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Showing posts from 2024

The Milwaukee Menomonee Falls & Western Railroad

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The Milwaukee, Menomonee Falls & Western Railroad , a subsidiary of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway (also known as the Milwaukee Road) began service in 1890, and quickly became known by the nickname of the Bug Line, running between Granville and North Lake, WI. ( Right of way ) Milwaukee, Menomonee Falls & Western Railroad Depot  at  Menomonee Falls. (Wisconsin Historical Society) This nickname, "Bug Line," is believed to have originated from the small size of the train and the frequent stops it made along its route, resembling the pattern of a bug crawling along a grapevine. When it comes to old timey railroad nicknames, I must say it's pretty obvious that the 19th century had more of a vivid imagination with regard to operations than we do today.  In addition to the main line, a track serving businesses along the Menomonee River in Menomonee Falls also existed west of the river, as shown below in a Sanborn Map. Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Menom

Logging Railroad Lines in General and the Weyerhaeuser Company in Particular

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Hi everyone! We're back after another long hiatus, and a bit of a directional change to some of our content is coming, as we are going to focus primarily on lands moving forward. The railroad industry and public roads have plenty in common with opening up vast swaths of land in this country for development, so there will certainly be a lot of things to talk about regarding transportation and its intersections with land development, but with that in mind, I wanted to discussing logging railroads, and one of the most successful land developers across the 20th century, that being the Weyerhaeuser Company.  The Weyerhaeuser Company 's history intertwines with the development of the American West. Founded in 1900 by Frederick Weyerhaeuser, the company began with a massive land purchase from the Northern Pacific Railway , acquiring 900,000 acres of Washington state timberland. This marked the beginning of what would become one of the largest sustainable forest products companies in t

The Newcastle & Frenchtown Railroad

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The New Castle and Frenchtown Turnpike and Railroad Company (NC&F) was a pioneer in the history of American railroads. It was opened in 1831, making it the first railroad in Delaware and one of the first in the US. It ran for about 16 miles from New Castle, Delaware, on the Delaware River, to Old Frenchtown Wharf , Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay.  It was intended to provide a faster and cheaper alternative to the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, which opened in 1829 and connected the same two bodies of water. However, the NC&F faced competition from other railroads and canals in the region, and eventually became obsolete and abandoned. ( Right of Way ) Some sources, myself included at times, have labeled this as the first railroad abandonment in the United States, being abandoned in 1859. However, it is not even the first right of way to be abandoned in the State of Delaware, as that distinction belongs to the Dulaney Railroad . One could argue that this was the first common c

The Pleasant Prairie Power Plant Redevelopment

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The Pleasant Prairie Power Plant was a coal-fired power station that operated from 1976 to 2018 in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, owned by We Energies. Located at 8000 95th St in Pleasant Prairie, the plant was capable of producing 1,190 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 900,000 homes. However, the plant also emitted millions of tons of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants, contributing to climate change and health problems. Michael Sears photo, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel In 2018, We Energies decided to shut down the facility and switch to cleaner sources of energy, such as natural gas and renewable energy. The closure was part of a larger trend of coal plant retirements across the country, driven by environmental regulations, market forces, and public demand.  What initially sparked my interest in the area was the now-abandoned railroad tracks that served the plant. View of the site and side tracks on our Abandoned Railroads

The Iroquois Theatre Fire: A Forgotten Tragedy That Changed Fire Safety Forever

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On December 30, 1903, Chicago witnessed one of the worst disasters in its history, and the deadliest theatre fire in the United States. Chicago's early history is unfortunately rife with fire incidents, and this would occur just over three decades following the Great Chicago Fire. The theater was located at 26 W Randolph St in Chicago, on the site where the James M. Nederlander Theatre now exists today. The Iroquois Theatre, a lavish and modern venue that opened just a month before, was packed with more than 1,700 people, mostly women and children, who came to see a matinee performance of the musical comedy Mr. Bluebeard.  Little did they know that a spark from a stage light would ignite a fire that would engulf the theatre in minutes, trapping and killing over 600 people in a horrific scene of panic, chaos, and carnage. The Iroquois Theater before the fire. (Unknown photographer) The Iroquois Theatre was built on the site of the former Hooley’s Theatre , which itself was destroy

The Murphy Triangle: A Historic Railroad Hub in Atlanta

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If you are interested in the history of railroads and industry in Atlanta, you might want to visit the Murphy Triangle . This area, located southwest of downtown Atlanta, is a historically significant railroad center, where two major railroads, the Southern Railway and the Beltline, intersected. Out of this intersection grew a substantial center of industry, ranging from lumber and metal to oil and wire. The Murphy Triangle also served as a major node for the State Farmers Market , a 1941 complex of 10 long, low sheds with gable roofs, where farmers and vendors sold their produce and goods, the Hanson Motor Works, and the Nabisco factory. A shed at the old Atlanta Farmers' Market provided shelter to farmers' crops. (Patrickbatl photo, Wikipedia Commons) As part of the Atlanta Beltline project, the Murphy Triangle is being converted from an industrial area into a 20 acre destination known as Murphy Crossing. According to the Beltline  site, "Murphy Crossing is a key 20+ ac

The Eagle Mountain Railroad

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The Eagle Mountain Railroad was a privately owned rail line, part of the Kaiser Steel Corporation which transported iron from an interchange with Southern Pacific at Ferrum, CA (itself Latin for Iron) to Eagle Mountain Mine, a distance of 52 miles. ( Right of way ) Yard at Ferrum, looking north. UP's Yuma Subdvision is still active here. Photo by John Acosta, April 2009. ( Abandoned Rails ) Ferrum is located on the Salton Sea in California's Coachella Valley. 1963 Topo Map of the line. ( Wikipedia Commons ) Construction began in 1947 with the line being completed the following year in 1948. It was one of the longer private railroads to be built post World War II in the US, similar to Wyoming's US Steel Railroad , and Arizona's Black Mesa & Lake Powell Railroad , both of which are also abandoned. The story of its demise was similar to many mining railroads, once the ore dried up, there was no point in continuing service. In the late 1970's, increased environmen

The Chicago Kalamazoo & Saginaw Railway

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The Chicago Kalamazoo & Saginaw Railway was a railroad operating almost entirely within Kalamazoo County, MI, between Kalamazoo and Hastings, MI, constructed in 1883. ( Abandoned Right of Way ) It would further connect to Woodbury, MI and the Pere Marquette Railway. An informal nickname for the road was the Cuss, Kick & Swear. CK&S Locomotive at Pavilion, MI. The CK&S Railway was not designed to connect to Chicago, as the name might suggest, but it also did not connect with Saginaw either. More grandiose plans for the line came in 1887, as the company amended its articles to construct a northeasterly extension towards Saginaw, where it would connect with the Chicago and Grand Trunk Railway, but this ultimately never came to fruition.  The construction began in 1883, and the railway made its way almost entirely within Kalamazoo County, reaching as far as Hastings, MI. However, the line fell short of its intended destination, stopping only 14 miles past Hastings in Woodb

An Abandoned Railroad Bridge is Being Turned Into a Kansas City Attraction

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Kansas City will be getting a new attraction in the Summer of 2024, as a new entertainment district, restaurant and trailhead is being built over the Kansas River. The most interesting part of this plan, to me at least, is the fact that they are building it on an abandoned railroad bridge, much like Trestle Park in Milwaukee , but with much larger ambitions! Rendering of the central truss. Image courtesy of Rock Island Bridge. If you are looking for a unique and exciting place to visit in Kansas City this summer, you might want to check out the Rock Island Railroad Bridge , a historic structure that is being transformed into an entertainment district and venue over the Kansas River. (Location on our Railroad Points of Interest Map ) In fact, The Wall Street Journal and New York Times just listed the KC area as a top place to visit in 2024, and Rock Island Bridge was listed as a key reason.  Rock Island Bridge schematic. Image courtesy of Rock Island Bridge. Groundbreaking on the projec