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End of the line for historic CGW motor car

By Robert S. McGonigal

Former Chicago Great Western motor car No. 1000 was loaded aboard two low-boy trucks (body on one, trucks on the other) at its longtime home, the Kettle Moraine Railway in North Lake, Wis., on August 12, 1998. The car traveled by highway to the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City.

No. 1000 has a long and noteworthy history. Built by McKeen in 1910 as CGW M1002, the car originally measured 70 feet in length and had the gasoline-mechanical power plant, knife-nose, and porthole windows that were hallmarks of the McKeen design. In 1928, the car was extensively rebuilt as the power unit for CGW's three-car Minneapolis-Rochester (Minn.) Blue Bird passenger train. Renumbered 1000, it lost its long nose and portholes, and was repowered by Electro-Motive with a Winton gas engine, generator, and traction motors. The Blue Bird was a landmark train, a key step on the road that led to Union Pacific's M10000, Burlington's Pioneer Zephyr, and, ultimately, the adoption of internal-combustion power on America's railroads. After its stint on the Blue Bird, No. 1000 reverted to more mundane work, and was subsequently shortened by 26 feet. It closed its Great Western career in 1963 as a switch engine at Winona, Minn. It arrived at Kettle Moraine in 1971 but never ran on the tourist pike, although it retained its Winton engine.

The historic but much-modified car will likely not survive intact. At the Nevada State Railroad Museum, which purchased No. 1000 from KMR, parts of its body will be used in the restoration of Virginia & Truckee McKeen car 22. Components not needed for that effort will be made available to other restoration projects around the country. KMR General Manager Steven Butler says that efforts to find a party that would preserve the car, in poor condition and far removed from either its McKeen or Blue Bird configurations, met with little interest. It appears, then, that after more than 30 years in limbo, what's left of CGW 1000 will be sacrificed for the sake of other preservation causes.

Reprinted from the November 1998 issue of TRAINS Magazine. Copyright 1998 TRAINS Magazine. Used with permission.