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Safety News Logo

Issued by the Chicago Great Western Railway Co.

Oelwein, Iowa

Volume 14
V. Allan Vaughn, Editor G.L. Vargason, Ass't Editor
June 30, 1968

Kansas City, Missouri


When the clock passes midnight on June 30th, a new era in transportation will begin as the Chicago Great Western Railway Company, through merger, combines its properties and operations with those of the Chicago and North Western Railway Company. The combined companies Will span a 12,000 mile network from Chicago to the Dakotas, and from St. Louis and Kansas City to the Canadian Gateway at Duluth-Superior.

The Great Western enters this merger not only with its rolling stock and properties, but with its people, the heart of any company. When I think of the Great Western family, I cannot find words to describe the teamwork which has always characterized our Company. No task too difficult, no problem left unsolved, the team spirit has always been "give us results."

Good will between a corporation and the members of its family is a valued and respected factor, and the Great Western brings to the merged company the immeasurable experience, skills, spirit of cooperation and determination of each of you.

I know that the sincere trust and ability you have shown me will receive equal appreciation from the officers and staff of the merged company.

E.T. Reidy signature


1854-Charter issued to Minnesota and North Western Railroad.

1884-First track begun between Lyle and St. Paul, Minnesota.

1885-Track completed between Lyle, Minnesota and Manly Junction, Iowa.

1886-Line opened from Hayfield, Minnesota to Dubuque, Iowa, including acquisition of Dubuque and North Western Railway. Chicago, St. Paul and Kansas City Railway acquired line of Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebrska Railway between Waterloo and Des Moines, Iowa.

1887-Minnesota and North Western purchased Dubuque and Dakota Railroad between Sumner and Hampton, Iowa. Line completed from Forest Park to South Freeport, Illinois. Waterloo to Oelwein line completed by Chicago, St. Paul and Kansas City Railway. Minnesota and North Western purchased by C. St. P. & K. C.

1888-Extension from South Freeport to Aiken, Illinois completed. Leavenworth and Platte County Bridge Company constructed pontoon bridge on the Missouri River at Leavenworth, Kansas.

1889-Des Moines, Iowa to St. Joseph, Missouri line opened to traffic.

1892-First Chicago Great Western Railway company incorporated in Illinois and acquired property of Chicago, St. Paul and Kansas City Railway.

1893-Operation commenced into Kansas City.

1895-De Kalb and Great Western Railway opens Sycamore to De Kalb, illinois line.

1896-Mantorville Railway and Transfer Company opens Eden, Minnesota to Mantorville, Minnesota line.

1899-Oelwein shops opened. Chicago Great Western began operating Red Wing to Mankato, Minnesota line of the Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pacific Railroad.

1901-Duluth, Red Wing and Southern Railway line between Red Wing and Zumbrota, Minnesota acquired by W. M. and P. RR. W. M. and P. RR acquired line of Winona and Western Railway between Winona, Minnesota and Osage, Iowa; also between Rochester and Simpson, Minnesota. Chicago Great Western commenced operation of Mason City and Fort Dodge Railroad through Fort Dodge, Coalville, and Lehigh from Mason City, Iowa.

1902-Clarion to Hampton, Iowa line completed; Hayfield to Manly Junction and Waverly to Hampton, Iowa lines acquired.

1903-Zumbrota to Rochester, Minnesota line completed. M. C. and Ft. D. RR authorized to build line from Fort Dodge to Sioux City, Iowa (line never built). Line completed between Fort Dodge and Council Bluffs, Iowa.

1904-Operation begun into Omaha, Nebraska. Oelwein to Waverly, Iowa line acquired by C.G.W. Ry. Co.

... And A Few Abandonments

1910-Line from Bellechester Junction to Bellechester, Minnesota.

1897-Valeria, Iowa to Skunk River Coal Mines.

1932-Lehigh Branch beyond Gypsum, Iowa. Altura and Rollingstone, Minnesota Utica and Planks Junction, Minnesota (except station tracks at Dover, St. Charles and Utica) Rollingstone and Gilmore, Minnesota. Gilmore and Winona, Minnesota.

1934-Eden to Mantorville, Minnesota

1937-Claybank, Minnesota spur.

1947-De Kalb line (operation continued via C&NW line)

1950-Bremer to Waverly, Iowa.

1952-Bellechester branch.

1963-Utica Junction to Altura, Minnesota.

1966-Red Wing to Pine Island, Minnesota.

1967-Mclntire to Osage, Iowa.


If you were born on or before January 16, 1892, you may claim a unique distinction-you will have outlived the name Chicago Great Western on July 1st.

As you read this shortened issue of the SAFETY NEWS, our last presentation, history has already begun to pen the first few pages of the merged company.

History teaches us that when a period of change occurs, such as that fleeting moment at one minute past midnight July 1st, we are seemingly between two epochs; the dying culture and familiar sights of yesterday and the coming challenge and unknown of tomorrow.

The darkness between the two has lifted and we are now in the light of that tomorrow-we have come face to face with the future and it is ours to record in the pages of time.

What then of yesterday and its sights and sounds, its memories and accomplishments? Are they gone, are they filed away with the records marked "CGW" and like the familiar emblem of black and orange, a part of history on which the ink is dry?

I think not. What do you remember?

Memory lane is a pleasant and comforting path, but one must not tread its maze too long - just enough to give depth and insight to the broad avenue of the future.

I remember many things, and many sights, and many people. Mr. Reidy spoke of the Great Western family in his letter-a hardy race of railroaders and dedicated to the task of moving freight and, in another era, people as well.

I remember the motive power which evolved the task of moving steel over steel-the mighty 2-10-4 Texas, the undisputed lord of the iron. The CGW is far from one of the largest railroads entering Chicago, the World's Railroad Center, but its 800s were never challenged as the biggest steam power operating in and out of Railroadtown.

I remember the first maroon and chocolate brown Diesels, at first a sheet metal monster along side the mighty 2-10-4. Progress being what it is and always will be, gave the steamer her deserved niche in railroad lore and crowned the Diesel king-and who knows, the King may yet fall to progress again.

I remember a 1500-mile hauler of meat and packing house products, a hauler of ore and ingots, a hauler of lumber and grain-the harvests of an abundant Mother Nature.

I remember stories of a man with a flaming red beard who roared and built with James J. Hill and other tycoons--a man with vision and the first of the line of Great Western leaders--Alpheus Beede Stickney--a man who left his image in those who followed as CGW chief executives.

I remember the "varnish era" which I saw only the final days-days of; the "Old Elm Club" and "Interlachen Club"-remnants of the ghosts of another age, like 'Legionnaire" and "Great Western Limited"--another chapter of history inked dry and faded but a stop on memory lane.

I remember a legion of Great Westerners spanning the half-century mark in cab and caboose, in office and section gang. Such a tribute to one's company is a record any railroad accepts as honor indeed, that its men devote their entire working days to its service.

I remember the railroad itself, winding through hill and farm, along river and streams of Iowa and the other states served by the Great Western. Winston Tunnel, Nerstrand Hill, the bluffs along the Missouri, the lakes and forests in Minnesota, and the little country stations with their distinctive CGW depot design which dates from the standard design of the old M&NW -and the towns with the puzzling names I've always intended to investigate such as Virgill, Sugar Loaf, Palsville, Skyburg, Barney, Myrtle, and a couple of others.

I remember my first job, in the Accounting Department, opening mail "and such other duties as may be assigned"-it was a challenge to open the pouches, as you often found various bugs and other creatures which inhabit baggage wagons on platforms awaiting trains.

I remember snowstorms and floods-nature's jokes against man and machine which slowed down the CGW team but seldom stopped it.

I remember many other things, but it's your turn-my last memory I save for you readers, and also my thanks for support of Galen, Lana, and myself. I'm sure Bob Bedgood, George Kellogg, and the late Walt Murphy chime in, too.

We remain and the name goes --but what's in a name? Plenty.


Copyright 1998 Tom Tolstead
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