Railroad Structures in Wisconsin

Discussion in 'Central – From Da Nort Woods to the Plane States' started by Cannonshot, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Trevor Depot at the former site of the North Lake Tourist Railroad

    This depot was moved from Trevor to North Lake.

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    There used to be a tourist railroad with a 50 minute eight mile trip in old passenger cars pulled by a steam engine. The engine used to pull logging trains in northern California. Sadly, this beautiful rural area in Lake Country grew with more and more people who sought to live in the country and commute to their urban jobs. They complained about the noise, smells, and smoke and eventually pressured the railroad to cease operations. I believe a dining car from this site was moved next to the Oconomowoc depot as part of an extension to their restaurant. I've eaten breakfast in it before on a weekend or two.

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    I was able to take my very old grandfather for a ride on this train before he passed some years ago. The trip was well worth it as he told me about some of his experiences taking the train in what was then largely undeveloped northern Wisconsin.

    There is a bunch of equipment still on the site.

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    #61
  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Sussex Depot

    The railroad came to Sussex in 1885. A lumber company set up along the tracks. In 1890 the Bug Line railroad came through to get limestone products. Stone workers were making 12-15 cents an hour back then. In 1910, the CNW came to town.

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    Only one of four depots around "town" still remains. It was moved from its original location to this one.

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    This telegraph operator at the station made $55 a month. He worked 7 to 7, six days a week.

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    The depot is a museum today.

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    There was a train wreck near this depot some years back. Here is the story:

    Train wreck in Mapleway Park

    by Fred H. Keller​
    Retrospect, Living Sussex Sun, Posted: Sept. 8, 2009​
    <!--startclickprintexclude--><!--endclickprintexclude-->It was a cold clear night on Feb. 19, 1966, 43 years ago. A Chicago Northwestern Railroad train was treading its way through Wisconsin toward Sussex, on its way to Milwaukee. At about 2:30 a.m. it passed the Sussex Depot on Maple Avenue. It was said that the crew knew there was a problem with a possible hot box in a faulty journal, connecting two cars. Just as the front part of the train cleared Maple Avenue, it derailed and sent 13 railroad cars into an accordion pile of debris where Mapleway Park is today.

    Nine of the 13 cars were loaded with coke, a type of processed coal used for making steel. The coke spread across the lightly snow-covered tundra a yard thick in some places and in other places just inches thick.
    Maple Avenue was closed for some time by the accident, but by early morning, cars and trucks could pass through. An estimated 50 railroad workers converged on the scene, attempting to clear the coke spill and other debris.

    One must look at the landscape to fully appreciate the wreck. The land north of the tracks was depressed, a former swamp and headwaters of the Sussex Creek. This bottom muckland was considerably lower than the surrounding area and full of black peat soil that Ernie Pfeil farmed sporadically and profitably. For many years he could not farm it because of high water and the resulting mud.

    He sold the land for development into the Sussex Heights subdivision, and this "hole" on the north side of the tracks was going to be filled with dirt and debris to make an outlot. It developed as a flat spot at a similar height to the adjacent Maple Avenue.

    In 1978, topsoil would be added and grass planted, and in time trees and playground toys would be added. However, the southern part of the park lawn was never developed other than the lawn as it is on We Energies land for the overhead high-power electric lines. Then the land dips down to the railroad, which currently belongs to the Union Pacific Railroad. The village owns about 2 acres, and there is an additional acre that other landowners allow the village to use for park lawn.

    At the site of the wreckage in 1966, the coke spillage was scraped up and reloaded into gondolas. Coke was still present for years afterward, particularly on the north side of the tracks. Occasionally, people would scavenge for the coke to possibly use for home heating, but today there is nothing left. The addition of new ballast and the dumping of debris has now hidden most evidence of the accident, though a 50-foot section of steel rail still sits in the nearby tall weeds. At 100 pounds per foot, the rail would weigh more than 5,000 pounds. It is possible that it belongs to the derailment wreckage.

    Sussex Mills was contacted to furnish a truck driver and truck to help move the 56-pound boxed butter that was in two box cars. Railroad employees handled the boxed butter, loading the mill truck and repacked onto a box car at the Sussex Depot.

    I happened to be the truck driver, and I was shadowed by a railroad detective who watched over the entire transporting of the butter. In the end there were two cartons of the butter that were squashed open, with debris embedded inside. I thought that the detective would throw them on the side of the loading dock, abandoning them as unfit for consumption. I figured that if he threw them away, I could salvage them, cut off the damaged part and have butter for a year. But the detective wrapped up the boxes in paper and tape and put them in the outgoing cars with a proper note attached.

    By Monday afternoon, Feb. 21, 1966, the wreck and debris were cleaned up. Today, only old photographs and memories are left of the early morning wreck. At the accident scene many years ago, a small boy told a reporter that his grandmother had heard something in the night but thought they were switching trains. Longtime Sussex resident Joyce Egle found five old slides she had taken of the wreck and gave them to the historical society.

    Today, when you are walking along the far western Mapleway Park trail that goes from Maple Avenue to Waukesha Avenue and the Bug Line Trail, look at the peaceful site immediately south of the park and imagine 13 smashed up railroad cars and piles of coke spread over the landscape.​
    #62
  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Genessee Depot

    The railroad was originally slated to go through a nearby community but people trying to gouge the railroad with high land prices led to the railroad coming to what later became known as Genessee Depot in 1851.

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    When the railroad landed here, the place became a boom town. They built an elegant hotel with a second floor ballroom so that people coming here to enjoy the healthful spring waters had good lodging. All kinds of businesses came into being here including a grain elevator and a slaughter house. Genessee Depot became one of the largest milk shipping stations in the country when they were shipping 2-3 carloads of milk each day. The present depot replaced one that was burned and was built in 1897. It has been moved away from the tracks and is now a business.

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    #63
  4. beezerjuice

    beezerjuice Adventurer

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    Great thread--hopefully you will be making some forays into the U.P?
    The Milwaukee Road depot at Channing is still standing and there is a nice little restaurant right next door.
    #64
  5. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    There is a lot of interesting railroad related stuff in the UP. That could be a whole separate thread! The stuff from the mining days is great with a lot of interesting history associated with it.
    #65
  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Columbus Depots (Amtrak)

    Columbus has two depots. One original and one replacement.

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    This is the original 1871 freight and passenger depot.

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    This replacement depot was built in 1906.

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    It was built of rusticated concrete and is in great condition.

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    In keeping with social norms of the time it had two separate waiting rooms - one for men and one for women.

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    The current single waiting area has the standard benches from the past.

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    A bus line connect with the Amtrak station here. I think the busses come from Green Bay for one.

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    While I was at the station the Empire Builder came in - ON TIME!

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    The train comes in pretty hot but quickly and quietly brakes to a stop with the cars positioned along the platform.

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    I was kind of surprised by the number of passengers embarking and debarking here.

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    The train blocks a highway arterial during the brief stop.

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    It is amazing how quietly this train rolls on continuous welded rail.

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    #66
  7. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train stopped at the old Hartland Depot tonight. It was running about 35 minutes late. Freight trains were stuck in sidings. One freight came through the crowd that was waiting for the holiday train. Bonus train for the kids.

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    Some guy was flying a drone camera over the crowd.

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    The train arrived and creeped into position.

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    They had a couple of generator cars powering the lights and the passenger coaches.

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    People seemed to like the set up.

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    Looks like they welded some steel grates onto old box cars to they could mount the lights.

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    One car has a fold out stage. They put on a half hour show at each stop. The idea here is that people bring food and money donations at each stop. The stuff donated is used locally. They do a pretty good job of fun raising with this thing.

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    I saw a TSA Inspector along the tracks, the local coppers, and the railroad police.

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    Later the train passed through Oconomowoc on the way to the next show at Columbus.

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    Video of the train passing through Oconomowoc.

    <IFRAME height=315 src="//www.youtube.com/embed/-HxRtrFEjhQ" frameBorder=0 width=560 allowfullscreen></IFRAME>
    #67
  8. no

    no dreaming adventurer Supporter

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    Like.
    #68
  9. zoid

    zoid Dirty Old Hippie

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    Fascinating thread!
    #69
  10. gremor

    gremor RS'er

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    Video is cool. Bet the kids love to see it go by at night!


    :clap
    #70
  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I think you would have really enjoyed a close up look at the Holiday Train. More to it than one would expect.

    Lots of interesting stuff associated with all this for sure.

    There must have been a couple thousand people at the old depot site when the train visited. Obviously they picked this open grassy stretch to be able to handle all those folks.

    Holiday Train link.
    #71
  12. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    North Prairie

    North Prairie started up around 1826 with some early settlers. In 1852 the railroad came through.

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    Not sure when this version of the depot was built.

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    Back in 1866 a local outfit funded $50K to dig a hole to extract oil and minerals. It didn't work out.

    Nice little town. The depot is now a restaurant.

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    #72
  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Watertown Depot

    The first railroad came to Watertown in 1854. Since then Watertown became a rail town of sorts over the years.

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    There used to be passenger service here for many years. A commuter train ran from here to Milwaukee until it was discontinued in the 70s. It was resurrected for a while during a period of major freeway renovation.

    This remaining depot is on an intersecting line and not on the mainline that was once the Milwaukee Road where the Cannonball commuter train ran.

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    When the high speed rail initiative came out, Watertown was actively making plans for a new high speed rail passenger depot. In the end, Wisconsin did participate to the project faded.

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    Watertown put a lot of effort into recording their railroad history.
    #73
  14. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Waukesha CNW Depot

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    Today it is a restaurant.

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    KILLED ON THE SOO
    Fireman Michael Crowley Meets Death at Waukesha

    One man was killed and another injured in a headon collision between freight No. 23, west bound, and a switch engine on the Soo line about 1000 yards from the Northwestern railroad crossing near Waukesha, at 9:30 o'clock Tuesday morning.

    Michael Crowley, who was firing on the switch engine, was killed and Otto Toll, engineer on the same locomotive, suffered a broken leg and his head was also cut. Crowley was 39 years old, lived at Waukesha, and leaves a large family. Engineer Toll lives at North Fond du Lac.

    The freight train was in charge of Conductor Benedict. Engineer Charles Hill and Fireman Oscar Joseph jumped and escaped injury.

    The switch engine was pushing one car and pulling several others at the time of the accident. The car ahead of the engine served as a cushion, when the crash came, and although the car was demolished neither the switch engine nor the one attached to the freight left the track. Six cars, which were being pulled by the switch engine, were derailed.

    The Stevens Point Journal, Stevens Point, WI 9 Aug 1913
    #74
  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Waukesha Soo Depot

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    1940s

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    TRAIN STRIKES AUTO

    Mrs. Harry Pawling is dying, her husband Robert Pawling and Frank Lilly of Detroit, a friend, were badly injured this afternoon when a Milwaukee railroad train struck their automobile at Forest Crossing three miles east of Waukesha and hurled the occupants through a milk house wall. The train was stopped and the injured were taken aboard and rushed to the emergency hospital at Waukesha.

    The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, OK 22 Aug 1909
    #75
  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Whitewater Depot

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    This is a deluxe depot architecturally. I won't bore you with details but it is pretty nice inside and out.

    It was built in 1890-91.

    A little background on railroads in WI. Back in the 1840s, no railroads were being chartered because the plank road and stage coach outfits held things up politically. WI became a state in 1848. About that time they started building out a railroad from Milwaukee. It first went to Waukesha and then to Genessee Depot and beyond.

    The railroad hit Whitewater in 1852. No one really knows why except that a lot of locals bought railroad stock.

    A lot of small lines laid track around the state. By 1868 most had merged into three big railroads (Milwaukee Road, Soo, CNW) and there was about 1,000 miles of track around. By 1900, there were about 6,500 miles of track around. Things peaked in 1916 and after WWI went into decline. After WWII highways took over and most short line passenger service died off.

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    #76
  17. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Jefferson Depot

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    Don't know when it was built.

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    Train Versus Ox

    Railroad Accident - Eight Killed.

    CHICAGO, Nov. 1. --- A terrible accident occurred this morning on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. A train, consisting of thirteen cars, filled with excursionists from Fond du Lac for Chicago, ran off the track at Johnson's creek, eight miles south of Watertown, Wisconsin. Eight persons are reported killed, and a number badly injured. The names of the killed, as far as known, are as follows:

    MR. J. THOMAS, N. S. MARSHAL, MR. BOARDMAN, and GEORGE F. EMERSON.

    The following are reported as badly injured: A. B. BONESTEEL, Indian Agent; L. GILLETT; JUDGE FLINT; MRS. RADFORD; VAN BUREN LINEAD, all of Fond du Lac.

    CHICAGO, Nov. 1 --- Evening --- In addition to the killed by the railroad accident previously reported are JEROME MASON, telegraph operator; T. L. GILLETT and J. SNOW, of Fond du Lac; JOHN LUND: C. PETERAILLA, and L. SHERWOOD, of Oshkosh; and DR. T. MINER, of Watertown.

    Among the injured are E. H. SYKES, both legs cut off; MRS. LEWIS, leg broken; MRS. JAMES KINNEY, leg broken; and MR. BALDWIN, of Oshkosh, both legs broken.
    VAN BUREN LINEAD, reported among the wounded, has his skull fractured, and is not expected to recover. He is the editor of the Fond Du Lac Press.

    The accident was caused by the train running over an ox on the track.

    Philadelphia Press 1859-11-02
    #77
  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Lake Mills Depot

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    Now a visitor center along the Glacial Drumlin State Trail (former RR grade).

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    #78
  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    A little safety review to remind us of potential hazards in pursuing some of these sites.

    Most of these structures are no longer associated with active rail lines.

    However, some are.

    For those that might visit some of these locations to take photographs, it is important to understand the issues concerning trespassing on railroad property. Most developed facilities are well signed as to the limits of where a visitor is allowed. Railroad rights-of-way are generally not open to public travel and being on the property is trespassing.

    When riding or stopping to take photos around railroads, safety is important. Here are some facts to consider:

    -A person or vehicle is struck by a train on average about every three hours.

    -In 2012, 908 pedestrians were injured or killed while walking on or near railroad tracks.

    -In 2012, 1193 people were injured or killed at railroad grade crossings.

    -Many towns have "no horn" ordinances so trains may not routinely give audible warning of their approach. Some trains, like Amtrak passenger trains, are relatively quiet as they approach. By the time you perceive the train, you may not be able to react in time to avoid problems.

    -A typical freight train can take more than a mile to stop - even when applying emergency braking.

    -It is never safe to stop closer than 15 feet from rails. A train is at least 3 feet wider than the rails.

    -95% of rail-related deaths involve drivers trying to beat a train or people trespassing on the tracks.

    -More than 50% of people injured or killed while trespassing on tracks have drugs or alcohol in their system.

    -We all know that wearing protective headwear and earplugs may degrade our ability to perceive an approaching train at an "unprotected" grade crossing.

    It is also important to recognize that some of the extant structures are now in the hands of private individuals and are not on public land with public access. Please respect private property in pursuing some of these structures.
    #79
  20. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Clyman Junction

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    This is an old coal dock (coaling station) from the days of steam. There used to be two mainline tracks passing under this thing. Now we are down to a single main line.

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    Looking down the tracks from the road crossing. A freight is standing probably waiting for other trains to pass. An Amtrak train us due shortly.

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    A view from the road crossing.

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    Never saw a set-up like this one. Obviously the trailers are on a strong metal car frame.

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    A view from the road crossing.

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    A view from the crossing at the stopped train.

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    #80