June 1986 - Page 16
For years a typical occurrence at Mendota-now just a memory-a CB&Q freight heads west behind a Chinese Red GP20 and two high-nose
SD24's in similar paint. It's January of 1967, and Burlington Northern is only a little more than three years away.
s t re t c h i n g from Galena i n nor t h western Illinois to Centralia in the southern part of the state. The route b e c a m e a s e co ndary l i n e w he n I C reached Chicago later i n the 1 800's. The now-abandoned Milwaukee line was that road's Janesville (Wis. )-Ladd (Il l . ) branch . Unfortunately, IC tower succumbed to the bulldozer's blade early in 1 980 . Since then , track a l i gnment has changed somewhat (in fact, there were changes made well before the tower was demolished), but the crossing still exists, albeit without the Milwaukee Road . And the plant is still a moderate ly busy location at which to study and photograph trains.
daily movements plus occasional ex tras called upon Mendota, including a veritable fleet of local trains which worked the east-west main as well as the various CB&Q branches which ra diated from the area. Passenger oper ations ranged from local runs with ar chaic-yet-quaint gas-electric "doodle bugs," to the mainline runs. There were the famous (notably the Zephyr fleet) and not-so-famous: The varnish was clad in stainless steel as well as Pullman green.
1 5 movements per day when it was a Chicago bypass for traffic out of Iowa destined to New Orleans ports.
eThe Milwaukee Road: T he undisput
ed underdog in Mendota surely was the vestigal CMStP&P. Milwaukee op erated through the plant via their J anesville-Ladd secondary line. Ladd, not too distant from Mendota, was at one time an important mining town (zinc, coal) and a point at which several railroads interchanged (New York Central, B urlington , Milwaukee and La Salle & B ureau County). The site was also the location of Milwaukee's system coal mine; most of the Milwau kee's coal needs were supplied from this source. Milwaukee had some interesting and unusual traffic patterns, which included such movements as Jones & Laughlin Steel Co.'s unit coil steel trains operating in conj unction with the NYC out of Hennepin, Ill . , and sev eral small-scale unit coal trains orig'i nating at Ladd. In addition, such exo tica as orange-and-maroon F-units and Fairbanks-Morse H 1 6-44's were regulars on this line.
eIllinois Central: IC/ICG employees
call this line the "Gruber," and as a secondary main l ine , the Gruber stretched from East Junction at Free port, Ill . , to Branch Junction at Cen tralia. Ie's present north-south main l i n e connecting Chicago on Lake Michigan and Cairo, Ill . , on the Ohio River was once known as the "Chicago branch" before it became the principal route, overshadowing the "old main line" to Mendota, Freeport and Galena. Though fragmented and disconnect ed in several places-and at press time, abandoned, pending a possible sale- the Gruber once fielded as many as 1 0-
"Q" has always provided the most ac t ivity at the installation . Mergers, de clining economic conditions and a se ries of recessions have served to cause an overall drop in the number of train movements through Mendota. In the not-too-distant past , 30-40 regular
eChicago, Burlington & Quincy: The
P ast operations
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