Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railway
The Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railway is a railroad that operated from 1876 to 1903, having been formed to take over the operations of the bankrupt Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Minnesota Railway, which was, in turn, the result of merging several predecessor lines, the construction of which began in 1869. The corporate headquarters were in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and it had operations in Iowa and in Minnesota. It was succeeded by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway.
The original mainline ran from Burlington, Iowa via Cedar Rapids north to Albert Lea, Minnesota, with a perpetual lease of the 'Minneapolis Road' from there to Minneapolis. By 1882, branch lines had been built to Traer, Postville, Muscatine, Iowa City, and the coal mines of the What Cheer region, all in Iowa. Through passenger service was offered from Minneapolis to St. Louis in conjunction with the St. Louis, Keokuk and Northwestern Railroad (later part of the CB&Q).
Dual Gauge Operations
In 1880, the Burlington Cedar Rapids and Northern granted running rights to the Burlington and Northwestern Railway from Burlington, Iowa north to Mediapolis, a distance of 13.77 miles. Since the latter line used three foot gauge until regauged in the 20th century, a third rail was put down on this stretch of mainline, converting it to dual gauge.
The last run of the Zephyr Rocket between St. Louis and Minneapolis over the former BCR&N mainline was in the spring of 1967. Freight service on the line from Burlington to Cedar Rapids ceased with the bankruptcy of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad in March 1980. In the early 1990s, the Hoover Nature Trail began acquiring the Burlington to Cedar Rapids right of way for conversion to a recreational trail.
Surviving Passenger Facilities
At least nine of its stations apparently survive:
- Station in Clarion, Iowa, listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Wright County, Iowa
- Depot in Dows, Iowa, listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Wright County, Iowa
- Depot in Kalona, Iowa (relocated to Kalona Historic Village).
- Depot, track and bridge in Rock Rapids, Iowa, listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Lyon County, Iowa
- Depot in Owatonna, Minnesota, listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Steele County, Minnesota
- Depot in Pipestone, Minnesota, listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Pipestone County, Minnesota
- Depot in Walker, Iowa
- Depot in Greene, Iowa
- Depot in Rockford, Iowa
The corporate headquarters building at 411 1st Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids still carries the BCR&N Ry initials at the top of the wall facing the tracks. Unfortunately, the historic facade facing First Avenue, constructed in 1885, has been completely modernized. The building currently serves Skogman Realty.
The former Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Freight House, built in 1898 on the corner of Front and High Streets in Burlington, Iowa is now a Restaurant. This building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. During the Iowa Flood of 2008, this building was inundated with four feet of water. The construction of this freight house (replacing an earlier structure) lead to a court battle with the Burlington Gaslight Company that went all the way to the US Supreme Court.
A two span through truss bridge, composed of a Warren truss and a Lattice truss, exists in Iowa City in Napoleon Park. It is presently being used by the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway, albeit infrequently.
- Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railroad, Portrait and Biographical Album of Linn County, Iowa, Volume 2, Chapman Bros, Chicago, 1887; pages 931-933.
- Burlington, Cedar Rapics & Northern, Commercial and Statistical Review of the City of Burlington, Iowa, J.L. Spalding, Burlington, 1882; page 32.
- Northwestern Group -- States of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakotam South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana; Burlington and Northwestern Ry, Poor's Manual of Railroads for 1894, New York; page 250.
- Joseph P. Schwietertman, West Branch, Iowa (2,188), When the Railroad Leaves Town Truman State University Press, 2004; pages 140-144.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Kalona By-Ways mini-tour is introduction to area, The Kalona News, Apr 27, 2000; Page 18E.
- Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Commission, Meeting Minutes for Thurs. Feb. 25, 2010, Item 3.1.1.
- List of Roundhouses Still Standing in 2010, Trains Magazine, Kalmbach Publishing Co.
- Big Muddy's Restaurant, About/History, http://www.bigmuddys.com/index.php/about/, accessed Nov. 1, 2012.
- Narional Register of Historic Places - IOWA (IA), Des Moines County, NRHP Advanced Search, search on reference number 83000351
- Flood News Roundup, Historic Properties Across Iowa Affected by June Flooding, Preservation Iowa, Posted June 29th, 2008.
- 165 U.S. 370] Burlington Gasslight Company, Plff. in Err., v. Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway Company, Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of the United States, Book 41, Lawyer's Cooperative Publishing Company, Rochester, 1901; page 749
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