Waterloo Cedar Falls & Northern Railroad

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The Waterloo Cedar Falls & Northern Railroad (WCF&N) was an interurban electric freight and passenger railway operating in the state of Iowa. It had a main line extending from Waterloo to Cedar Rapids; 59 miles and from Waterloo north to Waverly; 22 miles. It also provided belt line freight service at Waterloo. It was started as the Waterloo & Cedar Falls Rapid Transit in 1895 by Louis Cass and completed as the WCF&N in 1914. It was constructed to steam railroad standards, and its operators tried to provide equivalent service in every way, including steel parlor observation cars on their passenger interurbans. The WCF&N offered interurban passenger services until well into the 1950's which was very unusual for an electric interurban line. It also was a strong link line for major railroads freight service and was purchased by the Rock Island and Illinois Central in 1958 and its name was changed to Waterloo Railroad. The Rock sold its portion to the IC in 1968 and from then until 1985 the IC abandoned portions of the old WCF&N. The short line Chicago Central & Pacific took over remaining trackage in 1986.
Short history of the Waterloo Cedar Falls & Northern Railroad (WCF&N)
1895 - The Waterloo & Cedar Falls Rapid Transit Railway established by Iowa railroad man Louis S. Cass who purchased the Waterloo Street Railway.
1896-7 - W&CFRT extended the system in Waterloo, converted the horse-car line into an electric line.
1897 - Cass builds the line from Waterloo to Cedar Falls, 8 miles.
1898 - Further extensions are made in Waterloo.
1899 - Cass purchases the Cedar Fall & Normal Gasoline Road, which was operated with a Patton motor cars.
1900 - CF&NGR converted into an electric railway.
1901 - Cass he built the W&CFRT line to Denver, Iowa, 14 miles.
1902-3 - Line extended from Denver to Denver Junction to connect with the Omaha division of the Chicago Great Western.
1903 - The line obtains trackage rights over the CGW to Sumner, 44 miles from Waterloo and operates steam passenger trains between the two cities.
1904 - In April 1904, the railroad is reprganized as the Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern Railway Company.
1909 - Cass, working for the Chicago Great Western, severed his connection with the CGW and since then devoted his entire time to the Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern Railway,.
1910 - WCF&N extended its electrified line from Denver Junction to Waverly and discontinued the CGW trackage rights agreement..
1910 - WCF&N begins construction south toward Cedar Rapids.
1912 - WCF&N built from Waterloo to La Porte City.
1913 - Line extended to Urbana.
1914 - Line completed to Cedar Rapids.
1915 - Seven steel cars, three as parlor-buffet-observation cars built for limited service, by McGuire-Cummings were placed in service. Passenger trains were operated with multiple car consists until traffic diminished in later years. At this later time the three parlor-observations were rebuilt as coaches.
post 1915 - In the peak years 8 trains a day served the main line, Waterloo toCedar Rapids and 5 trains a day on the Waverly line. The line to Cedar Falls used street car type equipment and had frequent (30 minute) schedules until quite late.

Waterloo Cedar Falls
& Northern
November 7, 1943

Waterloo Cedar Falls
& Northern
November 7, 1943
post 1915 - WCF&N operates with the C&NW to provide through Pullman car service from Chicago to Waterloo. It also provided connections to Cedar Rapids for CGW passenger trains, and instigated carload freight interchange, primarily with the CGW. These activities were rare for an interurban railway.
1931 - Four passenger trains a day between Waterloo and Cedar Rapids. Service Waterloo to Waverly also provided. Three to four main line tains a day in the late 30's with one train on the Waverly line.
1940's - Waterloo - Cedar Rapids service down to three trains per day. Waverly service continues. Buses begin to run Waterloo to Cedar Rapids.
1948 - Waterloo-Cedar Rapids service down to two trains per day. Buses are gone.
1952 - Mainline service had diminished to one train a day with some weekend servicfe. Then the daily train was removed and only weekend service remained.
1954 - Waverly passenger servicwe discontinued.
1954 - A fire in the Waterloo round house destroyed all but one passenger coach which soldiered alomg alone.
1956-58 - All passenger service discontinued.
1956-58 - The Waterloo Railroad was created by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad and the Illinois Central Railroad to buy the WCF&N.
1968 - The CRI&P sold its share to the IC.
1968-1986 -- IC abandons much trackage including portions of old WCF&N
1985 - The Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad iis created and absorbed remaining trackage of the old WCF&N.

Waterloo Cedar Falls & Northern - 1949

Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Official Guides- Various editions
The Electric Interurban Railways in America-Hilton & Due- pp 360-362


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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, May 2, 2009, revised November 23, 2011