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AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE CABINET CARD DATED IN PENCIL ON FRONT 1893 OF A CHINESE RAILROAD CONDUCTOR 223 MILWAUKEE STREET ON HIS CAP. PHOTOGRAPH BY NEICK COR 3RD ST & NORTH AVENUE MILWAUKEE. ON BACK IN INK IS AN INSCRIPTIONThe Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company (reporting mark TMERL), also referred to as the Milwaukee Interurban Lines or TMER&L, is a defunct railroad that operated in and around Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was the largest electric railway and electric utility system in Wisconsin, and combined several of the earlier horsecar, steam dummy, and streetcar lines into one system. Its Milwaukee streetcar lines soon ran on most major streets and served most areas of the city. The interurban lines reached throughout southeastern Wisconsin. TMER&L also operated the streetcar lines in Appleton, Kenosha, and Racine, as well as its own switching operations at the Port Washington and Lakeside power plants.
The first electric streetcar in Milwaukee operated on Wells Street on April 3, 1890. The Waukesha Beach Railway was formally opened on June 25, 1895. The first interurban ran between Milwaukee and Kenosha on June 1, 1897. Other lines soon reached Watertown, Burlington, and East Troy. In 1922, TMER&L acquired the Milwaukee Northern Railway and added their Milwaukee to Sheboygan interurban line to the system.
During the Great Depression, services on streetcar and interurban lines were reduced, replaced with buses, abandoned, or sold. Abandonments ceased during World War II when gas and tires were rationed and defense workers needed transportation. After the war, riders returned to their automobiles and abandonments resumed. The last streetcar to run in Milwaukee and the entire state operated on Wells Street on March 2, 1958.[citation needed] Electric locomotives continued operating at the power plants until the early 1970s.[citation needed]
The last two remaining sections of interurban lines were to Hales Corners and Waukesha. They continued in operation until June 30, 1951 as part of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit and Speedrail Company's rapid transit service. The outer end of the East Troy branch (beyond Mukwonago) continues to operate as the East Troy Electric Railroad, a 7-mile (11 km) long heritage railroad. There were plans to extend the Watertown line to Madison, the East Troy line to Delavan, and the Burlington line to Lake Geneva. However, none of these plans came to fruition.
As Milwaukee inches closer to building a modern day streetcar system, WUWM kicks off a series, called Streetcar: High Risk, High Reward?
First, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson revisits Milwaukee's old system.
The earliest form of the Milwaukee streetcar took shape in the mid-1800s, when the main mode of transportation was horse and buggy. “The very first streetcars in Milwaukee were actually horse drawn cars on rails. They began in 1860 and the first line went up Water Street," Ben Barbera says. He is associate curator at the Milwaukee County Historical Society.
As Barbera gives a tour of the streetcar exhibit housed at the Downtown Transit Center, he points out large black and white photos. “What we have here is an image of the old Milwaukee City Hall. There’s a huge amount of bustle on the streets, you see horse drawn carriages, horse drawn wagons and horse drawn streetcars,” he says.
Barbera says a private company owned the horses, but they were difficult to maintain. Plus, they left a tremendous amount of manure in the streets. He says just in the nick of time, early innovators came along and began designing an electric streetcar.
“It wasn’t until 1890 when Henry Villard, a New York multi-millionaire, and Henry Clay Payne created a company called the Milwaukee Electric Railway Company and that’s when we saw a real established electric streetcar,” Barbera says.West Wisconsin Avenue in the 1920s.CREDIT MILWAUKEE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY“We were an early player in the game," says Tim Brown, who serves as We Energies' historian.
Brown says Milwaukee's early electric rail company morphed into today’s utility giant - We Energies. Back during the industrial boom, he says, the City needed an electric streetcar system to carry people to jobs.Transit system map from 1938. Orange = Streetcar Route, Blue = Trolley Bus, Brown = Regular Bus, Light Green = Independent Bus Lines and Thicker Lines = Interurban Service to the suburbs.CREDIT PHOTO COURTESY OF DAN STEININGER.“It really expanded opportunities for everyone in the area by being able to get to employment from where they live,” Brown says.
In the first year of operation, the multi-car system provided 28 million rides, he says. A couple decades later, the number had ballooned to 132 million. Brown says it only cost a nickel to ride the streetcar and at one point, it boasted of 190 miles of track.
“It really was quite extensive, it served all parts of the Metropolitan Milwaukee area through the streetcar system," he says. "It reached out to all the suburbs in the Milwaukee area."
The streetcar remained a popular way to get around for a few generations, as many people could not afford cars. Dan Steininger rode the system in the 1950s, when he was a kid living on Milwaukee’s north side.
“If you wanted to go downtown, you jumped on the streetcar to go shopping. You didn’t go in your car to the mall, you took the streetcar, which was kind of neat,” he says.
Steininger also recalls when the streetcar met its demise in 1958. He says the electric company decided to take out the tracks, because other modes of mass transit, such as buses, were becoming popular.History of “The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company”The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company (TMER&L Co.) was incorporated in January, 1896, and succeeded to the property and business of the Milwaukee Street Railway Company which had been organized in 1890 and had purchased, at various times between that date and 1893, the property of the following companies:
- Milwaukee City Railroad Company- Cream City Railway Company- West Side Railroad Company- Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay Railway Company- Edison Electric Illuminating Company- Badger Electric Illuminating Company- Milwaukee Electric Light CompanyGrand Avenue (Wisconsin Avenue) from 9th Street, 1885Early history shows, in a general way, the difficulties under which the urban transportation business was originally developed in Milwaukee, and in 1896, a plan of reorganization was found necessary because of the financial conditions of the Milwaukee Street Railway Company. In January, 1896, in a foreclosure sale, the property of the Milwaukee Street Railway Company was acquired by a purchasing committee which subsequently transferred such property to the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company.
The Milwaukee Light, Heat & Traction Company (MLH&T Co.) was incorporated on December 21, 1896, to build and operate interurban lines as a subsidiary of the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company. This company held title to the traction, lighting and heating properties situated outside of the City of Milwaukee.
The general procedure was to build the lines as subsidiaries and absorb them after service began. In 1896, it was decided to acquire the Milwaukee & Wauwatosa Motor Railway which had built double track steam dummy lines from 36th and Wells to Wauwatosa (CM&StP Depot) and North Greenfield (West Allis) at the newly opened State Fair grounds. The line used locomotives 1 to 3 and nine trailers over its nine miles of track.
Meanwhile, an outside concern, the North Greenfield & Waukesha Electric Railway, incorporated in March, 1897, was attempting to build to Waukesha. The right of way around 84th and Lapham was acquired and a car house was planned at that location. Next an attempt was made to acquire the Milwaukee & Wauwatosa Motor Railway for an entrance to Milwaukee. Milwaukee Light, Heat & Traction Co. was able to keep President S.J. Henderson from acquiring control. The company’s plan was blocked, and it went into receivership in August, 1897. TMER&L Co. purchased their right of way in September and assigned it to MLH&T Co. as the Milwaukee Waukesha Traction.
The way was then clear for construction to Waukesha. A franchise was immediately secured from the City of Waukesha. Construction began the same winter. On December 9th, the Milwaukee & Wauwatosa Motor Railway was acquired, and electrification began at once.
A six mile line from Waukesha to Waukesha Beach had been opened by an independent company, the Waukesha Beach Electric Railway, about 1895. The line was laid with 56 pound rail, more or less standard for early interurban lines in the area. Three single and double truck motor cars were operated together with four open trailers. Service was provided during the summer only. It was bought by MLH&T Co. in August, 1897, for $62,500.
Construction work was pushed through the following spring, and on June 25, 1898, service was opened from W. Water and Grand (Plankinton and Wisconsin) via Reed (S.2nd), National and West Allis to Five Points in Waukesha. Connection was made with the Waukesha Beach Line. The original two-motor cars were replaced with four-motor 100 type cars the following year. Year-around service began to West Limits on December 11, 1899.#10; Belle City, Main Street RacineThe Milwaukee, Racine & Kenosha Electric Railway was chartered on January 15, 1896, with trackage rights in Milwaukee with TMER&L Co. Construction of the line to Kenosha began in August. The 23 mile line was built with 60 pound rail. Service began from South Milwaukee station via Chicago Road to Racine on March 16, 1897, and to Kenosha (North Limits) on June 1. Eight days later service was extended into Milwaukee via trackage rights over the Carrollville line. The terminal was at City Hall Square. Twelve large 4-motor cars in the 100 series provided the original service. In 1899, the company was absorbed by MLH&T Co.
Both Racine and Kenosha had local streetcar service. Racine’s was called “Belle City Electric Railway” and was organized in 1883 and acquired by TMER&L Co. in 1897. Kenosha’s was called “Kenosha Electric Railway Company” and was organized in 1896 and purchased by Wisconsin Gas & Electric, a subsidiary of TMER&L Co., in 1912. With lines to Waukesha Beach and Kenosha now in successful operation, elaborate plans for expansion were successfully laid out. Lines were projected to Chicago, Sheboygan, Beloit and Lake Geneva. An outside company, the Milwaukee & Muskego Lakes Traction, was incorporated November 4, 1899, to build a line from 22nd Ave. (27th St.) and Greenfield to Muskego Lakes. Construction began soon after, and a considerable portion of right-of-way was graded. About 1900, this company was purchased by MLH&T Co. and, after acquiring a section of the Milwaukee & Beloit Railroad grade, construction was continued. On June 27, 1903, the line was opened from W. Water and Grand (Plankinton and Wisconsin) via Reed (S.2nd), Greenfield, old Beloit Road, 26th Ave. (31st), Burnham, and George (Becher) to Hales Corners. It was extended to St. Martin’s on June 21, 1904, and reached Muskego Lakes on September 1st.
In 1902, John I. Beggs succeeded Cromwell as President, and the company began plans for a block long office building and interurban terminal at 3rd and Sycamore (Michigan) in Milwaukee. The four story structure was completed in 1905 and named the Public Service Building. Cars of the Waukesha line began using it on January 1. On July 21, the Muskego Lakes and Kenosha line began using the new terminal. There were 10 tracks inside the building and 3 outside. In 1906, the company offices were moved into the building.Public Service Building, Car #1214, Looking SW, December 25, 1905The Muskego Lakes Line was extended on July 3, 1907, to Phantom Lake, October 21 to Beulah Lake, and December 13 to East Troy. Extension of the Waukesha Beach Line was rushed the same summer. Two camps for construction gangs were opened, Camp No. 1 at Buena Vista and Camp No. 2 at Ixonia. At the peak of the project eight steam locomotives, one electric locomotive, three power shovels, one derrick, one pile driver, and over 200 dump cars were in use. The lines were built by the company’s own Way and Structures Department instead of hiring outside contractors. Many difficulties were encountered. Solid rock had to be blasted from Buena Vista to West Hartland Road. A 16 foot fill sank into Nagawicka Lake in the winter of 1906. The high standards of construction made this a costly project. Finally on June 3, 1907, service was extended to Oconomowoc. The portion to Watertown was opened on July 31, 1908, and was extended to the CNW depot in Watertown September 26th of the same year.
Construction of the last interurban line was completed the following summer with service to Waterford beginning June 19, Burlington July 2, and South limits on October 1, 1909. The 1200-volt portions (Beyond Fruitland and Waukesha Beach) were changed from AC to DC.
The proposed extension to Lake Geneva was blocked by pressure from Chicago millionaires who wanted to maintain the seclusion of their summer homes. A projected branch to Fort Atkinson was laid out by the fairgrounds in Watertown but was not constructed because of financial conditions.
By 1910, the TMER&L Co. system had nearly reached its peak in route mileage. Expansion after that date consisted only in short extensions to existing city routes, speeding up interurbans, and rolling stock modernization. By 1911, the construction of a new car maintenance area was needed. The shop was called Cold Spring shops and was close to the center of the city and within minutes’ running time from the center of the business district. As the city system grew, new car-houses were needed in the outlying districts. Fond du Lac replaced Chestnut and 12th Street Stations in 1912. Oakland replaced Farwell in 1916. Fiebrantz was opened in 1930 and replaced a small Milwaukee-Northern Terminal on that location.
After a brief strike on New Year’s Day, 1919, the company found it necessary to pay wage increases of as much as 7 cents an hour to its 2,500 trainmen. Due to this and other cost increases, it was found expedient to reduce platform time.
In 1909, two of the old deck roof city cars were rebuilt as a two-car, three-truck, and two-man train. This was designed to provide service on heavier lines. Twenty-two one-man cars replaced the 16 two-man. When the PSC ordered additional service on Routes 10 and 15 in 1926, permission was won to one-man these lines. No new cars were purchased and the first of the older cars (500’s) were rebuilt for this service.South of Cedarburg; Construction Crew, 1907The interurban line from Milwaukee to Sheboygan was developed independently of the TMER&L Co. and remained a separate corporation until 1928. A franchise was secured in 1906 to construct a line from Milwaukee to Sheboygan. The plan called for a total of 112 miles of track, including a double-track from Milwaukee to Cedarburg. From a junction at Cedarburg, there was to be one line to Port Washington and Sheboygan and another to West Bend and Fond du Lac. Railroad grade crossings were avoided by steel viaducts or concrete subways. One viaduct over the CM&StP tracks at Grafton was 765 feet long. Track right-of-way was 66 feet wide and was laid with 70 pound rail on cedar ties in gravel ballast. The first 19 miles between Milwaukee and Cedarburg were completed on Monday, October 28, 1907; the next 14 miles to Port Washington a few days later. Service on this portion of the line began on Sunday, November 2, 1907. The line was completed and opened in September, 1908. Cars started running to Cedar Grove on September 12th. Service on the entire line began on Tuesday, September 22, 1908. Cars entered Sheboygan over the trackage of the Sheboygan Light, Power and Railway and shared a common terminal with the local Sheboygan interurban line. The Northern Line started business with eight interurban cars and eight city cars. A station was opened at 5th and Kilbourn. City streetcar service was operated every ten minutes over the route between downtown Milwaukee and N. 6th and Atkinson. By 1920, weakened financial conditions in the country found it possible to join the TMER&L Co. By 1922, Milwaukee Electric purchased the Milwaukee-Northern stock. Operations of the Milwaukee-Northern were slowly integrated into TMER&L Co. The Terminal was closed and trains operated out of the Public Service Building. Offices in Cedarburg were consolidated with Milwaukee Electric offices in Milwaukee, and the old Port Washington Power Plant was closed.
In 1925, a new interurban station was built in Sheboygan, and on April 30, 1928, Milwaukee Northern was merged with the TMER&L Co. and became a division of its interurban line. During the depression of the 1930’s, a two million dollar grade separation was begun from Capitol Drive to Silver Spring in northern Milwaukee County. Only two crossings were ever completed and, for years after up until abandonment, cars used a temporary single-track around the construction area. Revenue declined through the thirties, and on September 23, 1940, the line was cut back to Port Washington. Wartime conditions caused a mild boom on the remaining route with many trips requiring an advance section as far as Cedarburg. During the war years, the former dining cars were used regularly on the line. The line between Port Washington and Milwaukee was abandoned on March 28, 1948.
In October, 1938, TMER&L Co. was broken up into two separate companies. The Wisconsin Electric Power Company operated Lakeside Power Plant; the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Transport Company assumed its transportation properties.
In 1945, the property was sold to Kenosha Motor Coach Lines and the South Sixth St. Line was abandoned in 1947. The first major abandonments in the post-war era were the Third, Burnham, and S.13th St. lines in 1948. The segment between Racine and Kenosha was abandoned on September 13, 1947, with abandonment of the remaining Kenosha-Racine operations on December 31st.
Oddly enough, several hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on track renewal and improvements of rail facilities in the years 1948 to 1950. The city forced rebuilding of one-mile of track on South 2nd in 1948 since the company could not afford to pay abandonment fees. During 1949 and 1950, tracks on West Wells were rebuilt to comply with new street grades since no buses could be afforded to replace the lines.
The State St. Line was abandoned in 1950, followed by the important Fond du Lac and 12th Street lines in 1951. Once the Milwaukee and Suburban Transport Corporation took over in 1952, the company continued to substitute buses on lines. The Oakland, Kinnickinnic, and Farwell lines were dropped in 1953. The Wells Street car line from Wauwatosa to 70th & Greenfield was abandoned on March 2, 1958.Car #935, 28th & Atkinson, March 20, 1954The interurban lines to Watertown, East Troy and Burlington were all experiencing financial difficulties during the late 1930’s. The last interurban line that was put into service was the first to be abandoned; the Burlington line was abandoned from St. Martin’s to Burlington on May 2, 1938. The East Troy Line from Hales Corners to East Troy was abandoned on August 12, 1939 with freight service being abandoned on September 4, 1939. The Village of East Troy purchased the line from Mukwonago to East Troy for village freight service for $10,000. The Watertown line from Oconomowoc to Watertown was abandoned on February 1, 1940, and on July 21, 1941, the line from Oconomowoc to Waukesha was abandoned. Waukesha west of downtown together with the Supercharger line in Milwaukee (a half-mile extension of the Burnham line built in 1943 to serve a war plant), was dropped on December 31, 1945. But shortages of new buses, together with sharply rising costs, slowed down the post-war abandonment program.
On September 2, 1949, control of the remaining Waukesha interurban passed to Jay Maeder of Cleveland. The new management began operating under the name “Speedrail” although the name was not legally changed to “The Milwaukee Rapid Transit and Speedrail Co.” until the following January. Six one-man interurban #60-65 acquired from Shaker Heights, Ohio, replaced the former equipment in all off-peak service in October. The profitable carload freight service, abandoned by the former owners, was restored.
During this period Speedrail was operating the Hales Corners suburban line for the Transport Company on a cost per mile basis. On December 3, 1949, the actual franchise was acquired together with ten, two-car suburban trains (#31-50) and two sweepers (#U4-U5). Schedules were greatly improved, and operations of the two lines were coordinated. A fare box and zone system replaced the old fare box collection plan. The old 1100 type cars were officially retired, but frequent breakdowns of the worn lightweights forced their continued use in tripper service to Waukesha as late as March, 1950. Five trains (#31-40) were equipped with seats and luggage racks, converted to single-end operation, and speeded up for the Waukesha Line. The balance filled in on West Junction rush hour runs.
An accident at Sunny Slope in February of 1950 badly damaged train #43-44. The unit was pulling through a crossover when the rear car was struck by westbound car #65. The train was retired, but #65 soon emerged from Cold Spring with a new front end and Speedrail’s orange and maroon replaced the Shaker Heights green and cream experimental colors. The only serviceable freight motor (#M-14) was wrecked shortly after in a runaway at the Schlinger interchange. This forced the use of 1100 type cars in freight service. Car #1121, one of a series rebuilt with heavier motors for pulling passenger trailers back in the twenties, was pressed into service with alterations. It was badly damaged by fire in October of 1950 and replaced by #1142 which traded trucks with the burned car.
The Public Service Building served as the line’s terminal, carhouse and offices. Some repair work was handled there, but major work was sent to the Transport Company’s Cold Spring Shops. The cost of using a desirable downtown location for these purpose were prohibitive, and from the beginning the management planned to erect a small shop and outside storage yard just east of Waukesha. Among other advantages, this location would have greatly reduced deadhead mileage since the heaviest traffic always flowed into Milwaukee in the morning and out in the evening. Lack of funds prevented this project from ever being started.
More cars (#300-301) were acquired from Shaker Heights in March, 1950. These two older St. Louis cars were never repainted, and, after a few months #300 was retired and salvaged for parts to keep its mate in operation. They were the regular equipment of the Hales Corners line with one car being adequate to provide the 90 minute non-rush hour service.Cars #39-40 & 1192-3, Speedrail Accident, September 2, 1950The National Model Railroad Association held its Labor Day weekend convention in Milwaukee in 1950 and scheduled five special trains to Hales Corners as part of the activity on September 2, the very day that the Speedrail management marked its first anniversary. But tragedy struck when two of the specials collided head on just south of the National Avenue station. The southbound car (#1192-93) overrode the floor of the northbound lightweight train (#39-40) splitting the front car for half its length. Most of the 10 killed and 47 injured were in this car. Speedrail President Maeder was at the controls of the northbound car. He and two others were able to jump to safety before the impact. The collision took place shortly before 10 a.m.; the day was clear, but the location was a point of poor visibility with a reverse curve, grade and trees combining to obstruct the view. Car #39-40 was too badly demolished to be towed and was dumped off the embankment to be later dismantled on the spot. The heavy car was towed away and service restored at 7 p.m. Later investigations by the Public Service Commission and other authorities laid the blame for the accident to lack of a formal dispatching system and the fact that the northbound train was operating in a block which the Nachod signal system showed already occupied by an opposing train.
Only three days later, a less serious accident occurred at the West Junction interchange when Hales Corners bound car # 64 struck freight motor #1121. The light-weight car was badly damaged and had to be retired, although #1121 suffered only minor damages. The next day the company was notified that primary public liability insurance would be cancelled the following Saturday. The Public Service Commission ordered the line to suspend operations at 12:01 a.m., September 10, but late Saturday night a new insurance plan was negotiated, and the line received an eleventh hour reprieve. Thereafter only one car was permitted on the Hales Corners branch, and a shuttle service from West Junction was inaugurated during rush hours.
The company was experiencing difficulty in meeting current financial obligations, and in November, 1950, the property was turned over to a federal trustee. The trustee appointed Eldred M. Frey, former Transport Co. Superintendent of Way and Structures as General Manager, and a full-time Safety Engineer was retained. The name “Speedrail” was removed from timetables and painted out on all equipment. With merger financial resources at his disposal, the trustee made surprising progress. On time performance was restored. Written train orders and operating rules were brought back.
Expiration of the new insurance forced a 12-hour suspension of service early in March, 1951. “Temporary” bus service was inaugurated to parallel the rail lines. The outside bus operators continued after rail service was restored and took away traffic which the line could not afford to lose.
A completely modernized car #66 raised the hopes of commuters and public officials alike when it entered service on March 31, 1951 a former Lehigh Valley Transit car. It had been on the property over a year when the trustee decided that rebuilding was the one way to attract new investors to the company. The car featured a sensational exterior color scheme, pleasing pastel interior colors, new seats, improved ventilation, and new lighting. Two days later full-time through service to Hales Corners was restored.Car #61 on Waukesha Line, Last Day; June 30, 1951Monthly losses remained high, and on May 1, fares were increased. June 4th brought drastically reduced schedules. The trustee reported that no responsible group was found to revitalize the line and that cash reserves were running low. He sought speedy abandonment, and early in the evening of June 30, 1951, Car #63 made the last trip to Hales Corners. Shortly before midnight train #37-38 completed the final run to Waukesha. The line was dismantled in the spring of 1952 by Hyman-Michaels of Chicago, and cars were scrapped at the Waukesha Gravel pit. This ended an era of mass transit between Milwaukee-Hales Corners and Waukesha and it took another seven years before local streetcar service ended in Milwaukee.The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, often referred to as the "Milwaukee Road" (reporting mark MILW), was a Class I railroad that operated in the Midwest and Northwest of the United States from 1847 until 1986.
The company experienced financial difficulty through the 1970s and 1980s, including bankruptcy in 1977. In 1980, it abandoned its Pacific Extension, which included track in the states of Montana, Idaho, and Washington. The remaining system was merged into the Soo Line Railroad (reporting mark SOO), a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific Railway (reporting mark CP), on January 1, 1986. Much of its historical trackage remains in use by other railroads. The company brand is commemorated by buildings like the historic Milwaukee Road Depot in Minneapolis and preserved locomotives such as Milwaukee Road 261 which operates excursion trains.Contents1 History1.1 Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Minneapolis Railroad1.2 Pacific Extension1.3 Bankruptcies1.4 Postwar1.5 Early 1970s1.6 Final bankruptcy2 Passenger train service3 In popular culture4 See also5 Notes6 References7 Further reading8 External linksHistoryChicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Minneapolis RailroadThe 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 (8.0 km) 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.[1]
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 Railroad in 1861. In 1867, Alexander Mitchell combined the M&PdC with the Milwaukee and St. Paul (formerly the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad Company) under the name Milwaukee and St. Paul.[2] 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.[3]
In 1874, the name was changed to Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul after absorbing the Chicago and Pacific Railroad Company, the railroad that built the Bloomingdale Line (now The 606) as part of the 36-mile Elgin Subdivision from Halsted Street in 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.[2] 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.[4]
Pacific ExtensionBoxcab electric locomotive pulling a passenger train in a canyonAn EF-1 boxcab hauls the Olympian through Montana Canyon in 1925.In the 1890s, the company's directors felt they had to extend the railroad to the Pacific to remain competitive with other railroads. A survey in 1901 estimated costs to build to the Pacific Northwest as $45 million (equal to $1.38 billion today). In 1905, the board approved the Pacific Extension, now estimated at $60 million, equal to $1.71 billion today. The contract for the western part of the route was awarded to Horace Chapin Henry of Seattle. Construction began in 1906 and was completed three years later. The route chosen was 18 miles (29 km) shorter than the next shortest competitor's, as well as better grades than some, but it was an expensive route, since the Milwaukee Road received few land grants and had to buy most of the land or acquire smaller railroads.
The two main mountain ranges that had to be crossed, the Rockies and the Cascades, required major civil engineering works and additional locomotive power. The completion of 2,300 miles (3,700 km) of railroad through some of the most varied topography in the nation in only three years was a major feat. Original company maps denote five mountain crossings: Belts, Rockies, Bitterroots, Saddles, and Cascades. These are slight misnomers as the Belt mountains and Bitterroots are part of the Rockies. The route did not cross over the Little Belts or Big Belts, but over the Lenep-Loweth Ridge between the Castle Mountains and the Crazy Mountains.
Some historians question the choice of route, since it bypassed some population centers and passed through areas with limited local traffic potential. Much of the line paralleled the Northern Pacific Railway. Trains magazine called the building of the extension, primarily a long-haul route, "egregious" and a "disaster."[5] George H. Drury listed the Pacific Extension as one of several "wrong decisions" made by the Milwaukee Road's management which contributed to the company's eventual failure.[6]
Beginning in 1909, several smaller railroads were acquired and expanded to form branch lines along the Pacific Extension.[7]:15
The Montana Railroad formed the mainline route through Sixteen Mile Canyon as well as the North Montana Line which extended North from Harlowton to Lewistown. This branch led to the settlement of the Judith Basin and, by the 1970s, accounted for 30% of the Milwaukee Road's total traffic.[7]:75The Gallatin Valley Electric Railway, originally built as an interurban line, was extended from Bozeman to the mainline at Three Forks. In 1927, the railroad built the Gallatin Gateway Inn, where passengers travelling to Yellowstone National Park transferred to buses for the remainder of their journey.[7]:83The White Sulphur Springs & Yellowstone Park Railway, originally built by Lew Penwell and John Ringling, primarily carried lumber and agricultural products.[7]:86Operating conditions in the mountain regions of the Pacific Extension proved difficult. Winter temperatures of −40 °F (−40 °C) in Montana made it challenging for steam locomotives to generate sufficient steam. The line snaked through mountainous areas, resulting in "long steep grades and sharp curves". Electrification provided an answer, especially with abundant hydroelectric power in the mountains, and a ready source of copper in Anaconda, Montana.[8] Between 1914 and 1916, the Milwaukee Road implemented a 3,000 volt direct current (DC) overhead system between Harlowton, Montana, and Avery, Idaho, a distance of 438 miles (705 km).[9] Pleased with the result, the Milwaukee electrified its route in Washington between Othello and Tacoma, a further 207 miles (333 km), between 1917 and 1920.[10] This section traversed the Cascades through the 2¼ mile (3.6 km) Snoqualmie Tunnel, just south of Snoqualmie Pass and over 400 feet (120 m) lower in elevation. The single track tunnel's east portal at Hyak included an adjacent company-owned ski area the 645 miles (1,038 km) of main-line electrification represented the largest such project in the world up to that time, and would not be exceeded in the US until the Pennsylvania Railroad's efforts in the 1930s.[15] The two separate electrified districts were never unified, as the 216-mile (348 km) Idaho Division (Avery to Othello) was comparatively flat down the St. Joe River to St. Maries and through eastern Washington, and posed few challenges for steam operation.[10] Electrification cost $27 million, but resulted in savings of over $1 million per year from improved operational efficiency.[16]
BankruptciesThe Pacific Extension, including subsequent electrification, cost the Milwaukee Road $257 million, over four times the original estimate of $60 million. To meet this cost, the Milwaukee Road sold bonds, which began coming due in the 1920s.[17] Traffic never met projections, and by the early 1920s, the Milwaukee Road was in serious financial condition. This state was exacerbated by the railroad's purchase of several heavily indebted railroads in Indiana. The company declared bankruptcy in 1925 and reorganized as the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad in 1928. In 1929, its total mileage stood at 11,248 miles (18,102 km).[18]
In 1927, the railroad launched its second edition of the Olympian as a premier luxury limited passenger train and opened its first railroad-owned tourist hotel, the Gallatin Gateway Inn in Montana, southwest of Bozeman, via a spur from Three Forks.
The company scarcely had a chance for success before the Great Depression hit. Despite innovations such as the famous Hiawatha high-speed trains that exceeded 100 mph (160 km/h), the railroad again filed for bankruptcy in 1935. The Milwaukee Road operated under trusteeship until December 1, 1945.
Two Skytop Lounges in their fourth Milwaukee Road paint scheme, matching Union Pacific colors. These cars were part of the Twin Cities Hiawatha equipment pool.The Milwaukee Road enjoyed temporary success after World War II. Out of bankruptcy and with the wartime ban on new passenger service lifted, the company upgraded its trains. The Olympian Hiawatha began running between Chicago and the Puget Sound over the Pacific Extension in 1947,[19] and the Twin Cities Hiawatha received new equipment in 1948.[20] Dieselisation accelerated and was complete by 1956.[21][22] In 1955, the Milwaukee Road took over from the Chicago and North Western's handling of Union Pacific's Overland Route streamliners between Chicago and Omaha.[19]
The whole railroad industry found itself in decline in the late 1950s and the 1960s, but the Milwaukee Road was hit particularly hard. The Midwest was overbuilt with too many competing railroads, while the competition on the transcontinental routes to the Pacific was tough. The premier transcontinental streamliner, the Olympian Hiawatha, despite innovative scenic observation cars, was cancelled in 1961, becoming the first visible casualty. The resignation of President John P. Kiley in 1957 and his replacement with the fairly inexperienced William John Quinn was a pivotal moment. From that point onward, the road's management was fixated on merger with another railroad as the solution to the Milwaukee's problems.
Railroad mergers had to be approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission, and in 1969 the ICC effectively blocked the merger with the Chicago and North Western Railway (C&NW) that the Milwaukee Road had counted on and had been planning for since 1964. The ICC asked for terms that the C&NW was not willing to agree to. The merger of the "Hill Lines" was approved at around the same time, and the merged Burlington Northern came into being.
Early 1970sAn electric locomotive with its pantographs downA Little Joe at Deer Lodge, Montana in October 1974 after the end of electrified operation.The formation of Burlington Northern in 1970 from the merger of Northern Pacific, Great Northern, Burlington Route, and the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway on March 3 created a stronger competitor on most Milwaukee Road routes. To boost competition, the ICC gave the Milwaukee Road the right to connect with new railroads in the West over Burlington Northern tracks. Traffic on its Pacific Extension increased substantially to more than four trains a day each way[23] as it began interchanging cars with Southern Pacific at Portland, Oregon and Canadian railroads at Sumas, Washington.[24] The railroad's foothold on transcontinental traffic leaving the Port of Seattle increased such that the Milwaukee Road held a staggering advantage over BN, carrying nearly 80% of the originating traffic along with 50% of the total container traffic leaving the Puget Sound (prior to severe service declines after roughly 1974).[citation needed]
In 1970, the president of Chicago and North Western offered to sell the railroad to the Milwaukee Road outright. President William John Quinn refused,[25] stating that it now believed only a merger with a larger system, not a slightly smaller one, could save the railroad. Almost immediately, the railroad filed unsuccessfully with the ICC to be included in the Union Pacific merger with the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad.
By the mid-1970s, deferred maintenance on Milwaukee Road's physical plant, which had been increasing throughout the 1960s as it attempted to improve its financial appearance for merger, was beginning to cause problems. The railroad's financial problems were exacerbated by their practice of improving its earnings during that period by selling off its wholly owned cars to financial institutions and leasing them back. The lease charges became greater, and more cars needed to be sold to pay the lease payments. The railroad's fleet of cars was becoming older because more money was being spent on finance payments for the old cars rather than buying new ones. This contributed to car shortages that turned away business.
The Milwaukee Road chose at this time to end its mainline electrification. Its electric locomotive fleet was reaching the end of its service life, and newer diesel locomotives such as the EMD SD40-2 and the GE Universal Series were more than capable of handling the route. The final electric freight arrived at Deer Lodge, Montana on June 15, 1974.[26][27]
In 1976, the Milwaukee Road exercised its right under the Burlington Northern merger to petition for inclusion based on its weak financial condition. The ICC denied it on March 2, 1977.[28][29]
Final bankruptcy
An aging The Milwaukee Road logo on a trestle, still in use near Rosalia, Washington, on the John Wayne Trail.Between 1974 and 1977, the Milwaukee Road lost $100 million, and the company filed for its third bankruptcy on December 19, 1977.[30] Judge Thomas R. McMillen presided over the bankruptcy until the Milwaukee Road's sale in 1985. The railroad's primary problem was that it possessed too much physical plant for the revenue it generated. In 1977, it owned 10,074 miles (16,213 km) of track, and 36% of that mileage produced a mere 14% of the company's yearly revenue.[31] The approach taken by the bankruptcy trustees was to sell or abandon unprofitable or marginally profitable lines, leaving a much smaller railroad which could be profitable. Outright liquidation was considered, but not pursued.[32]
Between 1977 and 1984, route distance was reduced to a quarter from its peak and a third from its total in 1977, shrinking to 3,023 miles (4,865 km).[6] The most extensive abandonment eliminated the Milwaukee Road's transcontinental service to the West Coast. While the Burlington Northern merger generated more traffic on this route, it was only enough to wear out the deteriorating track, not enough to pay for rebuilding. This forced trains to slow at many locations due to bad track.[33] A final attempt to devise a plan to rehabilitate the Pacific Extension under the Milwaukee Road Restructuring Act failed. Operations ended west of Miles City, Montana on February 29, 1980.[34]
The new, smaller railroad began earning small profits in 1982.[35] Still in reorganization, the Milwaukee Road attracted interest from three potential buyers: the Grand Trunk Corporation, the Chicago and North Western Railway, and the Soo Line Railroad. The Interstate Commerce Commission approved the offers by both Soo Line and C&NW. Judge McMillen approved Soo Line's offer on February 19, 1985. It reorganized the property as The Milwaukee Road, Inc., prior to merging it into the company effective January 1, 1986.[36]
The successor-in-interest to what remained of the Milwaukee Road after the Soo Line sale was its holding company, the Chicago Milwaukee Corporation (CMC).[37] This Corporation's primary function was to dispose of Milwaukee Road rolling stock and real estate not sold to the Soo Line, primarily former urban rail yard locations in cities such as Milwaukee and Minneapolis. These properties were developed into big-box retail[38] or industrial sites. The CMC itself was beset with legal and financial woes, filing for bankruptcy (under its new name CMC Heartland Partners) as a result of environmental cleanup costs and liabilities at former Milwaukee Road sites.[39]
Much of the abandoned rail line has become rail trails. The John Wayne Pioneer Trail in Washington, Milwaukee Road Rail Trail in Idaho, Route of the Hiawatha in Montana and Idaho, Route of the Olympian in Montana, Midtown Greenway in Minnesota, Bugline Trail in Wisconsin, and Milwaukee Road Transportation Trailway in Indiana all run on sections of the right-of-way among others. Today, both the Milwaukee Road and Soo Line Railroad trackage make up the historically logical route of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Passenger train service
Stylized 1939 advertisement featuring a streamlined 4-6-4 class F7 steam locomotive.
Skytop car Priest Rapids, #189, in the Union Pacific paint scheme.The Milwaukee Road aggressively marketed passenger service through much of its history, maintaining a high quality of service until the end of private intercity passenger operations in 1971. The Milwaukee prided itself on its passenger operations, providing the nation with some of its most innovative and colorful trains. The railroad's home-built equipment was among some of the best passenger equipment ever run on any American railroad. The Milwaukee's reputation for high quality service was the principal reason that Union Pacific shifted its service to the Milwaukee Road for its "City" streamliners in 1955.
The Milwaukee Road's Pioneer Limited was one of the first named trains and its colorful Hiawatha trains were among the nation's finest streamliners. The post-World War II Hiawatha trains remain a high-water mark for passenger train industrial design.
Starting in November 1955, the Milwaukee Road assumed joint operation of the Union Pacific's City of Los Angeles, City of Portland, City of Denver, and Challenger trains as well as the UP/Southern Pacific City of San Francisco. After assuming operation of the UP's services, the Milwaukee Road gradually dropped its orange and maroon paint scheme in favor of UP's Armour yellow, grey, and red, finding the latter easier to keep clean.
The Milwaukee Road's streamlined passenger services were unique in that most of its equipment was built by the railroad at its Milwaukee Menomonee Valley shops, including the four generations of Hiawatha equipment introduced in 1933–34, 1935, 1937–38, and 1947-48. Most striking were the "Beaver Tail" observation cars of the 1930s and the "Skytop Lounge" observation cars by industrial designer Brooks Stevens in the 1940s. Extended "Skytop Lounge" cars were also ordered from Pullman for Olympian Hiawatha service in 1951. The Olympian Hiawatha set, as well as some full-length "Super Domes" were later sold to the Canadian National Railway.A "Student Special", led by an EMD E9A at the Madison depot in May 1967. To the left is the Varsity.Regional passenger trains that the Milwaukee Road operated from Chicago up to Amtrak's assumption of passenger operations in 1971 included the Twin Cities Hiawatha serving Minneapolis, the Sioux serving Madison, Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Express serving Milwaukee, and the Varsity serving Madison.[40] Amtrak still operates the Hiawatha Service along the Milwaukee Road's former Chicago-Milwaukee route.
For years, the Milwaukee Road also operated an extensive commuter rail service in the Chicago area. One branch served the northern suburbs and extended into the outer suburbs of Milwaukee, one another branch served the western suburbs. These services passed to the Regional Transportation Authority in 1982 after the Milwaukee Road's bankruptcy. They are still operated today by Metra, Chicago's commuter rail agency, as the Milwaukee District / North Line and Milwaukee District / West Line.
vteNamed trains of the Milwaukee RoadIn popular cultureThe 1930 film Danger Lights was filmed in the Milwaukee Road's yard and shop at Miles City, Montana and on the main line.The 1935 Three Stooges short feature "Movie Maniacs" opens with the Stooges riding as hobos in a "C.M.& St.P.R.R." boxcar.The Wausau, Wisconsin depot was used as the logo of Employers Insurance of Wausau (now part of Liberty Mutual). The logo itself was a combination of the downtown depot, with a backdrop of the community's skyline.On August 26, 1999, the United States Postal Service issued the 33-cent All Aboard! 20th Century American Trains commemorative stamps featuring five celebrated American passenger trains from the 1930s and 1940s. One of the five stamps featured an image of the Hiawatha, known as "Fastest Train in America", as it traveled over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h).In the closing pages of The Great Gatsby, fictional narrator Nick Carraway recalls "coming back west from prep school and later from college at Christmas time." He describes riding the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul from Chicago to his unnamed hometown. The hometown of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the novel's author, was St. Paul.In the opening scene of Discovery Channel's Harley and the Davidsons mini-series, C.M.P. forces a land purchase from future Harley-Davidson's Founder, Walter Davidson, under the pretense of Eminent Domain.
Milwaukee Road, Route of the HiawathasThe Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific (CMStP&P), better known as the Milwaukee Road, always went its own way. It headed west in 1909 and launched a unique streamliner, the Hiawatha, in 1935. The history of this company is quite complicated, filled with struggles and setbacks. As an independent it held no allegiances to others and was not influenced by moguls like Hill, Harriman, or Budd. Regardless, the CMStP&P blossomed into an impressive system that battled not only for the highly competitive Midwestern agricultural business but also lucrative Pacific Northwest transcontinental traffic. It enjoyed the longest, end-to-end network of any American railroad, stretching from Louisville, Kentucky to the Puget Sound. Perhaps Milwaukee Road's most glaring issue was a perpetual lack of leadership, which only became magnified in later years. In the end, its ultimate fate is a disheartening story of letdown and disinterest.
During the 1970's, upper management made a series of dumbfounding decisions (such as turning away new business, refusing to carry out much-needed capital improvements, opting against overhauling/upgrading its electrification, and maintaining its transcontinental status) that culminated in the railroad's bankruptcy. Today, what's left of the Milwaukee Road is cut up among different railroads and the best engineered route through the rugged Rockies and Cascades is but weeds and trails, a vital transportation artery no longer available to shippers and the American economy. Milwaukee Road's eastbound "Olympian Hiawatha" exits Fish Creek Tunnel deep within western Montana's breathtaking backcountry on May 27, 1953. Alas, nothing remains here today aside from an empty path. Sandy Goodrick photo.3SaveA scholarly study detailing the Milwaukee Road's complete story, particularly its last 35 years, has never been published although is desperately needed. It would not only provide for fascinating reading but also answer many more questions about its untimely end. In all respects, the Milwaukee should have been a historically strong carrier; it's nearly 11,000-mile network served every major Midwestern market directly, except St. Louis. In addition, its superbly engineered western extension was shorter than rivals Great Northern and Northern Pacific. Even as long-haul freight tonnage grew exponentially in the post-World War II era the Milwaukee's traffic density lagged behind GN, NP, and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. In his book, "The Milwaukee Road," author Tom Murray perhaps put it best: "Today, many followers of the Milwaukee continue to ask why those responsible for the company - its management, its shareholders and creditors, its bankruptcy trustees, its regulators, and the court responsible for overseeing the company in its final years - made the decisions they did, and whether the Milwaukee might have been able to survive in some form if different decisions had been made.Those are important questions, and they deserve the best answers that serious scholarship can provide..."
Related Reading
Classic American Railroads
"Eagle Nest," Engineering Marvel
Snoqualmie Pass
Vendome Pass
St. Paul Pass
"Little Joes"
The Pacific Extension
"Bi-Polars"Not only was the railroad famous for its electrification but also its fleet of Hiawatha trains, especially those serving the Heartland. According to Jim Scribbins' book, "The Hiawatha Story," the original trainset entered service on May 29, 1935 and was greeted by throngs of trackside patrons during its maiden run. Not surprisingly, it was an immediate success carrying 16,564 passengers during its first six weeks and was regularly sold out. The original version was powered by a small fleet of speedy 4-4-2's (Class A), manufactured by American Locomotive, while later more powerful 4-6-4's (Class F-7) were needed to handle the heavier equipment. Both types could regularly reach speeds above 100 mph as they raced across the Midwest along track virtually as straight as an arrow. The railroad's "Reduce To 90" trackside signs remain legendary to this day. As traffic slid away in the postwar years, the Milwaukee was happy to pay the entry fee into Amtrak, the national carrier that took over most intercity services on May 1, 1971.
Afternoon Hiawatha: (Chicago - Milwaukee - Twin Cities)
Arrow: (Chicago - Omaha/Sioux Falls)
Chippewa-Hiawatha: (Chicago - Channing, Michigan)
Copper Country Limited: (Chicago - Green Bay - Calumet, Michigan)
Midwest Hiawatha: (Chicago - Omaha/Sioux Falls)
Morning Hiawatha: (Chicago - Milwaukee - Twin Cities)
North Woods Hiawatha: (New Lisbon, Wisconsin - Woodruff/Star Lake, Wisconsin)
Olympian: (Chicago - Twin Cities - Seattle/Tacoma)
Olympian Hiawatha (Replaced The Olympian): (Chicago - Twin Cities - Seattle/Tacoma)
Pioneer Limited: (Chicago - Milwaukee - Twin Cities)
Sioux: (Chicago - Madison - Rapid City, South Dakota)
Southwest Limited: (Chicago/Milwaukee - Kansas City)
Tomahawk: (Chicago - Minocqua, Wisconsin)
Twin Cities Hiawatha: (Chicago - Milwaukee - Twin Cities)
Varsity/Marquette: (Chicago - Madison, Wisconsin - Mason City, Iowa)
This article also cannot bring closure to such fascinating questions but it is hoped the information will shed some light on the Milwaukee's plight, particularly its last ten years as a transcontinental carrier. For many, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific remains their all-time favorite railroad. This statement is supported by authors and historians, such as Doug Harrop. In his article, "The Milwaukee Road's Lines West" (co-authored by Ed Lynch) from the July/August/September, 2009 edition of The Railroad Press (Issue #82), Harrop notes: "In July 1979 I picked up a good friend, the late John Bjorklund at the Salt Lake City airport and we started a long drive north.We were just two rail nuts heading out to shoot some trains. But not just any trains. We would be immersing ourselves in the Milwaukee Road's Lines West. Was this a big deal? It was to us. Back then, just about any railfan you talked to would list the Milwaukee Road as their first, second, or third favorite railroad regardless where they lived. That included John and I." For train enthusiasts, the Milwaukee truly did have it all; electrified operations (until 1974), time freights, ore service in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Chicago commuter operations, logging in Idaho, a fleet of glamorous streamliners, and an eclectic locomotive fleet.
A pair of Milwaukee Road "Joes" hustle eastbound time freight #264 (Seattle - Chicago) past boxcab E-45 waiting in the hole at Dawson, Montana (west of Butte) on November 10, 1964. Tom Gildersleeve photo.3SaveGenesis Of The Milwaukee RoadLike other fabled grangers, the Milwaukee Road carried humble beginnings during a time when the iron horse was just making its debut west of Chicago. Its earliest corporate predecessor was the Milwaukee & Waukesha Railroad, chartered in 1847 for the purpose of connecting its namesake towns with the Mississippi River. More than 10 years would pass, however, before it became a reality. According to the book, "Milwaukee Road West" by authors Charles and Dorothy Wood, after the "Territory of Wiskonsan" was established in 1836, a committee met on September 17th that year to incorporate a railroad for the purpose of serving Milwaukee, the region's one noteworthy settlement. Fighting among various business leaders and politicians regarding exactly what type of transportation entity would be built delayed progress; many opted for a railroad, some wanted a canal, and others a plank road. The latter initiatives did gain some traction, and the canal (incorporated as the Milwaukee & Rock River Canal Company in January, 1838) was even awarded 500,000 acres in land grants by Congress. However, as railroads grew in popularity the other proposals faded and never advanced beyond the planning stages.On May 19, 1849 the Milwaukee & Waukesha was formally organized but just a year later saw its name changed to the Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad (M&M), carrying an authorized capital of $100,000. The Mayor of Milwaukee, Byron Kilbourn, was elected M&M's first president and on September 12, 1850 construction got underway in Milwaukee. In his book, "Milwaukee Road Remembered," company historian Jim Scribbins points out the initial 5 miles to Wauwatosa was completed quickly with the final rails spiked down on November 20th.Afterwards, the company hosted an impromptu excursion over this new trackage, pulled by the M&M's only locomotive, 4-4-0 #1, named the Bob Ellis (an 1848 product of Philadelphia's Norris Locomotive Works). As work progressed westward, rails reached Waukesha (20 miles) on February 25, 1851. Another gala was held to mark this event although the railroad was soon faced with a significant financial hurdle. While promoters were eager to reach the Mississippi River the M&M's earnings proved inadequate to cover the interest on its debt. The company was faced with certain bankruptcy but managed to avoid receivership by settling with bondholders in the amount of $14,518.
Milwaukee Road E9A #30-C rolls past the depot at Pewaukee, Wisconsin with train #5, the westbound "Morning Hiawatha" (Chicago - Twin Cities), during December, 1964. Roger Puta photo.3SaveDemise Of The Milwaukee RoadFor further reading on the collapse of the Milwaukee in the 1970s the web resources below are quite interesting and very informative. Of particular note is an essay by Michael Sol detailing his experiences as part of an engineering team assessing the viability of the railroad's electrified lines:
Milwaukee Road In The 70's: What Really Happened?
Case Study: The End Of The Milwaukee Electrification, By Michael Sol
The Demise Of The Milwaukee Road, A Timeline, By Michael Sol
Thesis - This Train's Got The Disappearin' Blues: A Study Of The Milwaukee Road, By Sara Levitan
The Milwaukee Road Archives, A Database Of Historic Records
After sidestepping this calamity, the M&M found the necessary capital to reach Madison by 1854, via a roundabout line that it took southwesterly into White Water before turning north and passing through Stoughton; three years later, the M&M arrived at Prairie du Chien (April 15, 1857), thus completing its original promoters' ambitions. Unfortunately, the euphoria of this event was short-lived. Due to ongoing economic woes brought about by 1857's financial panic, the M&M entered receivership in 1860. A year later it was sold at foreclosure to New York interests and reorganized as the Milwaukee & Prairie du Chien Railway (M&PdC) in January of 1861. It was then that Andrew Mitchell, Milwaukee's leading banker, entered the picture. Looking to enter the railroad business he organized the Milwaukee & St. Paul (M&StP) on May 5, 1863; what followed was a series of complicated corporate maneuverings that saw Mitchell acquire the M&PdC, along with what was formerly known as the La Crosse & Milwaukee, by 1867. After also adding the McGregor Western Railroad the new M&StP boasted an 800-mile network connecting the following points: Milwaukee - Madison - Prairie du Chien - Minneapolis and Milwaukee - Portage - La Crosse.Milwaukee Road "Little Joe" #E21 sits along the western end of the railroad's electrified Rocky Mountain Division in Avery, Idaho during August of 1971 as it readies to depart with an eastbound manifest. Drew Jacksich photo.3SavePiecing Together An EmpireThroughout the 1870's the M&StP rapidly expanded, thanks in part to the financial Panic of 1873 which saw numerous railroads in bankruptcy; during 1872 it picked up the St. Paul & Chicago, which skirted the Mississippi River's western bank into the Twin Cities and a year later the M&StP reached Chicago. Fast becoming a dominant Midwestern carrier, during February of 1874 its name was changed to the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway (CM&StP). It would retain this title for more than a half-century. By 1876 it operated more than 1,400 miles and owned five grain elevators in Milwaukee, which could handle 3 million bushels of wheat. As the CM&StP continued to grow it reached Iowa, the Dakota Territories, and additional points in Minnesota and Wisconsin. By 1880 its network totaled 3,894 miles. Its next major development was an extension due west of Chicago towards the transcontinental gateway of Omaha, Nebraska. In 1879 it picked up the Westrn Uion Railroad between Racine, Wisconsin and Savanna, Illinois then added the Chicago & Pacific in 1880 running due west of the Windy City. The 1880's witnessed further expansion as it sought major markets not already reached; in 1882 it arrived in Council Bluffs (in 1890 trackage rights over Union Pacific provided access into Omaha Union Station), gained access to Fargo in 1884, and achieved a Kansas City connection by 1887.
An official, 1966 system map of the Milwaukee Road. Author's collection.3SaveConsidered by many as the Milwaukee Road's greatest leader, Andrew Mitchell passed away on April 19, 1887. His efforts had established one of the region's most prominent railroads with a network of 5,670 miles by year's end. Its only notable rivals included the Chicago & North Western; Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (Rock Island); and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. In 1890 the CM&StP boasted gross revenues of $26.4 million and spent that decade using its strong earnings power to upgrade/modernize its property. In September it picked up the Milwaukee & Northern Railroad which further diversified its traffic base by serving the iron ore industry of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As the 19th century came to a close, CM&StP officials began to wonder how well their railroad could compete among a crowded web of carriers serving America's breadbasket.Legendary tycoon James J. Hill, the "Empire Builder," had asked this very same question in the late 1880's. His St. Paul, Minnesota & Manitoba Railway (predecessor of the Great Northern) was then serving Montana but he recognized that to truly stand out, its long-term financial prospects required reaching the Pacific. Those at the Milwaukee Road would come to the same conclusion nearly two decades later. After turning down Hill's proposal to purchase their property (Doing so would have provided his GN a direct Chicago routing. He went on to acquire the CB&Q for this purpose.), new president Albert J. Earling (1899) pushed for the west coast option.Milwaukee Road RS3 #463 is stopped at Wausau, Wisconsin with train #202, the remnants of what was the "North Woods Hiawatha," in July, 1967 Despite the weed-covered tracks seen here this line remains in service today. Roger Puta photo.3SaveThe Tilted Logo And "The Milwaukee Road"
3SaveThe Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific's unique tilted logo and "Milwaukee Road" nickname can be traced back to the Andrew Mitchell era although it was not formally adopted until the 20th century. According to the Woods' book, the emblem first appeared in 1880 and remained in use throughout the railroad's corporate life. It is believed the name "Milwaukee" originally described the Milwaukee & Mississippi while "La Crosse" referred to the La Crosse & Milwaukee. With the Milwaukee & St. Paul's formation that railroad became known as the "St. Paul." In the succeeding years, "Milwaukee" and "St. Paul" were used interchangeably to describe the company although the latter was typically preferred by Wall Street. When the railroad was reorganized as the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific in 1928, "The Milwaukee Road" made its first appearance on timetables and other materials at that time. Nearly three decades later, in 1953, this title formally replaced "Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific" within the company's official tilted logo.
Going West...The company's board of directors approved the plan on November 28, 1905 and a financially healthy CM&StP went west, at a projected cost of $60 million. After all the needed right-of-way was acquired (privately purchased without the aid of land grants), construction began from Mobridge, South Dakota, a tiny hamlet that sat along the Missouri River's eastern bank. With crews working rapidly from multiple directions the entire Pacific Coast Extension was finished in a mere three years with the formal "Last Spike" ceremony held at Garrison, Montana on May 19, 1909.Instead of reaching Seattle, however, the CM&StP chose nearby Tacoma as its primary Puget Sound terminal. The company did so for a number of reasons but most importantly due to its rich timber business (the city was dubbed the "Lumber Capital of America") and NP/GN's long-established foothold on the Seattle waterfront. At Tacoma, the Milwaukee constructed yard, maintenance, docks, and terminal facilities in the tide flats, which remained in use until the Extension's 1980 abandonment. Only later did it reach the Emerald City over trackage rights from the main line at Black River Junction (Renton) and join Union Pacific at its downtown Union Station.An interesting mix of Milwaukee Road power, led by FP7 #62-A (apparently requisitioned from passenger service), depart the weed-covered tracks in Calmar, Iowa with a mixed freight on August 13, 1967. Roger Puta photo.3SaveThe Milwaukee's western extension was an impressive feat of engineering; it crossed five mountain ranges (from east to west these included the Belts, Rockies, Bitter Roots, Saddles, and Cascades), featured 45 tunnels, and avoided population centers for a more direct route to the coast (this decision, coupled with Union Pacific's, Great Northern's, and Northern Pacific's own protective measures did hurt freight tonnage for many years). Much of the route required new construction although there was a component in western Montana purchased outright. The Montana Midland Railroad had originally been organized by Richard A. Harlow in 1893 to handle low-grade ore from the Castle Mountains to a Northern Pacific connection at the junction of Lombard (named for his chief engineer, Arthur B. Lombard). At first, his project failed to secure the needed capital and was reorganized as the Montana Railroad in 1895. After locating new sources of capital, the first section from Lombard to Merino (later renamed Harlowton) opened in 1900. In 1903 it was extended above Harlowton to Lewiston. Unfortunately, the company's traffic never materialized as expected and it was soon experiencing considerable financial problems, resulting in CM&StP's takeover by 1910. Much of the right-of-way had to be upgraded to meet main line standards but it nevertheless provided the railroad with over 100 miles of completed right-of-way.Milwaukee Road U28B #6005 and a trio of Electro-Motive units lead a short freight through the busy interlocking at Rondout, Illinois on June 14, 1968. David Hawkins collection.3SaveIn spite of traffic difficulties, CM&StP officials did accomplish their goal of establishing the shortest and best engineered route from Chicago to Seattle. Murray's book points out that Milwaukee's transcontinental corridor was 130 miles shorter than the combined Burlington's/Northern Pacific's route and 22 miles shorter than Burlington's/Great Northern's. Freight service began on July 4, 1909 (local passenger service commenced on July 10, 1910 while the long-distance Olympian and Columbian were launched on May 28, 1911) although it was not until the Pacific Extension's longest tunnel opened did the line truly shine. Snoqualmie Pass sat within the heart of the Cascades and necessitated a tunnel to achieve the desired grades. The bore, 11,890 feet in length (2.25 miles), required two years of work and was finally opened in January of 1915 (it was built with two western portals for a potential double-tracking project never carried out). Overall, the ruling grade between Cedar Falls and Rockdale, to the tunnel's western portal was 1.7%, while the tunnel itself was level inside. From Cle Elum to Hyak, at the eastern portal, the grade was even easier at just 0.7% (before its completion grades were 2.2% up the mountain's eastern slope and 2.75% along its western slope). To compare this crossing with the Great Northern's and Northern Pacific's please click here.
Ambassador to the Milwaukee Road's memory is 4-8-4 #261, which is preserved and operational, owned by the "Friends Of The 261." It is seen here near Askov, Minnesota on May 12, 2013. Drew Jacksich photo.3SaveAlas, for all the Pacific Extension's accolades it had far exceeded cost estimates, requiring $234 million to complete. In an effort to immediately put freight on the rails, many miles of secondary lines were purchased or built through the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Once opened, Milwaukee's so-called "Lines West" added 2,159 miles to its network; by 1917 it boasted a system of 10,257 miles. But that wasn't all. In an even bolder step, officials made the unprecedented decision to electrify key portions through the Rockies and Cascades. It was the most extensive mountainous electrification ever carried out in the United States. During March of 1914 the CM&StP formed the Electrification Department and subsequently began energizing two sections of its main line; one from Harlowton, Montana to Avery, Idaho (440 miles) and the other between Othello, Washington and Seattle/Tacoma (216 miles). Power was supplied by hydroelectric dams operated by Montana Power; on the Rocky Mountain Division (Harlowton - Avery) these were located along the Missouri River while a plant at Thompson Falls, on the Columbia River's Clark Fork, energized the Coast Division (Othello - Seattle/Tacoma). The railroad ran hundreds of miles of 100,000 volt, alternating-current (AC) power lines to connect 14 substations on the Rocky Mountain Division and another 13 on the Coast Division.This AC power was subsequently stepped down by the substations to 3,000-volt, direct-current (DC) for the locomotives.The Milwaukee Road's final years in the west...SD40-2 #143 leads a consist southbound over the Burlington Northern north of Castle Rock, Washington on an October day in 1978. Roger Puta photo.3SaveThe company wasted no time finishing this project; the Rocky Mountain Division was ready for service in early 1917 while the Coast Division was finished in November, 1919 (wires were later strung over the 9 miles from Black River Junction/Renton into Seattle Union Station during July of 1927). As the Woods' book notes the railroad had planned to finish the gap between Avery and Othello. However, due to the traffic split at Plummer Junction (Passenger consists serving Spokane did so over a line that opened in 1914, which partially utilized Union Pacific trackage rights to reach that city while freight trains, ran the original route through Tekoa, Malden, and Marengo.), the section's easier grades, and a downturn in the economy shelved this proposal. The decision to electrify cost the Milwaukee an additional $23 million ($15 million for the Rocky Mountain Division and $9 million on the Coast Division) resulting in an unsatisfactory financial situation as debt ballooned to $490 million. If officials had known the poor economy their railroad would be facing afterwards, coupled with the government's nationalization scheme, they may have opted against going west entirely.
Milwaukee Road F3A #86-A and other covered wagons cross County Road KE, east of Hartland, Wisconsin with their train in December, 1964. Roger Puta photo.3SaveThe Milwaukee ShopsOne of the great shop complexes was Milwaukee Road's facilities in its home city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They were situated near the Menomonee River, somewhat southwest of of the city's downtown area. As historian Mike Schafer notes in his book, "Classic American Railroads," the facility manufactured fleets of high-quality cars and locomotives dating back to the railroad's earliest years. They gained national acclaim by constructing lightweight, streamlined cars for the flamboyant Hiawathas only a year after Union Pacific and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy unveiled the streamliner concept. In addition, their freight cars, including cabooses, carried a trademark ribbed siding for increased strength. The Milwaukee Shops saved the company millions by manufacturing in-house what would have otherwise required purchasing through a commercial builder. Today, some of this equipment can still be found preserved in museums across the country.
Milwaukee Road "Little Joes" E-74 and E-70, along with a GP9, have time freight #264 near Bonita, Montana during June of 1964. The Northern Pacific's main line can be seen in the background. Ron Nixon photo/Museum of the Rockies (Montana State University) collection.3SaveThe directive was ordered by President Woodrow Wilson in response to fears of gridlock during World War I. It was made effective at noon on December 28, 1917 when the United States Railroad Administration took control of the railroads. Unfortunately, the government did no better at maintaining fluid operations than the private sector; during this time equipment was rundown and infrastructure inadequately maintained to meet the crushing demand. Despite Milwaukee's electrification bringing an estimated net savings of $12.4 million through 1924, Uncle Sam's control was particularly hard on the company as its operating ratio skyrocketed from around 75.4% (directly after "Lines West" opened) to 98% by 1920. (To read much more about the building of the Pacific Extension please find a copy of the Woods' book, "Milwaukee Road West.") It was finally returned to private ownership on February 28, 1920 following passage of the Transportation Act. In spite of the company's grim financial outlook, it did make two final acquisitions during the 1920's by picking up the 373-mile Chicago, Terre Haute & Southeastern in June, 1921 (leased) and Chicago, Milwaukee & Gary in January, 1923. The former served coal mines through southern Indiana to supply its steam locomotives (It later reached the gateway of Louisville on this corridor thanks to trackage rights over the Louisville & Nashville [1973] as a stipulation of L&N's 1971 acquisition of the Monon.) while the latter acted as a Chicago belt line.
Milwaukee Road boxcab set E-47 leads its freight through East Kittitas, Washington under the wires of the electrified "Coast Division" on November 5, 1964. Photographer unknown.3SaveThe Final YearsBankruptcy finally came to the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul on March 18, 1925 but it was relatively short-lived. The corporation was reorganized as the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (CMStP&P), which took control on January 13, 1928. At this time the Milwaukee Road boasted a network of 11,252 miles. Storm clouds were on the horizon again, though, as the stock market crash in October of 1929. With traffic in the gutter the CMStP&P entered bankruptcy again on June 29, 1935. It spent ten years mired in reorganization and finally exited receivership once more on February 23, 1945. With World War II's traffic resurgence and a well-positioned transcontinental route, the Milwaukee spent the postwar years modernizing its network. It laid heavier rail, upgraded freight yards/terminals, and became a fully dieselized/electrified by 1957.For all of this success the railroad simply could not outflank its competition. As Mr. Murray's book notes, its freight revenue density (tonnage divided by total system mileage) was 1.59 million compared to the Burlington's 2.41 million, Great Northern's 2.34 million, and Northern Pacific's 2.12 million. In addition, its income, excluding fixed charges, was around 1.46 times its financial commitments; this number was quite poor in comparison to the Great Northern (4.22), Burlington (3.24), and Northern Pacific (3.03).In spite of this, Lines West were a bright spot and the Milwaukee soon dominated the Puget Sound market. In 1963 it added time freights #261 (XL Special) and #262 (Thunderhawk) to the schedule. Its major issue was the web of unprofitable branch lines in the Midwest, a region terribly overpopulated with railroads. The Pacific Extension's value further increased following Burlington Northern's formation, created when Great Northern, Northern Pacific; Spokane, Portland & Seattle; and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy became a singular, unified system on March 2, 1970. That year the Milwaukee Road posted a net loss of $8.9 million but the BN merger opened eleven new western gateways, including trackage rights into Portland. The latter provided a key connection to the Southern Pacific, which sent a flood of new business through this interchange. Despite enjoying net earnings in 1973 and 1974 of $12.8 million and $11.4 million, respectively, for reasons unknown Milwaukee Road's upper management refused to spend the necessary capital to meet the growing demand. It was estimated the cost to do so was between $120 and $140 million (ironically, between 1978 and 1983 the company stated it spent $600 million on other infrastructure improvements).Milwaukee Road SD40-2 #20 is southbound through Jasonville, Indiana with its train on July 26, 1980. Before its abandonment of Lines West the Milwaukee boasted the longest end-to-end system stretching from Louisville, Kentucky to Seattle. Doug Kroll photo.3SaveAs officials continued to make increasingly bizarre decisions (Such as announcing the electrification's indefinite discontinuance in 1973, just as the oil embargo hit the nation; electrics had stopped running the Coast Division in 1971 while the Rocky Mountain Division was de-energized in June, 1974.) their Pacific Northwest corridor continued earning a healthy profit. But with an unwillingness to spend the necessary funds to meet service demands and a concentrated effort on deferring maintenance, the company's fate was sealed. The Milwaukee Road filed for bankruptcy on December 19, 1977 and, in an even stranger twist, management somehow determinedLines West was the cause of their profitability issues. Despite pleas to retain the corridor, including a proposal by employees to purchase the railroad (a similar tactic was carried out successfully at Chicago & North Western that decade), on March 15, 1980 the final eastbound freight train departed Tacoma. With that, the Milwaukee Road left the west coast. Through the 1980's, scrappers tore up roughly 1,100 miles of track west of Miles City, Montana. The results of this and other eastern abandonment efforts worked, to some degree, in cutting costs and regaining profitability. However, a much smaller Milwaukee Road became a prime merger target and in 1985 the Soo Line acquired the company.
In truth the new "Milwaukee Road II" was never as profitable as management claimed. Former employees and others officials have long stood by their testimony that some at Burlington Northern knew beforehand the CMStP&P would file for bankruptcy. While it has often been claimed that BN took part in some kind of conspiracy and sabotage the evidence of such remains ambiguous; all signs of its collapse point to mere ineptness, top brass simply wasn't interested in operating a railroad and there are several fascinating facts to back up this assertion. First, when BN was created the eleven new gateways previously-mentioned offered a blitzkrieg of new traffic opportunities management utterly refused to handle. In spite of this attitude, the railroad's profits still rose immediately following the merger. For instance, it essentially controlled the Port of Seattle, commanding nearly 80% of its originating traffic and roughly 50% of the total container traffic departing the Pacific Northwest. In other words, the Milwaukee Road was dominating freight volume between Chicago and Seattle. So, why would a railroad so thoroughly controlling traffic out of the Puget Sound bow out? The answer to this question remains elusive."Summer" in Michigan's Upper Peninsula is a relative term while winters can be down right brutal... Here, Milwaukee Road FP7's wait to leave Soo Line's depot in Calumet with train #2, the southbound "Copper Country Limited" (Calumet - Green Bay - Chicago), on a bitterly cold January 7, 1967. Roger Puta photo.3SaveAnother interesting revelation occurred after the route's abandonment; when ICC accountants reviewed Milwaukee's books they found expenses had inexplicably been double-entered for Lines West. Needless to say it was a dumbfounding disclosure; after obtaining correct figures the ICC learned that, even with the electrification's shutdown and years of deferred maintenance, it had still earned a profit! Finally, there was the story of top management attempting to sell the railroad to Burlington Northern; noted Milwaukee Road historian, Rob Leachman, states that this account came directly from a BN executive at the time, Bob Downing.If true, it would explain why the railroad was left for dead during 1970's. Around 1972, then-Milwaukee Road chairman Bill Quinn was working hard to carry out the proposed deal. During one inspection trip over Lines West, Quinn is said to have secretly offered the property to BN for absolutely nothing except its outstanding debt! No one, not even the vice-president or other top officers, ever knew about this scheme. BN was very intrigued and initially agreed but with the stipulation that the Milwaukee Road was to make no major capital investments or improvements until the acquisition.
In this spectacular scene, Milwaukee Road "Little Joe" E-20 leads its train across Turkey Creek Trestle east of Avery, Idaho during September of 1970. Keith Ardinger photo/Michael Sol Collection, University of Montana Archives.3SaveQuinn then took the proposal to the Chicago-Milwaukee Corporation board (the holding company which owned the railroad). Since they wanted nothing more then to rid themselves of the cyclical business they were very pleased with the offer. However, one member apparently objected on the condition that the Milwaukee Land Company, which owned vast timber property in the Rocky Mountains, was too valuable to be given away for nothing. With a price tag set at $50 million BN objected, claiming it was not worth the asking price. The railroad subsequently walked away from the entire offer (interestingly the Milwaukee would later sell its timber holdings for $125 million). These are just a few of the interesting events that took place as the company crumbled away in the 1970s. All the evidence suggests that Milwaukee Road's advantageous network, stretching from the Louisville gateway (where key interchanges would have been made with the Southern Railway and Louisville & Nashville), through Chicago, and to the Puget Sound offered an incredible opportunity never fully exploited. At the rate its management was making even the most common sense of mistakes it was simply a matter of time before the railroad fell apart.
Diesel Locomotive RosterAmerican Locomotive Company
Model Type Road Number Date Built QuantityDL-109 14A, 14B 1941 2RSC2 975-996 1946-1949 22RS1 961-963, 1676-1679 1941-1950 7HH-660 1600-1603 1939-1940 4S2 1657-1669, 1672-1679, 1850-1862 1940-1949 33HH-1000 1671 1939 1S4 1863-1896 1950-1954 34RSD5 2150-2155 1953 6RS3 2475-2495 1953-1955 21Baldwin Locomotive Works
Model Type Road Number Date Built QuantityRS12 970-971 1951-1952 2VO-660 1635 1940 1VO-1000 1682-1691, 1860-1861 1940-1945 12DS-4-4-1000 1692-1697, 1901-1904 1948-1949 10S12 1905-1925 1950-1954 21Electro-Motive Corporation/Electro-Motive Division
Model Type Road Number Date Built QuantityFP45 1-5 1968 5E6A 15A, 15B 1941 2E7A 16A-20A, 16B-20B 1946 10SD40-2 21-30, 171-209, 3000-3040 1972-1974 90E9A 36A-38A, 36C-38C, 200A-205A, 200C-205C 1956-1961 18FTA 35A-47A, 35D-47D 1941-1945 26F40C 40-54 1974 15FTB 35B-47B, 35C-47C 1941-1945 26F3A 80A-83A, 80D-83D 1949 8F3B 80B-83B, 80C-83C 1949 8F7A 48A-50A, 48C-50C, 68A-89A, 84D-85D, 68C-79C, 87C-89C, 106A-111A, 109C-111C, 113A-121A, 113C-121C 1949-1953 68F7B 48B-50B, 68B-79B, 84B-85B, 87B-105B, 109B-111B, 113B-121B, 84C-85C 1949-1953 48F9A 81C-86C, 81D-86D 1954-1955 12FP7 90A-105A, 90C-105C 1950-1952 32GP40 153-199, 180 (2nd), 2011, 2027, 2037, 2047-2071, 2055 (2nd) 1966-1969 72E9B 200B-205B 1956 6GP9 280-331, 2368-2443 1954-1959 128GP30 340-355 1963 16GP38-2 350-365 1973-1974 16GP35 360-371 1965 12MP15AC 434-497 1975-1976 64SDL39 581-590 1969 10SW1 1610-1634 1939-1941 25SW1200 1637-1642, 2020-2061 1954 48SW9 1643-1645 1951 3SW7 1646 1950 1NW2 1647-1654 1939-1947 8TR2 2000A-2000B (Cow-Calf) 1949 2TR4 2001A-2006A, 2001B-2006B (Cow-Calf) 1950-1951 12SD7 2200-2223 1952-1953 24SD9 2224-2237 1954 14SD45 4000-4009 1968 10Fairbanks Morse
Model Type Road Number Date Built QuantityErie-Built (A) 5A-14A, 11B-14B 1947 13Erie-Built (B) 5B-10B 1947 6CFA16-4 (C-Liner) 23A-28A, 23C-28C 1951 12CFB16-4 (C-Liner) 23B-28B 1951 6H10-44 1802-1825 1945-1950 24H12-44 1826-1847, 2300-2325 1950-1955 48H16-66 (Baby Train Master) 2125-2130 1954-1956 6H16-44 2450-2469, 2500-2516 1954-1956 37General Electric
Model Type Road Number Date Built QuantityU28B 130-135, 137-140, 380, 393-398 1966 17U25B 380-391 1965 12U23B 4800-4804 1973 5U30C 5651-5658 1974 8U36C 5800-5803 1972 4U30B 6005-6009 1968 5U33C 8000-8003 1968 4Steam Locomotive RosterClass Type Wheel ArrangementA Through A4 (Various) Atlantic 4-4-2B1 Through B4 Ten-Wheeler 4-6-0C1 Through C5-a (Various), NC1 Consolidation 2-8-0F1 Through F5 (Various) Pacific 4-6-2F6, F7 Hudson 4-6-4G3 Through G7-s (Various) Ten-Wheeler 4-6-0H3 Through H7-b (Various), NG American 4-4-0I2 Through I6 (Various) Switcher 0-6-0/TJ2, J3 Switcher 0-4-0/TK1, K1-as Prairie 2-6-2L2 Through L3 (Various) Mikado 2-8-2M2, NM1, NM2 Mogul 2-6-0N1/s, N2, N3 Articulated 2-6-6-2S1 Through S3 Northern 4-8-4X1 Shay 0-4-4-0T
All is quiet in Ingomar, Montana during August of 1980 after the once-mighty Milwaukee Road shut down its Pacific Extension earlier that year (March). The rails now await their fate. Alan Freed and Chuck Bothwell purchased a 1952 M-19 Fairmont Speeder (for $400) to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime trip over the abandoned corridor before its removal. Alan Freed photo.3SavePerhaps the saddest part of all is that with the Milwaukee Road's retrenchment, Burlington Northern enjoyed a monopoly on Chicago-Seattle traffic, a scenario which holds true to this day under BNSF Railway.With Soo Line's purchase in 1985, the book closed on one of the country’s most interesting and dynamic railroads. For more information about the railroad please click here to visit the Milwaukee Road Historical Association's website. Today, electrics no longer conquer St. Paul Pass on the Rocky Mountain Division or glide over Snoqualmie Pass along the Coast Division. The fabled Pacific Extension now stands silent except for the sounds of Mother Nature and the occasional hiker who can enjoy several rail/trails created following its abandonment. Likewise, the Midwest Hiawatha no longer paces across America’s Heartland. However, the Sprinting Indian logo lives on through the Milwaukee Road Historical Association and Amtrak continues to operate a passenger train named after the famous Native American. The abandonment of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific was arguably the most glaring to our national rail network; a perfectly viable transcontinental corridor torn up due to incompetence.

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