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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 NRHS 2012 Cedar Rapids Convention to wrap up with the final trip to Chicago. I was up at 4:30 AM, 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 the last night. I walked over to the Clarion Hotel and got my story up there. I boarded the crew bus, a tired Chris and it took us to the train which was back at Smith-Dow Yard after the trip down from Cedar Falls after 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 wasn't 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, Illinois, 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 1800s, 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 US. 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 Chicago-Boone as 1 and 2. These trains carried coaches, dining and lounge cars, and a parlor car. Beginning mid-August of 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-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. The Kate Shelley service ended with the formation of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.

The Train Consist

Engines Union Pacific 4373 and 5038 with Amtrak 40, Wenonah Coach NSRX 202 800261, Nokomis Coach - NSRX 203 800898, Lake Pepin Coach NSRX 7616 800799, Franklin Inn - NRHX142 800957, Braddock Inn - PPCX 800854, NYC 38 - Tavern Lounge PPCX 800655, High Iron Scenic Dome 60 dome lounge class seats ATSF 551 now named "Sky View" RPCX 551, Super Dome 53 - NSRX 53 Dome Lounge 800862 and Cedar Rapids - NSRX 186 Observation Car 800040.

The Trip

At 8:05 AM after all the passengers got here at Smith-Dow Yard, the Crandic 132 and Slug 126 pulled us forward then backed us north to the interchange point.

Iowa Interstate power in Smith-Dow Yard.

We came to the stop and the Crandic units cut off. We waited here for our Amtrak Crew and motive power for the trip. The power came around and then coupled on the east end of our train.

At 9:30 AM we started backing to the UP mainline.

I walked back to the Cedar Rapids.

You can see the green signal at the UP mainline.

As we backed to the UP mainline, 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 UP mainline.

The end of the UP stack train as we continued backing west. The crew had me blow for the crossing in Fairfax.

The model of Cedar Rapids.

This is as far west as we backed. 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 soy bean field.

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

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

The train ran by this ADM Unit in Clinton.

The train ran by the ADM Plant.

5th Street in Clinton.

The train curved to cross the Mississippi River into Illinois.

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

Round Grove.

The inside of Sky View Dome Car.

The locomotives at Sterling.

The Rock River.

Crossing the Rock River.

The Coaling Tower at Nelson.

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

Global Three.

The B&J Railroad.

Curving into Rochelle.

Crossing the BNSF mainline in Rochelle.

The Rochelle Railroad Park.

The train went by the Dekalb CNW Station.

Large groups of people came out to see our NRHS Special Train back to Chicago today.

The Dekalb Coaling Tower. 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 run by us. We pulled into Chicago at 4:08 PM ending the 2012 NRHS Cedar Rapids 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 we did at the 2012 NRHS Cedar Rapids NRHS Convention on this date.

Chicago 6/25/2012

I got off the train and headed straight to the Metra 2227 Train that would take me out to Hanover Park to Dave and Cathy Smetko's home for this night.