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Ex-CGW trackage in the 70's

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Posted by MP173 on Sunday, July 13, 2008 7:42 PM

Bill:

It was worth a try.  I just cant recall the names which dad mentioned from that era. 

Jim, I just checked the book out. It is very very long on history, but the last 2-3 chapters were pretty good.  I think you will like the photos of the area we discussed.  Not the best quality pictures, but my guess is there were very very few taken in the Portage - Winston Tunnel area.

ed

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Posted by Beach Bill on Sunday, July 13, 2008 1:46 PM

Hey Ed (MP173),

Sorry, my Mom said that the name Allen Mosser didn't bring back any recollection at all.   She was a "town" girl with her dad running his tractor repair shop.  Her associations were mostly with school (The Pleasant Prairie Academy in German Valley) and church.  I thought it was worth a try.   Still, it is a pleasant village to visit if you get that way.  The CGW right-of-way is generally easy to discern on the south side of the "Main" part of town and then on the north side of the western part of town (where that Academy was located).

Bill

With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost. William Lloyd Garrison
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Posted by blhanel on Friday, July 11, 2008 4:04 PM

Got a reply from Derek already-

"Oelwein Job runs 7 days a week, they serve Transco and an elevator in Oelwein,
Dunkerton Co-op, and the ethanol plant in Fairbank. Everything is all screwed up
from the flood and the bridge being out, so times are all over the place the
last I knew. They work Fairbank everyday, all the other stuff is as needed."

Also, another member, LaVerne, noted with regards to the crossing signals-

"The IANR does not own the line into Oelwein, as I understand it, it is
owned by the D&W RR which is part of the Transco operation. Your friend
might check with Transco's Oelwein offices as a starting point in his
negotiations."

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Posted by Los Angeles Rams Guy on Friday, July 11, 2008 3:28 PM
Ye gads, I'll do my bloody damndest to make it down!
"Beating 'SC is not a matter of life or death. It's more important than that." Former UCLA Head Football Coach Red Sanders
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Posted by eolafan on Friday, July 11, 2008 2:35 PM

The Corn Belt Route: A History of the Chicago Great Western Railroad Company

Today I took this H. Rogers Grant book out of our local library and will post a note soon as to what I thought about it.  I must be pretty darned curious about this "fallen flag" to go all the way downtown Aurora to the library to get a book about it!

Eolafan (a.k.a. Jim)
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Posted by blhanel on Friday, July 11, 2008 12:41 PM
 nanaimo73 wrote:
 Los Angeles Rams Guy wrote:

Wow, that's really cool.  When I get back to my hometown of Edgewood the next time I'll have to run over to Oelwein and check that out. 

How about next Saturday, the 19th?

http://www.oelwein.com/railroad.php

Dale, the man of all knowledge.  Hey Alex, if you come down for that, I'll try to make it up there!

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Posted by blhanel on Friday, July 11, 2008 12:38 PM
Laugh [(-D] Duly forwarded.
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Posted by nanaimo73 on Friday, July 11, 2008 12:36 PM
 Los Angeles Rams Guy wrote:

Wow, that's really cool.  When I get back to my hometown of Edgewood the next time I'll have to run over to Oelwein and check that out. 

How about next Saturday, the 19th?

http://www.oelwein.com/railroad.php

Dale
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, July 11, 2008 12:23 PM

 blhanel wrote:
I don't know personally, but I do know someone on the Iowa Northern Yahoo list who would know- in fact, he's their company photographer.  I'll pose the question over there.

Hey Brian!  Ask him if the IANR would be willing to sell those crossing signals on Hwy. 3 up on the St. Paul main that's been ripped-up?!

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Posted by blhanel on Friday, July 11, 2008 12:21 PM
I don't know personally, but I do know someone on the Iowa Northern Yahoo list who would know- in fact, he's their company photographer.  I'll pose the question over there.
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, July 11, 2008 12:20 PM
I know the IANR serves an ethanol plant that just recently came on-line (first new customer on ex-CGW trackage in a long time).  I think it's in Fairbank.  Last I heard, the IANR runs trains to/from Oelwein two or three times a week, but that info may be a bit dated.
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Posted by Los Angeles Rams Guy on Friday, July 11, 2008 12:18 PM

Wow, that's really cool.  When I get back to my hometown of Edgewood the next time I'll have to run over to Oelwein and check that out.  I knew they had some sort of freight car repair outfit there now but I had no idea that autoracks were getting repaired there.

Would anyone know how often trains work between Oelwein and Waterloo and what customers, if any, get serviced?   

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Posted by blhanel on Friday, July 11, 2008 12:13 PM

Laugh [(-D]

I knew about the railcar repair, but I didn't know the history on that engine!  Thanks, WIAR!

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, July 11, 2008 11:26 AM
Ooooh!  This is one I know!  It's because Transco repairs them in the old CGW roundhouse.  I was there 2 years ago and the yard was seemingly full with all kinds of rolling stock, but mostly auto-racks.  That CGW F-unit used to be CNW 217 and of course before that it was CGW.  I photographed it while it was still in CNW colors outside the Transco shop, waiting for refurbishing.
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Posted by Los Angeles Rams Guy on Friday, July 11, 2008 11:04 AM

Brian,

Looks like there's some autoracks there.  Why would those be in Oelwein?

 

"Beating 'SC is not a matter of life or death. It's more important than that." Former UCLA Head Football Coach Red Sanders
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Posted by blhanel on Friday, July 11, 2008 10:58 AM

I think all those engines are long since gone- I was up there a couple of years ago to visit an open house for the local CGW club, and here's the view from their observation tower:

They've got some neat stuff sitting around up there, though, including this old gem:

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, July 11, 2008 10:37 AM

A year or so after I moved to Cedar Rapids (~1994) it was suggested to me that I go up to Oelwein.  I did, and even though it was all CNW stuff, I thought I died and went to locomotive heaven!  The CNW was using Oelwein for storage and there were dozens of diesels and long strings of bay window cabooses available for photography.  I couldn't find any RR personnel to ask for permission to enter the yard, so I stopped-into the PD right there by the old yard tower and checked with them.  The police chief said as long as I was just taking photos, he didn't have a problem with my being there.  The CNW executive F's were there, with the windows all boarded-up.  Lots of high-nose GPs and SDs of many varieties including an SD24 I believe (I'd have to look at the photos in my album), I saw that old M&StL flat-car on a siding in the weeds, an old Russell plow.  I must've walked up & down the rows all afternoon until I expended 2 rolls of film.

CGW
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Posted by CGW on Friday, July 11, 2008 10:14 AM

The Portage to East Dubuque area, in my opinion, would be a great place to model for those of you that are into modeling.  You have 4 railroads, including the Milwaukee Road on the Iowa side of the river, 2 area tunnels, and a swing bridge.  Interesting area.

Jeff

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Posted by MP173 on Thursday, July 10, 2008 10:15 PM

The pictures now make sense.  The picture on page 167 shows the SB CGW on the track next to the tower.  I was thinking (dangerous at times), why is that train all the way to the west of the 5 tracks when it must be diverging to the left within a short period.  I didnt think that the IC tracks would diverge first to the left. 

That area just looks like a cool place, both in the pictures and on Google Earth.

CBQ had a branch to Galena?

Gotta check the old OG's.

 

ed

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Posted by jrbernier on Thursday, July 10, 2008 5:47 PM

Ed,

  The track arangement at Portage has been changed for some time.  There were 5 tracks across from the tower - 3 IC and 2 CB&Q.  The tower was manned by the IC.  Just north of the tower the DT mains split into 2 DT mains.  That 5th track is an IC siding.  The CGW used the CB&Q tracks to Galena Jct, where they spit off and climbed a ledge up and away from the CB&Q tracks.  The CGW had a mainline and a siding there at one time.  IIRC, the old CB&Q branch from Galena to Galena Jct and the old CGW main are now bike trails.

  The entire arrangement is now dispatched by the BNSF from Galena Jct through East Dubuque and is CTC.  The two mains split at Portage and are controlled by a pair of cross-overs.  From Portage the BNSF is single track to and across the Galena River bridge to Galena Jct.  there is another pair of power cross-overs halfway between East Dubuque and Portage(Budd), and of course the interlocking/tunnel/crossing at East Dubuque.

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by MP173 on Thursday, July 10, 2008 5:25 PM

Bill:

My dad's name was Allen Mosser.  He would have been in his early 20's during the depression.  It would be great to find out where he stayed and make a trip out there. 

I just cant put this thread to rest.  I did a quick selected read of Grant's book.  I agree with your assessment of being long on history and short on operations.  There are several photos in the last couple of chapters which cover the Western Illinois area, particularly around the tunnel and the joint river line.

Does anyone know the layout of the tracks at that time?  Grant's book has a photo on page 167 which shows an EB CGW train at Portage.  The photo shows a tower, five tracks, and a signal bridge.  Google Earth has a great feature which allows railroad lines to be shown on the image and it depicts the CGW tracks (actually the ROW).  The CGW appears to have paralleled the IC/CBQ tracks for quite some distance and then joined the trackage. 

Who operated the tower?  IC?  Is the ex CGW ROW now a trail? (Sorry if this has been previously covered).  Near the end, did CGW only run one train daily thru the area?

 

thanks,

 

Ed

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Posted by Beach Bill on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 1:32 PM

Hey MP15,  what is your Dad's name?  My Mom is still pretty sharp at age 86 on all the German Valley folks from those days and may well remember him.  My grandfather was a mechanic there in German Valley.  During the depression, my grandmother did laundry and seamstress work when possible.  She stitched a coat for my Mom out of the cloth remenants, and to this day my Mom can't listen to Dolly Parton's "The Coat of Many Colors that my Mother Made For Me" without breaking into tears.  That phrasing of "no one had anything" has often been used for how the depression hit that area.

That H. Rogers Grant book is a good history (including corporate history), but doesn't have a great deal of information on specific operations.  It does have some photos.  Dr. Grant was very gracious in his reply when I wrote him about German Valley having been named Meekin during WWI (I provided him with some references, not just someone's memory).

The folks over on the Illinois Central (where my Dad worked) referred to the CGW as the "Cinders, Grass, and Weeds".   Seems like there was one long through freight and one local each direction each day.   Many of the locals still remembered when the trains ran on a regular schedule, and there was an oft-repeated local joke about the fellow who approached the crossing looking at his watch and thinking "it's not train time".  He was wrong. 

Bill

With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost. William Lloyd Garrison
CGW
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Posted by CGW on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 1:30 PM

I remember seeing the old CGW line through Dyersville, IA back in the 70's when it was run as a branch line for the CNW; although, I do not recall seeing any trains.  I was told that there was a daily Oelwein to Dubuque turn that ran at night. 

Prior to the merger, the CGW was running 2 daily HUGE trains in each direction plus an occasional meat extra on the Chicago line; not sure if there were any smaller locals running at the time. 

 Jeff

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Posted by TimChgo9 on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 10:04 AM

I always regarded the CGW as the "railroad I didn't know" .  I grew up about 2 blocks south of the old right of way through Berkely and Hillside Illinois.  I have very vague recollections of seeing freight trains behind my grade school when I was in kindergarten in 1971, and equally vague memories of my mom taking my brothers and I for a walk to watch the line being torn up. It was a few years later that it became the Illinois Prairie Path, but I often wondered as I pedaled along the path in my youth, just what the CGW was like.  My dad had plenty of photos of the CB&Q from his youth, but, for some reason never got any photos of the C&GW.... unless I have overlooked those....

Anyway, this is a great thread, and I am learning a bit about the "railroad I didn't know" . 

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Posted by Trailryder on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 9:50 PM
 MP173 wrote:

Bill:

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

ed

 Thanks for all the nice comments about my Photos.  As for Hiking to the Tunnel, The West Portal is very Accessible. There is a parking area on Blackjack road. Follow the lane just east of the Parking area north till you find where the Railroad would have crossed over the Valley on a high Bridge(The Bridge is gone but you can find the Abutments if you Look) Climb up to the east Abutment and Follow the Grade to the Tunnel. I would guess about a 20 Minute hike in to the Tunnel. I would suggest waterproof footwear the Tunnel area is Very Wet.

The east portal is on Private Property and I cannot endorse Trespassing.  So your on your own there.

 

 

 

 Chris30 wrote:

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 across 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

About the Daylighting I would also refer you to The Jerry Huddleston Article, Very Informative about the Winston Tunnel. 

As for the Bike Trail... In Galena there is a trail that starts just south of the IC Depot and goes down the Old CB&Q grade to Portage Jct. I have not been on it yet but I have heard rumors that it will be continued to the Tunnel Someday.

Later Bill

 

 

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Posted by MTB on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 8:10 PM
There's a neat little 80 page photo album type book by the late Phillip Hastings entitled 'Chicago Great Western-Iowa in the Merger Decade'. There are some photos of the tunnel as well as the tower and yard in Stockton. 
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Posted by MP173 on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 4:49 PM

I just picked up The Corn Belt Route by H. Roger Grant at the library.

Having read several of his other books, this should be a detailed history of the Great Western.

ed

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Posted by MP173 on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 4:01 PM

Bill:

Sounds like quite a site in German Valley.  Did they run locals or was it just a single long train in each direction?  or do you recall?

My father lived in German Valley during the depression.  He got a job on a farm for $5/week, soon it was $5 month and finally they paid him if they could.  He basically lived with the family and lived as a family member.  They provided room and board and a small allowance when they could afford it.

He recalled it as a great experience.  As he said "I didnt have any money, but no one else did either.  We had fun and had a warm place to sleep.  For six month it was regular pancakes then during the winter it was buckwheat pancakes."  I wish I knew the family name that he lived with.

Also, on the Time Machine thread, I just submitted Portage Jct in August 1955, based on this thread.  There were 2 CGW passenger trains, 4 IC's, and 12 Burlingtons, plus freights.


For a railroad that I had no knowledge about, nor any desire to learn, this has been a great thread.

Thanks,

ed

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Posted by Beach Bill on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 3:45 PM

My grandparents lived within sight of the station in German Valley, Illinois, and my Aunt & Uncle's farm was just west of German Valley, adjacent the tracks on the north side.  I left Northern Illinois in the fall of 1970 for college, so my memories are likely based more on the late 60's:

Small grain elevators at every town were the standard.  There was also a lumber yard in German Valley that would sometimes get a carload of lumber set out.  Trains were long and slow...  "freight drag" would be the accurate term.  I remember primarily trains of box cars, which were used for grain loading at the time.  MULTIPLE-unit "F's" were common - often 7 or 8 units toiling westward at 15 or 20 mph.  My Aunt would turn the porch light on and off as the train passed, prompting extra whistles at the crossing of Bunker Hill Road.

Robert P. Olmstead's Six Units to Sycamore (1967, reprinted in 1982) and Lloyd E. Stagner's Chicago Great Western In Color (1997) are good sources for photos.  Stagner's book has photos of those tunnel portals, as well as a photo of the station at German Valley.  German Valley had been re-named Mekin during World War One due to anti-german sentiment, but then was changed back and remained German Valley throughout WWII.

Bill

Bill

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