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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Railroading in Chicago reaches 160-year marker


How long have trains been rumbling in and around Chicago? Since 1848.

Union Pacific Railroad issued a press release yesterday to commemorate 160 years of railroading in the Windy City. On Oct. 25, 1848, Chicago’s first train, operated by UP forerunner the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, departed from the Windy City's first train depot.

Soon after the Galena & Chicago became the first railroad in Chicago, the competition to move agricultural goods out of the city and state to distant destinations led to the formation of more Chicago railroads. By 1860, 10 railroads called the city home.

As the national rail network expanded in the mid-19th century, many small railroads were combined into larger regional systems. In 1864, the Galena & Chicago merged with the Chicago & North Western (C&NW), which in 1867 became the first railroad to connect with UP at Council Bluffs, Iowa.    

Fast forward to 1984, the year the C&NW partnered with UP to open a line in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, helping the region become a major source of low sulfur coal to the nation. The C&NW and UP merged in 1995.

Today, Chicago retains its title as the United States’ largest rail hub.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/23/2008