Chicago and North Western Railway (C&NW)
Discover the storied history of the Chicago and North Western Railway (C&NW), a key player in shaping the transportation landscape of the Midwest. Explore its origins, expansion, and pivotal role in connecting Racine to the broader rail network. Uncover the legacy of C&NW and its lasting impact on regional transportation.
Passenger and express workers pose for the photographer on a baggage cart under the brick arch at the south end of the Chicago & North Western Railway station platform near Liberty Street in Racine, about 1915.
The well-known Chicago architectural firm of Frost & Granger designed the Racine Passenger Station for the Chicago & North Western Railway (C & N~W Ry.). Frost & Granger designed more than 300 buildings for midwestern railroads around this time period, including many of the stations on the Chicago-Milwaukee route. Today it is registered on the U.S. Department of Interior’s List of Historic Places.
In 1939 the Chicago & North Western placed the new streamlined “400” passenger trains in service on the Chicago-Minneapolis route. The high-speed trains traveled at speeds of more than 100 m.p.h. The trains were named, The “400” because they traveled the 400 mile route in less than 400 minutes.
With brakes smoking, the Chicago to Madison Capitol “400” screeched to a halt at Racine in August 1952. This “400” passenger train was the world’s fastest scheduled passenger train at that time, reaching top speeds of 117 m.p.h. when running between Waukegan and Kenosha. Ernie Maragos photo.
A billboard announces the arrival of the new Bi-Level “400’s” in 1958. Passengers rode on two levels in these modern, streamlined cars.
The C&NW train conductor stands by as a group of elementary school children and their teachers gather on the platform after riding a commuter train from Milwaukee to Racine on the last day of operation for commuter trains, April 30, 1972. Learning to ride trains and buses was once a regular part of the school curriculum. Ralph Justen photo.
The Racine Transit Center provides a warm and welcoming place for bus passengers to safely transfer between routes. The restored station reflects Racine’s rich architectural heritage. Keith M. Kohlmann photo.
The windows of the main waiting room inside the Racine depot are resplendent with morning light reflecting off the polished marble terrazzo tile floor. Keith M. Kohlmann photo.
The waiting room inside the Racine depot was restored to match the original 1902 appearance. It features an oak beam ceiling and oak paneling, pink terrazzo marble flooring as part of the original color scheme. Replica lighting, travel information, and wide views through the windows create a unique rider experience. Keith M. Kohlmann photo.
The Liberty Street side of the Racine depot under a blanket of fresh snow, January 2012. The Transit Center is open six days a week. Visitors are welcome. Keith M. Kohlmann photo.