Facebook Page
Search Railroad Sites For:
Chicago & North Western

Originating in Illinois, the Chicago & North Western aquired the FE&MV in 1903, a small-time railroad that ran through northern and southeastern Nebraska. The C&NW also controlled the CStPM&O as a seperate company until 1957. Over all, the company operated 1,405 route miles (FE&MV and CStPM&O combined) in Nebraska.

The Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley
Also known as the Elkhorn, the FE&MV (a fore-runner of the CNW) began it's life humbly enough, gaining prestige and years of growth under the control of the North Western. After consolidating into the C&NW, the former Elkhorn became known as the Nebraska-Wyoming District. Important destinations oalong this line besides it's home base of Fremont included Fort Robinson & Chadron to the west; Lincoln, Hastings and Superior south of the Platte; Omaha; the Niobrara region; and the Black Hills.

Lincoln's Union Station, jointly operated by the C&NW and MoPac, as it appeared sometime after the turn of the century - from a postcard

C&NW in Lincoln, Nebraska
In Lincoln, the Elkhorn completed laying track in October 1886, which it had begun in July.

The FE&MV cooperated heavily with the Missouri Pacific with an agreement to operate jointly. The two roads operated joint yard trackage and beginning in 1898, shared a passenger station. In 1901 a joint freight house was built. The Elkhorn also began running a University of Nebraska football special from Fremont to Lincoln in 1902. The train would arrive just in time for the game, then waited until late that night before departing so that passengers could see the sites of Lincoln. Incidently, the passengers had plenty of reason to celebrate late that night, the football team won 12 - 0.

The C&NW operated it's own line into Lincoln until October 27, 1980, when the road filed to abandon the line from the Union Pacific Junction to Lincoln. In 1983 the old line was sold to the U.P. (it continued to service an grain elevator west of Fremont). Finally the North Western would appear again in Lincoln, though briefly before her units were swallowed up in UP paint, with it's merger into the Union Pacific system.

The Nebraska Division
The story of C&NW's Nebraska Division does not have a happy ending. The Division served most of the larger towns in the state, though the road was not the major player in any. Heavy competition came from the Burlington, Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific. Perhaps the C&NW's biggest regret occured after the company abandoned it's Hastings subdivision -- only to try to claim it back, according to rumors, after the Navy Department decided to construct a large ammunition depot east of Hastings. The C&NW if left intact, would have been the nearest to service the site. The MoPac ultimately inhereited this prize.

By the 1960's changes were made to the divisions, Lincoln and Superior were combined. By 1970 the Nebraska Division no longer appeared on the company's timetables. Lines east of Norfolk became part of the Iowa Division -- lines west became part of the Western. The C&NW which crossed the state from Omaha to Chadron in the northwest and from Fremont south to Superior was chosing to give-up it's Nebraska trackage. Daily passenger service became tri-weekly, then faded.

Under the C&NW, the former Elkhorn in Nebraska held so much promise and opportunity which for one reason or another, never came together. With hindsight, early on the road had the capability to usurp a troubled U.P., which could have meant the early end of that road. There were many "could haves," "should haves" and missed opportunities. Many of the small towns that appeared and grew around the line have disappeared with it. Today the right-of-ways are almost impossible to find - plowed under and returned to farmland. The North Western merged with Union Pacific in the late 1990's.



Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image

CNW SD45 #912 - was built in 1967. It was sold to NRE in the late 1970s and became NRE 912. It later went to Morrison Knudsen and operated briefly as MK 912. It was then rebuilt by MK in Boise, Idaho into Southern Pacific SD40-3M #8674. It now operates as Union Pacific #4700. - Jay Glenewinkel Purchased Photo Collection

CNW 4100 - When Union Pacific acquired the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, the UP was in an extreme shortage for road power. So, in an effort to help ease this situation, several CNW GP7s and SD18s were placed into regular road service, many operating on the former Missouri Pacific rails in Texas. Here CNW GP7R #4100 is being serviced at the Sosan Diesel Facility in San Antonio, Texas in 1993. The 4100 was built in 1951 as Rock Island 4400, and renumbered to the Rock Island 1200 series. Several of the Rocks GP7s were acquired upon the shut down of the Rock Island, and rebuilt for service on the CNW. - Jay Glenewinkel Photo

CNW 4706 - this Geep looks clean as new while it pauses between chores at the Boone, Iowa yard on September 8, 2001 - T. Greuter Photo

CNW 4706 - at Boone, Iowa. September 8, 2001 - T. Greuter Photo

CNW GP50 #5061 - was built in May of 1980. The unit was renumbered to UP 5518 upon the merger with Union Pacific. Here the 5061 is seen in service on Missouri Pacific Rails in Houston, Texas in 1986, long before the UPs take over of the CNW. - Jay Glenewinkel Photo


CNW GP50  #5092 - was built in August 1980. It was renumbered to Union Pacific 5537 in 1996. Here the CNW 5092 is seen as the lead unit on a Westbound Southern Pacific freight in Luling, Texas in 1987. - Jay Glenewinkel Photo


CNW GP40 #5517 - was built in December 1965. The unit currently operates under this number, and is scheduled to be renumbered to Union Pacific 701. The CNW 5517 is seen in San Antonio, Texas in March 2000. - Jay Glenewinkel Photo


CNW 6000 - is a former SD45 rebuilt with a Catipillar Engine, and redesignated as an SDCAT. - Jay Glenewinkel Purchased Photo Collection

CNW SD18R #6640 - was built as Union Pacific SD18 #411 in 1959. The unit then went to operate on the PNC Railroad before being rebuilt and placed into service as CNW 6640. The CNW 6640 is seen being serviced in San Antonio, Texas in 1993. The CNW 6640 operated as a lead unit on this day on a Southbound UP freight with four CNW GP7s and one UP SD40-2. Jay Glenewinkel Photo

CORRECTION: "I read your description of CNW 6640, and I'm going to have to disagree with you. According to the Fall 2002 issue of North Western Lines (historical society publication), 6640 started life as Southern EMD SD24 2524 (later SOU 6343), and was rebuilt as a Precision National (PNC -- a leasing company) "SD10". This unit was selected by the CNW to join their roster, and became "SD18" 6640. The only difference between the SD10 and SD18 was whose paint it was wearing... CNW did have four SD18s that were ex-UP, but they all ran with low short hoods, and were numbered 6644-6647.

The whereabouts of the former UP 411 isn't within the scope of the article, though I suspect it may have ended up in the ICG SD20 rebuilding pool.

Thanks, -
Mark "Fuzzy" Hintz


CNW SD40-2 #6918 - was built in February 1975. It was renumbered to Union Pacific 3081 in October 1996. The 6918 is seen in San Antonio, Texas in 1994. - Jay Glenewinkel Photo

CNW SD40-2 #6929 - in Portland, Oregon in 1994. - Steve Schuman Photo/ Jay Glenewinkel Collection


CNW SD50 #7022 - was built in December 1985. It was renumbered to UP 5082 in May 1996. The 7022 is seen here in Portland, Oregon in early 1996. - Steve Schuman Photo/Jay Glenewinkel Collection


CNW SD60 #8004 - was built in August 1986. The unit was renumbered to UP 5972 in July 1996. The CNW 8004 is pictured at North Portland Junction in Portland, Oregon in 1995. - Steve Schuman Photo/Jay Glenewinkel Collection

Ex- CNW C44-9W - renumbered to UP 6707. It is seen at Valley Junction, near Hearne, Texas on October 22, 2001. - Jay Glenewinkel Photo

CNW 8622 - a C44-9W takes the day off on this holiday at Lincoln, Nebraska. 7/4/95 - T. Greuter Photo
CNW 8622 - at Lincoln, Nebraska 7/4/95 - T. Greuter Photo

CNW 8709 - the Green and Yellow leads a UP and a Southern Pacific B-boat at the yards of Union, Nebraska. 3/31/01 - T. Greuter Photo

Night shot of CNW C44-9W 8726 in San Antonio, TX in 1997. This photo was taken around 3 in the morning. - Jay Glenewinkel Photo

CNW 8817
- at Lincoln, Nebraska. Summer 2002 - T. Greuter Photo

UPY 1326 - wearing "the Patch" but still in C&NW paint, sits deep in the North Western's territory of Boone, Iowa. 9/8/01 - T. Greuter Photo


CNW Bay Window caboose #10399 - is seen in service on a San Antonio coal train in 1985. - Jay Glenewinkel Photo

CNW 12566 - cab on permanent display at Boone, Iowa; September 8, 2001 - T. Greuter Photo


Contributing Photographers:
Jay Glenewinkel, Steve Schuman

Recommended Links:
Chicago & North Western Photo Archive

Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley R. R. Co., by David Seidel

go back to

Latest update: Friday, 18 April, 2008

All photos & text 2000-2003 T. Greuter / Screaming Eagles, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.

  Free Web Hosting Since 1996. Join & Become Part of the TrainWeb's Railroad Community.