• West route

  • 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 Tadman
I've noticed the CPT-Geneva route labeled as CGW before - was there a CNW-west route before the merger?

  by doepack
Probably a reference to CNW's acquisition of CGW (Chicago Great Western) back in the late 60's, although I don't know offhand if CNW ever ran any passenger service over this route, I'll have to look it up. However, much of the CGW's former ROW in west suburban DuPage and Kane counties still exists today as a bike path/nature trail...

  by Tadman
So CNW always had their own Chicago-Bellwood-Geneva route, and the CGW became an additional route post-merger, pre-abandonment?

Also, I always that it was CA&E that crossed 25th in the Bellwood area next to a bunch of factories such as Chicago Form Clamp, was that CGW instead? We're talking north of the Eisenhower, south of current CNW/UP.

  by SlowFreight
Across 25th in Bellwood may have actually been CGW track, as I have a 1975 system timetable map showing an isolated stub between Maywood and Bellwood. Unfortunately, there's no reference to it in the timetable itself. :(

The C&NW route was originally built as the Galena and Chicago Union RR--Chicago's first--and went west to West Chicago before heading up towards Elgin and eventually Freeport. It never made it to Galena. When the transcontinental railroad was under construction in the 1860's, a race ensued between C&NW, CRI&P, CB&Q (I think), and possibly others, to be the first railroad to reach Omaha, NE. Prior to that, all materials for the UP were brought up to Omaha by river. At this point, the North Western started building west from West Chicago and relegated the Rockford/Freeport line to branchline status--for those who never knew, C&NW won that race.

The eastern end of this orignal route terminated on the other side of the Chicago River, eventually reaching Navy Pier. What's left of it is pretty well documented at www.chicagoswiching.com.

The CGW line was an extension of a route graded for the St. Charles Air Line RR, which included construction of the Fox River bridge in St. Charles and the drawbridge over the Chicago river used by C&NW and BN to reach the IC. Most of the StCAL was never built, but eventually what had been graded was used by the then-abuilding CGW. Right around Villa Park, this line went over the C&NW main on a bridge. East of Byron, a fair amount of this CGW line was retained by North Western into the 70's to serve local freight traffic, but it only ever had CGW passenger trains.

Largely, the CA&E tended to parallel the CGW ROW through the near western suburbs, and the CGW proper crossed both the EJ&E and C&NW Freeport line just north of West Chicago. This W. Chicago-Villa Park segment survived into the 80's and early 90's to serve such customers as Ovaltine, a Smurfit-Stone box factory (until about '93), and now exists as a short spur to a fence manufacturer.

That I remember, I've never run across your original reference to the Geneva line as CGW, but who knows what they meant by it?

  by doepack
I believe the remnants of the ex-CNW's line to Freeport is known today as UP's Belvidere Sub. Trackage remains in place as far as Rockford, but the main traffic generator on that branch these days is the Chrysler Auto plant in Belvidere, which is served by local jobs from UP's (ex-CNW) West Chicago yard several times a week.

Very interesting stuff about CGW, thanks...

  by SlowFreight
Yes, you are correct! I give you a virtual gold star :-D

Besides auto traffic, grain, scrap steel, and some refrigerated traffic, I never really figured out what else ran on this line. I know it meets up in Rockford with the IC&E (ex-MIlwaukee) and ashort line whose name escapes me (Illinois Northern? Illinois & Wisconsin?) running on the ex-BN branch, but I don't think UP interchanges with either of them. Added to this mess, I think CP might still go to Janesville by way of Beloit to reach the GM plant up there (heaven forbit WSOR get THAT traffic!), but my intel is sketchy these days.

For those with a REALLY long memory, another C&NW line left Belvidere and went north to Capron, IL, to connect with the line from Harvard to Beloit. IIRC, there's still a stub of it left to serve a few local customers in town, but I haven't been back there in <censored> years. At Capron, the North Western's old Kenosha, Rockford, and Rock Island line also split off to head west to Rockford. A piece of that still runs up to Loves Park, unless it's been cut back since I was there last.

I'm probably just talking to myself, now, though.... :wink:

  by rlsteam
That would now be the Illinois Railway, I believe (successor to Illinois RailNet), in Rockford. And don't forget the "interchange" at Union with the Illinois Railway Museum.

There was a C&NW line from Cortland (Also DeKalb, joining at Sycamore) that went north past Kingston to Belvidere. It's shown on a 1938 Colliers Atlas map of Illinois but I don't know how long it lasted after that (except DeKalb to Sycamore, which is still shown on the map in a 1963 Official Guide). You can still see the alignment of it in a few places, such as at Herbert where an old industrial building stands at an angle obviously parallel to tracks long gone. I also think I have spotted the place where it crossed Illinois 72 east of Kingston.

  by SlowFreight
Thank you for the clarification! I knew I had something close to the name. I have also done my homework, and CP no longer reaches Beloit/Janesville, the entire route having been conveyed to IMRL, now Iowa, Chicago, and Eastern.

Never thought I'd see a DM&E property at the Janesville roundhouse...

The DeKalb-Sycamore segment survived until at least 1981, I think (my North Western ETTs are back home), as a connector between the E-W main and the remaining CGW trackage from Sycamore to Byron. In 1997, I found a remnant of it in DeKalb with MoW stuff parked on it. It was plainly visible where the line used to cross the E-W main. The south end of this was the Troy Grove branch, which originally went to Churchill and Ladd, IIRC--but again, don't have my maps handy.

Hey! I think I just brought this thread back on topic! :wink:
From what I can tell, C&NW only kept what parts of the CGW main had local traffic and used whatever branches were available as connectors to piece together a network. By my 1984 ETT, though, the whole DeKalb-Byron segment was gone.

  by rlsteam
There are a few traces of the CGW around here, but not many. (I live in Kirkland.) There are bridge footings on the Kishwaukee west of Sycamore where Old State Road splits off from Illinois 64, and when you drive south on Malta Road you can see a high embankment where the CGW line ran. In Clare, someone has mounted a station sign "Clare" on a building that might have been a CGW structure near the old elevator. East of Sycamore (through Virgil, Lily Lake, Wasco) the ROW is a bike path, and other areas are paths, e.g. at "Wilkinson" where the CGW crossed the MILW line from Kirkland to Aurora (later cut back to DeKalb, now all gone). I-39 has an overpass over the former CGW east of Lindenwood but I am not sure whether there is a path on the old ROW. West of Lindenwood I can't see any traces of the ROW where the line crossed Illinois 251 (former US-51). In 1998, at a church picnic near Freeport, the farmer took us on a hayride over CGW ROW on the edge of his property.

  by SlowFreight
Since the only pieces of CGW that C&NW kept were for originating/terminating traffic, I often wonder what happened to those industries. I know Ingallton used to have a decent-sized yard through the 70's, and I've seen photos of freights pulling empty auto racks through Sycamore.

Nonetheless, I've never seen a good accounting of what existed on the east end. I remember when the leg from West Chicago to Carol Stream bit the dust, presumably because the Jefferson-Smurfit plant closed. Recently the General Mills plant west of St. Charles closed, but I think a Hines truss plant keeps that piece open.

It just seems to me like the traffic must have piddled away out of some neglect on the part of North Western.

  by rlsteam
I am pretty sure nothing is left of Ingalton -- nothing east of the EJ&E and UP Rockford branch. I doubt if anyone around there even remembers the name of the locality. (I lived not too far from there, in Wheaton, for three years).

The UP still runs west from there across the Fox River bridge at St. Charles to serve industry. Within the past two years I have seen UP movements at Randall Road and also crossing the bridge, which still has a faded CGW herald.
  by AC Fan
There actually is a very short segment east of the EJ&E, and just west of where Ingalton yard was. In other words, this stretch consists of the old interchange track which was on the northeast quadrant of where the CGW mainline crossed over the EJ&E - it goes east to serve a lumber yard on the south side of the CGW right of way. You can access this segment from the intersection of North Ave (Rte 64) and Rte 59 - go west on North Ave to Woodland Ave - then just take Woodland south to the old CGW right of way. If you Mapquest West Chicago, find the intersection of 64 & 59, and follow the directions above. Follow Woodland south and click on aerial image - you'll see this segment, as well as the lumber yard I referenced.

I actually remember when the short segment between the B&OCT in Forest Park and the Des Plaines river was torn up around 1975. The stretch from the Des Plaines river west to the IHB was torn up around 1982-1983. Knowing that the CGW was merged into the C&NW as of June, 1968, I've always wondered when the C&NW stopped using the CGW as a through route between Chicago Transfer and Oelwein - I've heard it was around December 1968 or early 1969. Does anyone know when this actually occurred?