Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific 1847–1977


Map Code: Ax02016

The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific railroad began operating in 1847 and is known for its high-speed Hiawatha sleeper-trains and its electrified central line – the 2,300-mile (3,701-km) Pacific Coast Extension (built between 1906–1909). The railroad grew from the much smaller Milwaukee and Waukesha Railroad, which serviced the lead mines in the region. In the 1840s, as the agricultural industry grew with wheat as its staple crop, the railroad needed to expand to provide transport to eastern markets. After its merger in 1847, its first additional line was from Milwaukee to Wauwatosa (1850). It continued to expand in the region, reaching the Mississippi River in 1857. There were several more mergers and some very prominent investors, including Alexander Mitchell and William Rockefeller. The Pacific extension was a major feat of engineering; the line traversed towering mountain ranges to link Chicago to Washington state. The railroad filed for bankruptcy in 1977, after failing to upgrade its trains and tracks.

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