The Wisconsin Central……..
A new railroad with a classic name, operating on routes that the big guys had given up for dead. A railroad that revived a paint scheme of a predecessor railroad of which the majority of its lines were comprised. A lot of the train symbols and nicknames even harkened back to the symbols of predecessor roads. The road hosted an eclectic locomotive roster and a legion of employees who came from diverse railroad backgrounds.
Both the locomotives and the employees were battle-weary from the trials of their former employers, but far from what anyone could consider “at the end of the line”. In search of a new lease on life, they rose to the challenge and overcame some pretty great odds in their quest to prove that “traditional” railroading (i.e the loose carload and boxcar freight) could be profitable. The fact that the WC had won the “Quality Carrier of the Year” for 13 years of their 14-year existence is one of the most prominent examples of their drive and determination.
In just a few short years, this rag-tag bunch of employees, with some well-worn but still capable equipment, succeeded in turning the tide of two decades worth of traffic loss and they generated a lot of new business. In doing so, they became the “writers” one of the most fascinating and compelling stories ever told in modern-day railroading – the Wisconsin Central Story.
I have, on numerous occasions, told people that the 5-1/2 years that I spent working for the Wisconsin Central will forever be the highlight of my railroad career. While it may appear from time to time that my view of the WC may be construed as “looking at the world through rose-colored glasses”, it is my hope that in this conglomeration of images and text, I will be able to give you, my visitors, an insider’s look at what it was like working for a railroad that “Thought like a Class 1, but didn’t always act like one”.
-Dennis J. Holmes