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Ex-CGW trackage in the 70's

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CGW
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Ex-CGW trackage in the 70's
Posted by CGW on Wednesday, July 2, 2008 4:10 PM

Shortly after the CNW/CGW merger in 1968, the CNW abandoned much of the CGW Chicago line trackage in Illinois and operated the Oelwein to Dubuque portion as a branch line during the 1970's later abandoning it in 1981.  Does anyone have any knowledge about operations on this line during the 70's?  For example:

The major industries served?

Types of commodities?

Length of trains and how often they ran?

What prompt the CNW the abandon this line? etc...

Thanks,

Jeff

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Posted by LWales on Wednesday, July 2, 2008 10:12 PM

The C&NW abandoned the former CGW in segments on the Chicago-Oelwein route. The first portion to be abandoned was the stretch from Stockton, IL westward through Winston Tunnel down the CB&Q connection at Galena Junction. That would have been in 1972 or so. The C&NW Historical Society had an issue that dealt with Winston Tunnel a few years ago and they stated that the last train through the tunnel was on October 31, 1971. At that time a local ran out of Stockton over to get a couple of cars off the CB&Q/BN interchange track at Galena Junction and returned to Stockton.

The next portion to go was likely the Byron-Stockton segment. I don't know exactly when that was taken up, but I think it was around 1974/75 or so.

The Sycamore to Ingleton portion was next--it came up about 1976. The Sycamore-Byron portion was still intact up until 1980 and in use as a means to deliver construction materials to the Com-Ed Byron, IL nuclear plant. That portion was taken up late in 1981. I have a trader slide of a westbound wayfreight coming into Byron, IL from 1971 that was powered by GP7 121 and had four or five boxcars and a caboose--that would have been when the C&NW owned the line of course, but things looked about the same as it would have been in 1968.

For the Sycamore-Byron portion the C&NW would have come up from Dekalb to get onto that segment of the ex-CGW. They would have served Anaconda Wire (probably gondolas and maybe some coiled steel cars). There were grain elevators at nearly every town too--some of them probably still had service during this time. There was one at Sycamore, another just west of town at a spot called Five Points, Clare, Esmond, Lindenwood, Holcomb, Stillman Valley and Byron were probably all still active. Maybe some of these towns got an occasional car-load of lumber too, but most of the traffic was agricultural in nature.

I don't know how often the C&NW would have come up to serve the line, but I'd imagine that they only ran 3 times a weeks at most during the mid-1970s. From shots that I've seen taken by others, the trains were only powered by one or two GP7s/9s and were likely no more than 20 cars.

You might find some more detailed answers if you post this question on the CGW yahoogroup--there are a bunch of knowledgeable fans of the "Corn Belt Route" on there.

Lance

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Posted by Los Angeles Rams Guy on Thursday, July 3, 2008 6:55 AM
When I worked at Ertl's in Dyersville, Iowa back in 1979-80 I used to go by Floyd's Feed which was on the former CGW (northwest of Dyersville; ironically not very far from the ICG mainline) and used to see covered hoppers spotted there.  Not sure if there was anything going on in either Dundee or Lamont, though, during that time.
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Posted by MP173 on Thursday, July 3, 2008 12:56 PM

Looking at the list of those towns in Illinois and there wasnt too much on line traffic they had...not exactly manufacturing hotspots. 

Is the tunnel you mentioned still there or has it been detunnelled?

ed

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Posted by Chris30 on Thursday, July 3, 2008 1:01 PM

There is a short segment of the main line that still exists from W. Chicago to St Charles, IL. There are a few customers and service is provided as needed. The main line east of Ingalton was used until around the mid-80's to serve the Ovalteen plant in Villa Park. I don't know if there were any other customers served east of Villa Park or what the level of service was. The track, for the most part, was still there until the early 90's before being converted to the Great Western Trail (Eastern Segment).

CC

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Posted by trainfan1221 on Thursday, July 3, 2008 1:41 PM
The CGW, though I know little about them, always seemed like an interesting railroad.  I know that Winston Tunnel was a famous spot and that they were known for running really long trains.  Another line that disappeared to the world of mergers.
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Posted by eolafan on Thursday, July 3, 2008 1:54 PM
When I travel to Dubuque from Aurora a few times a year I take Hwy. 20 west from Rockford and travel right through Stockton.  Last time through (it may have been in Stockton or Elizabeth, I can't recall) I noticed the CGW museum so I took a detour and they were closed that day...I'll have to go back some time.  I noted the museum looked like a depot (passenger or freight) but did not seem to be located where there was ever tracks...can anybody help by providing a map or something that would tell me where the CGW tracks went through Stockton?
Eolafan (a.k.a. Jim)
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Posted by CGW on Thursday, July 3, 2008 2:56 PM

The tracks did run by the depot and the depot is located at it's original location.  A bridge once carried US 20 over the CGW.  Once the line was taken out, they removed the bridge and filled in the ROW.  It is amazing to think that they once ran 100+ car trains through the hills of NW Illinios.  If you know where to look, you can still see areas where the CGW once ran; for example, there is a high grade just west of woodbine along US 20.  topozone.com may be the place to go to find a detailed map of the CGW trackage along with other rail lines that no longer exists.

As for Winston Tunnel, the west portal still exists and is owned by the DNR I believe; however, you cannot enter it because it is fenced off.  The east portal has been bulldozed shut and on private property.  The tunnel itself has collapsed about half way through I've been told.  I have never been there, but I heard the area is infested with rattle snakes...so if you ever go there, be careful.

On another historical note, a village called Oneida, IA (about 35 miles west of Dubuque on the CGW) is the location of where one of the first sections of welded rail in the US was installed in 1939.  The CGW was also an early user of TOFC service.  It is too bad the CGW did not find a better merger parter that found more use of the CGW trackage rather then to get rid of its competition.  I guess that was a common trend of the railroad industry back in the 60's and 70's. 

Jeff

 eolafan wrote:
When I travel to Dubuque from Aurora a few times a year I take Hwy. 20 west from Rockford and travel right through Stockton.  Last time through (it may have been in Stockton or Elizabeth, I can't recall) I noticed the CGW museum so I took a detour and they were closed that day...I'll have to go back some time.  I noted the museum looked like a depot (passenger or freight) but did not seem to be located where there was ever tracks...can anybody help by providing a map or something that would tell me where the CGW tracks went through Stockton?

 

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Posted by CGW on Thursday, July 3, 2008 3:04 PM
One more note,  The museum in Elizabeth is only open on weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
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Posted by nanaimo73 on Thursday, July 3, 2008 3:35 PM
 MP173 wrote:

Is the tunnel you mentioned still there or has it been detunnelled?

I believe I read that this was the longest of the 8 (?) railroad tunnels in Illinois, and the only other tunnel used by the CGW was IC's across from Dubuque.

http://wikimapia.org/#lat=42.3347237&lon=-90.3681278&z=16&l=0&m=a&v=2

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Posted by eolafan on Thursday, July 3, 2008 4:18 PM
 MP173 wrote:

 

Is the tunnel you mentioned still there or has it been detunnelled?

ed

I just read on the web that one end of the tunnel is on public property and fenced off and the other end is on private property and the portal is filled in with earth, AND the middle of the half mile long tunnel has since collapsed...also there are lots of rattle snakes in the area so I have no personal interest in seeing the tunnel.

Eolafan (a.k.a. Jim)
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Posted by LWales on Friday, July 4, 2008 6:04 AM

The info on Winston Tunnel is basically correct--the west end is on Illinois DNR property and is fenced off and the east end is on private property and has been filled in. I've been up to the tunnel on a couple of occassions when the leaves are off the trees--the whole thing is pretty grown in. There was a brick fanhouse at the west portal that was evidently demolished a few years ago by the DNR. It was crumbling and since the area was going to be opened up, the remains were viewed as a hazard and removed. Prior to that (circa 2001 or so) the west portal was still privately owned. The group in Elizabeth, IL knew the owner and were able to take trips up to the tunnel and even had access to it during that time. The tunnel itself is collapased about 600 feet from the western portal. The hill the tunnel was dug through was unstable and it needed almost constant work from the CGW. As for snakes--they might be around up there, but I wouldn't let me stop me from seeing the tunnel.

The Elizabeth Depot Museum is certainly worth a visit if you are interested in the CGW. They have a great collection of displays regarding the tunnel and the Chicago Great Western along with other midwestern railroads.

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Posted by Los Angeles Rams Guy on Saturday, July 5, 2008 10:03 PM
 CGW wrote:

The tracks did run by the depot and the depot is located at it's original location.  A bridge once carried US 20 over the CGW.  Once the line was taken out, they removed the bridge and filled in the ROW.  It is amazing to think that they once ran 100+ car trains through the hills of NW Illinios.  If you know where to look, you can still see areas where the CGW once ran; for example, there is a high grade just west of woodbine along US 20.  topozone.com may be the place to go to find a detailed map of the CGW trackage along with other rail lines that no longer exists.

As for Winston Tunnel, the west portal still exists and is owned by the DNR I believe; however, you cannot enter it because it is fenced off.  The east portal has been bulldozed shut and on private property.  The tunnel itself has collapsed about half way through I've been told.  I have never been there, but I heard the area is infested with rattle snakes...so if you ever go there, be careful.

On another historical note, a village called Oneida, IA (about 35 miles west of Dubuque on the CGW) is the location of where one of the first sections of welded rail in the US was installed in 1939.  The CGW was also an early user of TOFC service.  It is too bad the CGW did not find a better merger parter that found more use of the CGW trackage rather then to get rid of its competition.  I guess that was a common trend of the railroad industry back in the 60's and 70's. 

Jeff

 eolafan wrote:
When I travel to Dubuque from Aurora a few times a year I take Hwy. 20 west from Rockford and travel right through Stockton.  Last time through (it may have been in Stockton or Elizabeth, I can't recall) I noticed the CGW museum so I took a detour and they were closed that day...I'll have to go back some time.  I noted the museum looked like a depot (passenger or freight) but did not seem to be located where there was ever tracks...can anybody help by providing a map or something that would tell me where the CGW tracks went through Stockton?

 

Interesting you should mention Oneida.  Once a bustling railroad town (not only served by CGW but also the Milwaukee Road's branchline between Paralta and Jackson Junction AND the Manchester and Oneida Railroad) it is now practically a ghost town.  My father, who grew up on a farm near Oneida told me the story about the CGW at the time they were looking for a location to build their roundhouse.  It eventually came down between Oelwein and Oneida with Oelwein ultimately being selected.  My father had two relatives that worked for the CGW; one was an engineer that worked between Oelwein and Stockton and the other worked in the roundhouse in Oelwein.  I was born too late to really remember the CGW as a true independent but I wish I could have taken shots of it at locations such as Oneida, Almoral (just north of Earlville which is on the IC/ICG/CC/CN) and Thorpe (just north of Manchester).  

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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, July 5, 2008 10:25 PM
 CGW wrote:

The tracks did run by the depot and the depot is located at it's original location.  A bridge once carried US 20 over the CGW.  Once the line was taken out, they removed the bridge and filled in the ROW.  It is amazing to think that they once ran 100+ car trains through the hills of NW Illinios.  If you know where to look, you can still see areas where the CGW once ran; for example, there is a high grade just west of woodbine along US 20.  topozone.com may be the place to go to find a detailed map of the CGW trackage along with other rail lines that no longer exists.

As for Winston Tunnel, the west portal still exists and is owned by the DNR I believe; however, you cannot enter it because it is fenced off.  The east portal has been bulldozed shut and on private property.  The tunnel itself has collapsed about half way through I've been told.  I have never been there, but I heard the area is infested with rattle snakes...so if you ever go there, be careful.

On another historical note, a village called Oneida, IA (about 35 miles west of Dubuque on the CGW) is the location of where one of the first sections of welded rail in the US was installed in 1939.  The CGW was also an early user of TOFC service.  It is too bad the CGW did not find a better merger parter that found more use of the CGW trackage rather then to get rid of its competition.  I guess that was a common trend of the railroad industry back in the 60's and 70's. 

Jeff

 eolafan wrote:
When I travel to Dubuque from Aurora a few times a year I take Hwy. 20 west from Rockford and travel right through Stockton.  Last time through (it may have been in Stockton or Elizabeth, I can't recall) I noticed the CGW museum so I took a detour and they were closed that day...I'll have to go back some time.  I noted the museum looked like a depot (passenger or freight) but did not seem to be located where there was ever tracks...can anybody help by providing a map or something that would tell me where the CGW tracks went through Stockton?

 

I've often wondered the same thing about the CNW/CGW "merger" ("CNW takeover" is more correct).  I know the CGW was exploring a combination with the SOO, and that I think would've been very interesting as it would've been an end-to-end merger, with virtually nothing in the way of redundant trackage.  I've read only a few details about that SOO/CGW proposal - I'd certainly like to know why it never occurred.  That would've given the SOO the access to KC that they didn't achieve until 1985 (although the MILW's route there was a better way as opposed to the CGW's via St. Joseph where I think they had 4 mandatory stops in the city).

CGW
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Posted by CGW on Monday, July 7, 2008 12:24 PM
 WIAR wrote:
 CGW wrote:

The tracks did run by the depot and the depot is located at it's original location.  A bridge once carried US 20 over the CGW.  Once the line was taken out, they removed the bridge and filled in the ROW.  It is amazing to think that they once ran 100+ car trains through the hills of NW Illinios.  If you know where to look, you can still see areas where the CGW once ran; for example, there is a high grade just west of woodbine along US 20.  topozone.com may be the place to go to find a detailed map of the CGW trackage along with other rail lines that no longer exists.

As for Winston Tunnel, the west portal still exists and is owned by the DNR I believe; however, you cannot enter it because it is fenced off.  The east portal has been bulldozed shut and on private property.  The tunnel itself has collapsed about half way through I've been told.  I have never been there, but I heard the area is infested with rattle snakes...so if you ever go there, be careful.

On another historical note, a village called Oneida, IA (about 35 miles west of Dubuque on the CGW) is the location of where one of the first sections of welded rail in the US was installed in 1939.  The CGW was also an early user of TOFC service.  It is too bad the CGW did not find a better merger parter that found more use of the CGW trackage rather then to get rid of its competition.  I guess that was a common trend of the railroad industry back in the 60's and 70's. 

Jeff

 eolafan wrote:
When I travel to Dubuque from Aurora a few times a year I take Hwy. 20 west from Rockford and travel right through Stockton.  Last time through (it may have been in Stockton or Elizabeth, I can't recall) I noticed the CGW museum so I took a detour and they were closed that day...I'll have to go back some time.  I noted the museum looked like a depot (passenger or freight) but did not seem to be located where there was ever tracks...can anybody help by providing a map or something that would tell me where the CGW tracks went through Stockton?

 

I've often wondered the same thing about the CNW/CGW "merger" ("CNW takeover" is more correct).  I know the CGW was exploring a combination with the SOO, and that I think would've been very interesting as it would've been an end-to-end merger, with virtually nothing in the way of redundant trackage.  I've read only a few details about that SOO/CGW proposal - I'd certainly like to know why it never occurred.  That would've given the SOO the access to KC that they didn't achieve until 1985 (although the MILW's route there was a better way as opposed to the CGW's via St. Joseph where I think they had 4 mandatory stops in the city).

KCS I believe was also another potential merger partner.  What kept the CGW from attracting a more suitable parter was the fact that it's routes to certain key cities it served were much longer then other roads and also Winston Tunnel among other reasons.  Winston Tunnal was a costly structure for the CGW and needed constant repairs and also had a restrictive clearance. The Chicago line required expensive trackage rights from the Illinois Central to cross the Mississippi river which may be a contributing factor to why other merger talks were not serious.

Jeff 

Jeff

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Posted by Los Angeles Rams Guy on Monday, July 7, 2008 12:54 PM

I've often wondered if some of those ex-CGW segments could have lasted a little bit longer if Jack Haley might have been interested in some of those after he bought the ICG's Iowa Division back in '85; particularly the segment between Waterloo and Kansas City or even perhaps between Dyersville and Oelwein.

I think some of the old CGW still exists under UP auspicies in and around Clarion, doesn't it? 

   

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Posted by CGW on Monday, July 7, 2008 1:57 PM
 Los Angeles Rams Guy wrote:

I've often wondered if some of those ex-CGW segments could have lasted a little bit longer if Jack Haley might have been interested in some of those after he bought the ICG's Iowa Division back in '85; particularly the segment between Waterloo and Kansas City or even perhaps between Dyersville and Oelwein.

I think some of the old CGW still exists under UP auspicies in and around Clarion, doesn't it? 

   

Yes, UP does operate some Ex-CGW grain gathering trackage from Somers, near Ft Dodge, to somewhere north of Clarion.  Also, there is some active Ex-CGW trackage from St Paul south to Roseport MN where UP serves a oil refinery.

The IC could have been a player in the Twin City market by purchasing the Ex-CGW from Dyersville all the way to St Paul let alone benefiting from the huge Oelwein shops and yard.  That would have been nice to see.

Jeff

 

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Posted by MP173 on Monday, July 7, 2008 2:00 PM

I did a search for Winston Tunnel and there was quite a bit of information.

An article by Jerry Huddleston "The Hole in Stickney's Pocketbook Winston Tunnel" describes the tunnel and the operational issues with it.  Interesting reading, particularly the proposed abandonment of the tunnel and rebuilding of the line from Stockton, Il to Farley, Iowa (about 50 miles).  The early 1950's cost would have been $37million and obviously it was never completed.

In Huddlestons' article is an interesting description of the sizes of trains CGW ran (including one 15,000hp, 275 car train!

It is easy to see why CGW experienced difficulty, the stretch from Stockton to Dubuque was a drain.

ed

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Posted by Trailryder on Monday, July 7, 2008 2:45 PM

For Photos of The Winston Tunnel check out My Photo Gallery.  I have been there several times and never had a problem with Snakes, although I was ambushed by a Wild Turkey once.

My advice is to go in the Fall, always make a trip around Thanksgiving time.

http://www.pbase.com/trailryder/winston

 Later Bill

 

 

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Posted by CGW on Monday, July 7, 2008 2:50 PM
 MP173 wrote:

I did a search for Winston Tunnel and there was quite a bit of information.

An article by Jerry Huddleston "The Hole in Stickney's Pocketbook Winston Tunnel" describes the tunnel and the operational issues with it.  Interesting reading, particularly the proposed abandonment of the tunnel and rebuilding of the line from Stockton, Il to Farley, Iowa (about 50 miles).  The early 1950's cost would have been $37million and obviously it was never completed.

In Huddlestons' article is an interesting description of the sizes of trains CGW ran (including one 15,000hp, 275 car train!

It is easy to see why CGW experienced difficulty, the stretch from Stockton to Dubuque was a drain.

ed

Up and down and around and around is the best way to describe the CGW line from Stockton to Farley.  Not an idea line for high speed trains; however, I've been told that this was probably the best maintained line of the CGW system.  I'm sure if this line existed today, trains equiped with DPU would be a common sight.

Jeff

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Posted by CGW on Monday, July 7, 2008 3:05 PM
 Trailryder wrote:

For Photos of The Winston Tunnel check out My Photo Gallery.  I have been there several times and never had a problem with Snakes, although I was ambushed by a Wild Turkey once.

My advice is to go in the Fall, always make a trip around Thanksgiving time.

http://www.pbase.com/trailryder/winston

 Later Bill

 

Nice photos Bill!  Thanks for posting

Jeff

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Posted by eolafan on Monday, July 7, 2008 3:05 PM
Say CGW, I have been trying to find a good web site that has photos of the CGW facilities in Stockton but have had no luck...can you lead me in the right direction?  Also would like to see a photo web site for shots of CGW action between Chicago and Dubuque in the 19850-1968 period, any suggestions? Thanks.
Eolafan (a.k.a. Jim)
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Posted by MP173 on Monday, July 7, 2008 3:24 PM

Bill:

Great shots of the tunnel area.  How far of a hike is it to either portal?

ed

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Posted by CGW on Monday, July 7, 2008 3:32 PM

 eolafan wrote:
Say CGW, I have been trying to find a good web site that has photos of the CGW facilities in Stockton but have had no luck...can you lead me in the right direction?  Also would like to see a photo web site for shots of CGW action between Chicago and Dubuque in the 19850-1968 period, any suggestions? Thanks.

Good question, I am trying to find some websites with photos myself.  The only websites I am aware of that have photos of the CGW line from Dubuque to Chicago in the 1950's and 60's is the photo section of the CGW yahoo group site and the Unofficial Chicago Great Western web sight.  There are a few books that have photos from this location and time period.."CGW In Color" and "CGW Iowa In The Merger Decade"

Jeff

 

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Posted by Victrola1 on Monday, July 7, 2008 3:51 PM

When the Rock Island went under, the C&NW took the Rock Island from the Twin Cities to Kansas City. A lot of rebuilt C&GW to Kansas City disappeared in the bargin. So did a lot of old M&StL.

Was it worth the money for the route swap in and of itself? Was this more a strategic move to block competitors? 

 

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Posted by trainfan1221 on Monday, July 7, 2008 3:59 PM
Great site, interesting pictures.  I don't even know if I've seen a picture of it when it was in operation, most seem to show only trains approaching.
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Posted by CGW on Monday, July 7, 2008 4:05 PM
 Victrola1 wrote:

When the Rock Island went under, the C&NW took the Rock Island from the Twin Cities to Kansas City. A lot of rebuilt C&GW to Kansas City disappeared in the bargin. So did a lot of old M&StL.

Was it worth the money for the route swap in and of itself? Was this more a strategic move to block competitors? 

 

The Rock provided a more direct route for CNW from the Twin Cities to KC plus it eliminated trackage rights on the Mo Pac from St Joe to KC.  Was it worth the money?  I don't know.  The Rock Island Spine line was not in good physical shape when it went under.  The CNW may of stuck a lot of money into rebuilding this line.  I'm sure blocking competitors from aquiring this direct corridor was also a reason.

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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, July 7, 2008 11:39 PM
I believe the CNW actually offered less for the Spine Line than did the SOO, and yet the line was awarded to the CNW.  The SOO bought the MNS in order to connect to the Spine Line at Northfield, MN and then got hung-out to dry.
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Posted by Chris30 on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 8:37 AM

Trailryder... I like your website. I haven't seen too many pictures of the tunnel in its current condition. I also like the picture of the inside of the tunnel. That's a very rare picture.

I'm going to ask a question to which I think I know the answer but I'm going to ask anyways. Was there any possibility that the tunnel could have been day-lighted? I don't know if there was ever a reason for the CGW to consider that. I'm just curious if it was possible.

I would like to see the Great Western Trail extended all the way accross Illinois from Villa Park to Galena. I don't know if that's possible. Currently, you can go from Villa Park to Sycamore with a couple of minor detours.

CC

 

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Posted by jrbernier on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 1:39 PM

WIAR,

  There is more to the story.  The SOO offered more "$'s per mile" because they only wanted to buy north to their MN&S connection in Northfield, MN.  The C&NW offered to buy the entire line which is what the receiver wanted.  The remaining piece(Rosemont to Inver Grove Yard) really had no industries and would have been hard to sell by itself.

  When the Milwaukee Road sale came up, SOO went head to head again with C&NW on the bidding.  Most thought that C&NW would again win the bid, and SOO was making plans to lease trackage from C&NW and make crew change arrangements.  Everyone was surprised when SOO actually won the bidding war for the Milwaukee Road.

  If the original sale would have gone to the SOO, there still would have been upgrade/lease issues for SOO:

  • The Rock Island had a lease from Comus to Rosemont on the Milwaukee that would have to be changed.  
  • The combination train/auto bridge over the Minnesota River would need to be rebuilt.
  • Auto Club Hill from the bridge to the summit would need work, helpers or both for long road trains.

  The Spine Line was in rough shape, but had signalling, and was a much better Twin Cities-Kansas city route.  The SOO sold off the old Milwaukee line down the river and across to KC.  CP has now 'reclaimed' it with the purchase of the DM&E/IC&E - What goes around, comes around!

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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