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.”
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.
I do believe the CGW used these to denote when the crossing of another railroad line was imminent.
I love it when extant railroad artifacts remain standing along abandoned lines; they stand like monuments to past glories.