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A list and brief history of the railroads involved with the story of the Green Bay Route.


Railroads of the Green Bay Route
The predecessors and successors of the Green Bay & Western Railroad.
Subsidiaries and Merged Lines
Railroads owned, operated, or aligned with the Green Bay Route.
Other Railroads
Lines that interchanged or crossed the Green Bay Route.

Railroads of the Green Bay Route

The predecessors and successors of the Green Bay & Western Railroad.

Subsidiaries and Merged Lines

Railroads owned, operated, or aligned with the Green Bay Route.

Other Railroads

Lines that interchanged or crossed the Green Bay Route.

Proposed lines, never built:

Shipping and trucking companies:


Ahnapee & Western (A&W) 1890-1906, 1947-1970
Following the decision to build the Kewaunee, Green Bay & Western, the AHW was incorporated on August 18, 1890. The line was built in 1892 from Casco Junction to the port city of Algoma, and then to Sturgeon Bay. The Green Bay Route took control on November 1, 1906 by acquiring 99% of the stock. The Green Bay Route ultimately acquired over ninety percent of AHW stock to gain control over the line. The Green Bay Route gained control of the railroad on November 12, 1906.
In 1947 the former AHW trackage was sold to interests in Sturgeon Bay and a new Ahnapee & Western began operations. The railroad was sold to Champion International Corporation on January 1, 1971.
Ahnapee & Western (AHW) 1971-1993
The Ahnapee & Western was purchased by Champion International Corporation on January 1, 1971 and a year later the AHW sold its locomotive and the Green Bay & Western provided train service. A washout at the Kewaunee River bridge in 1986 reduced the line to a short stub off the GB&W main line. The Fox Valley & Western acquired the AHW in 1993.
Ann Arbor Railroad (AA) 1895-1977, 1988-
The AA was formed after the reorganization of the bankrupt Toledo, Ann Arbor & Northern Michigan in 1895. The AA was closely aligned with the Wabash Railroad from 1925-1963, and the Detroit, Toledo, and Ironton after that. AA entered into reorganization in 1973, and the State of Michigan purchased portions of the line in March 1976 and the remainder, including the Lake Michigan car ferries, in 1980. On October 1, 1977, Michigan Interstate Railway began operating the line. In October 1988 a newly formed AA purchased the Frankfort to Toledo line and began operations, but by this time there were no more carferry operations.
Ann Arbor Railroad
Burlington & Northern (B&N) 1885-1899
The B&N followed the Mississippi River from St. Louis to St. Paul. The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy acquired control of the line in 1890 and formally merged the line in 1899.
Burlington Northern (BN) 1970-1996
The BN was formed March 2, 1970 when the Chicago Burlington & Quincy and several other railroads merged. Rumors that the BN was interested in purchasing the Green Bay Route persisted throughout the 1970's and 80's. The BN ultimately became part of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe system after the demise of the Green Bay Route.
Canadian National Railway (CN) 1922-
The earliest parts of the CN were built in the 1830s and in 1922 the nationalized CN was created by the Canadian government. The railroad was privatized in 1995 and purchased the Wisconsin Central along with subsidiary Fox Valley & Western on October 9, 2001. Although the purchase was done mainly for the WC Superior WI to Chicago IL line, portions of the Green Bay Route still operate as branch lines.
Canadian National Railway web page.
Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) 1868-1987
The Chesapeake & Ohio traced its earliest roots to 1836 and on June 6, 1947 it merged the Pere Marquette, including its carferry operations between Ludington, Michigan and Kewaunee. In July 1983 the C&O sold its remaining car ferry service to Michigan-Wisconsin Transportation. On September 2, 1987 the C&O was merged into CSX Transportation.
Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society
Chicago & North Western (C&NW) 1859-1995
The C&NW's roots go back to 1836 and its principal lines connected much of Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to Chicago. The C&NW acquired the Winona & St. Peter in 1867, cutting off the plans of the Green Bay & Minnesota to expand westward. On August 19, 1893 C&NW acquired the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western. The C&NW railroad was one of the few that kept its corporate identity during the entire life of the Green Bay Route.
Chicago & North Western Historical Society
Chicago Great Western (CGW) 1892-1968
The CGW was originally organized as the Wisconsin, Iowa & Nebraska RR which became the Chicago, St. Paul & Kansas City in 1886, and finally the CGW in 1892. The CGW linked the key rail cities of Chicago, Kansas City, Saint Paul, and Omaha. Never financially strong, the CGW merged into the Chicago & North Western on July 1, 1968. The C&NW subsequently abandoned most of the CGW.
Chicago Milwaukee & Saint Paul (CM&StP) 1874-1926
In the early 1900's the CMStP&P was one of the largest railroads in the Midwest, linking Chicago with Minneapolis, Omaha, and Kansas City. The line built west to the Pacific Ocean, but costly construction and a weak economy put the railroad in bankruptcy in 1923. In 1926 the line was reorganized as the Chicago Milwaukee Saint Paul & Pacific.
Chicago Milwaukee Saint Paul & Pacific (CMStP&P) 1926-1985
Commonly known as the Milwaukee Road, it operated almost 10,000 miles of routes stretching from Chicago to the Pacific coast. Over time, traffic began to die off and the high cost of maintaining its transcontinental route force the railroad to gradually sell off portions of its track. The eastern lines, including the interchanges with the Green Bay Route, were sold to the Soo Line in February of 1985 and the Soo Line merged the CMStP&P on January 1, 1986.
Milwaukee Road Historical Association
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (CB&Q) 1899-1970
The CB&Q acquired the Chicago, Burlington, and Northern in 1899 and along with it came the ownership of the Winona Bridge Railway. The CB&Q grew into an expansive system stretching from Kentucky to the Rocky Mountains, and ultimately to the Gulf Coast through a subsidiary line. It was a major source of bridge route traffic that the Green Bay Route relied so heavily on. The CB&Q was merged into the Burlington Northern in 1970.
Burlington Route Historical Society
Chicago, Burlington, and Northern Railway Company (CB&N) 1887-1899
The CB&N built the railroad line alone along the west bank of the Mississippi River at Winona. In 1890 the CB&N and Green Bay & Minnesota created the Winona Bridge Railway to build and operate a bridge between Winona, Minnesota and East Winona, Wisconsin. The CB&N merged into the Chicago Burlington & Quincy in 1899.
Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway (CStPM&O) 1880-1972
The 'Omaha Road' was formed in the spring of 1880 from several smaller lines, including the West Wisconsin which interchanged with the Green Bay Route at Merrillan. The Chicago & North Western purchased a controlling interest in December 1882, leasing it in 1957 and finally acquired the railroad outright in 1972.
Delaware Lackawanna & Western (DL&W) 1851-1960
The DL&W was a powerful eastern railroad closely aligned with steel and coal interests. The railroad gained control of the Green Bay Route in the 1880s as part of its plan to develop a transcontinental transportation link using the Great Lakes to connect the coal mines of the East with expansion in the West. In the twentieth century the influence of the DL&W over the GB&W's operations gradually decreased and the DL&W ended its existence by merging with the Erie RR in 1960.
Escanaba and Lake Superior (E&LS) 1980-
The Escanaba and Lake Superior was incorporated Nov. 17, 1898. On March 10, 1980 the Escanaba and Lake Superior acquired ex-Chicago Milwaukee Saint Paul & Pacific trackage from Green Bay northward to Channing and Ontonogan, Mich.
Ettrick & Northern (E&N) 1915-1928
The Ettrick and Northern RR was incorporated on June 5, 1915 with the intent of connecting the Southwestern Wisconsin village with Blair, located ten miles to the north on the Green Bay Route. In August 1918 trains began regular service between the two towns. Inflated construction costs during World War One along with the construction of a parallel highway put the road in financial peril from the beginning and it ceased operations on November 15, 1927. In 1928 it was reorganized as the Ettrick Railroad Company.
Ettrick Railroad Company (ER) 1928-1937
The ER was an attempt by local investors to make the rail connection between Ettrick and Blair profitable by using a gasoline powered locomotive to hail freight. It was incorporated on November 3, 1928 and began operations on October 10, 1930. Traffic was never great enough and the GB&W retired its interchange with the short line in September 1936. The ER was abandoned on July 1, 1937.
Fox River Valley Railroad (FRV) 1988-1993
The FRV operated between Granville and Green Bay. Itel Corporation purchased the line from Chicago & North Western on December 9, 1988. In 1991, FRV and its Itel sister, GB&W, began operating under one management team. Itel sold both railroads to Wisconsin Central in 1993, which operated both lines as the Fox Valley & Western subsidiary.
Fox Valley & Western Railroad (FV&W) 1993-2001
The FV&W, a 'paper-only' subsidiary of the Wisconsin Central, began operating the Green Bay & Western on Saturday, August 28, 1993. It also acquired the Ahnapee & Western, and the Fox River Valley. Portions of the Green Bay Route from Manawa to Plover and Luxemburg to Kewaunee were abandoned. On October 9, 2001, the FV&W was merged into the Canadian National Railway.
Green Bay & Lake Pepin Railway (GB&LP) 1866-1873
The GB&LP was granted a charter on April 12, 1866 to operate a railroad from Green Bay to the Minnesota border. Construction began in Green Bay in 1869 and reached East Winona, Wisconsin on December 18, 1873. On September 9, 1873 the railroad was renamed the Green Bay & Minnesota in light of the fact that the tracks never went to Lake Pepin.
Green Bay & Minnesota Rail Road (GB&M) 1873-1881
Realizing that Lake Pepin was a misnomer, the Green Bay & Lake Pepin was renamed the GB&M in 1873. The cost to build the Green Bay Route about twice what was originally estimated, however, and the GB&M fell into receivership January 23, 1878. The Green Bay, Winona & Saint Paul, organized by bondholders of the GB&M, acquired the property on August 30, 1881 and took over operations of the line on October 14, 1881 (some sources report the date as September 13, 1881).
Green Bay & Western Railroad (GB&W) 1896-1993
The GB&W was incorporated on June 3, 1896 and purchased the bankrupt Green Bay, Winona, & Saint Paul and Green Bay, Stevens Point & Northern for $1,000,000. It began operations on June 10, 1896. It operated successfully for almost one hundred years before being purchased by the Wisconsin Central and merged into its Fox Valley & Western subsidiary on August 28, 1993.
Green Bay, Minneapolis & St. Paul Railway (GBM&StP) 1882-1883
This was the one railroad in the Green Bay Route which was never built. The GBM&StP was incorporated on August 9, 1892 by several members of the GBW&StP board of directors with the plan to connect Merrillan with St. Paul, Minnesota. The plan was shelved during the Panic of '93 and soon the bankruptcy of the GW&StP put the plan to rest for good.
Green Bay, Stevens Point & Northern Railroad (GBSP&N) 1881-1896
The GBStP&N was incorporated on August 6, 1881 to connect Stevens Point with the Green Bay, Winona & St. Paul at Plover. Regular service began the following January, and in August of that year the line was leased in perpetuity by the GBW&StP. The GBStP&N went into bankruptcy in 1896 along with its parent road, and the line was purchased by the newly-organized Green Bay & Western on June 5, 1896 and operated as a profitable branch line from that point on.
Green Bay, Winona, & Saint Paul Railroad (GBW&StP) 1881-1896
The GBW&StP was incorporated on May 16, 1881. It purchased the bankrupt Green Bay & Minnesota for $2,000,000 and took over operations on October 14, 1881. High operating costs kept the railroad in financial difficulties. The only new construction done was a 2.23-mile spur line from Wisconsin Rapids to Biron. However, the directors of the railroad were involved in several rail lines which eventually became part of the Green Bay Route, including the
Kewaunee, Green Bay & Western, Green Bay, Stevens Point & Northern, Iola & Northern, and the never-built Green Bay, Minneapolis & St. Paul. In 1883, the railroad became part owner of the Winona Bridge Railway, giving the Green Bay Route access to Winona, Minnesota. The railroad eventually went into bankruptcy and was sold at foreclosure in 1896.
Iola & Northern Railroad (I&N) 1893-1914
The Iola and Northern Railroad Company was planned as a 100 mile railroad, linking the Green Bay, Winona, & Saint Paul at Scandinavia with the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie near Prentice WI. The line was incorporated on May 9, 1893 and construction began in that year. Financial difficulties exacerbated by the Panic of '93 resulted in only the first 4.7 miles of the line getting built. The Green Bay & Western acquired all the stock of the I&N in 1901, and on December 28, 1914 the railroad was merged into the GB&W. It was operated as a branch line until June 1, 1958 when it was abandoned.
Jones Lumber & Mercantile Co. (JLMCo) ca. 1880s
This spur was constructed in the mid to late 1880's for the Jones Lumber and Mercantile Company of Black River Falls. It departed the main east-west main line at a point approximately two and one-half miles west of the village of Waterbury, Jackson County and ran in a south-southwesterly direction to the Jones sawmill and planing mill.  May not have been an independent railroad, may have just been a spur of the GBWStP.
Kewaunee, Green Bay & Western Railroad (KGB&W) 1890-1969
The KGB&W was incorporated on May 19,1890 to build eastward from Green Bay to the Lake Michigan port of Kewaunee, in an attempt to gain a year-round steamship connection. At first cargo was transferred break-bulk between freight cars and steamships, but before long ferries began transporting entire carloads across the lake to Frankfurt and Ludington, Michigan. Train schedules were closely coordinated between the KGB&W and the Green Bay & Western, which gained control of the KGB&W on June 28, 1897 by ownership of 66% of the company's stock. The KGB&W and its car ferry connections were crucial in transforming the Green Bay Route from a sleepy Wisconsin short line into a Class I railroad operating time freights between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. The Green Bay & Western fully merged the KGB&W on June 1, 1969.
Kewaunee, Green Bay & Winona Transport (KGB&WT) 1948?-1978
The KGB&WT was a trucking subsidiary organized by the Green Bay Route after the railroad began its transformation to a high-speed bridge route. The KGB&WT eventually acquired off-road maintenance equipment for the GB&W, and became a wholly owned subsidiary in 1978.
La Crosse & Southeastern (LC&SE) 902-1933
The LC&SE's 34-mile route extended from La Crosse to Viroqua. Access to La Crosse was through trackage rights on the CB&Q. Much of the line was abandoned on August 5, 1933, although a part remained as a CMStP&P branch line until 1971.
La Crosse, Trempealeau & Prescott Railroad (LT&P) 1857
The LT&P was incorporated in 1857, but never saw any construction. The LT&P and the neighboring W&STP came under control of eastern railroad interests who sold the lines to the C&NW in 1867. The C&NW used the LT&P charter to construct a 28-mile line from Marshland to Medary Junction near La Crosse in 1870. The C&NW connected the LT&P and W&STP lines by bridging the Mississippi River two years later. The GBW&StP used the LT&P's connection into Winona for several decades until they took partial ownership of the WBR and built their own bridge over the Mississippi River in 1890.
Lackawanna - Green Bay Line (LGB) 1899-
After Lackawanna Transportation Company boat line dissolved in 1899 the former manager of the line, Marcus Drake, started his own company, the Green Bay - Lackawanna Line. He carried most of DL&W's freight to 1905.
Lackawanna Transportation Company (LTC) -1899
The LTC was a boat line controlled by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western RR in the late 1800s. It transported freight and passengers from the DL&W to the Green Bay, Winona, & Saint Paul RR, also controlled by the same interests. It dissolved and re-formed as the Lackawanna - Green Bay Line in 1899.
Manitowoc, Green Bay & Western (MGB&W) 1884, 1893
In 1884 the Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Western proposed extending their line north from Two Rivers through Ahnapee (Algoma) to Sturgeon Bay. After the Kewaunee, Green Bay & Western and Ahnapee & Western were built in the early 1890s the Green Bay Route considered an extension south to Manitowoc which never was built.
Michigan Interstate Railway (MI) 1977-1988
Formed after the AA entered reorganization in 1974, MI began operating the line on October 1, 1977. The car ferry operation was discontinued in April 1982 and in 1983 MI filed for reorganization. The line was sold to a newly formed AA in October 1988.
Michigan-Wisconsin Transportation Company (MWT) 1983-1990
The MWT acquired the Chesapeake & Ohio carferry operations in July 1983. In November 1990 MWT ceased operations, bringing a halt to a century of car ferry service to Kewaunee.
Milwaukee & Northern Railway Company (M&N) 1870-1893
Construction of the M&N began in Milwaukee in 1870, and its Northern Division was extended to Green Bay in 1873. An extension to the Michigan state line was started in 1881 under the guise of the Wisconsin & Michigan Railroad Company and took five years to complete. The M&N was purchased by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific in 1893.
Milwaukee, Dexterville, and Northern (MD&N) 1887-1890
The MD&N was organized by lumber baron George Hiles and began construction northwest from Dexterville in October 1887. It extended approximately 20 miles to serve timber interests in the area. The railroad used GBW&StP trackage rights for several miles out of Dexterville. On June 30, 1891 the Chicago, Milwaukee & Saint Paul acquired the line.
Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway (MLS&W) 1872-1893
The Lake Shore, as it was commonly known, had been founded in 1872 with the merger of several predecessor roads. The extension of additional track, eventually extending to Ashland, reached the GB&W's interchange in New London in 1876. It competed with the Wisconsin Central for the lumber and mining trade in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula. and became a part of the Chicago & North Western in 1893.
Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway (MStP&SSM) 1888-1961
Commonly known as the Soo Line, the MSt.P&SSM was aligned with the Canadian Pacific and merged with the original Wisconsin Central to create the 'official' Soo Line in 1961.
Pere Marquette (PM) 1900-1947
Formed in 1900 with the merger of several small lines in Michigan, the PM began carferry service between Ludington, Michigan and Kewaunee the following year. On June 6, 1947 the PM was merged into the Chesapeake & Ohio.
Pere Marquette Historical Society
Soo Line (SOO) 1961-1990
Formed in 1961 when the MSt.P&SSM (informally known as the 'Soo Line') merged the original Wisconsin Central line. After purchasing the CMStP&P in 1985, the Soo Line preferred the newly acquired line between Chicago and the Twin Cities and sold its Wisconsin lines to the newly formed Wisconsin Central in 1987. Canadian Pacific became full owner of the Soo Line in 1990.
Soo Line Historical and Technical Society
Toledo, Ann Arbor, & Northern Michigan Railway (TAA&NM) 1878-1895
The TAA&NM was formed in 1878 and in 1892 began operating the very first Lake Michigan car ferry, Ann Arbor #1, between Frankfort, Michigan and Kewaunee. The TAA&NM went bankrupt in 1893. The road was reorganized in 1895 as the Ann Arbor.
Waupaca - Green Bay Railway (W-GB) 1907-1921
After thirty years of unsuccessful attempts to get a second railroad line to Waupaca and a nearby granite quarry, the W-GB was incorporated on January 14, 1907 by local businessmen. Service between Waupaca and Scandinavia (junction with the Green Bay & Western and Iola & Northern) began in January 1908. In 1913 the Waupaca end was extended a mile east to service the potato warehouse district in an effort to avoid the high switching rates of the Wisconsin Central but the added indebtedness of the construction along with a poor potato crop in 1917 forced the line into bankruptcy. The line became the Waupaca branch of the Green Bay & Western on January 1, 1922 and was abandoned in 1947.
West Wisconsin Railroad (WW) 1873-1880
Began in 1868, the WW followed the original land grant of the never-constructed Tomah and Lake St. Croix RR. It reached Merrillan in 1869 and Saint Paul in 1872. The railroad merged into the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha in 1880.
Western Refrigerator Line Company (WRX) 1929-
The Western Refrigerator Line Company was organized in 1929 to operate a fleet of 500 reefers for the Green Bay & Western. Several of the top officers were also officers of Northwestern Refrigerator Car Company (NWRX), which operated the Chicago & North Western reefer fleet. Finances were handled by NWRX in Chicago, while all other operations were handled by WRX out of Green Bay. In 1946 NWRX becamse a division of North American Car Corporation and all of WRX's operations were based in Green Bay. WRX's shop and headquarters were located on the east end of Norwood Yard in Green Bay until the GB&W bought out the property in the 1960s. In 1975 it was renamed Western Refrigerator Line Company Terminal. By 1990 it was down to only 11 refrigerator cars.
Winona & Saint Peter Railroad (W&StP) 1862-1867
In 1862, the W&StP was constructed west from Winona. The original decision to terminate the Green Bay Route in East Winona was based on a hope to link the railroad to the W&StP, which never happened after the W&StP became part of the Chicago and North Western in 1867.
Winona & Southwestern Railway (W&SW) 1872-1894
The W&SW was organized to construct from Winona, Minnesota to the general direction of Omaha, Nebraska. The city of Winona voted $150,000 in bonds to aid the construction of the road, but later that year re-directed $100,000 of the money to the Green Bay & Minnesota, and nothing but surveys of the W&SW were completed. In 1887 Winona bonded $100,000 to the railroad and it was constructed as far as Osage, Iowa before it fell into receivership during the panic of 1893 and sold to the successor Winona & Western.
Winona & Western Railway (W&W) 1894-1901
The W&W was the successor to the Winona & Southwestern. Although the railroad had intentions to someday extend the line westward, its first priority was improvements to the existing line. In an ominous sign of the future, rails at the far end of the line were torn up and used on the other improvements. The Chicago Great Western acquired the W&W in late August 1901 and merged into the Wisconsin, Minnesota, & Pacific, a subsidiary of the CGW, and fully merged it in 1920.
Winona Bridge Railway Company (WBR) 1890-1987
The Green Bay Route owned one-third of the WBR, formed in 1890 to build and operate a bridge over the Mississippi River from East Winona, Wisconsin to the larger city of Winona, Minnesota. The line was 1.03 miles long and opened for traffic on September 1, 1891. (Prior to the WBR, the Green Bay Route had to interchange with the La Crosse, Trempealeau & Prescott Railroad at Marshland, several miles east of East Winona, to gain access across the Mississippi River.) With heavy repairs needed on the trestle approach and an inability to handle 100-ton cars, the bridge was closed to traffic in September 1985. The Burlington Northern bought the Green Bay Route's share of the WBR in 1987 in an ill-fated attempt to create a new rail subsidiary to compete for low-cost intermodal service between Winona and Seattle. The bridge partially burned on December 17, 1989 and was dismantled in the fall of 1990.
Wisconsin & Michigan (W&M) 1881-1887
The W&M was a subsidiary of the Milwaukee & Northern which built a line north from Green Bay in 1881. In 1887 the M&N acquired the W&M.
Wisconsin & Northern (W&N) 1907-1921
Construction of the W&N began in 1907 in Shawano to connect the timberlands of northern Wisconsin with mills in the Fox River valley. By 1918 the line extended from Argonne in the north to Appleton on the other end, with Soo Line connections at both ends. The railroad became part of the Soo in 1921.
Wisconsin Central (WC) -1961, 1987-2001
The WC was incorporated in 1871 and began operations with service between Menasha and Stevens Point; reached Ashland WI in 1877; St Paul MN in 1884; Chicago IL in 1886; and Superior MN in 1908. Leased by Northern Pacific 1890-93. Leased in 1909 by Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie - which gained access to Chicago, north-country ore deposits, and Wisconsin's Fox River valley - until WC's 1944 bankruptcy, after which MStP&SSM was WC's operating agent. WC was folded into the Soo Line in the 1960 merger.
A newly formed WC purchased the Lake States Transportation Division of the Soo Line in 1987 and reused the name and emblem (which dated from 1885) of the prior railroad. Wisconsin Central Ltd. ultimately grew to a 3000-mile system, including FV&W, Algoma Central, and Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Co. WC was acquired by Canadian National on October 9, 2001, providing the missing link in CN's Y-shaped transcontinental system.
Wisconsin Valley Railroad (WV) 1856-1880
The WV built to Wisconsin Rapids in 1873. it became part of the Chicago Milwaukee & Saint Paul.
Wisconsin, Minnesota, & Pacific Railroad (WM&P) 1901-1924
The WM&P was a subsidiary of the Chicago Great Western consisting of its eastern Minnesota lines. It was fully merged into the CGW in 1920.
 

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