The Modern Burlington Route, "Everywhere West"
These roads constituted the original core of the Burlington system. However, like every other major Midwestern "granger" many other predecessors went on to create its modern network. Two other notables included the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad (chartered on February 16, 1847) and the Burlington & Missouri River Rail Road. The former, acquired by the Forbes group in 1854, was the first to complete an east-west route across the length of Missouri, opening on February 15, 1859. The railroad connected its namesake cities and interchanged with another Forbes road, the Quincy & Palmyra, at Palmyra. This little pike was only 14 miles which connected to the CB&Q at Quincy once a bridge had opened over the Mississippi River on November 9, 1868. Following the H&StJ's completion the B&MR was chartered on May 12, 1869 to build another lengthy route, this time across Iowa from Burlington to Council Bluffs/Omaha at the eastern point of the recently completed Transcontinental Railroad (Union Pacific). Work on the road proceeded quickly and, via lease, had reached Council Bluffs on January 3, 1870. A direct link into Omaha was established by July 19, 1871 (Omaha & South Western Railroad). The CB&Q took lease of the B&MR on December 31, 1872.
With a route already established to Kansas City the Burlington was fast becoming one of the Midwest's preeminent carriers. The two men most instrumental behind the railroad's great expansion throughout the 19th century was John Murray Forbes and John L. Gardner. Forbes died on October 12, 1898 who was followed by Gardner on December 10th. However, before their passing most of the modern CB&Q had been put into place and its future slogan "Everywhere West" was quite befitting! On May 29, 1882 it opened to Denver, Colorado and then four years later finally had a coveted direct route into the Twin Cities, completing its own line to St. Paul on August 23, 1886. There was additional growth during the 1890's as a new corridor reached St. Louis on March 4, 1894 and the CB&Q pushed further west into Montana where an interchange opened with the Northern Pacific at Huntley on October 28th that same year. The transcontinental NP became more than just a connection both at this point and the Twin Cities; the great "Empire Builder," James J. Hill, acquired the Burlington on May 21, 1901. Hill oversaw completion of the Great Northern then acquired the Northern Pacific in 1899. Shortly thereafter he also established the Spokane, Portland & Seattle as a bridge road linking Spokane, Washington with Portland, Oregon.
But, even into the 20th century the Burlington was not finished expanding. Its biggest acquisition came on December 19, 1908 when it acquired the Colorado & Southern Railway. The C&S had been created on December 19, 1898 to take over bankrupt Union Pacific, Denver & Gulf Railway stretching from Orin Junction, Wyoming to the Texas/New Mexico border running via Cheyenne, Denver, and Pueblo. The property also included a segment of narrow-gauge trackage stretching southwest of Denver and reaching Gunnison, Leadville, Como, and Georgetown. These lines were operated by the Colorado Central, Denver & Middle Park, and most notable of all the Denver, South Park & Pacific (until 1918 it also included the Colorado Midland Railway, operated jointly with the Rio Grande). Finally, there was the Fort Worth & Denver City, which the C&S also acquired through the Union Pacific bankruptcy following the financial Panic of 1893. At Texline, Texas the FW&DC connected with the C&S end-of-track and offered through service to Fort Worth. On June 1, 1925 it acquired trackage rights over Rock Island's Chicago, Rock Island & Gulf to reach Dallas.
Beyond Dallas/Fort Worth the C&S came to control the Trinity & Brazos Valley Railway in 1905 operating between Cleburne and Mexia. It was jointly owned with the Rock Island and extended from Mexia to Houston as well as between Teague and Waxahachie in 1907. To reach nearby Galveston the road established trackage rights over the Texas & New Orleans (Southern Pacific) but chronic financial problems forced the T&BV into bankruptcy during 1914. It was later reorganized as the Burlington-Rock Island Railroad on July 7, 1930 with the two parent roads in control. The Cleburne-Mexia segment, which utilized trackage rights over the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe to reach Fort Worth was abandoned during 1930's. This followed another change in trackage rights agreements between Dallas and Waxahachie as the B-RI switched from the T&NO to the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) on June 1, 1931. Beyond the extensions into the great Lone Star State little other major expansions occurred (one notable was the opening of a new extension connecting the C&S at Orin Junction with the CB&Q's original trackage into Montana at Fromberg which opened on October 18, 1914). The modern Chicago, Burlington & Quincy was a powerful system operating 11,000 route miles from the Midwest to the Rocky Mountains and even reaching the Gulf Coast.
The Profitable Burlington
The Burlington had long been a prosperous carrier throughout the 19th century and this continued into the 20th. The company was one of the few to never experience a bankruptcy throughout its corporate history. By the 1920's Mr. Overton's book notes the CB&Q was somewhat unique from the classic granger lines in that it did rely on any one particular source of freight. Its traffic base was considerably diversified ranging from agriculture and coal (tapped from the Ohio River valley in southern Illinois) to manufactured goods. There was also various less-than-carload movements and several interchange gateways. Following the Great Depression of 1929 and the downtrodden economy of the 1930's the Burlington struggled but avoided bankruptcy. According to Mike Schafer's book, "Classic American Railroads," its worst year was 1932 which was also the year Ralph Budd became president. Arguably the road's most influential president he turned the company into an even greater machine of efficiency and profits. Budd, unlike most within the industry,
did not hold onto outdated operational beliefs of the 19th century. This issue, the lack of modernity and innovation, plagued the industry through the postwar years. He realized as early as the
1930s that railroads would need to continually come up with new ways to retain business if they were to survive into the modern age of highways and airliners.
The most publicly visible aspect of its aim towards modern transportation was unveiling the Zephyr streamliner. Rival Union Pacific beat it to the punch by acquiring the first-ever such trainset on February 25, 1934 known as the M-10000. However, the Burlington's ultimately proved the most successful. As Mike Schafer and Joe Welsh note in their book, "Streamliners: History Of A Railroad Icon," the railroad placed its order with the Budd Company on June 17, 1933 for a sleek, stainless-steel trainset which was 197-feet long and featured three cars (Railway Post Office, baggage-coach, and coach-parlor observation). Received on April 7, 1934 it was the first of its kind to utilize a diesel engine; a 660 horsepower prime mover from the Winton Engine Company (a subsidiary of General Motors/Electro-Motive). The diesel proved much more successful than the M-10000's gasoline-distillate engine. The Zephyr #9900 (or Pioneer Zephyr) wowed the public with its sleek appearance and blazing speeds. During a trial run held on May 26th it left Denver at 5:05 AM in anticipation of reaching Chicago that same day. With an average speed of 78 mph it completed the 1,015-mile trip in just 14 hours, arriving in the Windy City at 7:10 PM.
Not surprisingly, this accomplishment and the train's good looks made it an instant hit with the public and the Burlington would go on to order several of these trainsets. It went on to launch an entire fleet of Zephyrs with names like the Twin Cities Zephyr, Mark Twain Zephyr, Denver Zephyr, and Ozark State Zephyr. Perhaps the railroad’s most famous was the California Zephyr which was jointly run with the Rio Grande and Western Pacific. The train, launched in 1949, traveled through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country and it was not surprising that it continued to do well even when train travel by the 1960s and 1970s was waning with the public. The train would eventually be operated only by the Rio Grande (which was then renamed as the Rio Grande Zephyr) and after it relinquished the train to Amtrak in the 1980s it was not only retained but also returned to its original name. While Budd retired from the CB&Q in 1949 his legacy was far reaching. Always looking for ways to cut costs and improve service he launched the transition from steam to diesel (Steam was gone from main line service by the late 1950's although its C&S still had a locomotive in service as late as 1962. In addition, fan trips were maintained through president Harry Murphy, Budd's successor, until his retirement in 1965 when they were discontinued the following year.) and implemented Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) as early as 1927.
Diesel Locomotive Roster
The American Locomotive Company
The Baldwin Locomotive Works
The Electro-Motive Corporation/Electro-Motive Division
|F3A||116A-128A, 116D-129D, 130A-138A, 130D-138D, 160A-162A, 9960A-9962A, 9960D-9962D||1947-1949||54|
|F3B||116B-138B, 116C-138C, 160B-162B, 160C-162C, 9960B-9962B||1947-1949||55|
|NW2||603, 605-606 (FW&DC)||1941-1946||3|
|F7A||700A-702A, 700D-702D (C&S)||1950||6|
|F7B||700B-702B, 700C-702C (C&S)||1950||6|
|F7A||750A-752A, 750D-752D (FW&DC)||1950||6|
|F7B||750B-752B, 750C-752C (FW&DC)||1950||6|
|Zephyr Trainset||9900-9905, 9906A-9907A, 9906B-9907B, 9908||1934-1939||11|
|E5A||9909, 9910A-9912A, 9913, 9914A, 9914B, 9915A, 9915B||1940-1941||8|
|E7A||9916A-9937A, 9916B-9936B, 9949||1945-1949||44|
|E8A||9937B, 9938A-9949A, 9938B-9948B, 9964-9969||1950-1952||30|
|E8A||9981A, 9981B (FW&DC)||1952||2|
|E9A||9985A-9989A, 9985B-9989B, 9990-9995||1954-1956||16|
Steam Locomotive Roster
|A-1 Through A-6||American||4-4-0|
|D-1 Through D-7||Consolidation||2-8-0|
|G-1 Through G-10||Switcher||0-6-0|
|H Through H-4||Mogul||2-6-0|
|K-1 Through K-10||American||4-6-0|
|M-1 Through M-3||Santa Fe||2-10-2|
|O-1 Through O-4||Mikado||2-8-2|
|P-1 Through P-6||Atlantic||4-4-2|
|R-1 Through R-5||Prairie||2-6-2|
|S-1 Through S-3||Pacific||4-6-2|
Murphy continued the improvements by updating the road's big classification yard in Chicago, Clyde Yard, into a modern hump facility, expanding CTC to protect 1,750 main line miles by the 1960's, opened the "Centennial Cutoff" on October 28, 1952 (this route shortened the distance between Chicago and Kansas City by 22 miles), and acquired the popular Vista-Domes for its top trains. The railroad, however, was destined to be merged with its allying roads, a dream James Hill had envisioned since the early 20th century. The attempt had been made numerous times until finally on August 24, 1964 the Interstate Commerce Commission approved the deal. On March 2, 1970 Burlington Northern was born through the CB&Q, GN, NP, and SP&S. The BN lasted only 25 years before merging with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe
to become the Burlington Northern Santa Fe on September 22, 1995. Even though the Burlington is no
more today it continues to live on as almost all of its main lines are
still important routes for its successor. Forever recognized as one of
the best managed railroads of all time perhaps it is best remembered by
the communities it served as a down home company who deeply cared about
its roots, something all but lost in today’s Class I systems.
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