The Chicago & Northwestern Line (C&NW) started operating in 1848, when the incomplete Galena & Chicago Union line was taken over by new investors who were determined to see it finished. By 1863 a line had been constructed from Chicago to Omaha, and from then onwards it continued expanding lines westwards, connecting with subsidiary railroads, such as the Chicago, St Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha. It had a period of accelerated expansion for a decade from the late 1870s and by 1886 it had merged with the Northwestern line to reach Wyoming. This is the year that it was formally named the C&NW and it almost immediately began transporting agricultural products on a 11,000-mile (17,703-km) route across Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota, Minnesota and Michigan. Clean burning coal resources were mined and transported in the 1980s, causing a financial resurgence, after a period of struggle. Union Pacific purchased the company in 1955.
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