Tag Archives: Chicago and North Western

The ex-Minneapolis & St. Louis between Cedar Lake Junction and Bass Lake yard

Today nothing much remains of the former main line of the Minneapolis & St. Louis in either Minnesota, Iowa, or Illinois.    This photo essay focuses on one of the bits that remains stretching from Cedar Lake Junction in Minneapolis on the former main line of the Great Northern (now the BNSF Wayzata sub) to where it is spliced into the former Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific transcontinental main line by Bass Lake in St. Louis Park.   Sadly, this bit of track is on borrowed time, for while it is operated by short line Twin Cities & Western, the corridor it occupies is slated to become the Southwest Corridor light rail line.   While rails will still grace the right-of-way, heavy freight will no longer rumble along it like in the glory days of the “Tootin’ Louie.”

In this photo essay we will tour the line.



Cedar Lake Junction as viewed on a partly sunny April 3rd, 2009. Interstate 394/Highway 12 looms in the background behind the signals and “Cedar Lake” sign. Once this was the site of the Cedar Lake yard and shops of the Louie plus a neighboring Great Northern yard. Now only these two tracks remain, with the jointed rail of the Louie on borrowed time. Photo by the author.


Despite the temporary routing of TC&W trains over the corridor, sights like these are for sore eyes indeed! Also taken on April 3rd, 2009, here we see the TC&W St. Paul Turn tip-toeing along the line at 10 MPH across the 21st Street West grade crossing. In lead is ILSX GP39-2 1389 with two more GP39-2s behind it, TC&W 2301 and 2300. Photo by the author.
The Saint Paul Turn heads down the old Louie past the sight of another yard, Kenwood. Currently the Kenilworth Trail occupies the site. Burnham Road crosses the bridge in the distance. Photo by the author.


The next set of photos was taken on November 5th, 2011. Here we are looking up the Louie main from the Cedar Lake Parkway grade crossing. Kenilworth Trail is to the right. Photo by the author.
The Cedar Lake Parkway grade crossing looking east.   How will it look once heavy rail is out and light rail is in?  Photo by the author.
Even the trail along Cedar Lake Parkway has its own grade crossing. Photo by the author.


This signal stands proud on the south side of the Cedar Lake Parkway grade crossing. It must date back to the days of the North Western if not the Louie. Photo by the author.


A view south along the Louie from the Cedar Lake Parkway grade crossing reveals the concrete base of a signal mast that once faced north as well as an old telephone box. Photo by the author.


Here is where the rails of the Louie are spliced into those of the Milwaukee Road in what once was the Milwaukee’s Bass Lake yard in St. Louis Park. The Southwest LRT trail takes over the Louie at this point. Photo by the author.



Dodge Center’s Old CGW Whistle Post

On a cold day in early March of this year, I visited the remains of the main line of the Chicago Great Western railroad in Dodge Center, Minnesota.   The line, which once ran north to south through this little burg, was used by CGW successor Chicago and North Western to haul grain to Kansas City until the early 1980s.  Then the line was torn up in favor of the recently acquired north-south Twin Cities-Kansas City “Spine Line” of the defunct Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific.

Much of the CGW main north and south of Dodge Center has either fallen victim to the farmers plow, become completly overgrown, or exsist as access roads to residental property and the like.   Lo and behold: while the CGW grade north of County Road 34 is heavily overgrown with spindly little trees and other brush, the line south of County 34 to the lines former crossing of the east-west rail line through town (now run by Canadian Pacific-owned and operated Dakota, Minnesota, and Eastern; also former CNW track) was clear of such detritus until right down by the site of the crossing itself.   And post-abandonment development encroaching on the line had been confined to a small duplex.   The remainder of the grade was not only undistrubed save for green grass, but I found much remaining track ballast still extant and visible since the rails went up long ago.   It also had something more substantial left over: the concrete whistle post pictured below.



Photo by the author.


I do believe the CGW used these to denote when the crossing of another railroad line was imminent.



The whistle post in its context. We are looking south towards the former crossing of the CP/DME line from between 2nd and Main streets. Photo by the author.


I love it when extant railroad artifacts remain standing along abandoned lines; they stand like monuments to past glories.