The Chicago and North Western Railway was chartered on June 7, 1859, five days after it purchased the assets of the bankrupt Chicago, St. Paul and Fond du Lac Railroad. On February 15, 1865, it merged with the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, which had been chartered on January 16, 1836. Since the Galena & Chicago Union started operating in December 1848, and the Fond du Lac railroad started in March 1855, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad is considered to be the origin of the North Western railroad system. Other lines acquired and added to the network included the Chicago, St. Paul and Fond du Lac Railroad in 1859, the Winona and St. Peter Railroad in 1867, the Sioux City and Pacific Railroad in 1880, the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad in 1884, and the Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Western Railway in 1893.[citation needed] They also held extensive property in Michigan, particularly its Upper Peninsula, to the point where they were one of the largest property owners in the state.

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