Rochester 400

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Minnesota 400
Dakota 400
Rochester 400
C&NW 400 Locomotive 1942.jpg
A streamlined C&NW Class E-4 Hudson steam locomotive appears in Chicago in 1942 (right). Class ES Pacific engines used for the Minnesota 400 had almost identical shrouding.
System Chicago and North Western Railway
Status Ceased operation
Locale South Dakota (Dakota 400 only),
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois
Termini Rapid City, South Dakota (Dakota 400)
Mankato, Minnesota
Wyeville, Wisconsin
Chicago, Illinois
Train number(s) 418, 419 (Minnesota 400)
518, 519
Opening June 14, 1936
Closed July 23, 1963
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The Rochester 400 was the last in a series of streamlined passenger trains operated by the Chicago and North Western Railway along the railroad's southern Minnesota line. It originated as the Mankato, Minnesota to Wyeville, Wisconsin Minnesota 400 in 1936, then was later extended in 1950 to run all the way from Chicago, Illinois to Huron, South Dakota and renamed the Dakota 400. This was eventually extended to Rapid City, though after five years it was cut back to Mankato and it received its final name. The Rochester 400 ceased operation on July 23, 1963.[1]

The Minnesota 400 began service in a similar way to the original Twin Cities to Chicago 400, with heavyweight passenger cars pulled by an ordinary, non-streamlined steam locomotive. These were originally C&NW Class D 4-4-2 Atlantics, but they were already more than 30 years old at that point. In 1938, more passenger cars were added to the trains, so the locomotives were replaced by Class ES 4-6-2 Pacifics, with streamlined shrouds. These were still about 25 years old, but were better able to handle the heavier load. The train still primarily ran with heavyweight passenger cars until after World War II, finally receiving a full consist of streamlined cars in 1946. It was still another four years before the first EMD E8 diesel locomotives began pulling the train in 1950. At that time, the service was expanded to South Dakota and renamed the Dakota 400.

When service started in 1936, the Minnesota 400 didn't continue to Chicago, but did connect with the 400 in Wyeville. Trains were timed so that passengers could transfer directly across the platform. After the train became the Dakota 400 and connected directly to Chicago, the line eventually stopped passing through Wyeville, favoring a more direct route.

As the line served Rochester and its famous Mayo Clinic, there was at least one car on each train with wider doors for allowing patients on stretchers and other accommodations. By the end of rail service in the 1960s, Mayo stated that 25 to 30 percent of their out-of-town patients still came by train.

Much of the track used in Wisconsin has now been abandoned. The line in Minnesota and South Dakota is now owned by the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad (now a Canadian Pacific subsidiary), while parts near Chicago are now owned by Union Pacific.


  1. ^ Scribbins, Jim (2008) [1982]. The 400 Story. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9780816654499. OCLC 191760067.