Facebook Page

Milwaukee Road 261 to Glencoe and beyond 6/22/2019

by Chris Guenzler

6/22/2019 I got up at my usual Twin Cities motel and drove over to the Best Western Dakota Ridge Hotel where I picked up Elizabeth at 5:45 AM and drove her to St. Paul Union Station and dropped her off so she could ride the light rail from there to Fairview Avenue, part 1 of her Twin Cities rail experience. I drove to the Fairview station, parked across the street and then waited on the platform for Elizabeth to arrive. From here, we went to McDonald's where I had hot cakes and sausage before we went to Walmart where I had to buy a new memory card reader and then drove to Minneapolis Junction where we parked the rental car and started to look around.

Milwaukee Road 261 to Glencoe and beyond

The first object of our curiousity for the morning was the brand new Milwaukee Road E9A 101 that the group had recently bought.

Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Minneapolis Railroad History

The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad; often referred to as the Milwaukee Road was a Class I railroad that operated in the Midwest and Northwest of the United States from 1847 until 1980. The company went through several official names and faced bankruptcy on multiple occasions throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Finally, in 1980, it abandoned its Pacific Extension (Montana, Idaho, and Washington) as a cost-cutting measure following a 1977 bankruptcy.

What remained of the system operated for another six years until it merged into the Soo Line Railroad, a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific Railway, on January 1, 1986. Although the "Milwaukee Road" as such ceased to exist, much of its trackage continues to be used by multiple railroads. It is also commemorated in buildings like the historic Milwaukee Road Depot in Minneapolis and in railroad hardware still maintained by rail fans, such as the Milwaukee Road 261 steam locomotive.

Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Minneapolis Railroad

The railroad that became the Milwaukee Road began as the Milwaukee and Waukesha Railroad in Wisconsin, whose goal was to link the developing Lake Michigan port city of Milwaukee with the Mississippi River. The company incorporated in 1847, but changed its name to the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad in 1850 before construction began. Its first line, 5 miles long, opened between Milwaukee and Wauwatosa, on November 20, 1850. Extensions followed to Waukesha in February 1851, Madison, and finally the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien in 1857.

As a result of the financial panic of 1857, the M&M went into receivership in 1859, and was purchased by the Milwaukee and Prairie du Chien in 1861. In 1867, Alexander Mitchell combined the M&PdC with the Milwaukee and St. Paul (formerly the LaCrosse & Milwaukee Railroad Company) under the name Milwaukee and St. Paul. Critical to the development and financing of the railroad was the acquisition of significant land grants. Prominent individual investors in the line included Alexander Mitchell, Russell Sage, Jeremiah Milbank and William Rockefeller.

In 1874, the name was changed to Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul after absorbing the Chicago & Pacific Railroad Company, the railroad that built the Bloomingdale Line as part of the 36-mile Elgin Subdivision from Halsted Street (Chicago) to the suburb of Elgin, Illinois. By 1887, the railroad had lines running through Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The corporate headquarters were moved from Milwaukee to the Rand McNally Building in Chicago, America's first all-steel framed skyscraper, in 1889 and 1890, with the car and locomotive shops staying in Milwaukee. The company's General Offices were later located in Chicago's Railway Exchange building (built 1904) until 1924, at which time they moved to Chicago Union Station.

Twin Cities and Western Railroad History

The Twin Cities and Western Railroad is a railroad operating in the U.S. state of Minnesota which started operations on July 27, 1991. Trackage includes the former Soo Line Railroad "Ortonville Line", originally built as the first part of the Pacific extension of the Milwaukee Road. This main line extends from Hopkins, Minnesota to Appleton, Minnesota. The line was originally built between Hopkins and Cologne Minnesota in 1876 by Hastings and Dakota Railroad. In 1913, the Milwaukee Road rerouted it, reducing the curves. The line was eventually extended to the Pacific.

As of 1991, the TCWR also has trackage rights over the BNSF Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 2012, the TCWR purchased the Sisseton Milbank Railroad and it now operates as a subsidiary of the Twin Cities and Western Railway.

The company is also affiliated with the Red River Valley and Western Railroad in North Dakota, and the Minnesota Prairie Line, which has a junction with the Twin Cities and Western in Norwood Young America, Minnesota.

Until Hiawatha Avenue was reconstructed in the 1990s and plans for the Hiawatha Line light rail service entered late stages, the Twin Cities and Western operated on Canadian Pacific's Bass Lake Subdivision through the 29th Street railway trench in Minneapolis, now known as the Midtown Greenway. The tracks continued along the former Milwaukee Road Short Line into Saint Paul, where TC&W would access rail yards operated by Canadian Pacific, the Minnesota Commercial Railway, and others. As part of the Hiawatha project, the railroad's route to St Paul was moved from the 29th Street Corridor to the Kenilworth Corridor to Cedar Lake Junction onto the BNSF just west of downtown Minneapolis. The re-route occurred August 1998.

After the re-route onto to Kenilworth Corridor occurred in 1998, HCRRA constructed the Kenilworth Trail adjacent to the railroad track, using railroad right-of-way acquired from the Chicago North Western Railway by the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority. The Kenilworth alignment had first been built as part of the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway and eventually became part of the Chicago and North Western Railway. The Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority acquired the land prior to when C&NW abandoned the line. The existing freight operation shares the corridor with the Kenilworth Trail.

The temporary alignment was only expected to last five years and was proposed as a way to preserve the route for future transit. It has been more than a decade since this alignment opened. The connection is reaching the end of its lifespan and requires rehabilitation.

The Trip

The new E unit on the rear of our train.

Former Wisconsin Southern E9 32A is now going to become Milwaukee Road 101.

The Hiawatha symbol on its nose denotes its ownership. From here we walked down to the more important end of the train, the one that had Milwaukee Road 261 on it.

Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 261.

Amtrak Empire Builder gets a whistle toot from Milwaukee Road 261 as the Builder past the train this morning.

A look into the cab of Milwaukee Road 261 shows our engineer at the moment. Due to the Milwaukee Road Historical Society being on the train today and buying three coach loads of seats for their members, all the other coach passengers were upgraded to the former Henry Hudson lounge car which the 261 group has put in fantastic comfortable seats so no one was upset. The consist for our trip today was Milwaukee Road 261, NSR 1938 "Earling", NSR 203 "Nokomish", "NSR 202 "Wenoneh", coach Lake Pepin, open door baggage car "Golden Valley", open door baggage car/concession car NSRX 2450, "Fox River Valley", Western Pacific "Silver Palace" CZ 21, "Wisconsin Valley", Super Dome 53, "Milwaukee", "Cedar Rapids" and E9A 101.

There are no sad faces in the Fox River Valley, the new name for the Henry Hudson which used to be Warrior Ridge.

Elizabeth in a comfy chair on the Fox River Valley.

Me in another comfortable chair on the Fox River Valley. Due to a malfunctioning switch, we could not make our reverse move out of the track we were on, so they created BNSF dispatcher took us out north past Van Buren Street where we waited for a BNSF hotshot stack train to clear out of our way.

Milwaukee Road 261 worked to get the train to beyond Van Buren Street.

We met a CP Rail transfer job waiting for everyone else to clear before he could return to home rails. Once we received a clear signal, we then went back by Minneapolis Junction to the switch that aligned us onto the wye track to begin our trip to Glencoe, or so we thought at the time.

Milwaukee Road 261 took the southeast leg of the Minneapolis Junction wye to begin our trip with him leading.

We crossed the Mississippi River.

Scenery on the way to Glencoe as I was talking to many people and others from the 261 crew whom I had not seen in years. It's always good to be catching up with people I know.

Twin Cities and Western GP-38-2 2013.

Twin Cities and Western GP-38-2 2010.

Twin Cities and Western GP-10 404.

Twin Cities and Western GP-30 4300.

Twin Cities and Western GP-20 2008.

The former Milwaukee Road station at Glencoe.

Twin Cities and Western CF7 1503.

Red River Valley and Western GP-15 4105.

Western Consolidated Cooperative SW1000 1287. The train continued west past Glencoe and I and Elizabeth were excited to be getting rare mileage of over seven miles to where we were going. At this point, we did not know where we were going.

Scenery along our rare mileage.

Looking down and back down the south side of the train.

Looking down and back down the north side of the train.

The steam train chasers were in unchartered territory as they had no idea why we did not stop in Glencoe.

One of the 10,000 lakes in Minnesota.

Two Milwaukee Road trackside signals on somebody's property.

To prove to people that we were really west of Glencoe, I shot the milepost 481 sign that the train passed.

The south side of the train on a curve.

We approached our unknown destination as I was looking for a sign post to tell me where I was going.

We crossed an interesting river.

Milepost 482 on our interesting rare mileage adventure.

I spotted the Brownton station sign and knew we were in Brownton, where we would be allowed to detrain for a photo runby opportunity.

My good and dear friend from Facebook, Debi Crimmin.

I switched to the zoom lens to give you a closer look at the sign for Brownton. Here we detrained.

Rear view of Milwaukee Road 261.

Milwaukee Road 261 at Brownton.

Milwaukee Road 261 and train in Brownton. Special thanks to the Milwaukee Road Historical Society for this unique piece of rare mileage today.

Backup move #1.

Photo runby #1.

Backup move #2. We reboarded the train and then put all the pictures from the last two days into the computer. I converted yesterday's pictures and then Elizabeth renamed the photographs and then proofed yesterday's story. She then converted and labelled today's pictures then typed the story which took us as far as Cologne. We now relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the trip back to Minneapolis Junction. It had been a great trip on the Milwaukee Road 261 today. Just think, we get to ride behind it tomorrow to Winthrop and new mileage for both Elizabeth and I.

After the trip I drove Elizabeth back to the Fairview Avenue station where she boarded the Green Line train to Target Field and took the Blue Line to the Mall of America where she turned around and came back to 28th Street station where I took her back to her hotel, stopping at Subway for dinner. Then I returned to my usual hotel for the night.