A Chicago Hub Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad
(Burlington Route)


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> Chicago Burlington and Quincy
Chicago Burlington and Quincy
July-Aug 1942

The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad was a railroad that operated in the Midwestern United States. Commonly referred to as the Burlington or as the Q, the railroad served a large area, including extensive trackage in the states of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Its primary connections included Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis, Kansas City and Denver. Because of this extensive tracking in the Midwest and mountain states the Q used the slogans "Everywhere West," "Way of the Zephyrs," and "The Way West".(wik)
The Burlington was a very successful road that, in the 30's and 40's, had some of the most famous early lightweight streamlined diesel-electric powered passenger trains. The introduction of the Pioneer Zephyr in 1934, with it's famous high speed run from Chicago to Denver, helped spark the growth of high speed rail travel in the U.S. The Zephyrs rapidly expanded to trains

Burlington Northern
Burlington
Northern
April 26, 1970
from Chicago to Denver, Minneapolis-St.Paul and many other Midwest destinations, eventually reaching San Francisco in conjunction with the Rio Grande, WP and UP. The Burlington later morphed into one of the largest and most successful railroads in our country, the BN/SF (Burlington Northern-Santa Fe).

Pioneer Zephyr
Pioneer Zephyr


History of the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad

1848 - Illinois chartered the Aurora Branch line from Aurora through Batavia to connect to Galena and Chicago Union at, what is now, West Chicago so as not to bypass Aurora and Batavia
1850 - Surveys made for better line directly to Chicago
1862 - Line from Aurora through Naperville, Downers Grove, Hinsdale and Berwyn to Chicago was opened
1862 - Line enters financial markets and is very successful, never defaulting
1863 - Commuter train service started (Oldest in Chicago area)
1860's - Name changed to Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad and is extended to the Mississippi River
1868 - Bridges over Mississippi River completed at both Burlington Iowa and Quincy Illinois, connecting the Q to the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad in Iowa and the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad in Missouri
1869 - RPO cars and connection to Pony Express on H&StJ.
1869 - B&MR builds westward toward Nebraska as a separate company
1870 - B&MR reaches Lincoln Nebraska
1872 - B&MR reaches Kearney Nebraska
1872 - Bridge across Missouri River at Plattsmouth completed
1872 - CB&Q absorbs B&MR of Iowa, and B&MR of Nebraska
1882 - CB&Q reaches Denver Colorado. First direct line Chicago to Denver
1881-1901 - Burlington rapidly expands its system to almost three times its original size by absorbing loosely held affiliates and through sound financial management and good planning. The Q reached as far as Billings Montana but never reached the west coast during the cheap building years of the 1880's.
1881-1901 - The "Q" is involved in a struggle between the large railroad tycoons for control. E. H. Harriman of Union Pacific wanted the "Q". So did James J. Hill of the northern roads, the Northern Pacific and the Great Northern. Finally, the Hill interests won out and the NP and GN owned nearly 100% of Burlington stock.
1897 - Burlington interested in non-steam, internal combustion power but has no success
1910-1920's - Burlington utilizes many internal combustion "Doodlebug" rail motor cars for branch line passenger, express and mail service, many engineered by Electro-Motive Corporation, leading to the development of the lightweight "Winton 8-201A diesel engine.
1934 - Lightweight Zephyr trains introduced using Winton engine and Budd car bodies. The beginning of the diesel-electric revolution, which started the demise of the steam locomotive in the U.S. "Pioneer Zephyr" begins service. The 1st series of Zephyrs were articulated train sets, later replaced by separate locomotives and cars.
1935-36 - The "Twin Zephyrs" begin runs from Chicago to Minneapolis.
1936 - "Denver Zephyr" starts Chicago to Denver with 16 hour schedule.
1937 - "Mark Twain Zephyr", last of the articulates.
1940-41 - EMD E5 stainless steel sided passenger locomotive units begin operating with separable car Zephyr trains. Replacements include Chicago-Minneapolis Zephyrs.
1945 - Q rebuilds a car into the first "dome" car.
1949 - "California Zephyr" dome train introduced, Chicago to Oakland on leisurely schedule, but with rewarding scenery on the Q, D&RGW and Western Pacific.
1959 - Last steam on "Q". A suburban train Chicago to Downers Grove
1970 - Burlington merges the Burlington, Northern Pacific, Great Northern and the Spokane Portland and Seattle into the new Burlington Northern.
1970 - Original "California Zephyr" discontinued.
1983 - Amtrak reinstates a "California Zephyr" train on a hybrid route Chicago to the SF bay area.
1992 - Burlington Northern merges with Santa Fe to become he Burlington Northern-Santa Fe (BNSF)

BNSF Genealogy


History of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad (FW&D)
1873 - Fort Worth and Denver Railway chartered
1881 - Construction started. FW&D and Denver and New Orleans Railroad Company agreed to connect at Texas-New Mexico border.
1888 - Service Fort Worth to Denver started
After 1898 - FW&D acquired by Colorado and Southern
1981 - FW&D merged into Burlington-Northern
1995 - BN merges with Santa Fe to become the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe (BNSF).
History of Colorado and Southern Railway (C&S)
1890 - Union Pacific Denver and Gulf Railroad starts as a consolidation of Bankrupt Colorado Central Railroad and Cheyenne & Northern Railway.
1893 - UP bankruptcy unites UPD&G with Denver Leadville and Gunnison Railway and others.
1898 - Colorado and Southern Railroad formed from above railroads
1908 - Burlington buys control of C&S
1981 - C&S merged into Burlington Northern

Chicago Burlington and Quincy map


The Burlington Zephyrs
The "Burlington Zephyr," America's first diesel-electric powered streamlined passenger train, made its famous "Dawn-to-Dusk" run from Denver, Colorado to Chicago, Illinois on May 26, 1934. On November 11, 1934 the train was put into regularly scheduled service between Lincoln, Nebraska and Kansas City, Missouri.
The zephyrs were the largest fleet of streamlined diesel-electric powered passenger trains in the U.S. in the 30's and 40's. No less than 15 different Zephyrs were in service, serving the cities of Lincoln, Omaha, Kansas City, Chicago, Minneapolis, St.Paul, St.Louis, Burlington, Denver, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Oakland and cities in between.
The California Zephyr, introduced in 1949, is still operated daily today by Amtrak. Another train, the Illinois Zephyr, is a modern descendant of the Kansas City Zephyr and American Royal Zephyr service.
Chicago to Minneapolis-St.Paul - 1940
The Chicago to Minneapolis-St.Paul competition was spirited during he 30's and 40's. The Burlington, with its introduction of the lightweight diesel-electric powered Zephyrs, had the speed advantage even with a longer run. Of course, the "Q" domination was aided by the movement over it's tracks of the GN & NP name trains the Empire Builder and the North Coast Limited, although they were on more relaxed schedules. The Milwaukee followed with lightweight steam powered Hiawatha's and was a close second, also aided by it's Pacific bound Olympian, later called the Olympian Hiawatha. The North Western, actually the first to enter the Chicago-St. Paul sweepstakes, tried to compete with the steam powered "400" and worked hard to keep up. The other three roads were also rans, but the Chicago Great Western valiantly tried to join with a "name train".

Railroad Train Hours Miles
Burlington (CB&Q) 432
21 - Morning Zephyr 6:30
23 - Afternoon Zephyr 6:45
51 - North Coast Limited 10:05 Northern Pacific
49 - Empire Builder 10:05 Great Northern
47 - Blackhawk 10:25
45-45 12:20
Milwaukee Road (CMStP&P) 420.8
191 - Afternoon Hiawatha 6:45
5 - Morning Hiawatha 8:00
1 - Pioneer 9:45
55 - 55 12:35
15 - Olympian 12:55
North Western (C&NW) 406.7 Madison
401 - The 400 (Milwaukee) 6:45 419.2 Milwaukee
405 - North Western Limited 8:45 Milwaukee
501 - The Viking 10:25 Madison
515 - The Victory 10:40 Madison
511 - Duluth-Superior Limited 14:15 Madison
Soo Line (MStP&SSM) 459.8
17-15 - 17-15 14:35
1 - 1 16:35
Chicago Great Western (CGW) 435.4
1-27 - Minnesotan 12:30
Rock Island (CRI&P) 534
19-61-18 - 19-61-18 15:45

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Chicago to Denver - 1940
The Chicago to Denver competition goes slightly to the Burlington for having faster supporting trains supplementing their streamlined diesel-electric powered Zephyr. The Northwestern lost the race because its Pacific Coast trains, operated from Omaha by the U.P., didn't continue through Denver but went through Cheyenne, Wyoming. The Rock Island was a valiant third. The Santa Fe, with a longer route, and less through cars, was at a disadvantage to Denver.

Railroad Train and Name Hours Miles
Burlington 1034
1 - Denver Zephyr 16:00
39 - Exposition Flyer 19:45
3 - 3 22:30
North Western 1047
111 - City of Denver 16:00
21-111 - Pac.Lim. C.of Denver 22:45
15 - Columbine 32:15
Rock Island 1083
8 - Rocky Mountain Rocket 17:30
spl - Rocky Mt.Spec.(3 days) 22:45
Santa Fe 1174.9
21-81-14 - El Capitan + (2 days) 20:45
19-81-14 - Chief + 26:29
3-13-130 - California Lim.+ 31:00

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The Burlington Race Track - Chicago to St. Paul Speeds - 1940
The Burlington diesel-electric powered lightweight Zephyr's were faster than any steam locomotive powered passenger trains in the 30's and 40's. Though the Pennsylvania west lines and the Milwaukee Road, and Northwestern Chicago to St. Paul runs also showed great speeds with great steam power (4-6-2 K4s Pacifics on the Pennsy and 4-4-0 Atlantics on the Milwaukee) the performance of the Zephyrs unveiled the ultimate fate of steam power, which was all gone by 1960.
The chart below shows start to stop speeds of 60 mph or greater, with Zephyr speeds in the 40's.

Train#From CityTo CityMilesMin.mph
Mourning Zephyr 6 E.Dubuque Pr.Du Chein 55 39 84.6
Mourning Zephyr 6 Pr.Du Chein La Crosse 58 43 80.9
Morning Zephyr 22 La Crosse Pr.Du Chein 58 43 80.9
Afternoon Zephyr 24 La Crosse Pr.Du Chein 58 43 80.9
Afternoon Zephyr 23 Pr.Du Chein La Crosse 58 45 77.3
Afternoon Zephyr 23 N.La Crosse Winona Jct 27 21 77.1
Mourning Zephyr 6 Aurora Oregon 60 48 75.0
Mourning Zephyr 6 N.La Crosse Winona Jct 27 22 73.6
Morning Zephyr 22 St. Paul Winona Jct 101 84 72.1
Morning Zephyr 22 Pr.Du Chein E.Dubuque 55 46 71.7
Afternoon Zephyr 23 E.Dubuque Pr.Du Chein 55 46 71.7
Afternoon Zephyr 24 St. Paul Winona Jct 101 85 71.3
Mourning Zephyr 6 Chicago Aurora 38 32 71.3
Afternoon Zephyr 23 Chicago Aurora 38 32 71.3
Morning Zephyr 22 Winona Jct N.La Crosse 27 23 70.4
Afternoon Zephyr 24 Winona Jct N.La Crosse 27 23 70.4
Afternoon Zephyr 24 Pr.Du Chein E.Dubuque 55 47 70.2
Afternoon Zephyr 23 Aurora Oregon 60 52 69.2
Mourning Zephyr 6 Oregon Savannah 47 42 67.1
Afternoon Zephyr 24 Savannah Oregon 47 42 67.1
Morning Zephyr 22 Oregon Aurora 60 54 66.7
Afternoon Zephyr 24 Oregon Aurora 60 54 66.7
Mourning Zephyr 6 Winona Jct St. Paul 101 91 66.6
Afternoon Zephyr 23 Savannah E.Dubuque 39 36 65.0
Afternoon Zephyr 23 Winona Jct St. Paul 101 94 64.5
Morning Zephyr 22 Savannah Oregon 47 44 64.1
Mourning Zephyr 6 Savannak E.Dubuque 39 37 63.2
Morning Zephyr 22 E.Dubuque Savannah 39 37 63.2
Afternoon Zephyr 24 E.Dubuque Savannah 39 37 63.2
Afternoon Zephyr 23 Oregon Savannah 47 45 62.7
Morning Zephyr 22 Aurora Chicago 38 38 60.0
Average Speed 1662 1425 70.0

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The Burlington Race Track - Chicago to Denver Speeds - 1940
The Burlington diesel-electric powered Denver Zephyr's provided a second race track for the Burlington in and out of Chicago in 1940. Here is the track, with the Exposition Flyer adding a few 60 and 60+ start - stop runs. Again, the diesel-electric power beats the steam, not necessarily for glamour but, just for sheer speed.
Train#From CityTo CityMilesMin.mph
Denver Zephyr 10 Denver Brush 88 63 83.8
Denver Zephyr 1 Aurora Galesburg 124 97 76.7
Denver Zephyr 10 Galesburg Aurora 124 97 76.7
Denver Zephyr 10 Hastings Lincoln 97 78 74.6
Denver Zephyr 10 Holdredge Hastings 54 44 73.6
Denver Zephyr 1 Holdredge McCook 77 64 72.2
Denver Zephyr 10 Brush McCook 167 142 70.6
Denver Zephyr 1 Chicago Aurora 38 33 69.1
Denver Zephyr 1 Lincoln Hastings 97 85 68.5
Denver Zephyr 1 McCook Fort Morgan 177 156 68.1
Denver Zephyr 1 Hastings Holdredge 54 48 67.5
ERxposition Flyer 39 Aurora Mendota 45 40 67.5
Denver Zephyr 1 Burlington Ottumwa 74 66 67.3
Denver Zephyr 1 Galesburg Burlington 44 40 66.0
Denver Zephyr 10 Ottumwa Burlington 74 68 65.3
Denver Zephyr 10 Burlington Galesburg 44 41 64.4
Denver Zephyr 1 Fort Morgan Denver 78 74 63.2
Denver Zephyr 10 McCook Oxford 46 44 62.7
Denver Zephyr 10 Oxford Holdredge 24 23 62.6
Denver Zephyr 1 Ottumwa Creston 113 110 61.6
ERxposition Flyer 39 Chicago Aurora 38 37 61.6
Denver Zephyr 1 Creston Council Bluffs 99 97 61.2
Denver Zephyr 10 Creston Ottumwa 113 111 61.1
Denver Zephyr 10 Aurora Chicago 38 38 60.0
ERxposition Flyer 39 Mendota Galesburg 79 79 60.0
Exposition Flyer 40 Burlington Monmouth 27 27 60.0
Average Speed 2033 1802 67.7

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Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940
Classic Trains - Kalmbach Publishing Co.-winter 2006
The Trains We Rode-Lucius Beebe & Charles Clegg(bc)
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April 25, 2009, revised April 26, 2011