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Chicago and North Western Railway

Related subjects Railway transport

Chicago and North Western Railway
Logo
System map
Map of the Chicago and North Western Railway. Black lines are trackage now owned by Union Pacific; green lines are trackage now owned by Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad; blue lines are now owned by other railroads; dotted lines are abandoned.
Reporting marks CNW, CNWS, CNWZ
Locale Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming
Dates of operation 1865–1995
Successor line Union Pacific
Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern
Track gauge ft 8½  in (1,435  mm) ( standard gauge)
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago and North Western Railway ( AAR reporting marks: CNW, CNWS, CNWZ; unofficial abbreviation: C&NW) was a Class I railroad in the Midwest United States. It was also known as the North Western. The railroad operated more than 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of track as of the turn of the 20th century, and over 12,000 miles (19,000 km) of track in seven states before retrenchment in the late 1970s. The C&NW became one of the longest railroads in the USA as a result of mergers with other railroads, such as the Chicago Great Western Railway, Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway and others. By the time the Union Pacific Railroad purchased and merged the C&NW, track sales and abandonment had reduced the total mileage back to about 5,000. The majority of the abandoned and sold lines were lightly trafficked branches in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Large line sales, such as those that resulted in the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad further helped reduce the railroad to a mainline core with several regional feeders and branches. The company was purchased by Union Pacific Railroad in April 1995 and ceased to exist.

History

The Chicago and North Western Railway was chartered on June 7, 1848. It had purchased the assets of the bankrupt Chicago, St. Paul and Fond du Lac Railroad five days earlier. On February 15, 1865, it officially merged with the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, which had been chartered on January 16, 1836. Since the Galena & Chicago Union started operating in December 1848, and the Fond du Lac railroad started in March, 1855, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad is considered to be the origin of the North Western railroad system.

The North Western had owned a majority of the stock of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway (Omaha Road) since 1882. On January 1, 1957, it officially leased the company, and merged it into the North Western in 1972. The Omaha Road's main line ran from an interchange with the North Western at Elroy, Wisconsin, to the Twin Cities, down to Sioux City, Iowa, and then finally to Omaha, Nebraska.

Classification yards in Chicago, December 1942
Classification yards in Chicago, December 1942
C&NW Caboose at Proviso yard, Chicago, April 1943
C&NW Caboose at Proviso yard, Chicago, April 1943

The North Western picked up several important short railroads during its later years. It finalized acquisition of the Litchfield and Madison railroad on January 1, 1958. The Litchfield and Madison railroad was a 44-mile (71 km) bridge road from East St. Louis to Litchfield, Illinois. On July 30, 1968, the North Western acquired two former interurbans – the 36-mile (58 km) Des Moines and Central Iowa Railway (DM&CI), and the 110-mile (180 km) Fort Dodge, Des Moines and Southern Railway (FDDM&S). The DM&CI gave access to the Firestone plant in Des Moines, Iowa, and the FDDM&S provided access to gypsum mills in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

On November 1, 1960, the North Western acquired the rail properties of the 1,500-mile (2,400 km) Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway. In spite of its name, it ran only from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Peoria, Illinois. This acquisition provided traffic and modern rolling stock, and eliminated competition.

On July 1, 1968, the 1,500 mile (2,400 km) Chicago Great Western Railway was merged into the North Western. This railroad went from Chicago to Oelwein, Iowa. From there, separate lines went to the Twin Cities, Omaha, Nebraska, and Kansas City, Missouri. A connection from Hayfield, Minnesota, to Clarion, Iowa, provided a Twin Cities to Omaha main line. The Chicago Great Western duplicated the North Western's routes from Chicago to the Twin Cities and Omaha, but went the long way. This merger provided access to Kansas City and further eliminated competition. After abandoning a plan to merge with the Milwaukee Road in 1970, Benjamin W. Heineman, who had headed the CNW and parent Northwest Industries since 1956, arranged the sale of the railroad to its employees in 1972. The words " Employee Owned" were part of the company logo in the ensuing period.

C&NW railway station in Escanaba, Michigan - 1953.
C&NW railway station in Escanaba, Michigan - 1953.
C&NW #8540 at Shawnee, Wyoming.
C&NW #8540 at Shawnee, Wyoming.

After the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (Rock Island) stopped operating on March 31, 1980, the North Western won a bidding war with the Soo Line for purchase of the roughly 600-mile (970 km) "Spine Line" from the Twin Cities to Kansas City, Missouri, via Des Moines, Iowa. The North Western's bid of $93 million was approved on June 20, 1983, by the ICC. The line was well-engineered, but because of deferred maintenance on the part of the bankrupt Rock Island, a major rehabilitation was undertaken in 1984. The North Western then began to abandon the Oelwein to Kansas City section of its former Chicago Great Western trackage, which duplicated Spine Line service.

In April, 1995, the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company was merged into the Union Pacific Railroad.

Steam locomotives of the Chicago & North Western Railway in the roundhouse at the Chicago rail yards (December 1942)
Steam locomotives of the Chicago & North Western Railway in the roundhouse at the Chicago rail yards (December 1942)

Chicago and North Western locomotives continued to operate in their paint schemes for several years after the merger. As of 2007, two locomotives remain on the UP with CNW logos and reporting marks, C44-9Ws 8646 and 8701 (these locomotives, however, do have notable UP alterations, such as air conditioners in UP colors, UP horns, UP number boards, and UP plows). Union Pacific has decided to leave these 2 locomotives in their current condition until either of them suffers a serious mechanical problem, in which they will be overhauled and repainted at Jenks Shop in North Little Rock. In addition to this, many former C&NW units have received "patches" with a new road number and reporting mark to match their new owner's roster. Approximately 40 "patched" units remain on the Union Pacific and several others work under different owners. However, it is still possible to find untouched C&NW units in service. For instance C&NW 411 and C&NW 1518 are kept and preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum, CNW 4153 now works at a grain elevator in South Dakota, and several other GP7s, GP9s, and a few other C&NW locomotives are owned by various regionals, shortlines, or industries.

Union Pacific continues to follow its new tradition of releasing "Heritage" units to represent the paint schemes of companies absorbed by UP. After completion of painting at the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad's Horicon, Wisconsin shop, UP 1995, an EMD SD70ACe locomotive painted in a "Heritage" C&NW paint scheme, was unveiled on July 15, 2006, at North Western Station in Chicago, IL. North Western Station now serves as UP's Metra terminus (although the station is officially designated the "Ogilvie Transportation Centre", many locals still refer to the station as the "Northwestern Station", or as the "CNW Station"). The unit was then placed in dedicated service on former C&NW trackage, sometimes paired with the C&NW 8646 and 8701.

Passenger train service

Train No. 107, the Challenger, is led by a Chicago and North Western Railway EMD E8 locomotive as it passes east of Ames, Iowa on November 23, 1954.
Train No. 107, the Challenger, is led by a Chicago and North Western Railway EMD E8 locomotive as it passes east of Ames, Iowa on November 23, 1954.

The CNW's most famous train, the Chicago-Twin Cities 400 was introduced in 1935 to compete with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy's Zephyrs and the Milwaukee Road's Hiawathas. This train was named because it traveled the 400 miles (640 km) between the cities in 400 minutes. CNW was the first system to start a high-speed Chicago-Twin Cities schedule because it used refurbished instead of new equipment, but in 1939, modernized the 400 with new E3A diesel locomotive pairs and streamlined cars.

CNW eventually renamed the first 400 to the Twin Cities 400 as the CNW stuck almost all of its passenger trains with the 400 moniker, including the Flambeau 400, Rochester 400, and the Kate Shelley 400. CNW ceased running the Twin Cities 400 in 1963, and all intercity passenger service on CNW ended with the formation of Amtrak in 1971.

In conjunction with Union Pacific and Southern Pacific, the North Western operated some long distance passenger trains including the Overland Limited, City of Los Angeles, City of San Francisco, City of Denver, and the Challenger. These services lasted from 1889 to 1955, after which the CNW route to Chicago was changed to the Milwaukee Road's on account of poor track conditions.

Retrieved from " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_and_North_Western_Railway"