Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway

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Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway "The Omaha Road"
Chicago, Saint Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha RW 1919.jpg
Share of the Chicago, Saint Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway Company, issued 13. December 1919
HeadquartersSt. Paul, Minnesota
Reporting markCMO, CSt.PM&O
LocaleUnited States from St. Paul, Minnesota, Elroy, Wisconsin; Sioux City, Iowa
Dates of operation1880–1972
PredecessorWest Wisconsin Railway, St. Paul and Sioux City Railway
SuccessorChicago and North Western Railway, Union Pacific Railroad
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm)
Length1,616 miles (2,601 km)

The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway or Omaha Road (reporting mark CMO) was a railroad in the U.S. states of Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota. It was incorporated in 1880 as a consolidation of the Chicago, St. Paul and Minneapolis Railway and the North Wisconsin Railway.[1] The Chicago and North Western Railway (C&NW) gained control in 1882.[2] The C&NW leased the Omaha Road in 1957[3] and merged the company into itself in 1972.[4] Portions of the C. St. P. M. and O. are part of the Union Pacific Railroad network. This includes main lines from Wyeville, Wisconsin, to St. Paul, Minnesota, and St. Paul to Sioux City, Iowa.

Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway (CStPM&O) 4-4-0 locomotive #278


St. Paul to Elroy (Eastern Division)[edit]

The West Wisconsin Railway was authorized in 1876 to build from St. Paul, Minnesota through to reach the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad at Elroy, Wisconsin.[5] In 1878 the bankrupt West Wisconsin Railway was acquired by the Chicago, St. Paul and Minneapolis Railway.[5][6] This main line from the junction with the Great Northern at St. Paul to Elroy, along with branches from it became known as the Eastern Division.[7]

St. Paul to Sioux City (Western Division)[edit]

The Land Grant Act of Congress approved March 3, 1857, when Minnesota was still a Territory and not a state, conferred on the then called Southern Minnesota Railroad Company "lands, interests, rights, powers and privileges" for the proposed line of railroad from St. Paul via Mankato, Minnesota and other points named to the southern boundary of the state in the direction of the mouth of the Big Sioux river. The Minnesota Valley Railroad Company was organized in 1864 under an act of the Minnesota Legislature approved March 4, 1864. This granted to the new company the Southern Minnesota Railroad grant.[8]

In 1869 the Minnesota Valley Railroad constructed a bridge jointly with the Minnesota Central Railroad Company to cross the Mississippi between Mendota and St. Paul at Pickerel Lake. It was the predecessor of the current Omaha Road Bridge Number 15 at the same location. A freight house was constructed in St. Paul at the foot of Robert Street. The name of the company changed on April 7, 1869, to the St. Paul and Sioux City Railroad The railroad had reached Mankato at the bend of the Minnesota river, and exited the river valley to reach Lake Crystal, Minnesota.[8] By September 1872, the track was completed to Le Mars, Iowa, where it joined the Iowa Falls and Sioux City railroad, a predecessor of the Illinois Central Railroad.[9] On October 1, 1872, the railroad was in regular operation from St. Paul through to Sioux City. This main line from Mendota to Le Mars became the St. Paul & Sioux City division, and eventually the Western Division.[7]


The North Wisconsin Railway was merged along with Chicago, St. Paul and Minneapolis Railway to become the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway in 1880.[10] [6][11] The C. St. P. M. & O. then purchased the St. Paul and Sioux City in 1881.[6] The route was a bow shape between Le Mars, Iowa, to the Twin Cities, to Elroy, Wisconsin. The railroad connected the Eastern and Western divisions through trackage leases on the Minneapolis and St. Louis at Merriam Junction to Minneapolis, the Great Northern between Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the Milwaukee Road between Mendota and St. Paul.[7]

The Omaha would go on to acquire the Menomonie Railway, the Sault Ste Marie and Southwestern Railway, the Superior Short Line Railway, the Watonwan Valley Railway, the Des Moines Valley Railway, the Chippewa Valley and Northwestern Railway, and Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, and Northeastern Railway.[12]

Chicago and North Western[edit]

In November 1883, control passed to the Chicago and North Western Railway Company.[12] At the end of 1956 C. St. P. M. & O. operated 1616 miles of road and 2396 miles of track; that year it reported 2115 million ton-miles of revenue freight and 65 million passenger-miles.

Union Pacific[edit]

Although the CMO had long been absorbed by the C&NW before that railroad was purchased by the Union Pacific, the UP still uses the CMO reporting mark on cars.[13]

Disposition of lines[edit]

Close-up of generic 4-4-0 locomotive featured on stock certificate

The following main lines were part of the Omaha Road:[14]

Division Notes
Eastern Division: Elroy, Wisconsin (junction with C&NW towards Chicago) to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota Now mostly part of the Union Pacific Railroad's Wyeville and Altoona Subdivisions
Northern Division: Northline (junction with Eastern Division towards Minneapolis-St. Paul) to Bayfield, Wisconsin Now abandoned
Eau Claire (Eastern Division) to Spooner, Wisconsin (Northern Division main line) Now abandoned between Spooner and Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Progressive Rail owns the line from Cameron, Wisconsin, south to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Between Spooner and Trego, Wisconsin, is used by the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. Canadian National owns the line between Rice Lake and Cameron.
Trego, Wisconsin (Northern Division main line) to Gordon, Wisconsin Now abandoned, known as the Wild Rivers Trail
Gordon, Wisconsin (Northern Division main line) to Superior, Wisconsin Now part of Canadian National's line to Chicago. CN connects at the Itasca yard and follows the Omaha right-of-way to Gordon where it then connects to former Soo Line tracks heading South East
St. Paul and Sioux City Division: Minneapolis-St. Paul to Sioux City, Iowa Now the Union Pacific Railroad's Mankato and Worthington Subdivisions
Org, Minnesota (SP&SC Division main line) to Mitchell, South Dakota It became the Minnesota Southern Railway east of Manley, now belongs to Ellis and Eastern Company. The Railroad has received funding to rebuild the line from Org, MN to Sioux Falls, SD [1].
Nebraska Division: Sioux City to Omaha, Nebraska Now abandoned
Chicago, St Paul,
Minneapolis & Omaha Railway
Ft. Calhoun
Dakota City
South Sioux City
Sioux City


  1. ^ Interstate Commerce Commission, Valuation Docket No. 549: Chicago, Saint Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway Company, 1928
  2. ^ Mailer (2004), pp. 42, 45.
  3. ^ Lennon, J. Establishing Trails on Rights-of-Way. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of the Interior. p. 48.
  4. ^ Chicago & North Western Historical Society, Chicago St. Paul Minneapolis & Omaha - A Capsule History Archived September 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b Yesterday and Today: A History of the Chicago and North Western Railway System. Winship Company, Printers. 1910. pp. 77–.
  6. ^ a b c Donald R. Jr. Durbin (December 2000). The Bigger They Are... Writers Showcase. ISBN 978-0-595-15521-7.
  7. ^ a b c White's Reference Book of Railroad Securities. United States: n.p., 1894.
  8. ^ a b J W 1831-1917 Bishop (October 12, 2018). History of the St. Paul & Sioux City Railroad, 1864-188. Creative Media Partners, LLC. ISBN 978-0-342-66271-5.
  9. ^ Rudolph Daniels (2008). Sioux City Railroads. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 23–. ISBN 978-0-7385-5222-4.
  10. ^ Minnesota. Office of Railroad Commissioner (1879). Annual Report. pp. 1–.
  11. ^ George E. Warner; Charles M. Foote (1881). History of Ramsey County and the City of St. Paul: Including the Explorers and Pioneers of Minnesota. North Star Publishing Company. pp. 351–.
  12. ^ a b Poor's Manual of the Railroads of the United States. H.V. & H.W. Poor. 1917. pp. 37–.
  13. ^ Railway Equipment and Publication Co (October 13, 2018). The Official Railway Equipment Register, Vol. 33: Devoted to the Consideration of Topics of Interest to Railroad Officials, More Particularly Questions of Transportation Economies, Car Handling and Other Subjects of Especial Importance to the Transportati. Fb&c Limited. ISBN 978-1-396-78704-1.
  14. ^ P. F. Collier and Son, New World Atlas and Gazetteer, 1922: Chicago and North Western Railway
  • Mailer, Stan (2004). The Omaha Road: Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha. Mukilteo, Washington: Hundman Publishing. ISBN 0-945434-04-9. OL 8448884M.