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The Chicago & North Western Historical Society was founded in 1973 by Joe Follmar and a group of Midwestern railfans interested in the C&NW, along with its predecessor and successor roads. These roads include the Chicago, St. Paul Minneapolis & Omaha; the Minneapolis & St. Louis; the Chicago Great Western; the Litchfield & Madison; the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern; the Des Moines & Central Iowa; and many more.

The Society’s purpose is to collect, circulate and preserve the history of the C&NW and its predecessor and successor lines; to create and publish a magazine; and to promote fellowship among C&NW fans and Society Members.

It is a non-profit corporation, chartered in the State of Illinois, and is exempt from Federal income tax under Section 501 ( c ) (3) of the IRS code. It welcomes monetary donations and also the donation of historic items.

North Western Lines is a quarterly publication, which began in early 1974 as a seven page mimeographed issue, totaling 85 copies. Today it is considered one of the premier historical publications. Each issue contains current news, feature articles, a photo section, and a combination of rosters, technical information, maps, schedules, and modeling information, depending on the make-up of that particular issue. A one-year subscription comes with a membership. And members are welcome to submit news items and articles.

The Archives Committee of the C&NWHS is very active and maintains a large collection of the C&NW and related roads.

Merchandise related to the C&NW, as well as back issues of NWL, are offered for sale. Click on “Store” within this site. Car kits and structure kits for modeling are also available.

Model railroading is an important component of the C&NWHS. Our Modeling Chairman provides periodic updates on new car kits, and generates modeling articles for NWL. General articles in NWL are often good sources of information for use by modelers.

The Annual Meet is a get-together in a city with rail interest, and it usually takes place on a weekend in May. There are activities, rides to rail museums, modeling clinics, slide shows, and a featured speaker at the banquet. It provides a good opportunity to meet other people with similar interests. Check this site for details.

The Board of Directors usually meets in March, May (at the Annual Meet), June and October. Meetings are open to the public, although seating is sometimes minimal. All attendees at the Annual Meet gather in a meeting room for a budget/financial report and other presentations of interest. Check this site for information or use the “contact us” feature for more information.


The Chicago & North Western Historical Society is in no way affiliated with the former Chicago & North Western or any of it subsidiaries or parent companies. Logos are used with the permission of the Union Pacific Railroad Company.