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Chicago & North Western
Stations and Towers
From time to time there have been a large number of postings on email regarding depots in Wisconsin and elsewhere. I thought I might add my contribution to these efforts by posting my photos of depots, stations, towers, etc. Since I started in the Milwaukee area, I will begin with a trip around the Milwaukee belt heading south out of the Milwaukee lakefront depot. The best photo I can offer here is one of my first pictures taken of a northbound train ready to depart with the beautiful Norman style building in the background.
In the graphics files which came with Print Shop, I found a picture of the station apparently copied from a post card.
Tom Manz found several original postcards and other pictures of the station.
South of the station were the coach yards and the 3rd Ward Roundhouse. Just beyond the line crossed the Milwaukee River on a swing bridge. Originally, everything was controlled from a tower just north of the bridge. I understand the tower is still standing and used by an office by a non-railroad firm. The controls for switches were moved to the top of the bridge when everything was electrified. I worked this job many times, and one of my best friends, Bob Eichelberg, fell from the top step to the bridge deck one icy night. He remained as a vegetable for his entire life. He passed away in 1998. He was an extremely intelligent young man who was an accomplished violinist, excellent photographer, and law student. The railroad was required to pay the largest workman's comp settlement in history up to that time.
At the other end of the yards south of the river was the former suburban station named Allis. Next to the tracks was the site of the original Allis-Chalmers works. They later moved to a settlement named North Greenfield which was several miles west out National Avenue. The citizens changed the name to West Allis in honor of the move about 1903. The Allis station was used as a yard office. The baggage room below track level was the site of an HO club in the early 1940s. Just to the west, the Milwaukee Road had a station, named National Avenue, which was under the tracks. It is the present location of the Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee, which has been there over 60 years.
Another two blocks south was the Washington Street Tower. This tower controlled the crossing of the Milwaukee Road with the Madison Division which cut off from the main line at this point. It also controlled access to the yards in the area. It was the busiest tower in Milwaukee with over 50 moves in each shift. The operator was classed as a Train Director. I was the youngest and only extra man qualified for this tower. It's gone.
I had the chance to take some photos from the tower from time to time. We received a picture which is taken from the exact spot where I took a picture. The tracks from the right lower to the middle are the Milwaukee Road tracks. The tracks from the left lower to the left are the C&NW main line and tracks from the left to upper right are the C&NW Madison lines.
The belt line now becomes the Madison Division. A little farther south was the Kinnickinnic River bridge which was called KK Madison since there was also a KK bridge on the main line. The tower was on the top of the bridge, and it was the first job I worked for the C&NW in October, 1951. It seldom opened, but the tower controlled the yard leads in the area.
A little farther south was the Chase roundhouse and yard. Here the belt was joined by the cut off from the main line at St. Francis which allowed trains to bypass Milwaukee.
At the west end of this complex was Chase Tower. This was the last place I worked for the C&NW late in 1957. In the photo, the morning train to Madison has just come around the curve to the left which leads to Milwaukee. In the background you can see the North Shore Line bridge over the C&NW tracks. It was a lot of fun to watch the North Shore trains shoot trolley sparks on winter nights as they passed overhead. The cut off joins the Madison Division just behind the photographer.
Chase was near 6th Street.
Layton Park station was the handy place for the Forest Home Cemetery which became a burial ground for many famous Milwaukeans including Frederick Layton. The cemetery was used as a park until the late 1890s.
The line went through various industrial areas and passed the Mitchell Yard between 35th and 43rd. Here there was a line which went north along 43rd to the Milwaukee Road Airline Yard. It was called the Mitchell Belt. The C&NW yard office was at 35th and the Milwaukee Road yard office was at Burnham Street.
In 1949, the Transport Company right of way between Burnham and Becher in West Allis was replaced by a road. The short bridge over the double track trolley line was replaced with a long bridge over the new road. While the construction went on, single track was maintained using two temporary telegraph offices called EX and WX. Here is WX which was near 70th Street.
A few blocks west was the West Allis station. The agent (I worked here for a month) had his office in the freight office on the north side of the tracks. The passenger station was opened to sell tickets before the morning and afternoon trains which made local stops in both directions. The Capitol 400 did not stop in the early afternoon.
There was an older station just west of the newer station and on the opposite of the tracks.
Near 92th Street was the Belton Junction. Originally this was a tower. At the time of the photo, the tower was used by signal maintainers. The telegrapher was in the little building on the south side of the track. The switches were thrown by hand. Behind the photographer, the Madison line continued straight while the belt turned north. Both of them passed under the Milwaukee Electric bridge on the Hales Corners line. The belt line crossed over the Waukesha line of the TM as it went west beside the C&NW Madison line.
The belt went north to the Butler yard which was and is the major yard for the Milwaukee area. There was a telegrapher at the yard office. The yard ended at Silver Spring where the roundhouse was located. About a mile north was Tower BJ. Here the main line to the Twin Cities went west and the belt line turned east. I worked this tower many times. One memorable event occurred when one of the guys made the mistake of using a bag of cement instead of a bag of quicklime in the outhouse. It wasn't long until he tied a rope around the little building and put up a sign on the door which said "Full."
Apparently there were three towers at the wye which became BJ. Tower SY looks the same as BJ but it was moved and the switches were electrified.
Heading east from BJ we came to Granville. Here was the Moss Tie Co., which is covered on another page. The depot was next to Highway 100 which jogged near the end of the depot. If you look carefully, you can see where an auto took off the corner of the depot. This was a common occurrence. It looked a lot better in the earlier view.
The final stop on the belt was Wiscona Tower. Here the lines split with one track completing the belt by turning toward the south and to the Milwaukee depot. Another line continued east and turned north as the Lake Shore Division to Green Bay. Another line turned north and somewhat west to head up the Fox Valley to Green Bay. I remember the fun watching lightning bounce over the switchboard for the telegraph lines when there was a storm. We also had a very active family of mice who would run across the desk at various times. I put out bait shortly before moving on to another job. I got a nasty note from the regular crew since the mice went behind the switch cabinets to rot in fragrant death. Part of the plant was armstrong while the switches at the east end between the Lake Shore and the line to downtown were electric.
Starting from Milwaukee, we can now go up the Lake Shore. Here are several of the stations on this line. I probably should have gotten such places as Port Washington, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, etc, but these will have to do.
The line from the depot to Wiscona has been removed.
There was a stop at Folsom Place at Riverside Park. The street on the bridge became Locust Street.
Prior to 1927, the line north from the Milwaukee depot split at Lake Shore Junction which was just south of Capital Drive. One branch went to Wiscona and then up the Fox Valley. The other line went north up the Lake Shore. The trackage from Lake Shore Junction to Fox Point was abandoned, and trains were routed via Wiscona. Dean Segal found this old photo of the station.
And here is the Fox Point station.
North of Port Washington was Cedar Grove.
The next station was Oostburg.
South of Manitowoc was Haven. It's not even on most maps today. This station had "character."
The Lake Shore line ended the line at Green Bay. The station has been preserved and became a restaurant and micro-brewery.
Heading north out of Wiscona, we also had the Fox Valley route which was part of the Wisconsin Division. The first station was Rockfield. This was only an agency and did not handle train orders in the early 1950s.
Then came Jackson. I worked here as agent for a day. There was a dealer in narrow gauge rail equipment here who had several tank locomotives and a small diesel stored. But there will be more on that when I do a page on H. V. Smith Co. This was a train order office.
The biggest town south of Fond du Lac was West Bend. This station was open 24 hours a day and I caught the 3rd trick several times. Since I didn't drive, it meant a ride on the evening train up and the morning train back. I worked a couple of passenger trains during the night including loading and unloading mail, express, and baggage. The station is now restored and is the headquarters of the trails replacing the rails.
On the north side of what is now part of West Bend, Barton had a nice little station. This was only an agency at the time I took my photo. You will notice there is no train order signal in the later picture.
And then just a little farther north is Kewaskum.
Continuing north, the next station was Campbellsport.
The next station was Eden.
At the south end of Fox Valley was Fond du Lac, where "civilization" again began.
There was also a tower at Fond du Lac.
Oshkosh is the place where the Fox River enters Lake Winnebago. It was big enough that they had street cars, Wisconsin Electric Ry. The latice pole is one of theirs.
The Peninsula Division included the trackage north of Green Bay. One of the first stations was Pulaski. This was the junction between the line to Stambaugh and Marshfield.
The Ashland Division ran from Kaukauna to Ashland with a bunch of branches. I rode the line in 1946 because the family filled the car and no room for me. It rode from Milwaukee to Appleton Junction and switched to the Ashland train. We had an E 4-6-2 but it was changed to a D 4-4-2 after Antigo.
New London was the first major stop and was the crossing with the Green Bay & Western. It is the end of the line now after it went to the Fox River Valley, later Wisconsin Central, and finally Canadian National.
Eland was a junction from the Ashland line to Marshfield.
The line crossed the Wisconsin Central at Rhinelander.
The next station was McNaughton and that's where I got off the train. The station was a body coach on the ground. I wish I had taken a picture.
Mercer has a museum and restored the depot.
There was a 19 mile branch from Mercer to Winegar. It was built in 1905 and named Shea's Spur. It was renamed Fosterville when the Vilas County Lumber Co mill was built by J J Foster. It was resold to William S Winegar (one of the original investors in the VCLCo) and took over as President of the new Vilas County Lumber Co. The station and village were renamed Winegar by WSW in 1910. After tracks were removed in 1936 and the town was renamed Presque Isle in 1955.
Ashland is now a health club. All of the trackage area is gone.
Another line ran from Pelican to Watersmeet. I went to visit my Dad and Step-Mother in Eagle River the year before they passed away, and found the depot, complete with train order signal, was the tourist center for the town.
The main line west from Tower BJ to the Twin Cities was a cut off to the original main line through Madison to Elroy where it became the Omaha Road. One of the stations was Lebanon, which is not on most maps. It's east of Clyman Junction and a little northeast of Watertown. As you can see, it was little more than a train order office.
The Wisconsin Division from Milwaukee moved on from Washington Street. A short distance was the Kinnickinnic Wisconsin Bridge. The area is now removed.
Heading south out of Milwaukee to Chicago, we found the substantial Cudahy station. It was recently restored as it is the oldest building in town.
College Ave had a station and I never knew it. We thought we had a picture but it was the one at Wheaton. Later we found that there was a larger station designed to handle college girls for the Downer college. But the college moved to the north side of Milwaukee. The station was sold to the Hess family in 1906 and moved the station to lots and turned around. The family is shown in the image before it was sold the Grobschmidt family. It was again resold and given to the Oak Creek Historical Society. Unfortunately it was torn down in 1978 because it would need to have been moved again.
A little further south was the South Milwaukee station.
The next station south was Carrollville. In the 1960s it was changed to Oak Creek. The station was demolished a few years ago.
Racine was another major stop on the line. The station is now being rebuild for the historical site.
Just south of the station is the Root Creek River bridge. It was originally a swing bridge, but it appears to have been fixed around World War I.
Kenosha is and was the end of suburban service from Chicago.
Waukegan was a major terminal in the suburban service. It was the home of Jack Benny.
Lake Bluff was just south of Great Lakes Naval Station. The North Shore line made curve near the station.
Fort Sheridan was the place where I went into the Army in 1952 and where I came back in 1954.
Highland Park was a heavy traffic station. I filled in as agent for one day in 1951.
A little further is Kenilworth.
At the south east end of the North Western is Chicago. Here was the headquarters of the entire railroad. There was a beautiful large depot and it was replaced with a bigger depot in 1909. I remember coming here in late 1951 for my physical in the company medical office. It was located under the tracks and was a block north of Madison. It was unbelievably cold for September in that room, and that was before air conditioning.
The New Line paralleled the passenger line near the lake. All of the service was freight.
Tower KO was a Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee tower controlled the crossing from the line from the New Line to Waukegan.
Another Wisconsin Division line was the KD Line which ran from Kenosha to Rockford. Just to the west of Harvard was Capron.
A little farther west was Poplar Grove.
Near the west end of the KD line was East Rockford.
The main line from Chicago to the Twin Cities via Madison had a number of interesting depots. I got a few of them and the first one would be Algonquin which is just out of Chicago.
A little further was Crystal Lake where the line crossed the branch between Elgin and Williams Bay. There was an upgrade of the depot at some point in time.
The next to last station on the Williams Bay branch was Lake Geneva.
Williams Bay was the end of the line and was right on the deck. It is now on a trail.
On the south side of Clinton, WI, the line crossed the Milwaukee Road at a joint station named Clinton Junction.
A major point on this line was Janesville. The Rock River was crossed also.
The largest station was at Madison since it is the state capitol of Wisconsin.
Waunakee is just a little north of Madison. I was impressed by the garden next to the depot.
Baraboo had a substantial station which is still standing.
The next station was North Freedom. The station was removed many years. There was a short branch and The MidContinent Museum took it for service. The next station was Rock Springs and it was moved to North Freedom for the museum.
A little past Baraboo is Reedsburg. I found that I have two pictures taken several years apart.
A couple more stations up the line finds us at Elroy. This was the point where the C&NW ended and the CStPM&O took over. The depot was substantial since this was a major division point. After the tracks were removed, it was acquired by the Elroy Volunteer Fire Department.
At Merrillan connection was made with the branch to Marshfield.
About half-way up the line to Marshfield was Granton.
Marshfield was the dividing line with the Omaha.
The last station in Wisconsin was Hudson which was the site of a major Omaha shop. All this is now gone.
Heading west out of Madison was a branch line to Fennimore, the site of the old narrow gauge lines of the C&NW. A little ways out was Mount Horeb.
The next station was Ridgeway and the station has been preserved.
On the branch between Montfort Junction and Galena was Belmont.
The Madison Division left the Milwaukee terminal area from Belton Junction. The first point was Calhoun.
Entering Madison was the famous crossing in the middle (actually near the edge) of Lake Monona. Here is 344 on a local passing the Milwaukee Road's Tower MX.
There was a line that ran from Fond du Lac to Marshfield. At Princeton there was a short branch to Red Granite. We see a connection scene of long ago.
A little to the west was Wautoma.
The last station before Marshfield was Arpin.
The Ashland Division also had a line from Eland to Marshfield. West of Wausau was Edgar.
South from Janesville was a branch line to DeKalb. Just to the south of Janesville proper is Afton. This was the site of a large Consumers Co. gravel pit which had steam locomotives as late as the middle 1950s. Here is the station.
The next station was Beloit which was at the Illinois border.
On the Galena Division between Chicago and Freeport was Marengo. It was built in 1851 and moved to Union in 1967 for the Illinois Railway Museum. It is the oldest train station west of the Appalachian Mountain in regular use.
A little further is a junction for several of the branches at Belevidere.
A little further was Rockford.
On the main line to Omaha the first tower was Clinton Street.
Metra is now servicing at Elmhurst.
College Avenue, Wheaton, apparently now has a larger new station.
A little further is Elburn which is also the terminal for Metra.
DeKalb was the first major town outside the suburban area,
Between DeKalb and Dixon was Ashton.
In the western part of Illinois, the St. Louis line heads south from Nelson. Here is one of the first stations at Normandy.
Crossing the Mississippi, we are in Iowa. The largest station was Cedar Rapids and had a beautiful station.
At Tama there was a branch to Sioux City and a connection with the Tama & Toledo.
Near Tama was another connection west parallel connecting between Council Bluffs and the Sious City. One the first stations is Garwin,
Marshalltown was served by the Chicago Great Western and the Minneapolis & St. Louis which became part of the C&NW.
At Ames, there was a substantial station even though it was close to the division point at Boone.
Farther west, there was a branch that ran south to Auburn. The second last station must have been named after me. Stephen Foster sent this picture of the station at Ross, IA.
In the far north west corner of Iowa, the Omaha main line crossed the C&NW line from Eagle Grove to Huron at Alton. Here is the station.
On the Black Hills Division was Buffalo Gap.
Near the end end of the Dakota Division was Mankato which was the crossing of the main line of the Omaha Road.
The next major stop was New Prague, MN.
On the Dakota Division was Doland, SD.
The Dakota line ran to Oakes, ND, via Aberdeen, SD.
On the Wyoming Division, on the way to Lander, was Lusk.
After Lander, the old freight house is now used in a storage building.
On the Omaha Road Eastern Division, the line from the Twin Cities to Ashland crossed the Wisconsin Central at New Richmond, WI.
It crossed the Soo Line at Turtle Lake, WI.
Winter, WI, was about half way from Park Falls to Tuscobia.
Spooner was a junction to Ashland and Superior and Chippewa Falls. The lines and engine terminal are completely gone.
Between Merrillan and Marshfield the Omaha served Granton.
A little further east was Chili. The line is now abandoned but the stations went earlier.
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