developed at Pittsburg State University to help his students understand the era. It was very much a forerunner to Railroad Tycoon, but had a little in common with, say, Ticket to Ride in that you couldn’t plot your own lines but had to pick from certain routes. There was a score bonus for having the first transcontinental railroad. The heart of the game though was its financial model. You played the stock and bond market. You prayed for enough money when a panic came to buy up bonds because when a RR exited bankruptcy you would be given stock in the new company, so you could control some key companies. It was a great game, and one I still come back to every few years.
Campion had a follow-up game, Medieval Lords, for SSI. But it was past SSI’s interest in historical games and didn’t do well. It didn’t help that IIRC it was buggy as shit. SSI actually called Martin Marion in one of its catalog entries for Medieval Lords. (I assume it was a misprint and not a Dan/Dani Bunten situation.)
Anyway, Rails West! was a gem. As much as I loved Railroad Tycoon and later Rails Across America, the financial heart of RW! has yet to be equaled, in my experience.