Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Aban/C&NW/CGW Winston Tunnel

Mysterious Heartland
For the second time in less than a week, I found a tunnel in Illinois. (The first time was Tunnel Hill.) Darren Ferreter posted the question: "What year was the Winston tunnel last used? I can't remember seeing shots of CGW power at the tunnel. Thanks." And Ardi Carl responded "October 1971. It was last used with CGW #121."

I found quite a few links about Winston, including one provided by Ardi, but I could not find the GPS coordinates of the east and west portals. (I skipped the links concerning it being haunted.) The east portal is on private land. But the Winston Tunnel State Natural Area has a trail to the west portal.

Enjoy Illinois
At 2,493 feet long, it was the longest railroad tunnel in Illinois throughout its years of service. It was dug through silty and unstable shale and the supports had to be reconstructed several times, making it a serious maintenance expsense for CGW. Also a fan house had to be built and staffed day and night until diesel replaced steam locomotives. It was constructed in 1888 for the Minnesota and Northwestern RR, a predecessor to the Chicago Great Western RY. The Chicago and North Western abandoned it in 1972 shortly after its hostile takeover of CGW. (Wikipedia)

This DNR map allowed me to find in on the aerial map.

1946 Aerial Map from ILHAP
The area is too overgrown with trees to find it in a satellite image, but there is a Google Photo of the portal.

Mark Lianuza posted
Phill Hastings photographed the SD-40's coming through the tunnel in 1967 .I went back to the same location the year 2000 to try to re-capture the same but sad afterwards.
Mark Llanuza posted again
The top view of CGW SD-40 coming out of Winston tunnel near Galena IL 1967 was taken by (photographer Phillip Hastings) we went back in 2001 with a tour group by Lance Wales and i photographed this to match up the older shot to what it looks like today .after the CGW -CNW Merge the CNW used this tunnel till about late 1971 or early 1972.
Taylor Rich: I read someplace where Ed Burkhardt said CNW made a mistake abandoning the CGW mainline so soon because it was in much better shape than CNW's nain.
Mike Rizzuto: I know the CGW had plans to daylight the tunnel or build a new line around it.
Gary Sprandel: Mike Rizzuto IIRC from Northwestern Lines in the article on the Winston tunnel there was a proposal to leave the existing main at either Stockton or near Elizabeth cross the Mississippi on what would have been the largest span over the river going bluff to bluff and rejoining the existing main near Graf in Iowa.
Harold J. Krewer: Taylor Rich, I could definitely see Ed saying this. Note he did NOT say to keep the CGW, only that they abandoned it too soon. Would have been useful for a few more years as a relief route while the east-west main was rebuilt.
BTW, most of the plans to eliminate Winston Tunnel involved trackage rights to bypass it. An article in North Western Lines spelled out the various options, including using the IC from South Freeport to Dubuque (or even on to Dyersville) or getting on the MILW at Byron to the Q at Savanna to East Dubuque.
Joe Holman: In addition to the tunnel problem, the CGW route was much longer whether you used it to Council Bluffs or to the Twin Cities, and it was single rather than double track. The CNW did harvest the 115-pound rail and reuse it on, I believe, the Kansas City line.
Pauly Zee: Joe Holman not much of a Chicago terminal or online traffic either.
Steve Lederman commented on Mark's first post


Mark Llanuza posted
in 2002 we had a tour of the ghostly Inside the Winston tunnel of the CGW ,Were looking west in the middle ,Thanks to Lance Wales for everything back then ,Ardi Carl It's full of water now!
Mark Llanuza comment
you can see better details in the winter
Ardi Carl A lot of timber rattle snakes. Yes there are, even when the railroad was still there.
Mark Llanuza posted
Mark Llanuza posted
A grand tour by Lance Wales were we were able to go inside the the tunnel and capture the old fan house and walk inside where all the railroad ties are still in place .thanks again to Lance for arranging this back in 2002.
Patrick Hansen shared Mike Track's photo
Mike Ironman posted
3/12/16: Abandoned Winston Railroad Tunnel Approx 8 Miles Southeast of Galena, Illinois.

Lance Wales posted
A view from the inside of Winston Tunnel from the trip in December of 2001. Looking back to the west from a ways inside the bore. The constant water dripping down from the ceiling in the cold weather forms these ice stalagmites on the old ties still inplace. Some of them were a foot or more tall! We took care not to disturb any of them--don't want to offend the spirits that reside within!
Lance Wales posted
Another view of Winston Tunnel from December of 2001. The fan house from standing near the west portal, looking northwest. Notice the area to the right--the large cement blocks were once part of a retaining wall that was even with the north wall (that's the east wall facing the camera). The hillside has pushed that whole area down onto the ties between the fanhouse and the portal. The fanhouse was missing its roof at this point. Well, the roof was laying on the floor of the fanhouse. Also notice the water running along the right of way. That looks like Kevin Ramquist and Alan Ramquist on the left, with Randy Olson with the red hat to the right.
Mark Llanuza commented on the above posting
Here is a photo taken by Phillip Hastings of westbound coming out of the tunnel almost at the same location 1967 but he was on the ground.Those signals were just outside the tunnel.
Terry Miller posted
This is the west portal of the Winston Tunnel, that is located about nine miles west of Elizabeth, Illinois.
The tunnel was completed in 1888 for the Minnesota and Northwestern Railroad, a predecessor to the Chicago Great Western Railway. The tunnel was located on the CGW main line, 152 miles west of Chicago, in the isolated and hilly part of Jo Daviess County.
The Sheppard, Winston and Company, for which the tunnel would be named, had more than 350 laborers working by hand, digging through the silty and unstable shale for nine months, starting in the spring of 1887. The work was backbreaking and dangerous, and at least one worker, a thirty-two-year-old Finnish immigrant named John Hill was killed. When complete, the total cost of the tunnel, $600,000, had exceeded expectations.
Through the many years of use, in the end, the1968 merger with Chicago and North Western sealed the Winston Tunnel's fate. The last train through the tunnel was in 1971.. Upon abandonment the C&NW placed a chain-ling fence over each bore of the tunnel.
The eastern portion of the tunnel is now privately owned. The western half, however, was purchased by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as a "satellite area" of the Apple River Canyon State Park. The DNR installed a new steel gate to replace the chain-link fence covering the western bore, and is developing the area with nature trails and other improvements. However, the tunnel is currently off-limits to general public visitation, as it is a very dangerous place to visit, with the ever-present of future collapse and rattlesnake bites.
To see many more photos, and learn more about the Winston Tunnel, you can go to the old CGW Train Station Museum, in Elizabeth, that is open every Saturday and Sunday, until the end of October, from 11 to 3 pm. This museum is operated by the Elizabeth Historical Society
Photo - 1930s

Brian Groezinger trailhead parking lot is on the east side of Blackjack Rd just south of Sand Hill Rd if that's what you're asking
Terry Prindle comment on above posting
Two years ago.
Terry Miller commented on the above posting
The Winston Tunnel fanhouse. Because of intense heat and smoke due to poor air circulation they were forced to build a large fan. The fanhouse, consturcted by 1916, was abandoned by 1947 when diesel locomotives became the main engines on the tracks.
Terry Miller commented on the above posting
Here is a map of where the Winston Tunnel is located. THANKS to Tim Doser for sharing this map.
Lori Brininger commented on the above posting
Here's an interesting shot taken from inside the bars (I was small enough to crawl through). I thought it was pretty cool that the tracks are still there! The brick is crumbling & it's usually pretty wet in there. The ice Stalagmites and Stalactites are pretty cool though!
Ardi Carl posted
Winston Tunnel. Photographer unknown
Gary Scott Law posted four photos with the comment:
These photos of the west portal (looking east) of the Winston Tunnel between Rice siding and Rodden, Illinois were taken in 1956.
These were given to my grandfather from a friend in Elizabeth, IL in about 1993. The photos are dated 1956 and show the fan house and telegrapher/operator's office.
The dispatching office for this location was in Stockton, Illinois in 1956. The last train to pass through this tunnel was in 1973. I remember trains passing beneath Route 84 (previously Route 80) at North Hanover, Illinois during the late 1960s through 1972.
Gary Scott Law The Winston Tunnel is the longest tunnel in Illinois at 2,493 feet.

Randy Olson The Operators parked there cars , and took a hand car in.., as there's no road in.

Ron Johnson http://www.trainweb.org/.../his.../cgw_winston%20tunnel.html




Mark Llanuza posted
Westbound train 91 coming out of the tunnel 1965 [photo collection Mark Llanuza,]
Mark Llanuza posted
photographer phill Hastings captured westbound 143 in 1968 coming out of the Tunnel .I went back with a group that Lance Wales formed in 2001 and lined up the same location .Today the old fan house is gone but you can still walk to the tunnel
Conrad Baker This photo was out of his Iowa in the Merger Decade book and I believe it would actually have to be #91. At the time of year in the photo, there's very little if any chance #143 would make it this far West before dark.
Harold J. Krewer According to the stories, 91 and 192 often met on the IC between East Dubuque and Galena Jct. 143 would have been waiting for 192 at end of double track in Elmhurst most days. so, yes, given the sun angle/time of day Conrad has to be correct.
Mark Llanuza posted again

Mark Llanuza posted six photos with the comment:
Dave Gloeckle we hiked into the west portal of the Winston Tunnel Dec 2002 all the way into the middle of the tunnel when the fan house was still .And a photo taken in 1972 just before the tracks were removed.


Matt Heeren Arlen Heeren, is that you on the debris pile?Arlen Heeren I think so because I had my orange fleece face mask around my neck and I brought the big flashlight you can see in my handWill Rasmussen I’m in the Bears coat!Dave Gloeckle The cave-in just might have been the result of the constant groundwater in the area along with the poor blue clay that turned into rotten shale rock when exposed to air that comprised the tunnel.The exposed rock would just crumble.The original top ventilation bore from the early days of steam when the Winston Tunnel bored during the late 1880's in the middle of it may have contributed to it's cave-in & eventual demise.This tunnel was a maintenance nightmare for the Great Western throughout it's life.





Dave Gloeckle commented on John Smith's posting
 The east portal of Winston Tunnel is closed off as it is on private land.The farmer bulldozed or dynamited closed from what I know.I think that the top edge of the east portal is still partially visible to this day.Here is one old past photo that I have courtesy of J.L. Rueber's daughter.It was probably taken in the 1940's.
Mark Llanuza posted
photographer[ terry norton ] captured train 192 at the east end 1967 coming out of the tunnel [photo collection Mark Llanuza ,]
David Kelzenberg How fast could trains go through the tunnel?Harold J. Krewer Old timetable I have (1959) says all trains both directions 20 MPH through the tunnel.Dave Gloeckle There is an article on the web about the Winston Tunnel called "The hole in Stickney's pocketbook" written by Jerry Huddleston that is an excellent story & analysis concerning the tunnel.There are a lot of facts about what the CGW RR wanted to do about the troublesome Winston Tunnel.Kipp Meyers I was wondering why they just didn't go down the apple River and get on the Burlington near the Army Depot.
Mark Llanuza posted
Photographer Phill Hastings captured train 192 coming out of the tunnel at the east end 1967

Mark Llanuza posted two photos with the comment: "Photographer Phill Hastings captured train 91 coming out of the tunnel at the west end 1967"
Ardi CarlGroup Admin I bet it was very close clearance with those trailers!


Matt Covarrubias commented on a posting
Peter Zimmermann posted two photos with the comment:
The Winston Tunnel in far northwest Illinois on the Chicago Great Western Railway was opened in 1888 by the Minnesota & Northwestern Railway. CGW continued to operate the fan house until the 1940's and the CGW itself ended up in C&NW Railway's hands on July 1st, 1968. The last train of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway ran through the tunnel on October 31st, 1971, the the line wasn't formally abandoned until October 2nd, 1972.
The area is now part of the department of natural resources, is very isolated and is also known to be the habit of "timber" rattlesnakes , so visiting is not advised.


Mark Llanuza posted
Its the year 2001 with a tour inside the Chicago Great Western Winston Tunnel that closed down with the last train passing through it in 1971.This tunnel is about 3 miles east of Galena IL

Mike Ironman posted
3/12/17: Winston Railroad Tunnel. Southeast of Galena, Illinois. The Chicago Great Western Railroad once Rolled thru here, I love the Desolate Wilderness/ Solitude Here. It will be 50 Years ago in 10/31/21 That the last Train Rolled thru here, if The Information I received was Correct.

Mike commented on his post
More from the same place/ The same Day. Words of Advice: Be in Hiking Shape.
Rick Feeney: Mike, I understand that area is home to many rattlesnakes!
Mike Ironman: Rick Feeney True, That's why Its After Thanksgiving thru Mid March hiking only.

Kirk Brust posted six photos from 2006 including an interior shot.

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Urban Exploration: Winston Tunnel 4:04 video. They ended up digging through blue clay instead of limestone, and the construction had a significant cost overrun and a fatal accident when they tried using explosives in the soft material.

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