• Winona, MN Shops

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by Komachi
Hey All!

I spent my first three years of college at Winona State University in Winona, MN (1995-1998). Unfortunately, most of the railroad support facilities were demolished by the time I got there. I used to walk along 3rd St (or was it 2nd...) right next to the C&NW (Now UP) Yard and ponder some of the "relics" that remained from the past. Today, the UP uses a small, utilitarian fuling rack to fill up the locomotives (not sure if there are sanding facilities there) and a small steel quiosont (sp?) hut that looks like it may have been a shop building at one time. There were also a lot of rusted tracks and turnouts sitting in the tall grass behind the city shops (where they kept their fleet of Crown Victorias) and an old, bricked up brick building (again, looks like an old shop facility). I've been told that Winona had a sizeable engine facility for the C&NW including two roundhouses and a backshop with a transfer table.

Other than being the eastern terminus of the "Huron line" and Winona being a Mississippi River town (transfer to barges?) what other significance did Winona have that warrented the Northwestern have a large facility there? Or was most of the facility constructed by the CGW before the C&NW takeover? Just currious.

I also know that Winona was the western terminus of the GB&W and there was a small facility there for their engines, but what did it comprise of (at the time of the diesel era)? Did they also service CB&Q equipment there (as the CB&Q had rights on the bridge), or did they have their own shops?

Finally, I remember the Milwaukee Road (more recently SOO and CP Rail) had a small shed to service locomotives that was recently razed to make room for a utilitarian fuel rack (similar to the one used by the UP and DM&E). But did they also have a large roundhouse as well, or wasn't Winona that major a point on the MILW line? Just wondering.

Sorry to barrage you guys with so many questions regarding a wide range of roads, but Winona is a fascinating town, railroad wise (at least I think so!). Appreciate any info. anyone can toss my way.

  by ak-milw
Milwaukee's main yard was farther north in the Twin Cities. Winona was just a local shop as far as I know!

  by poweredby251
The CNW shops were the ones near CK tower. At one time there was a very extensive operation. The building that still exist was part of the car shop complex. The main roundhouse was near it and as far as I know the concrete pad is still there.

The CGW was on the other end of town near the GBW and I believe had minimal facilities.

The MILW had just a local single stall engine house for the loco assigned there.

The CBQ had no engine facilites in Winona as far as I know. There may have been a small one at one time though.

The GBW had a small roundhouse near the bridge. It was dfamaged by a storm (not sure of date off the top of my head) and was replaced by the polebarn style engine house. This still exists, but has been recently and drastically altered (residded andmain doors closed off)

Hope this helps

  by Komachi

Thanks for the info. Yeah, I figured that brick building was probably a shop building, but given Winona's industrial heritage, I thought it might also have been part of a complex for an on-line customer. Never saw the concrete slab for the roundhouse while I was there, will have to take a closer look next time I'm in Winona. Didn't realize that the CGW roundhouse was down on the other end of town, but makes sense, considering that the river bridge (CGW/C&NW one) was down there where Levee Park is now.

Deffinately a shame what's become of the GB&W shops, a friend of mine in Winona, who's a GB&W guy, said that they're now using it to store salt or something like that.

I wasn't sure if there had been more to the Milwaukee Road facilities or not. Was sad to see the old shed go though, was a familiar sight to see when I came in on the Empire Builder.

I knew the CB&Q had a station down on 3rd street and that they used the GB&W's bridge to gain access to Winona (they even brought the Pioneer Zepher into town once to show it off). I wasn't sure if they had their own engine servicing facilities or if they used Green Bay's or if they had shops over in East Winona (Wisconsin), or what the setup was.

Do appreciate the info., sir. Hope to pick your brain again sometime here in the near future.

  by poweredby251
Actually, I'm not sure WHAT the CGW had, if a roundhouise, or just an engine houise stall or two, or what. As for the Q, and later BN, there may have been a switcher assigned to Winona at one time, but by the time I was there in the early 80's, the BN was just running interchange cars off the local accross the bridge to the GBW yard, and their small yard in town was used to store MOW equipment, with all yardwork done in accross the river in East Winona.


  by Desertdweller
I just ran across this thread, and would like to offer some additional information. I lived in Winona for 18 years, and began my railroad career there.

By the time the original post was made (2004), the C&NW Winona yard was owned and operated by the Dakota, Minnesota, and Eastern. The yard never came under UP ownership. In fact, UP never served Winona. The C&NW Huron line was sold in 1986 to DM&E. D&ME is now owned by CP.

The C&NW reached Winona, in addition to the Huron line, by a secondary main line that ran out of LaCrosse, WI by way of Trempeleau and Galesville. It crossed the Mississippi River on a center-pivot swing bridge that was located just east of the Highway 43 bridge. This line and bridge were abandoned in 1979. The big division point station there was torn down that year. It had been built in 1879.

The Green Bay and Western terminated in Winona. It crossed the river on a center-pivot swing bridge owned by the Winona Bridge Company. Both the C&NW and GB&W crossed the CB&Q Twin Cities Main Line on diamonds about a mile apart.

The GB&W had a small yard in the far east end. The pole barn engine shed was in use while I lived there. The GB&W freight office was located in this building.

There was an interchange track linking the railroads. It ran in Second Street from the C&NW yard. The CB&Q had access to Winona via the Winona Bridge Co. bridge. They had industrial sidings between Second Street and the riverfront. A small passenger station on the corner of LaFayette and Second Streets shared a platform and train shed with the old Winona and Southwestern depot immediately east of it.

The Second Street interchange track curved south and ran down Wall Street in the east end. There was a weye on Wall, connecting with the GB&W line.

The south end of the Wall Street line ended in another weye with the Milwaukee Road main that ran the length of the city about a mile south of the river. It is located parallel to the river, near the north shore of Lake Winona.

Before 1936, there was a fifth railroad in Winona. The Chicago Great Western looped around Bear Creek Canyon near Rollingstone, and crossed the C&NW on a bridge at Minnesota City. It then continued to Winona along the base of the bluffs, south of Lake Winona (which was a former channel of the Mississippi River).

It curved north in the far east end of Winona, and entered town east of Wall Street. Apparently, it ran into the GB&W yard and got onto the Wall Street/Second Street track via the GB&W Wall Street weye. Passenger trains would proceed west on Second Street to the Winona and Southwestern depot.

When I lived and worked in Winona, you could buy a ticket at the CB&Q station and take a railroad bus to a pair of passenger shelters under the Highway 43 bridge.
The CB&Q/BN kept an SW-1 behind their office for local switching. The last CB&Q passenger train into the downtown station was in November 1967, a special to take college students to Chicago.

The Winona Bridge Company bridge was destroyed by fire in the 1980's. The GB&W trains then entered the BN main (which runs on the east bank of the river) on a track that had been used for interchange where the two railroads crossed. They would then run south on the BN and terminate in the BN North LaCrosse yard. This is an arrangement that was used before the Winona Bridge Company bridge was built.

Winona is thus currently down to a single railroad: CP Rail (nee Milwaukee Road and DM&E). And AMTRAK, via CP Rail's Milwaukee Road line.

  by JayBee
Desertdweller what Winona did you live in? The Union Pacific has been in Winona since they acquired the C&NW. Trains MADWI/MWIAD currently are back to running tri-weekly out of Adams, WI with traffic for Winona. Traffic fell when CP acquired the DM&E, but then rose to the point of dedicated trainloads of Frac Sand running from a large transload at Winona on UP's small amount of trackage. With increased competition from CN and CP the trainload movements of sand have become less common lately. For a while the manifests hauled the sand traffic resulting in AC4400CWs hauling the manifests with car counts in triple digits.
  by ICGinSD
Les, the DM&E never owned the yard in Winona, it was CNW then UP. The CNW retained ownership from Winona west to a point past the CP Tower CK) interchange so that the DM&E could not legally interchange directly to the CP without paying the CNW a fee for each car handled. The DM&E/CP interchange at that time was handled in Owatonna, MN and never amounted to much traffic. This all changed when the CP installed an interchange point at Minnesota City (just west of Winona).
  by Desertdweller
Well, that makes sense that CNW would want to keep their foot in the door, even though they did not have a main line connection to that yard.

How did their trains from Adams get to Winona? I was working in LaCrosse (Camp 20) on the Milwaukee Road the night the CNW tunnel at Tunnel City collapsed. A shoo-fly was then constructed so CNW trains could operate over the Milwaukee through the Milwaukee's tunnel and into LaCrosse. With the Winona Bridge Co. (CB&Q and GB&W) bridge gone, and the C&NW bridge and LaCrosse-Winona main line gone, the only remaining way C&NW could get to Winona would be by trackage rights over the Milwaukee Road main line.

Trackage rights over competing railroads in that area were not new. When I worked on the Milwaukee in Winona, we had a local freight that ran on the Chippewa Valley Line. This train used to originate in Wabasha, MN and crossed the Mississippi River on a pontoon bridge, crossed the CB&Q main, and followed the Chippewa River to Durand and Eau Claire, WI. When the pontoon bridge at Wabasha was taken out, the train was based at Winona. It would run south to LaCrosse, get on the CB&Q and run north where the Chippewa Valley line wyed onto the CB&Q, and proceed on as usual. We called this train the "CV".

  by JayBee
The connection at Tunnel City has been upgraded and is now controlled by CP's Wisconsin Dispatcher in Minneapolis. UP's train pull west of Tower CK (no tower anymore) and shove back into their yard.