Wisconsin Central Ltd.
System map of Wisconsin Central's trackage in 1998.
|Locale||Wisconsin, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Ontario|
|Dates of operation||1987–2001 (Standalone company) Present (As parent company CN subsidiary Wisconsin Central Ltd.)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Length||2,850 mi (4,590 km)|
|Headquarters||Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin|
Wisconsin Central Ltd. (reporting mark WC) is a railroad subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway. At one time, its parent Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation owned or operated railroads in the United States, Canada (Algoma Central Railway), the United Kingdom (English Welsh & Scottish), New Zealand (Tranz Rail), and Australia (Australian Transport Network).
Wisconsin Central Ltd. (WC) started in US in the mid-1980s using most of the original Wisconsin Central Railway's rights of way and some former Milwaukee Road rights of way after the Soo Line Railroad acquired the Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Minnesota holdings of the bankrupt Milwaukee Road and divested its older railway trackage in Wisconsin. In 1993 the Wisconsin Central also acquired the Green Bay and Western Railroad and the Fox River Valley Railroad.
In 1995, Wisconsin Central acquired the 322-mile (518 km) Canadian Algoma Central Railway whose tracks ran north of Sault Saint Marie to Hearst, Ontario. The Algoma Central runs a popular tourist passenger train through the Agawa Canyon and Agawa Canyon Wilderness Park near Lake Superior Provincial Park.
In 2001, the Wisconsin Central was purchased by the Canadian National Railway. Along with the former Illinois Central Railroad, the former Wisconsin Central became part of Canadian National's United States holdings and its property integrated into the CN system.
At the time of its sale to Canadian National, Wisconsin Central operated over 2,850 miles (4,590 km) of track in the Great Lakes region. The railroad extended from Chicago into and through Wisconsin to Minneapolis/St. Paul and Duluth, Minnesota, to Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, and north (through the Algoma Central Railway) to Hearst, Ontario.
- April 3, 1987: The Soo Line Railroad announces the sale of its Lake States Transportation Division to private investors, forming the new Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation.
- October 11, 1987: The first WC train runs, from Stevens Point to North Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
- May 1991: WC shares begin trading under the ticker symbol WCTC, raising $36.2 million.
- 1992: Railway Age Magazine names WC "Regional Railroad of the Year".
- 1993: WC acquires the Fox River Valley Railroad and Green Bay and Western railroads through a new subsidiary, Fox Valley & Western Ltd.
- 1993: A WC-led consortium acquires New Zealand Rail through a new subsidiary, Wisconsin Central International, and renames it Tranz Rail in 1995.
- 1995: WC acquires the Algoma Central Railway through a new subsidiary, Wisconsin Central Canada Holdings.
- 1995: A WC-led consortium acquires Rail Express Systems in the United Kingdom.
- 1996: WC partners with Canadian National Railway (CN) and CSX, inaugurating a new intermodal shipping corridor between the west and east coasts of North America.
- 1996: Three trainload rail freight operators in the UK are united into a new WC subsidiary, English Welsh & Scottish (EWS).
- March 4, 1996: A Wisconsin Central freight train derails in Weyauwega, Wisconsin; the derailment results in a 16-day evacuation.
- 1997: EWS acquires two more freight railways in the UK.
- 1997: Another WC subsidiary, the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Company, acquires 207 miles (333 km) of track from Union Pacific Railroad forming a WC connection between Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Ishpeming, Michigan.
- 1997: A new WC subsidiary, Australian Transport Network (ATN), acquires a one-third ownership and an operating interest TasRail (1978–2004) in Tasmania. Six months later, ATN acquires the Emu Bay Railway in Tasmania.
- 1999: Railroad industry trade journal Railway Age magazine names WC president Edward Burkhardt its Railroader of the Year.
- January 30, 2001: WC and CN announce plans for CN to purchase WC for $800 million and the assumption of $400 million of WC's debt.
- September 7, 2001: The Surface Transportation Board approves the sale of WC to CN.
- October 9, 2001: WC is acquired by CN.
- December 21, 2011: Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railway and Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway, also owned by CN, are merged into Wisconsin Central.
- January 1, 2013: Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway is merged into Wisconsin Central Ltd indirectly as parent company CN made the acquisition.
- Romell, Rick; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (January 31, 2001), Wisconsin Central sold.
- Soo Line Historical and Technical Society
- WC2scale - Wisconsin Central Motive Power Photo Gallery #1 (extensive online photo source of WC Ltd. equipment)
- RailPictures.Net – Photographs of the Wisconsin Central