This is an attractive key that dates around 1900 - 1920. It is from the Chicago & North Western Railroad. It is nicely stamped C&NWRY on one side of its bow, and a letter S for switch on the other, where a fine example of the A&W CO oval logo is also stamped. This mark was used by Adams & Westlake in the earliest 1900s.
There is some light wear on the bit edges and barrel ends which are just slightly rounded. A few surface bumps and dings but no metal problems. The color has deepened to a darker, brownish brass.
NOTE: There are some small traces of orange color on the edges of the bit and barrel end - a prior owner may have used a degreaser to clean it; we are not certain. We DO NOT clean or polish our metal items - !
BACKGROUND - Also known as the North Western, the Chicago & North Western Railway was chartered on June 7, 1859. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois it became one of the longest railroads in the United States as a result of mergers with other railroads over the following years. It became a Class I railroad, operating more than 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of track as of the turn of the 20th century, and over 12,000 miles (19,000 km) of track in seven states before retrenchment in the late 1970s. In 1972, when the company was sold to its employees, it was renamed the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company.
By 1995, track sales and abandonment had reduced the total mileage to about 5,000. The majority of the abandoned and sold lines were lightly trafficked branches in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Large line sales, such as those that resulted in the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad further helped reduce the railroad to a mainline core with several regional feeders and branches. The company finally was purchased by the Union Pacific Railroad in April 1995 and ceased to exist.
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