The Chicago and North Western Railway (CNW) was a standard-gauge (4ft 8½in or 1,435mm) US Class 1 railroad which operated from 1865 to 1995.
CNW Logo

The CNW's main logo which was used from the 1930's until the railroad's demise.

 It was one of the six US Class 1 railroads to be purchased and absorbed by the Union Pacific during the "mega-mergers" of the 1980s and '90s. Some of the locomotives ordered for the CNW were GE Dash 8, Dash 9, and AC4400CW diesel locomotives.

Early HistoryEdit

The CNW was first established in 1865 as one of the very first Midwestern State railroads in the United States, and was also one of the first to operate in Chicago; one of the world's rail capitols.
CNW logos

Some of the many various logos used by the CNW during its history.

They served from Chicago to the twin cities in Minnesota with busy, fully-loaded passenger trains; and delivered freight across rural areas of the midwest.

The CNW eventually began to compete with several other now-defunct US Class 1 railroads; such as the Milwaukee Road (MILW), Burlington Route (CBQ), Gulf, Mobile And Ohio (GM&O) and the Chicago and Great Western (CGW) railroad for freight and passenger service. The Chicago and Great Western, with its subsidaries, was purchased and split by the CNW and the Rock Island during the late-1940's.

The CNW also developed a trucking system like Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) did shortly after World War 2, though it was very short-lived. 

Mid HistoryEdit

Shortly after World War 2, the CNW briefly teamed-up with the UP and SP forming exclusive passenger trains servicing all three of the railroads passenger routes with non-stop service. This, however, ended towards the turn of the 1950s.

Later on, the Illinois Terminal Railroad as well as the Illinois Central both began delivering certain freight to the CNW, Rock Island, and the CBQ (Burlington Route) during the same time as their passenger traffic issues.

During the Cold War Era, the CNW began to lose a high number of their long distance passenger trains, and the Chicago RTA's buses were becoming crammed, and often lacked coverage because of this. Hence, the CNW and RTA's solution to establish commuter service on the "Racetrack" line, which is the actual main railroad mainline leading out of Chicago; which commuter service still exists today under the service of METRA.

CNW's commuter service, however, spelled the end of their long distance passenger service during the early-1970's due to the formation of Amtrak; and them losing funds to operate their commuter trains forcing them to give their rights to the newly-formed Burlington Northern. (Yet, the BN's commuter service eventually ended when METRA was formed.)

After the CNW's discontinuation of passenger service, they began to focus more on freight operations from the 1970's into the 1980's, which led to them competing with the Union Pacific once they expanded trackage towards Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota. This, however, began to come to an end towards the 1990's.

Later HistoryEdit

The CNW eventually began to meet its fate into the 1990's; they began losing freight traffic, yet they were still able to manage after purchasing large fleets of GE Dash 8, Dash 9, and AC4400CW diesel locomotives to help boost freight service. This proved to be successful, yet the Union Pacific knocked on the CNW's door during 1994, and after several agreements over the UP's employment plans and the planned improvement of freight operations in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota; the CNW was successfully purchased and absorbed by the Union Pacific during 1995, ending the CNW's long and successful history with serving the midwestern states and the large, rail capitol city of Chicago.

Heritage and PreservationEdit

Ever since the CNW was merged in 1995, the Union Pacific and several historical societies have preserved various rollingstock, locomotives, and buildings owned by the CNW, as well as the UP painting and numbering an EMD SD70ACe in a unqiue paintscheme and special number commemorating the CNW's heritage being part of the UP.

Several CNW diesel locomotives are preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum, as well as many patched (patchworked with UP lettering and logos) former CNW AC4400CW's and converted Dash 9's remaining on UP's roster, with only 2 unpatched units (CNW 8701 and CNW 8646) remaining as part of their unofficial heritage fleet.


The CNW actually purchased a fleet of former Great Northern EMD SD45's from the Burlington Northern during the 1980's, as well as several leased EMDX SD50's and SD60's that they experimented with before eventually having an entire fleet of SD50's and SD60's.

The AC4400CW was one of the CNW's only AC-powered, or AC-traction, type of diesel locomotive purchased by the railroad. (Aside from it being one of the last.)

The Nebkota Railway shortline (which obviously operates in South Dakota and Nebraska) proudly paints most of their units in various CNW schemes.

Over 30 patched former CNW AC4400CW units (including several converted Dash 9 units) still exist on UP's roster, with two being unpatched, as well as every other former CNW unit being retired, scrapped, or repainted.

Some CNW steam engines like engine No. 175, 1385, and 1361 is a Class R1 a ten wheeler.


Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.