Wisconsin’s Railways - a great romantic escape

As I've driven around the state, I've seen rail lines all over, and taken notice of the history and importance these lines had for our people, our towns, and our businesses. This is a compendium of photos that little boys like me will always love, and I hope little girls too! I'm 70 something holding at six! I began this section on July 22, 2015. Lots more to come.



This mural painted on the side of a building in Algoma in Kewaunee County reflects the Ahnnapee & Western (A&W) Railway located at one time in Algoma, then known as Ahnnapee. The Don Ross Group has written, " The road was quite successful in connecting with marine traffic at both Algoma and Sturgeon Bay. The bountiful Door County cherry crop moved by A&W. Passenger service was heavy to the resort country."



The old Ashland ore dock. It's now torn down. But in its day, the trains filled with ore used the bridge, and then dumped their ore into an awaiting lake ship.



This mural by Richard F. Dipping is on the side of a building in Cazenovia. There was a rail line called the Cazenovia and Sauk City Railroad. It connected Cazenovia with La Valle some seven miles away. It was but in 1909. The idea was to connect the Chicago and North Western mainline at La Valle. The railroad was renamed the Cazenovia Southern Railroad in 1913. In July 1935, floods damaged a number of bridges along the route and severed the rail line It was too expensive to rebuild so that was the end of that. Locals nicknamed the Railroad the "Puckety-Chute," saying that the small engine made a sound like that when pulling a consist on the right-of-way. Mail between Cazenovia, Ironton and LaValle was often carried on a gandy-dancer, a hand-powered cart. Sometimes the Puckett Chute would jump the track, but the crew could get her back on.

Eau Claire

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An old Northwestern Railroad bridge crossing the Chippewa River in Eau Claire.



This is the Fennimore Railroad Historical Society Museum. It features memorabilia from Fennimore’s railroad past, and the unique narrow gauge train, affectionately known as the Dinky, which operated from 1878 to 1926. Children enjoy riding on the operational 15″ gauge rail with 700 feet of track that sits south of the railroad museum. Scale buildings and water tower complete the miniature layout.



This is a Green Bay and Wisconsin Railroad track crossing in front of the Hatfield Hydro Dam that forms Lake Arbutus in northern Jackson County, northeast of Black River Falls.



In her day, when the logging industry was strong, Ladysmith was a booming rail center. This station was built by the Soo Line and now is used by Canadian National for offices.


This is “Old Smokey,” a Soo Line steam engine SOO 1011 Model 2-8-2. The Soo Line had several engines with this number, but the engine in Ladysmith is arguably the most famous.


Soo Line 500A on display.

Maiden Rock

The BNSF Railway Co. is the largest freight railroad network in North America. The St. Croix Sub Division or St Croix Sub is operate by BNSF. It runs about 150 miles from La Crosse to St. Paul, Minnesota. This track sees 50-60 trains a day. Here's one smokin' through Maiden Rock.

Prairie du Chien

St. Feriole Island on the west side of Prairie du Chien was traditionally one that received and stores miscellaneous bulk materials including fertilizer and salt. There is a rail track going straight down the west side of the island and across the old St. Feriole Island Railroad Bridge to the mainland. The area was primarily a stopping point for barge traffic with some degree of off-load, upload and storage capabilities.


At the north end of the island are parked a fairly large group of old train cars. Here's a shot of a few. There are more at our story, "Prairie du Chien's St. Feriole Island, an abundance of history." It's quite a "museum."


A railroad once ran through Neshkoro along the road behind this building. The building once hosted Nappy's Bar & Restaurant, which I believe closed in 2017. The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad extended its Fond du Lac-Princeton liner through Neshkoro and on to Marshfield. The mural was designed by June E,.R. Schumacher. This mural was painted by the several local artists. The Neshkoro Enhancement Committee (NEC) is making Neshkoro the first "Mural Village" in Marquette County.


Schofield is a suburb of Wausau.


I was kayaking on the Eau Claire River above the Schofield and came upon a rail crossing listed as the Columbia, Newberry and Laurens Railroad, formerly of South Carolina, later merged with CSX Railroad. A train led by a GT (Grand Trunk) Railway with a Canadian National engine behind it. GT is been merged with Canadian National (CN).


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I call this "Gateway." It is located between the Memorial Bridge (E. Stewart Ave) and Slough Bridge (Hwy 52) in downtown. It flies over the beginning of a white water canal.