John Speller's Web Pages Galena & Chicago Union Railroad

John Speller's Web Pages - US Railroads
Galena & Chicago Union Railroad (C&NWRR)
The Galena & Chicago Union Railroad was chartered by the State of Illinois on 16 January 1836 to build a line from Chicago to Galena on the Mississippi River. Though the principal promoter was the first Mayor of Chicago, William Butler Ogden (1805-1877), the city council did not at first allow the railroad into the city, and it terminated at the city boundary. They had, however, relented by 10 October 1848 when 4-2-0 locomotive "Pioneer" hauled the first train into the city. The line opened as far as Freeport on 25 August 1853, but meanwhile an agreement had been reached with the Illinois Central Railroad to complete the line to Galena and to give the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad trackage rights. In 1862 the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad obtained a 999 year lease on the Cedar Rapids & Missouri Railroad, which eventually extended to Council Bluffs, Iowa and connected with the Transcontinental Railroad to the Pacific.

The Galena & Chicago Union Railroad merged into the Chicago & North Western Railroad in 1864, which led to the curious happenstance that the C&NWRR became the only US railroad to run of the left-hand track like British trains. This is thought to have been because the stations were on the left side and when the track was doubled it was convenient for passengers commuting to Chicago not to have to stand in the cold. The C&NWRR became part of the Union Pacific system in 1996. The line between Chicago and West Chicago now operates as the Union Pacific/West Line commuter service, run jointly by the UPRR and Metra.
William Butler Ogden (1805-1877), first Mayor of Chicago
The original Chicago station of the Galena & Chicago Union Railway
Map of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad in 1862
The "Pioneer" locomotive was originally built for the Utica & Schenectady Railroad, and was then sold to the Michigan Central Railroad and named the "Alert." The Michigan Central in turn sold it to the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, where it was renamed "Pioneer," and was the first locomotive to enter Chicago, as well as the first to turn a wheel west of the Great Lakes. This photograph must surely be one of the earliest of any American locomotive
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