This line was originally the Winona and South Western Railroad, then the Winona and Western Railroad. When Chicago Great Western took it over, it was renamed to Wisconsin, Minnesota amd Western Railroad and later became part of CGW proper. When the CGW was merged into the Chicago North Western, this line was abandoned.
Rochester to Winona
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This was always something I never understood: We used to take Amtrak Empire Builder from Chicago to Winona to visit my relatives in Rochester. But you had to take a bus or car from Winona because the train didn't run to Rochester, despite having the Mayo Clinic there. The depot in Winona looked like something out of Green Acres during the seventies/eighties. We always thought that was pretty cool.
According to Rails to the North Star: a Minnesota Railroad Atlas, published by University of Minnesota Press, CGW obtained trackage rights on CNW from Planks to Winona and abandoned Altura to Winona by 1936 then Utica to Altura in 1962.
Passenger trains stopped rolling in to Rochester from Winona with the cancellation of the Rochester 400 in 1963. Amtrak has never, to my knowledge, served Rochester.
Anyone know why the Rochester/Winona line horseshoed in to the valley where the Rollingstone Creek bridge is? There must have been a darn good reason or money involved.
Why did it horseshoe at Rollingstone Creek, you say? This would be easier to explain with the right-of-way displayed on a topographical map. Without the horseshoe, the line would be too steep. The climb in elevation out of the Mississippi Valley is quite formidable - this is true for any railroad along the river between St. Paul and the Quad Cities.