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A Visit to the Door County Maritime Museum

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In December of 2018, we went to Door County, Wisconsin and visited the Door County Maritime Museum , located adjacent to the Sturgeon Bay and in the city of the same name. Sturgeon Bay and the Door County area as a whole were havens for shipbuilding, and even today is inextricably linked to the maritime industry. Ships being constructed at Sturgeon Bay. Notice all of the rails, which represented the end of the line of the Ahnapee & Western Railway. To put it mildly, Door County is much more gorgeous during the summer, but nonetheless, the museum was a very interesting visit, and we learned a ton about shipwrecks that have occurred in the Great Lakes. While the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was immortalized in the Gordon Lightfoot song , it is far from the only wreck to occur in the Great Lakes, and in fact there's a museum in Paradise, MI devoted entirely to shipwrecks that have occurred in these waters. From the DCMM, "The   Louisiana   was a steamboat constructed in M

The Proposed Canada to Mexico Highway: US Highway 789

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US Highway 789 was a proposal for a border-to-border highway running from Nogales, AZ at the Mexican border, to Sweet Grass, MT at the Canadian border. It was dubbed the " Canada-to-Mexico Highway ". It was rejected by AASHTO , given that much of the route would use already existing US Highways (not that that's ever stopped them since). Nonetheless, each state (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana) was interested in a continuous route, and so each created or proposed a Route 789 in their state highway system during the early 1950's. Colorado's 789, sharing pavement with US-160 and the formerly numbered US-666 (now 491 ). Image:   Jim Lindsay Over time, given the duplicative nature of the numbering, each state except for Wyoming chose to remove the 789 designation from their systems.  US 310 in Wyoming, along with WY-789, which was once proposed to be its own US Route. Image:  Jonathan Winkler via AARoads.com In Wyoming, 789 is presently the longes

The Toledo & Chicago Interurban Railroad

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The Toledo & Chicago Interurban Railroad ran from Auburn, IN to Avilla, IN, with branches serving Fort Wayne, Waterloo and Kendallville, all within the state of Indiana. ( Right of way in Yellow ) Garrett, IN interurban station. Image:  Garrett Historical Society The line began service in 1903, at a time when many interurbans were being planned and constructed all across the United States, and particularly in the developed Northeast and Midwest. Connections were envisioned to its namesake cities via other lines, as well as Indianapolis, but for much of the route never materialized. By 1937, the interurban ended passenger service, but kept running industrial freight operations in the Fort Wayne area until 1945. Like many interurbans, the gas powered bus and automobile were the main culprits for its demise. Sadly, no rolling stock of this line appears to have been preserved. Further reading:  " The Toledo & Chicago Interurban Railway Company, Its Predecessor and Successors.

The World's Most Metal Railroad Crossing

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Railroad crossing safety, and safety at railroad tracks, has been an issue that has plagued the industry since its creation. Trains and crossings are far safer today, thanks in no small part due to the work of organizations like Operation Lifesaver , law enforcement professionals, and better engineering. In 1940, after numerous fatal accidents involving trains at an Illinois Central Railroad crossing on Mississippi Route 7 in Grenada, MS, one of which involved a family member, a man named W.A. Billups attempted to create a railroad crossing nobody could possibly miss.  The result is below, but that's only a small part of this monstrosity. When an oncoming train approached, the entire structure lit up in neon lights, and an air raid siren blared.  Known officially as the Billups Neon Crossing Signal , it was given the nickname "Skull and Bones". DOOM , anyone?  Sidney T. Roebuck collection, 1940 image. The design is ridiculous, huge, and impossible to miss, and this was

All Roads Lead to Normantown

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Growing up in northern Will County, I noticed there was both a north-south and east-west road named Normantown, except that they didn't meet or intersect in any appreciable way, as far as I could tell at least.  After doing a bit of research, I'd discovered that Normantown was a stop on the EJ&E Aurora Branch , and was located at the junction between the Aurora Branch and the mainline, and that these two roads sort of met, as the N-S Normantown Road ran through the area, while once could easily trace 127th Street to the present-day E-W road. I find this fascinating because I can not think of an example where two other unrelated roads are named for such an obscure area, so that's what we're going to explore today. 1962 USGS Normantown Map Normantown is still shown on some maps, but apparently was never more than a stop on the line , and never developed into a village. Today, the area is part of the Village of Plainfield , although some properties are unincorporated.

The Illinois & Michigan Canal

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The Illinois & Michigan Canal connected the Illinois River at LaSalle, IL with the Chicago River at Bridgeport, Chicago, IL, creating a waterway between the Mississippi River Basin and the Great Lakes Basin. This canal created a navigable route between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, and helped solidify Chicago as an early transportation hub. But the delays in creating the canal would also somewhat damped its importance. First proposed in 1824, it would not be completed until 1848, when in the same year, the first train would leave Chicago via the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad . However, even when trains were king, the canal was a large part of Chicago's transportation network, so much so that it would be abandoned around the turn of the 20th century in favor of the larger and deeper Sanitary & Ship Canal , which flowed along a nearly identical route. I&M Canal looking east at Lemont, IL. November, 2019. FRRandP photo. Upon completion, it was 60 feet wi

The Washington, Alexandria, & Mt. Vernon Electric Railway

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The Washington, Alexandria, & Mt. Vernon Electric Railway connected Arlington, VA at present-day Rosslyn station with Mount Vernon , about 15 miles south, with service starting in 1892. ( Right of way ) The line was granted permission to connect with the District of Columbia via a barge on the Potomac, but this was never acted upon. Image: Washington, Alexandria, and Mount Vernon Electric Railway, n.d., Visual Studies Collection, Fairfax County Public Library Historical Photographs, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. Its location in eastern Virginia meant that there were many iconic American landmarks along its path, such as George Washington's Mount Vernon estate, where it ended. The line also used the present-day right-of-way of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in spots, and part of the line ran through Arlington National Cemetery and the campus of the Pentagon . The line merged with another interurban line, the Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway