DRGW History and Information  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The year 1854 marked the completion of the Chicago & Rock Island railroad between its namesake cities - Chicago, Illinois, and Rock Island, Illinois. It also marked the start of one of the most notable achievements in the westward expansion of US railroading - a bridge across the mighty Mississippi River to Davenport, Iowa. While the bridge wasn't to be completed until 1856, continuous rails from the east coast to the Mississippi were notable enough. Henry Farnam, one of the owners of the contracting company that actually built the line, chartered a "Grand Excursion& of shareholders, notable citizens, and family. The excursion would, of course, take them west from Chicago over the new line, and then on from Rock Island to St. Paul, Minnesota, via riverboat. Obviously this was a boondoggle in its own right, but more importantly it was designed to familiarize these wealthy and powerful individuals with the area, hopefully to spur investment. As it would turn it, it apparently worked, with the northern Mississippi basin becoming a thriving region in the decades to follow.

In the summer of 2004, cities up and down the corridor held an anniversary celebration of this original excursion, known as the Grand Excursion of 2004. The event's website can still be found here. As part of this, Milwaukee 261, an 1944 Alco-built 4-8-4 Northern, was to pull several special trains around the region. I hadn't planned to make the trip back to see it, since I normally don't railfan mainline steam excursions, but a sudden death in my family put me at the right place at the right time. Needing something to take my mind off the events at hand, I decided to follow 261 from Davenport up to Savanna.

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: First, we are absolutely a not-for-profit organization. We are also in no way affiliated with the former Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, except for being fans. If you need transportation services on former Rio Grande lines, please contact Union Pacific. Our eventual goal is to provide a site which will host a variety of railroad information, both for railfans and modellers alike. Thanks to Benn Coifman for the Rio Grande font - it's available at RailFonts. Want to know more about us? Check the ABOUT page...