Commonly known as the Burlington, the CB&Q was formed in 1855 from the Aurora Branch Railroad, a small local line located in northeastern Illinois. The company expanded rapidly in the post-Civil War era westward across Iowa, Nebraska, and Colorado to Denver. It also acquired the Hannibal and St. Joseph Line through Missouri, built a new line from Chicago to St. Paul, and purchased or constructed hundreds of branch lines along its routes. By 1901, the railroad employed over 35,000 people and encompassed 7,500 miles of track, forming a web of connections through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas.
The CB&Q records offer rich resources for historians of business, technology, and innovation, and for railroad enthusiasts, local historians, and genealogists. They contain important materials for the study of labor, politics, migration and settlement, travel and tourism, geography and cartography, the environment, advertising and design, and the history of photography.
This gallery, CB&Q: Building an Empire, features images of materials from the CB&Q Archives - letters, reports, photographs, maps, drawings, posters, etc. - relating to these and other subject areas and topics. It is intended to introduce researchers to the collection’s diverse content and to direct them to relevant materials via links to the online inventory. Essentially, the gallery serves as a visual subject index to the records.