This is an almost-antique, very hard to find "Baggage Car Cellar" key from the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. The CM&StP only existed between 1874 and 1925.
On one side of the bow is stamped CM&STPRR. On the other side is stamped BCC . In tiny letters is stamped the Loeffelholz & Co. arc logo. Across the bow, there are traces of what appears to have been a very large number 18 stamped, which has now worn nearly completely away.
The key is a beautiful reddish golden color with pocket wear and finger polish, and great patina. The barrel end and bit edges are nicely worn from service. The only tiny flaw we can find is that an extremely tiny nick on the very end of the barrel will catch a fingernail - but nothing worse! It would be a winner in any strong collection of railway padlocks and keys.
One of these scarce keys is shown in the Knous price guide, valued at $225 - $250. Don't let this one get away !
BACKGROUND: The Chicago, Milwaukee, & St. Paul Railroad was one of the incarnations that became known as the famous "Milwaukee Road." The CM&StP emerged in 1874 following mergers and acquisitions by an earlier railway. By 1887, it had lines running through Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Corporate headquarters were moved from Milwaukee to the Rand McNally Building in Chicago. The CM&StP struggled to survive following an ill-fated expansion into the Pacific Northwest whose cost far exceeded estimates and traffic that never met projections, finally declaring bankruptcy in 1925. Several years later, in 1928, it was reorganized as the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad.
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