SlowFreight wrote:Now, in other discussions, the same guy that worked hard to divert all KC traffic from the CGW line to the Spine Line (Ed Burkhardt) claimed that at the time abandoning the CGW line across Illinois was a mistake...but that was only because at that time in the early 70s, the CGW was in good shape while the C&NW main was a wreck.
This indicates the tragedy of the Chicago Great Western, so it must be emphasized: The CGW wasn't a redundant railroad. Rather, it was redundant to the C&NW. In fact, I can't think of a worse railroad to have taken it over. It should have been clear to everyone at Oelwein that the C&NW would leave little of it intact.
Although a granger road, no doubt, Chicago Great Western functioned much like an eastern railroad in that it didn't have a sprawled-out network of low-volume, low-value branch lines. CGW's only real network
of track was in southeastern Minnesota. The system was primarily just main lines connecting large cities, which meant higher density routes with minimal maintenance costs and better track condition. And these routes were as competitive as any other railroad's. For example, the Burlington Route's main line from Chicago to St. Paul was approximately 434.8 miles. By comparison, Chicago Great Western's main was approximately 425.1 miles. But this route went through some pretty hilly terrain down around Dubuque, so CGW's competitive routes didn't mean dick without good motive power to climb those grades - and CGW certainly kept good motive power. Again, we see a general characteristic of an eastern railroad.
C&NW butchered CGW. It was an incredible waste. C&NW only really had two objectives: reaching Kansas City and eliminating competition. And by the time C&NW's only remaining CGW track was the line to Kansas City, that track had gone to hell as well.
Chicago Great Western wasn't redundant. It just got taken over by the wrong railroad.