Dubuque, Iowa / East Dubuque, Illinois

A quartet of two-year-old CGW GP30s at East Dubuque in May 1965. (© Mark G. Gayman photo).


Dubuque and East Dubuque have been a and a major rail junction and part of the midwest's railroad fabric for many decades. Established on opposite shores of the Mississippi River, the two have served as funnels for all types of rail commerce, east-west and north-south. And since the rise of merger mania in the late 1950s, railroads in the area have played a game of "musical chairs;" everytime the music stopped a railroad disappeared. Loss to history have been such names as Chicago Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q), Chicago Great Western (CGW), the Milwaukee Road, and more recently Burlington Northern (BN), Illinois Central,and Soo Line (Soo). By the close of the 20th century, most of the rail lines that served Dubuque/E. Dubuque had been displaced by much larger players BNSF, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific.

At one time, Dubuque was a regular station stop for many scheduled passenger train through- out the 1940s, 50s and 60s -- in fact as many as 22 passenger trains called on Dubuque. However the area saw its last passenger train (CB&Q) in late April 1971 just prior to the Amtrak start-up. Train travel had been declining across the U.S., and Dubuque was similarly impacted.

The two rail activity centers, even though separated by the "Mighty Mississippi," were physically joined by a historic five-span camelback truss bridge. It would be a mistake to suggest that traffic levels in Dubuque were comparable to the better-known hotspots of the 1950s, 60s and 70s; nonetheless it has remained a fan favorite because of the interesting and action-filled train watching available.


Photo Gallery
Chicago Burlington & Quincy's combined "North Cost Limited" and Empire Builder (passenger trains #26 & 32) power through a slight curve as they race towards Chicago in February 1957. (Marty Bernard photo)

A pair of high-power EMDs, leased from the Montana Ril Link, roll through East Dubuque with a Burlington Northern Z Train bound for Minneapolis. (Craig Williams photo).

BN GP50 #3119 and two other tiger-striped sisters lead a Burlington Northern intermodal train west through East Dubuque in August 1985. EMD's GP50 model was designed specifically for high speed freight service. (Richard Scott Marsh photo).

Chicago Central & Pacific GP38 #2009, wearing a bright red and white attire, appears to be fresh out of the paint shop as it exits the tunnel at E. Dubuque. The loco is ex-Penn Central #7823. (Richard Scott Marsh photo, February 1993)

Illinois Central train #14, Land O'Corn, presents an imposing image as it rolls east in May 1965. Too few passenger trains of the time still had consists of matching equipment. ( © Mark G. Gayman photo)

No "Death Stars" here; just a solid set of Illinois Central green diamond-adorned GP7 & 9s. Note the roof-mounted air reservoirs and steam generator-exhaust stacks on the two lead geeps. (© Mark G. Gayman photo, May 1965).

"Eclectic" was the word photographer Craig Williams used to describe the motive power lashup that leads an eastbound Chicago Central & Pacific freight beyond E. Dubuque on 12 July 1975).

Milwaukee Road SD40-2 #161, along three other six-axle EMDs, stop at Dubuque Yard to make a set out. The 300O-hp #161 was one of 41 locos delivered to the Milw in 1972; it originally carried road # 3031. (Richard Marsh photo, June 1986)

Reference sources:
  • Flickr.com
  • Rail Pictures. Net
  • Train Orders.com (Nostalgia & History Forum)

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