The Minneapolis & St Louis Railway

The Minneapolis & St Louis Railway was founded in 1870 to connect the Minneapolis area with points south, although it would never connect to St. Louis. Minneapolis was home to the largest flour milling operations in the country at that time. Nonetheless, it grew to serve four states; South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

Image: Minneapolis & St. Louis 244. Jeff Terry

During the 1880's, it ran into receivership and became under the control of the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. This would pair it with another CRI&P subsidiary, namely the Iowa Central Railroad.

In 1917, the railroad was nationalized for the war effort of World War I, coming under the control of the United States Railroad Administration. This proved disastrous, as the railroad could not modernize post control, and was left to larger railroads to decide its fate.

In 1960, this dilemma was solved when the railroad was purchased by the Chicago & Northwestern Railway.

As the railroad grew, it crossed the Mississippi River at Keithsburg, IL, en route to Peoria, IL, and this line became one of the few Mississippi River crossings that would eventually be abandoned.

Keithsburg Rail Bridge. Image contributed by John Marvig via BridgeHunter. This bridge closed in 1971

Like many railroads post-1960, it would not have been profitable as a standalone company, and merged with other railroads to create a larger transportation network. This practice continued, and continues, early into the 2000's. In 1925, there were 174 Class I railroads in the United States, many of which much smaller than the Class I's of today, while eight remain today, only seven of which provide freight service.

Map of lines associated with the M&StL. (Wikipedia Commons)

Minneapolis & St. Louis 232. Unknown photographer. Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places Photo Collection.

Further Reading: The Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway: A Photographic History by Don L Hofsommer (Amazon Link)

Thanks as always for reading!


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