Wisconsin Central Ltd.

Wisconsin Central Ltd.

System map of Wisconsin Central's trackage in 1998.

A trio of Wisconsin Central SD45's lead a manifest train westbound across Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Reporting mark WC
Locale Wisconsin, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Ontario
Dates of operation 19872001 (Standalone company) Present (As parent company CN subsidiary Wisconsin Central Ltd.)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length 2,850 mi (4,590 km)
Headquarters Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Central Ltd. (reporting mark WC) is a railroad subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway. At one time, its parent Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation owned or operated railroads in the United States, Canada (Algoma Central Railway), the United Kingdom (English Welsh & Scottish), New Zealand (Tranz Rail), and Australia (Australian Transport Network).


Wisconsin Central #715, an EMD GP30 unit, on display at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Central Ltd. (WC) started in US in the mid-1980s using most of the original Wisconsin Central Railway's rights of way and some former Milwaukee Road rights of way after the Soo Line Railroad acquired the Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Minnesota holdings of the bankrupt Milwaukee Road and divested its older railway trackage in Wisconsin. In 1993 the Wisconsin Central also acquired the Green Bay and Western Railroad and the Fox River Valley Railroad.

In 1995 Wisconsin Central acquired the 322-mile (518 km) Canadian Algoma Central Railway whose tracks ran north of Sault Saint Marie to Hearst, Ontario. The Algoma Central runs a popular tourist passenger train through the Agawa Canyon and Agawa Canyon Wilderness Park near Lake Superior Provincial Park.

WC boxcar, seen in 2007

In 2001 the Wisconsin Central was purchased by a second Canadian railroad, the Canadian National Railway. Along with the former Illinois Central Railroad, the former Wisconsin Central became part of Canadian National's United States holdings and its property integrated into the CN system.

At the time of its sale to Canadian National, Wisconsin Central operated over 2,850 miles (4,590 km) of track in the Great Lakes region. The railroad extended from Chicago into and through Wisconsin to Minneapolis/St. Paul and Duluth, Minnesota, to Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, and north (through the Algoma Central Railway) to Hearst, Ontario.

WC #2003, an ex-Algoma Central GP38-2 is seen behind a CN SD70M-2 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin on September 18, 2015 still retaining its WC paint after 14 years.



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