"On the Hiawatha you'll enjoy famous Milwaukee Road meals in a new
and novel dining car. Adjoining is the unique Tip Top Tap Room with its
club-like atmosphere and appointments. Fleeter than the mighty hero of
Indian legend, The Milwaukee Road's Hiawatha speeds through Wisconsin's
lakelands and along the scenic Mississippi, creating a new ideal of
fast, luxurious travel." The Midwest Hiawatha was
officially christened for service in Omaha by Sandra Bock, granddaughter
of Omaha's general passenger agent W.E. Bock. All along the train's
route other celebrations were held at Sioux Falls, South Dakota and
Sioux City, Iowa (a section split at Manila, Iowa to
reach these locations). Its consist was typical of the Hiawathas including an express car, reclining seat coaches, a tap-diner (later a diner-lounge was added), and a classic "Beaver Tail" parlor-observation.
For those interested in a summary of the equipment used on the Midwest Hiawatha Jim Scribbins' book, "The Hiawatha Story," provides all of this information in great detail from car names and build date to their layouts, numbers, and final disposition. After Electro-Motive convinced the Milwaukee Road of the diesel's superiority following successful demonstrations with its E6 model the railroad purchased a set, #15A-15B for use on the Chicago-Twin Cities corridor. As a result steam was to play a continually declining role after only a few years in service, an unfortunate fate for such beautifully crafted and technology-advanced machines. The onset of World War II precluded the Milwaukee from purchasing more diesels during that time but after the conflict had ended new locomotives were ordered as soon as the company was able.
On June 14, 1946 Electro-Motive E7As took over on the Midwest Hiawatha
and two years later, on July 2, 1948 it received new or upgraded
equipment. In typical fashion the new diesels zipped the train across
the prairies and through the Heartland at up to 100 mph. Like most
railroads the Milwaukee anticipated a resurgence and sustained interest
in rail travel after the war, which never came. To the Road's credit,
however, service remained top notch even during the darkening days of
the 1960s. Unfortunately, the Midwest Hiawatha's end came abruptly.
Following an agreement with the Union Pacific to handle its
transcontinental streamliners between Chicago and Omaha (including the City of San Francisco, City of Denver, City of Los Angeles, and City of Portland) starting October 30, 1955 the Midwest Hi ran for the last time independently the day prior (October 29th). Technically, the Milwaukee considered it combined with with the City trains but effective it was gone.
Official "Midwest Hiawatha" Timetable (April 24, 1955)
Manila-Sioux Falls section continued in service for another few months
until it, too made its final run on April 29, 1956. The partnership with UP ended years of cooperation with the Chicago & North Western dating back to the early 20th century when the two roads had often worked together to provide transcontinental service. According to The Milwaukee Road Magazine opening day went very well and the UP-Milwaukee Road connection continued strong until Amtrak took over intercity operations on May 1, 1971. Sadly, even the Milwaukee's high-speed route to Omaha is now mostly a memory through Iowa, returned to farm fields and pastures following its abandonment after the railroad fell into bankruptcy during the late 1970s.
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