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Chapter 16
CHICAGO TERMINAL

The period from 1888 to 1893 was an active and a prosperous one for the various Wisconsin Central Lines through out Illinois and Wisconsin. The road early acquired a substantial interest in the Forest Park-Chicago connection through the formation of the Chicago & Northern Pacific, which was organized November 10, 1889, "to acquire and lease facilities to other roads and to transact a local business".

Fostered by the Northern Pacific R.R., the Chicago & Northern Pacific, on March 11, 1889, purchased the Chicago & Great Western R. R, the Chicago, Harlem & Batavia Ry. (the old Dummy Line) and the Bridgeport & South Chicago R.R., and the Chicago and Calumet Terminal R.R., together with the property of the Grand Central Station.

All of these properties now merged under the name of the Chicago & Northern Pacific were leased to the Wisconsin Central for a 99-year period on April 1, 1890.

In the business of consolidating this group of railroads into a well-oiled Chicago Terminal Organization, the Wisconsin Central shouldered the heavier burden of expense in acquiring  rights-of-way and real estate, construction of track and the erection of the Grand Central Station.

Due to interlocking financial interests within the interested constituents, the start, under Wisconsin Central lease and control, seemed propitious with every aspect of success and permanence.

At this late day and in the light of the N.P.-W.C. debacle of 1893, one may conclude that the C.&N.P. consolidation and lease to the Central disguised a well-engineered and cleverly executed maneuver of the Northern Pacific to wrest, from the Central, the control of Grand Central Station and other priceless terminal Properties.

The lease of the Chicago & North Pacific by the Wisconsin Central, and the companion  lease of the Central by the Northern Pacific, both executed April 1, 1890, remained effective for a period of 3 1/2 years.

On September 27, 1893, by petition of the Central, the Court declared the leases void and cancelled, placing the two leased roads back on their original basis. The reason for the Court Order was found in the failure of the Northern Pacific to pay the Wisconsin Central its just dues, rents, and revenues. Unable to collect rental and revenues from the Northern Pacific, the Central in turn was obliged to default in its payments to the Chicago & Northern Pacific.

The Chicago & Northern Pacific was finally sold under foreclosure to the Chicago Terminal Transfer Company June 4, 1897, which road had acquired the Chicago & Calumet Terminal Company in March of the that year. The scattered and uncertain control was finally united in the Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal Company.

After this was accomplished and the coup de grace administered to the stunned Wisconsin Central, the irony of fate and railroad warfare decreed that the Central must pay heavy toll for the use of its hard-earned and recently owned terminal and station in Chicago.

The new conditions and controls were not to the entire liking of the Wisconsin Central, and overtures were made to the Chicago, Madison & Northern (Ill. Cen.) to revive the original plan which had been abandoned more than ten years earlier. The first Wisconsin Central train ran over this new route December 10, 1899, end the service was thus maintained until December 1912.

Meanwhile the scattered interests and fragmentary controls of the west side lines once used by the Wisconsin Central became centered in the Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal Company, when the Wisconsin Central (by this time leased to the Soo Line) acquired trackage rights from the new management, and became a tenant of the Grand Central.

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