Serving Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, and intermediate points
Amtrak train numbers: 9 and 10
Predecessor railroad train numbers: Various
In the days before Amtrak, three railroads competed with service between Chicago and Minneapolis. The Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad's Morning Zephyr and Afternoon Zephyr were the fastest, on a 6-hour and 20-minute schedule, but missed the major population centers, running through Prairie du Chien and La Crosse, Wisconsin. The Chicago and North Western's Twin Cities 400 went "400 miles in 400 minutes," according to their slogan, but took 420 minutes (7 hours) to make the 419-mile trip via Milwaukee and Eau Claire.
The third railroad was the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific, better known as the Milwaukee Road, which ran from Chicago to Minneapolis via Milwaukee and La Crosse on a 6-hour and 45-minute schedule with the Morning Hiawatha and the Afternoon Hiawatha, featuring the Milwaukee Road's distinctive Skytop observation car and its rounded, windowed end at the back of each train.
When Amtrak began operations in 1971, their Chicago-Minneapolis service consisted of two daily trains routed over the Milwaukee Road's tracks. The Empire Builder continued on to Seattle daily, as did the North Coast Hiawatha three days a week. On the other four days, the same schedule was run by a train called the Twin Cities Hiawatha which only ran as far as Minneapolis.
Within a few years, the North Coast Hiawatha name was used by both the through train to Seattle and the short run to Minneapolis until they were discontinued in 1979; Amtrak's fairly frequent Chicago-Milwaukee trains were renamed Hiawatha Service in 1990.
Condensed historical timetables:
READ DOWN READ UP
(1956) (1972) (1972) (1956)
7:50A 8:00A Dp Minneapolis Ar 7:50P 7:45P
1:15P 2:15P Milwaukee 1:35P 2:18P
2:40P 3:50P Ar Chicago Dp 12:01P 1:00P
The Amtrak Train Names Project