New ideas in service, equipment innovations, fleets of new freight cars and locomotives, and other new things were brought to the Milwaukee.

Here are some of the more notable developments, given on a year-to-year basis:

In 1958 — the Milwaukee began its piggyback operations.

In 1959 — it installed the Car-scope car tracing system, designed to supply up-to-the-minute information on freight car movements.

In 1960 — work began on installation of a computer facility at the Fullerton Avenue accounting offices in Chicago; a $1 million “one spot” car repair facility was opened at the Bensenville freight yard; transport of motor vehicles on multilevel rack cars began to be important new traffic; and talks got underway with the Chicago and North Western about a proposed consolidation.

In 1961 — the Milwaukee’s suburban operations in Chicago were largely modernized with double-deck, air conditioned commuter coaches; more tri-level freight cars went into service for carrying motor vehicles; and data processing operations began at Fullerton Avenue.

In 1962 — the railroad expanded use of VHF radio for communications between dispatchers, station agents and train personnel; expanded its automatic dialing system for the company’s own phone lines; and installed the first hot box detectors, used to detect overheated freight car journals and protect against derailments or other problems.

In 1963 — the Milwaukee inaugurated the XL Special and Thunderhawk freights, the fastest between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest, running on schedules that cut a full day off previous schedules; began its first unit train operation carrying coal from mines to an Indiana power generating plant; installed the first link of a microwave relay communications system; began a major freight car rebuilding program; ordered 22 more commuter cars to complete modernization of the suburban fleet; and stepped up acquisition of new, larger and sometimes specialized freight cars, adding also to the locomotive fleet.


In 1964 — came initial agreement with the North Western on consolidation terms; the first grain unit trains were operated, moving between the Twin Cities and Duluth-Superior in the Upper Midwest to Buffalo, N. Y.; a gantry crane was installed at the again-expanded Piggyback Park facility in Bensenville, used to lift the trailers on or off flatcars; and the Milwaukee became the first railroad to have complete hot box detector protection on Chicago-Omaha and Chicago-Twin Cities routes.

In 1965 — A new, contemporary-design passenger station was opened in Milwaukee, Wis.; stockholders voted approval of the consolidation plan.

In 1966 — the Milwaukee inaugurated the first all-piggyback train to operate between Chicago and the Twin Cities; on June 6, filed an application for consolidation with the North Western.

In 1967 — a 360 computer system was installed at Carscope, giving virtually instantaneous access to information on freight car location, later the 360 was equipped with the first video display units to be used by a midwest railroad; a second, larger gantry crane was put into use at Piggyback Park; a Piggy Packer, a four-wheel drive vehicle with two lifting arms for handling trailers, was also installed at Piggyback Park, being the first such handling unit to be used by a midwestern-based railroad…

And so, as this is being written, the work goes on, as the Milwaukee Road develops the ideas and acquires the tools needed to continue building a new and better railroad system.






New ideas...


... for the 1960's



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Last Updated: March 03, 2009