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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Fifty Three Years Ago Today

The picture on the front of this post card is of train Number 21 being led by engine number 4004, belonging to the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company. This was a Class I railroad in the United States chartered on June 7, 1859. It was centered in Chicago, Illinois and mostly did business west and northwest from there. It was both a freight hauler and passenger carrier railroad. In the early 1900s the company controlled over 5,000 miles of track and by 1970 it controlled 12,000 plus miles of tracks. When it was sold to the Union Pacific in 1995, it had been reduced back to 5,000 miles of tracks.

While being noted as one of the largest railroads of the United States is probably worth talking about, this is even more interesting. The following information is taken from our good friend, Wikipedia:
The Chicago and North Western was known for running "left-hand main" on double track mainlines. In other words, traffic was routed by default to the track on the left rather than the track on the right. In the United States, most railroads followed the "right-hand main" operating practice, while "left-hand main" running was more common in countries where British companies built the railroads. According to a display in the Lake Forest station, the reason for this was a combination of chance and inertia. When originally built as single-line trackage, the C&NW arbitrarily placed its stations on the left-hand side of the tracks (when headed inbound toward Chicago). Later, when a second track was added, it was placed on the side away from the stations so as not to force them to relocate. Since most passengers waiting at the stations were headed toward Chicago, the inbound track remained the one closest to the station platforms. The expense of reconfiguring signals and switches has prevented a conversion to right-hand operation ever since.

Although the picture on the front of this card was taken 75 years ago, this particular post card did not get mailed until January 30, 1965.
It is interesting that this is a black & white photo of a steam engine on the front (kinda old fashioned) and on the reverse side the message is typed onto the card using a typewriter (also now kinda old fashioned).

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.