The CB&Q's "Aeolus" streamlined 4-6-4 locomotive No. 4000, enters Chicago with the Black Hawk in 1939. Click to enlarge.

(Photo: Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, Public domain, via W. Lenheim Collection)

Blackhawk logo


The Black Hawk was a named passenger train operated by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad between Chicago, Illinois, and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, the nighttime counterpart to the Burlington's Twin Zephyrs.

Burlington added three new luxury trains to its schedules in January of 1930 which included the Ak-Sar-Ben (Chicago-Lincoln), the Aristocrat (Chicago-Denver), and the Blackhawk (Chicago-Twin Cities). Unfortunately the trains had been ordered before the stock market had crashed and were delivered less than two months after the crash. However, one of the trains, the Blackhawk, remained on the timetable for forty years.

At the time, the CB&Q sought to compete in the Chicago-Twin Cities overnight train market against the Milwaukee Road's Pioneer Limited and the C&NW's North Western Limited. In common with its competitors, the Black Hawk carried both sleeping cars and coaches. However, with departure well past dinnertime, the train's dining car (or diner-lounge) served only "evening refreshments" upon departure and a full breakfast the following morning. In later years, the breakfast became Continental in nature.

During its final years, the Black Hawk provided an eastbound connection with the Northern Pacific Railway's Mainstreeter, and the Great Northern Railway's Western Star. By the late 1960s it combined with the Western Star both ways, and with the Mainstreeter westbound.

The Black Hawk was discontinued after its final run on the night of April 12–13, 1970, six weeks after March 2, when the CB&Q merged into Burlington Northern.


CB&Q 4000. ''Aeolus'' streamlined steam engine on the ''Black Hawk'' at Downers Grove, Illinois, June 1937. Click to enlarge.

(Photo: Everett L. DeGolyer Jr., DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)


Status: Discontinued
First service: January 1930 / Last service: April 13, 1970
Former operators: Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, Burlington Northern
Route Termini: Chicago / Minneapolis
Distance traveled: 437 miles (703 km) / Travel time: 10-1/2 hours (1947)
Train numbers: 47/48


The CB&Q's Black Hawk at La Vergne, Illinois Station in 1967. Click to enlarge.

(By David Wilson from Oak Park, Illinois, USA - 19670620 03 CB&Q Blackhawk, Lavergne, IL, CC BY 2.0,