A Chicago Hub Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
The Chicago Great Western Railway

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CGW Herald
Lucky Strike

The Chicago Great Western Railway, CGW, was a Class I railroad that linked Chicago, Minneapolis, Omaha, and Kansas City. It was founded by Alpheus Beede Stickney in 1885 as a regional line between St. Paul and the Iowa state line called the Minnesota & Northwestern Railroad. Through mergers and new construction, the railroad, named Chicago Great Western after 1909, quickly became a multi-state carrier. One of the last Class I railroads to be built, it competed against several other more well-established railroads in the same territory, and developed a corporate culture of innovation and efficiency to survive.

Chicago Great Western
Chicago Great Western
July 1921
September 1,
Nicknamed the Corn Belt Route because of its operating area in the Midwestern United States, the railroad was sometimes called the Lucky Strike Road, due to the similarity in design between the herald of the CGW and the logo used for Lucky Strike cigarettes.(wik)
While the CGW did not emphasize passenger service, in 1940, you could still take a CGW passenger "name" train from Chicago to Minneapolis, the "Minnesotan". It was coaches only. To see how it compared with other competition click on this link Chicago to Minneapolis

The History of the Chicago Great Western
1854 - The Legislature of the Territory of Minnesota had chartered the Minnesota and Northwestern Railroad (M&NW) to be built between Lake Superior, Minneapolis and Dubuque, Iowa. However, it stayed dormant.
1883 - Alpheus Stickney and others began building.
1886 - Line completed Minneapolis to Dubuque Iowa.
1888 - Line, now the Chicago St. Paul & Kansas City, built across Illinois to Forest Park, using IC trackage rights across Mississippi River.
1890 - CSP&KC using Chicago & Northern Pacific (later B&OCT) trackage rights gains access to Grand Central Station in Chicago.
1891 - Main line at Oelwein, Iowa connected to Kansas City by mergers and construction.
1893 - Omaha reached.
1903 - Name changed to Chicago Great Western.
1907 - CGW went into bankruptcy in Panic of 1907.
1909 - Sam Felton, now in charge, upgrades steam power for freight, and introduces gasoline motor cars for passenger service.
1929 - Francis Joyce takes over, manipulates stock.
1934 - First diesel-electric locomotive purchased; a very early move.
1935 - CGW back into bankruptcy.
1936 - Innovation continues with huge locomotives and introduction of "piggy back" service, the forerunner of intermodal freight.
1941 - Reorganized CGW emerges.
1950 - CGW completely dieselized.
1960's - The merger years created larger railroads and made the very innovative CGW too small to operate in this environment.
1968 - CGW merged into Chicago and North Western.
1980's - The CGW main line from Batavia to Sycamore is now a rail-trail walking and bike path
1995 - The CNW is merged into the Union Pacific


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April 25, 2009, revised April 28, 2011[