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NRHS Special Train Cedar Rapids to Chicago 6/25/2012

by Chris Guenzler

After a fantastic day yesterday, it was now time for this great National Railway Historical Society convention to wrap up with the final trip to Chicago. I arose at 4:30 AM and prepared myself for the day before going to Casey's, getting ice and checking out of the Motel 6 where the Internet did not work last night. I walked over to the Clarion Hotel and uploaded my story up there.

A tired Chris boarded the crew bus, taking it to the train which was back at Smith-Dow Yard after the trip down from Cedar Falls following our trip to Manly yesterday. I boarded the "Sky View" for the last time and set up on the table due to a light load in the dome heading back to Chicago.

Chicago and North Western Railroad/Union Pacific History

The Galena and Chicago Union Railroad (G&CU) was chartered on January 16, 1836 to connect Chicago with the lead mines at Galena, Illinois. However, it was not until March 1848 that construction actually started. Still, it was the first railroad built to Chicago. By 1850, the G&CU was completed as far as the Fox River at Elgin. Over the next three years, the G&CU built to Freeport, 120 miles northwest of Chicago. In 1854, the railroad started building a more direct line to the Mississippi River, starting at West Chicago and heading west to Fulton, across the river from Clinton. Upon completion, the railroad reached the Mississippi River near Clinton, Iowa, but never reaching Galena.

Meanwhile, the Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska Railroad Company was building from Clinton to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Reportedly, this G&CU route was the first western railroad to operate by telegraph in 1856. In July 1862, the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad, building between Cedar Rapids and Council Bluffs, was leased to the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad Company. The G&CU was also operating the Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska Railroad between Clinton and Cedar Rapids under lease. The Cedar Rapids and Missouri Railroad, built as result of the Iowa Land Bill of 1856 that gave land grants for railroads, was to be the first railroad to reach Council Bluffs, making it a key supply route for the then-building Union Pacific transcontinental line.

The Chicago and North Western Railway was chartered on June 7, 1859. It had purchased the assets of the bankrupt Chicago, St. Paul and Fond du Lac Railroad on June 2nd. On February 15, 1865, it officially merged with the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad. During the late 1800's, the railroad grew by adding branches and acquiring more local railroads, until it operated more than 5,000 miles of track by 1900. The railroad size peaked with more than 12,000 miles of track in seven states, making it one of the longest railroads in the country. Much of this increase in size came about due to mergers with other railroads, such as the Chicago Great Western Railway and the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway. However, major abandonments and line sales, as well as a 1972 sale of the company to its employees, led to major changes. By 1995, track sales and abandonment had reduced the railroad back to its earlier 5,000-mile size. The majority of the abandoned and sold lines were lightly trafficked branches in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Additionally, major line sales, such as the one that created the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad, helped to reduce the railroad to a mainline core with several regional feeders and branches. The final major change came about in April 1995, when the Chicago and North Western was merged into the Union Pacific Railroad.

C&NW Passenger Service

The creation of the Chicago & North Western, with its through line between Chicago and Omaha, soon became an important link between Chicago and the west. For example, beginning in 1889, C&NW combined with Union Pacific and Southern Pacific to operate Chicago to west coast passenger service. Many of these trains were well known streamliners and domeliners, including the Overland Limited, City of Los Angeles, City of San Francisco, City of Denver and the Challenger. However, during October 1955, UP announced that the five Chicago-West Coast trains would operate via Milwaukee Road between Omaha and Chicago, citing delays caused by deteriorating track conditions on the C&NW.

With the loss of these through trains, the passenger service on the C&NW route changed greatly. The October 20, 1955, timetable showed a reduced number of trains, all operated solely by the C&NW. Trains 3 and 4, the Omahan, were daytime trains with coaches, cafe lounge and a parlor car. Trains 7 and 8 ran at night with coaches and Pullmans as the Corn King. A mail and express train with a few coaches operated as trains 5 and 6. The Kate Shelley 400 operated from Chicago to Boone as 1 and 2. These trains carried coaches, dining and lounge cars and a parlor car. Beginning in mid-August 1956, the route ended at Cedar Rapids. Further cuts in passenger service soon followed. In 1957, the Corn King was combined with trains 5 and 6 into the Fast Mail while the Kate Shelley 400 operated only to Clinton. Additionally, the Omaha trains only operated to Council Bluffs with bus service on into Omaha. Trains 9 and 10 were discontinued in 1959. By 1960, trains 1 and 2, and 3 and 4 operated Chicago to Clinton, and by 1961, only the Kate Shelley 400 remained, operating daily except Sunday. Sunday service was provided by an evening train 11 and 12. In 1963, the railroad officially dropped the name of the Kate Shelley and the service ended with the formation of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.

The Train Consist

Union Pacific SD70M 4373, SD50 5038 with Amtrak P42DC 40, NSRX coach 202 "Wenonah" PPCX 800261, NSRX coach 203 " Nokomis" PPCX 800898, NSRX coach 7616 "Lake Pepin" PPCX 800799, NRHX 142 "Franklin Inn" PPCX 800957, "Braddock Inn" PPCX 800854, New York Central tavern lounge 38 PPCX 800655, High Iron dome 60 "Scenic View" (former Santa Fe 551), NSRX "Super Dome" 53 PPCX 800862, NRSX Skytop Lounge Observation 186 "Cedar Rapids" PPCX 800040.

The Trip

At 8:05 AM after all the passengers arrived, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City MP15DC 132 and slug 126 pulled us forward then reversed us north to the interchange point.

Iowa Interstate power in Smith-Dow Yard.

We stopped and the Crandic units cut off then we waited here for our Amtrak crew and motive power for the trip which appeared then coupled on the east end of our train.

At 9:30 AM we started reversing to the Union Pacific mainline.

I walked back to the "Cedar Rapids".

You can see the green signal at the mainline.

As we reversed, an eastbound stack train went east which we would pass at the next control point at the east end of Beverly Yard.

We reached the Union Pacific mainline.

The end of the stack train as we continued to reverse. There is a hidden horn for reverse moves in the "Cedar Rapids" which the crew asked me to blow for the crossing in Fairfax.

A model of "Cedar Rapids".

This is as far west as we reversed. Someday I may ride west of here to get the new mileage.

At 9:54 AM we pulled forward and started heading east to Chicago.

Goodbye Fairfax Interchange Yard.

The Iowa Railway & Light Company plant.

The Cedar River as we left Cedar Rapids for the last time.

One more soybean field.

One last corn field. The Union Pacific was running our train at track speed.

The train crossed the Wapsipinicon River before dropping down the grade to Clinton where we stopped for a five minute pilot crew change.

We passed ADM GP9 1934, ex. South Point Ethanol 1, nee Norfolk and Western 890 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1959.

Passing the ADM plant.

Fifth Street in Clinton.

The train curved to cross the Mississippi River into Illinois.

The Mississippi River. Our boxed lunches were passed out and consumed.

Round Grove.

The inside of dome car "Sky View".

I&M Rail Link SW1200 13, ex. Canadian Pacific 330, exx. Davenport Rock Island and Western 109, exxx. Milwaukee Road 619, nee Milwaukee Road 1642 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1954.

GMTX SW1000 72, ex. Azcon Corporation 5, exx. BNSF 3651, exx.x Burlington Northern 583, nee Chicago Burlington and Quincy 9319 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1966.

Azcon Corporation SW1001 3, ex. Relco 2195, nee North Western Steel and Wire 3 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1981. These three locomotives were at North Western Steel and Wire in Sterling.

The Rock River.

Crossing the Rock River.

The Chicago and North Western coaling tower at Nelson built by Ross & White in 1947. It could service locomotives on all four tracks and served until 1956, when C&NW retired its last steam locomotives.

The flat lands of Illinois. Next we ran by Global III.

Global III, a critical Union Pacific interchange hub and a loading/unloading terminal for rail intermodal shipments moving through western Iowa and Wisconsin. Many Union Pacific trains originate or terminate at the Global III intermodal yard. A number of shuttle trains operate throughout the day, moving containers between Global III and other intermodal facilities in the Chicago area. The function of this terminal is primarily that of a block swap.

The Burlington Junction Railroad.

Curving into Rochelle.

Crossing the BNSF mainline in Rochelle.

The Rochelle Railroad Park.

We passed the Dekalb Chicago and North Western station.

Large groups of people came out to see our special NRHS train back to Chicago today.

The Dekalb coaling tower built prior to 1929. From here I would relax the rest of the way to Chicago Union Station. We were delayed by track work west of Elburn then waited for a Metra train to pass, arriving at Chicago at 4:08 PM, ending the 2012 convention. A special thank you to Bart Jennings and his entire NRHS Convention staff. You all did an excellent job working this entire event.

That is what occurred at the 2012 NRHS convention on this date.

Chicago 6/25/2012

I detrained and headed straight to Metra Train 2227 which would take me out to Hanover Park to Dave and Cathy Smetko's home for this night.