Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (reporting mark CBQ) was a
railroad that operated in the Midwestern United States. Commonly
referred to as the Burlington or as the Q, the Burlington Route
served a large area, including extensive trackage in the states of
Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana,
Nebraska, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and also in
New Mexico and
Colorado and Southern Railway, Fort Worth and Denver
Railway, and Burlington-Rock Island Railroad. Its
primary connections included Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis,
Kansas City and Denver. Because of this extensive trackage in the
midwest and mountain states, the railroad used the advertising slogans
"Everywhere West", "Way of the Zephyrs", and "The Way West". It merged
Burlington Northern in 1970.
In 1967, it reported 19,565 million net ton-miles of revenue freight
and 723 million passenger miles; corresponding totals for C&S were
1,100 and 10 and for FW&D were 1,466 and 13. At the end of the
year CB&Q operated 8,538 route-miles, C&S operated 708 and
FW&D operated 1362. (These totals may or may not include the
former Burlington-Rock Island Railroad.)
2 The Burlington Zephyrs
4 Cities platted by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
5 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
The earliest predecessor of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, the
Aurora Branch Railroad, was chartered by act of the
Assembly on October 2, 1848. The charter was obtained
by citizens of Aurora and Batavia, Illinois, who were concerned that
Galena and Chicago Union Railroad
Galena and Chicago Union Railroad would bypass their towns in
favor of West Chicago on its route; at the time, that was the only
line running west from Chicago. The Aurora Branch was built from
Aurora, through Batavia, to Turner Junction in what is now West
Chicago. The line was built with old strap rail and minimal, if any,
grading. Using a leased locomotive and cars, the Aurora Branch ran
passenger and freight trains from Aurora to Chicago via its own line
from Aurora to Turner Junction and one of the G&CU's two tracks
east from there to Chicago. The G&CU required the Aurora Branch to
turn over 70 percent of their revenue per ton-mile handled on that
railroad; as a result, in the mid-1850s, surveys were ordered to
determine the best route for a railroad line to Chicago.
The line from Aurora to Chicago was built through the fledgling towns
of Naperville, Lisle, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Berwyn, and the west
side of Chicago. It was opened in 1864, and passenger and freight
service began. Regular commuter train service started in 1864 and
remains operational to this day, making it the oldest surviving
regular passenger service in Chicago. Both the original Chicago line,
and to a much lesser extent, the old Aurora Branch right of way, are
still in regular use today by the Burlington's present successor BNSF
With a steady acquisition of locomotives, cars, equipment, and
trackage, the Burlington Route was able to enter the trade markets in
1862. From that year to date, the railroad and its successors have
paid dividends continuously, and never run into debt or defaulted on a
loan—the only Class I U.S. railroad for which this is true.
After extensive trackwork was planned, the Aurora Branch changed its
name to the Chicago and Aurora Railroad in June 1852, and to
Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad in 1856, and shortly reached
its two other namesake cities, Burlington,
Iowa and Quincy, Illinois.
In 1868 CB&Q completed bridges over the
Mississippi River both at
Burlington, Iowa, and Quincy,
Illinois giving the railroad through
connections with the Burlington and
Missouri River Railroad (B&MR)
Iowa and the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad (H&StJ) in
Missouri. The first Railway Post Office was inaugurated on the
H&StJ to sort mail on the trains way across Missouri, passing the
mail to the
Pony Express upon reaching the
Missouri River at St.
The B&MR continued building west into
Nebraska as a separate
company, the Burlington &
Missouri River Rail Road, founded in
1869. During the summer of 1870 it reached Lincoln, the newly
designated capital of
Nebraska and by 1872 it reached Kearney,
Nebraska. That same year the B&MR across
Iowa was absorbed by the
CB&Q. By the time the
Missouri River bridge at Plattsmouth,
Nebraska was completed the B&MR in
Nebraska was well on its way to
the Mile High city of Denver, Colorado. That same year, the Nebraska
B&MR was purchased by the CB&Q, which completed the line to
Denver by 1882.
Burlington's rapid expansion after the
American Civil War
American Civil War was based
upon sound financial management, dominated by
John Murray Forbes of
Boston and assisted by Charles Elliott Perkins. Perkins was a powerful
administrator who eventually forged a system out of previously loosely
held affiliates, virtually tripling Burlington's size during his
presidency from 1881 to 1901.
Burlington Route system map, 1892. Burlington lines are black;
connecting railroads are red.
Ultimately, Perkins believed the
Burlington Railroad must be included
into a powerful transcontinental system. Though the railroad stretched
as far west as Denver and Billings, Montana, it had failed to reach
Pacific Coast during the 1880s and 1890s, when construction was
less expensive. Though approached by
E. H. Harriman
E. H. Harriman of the Union
Pacific Railroad, Perkins felt his railroad was a more natural fit
with James J. Hill's Great Northern Railway. With its river line to
the Twin Cities, the Burlington Route formed a natural connection
between Hill's home town (and headquarters) of St. Paul, Minnesota,
and the railroad hub of Chicago. Moreover, Hill was willing to meet
Perkins' $200-a-share asking price for the Burlington's stock. By
1900, Hill's Great Northern, in conjunction with the Northern Pacific
Railway, held nearly 100 percent of Burlington's stock.
In 1901 a rebuffed Harriman tried to gain an indirect influence over
the Burlington by launching a stock raid on the Northern Pacific.
Though Hill managed to fend off this attack on his nascent system, it
led to the creation of the Northern Securities Company, and later, the
Northern Securities Co. v. United States
Northern Securities Co. v. United States ruling by the U.S. Supreme
Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad steam locomotive #5633 built
1940 at West Burlington, Iowa, in service until 1956, on display since
1962 in Douglas, Wyoming
Following the purchase of the Burlington by GN and NP, expansion
continued. In 1908, the CB&Q purchased both the
Southern and Fort Worth & Denver Railways, giving it access south
to Dallas and the Gulf of Mexico ports in
Galveston. It also extended its reach south in the
Mississippi Valley region by opening up a new line from Concord,
Illinois south to Paducah, Kentucky. It was during this period that
the Burlington was at its largest, exceeding just over 12,000 route
miles in 14 states by the 1920s. With the First World War having
the same effect on the railroad as on all other railroads, during the
1920s, the Burlington Route had an increasingly heavy amount of
equipment flooding the yards. With the advent of the Great Depression,
the CB&Q held a good portion of this for scrap. Despite the
decrease of passengers, it was during this time that the railroad
introduced the famed Zephyrs.
In 1929, the CB&Q created a subsidiary, the Burlington
Transportation Company, to operate intercity buses in tandem with its
railway network. In 1936, the company would become one of the founding
members of the Trailways Transportation System, and still provides
intercity service to this day as Burlington Trailways.
As early as 1897, the railroad had been interested in alternatives to
steam power, namely, internal-combustion engines. The railroad's shops
in Aurora had built an unreliable three-horsepower distillate motor in
that year, but it was hugely impractical (requiring a massive
6,000-pound flywheel) and had issues with overheating (even with the
best metals of the day, its cylinder heads and liners would warp and
melt in a matter of minutes) and was therefore impractical. Diesel
engines of that era were obese, stationary monsters and were best
suited for low-speed, continuous operation. None of that would do in a
railroad locomotive; however, there was no diesel engine suitable for
that purpose then.
A Zephyr arriving at East Dubuque, Illinois
Always innovating, the railroad both purchased "doodlebug"
gas-electric combine cars from Electro-Motive Corporation and built
their own, sending them out to do the jobs of a steam locomotive and a
single car. With good success in that field, and after having
purchased and tried a pair of
General Electric steeple-cab switchers
powered by distillate engines, Burlington president Ralph Budd
requested of the Winton Engine Company a light, powerful diesel engine
that could stand the rigors of continuous, unattended daily service.
The experiences of developing these engines can be summed up shortly
General Motors Research vice-president Charles Kettering: "I do not
recall any trouble with the dip stick." Ralph Budd, accused of
gambling on diesel power, chirped that "I knew that the GM people were
going to see the program through to the very end. Actually, I wasn't
taking a gamble at all." The manifestation of this gamble was the
eight-cylinder Winton 8-201A diesel, a creature no larger than a small
Dumpster, that powered the Burlington Zephyr (built 1934) on its
record run and opened the door for developing the long line of diesel
engines that has powered Electro-Motive locomotives for the past
Burlington locomotive hauling an express freight circa 1967. These
locomotives were also used for the Zephyr passenger trains.
After the Second World War, the CB&Q had overworked steam
locomotives in a fleet which it was beginning to convert to diesel
engines. The company rapidly expanded its diesel program and slowly
took steam locomotives out of service. On September 28, 1959, the last
steam-powered commuter train from Chicago rolled to a stop in Downers
Grove, marking the end of steam passenger operations on the railroad.
The last steam in regular revenue service was CB&Q Subsidiary
C&S, which operated locomotive 641 until 1962 to serve the Climax
Mine near Leadville,
Colorado (internal combustion engines were not as
effective as steam locomotives due to the high altitude of the mine.)
The Burlington railroad was owned by the Great Northern and Northern
Pacific railroads. As early as 1960 the three railroads were planning
on merging into one. A proposed name for the merger was "The Great
Northern, Pacific and Burlington lines".
As the financial situation of American railroading continued to
decline through the 1960s, forcing restructuring across the country,
Burlington Railroad merged with the Great Northern, Northern
Pacific, and the Spokane, Portland and Seattle railroads on March 2,
1970 to form the Burlington Northern. Passenger service was markedly
reduced, as people had shifted to using private automobiles for many
The Burlington Zephyrs
The passengers, including "Zeph" the burro, that rode the Zephyr on
the "Dawn-to-Dusk Dash" gather for a group photo in front of the train
after arriving in Chicago on May 26, 1934.
Ozark State Zephyr
Ozark State Zephyr in 1936.
The railroad operated a number of streamlined passenger trains known
as the Zephyrs which were one of the most famous and largest fleets of
streamliners in the United States. The Burlington Zephyr, the first
American diesel-electric powered streamlined passenger train, made its
noted "dawn-to-dusk" run from Denver, Colorado, to Chicago, Illinois,
on May 26, 1934. On November 11, 1934, the train was put into
regularly scheduled service between Lincoln, Nebraska, and Kansas
City, Missouri. Although the distinctive, articulated stainless steel
trains were well known, and the railroad adopted the "Way of the
Zephyrs" advertising slogan, they did not attract passengers back to
the rails en masse, and the last one was retired from revenue service
with the advent of Amtrak.
The Zephyr fleet included:
Pioneer Zephyr (Lincoln–Omaha–
Twin Cities Zephyr
Twin Cities Zephyr (Chicago–Minneapolis-St. Paul),
Mark Twain Zephyr
Mark Twain Zephyr (St. Louis–Burlington),
Denver Zephyr (Chicago–Denver),
Nebraska Zephyr (Chicago–Lincoln),
Houston Zephyr (Houston–Dallas-Ft. Worth),
Ozark State Zephyr
Ozark State Zephyr (
Kansas City–St. Louis),
General Pershing Zephyr
General Pershing Zephyr (
Kansas City–St. Louis),
Silver Streak Zephyr
Silver Streak Zephyr (
Ak-Sar-Ben Zephyr (
Zephyr Rocket (St. Louis–Burlington–Minneapolis-St. Paul), jointly
with Rock Island
Texas Zephyr (Denver–Dallas-Ft. Worth),
American Royal Zephyr
American Royal Zephyr (Chicago–
Kansas City Zephyr (Chicago–
California Zephyr (Chicago–Oakland): Chicago–Denver handled by
CB&Q; Denver–Salt Lake City by Denver and Rio Grande Western
Railroad; Salt Lake City–Oakland by Western Pacific Railroad.
Other named passenger trains which operated on the Burlington
These trains were operated jointly with
Northern Pacific Railway
Northern Pacific Railway and
had a different name when they were east or westbound.
The club car of the Chicago Limited and the Denver Limited. The train
had an eastbound and westbound name.
Aristocrat (Chicago–Denver): replaced the
Ak-Sar-Ben (Chicago–Lincoln): replaced
Nebraska Limited and replaced
by Ak-Sar-Ben Zephyr.
American Royal (Chicago–
Kansas City): replaced by the American Royal
Atlantic Express (Seattle-Tacoma-Chicago): jointly with Northern
Black Hawk (Chicago–Twin Cities overnight).
Buffalo Bill (Denver-Yellowstone) Seasonal tri-weekly service between
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park via Cody, Wyoming.
Chicago Limited (Chicago-Denver).
Coloradoan (Chicago–Denver): replaced by the Aristocrat.
Denver Limited (Denver-Chicago).
Exposition Flyer (Chicago–Oakland) in conjunction with D&RGW and
WP prior to the launching of the California Zephyr.
Empire Builder: handled Great Northern Railway's flagship between
Chicago and Minneapolis.
Fast Mail (Chicago–Lincoln).
Mainstreeter: handled the Northern Pacific Railway's secondary
transcontinental between Chicago and Minneapolis.
Nebraska Limited (Chicago–Lincoln): replaced by the Ak-Sar-Ben.
North Coast Limited: handled Northern Pacific Railway's flagship
between Chicago and Minneapolis.
North Pacific Express (Chicago-Seattle-Tacoma): jointly with Northern
Overland Express (Chicago-Denver). This train, along with The
Aristocrat and the
Colorado Limited, were promoted as companion trains
to the streamlined Denver Zephyr.
Shoshone: (Denver-Billings) operated between Denver,
Billings, Montana. Referred to affectionately as "The Night Crawler".
Western Star: handled the Great Northern Railway's secondary
transcontinental between Chicago and Minneapolis.
Zephyr Connection: (Denver-Cheyenne) offered daytime service along
Colorado's Front Range between Denver,
Colorado and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
California Zephyr is still operated daily today by
trains Five (westbound) and Six (eastbound). Another
Amtrak train, the
Illinois Zephyr, is a modern descendant of the
Kansas City Zephyr and
American Royal Zephyr
American Royal Zephyr services.
The Burlington was a leader in innovation; among its firsts were use
of the printing telegraph (1910), train radio communications (1915),
streamlined passenger diesel power (1934) and vista-dome coaches
(1945). In 1927, the railroad was one of the first to use Centralized
Traffic Control (CTC) and by the end of 1957 had equipped 1,500 miles
(2,400 km) of its line.
The railroad had one of the first hump classification yards at its
Cicero Avenue Yard in Chicago, allowing an operator in a tower to line
switches remotely and allowing around-the-clock classification.
Cities platted by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
Pacific Junction, Iowa
Burlington Refrigerator Express
^ "Chicago Burlington & Quincy Station". Rock Island Preservation
Society. February 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
^ "Burlington & M. R. R. Co. in
Nebraska v. Burch; Court of
Appeals of Colorado, May 12, 1902". The American and English Railroad
Cases: A Collection of All Cases Affecting Railroads of Every Kind,
Decided by the Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction in the United States,
England, and Canada. Vol. 27. E. Thompson. 1903. pp. 21–26.
Retrieved September 6, 2015.
^ Dorin (1976), p. 9.
^ Dorin (1976), p. 10.
^ Schwantes (2003), p. 187.
^ Yago (1984), p. 172.
^ "The Pioneer Zephyr". ASME.
^ Dorin (1976) Chapters 2, 4, 5. pp. 14–29, 36–77, 78–90.
^ a b A Marvelous Vacation in Cool
Colorado (ad for the Denver
Zephyr). Life Magazine. 19 April 1937. p. 79. Retrieved 26
^ Mann, Charles F.A. (September 17, 1935). "Most Powerful Diesel Ready
for Rail Service". The Meriden Daily Journal. Retrieved 28 March
^ The Scenic Way to California (ad for the Exposition Flyer). Life
Magazine. 21 April 1941. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
Dorin, Patrick C. (1976). Everywhere West: The Burlington Route.
Seattle, Wash.: Superior Publishing Company. ISBN 0-87564-523-2.
LCCN 76017317. OCLC 2225153.
Schwantes, Carlos A. (2003). Going Places: transportation Redefines
the Twentieth-century West. Indiana University Press.
Yago, Glenn (1984). The Decline of Transit: Urban Transportation in
German and U.S. Cities, 1900–1970. Cambridge University Press.
Bryant, Keith L., Jr., Editor. Encyclopedia of American Business
History and Biography, Railroads in the Twentieth Century. New York:
Facts on File, 1990.
Frey, Robert L., Editor. Encyclopedia of American Business History and
Biography, Railroads in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Facts on
Hidy, Ralph W., et al. The Great Northern Railway, A History. Boston:
Harvard Business School Press, 1988.
Klein, Maury. The Life and Legend of E.H. Harriman. Chapel Hill, NC:
University of North Carolina Press, 2000.
Larson, John L. Bonds of Enterprise:
John Murray Forbes and Western
Development in America's Railway Age, expanded edition.
Iowa Press, 2001
James J. Hill
James J. Hill and the Opening of the Northwest. New
York: Oxford University Press, 1976.
Overton, Richard C. Burlington Route, a History of the Burlington
Lines. New York: Knopf, 1965
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chicago, Burlington and Quincy
Burlington Route Historical Society
North American Railroad Slogans
Pioneer Zephyr Exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry
California Zephyr Virtual Museum
The CB&Q Mark Twain Zephyr
Streamliners: America's Lost Trains – The American Experience
The Northern Securities Decision Northern Securities Co. v. United
States at Cornell Law School's Supreme Court Collection.
Illinois Railroads as of 1850
List and Family Trees of North American Railroads
Class I railroads of North America
CP- D&H, SOO
Railroads in italics meet the revenue specifications for Class I
status, but are not technically Class I railroads due to being
passenger-only railroads with no