Passenger Trains between Minneapolis and Chicago.

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Passenger Trains between Minneapolis and Chicago.
Posted by NP Eddie on Saturday, February 23, 2013 2:00 PM

Well--I thought i would add a post about the possibilities of a train traveler  between Minneapolis and Chicago.

At one time there were seven  passenger train routes that I could choose from. Most ended by the late 1950's or early 1960's.

I would like to hear from fellow passenger train fans what route(s) I should choose.

Ed Burns

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, February 23, 2013 10:07 PM

I can think of 6 routes: SOO, C&NW, MILW, CB&Q, C&GW, and CRI&P.  What was the 7th route?

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Posted by NP Eddie on Saturday, February 23, 2013 11:38 PM

Midland Mike:

Close--put on your thinking cap and refer to an old "Official Guide".

 

ejb

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, February 24, 2013 6:01 AM

Wouldn't it be the GN?

Rich

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Posted by ZephyrOverland on Sunday, February 24, 2013 7:16 AM

MidlandMike

I can think of 6 routes: SOO, C&NW, MILW, CB&Q, C&GW, and CRI&P.  What was the 7th route?

That would be the IC/M&StL.

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Posted by KCSfan on Sunday, February 24, 2013 7:53 AM

I never had an occasion to make the trip but my choice would have been one of the Burlington Zephyrs. From what I understand it was the most scenic route and I'd have been able to ride it in a dome.

Mark

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, February 24, 2013 2:01 PM

richhotrain

Wouldn't it be the GN?

Rich

GN went West out of the Twin Cities - CB&Q handled GN trains from the Twin Cities to Chicago, as well as NP trains - in slack traffic times the Empire Builder and North Coast Limited were consolidated into a single train from the Twin Cities to Chicago.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, February 24, 2013 2:14 PM

BaltACD

richhotrain

Wouldn't it be the GN?

Rich

GN went West out of the Twin Cities - CB&Q handled GN trains from the Twin Cities to Chicago, as well as NP trains - in slack traffic times the Empire Builder and North Coast Limited were consolidated into a single train from the Twin Cities to Chicago.

ahh, OK, thanks for that clarification.  I wasn't sure about that.

Rich

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Posted by NP Eddie on Sunday, February 24, 2013 2:16 PM

Zephyr Overland:

Old man Burns has a trick(s) up his sleeve.

MSTL/IC would be one way. In looking at a 1936 Official Guide I found one or two other routings, assuming you wanted a variety of passenger trains. .

Ed Burns

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, February 25, 2013 6:06 AM

So, the seven routes are SOO, C&NW, MILW, CB&Q, C&GW, CRI&P, and IC/M&StL ?

Rich

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Posted by Larry in Iowa on Monday, February 25, 2013 11:08 AM

The CB&Q where nature smiles for 300 miles.  2nd choice would be the Milwaukee with the C&NW 3rd.

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Posted by NP Eddie on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 6:53 PM

All:

This was fun!!  In looking at a 1936 Official Guide, I found a number of options on the MSTL part of the trip. one was MSTL to Albert Lea, IC to Waterloo, and IC to Chicago.

Others included the MSTL to Marshalltown and CNW beyond. MSTL to Oskaloosa and CNW beyond, MSTL to Des Moines and RI beyond, and MSTL to Peoria and RI beyond.

It all depended on how much rare mileage and routing you wanted.

The easy way was to take the CBQ or MILW to Chicago.

Thanks for all the fun.

Ed Burns of Anoka, MN

Retired NP-BN-BNSF Clerk from Minneapolis.

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Posted by FlyingCrow on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 8:15 PM

Rich...that would be CGW.    No "&" sign in Chicago Great Western.    

AB Dean Jacksonville,FL
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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, February 28, 2013 5:13 AM

FlyingCrow

Rich...that would be CGW.    No "&" sign in Chicago Great Western.    

LOL

My bad, but the real culprit is Midland Mike, I just copied and pasted.   Wink

Rich

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, February 28, 2013 8:29 AM

Keep in mind each of these routes would probably have several different trains running. In the thirties there probably were 30-40 different passenger trains you could take between the Twin Cities and Chicago. Even in the sixties there would be quite a few, some daytime trains and some overnight.

I've ridden both the old Burlington and Milwaukee mainlines along opposite banks of the Mississippi on Friends of 261 excursions and it would hard to pick which one was most scenic, they're both great.

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Posted by jrbernier on Thursday, March 07, 2013 6:12 PM

  As mentioned, the CB&Q/C&NW/MILW routes were the most famous(and the fastest - 6-7 hours).  The Soo Line ran a rather leisurely route and could take up to 12 hours.  The Rock Island had no 'thru' service, changing trans at Davenport(Zephyr Rocket) or Des Moines(Twin Star Rocket) were required.  The CGW dropped the Twin Cities Ltd and the Legionnaire back in the depression days.  Connecting service at Oelwein(Mill Cites Ltd) was possible until the Chicago train was dropped in the 50's.  The M&StL had connection service, but the passenger trains were long gone by the 50's.  Just a few GE or RDC runs in rural areas.  If there was a joint MSL/IC passenger train between the Twin Cities and Chicago, it was long gone.  

  Like many others, I rode  the Zephyr and Hiawatha in the late 50's and early 60's.  I also 'sampled'  the GN/NP trains using the special excursion fare of 32 cents for a one way ticket between Mpls & St Paul.

Jim

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Posted by ZephyrOverland on Saturday, March 09, 2013 9:40 AM

jrbernier

  ...  The Rock Island had no 'thru' service, changing trans at Davenport(Zephyr Rocket) or Des Moines(Twin Star Rocket) were required.  ....

The Rock Island did have Chicago-Minneapolis through service - 2 trains - until WW1.

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Posted by NP Eddie on Saturday, March 09, 2013 3:32 PM

ALL:

Thanks to all for the many responses.

After 1963 (the end of the CNW passenger service and to 1969 there was still two ways to ride from Minneapolis to Chicago.

Of course, the CBQ and MILW were the easiest,.

Can anyone tell me if the "Plainsman" (RI) from Minneapolis to Des Moines still made a connection with a Chicago bound Rock Island train? 

Ed Burns

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 11:34 AM

Yes, Ed. I do not have my schedules handy, but I recall seeing the eb train at the station in Des Moines when I rode from KC to Minneapolis in September of 1968.

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Posted by TikiOwl on Wednesday, April 03, 2013 10:49 PM

This topic is one which has puzzled me for some time. Why were there so many trains (and "named" trains) between the Twin Cities and Chicago in the 30's through the early 60's? At the time the population of the Twin Cities wasn't but around 500,00 until after WWII. I can understand the Chicago-Seattle trains that passed through the Twin Cities but what accounted for the business that the railroads had beyond that. I would be surprised if it was just the mill business.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, April 04, 2013 6:44 AM

Yes, a lot of trains.   But not if you compare with NY - Washington during the same period.   Hourly service 6am-8pm on the PRR, plus eight  B&O trains, plus the  through trains to Florda and other southern points.

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Posted by TikiOwl on Thursday, April 04, 2013 7:52 AM

True, but NY and Washington were a lot larger and had more major businesses (not to mention the government offices in DC) than the Chicago-TC.There were more Chicago-TC trains than between other prominent cities such as Houston-Dallas, LA-SF, and even Chicago-St Louis all which were close to the same distances between each.

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Posted by MP173 on Thursday, April 04, 2013 8:03 PM

My 1964 OG doesnt indicates that CRIP didnt make it easy to travel from Twin Cities to Chicago.  It could be done:

Lv Mpls on Twin Star Rocket at 1115am

Ar DesMoines                               432pm

Lv Des Moines Train 6                  805pm

Ar Chicago                                     430 am

Train 6 had coaches only and obviously was a mail train.

Why so many trains between Chicago/Twin Cities?  If you wanted to go to the Pacific Northwest during the 40s or 50s you pretty much had to go by train and thru the Twin Cities.  So, not only did you have the regional trains, but also the long distance trains passing thru.

Ed

 

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Posted by rcdrye on Friday, April 05, 2013 6:27 AM

TikiOwl

There were more Chicago-TC trains than between other prominent cities such as Houston-Dallas, LA-SF, and even Chicago-St Louis all which were close to the same distances between each.

Chicago-Twin cities also had a lot of intermediate traffic.  Houston-Dallas had 4-6 trains a day (SP and Burlington-Rock Island), LA-SF had around 10 depending on how you count (3-4 SP coast, 2-3 SP valley, 3 ATSF valley along with assorted mail trains) and Chicago-St. Louis had about a dozen ( 4 Alton, 3 IC, 3 Wabash, 2 C&EI)

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Posted by AgentKid on Saturday, April 13, 2013 2:22 AM

TikiOwl
I can understand the Chicago-Seattle trains that passed through the Twin Cities but what accounted for the business that the railroads had beyond that. I would be surprised if it was just the mill business.

I have always been curious about that myself.

It seems that MLPS/StP was a major chokepoint for RR routes back then. Not only did Chi-Stl trans pass thru but also Chicago-Winnipeg, MB trains as well. Before the '70's, Winnipeg was the business capitol of western Canada, from Lake Superior out to the Continental Divide. Not counting all stops locals, there were almost as many trains from Winnipeg down to Chicago as out to Vancouver, BC. These trains were patronized by business travelers as well as upper crust Winnipegers looking for a quick visit to the big city of Chicago.

Winnipeg and Chicago had similar business activities; Grain Exchanges, Financial institutions, Retail and Manufactured Goods distribution centres, and major railway operations.

What was the going concern in the Twin Cities?

Bruce

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, April 13, 2013 11:46 PM

Having put my collection of Guides in order, I checked the Rock Island representation in the August, 1968, issue. There was no connection in Des Moines for service Chicago/Twin Cities. It was possible to leave Chicago at 9:10 am, arrive in Des Moines at 4:00 pm and change for Kansas City, arriving in Kansas City at 8:45 pm. Also, you could leave Minneapolis at 10:45 am. arrive in Des Moines at  4:15 pm, change, and arrive in Omaha at 8:00 pm. I was mistaken in my previous post.

The reverse connections gave these schedules; leave Kansas City at 8:45 am, arrive in Des Moines at 1:05 pm, change for Chicago, arriving at 8:40 pm, leave Omaha at 10:30 am, arrive in Des Moines at 1:10 pm, change, and arrive in Minneapolis at 7:30 pm.

The North Western was out of the Twin Cities-Omaha traffic by then, but it was still possible to use the Rock.

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, April 22, 2013 10:05 AM

TikiOwl

This topic is one which has puzzled me for some time. Why were there so many trains (and "named" trains) between the Twin Cities and Chicago in the 30's through the early 60's? At the time the population of the Twin Cities wasn't but around 500,00 until after WWII. I can understand the Chicago-Seattle trains that passed through the Twin Cities but what accounted for the business that the railroads had beyond that. I would be surprised if it was just the mill business.

 
I read this a long time ago - maybe 20 years ago - so it might not be true now, but I read that at that time there were more commuter flights between the Twin Cities and Chicago than between any other two places; and that 50 years before, there were more passenger trains between the Twin Cities and Chicago than between any two other places.
 
I think a lot of it is people from Mpls/St.Paul going to Chicago. If you were a businessman in the 1930's, there's a good chance your company's headquarters or regional HQ was in Chicago. Plus many companies were based in New York, and to get there from here, you had to change trains in Chicago. Couple that with people going west from Chicago to Seattle, and all the people from North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho going to Chicago and vice-versa, and it works out to be a lot of people.
 
Remember too there were I think 9 inter-state railroads serving the Twin Cities. From here, if your railroad didn't reach Chicago, it was kind of "second rate" so most every railroad tried to compete for Chicago traffic.
 
There also was a lot of mail and express between the two areas. Any mail from the east going to Minnesota, ND, Montana etc. would go thru Chicago and Mpls/St.Paul.
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Posted by b60bp on Monday, April 22, 2013 12:16 PM

Folks & gentry,

One Rock Island routing that hasn't been mentioned, and good until the later 1960's, would have been using the Zephyr Rocket Minneapolis to West Liberty, IA, then transfer to RI headend train #2. This connection was sometimes shown in public timetables.

Another interesting tidbit is the fact that C&NW/ Omaha Road ran Twin Cities-Chicago via two different routes: via Milwaukee and via Madison. Even in the mid 1950's there were two trains on each route and after a while connecting service between the original 400 and the Dakota 400 that provided Twin Cities-Madison-Chicago streamliner service with a change at Wyeville.

I believe there's some misunderstanding about the size and importance of the Twin Cities back in the day. In the 1930's Minneapolis had well over 400,000 people and St. Paul over 300,000, not counting suburbs. That made it larger than most metro areas, including St. Louis, Cinncy, Pittsburgh,Buffalo, KC, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, etc that later mushroomed in size. The Twin Cities were the home town of GN, NP, Soo Line, CGW (which started there), M&StL , Omaha Road and several short lines, not to mention 3M, Pillsbury, General Mills, IBM (I think), Minneapolis Moline, etc, etc .It was, and largely still is, the banking, marketing and logistics center for much of the midwest and is the last big city until you reach the west coast, 1800 miles away. Large concetrations of educational and medical providers reside there as well. Lots of reasons to run trains there.

Regards,

Benny Peters

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Posted by NP Eddie on Monday, April 22, 2013 5:46 PM

Benny:

The Zephyr Rocket out of Mpls was one route I did not think about. I remember seeing "ZR" equipment on track one at the MILW depot in Minneapolis. That train had two sets of equipment, one RI and the other one CBQ. It seems like both railroads used their oldest diesels on those runs.

As information, the train tracks area of the former depot are an ice skating rink.

Ed Burns

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Posted by aricat on Monday, April 22, 2013 8:31 PM

It was possible to take the Zephyr Rocket from Minneapolis to Waterloo Iowa and connect to the IC's Hawkeye to Chicago in the early 1960's. Unless you were a railfan why would you? Both the Blackhawk and Pioneer Limited offered excellent service overnight to Chicago. Also, the population of Minneapolis was 521,000 and St Paul was 314,000, in 1950. The area was the thirteenth largest metro area in the United States; not exactly podunk.

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