• CNWHS no longer Offers anything to Me

  • Discussion relating to The Chicago & North Western, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road), including mergers, acquisitions, and abandonments.
Discussion relating to The Chicago & North Western, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road), including mergers, acquisitions, and abandonments.

Moderator: Komachi

  by pjb
:-) I have been a member of the CNWHS for over twenty years. After that double
issue devoted exclusively to rebuilt Baldwin DE road switchers, I have
concluded that it has been captured by souls with no interest in the CNW
ante 1950.
Since I belong to the CRRHA,the two big ones here in the States, and six
other Railroad specific groups (variously called historic or technical
societies), along with several groups involved with various forms of
industrial archaeology, I am aware that not every subject covered in
organizational journals are going to be of interest to all. I support that
principal, and agree with it.
Recently TIMS sent me a book covering German floating riverine mills from
17th century to end of the 19th (all still around have a historic/museum role as
primary purposes), that people who cared about the subject had produced
because it was that important to them. Pretty damn remarkable, and I read
it with interest and a Germano/Austrian historical timeline, in order to
understand it better.
I don't expect the CNW guys to do this kind of thing, as they are ordinary middle
class people with limited means. However, other rail societies, like the
MILWAUKEE Roads group have issued separate volumes on locomotive classes,
and offered them as goods to be paid for by the purchaser. That is, not
included in the yearly dues.
Guess what ? They find purchasers. Once, the CNWHS knew that.
CNWHS in the past , published books on locomotive servicing facilities,
and other similar topics that did not have catholic appeal. They
sold well, too. Even inspiring Carstens and Kalmbach to cover the
subject matter as it related to many other railroads in the case of the
steam loco facilities.
I was told that the taking of a double issue to regale us with 80 pages of
details about what were the locomotive equivalent of POS , was looked on
fondly by the CNWHS board. So be it, they clearly do not have a sense of
proportion in my view and/or interest in the long period when steam ruled
and created the CNW , as well as the M&SL, CGW, or CSPM&O that
they embrace.
Consider that in five years or so, nothing has been written on even an 0-4-0 ,
and we have to swallow all the gory details of as bad a collection of engines
as any railroad was ever stuck with.
I don't think so. I care about the history of the grangers involved here,
but it is clear that I will need to get it from other sources.
Peter Boylan
  by krugcpa
Mr. Boylan:

I write you as President of the Chicago & North Western Historical Society.

I am a member of the Milwaukee Road Society also (and ten others) and own its publications on the Beer Line in Milwaukee and on Chicago. While the MRHS caboose books are too narrow of a topic for my interest, I understand that there is a (limited) market for such material and that sales of those books have been satisfactory. We publish many books of narrow interest, as an inspection of the offerings in our Company store will show you.

I agree with your criticism of the Baldwin issue. In hindsight, I wish we had put all of this material into a separate publication as you wrote. Alternatively, we could have split the material into two issues. However, if that topic isn’t of interest, then two of the four annual issues would not have been satisfactory. Thus we try to avoid splitting articles and topics.

I take some issue with your comment about “sense of proportion” about the merits of covering steam vs. Baldwin engines. I see no reason not to cover both. I feel the Baldwin engines are a subject of equal merit to any class of steam engines. While it may not have any particular appeal to you, the material covers an equally valid aspect of the C&NW.

I also take some issue with your criticism of lack of coverage of the acquired lines. In most issues, we have separate columns about the M&StL and the CGW. We have a book about Minneapolis & St. Louis depots that will be available by September and contains mostly steam-era material. We already published a book about CGW depots. Before writing this letter, I took a look back at recent issues. 2008:4 featured a lengthy article about St. Charles, IL (CGW emphasis) ; along with an article about depots in Leavenworth Kansas, M&StL drop-down gondolas, etc. 2009:1 featured C&NW and the acquired lines in Des Moines up to about 1950, while 2009:2 covered more recent times in Des Moines. Both 2009 issues included material about the acquired lines – FDDMS, CGW, M&StL, DMCI, and C&NW.

Re the old days, our Archives Committee published two books about the C&NW lines north of Mayfair in Chicago. We recently published a book about the history of railroad track. We recently reprinted a book about the origins of names and places on the C&NW. We published a book "12000 Days on the North Western Line" that reported an insider’s view of C&NW management and operations, including the demise of steam. We have several other topical and general-interest books that contain much minutia about the old days. Check our "shop" on the CNWHS website: www.cnwhs.org

We have difficulty getting material about steam engines these days, because it has been over 50 years since steam ran on the C&NW. Generally authors write about what they saw, and if an author was born after say 1945 or so, he isn’t likely to have much interest in steam. I was born in 1957 and never saw the C&NW run a steam engine in regular service.

I feel your on-line complaint sells us way short. You wrote:

“I care about the history of the grangers involved here, but it is clear that I will need to get it from other sources.”

I strongly disagree with your conclusion. In my opinion, you have focused on one issue that was about a topic that didn't interest you and disregarded the body of work as a whole.

I hope you find my attempt to defend the quality and depth of coverage of the C&NW and acquired lines to have merit. I put our magazine, especially the most recent few years of issues, up against any society’s magazine for quality and depth of coverage of all eras and interests.

I hope you will reconsider your position and support the CNWHS.

Yours truly,

Jerry Krug, President of CNWHS
  by pjb
Dear Mr. Krug:
Thank you for this reply, and the similar letter sent to my home.

Fundamentally, we have differences. I understand that your audience, as perceived
by the administration of the CNWHS, are principally post 1950 modelers. If not,
considering the Baldwin built road switcher DEs particularly noteworthy would
not be the case.
Reduced to the simplest, they were failed designs secondarily to their having:
prime movers which were only succesfull as stationery powerplants ( also somewhat successful in
marine usage) - but not in rail service; and electropneumatic control system
that limited their capability to MU only with single units built by Baldwin.
So they junked the powerplant and its auxiliaries, and turned them into
GMC 'SD' or'GP' locos having Baldwin provided carbodies and powertrucks.
That may sound like a lot to people that look on say ' GP-7's , as different
entities because: the paint jobs differ; and the hornbells, headlights,
or grab irons differ in some way, or location, on particular locos;
and then see them as different entities entirely.

When I see a BUICK "Roadmaster", I am aware that they were made with
a couple of hundred convenience or electromechanical options . However, whether
"sunlight yellow", or "black velvet" they all are built on Fisher Body's cadillac
chassis, and are all just big Buick sedans to me.
Ditto - for every 'F-2', 'F-3', 'FA-1', etc.
By the model number, all the differences between discrete locos,
are essentially minutiae.

I also understand people who care about modeling with these locos
focusing on the minutiae, since it is usually the only way to distinguish them
apart , as the mechanical elements are largely hidden.
So I figure that the SDs and GPs in Baldwin carbodies rate ten pages
in a 40 page Bulletin. However, they filled half a years worth of the
Society's Journal. There is no way, in my corner of the world that can be a
rational exercise.
I don't know how to respond to the assertion that they are as important
as any CNW steam type , except by resorting to comparisons from my
The Northwestern had a handful of 3 ft. gauge 4-8-0s which were the
backbone of the Black Hills service to the lode at Lead, S.D. near
Deadwood. They are an uncommon wheel arragement in 3ft, gauge,
with only the NdeM's narrow gauge's much later superheater, walschaerts,
and piston valved twelve wheelers, as company in NA. They also made possible
the development and sustenance of Homestake, until rail service was
That makes them important, if nationally obscure locos, in the
history of the Black Hills as well as part of the history of the CNW
since they ran on their line.
Now I don't think they deserve a Journal's worth of ink, but to me
they are more important historic artifacts , and so is their story,
than any bunch of GPs, no matter what the appearance of the road
switchers was. You could run the DEs anywhere on the system, and
they produced the same results. I know that you don't see this.

So I think as people that respect each others right to their views,
we will part company. I know that CNWHS has done some great
stuff, and "12000 DAYS on the NORTHWESTERN LINE" , should be
read by anyone that wants a grasp of the railroad business. I will
continue to purchase such material when it is made available.
I truly am grateful for your response but as you know one
votes with ones money and time because they are finite, in support
of our avocations.
Thank you again for the consideration you have shown me here,
and Good-Luck,
Peter Boylan :-D