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Local History Index
Wisconsin Central Railroad (the Soo Line )
click Index to Wisconsin Central / Soo Railroad articles for much more!
Also see the Colgate and Chicago & North Western
and The Bugline (Bug Line) the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad
Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly
Last Revised 05/14/2015
All entries are attributed to The Waukesha Freeman unless otherwise noted.
No. 2906, a 4-4-2 built by Brooks in 1902, approaches the Templeton depot with train No. 5 as Agent Lutz waits with the mail. Ca. 1912. Courtesy Dean T. Kedinger collection. The little girl off to the right is possibly Lutz's daughter, since the station agent's family lived up stairs. Both of the above photos are part of the Fred H. Keller collection.
The depot in 1972
Wisconsin Central Railway (1897–1954)
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Editor note: some of the hyper-links below may not work since they are found on the wikipedia.org website.
The original Wisconsin Central Railroad Company was established by an act of the Wisconsin State Legislature and incorporated in February 1871. It built track throughout Wisconsin, connecting to neighboring states, before being leased to Northern Pacific Railway between 1889–1893. It became the Wisconsin Central Railway Company in 1897, and back to Wisconsin Central Railroad Company in 1954. The railroad was merged into the Soo Line Railroad in 1961.
The Wisconsin Central's existence as an independent carrier was short-lived. Much of the Wisconsin Central right of way was built over land obtained through a Federal land-grant. It was the only land-grant railroad in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Central Railway's tracks reached Ashland in 1877, St. Paul in 1884, Chicago in 1886 and Superior in 1908. The line was leased from 1889-1893 by the Northern Pacific Railroad. The lease was terminated when the Northern Pacific declared bankruptcy during the Panic of 1893. After a proposed merger with the Northern Pacific fell through in 1908, the Wisconsin Central was leased by the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway, commonly known as the Soo Line, in 1908. Controlling interest in the Soo Line (along with the Wisconsin Central) was held by the Canadian Pacific Railroad. The Wisconsin Central entered receivership in 1932, declared bankruptcy in 1944, and finally re-emerged from administration in 1954 as the Wisconsin Central Railroad. The Wisconsin Central was entirely merged into the new Soo Line Railroad in 1961.
While under the control of the Northern Pacific, the Wisconsin Central Railroad constructed Solon Spencer Beman's great Romanesque Grand Central Station (Chicago) in 1889 as its southern terminus. When the Northern Pacific defaulted on its lease terms in 1893, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad acquired the several Chicago properties of the Wisconsin Central including Grand Central Station.
Wisconsin Central Ltd. (reporting mark WC) is a railroad subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway. At one time, its parent Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation owned or operated railroads in the United States, Canada (Algoma Central Railway), the United Kingdom (English, Welsh and Scottish Railway), New Zealand (Tranz Rail), and Australia (Australian Transport Network).
Wisconsin Central Ltd. (WC) started in the mid 1980s using most of the originalWisconsin Central Railway's rights of way and some former Milwaukee Road rights of way after the Soo Line Railroad acquired the Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Minnesota holdings of the bankrupt Milwaukee Road and divested its older railway trackage in Wisconsin. In 1993 the Wisconsin Central also acquired the Green Bay and Western Railroad and the Fox River Valley Railroad.
In 1995, the Wisconsin Central acquired the 322-mile (518 km) CanadianAlgoma Central Railway whose tracks ran north of Sault Saint Marie to Hearst, Ontario. The Algoma Central is best known for its popular tourist passenger train through the Agawa Canyon and Agawa Canyon Wilderness Park near Lake Superior Provincial Park.
In 2001 the Wisconsin Central was purchased by a second Canadian railroad, theCanadian National Railway. Along with the former Illinois Central Railroad, the former Wisconsin Central became part of Canadian National's United States holdings and its property integrated into the CN system.
At the time of its sale toCanadian National, Wisconsin Central operated over 2,850 miles (4,590 km) of track in the Great Lakes region. The railroad extended from Chicago into and through Wisconsin to Minneapolis/St. Paul and Duluth, Minnesota, to Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, and north (through the Algoma Central Railway) to Hearst, Ontario.