Chicago & North Western Ad., 1869
The Chicago & North Western Railway, created during the late 1850s by the merger of several small railroads in Illinois and
Wisconsin, was led during its early years by William B. Ogden, Chicago's first mayor. In 1864, the Chicago & North Western
absorbed the Galena & Chicago Union, which in 1848 had been the city's first railroad. Between 1872 and 1910, under the leadership
of Marvin Hughitt, the length of track in the road's rail network grew from about 1,400 miles to nearly 10,000 miles. The
railroad served areas concentrated in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Although the company went bankrupt during
the Great Depression, it survived into the second half of the twentieth century. By 1961, the Chicago & North Western Railway
had over $200 million in annual revenues and about 16,000 employees nationwide. In 1968, it absorbed the Chicago Great Western,
a smaller competitor. That same year, the transportation company became part of a conglomerate, Northwest Industries; four
years later, the railroad was spun off and sold to its employees, becoming the Chicago & North Western Transportation Co.
In 1986, when the railroad's annual revenues were nearly $1 billion, it became known as CNW Corp. It finally ceased to exist
as an independent railroad in 1995, when it was bought by another old railroad company, the Union Pacific Corp. See also Northwest Industries Inc.