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Chicago & North Western Historical Society
An Illinois not-for-profit corporation dedicated to preserving the legacy of the C&NW and its predecessor roads since 1973.
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CNWHS Archives

The C&NWHS has one of the larger collections of technical and historical material in the USA…..at least in the realm of non-profit, railroad historical societies. For this reason it is difficult to outline all of the materials that we have. While C&NW material dominates the collection, all predecessor roads are included to some extent, depending on the number of years that have passed since their demise.

The collection is maintained by Society dues and donations and is staffed by volunteers.

An incomplete summary of materials is provided here, as a general overview:
  • Photographs (limited, but satisfactory collection)(Many additional photos are owned by the Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs and may not be available.)
  • Maps (a very large collection)
  • AFE’s (These Authority for Expenditures are mostly in storage, but contain all the improvements and retirements from about 1918 to 1982.)
  • Genealogy Records (limited)(Contact Craig Pfannkuche: genealogy@cnwhs.org)
  • Diesel drawings, rosters and records (especially first generation)
  • Freight car drawings and information for selected individual cars, plus much miscellaneous (mostly from about 1935 to the 1995 merger)
  • Depot drawings and information (selected depots only) (a CD set on the Chicago Passenger Terminal drawings)
  • Archives books for sale, such as C&NW Standards sheets (mostly from the steam era) See the Company Store on this site for other publications.
  • Steam engine information (very limited, but containing full rosters for “modern” steam)
  • Ledgers, journals and other books of interest (old)
  • ICC-required Valuation information (Much of this is missing, but the remaining material is very valuable.)(includes many Valuation maps)
  • Passenger timetables and employee timetables (a limited selection only)
  • Passenger car floor diagrams (Passenger car material is limited.)
  • Employee Magazines
  • North Western Lines magazines (our Society publication)
  • Sample copies of printed material issued by the C&NW, 1929 to 1962
  • Reference books
  • Annual Reports, especially C&NW
  • Land records, Land Grant references, and real estate records (a very limited collection, considering the extensive land ownership in the past)
  • Centennial Bibliography of the material published about the C&NW prior to 1948

Note: We do NOT have corporate records, accident reports and legal papers, excepting published bankruptcy records.

Note: We intend to publish a brief (modern) bibliography of books, in the future, on this site that will be references to the C&NW and predecessor roads.

The majority of our collection is warehoused, and inquiries can be directed to the Chairman, Joe Piersen. (see below). Many simple questions can be answered without charge. However, copying, scanning and other expensive procedures may require a payment to the C&NWHS. Large requests can run up large fees, but this can be preplanned with a “ballpark” estimate.

Note that this is a volunteer organization and that circumstances may alter out ability to serve the public. There are many things we cannot do, but we have given exemplary service in the past. Please strike a balance between your needs and our ability to help.

Contact:
Joe Piersen (Chairman)
archive@cnwhs.org Prefer email contact, if possible.
1343 Knollwood Rd.
Deerfield, IL 60015

Donations are always welcome and help defray our costly rents and copying costs.

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