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Don's Rail Photos

Charles City Western Ry.


In 1910, local promoters in Charles City, IA, proposed this railroad to give their city another railroad connection by building to Marble Rock and the Rock Island RR. Charles City already was served by the Illinois Central and the St. Paul (Milwaukee Road later). The two major industries were Hart-Parr Tractor (later Oliver) and Sherman Nursery. The line opened on January 1, 1911, and operation included local city service in Charles City using gas powered streetcars. The main line was operated with a McKeen four wheel gas locomotive, plus a caboose and some flat cars. These were acquired during the summer of 1910 for construction. Just before opening, a McKeen passenger car arrived. Later in 1911, a steam locomotive was acquired for freight service, and another came in 1912.

As in so many other cases, operation with gas powered equipment was unreliable, and electrification came in 1914. There was also an extension planned to either Elma or Riceville where a connection with the CGW could be secured. This line only reached Colwell. Electrification and extensions were opened in 1915 when the money ran out. An interurban, two city cars, and a locomotive came from McGuire-Cummings since they would accept stock in payment.

The line added other second hand equipment including a Twin City Rapid Transit car in 1915, and three cars from the Shore Line Electric Ry. in Connecticut. Local service ended in 1921. The downtown trackage remained for a few years but was torn up in the 1920s. Two small diesels came to switch the Oliver plant in 1944. Another electric locomotive came from Texas Electric in 1949. I got to ride the line in late 1950. I paid half of all of the passenger revenue for that day. Freight service continued to be the primary source of income. On July 19, 1952, passenger service ended. Excess equipment was scrapped and only the diesels, the two electric locomotives, and car 50 were retained. The line was acquired by the Iowa Terminal RR on December 31, 1963, and was operated as the Charles City Division.

The McKeen locomotive appears to be a home-built body on a McKeen motor truck.

51 was built by McKeen Motor Car Co in January 1911, probably as order 67. In 1917 it was sold to the Montana Wyoming & Southern where it was named "Bear Creek" and used until 1938.

Another picture shows a McKeen lettered as Charles City Western but the picture was seen with other lettering.  An example is Union Pacific.

10 and 11 were built by McGuire-Cummings in 1915 and were retired in 1924. They were scrapped in 1930.

50 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1915. It became Iowa Terminal 101 in December 1964. It was sent to Mount Pleasant and restored as CCW 50. It was then sent to Boone & Scenic Valley RR.

52 was built by American Car in 1892 at Twin City Rapid Transit 621. It was purchased in 1915 and was used in passenger service until 1920 when it was replaced by 53 and then used in work service. It was scrapped in 1957.

53 was built by Jewett Car Co  in 1910 as Shore Line Electric Ry 7. When that line abandoned in 1920, it came to Iowa. It was scrapped in 1954.

300 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1915. After the merger, it was renumbered IAT 30 in December 1964. In 1970 it was sold to the Illinois Railway Museum.

301 was built by Wason in 1910 for Shore Line Electric Ry. It came to Iowa in 1920 with 53 and scrapped in 1927.

302 was built by Wason in 1910 as SLE 103. It came to Iowa in 1920 with 53 and scrapped in 1960.

303 was built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1913, order 990, as Southern Traction Co. 314. In 1917 it became Texas Electric Ry. 314. In 1928 it was rebuilt as locomotive 801, Class A. In January, 1949 it was sold to the Charles City Western as 303. In December, 1964 it became Iowa Terminal RR 53. After the wires came down at Charles City in 1968, it was transferred to Mason City. It is now stored off-line.

200 was a 23 ton General Electric diesel, April 1941, #13089. In December 1964 it became Iowa Terminal 20.  It was told to Fairfax Farmers Elevator, no number, and the company was taken over as South Central Co-op.

201 was a 45 ton General Electric diesel, March 1939, #12502. It was formerly Port Everglades Belt Line Ry 300 until purchased by CCW in 1944. In December 1964 it became IaT 45. It was sold to Whisler Equipment in April, 1968, and later became Mound City Terminal #1.

The line car-crane appears to have been built on a steam road flat car.

The plow also appears to have started as a steam road flat car.


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