Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Saturday Morning Post - The Nelsons, Part 3

  • Mark and Mike Nelson are identical twins, and were born in tiny Cuba City, Wisconsin, where their father Clarence was the agent/operator at the Chicago & North Western Railroad depot. Later they moved to Janesville, where their father worked as the operator at the CNW South Janesville yards. It is there where the seeds of Mark and Mike's love of trains were sown.

  • They attended Marquette University Dental school and became dentists in the US Army, serving in Korea and Vietnam. Taking advantage of the ability to procure good 35mm cameras, they were on their way to capturing classic rail action once stateside.

  • Though they have photographed many of the fallen flag RRs, it was the CNW that was their first love. To this day their license plates read "CNW 400" after the famous 400 fleet. They live today in Oregon, Wisconsin and are still active photographing and presenting shows. They are also active in Wisconsin Society Sons of the American Revolution.

    We now present Part 3 of the extraordinary and historic railroad photography of Mark and Mike. ENJOY !!!

    Chicago & North Western Railroad EMD GP7 - CNW Madison sub, Brooklyn, Wisconsin, May 25, 1983 - With 2 loads and 37 empties, CNW's Madison-South Janesville wayfreight splits the blades crossing County Rd. T, at the halfway point between the two south-central Wisconsin cities. Both engines are Rock Island refugees, perhaps that accounts for the relatively clean paint.

    Chicago & North Western Railroad FM H16-66 - CNW Janesville yard, South Janesville, Wisconsin, June 09, 1966 - A Baby Trainmaster gets ready to pull 1 load and 8 empties up CNW's original Wisconsin trackage, between Janesville and Fond du Lac. 32 miles of the path today is known as the Wild Goose Trail, skirting the Horicon Marsh.

    Chicago Great Western EMD GP30 - Tower at Portage Junction, Illinois, July 10, 1966 - Seen from the bluffs above the placid Mississippi backwaters on a July morning, a CGW eastbound will soon crossover and duck into Winston Tunnel onto home rails. With 4 loads and 142 empties, this train has 8480 tons to pull up out of the Mississippi River valley. Despite modern power, trackage, and operating practices, the CGW would not be able to stand alone as an independent carrier in the merger era.

    At the point in time this photo was captured, the company was in the middle of a 4-year effort to merge with the CNW after a failed attempt to join forces with the Soo Line in 1963. Almost 2 years after the day of this photo, the ICC approved the merger and in short order CNW began to chop parts of it up. It is interesting to ponder the question of whether the Illinois trackage would have become Soo's preferred route to Chicago had plan A gone into effect.

    Missouri Pacific EMD SD40-2 - CNW Madison sub MP 156, Dane, Wisconsin, May 27, 1980 - Led by a borrowed MOPAC screaming eagle, 70 loads of "pink lady" ballast from the Rock Springs quarry near Reedsburg, WI., grind up the ruling grade on the CNW Madison sub approaching Dane. There is one motor pushing at the rear end. Today, this is the WSOR Reedsburg sub, sans semaphores.

    Chicago & North Western Railroad EMD GP18 - CNW Madison sub MP 137, Madison, Wisconsin, September 22, 1975 - CNW's bicentennial unit #1776 leads the Dodgeville turn out of Madison. With 1 load and 18 empties, the train is nearing MX tower and shortly will diverge onto the "ridge runner" line, today a bike path.

    A special thanks goes out again to Ray Peacock at for doing all the leg work, putting this information together for the Viewliner Ltd. Thus, allowing us to see another great story of railroading in America, as it was.

    The Saturday Morning Post will feature Mark & Mike's photography every Saturday for the weeks to come. So don't forget to stop by and see more historic railroad pictures. Thank You!

    -- Here is the Link to Part One of The Nelsons --

    -- Here is the Link to Part Two of The Nelsons --
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