The Twin Cities Hiawatha was a named passenger train operated by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (also known as the Milwaukee Road), and traveled from Chicago to the Twin Cities in Minnesota. The original train takes its name from The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. There are a number of Hiawatha-themed names within the city of Minneapolis, the terminus of the original train.
See also: Hiawatha (passenger train). The first Hiawatha trains ran in 1935. By 1947, there were five other routes carrying the Hiawatha name. The Hiawatha inaugurated service between Chicago and the Twin Cities on May 29, 1935, on a regular, daily 6 hour schedule covering . The first Milwaukee Road Hiawathas were streamlined lightweight trains designed to meet competition from the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad's (Burlington Route) Twin Cities Zephyrs and Chicago and North Western Railway's Twin Cities 400. Unlike the diesel-powered Zephyrs, the Hiawatha trains were pulled by steam locomotives, though the trains were by no means slow or old-fashioned. The four brand-new A locomotives had streamlining styled by Otto Kuhler, were oil-fired to reduce servicing time en route, and were some of the fastest steam engines ever built, capable of powering their five-car train to in excess of 100mph. The train's two sets of cars were also new and featured three coach cars, one parlor car (Ishkoodah or Minnewawa) and one parlor-lounge-observation car (Nokomis or Wenonah).
Like the Burlington Pioneer Zephyr and Union Pacific Railroad's M-10000 City of Salina, spectators regularly lined the tracks to watch the streamlined Hiawathas and the Milwaukee Road train quickly became an icon of streamlining. Unlike the competition, the Hiawatha train was not articulated and could be changed in length, depending on service needed.
Due to its great economic success, in October 1936 the Milwaukee Road completely re-equipped the Twin Cities Hiawathas with a new ‘1937’ Hiawatha based roughly on the 1935 design It featured a baggage-‘Tip Top Tap’ car, coaches, a dining car, two parlor cars (Iagoo, Sahwa, Shada, Wawa), and a new beavertail parlor-observation car (Omeme, Opeche).
In September 1938, the train was re-equipped again with the rib-sided ‘1939’ Hiawatha with its famous finned beaver-tail observation car was designed by noted industrial designer Otto Kuhler. In addition, with train lengths increasing to nine cars, the class A locomotives could no longer keep to the requred schedule, and so were replaced with the new class F7 4-6-4 “Hudsons”.
From 1939-01-21 the Twin Cites Hiawatha was replaced by two trains — the Morning Hiawatha (trains 5 and 6), and the Afternoon Hiawatha (trains 100 and 101).
With the delivery of the 1938 trainsets, the original 1935 Hiawatha equipment was reassigned to the Chicago to Omaha/Sioux City route where it ran as the Midwest Hiawatha. Another train, The Northwoods Hiawatha, ran with older cars from earlier series also.
Two sets of passenger diesel locomotives were purchased in 1941: a back to back pair of Alco/GE DL-109 locomotives, the #14, and a back to back pair of EMD E-6, the #15. The Twin Cities Hiawatha was partially equipped in May 1942 with coaches, two diners, and two ‘Tip Top Tap’ cars which ran with the 1939 Beaver Tails and parlors. Older series of cars were modified with skirting to run with the newer consists. During the following War years, the trains were loaded out to 15 car consists, and one of the 1942 cars painted in patriotic red, white & blue proclaiming “Buy War Bonds.” The train was so full, that people had to sit on suitcases, or stand in aisles.
In 1947–1948 the Milwaukee Road again re-equipped its major passenger routes with new lightweight equipment.
The Twin Cities Hiawatha was the main line route From Chicago, Milwaukee to St. Paul and Minneapolis. On the original route, only five intermediate stops were made between Milwaukee and St. Paul. Later other stops were added, as well as Glenview, Illinois between Chicago and Milwaukee.
Amtrak brought back the name Twin Cities Hiawatha as a Chicago-Minneapolis service on January 16, 1972. On June 12 that year Amtrak combined this service with the North Coast Hiawatha; three days a week the train continued to Seattle, otherwise it terminated at Minneapolis. In 1977 Amtrak again established a Twin Cities Hiawatha as a daily Chicago-Minneapolis train, but ended this service in 1978 with the introduction of the North Star, a Chicago-Minneapolis-Duluth sleeper. Today, the Hiawatha name still lives on with Chicago-Milwaukee Amtrak "Hiawatha Service." The Amtrak Empire Builder traverses the original route of the Twin Cities Hiawatha also between Chicago-Minneapolis-St. Paul.