Chicago Railroads, 1930's - 1940's Vintage
Alton
AT&SF(Santa Fe)
B&O
B&OCT
C&O
C&EI
C&NW
C&WI
CA&E
CB&Q(Burlington)
Chi.Great Western
CI&L (Monon)
CMSTP&P-Milwaukee
CNS&M(North Shore)
CRT(The EL)
CRI&P(Rock Island)
CSS&SB(South Shore)
CCC&StL(Big Four)
Erie (C&E/Nypano)
Grand Trunk Western
Illinois Central
Michigan Central
New York Central
Nickel Plate
Pennsylvania
Pere Marquette
Soo Line
Wabash
/


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Some other interesting links to 30's and 40's railraod memories are:
Home Railroad
Index
Railroad
Timetable
Collecting
Today's
Big Seven
Railroads
Chicago
Commuter
Rail
Chicao
Railroad
Stations
Diesel
Electric
Explosion
Rail
Race
Tracks
City to City
Competition
Rail
Speed
Cities

Chicago was and is the largest railroad hub in the United States.

Now the passenger service out of Chicago is limited to a few Amtrak trains, plus a goodly number of suburban lines operated by METRA and running on some of the tracks of fallen flag railroads or railroads merged into the few conglomerates which have survived.
The 1930's and 1940's were the heyday years for Chicago Passenger rail, with no less than 27 railroads offering passenger rail service in and out of the Windy city. Not only were the number of railroads large, but the number and quality of trains was not to be exceeded anywhere in the U.S. Competition was fierce, trains were luxurious, and speeds were fast. Steam locomotive haulage was being replaced by diesel-electric power, but much high speed steam was still in vogue, but higher speed diesel was arriving. Interstate highways and super sized airplanes were not yet in place, so rail travel was the way to go.
Our railroad passenger railroad study will focus on Chicago first, and then branch out to other geographical areas. The Chicago railroad list will include all railroads operating in and out of Chicago during the 30's and 40's. Railroads which connected with Chicago railroads and moved Chicago trains to long haul destinations are listed on the "Chicago Connecting railroad" pages.


Chicago Hub Competition to Key Cities

The competition was fierce, in 1940, especially from Chicago to New York where the Pennsy, with K4s Pacific's, and the Central, with J3a Hudson's, were duking it out with luxurious and fast steam trains. The Chicago to St. Paul-Minneapolis run was also hot with the Burlington diesel-electric Zephyrs, the Milwaukee Road steam powered Class A Atlantics pulling Hiawatha's, and the North Western E3 diesel electric powered 400's all kicking up some high speed operations. The CNW with its CNW/UP/SP diesel City trains, edged the Q to Omaha only by minutes, but to Denver the Q and North Western were about equal. The Santa Fe owned the Kansas City segment. To Los Angeles, the Santa Fe was also the preferred route with its Super Chief and coach train, the El Capitan, heading a six train line-up, although the City of Los Angeles (CNW/UP) was as fast. The Alton seemed to have a lock on Chicago to St. Louis, not by sheer speed, but with more trains. New Orleans was no contest, I.C. all the way, as was the Pennsylvania on the Pittsburgh run. The C&EI "Dixieland" won the race to Miami, and was all steam using the L&N, NC&SL, AB&C, ACL and FEC, Portland, OR was UP hands down with CNW help on the City of Portland. The competition to Seattle must be viewed over several years to get the feel for it. Take a look at how it was in 1940.

Denver
Kansas City
Los Angeles
Miami
Milwaukee
Minneapolis
New Orleans
New York
Omaha
Pittsburgh
Portland, OR
St. Louis
Seattle
Washington DC

The Chicago Racetracks - High Speed Rail in 1940
The intense competition in and out of Chicago in 1940 resulted in some very high speed running.
The Burlington Zephyrs, Chicago to St. Paul, Omaha and Denver had the record, with their new lightweight diesel-electric powered Zephyr's. The diesel powered Santa Fe, to Kansas City and Colorado, was close behind. The K4s Pacific steam powered Pennsylvania, from Englewood (Chicago) to Fort Wayne and Crestline, Ohio was the steam leader. The Northwestern with it's diesel powered "400's and the Milwaukee Road,, with high stepping steam Atlantic's, and Hudson's pulling the Hiawatha's, were close, and beginning to convert to diesel, competing with the Q. to St. Paul. The New York Central also had commendable speeds with their J3a Hudson's from Englewood through Toledo to Buffalo, as did the Illinois Central with its new diesel powered trains to St. Louis and to the South. To summarize, we have listed all the start to stop runs at an average speed of 60 mph or greater. Click on a city destination to see the detail.
RailroadRunsTop SpeedAveragePowerDestination
Burlington3184.670.0DieselSt. Paul
Burlington2683.867.7DieselOmaha & Denver
Santa Fe3078.366.6DieselLa Junta
Pennsylvania5776.966.1Steam Crestline
CNW1374.965.7DieselSt.Paul
Milwaukee3574.165.4Steam St.Paul
Illinois Central2272.465.6Diesel St.Louis & South
New York Central3670.263.9Steam Buffalo
Rock Island769.865.3Diesel Denver
C&EI769.766.1Steam St. Louis
CNW2468.464.5DieselOmaha
Michigan Central1968.463.0Steam Buffalo
Wabash767.262.3SteamSt, Louis
Alton1466.263.3Diesel St. Louis
Big Four (1943)263.362.6SteamCincinnati
Baltimore & Ohio 262.561.0DieselFostoria


The way it was (1940)--- and --- the way it Is (2008)

Rail travel from Chicago to major U.S. cities was thriving in 1940, maybe not financially for the carriers, but for the traveling public. Of course, during the 70's, Amtrak took over the passenger rail business, and has been running on a shoestring ever since. Giving credit to Amtrak, however, they have maintained some relatively fast scheduled, though greatly reduced in volume. (Number of trains indicated by a + sign or ( ) parentheses). Take a look.

From Chicago to1940
hours
2008
hours
DENVERAmtrak
"Q"-Denver Zephyr +2
CNW/UP-City of Denver + 2
Rock (2),,Santa Fe (3)
16:00
16:00
18:15California Zephyr
KANSAS CITYAmtrak
Santa Fe-El Capitan +8
Rock (3), Alton (1), "Q"(2) .CGW(1)
6:576:56Southwest Chief +
Abe.Lincoln/Ann Rutledge
LOS ANGELESAmtrak
Santa Fe-El Capitan &
Santa Fe Super Chief + 4
CNW/UP-City of L.A. + 3
Rock/SP (2)
39:45
39:45
39:45
43:00Southwest Chief +
Texas Eagle (3/wk)
MIAMIAmtrak
C&EI- Dixieland+2 L&N/NC&SL
CofGorAB&C/ACL/FEC
Penn(3)/L&N/CofG/ACL/FEC
IC(2)/CofG/ACL/FEC,
Big4(3).Sou,Sea,FEC
31:40No Amtrak to Miami
MILWAUKEEAmtrak
Milw-Morning Hiawatha &
Afternoon Hiawatha + 9
CNW-"400" +6
North Shore Line (19)
1:15
1:15
1:15
1:297 trains
Hiawatha Service
MINNEAPOLISAmtrak
"Q"-Morning Zephyr + 5
CNW(5), Milw(5), Soo(2)
, CGW(1), Rock(1)
6:308:16Empire Builder
NEW ORLEANSAmtrak
IC- Panama Limiter +3
C&EI/L&N(2)
20:0021:32City of New Orleans
NEW YORKAmtrak
NYC-Twentieth Century Lim.+13
Penn-Broadway Limited +11
B&O(5), Erie(3), NKP/Lack(2),
C&0/Big4(2),, GTW/CN/LV(1)_
16:00
16:00
20:35
20:49
Lake Shore Limited, and
Capitol Lim.+Conn.trains
OMAHAAmtrak
CNW-City of LA, SF & Port.+7
"Q"-Denver Zephyr +4
Rock(3), Milw(2)
7:36
7:40
8:29California Zephyr
PITTSBURGHAmtrak
Penn- Broadway Limited + 14
B&O(5), NYC/Erie/P&LE(3)
Erie/P&LE(3)
7:529:25Capitol Limited
PORTLAND, ORAmtrak
CNW/UP-City of Portland + 2
"Q"/GN(2(, "Q"/NP(2)
40:0045:55Empire Builder
St. LOUISAmtrak
Alton-Abraham Lincoln + 6
IC - Green Diamond + 2
C&EI - Zipper +1
Wabash- Blue Bird +2
4:55
4:55
5:00
5:15
5:20
5:30
5:36
Lincoln Service
Lincoln Service (3)
Texas Eagle
SEATTLEAmtrak
CNW/UP - City of Portland + 3
"Q"/GN(1), "Q"/NP(2), Milw(1)
46:0546:05Empire Builder
WASHINGTON D.C.Amtrak
B&O - Capitol Limited + 4
Penn - Liberty Limited + 6
Big4/C&O(2)
15:50
16:20
17:25Capitol Limited +
Cardinal


Fort Wayne - Steam Speed Capitol of the U.S.
Fort Wayne, Indiana had a unique position in the glory days of steam, in the 30' and 40's. There was no other station platform in the United States you could stand on, than that of the Union Station in Fort Wayne, to view the greatest number of high speed steam trains arriving and departing every day. Fort Wayne was in the middle of the great Pennsylvania race track from Englewood, Illinois to Crestline, Ohio. All of the race track passenger trains stopped in Fort Wayne. We have listed all the 60 MPH start-stop runs that pause at the Fort Wayne Union Station, as well as those of other cities that are close.
City60+mph stopsTop SpeedAve,SpeedRailroad
Fort Wayne3176.967.2Pennsy(30)Wabash(1)
Milwaukee2271.564.4Milwaukee(18)CNW(4)
Toledo2370.964.0New York Central


Chicago Railroad Stations (1930-1940 era)
Central - (12th St. and the Lakefront - Owner Illinois Central)
Chesapeake and Ohio
Chicago, South Shore and South Bend (South Shore Line)
Big Four Route (NYC System)
Michigan Central
Illinois Central
Chicago and North Western - (Washington, Randolph, Canal & Clinton)
Chicago and North Western
Dearborn Street - (Polk & Dearborn - Owner Chicago & Western Indiana)
Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe (Santa Fe)
Chicago & Eastern Illinois
Chicago Indianapolis & Louisville (Monon)
Chicago & Western Indiana
Erie
Grand Trunk Western
Wabash
Grand Central - (201 W. Harrison - Owner Baltimore and Ohio)
Baltimore and Ohio
Chicago Great Western
Minneapolis St. Paul & Sault Ste Marie (Soo Line)
Pere Marquette
La Salle Street - (La Salle & Van Buren - Owner New York Central)
Chicago Rock Island & Pacific ( Rock Island)
New York Central
New York Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate)
Union - (Canal & Adams - Joint owners - PFW&C/PCC&StL[Pennsylvania], Burlington, Milwaukee Road)

Alton
Chicago Burlington & Quincy (Burlington)
Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific (Milwaukee Road)
Great Northern* (Burlington to St. Paul)
Northern Pacific* (Burlington to St. Paul)
Pennsylvania
Chicago Loop Rapid Transit Stations - (Wells, Van Buren, Randolph and Lake Streets)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin (Wells St. Terminal)
Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee (North Shore Line)
Chicago Rapid Transit (The El)

Map from Santa Fe timetable - 1947

* The Great Northern and Northern Pacific are listed since they have their own trains using the Burlington to reach St. Paul, which is the eastern terminus of their trackage.


Chicago Railroad Special Sources
The private timetable collection of Richard R.Parks
Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia- (web)
The Official Guide of the Railways-Various dates
The Trains We Rode-Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg(b&c)

Your source for 1930's-1940's Public Timetable and Railroad History
Please contact us with comments and suggestions e-mail


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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April 21, 2009, revised April 19, 2011