This abandoned railway was originally laid by the Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Western Railway in 1871. It was purchased by the Chicago North Western in 1893. The line was abandoned in 1978 by the CNW, except for a short section of track between Brillion and Forest Junction. This segment was subsequently operated by the short line Brillion and Forest Junction Railroad, which utilized a connection with the Milwaukee Road in Forest Junction. This segment was ultimately abandoned in 1987.
Kaukauna to Manitowoc, WI
— User Comments —
I live less than 1/2 mile from the present end-of-track in Downtown Kaukauna. I've walked by it many times and have often wondered about it. Thank you for these pics, and would love to see more.
It seems that WC/CN, the successor owners of this line, have begun dismantling the remnants of it in downtown Kaukauna. In the last few weeks, the rails have been pulled and the ties dug up near the Kaukauna Pizza Hut, and continuing west until the section near Ghostown Fitness where the line splits into three. I understand within the last year or so, WC filed for abandonment of this entire section, from here going west until roughly the Appleton Coated Mill in Combined Locks (where the line still sees active use). A former mayor of Kaukauna told me that since the rest of the line to Manitowoc was pulled in the late 1970s, this section has only been used for the occasional storage of rail cars. Between Kaukauna and CL, the tracks closely hug the bank of Fox River; I walked this section last March, and it will make a beautiful walking trail once the city of Kaukauna redevelops it for this as they plan to do, although people have already been using it as such.
Great work done here, I live along the old railroad tracks east of Brillion. I remember walking with my dad on them a few years after they were torn up (I was born the year before in 1977). Recently I am dating a woman who lives near the Kaukauna pool near the Kaukauna end. Thanks for the pics, I hope to have my own submissions. And it's great to know some sections are made into trails....though it would be even greater if all of it were as such, though I understand that's nearly impossible with private property converted to farmland and buildings built over the right of way. Once again, thanks.
Thanks for adding Toby's pics good work Toby see you @ work
The trestle over the main channel of the river in Kaukauna (shown in Picture 18) is still in use by CN/WC for switching operations at the Thilmany Mill.
I was probably one of the few that had seen any traffic on those rails years ago, before their dismantlement. I remember seeing some old EMD 40-2's and GP 38-2's still operating the rails. Short trains though, just customer runs. I'd have to say between 1985 and before abandonment. Back then the towns on the line weren't like they are now.
This area is not only overgrown with trees, when you get around Dundas, some of the old R.O.W. has eroded into a creek like setting, with deep scarring.
Hello Its Beaver and I am back living in Reedsville and I have seen some of the old R O W is now staked out.I wonder what is up someones sleeve?
I remember the activity on this line quite well. I grew up in Branch which is the eastern most town on the line. I remember back to the 1950's when there were two passenger trains per day and also daily freight traffic. In fact, the C&NW passenger train was how my mother took my sister and me to Manitowoc for shopping trips (we happened to live right across Hwy 10 from the Depot). The station master in Branch would put out a "Stop Flag", we'd get on the train and ride it to the C&NW Depot on So. 29th Street in Manitowoc, then a cab ride to the downtown area for shopping and finally an ice cream sundae at the Kresge soda fountain. To get home, we'd just reverse the process. This was the height of convenience because my mother, as most women at that time, didn't drive, and even if she did, we only had one car which my dad used for work.
As to the line itself, I remember lots of steam power on the line, although I can't recall what models were used. Little kids didn't pay much attention to wheel configurations. Diesels took over in the latter part of the '50's. It wasn't long after dieselization that passenger service was eliminated. The C&NW maintained the right-of-way with a local section crew. The boss's name was Elmer Kleman and he lived in Branch. I bring this up, because one other thing I remember was the day Mr. Kleman retired, he and the crew took me for a ride on their "speeder". I must have been five or six at the time, I remember it was winter and very cold. We rode east toward Manitowoc, almost to where I-43 now crosses the old right-of-way, turned around and came back to Branch.
Now, if you're still with me and aren't bored stiff, a little bit about Branch. I don't remember how many people lived in the actual community, maybe 200 tops. There was a one room school house (eight rows, eight grades) and the teacher was Dan Cavanaugh. I did first grade there (1953). There was a cheese factory owned and operated by Clarence Herman. A service station across Hwy 10 from today's Cenex, run by Paul Brookoff (sp). A general store/tavern owned and operated by Louis (Pat) Brunner (he was also the postmaster). Two other taverns (Larsen's Club 10 and Ben Schaeffer's Bar). A volunteer fire department, and finally, Dittmar's construction company. Branch, as most towns along this right-of-way, had a long passing track which was used not only for trains overtaking/meeting one another, but also spotting cars for local deliveries, such as box cars and tank cars for the construction company and service station.
That's about all for now. There's still more memories as we come closer to abandonment, but those can wait as these are the fun ones.
Does anyone remember when the long trestle was removed over the Manitowoc river near I-43 ? I always remembered seeing it as I would drive over the area. And I'm glad the railroad left in place the old trestle off of Hwy. 10. I always imagine what it must have been like to see steam locomotives and the trains pass over that. I know the line had passed through a pretty good stretch of someone's property to the north, right off of Hwy.10W. I noticed the old passage between their yard and what looks to be an orchard. Just west of Branch. P.S. This is a question for Jim Johanek. Do you remember a diamond or crossed rails in Reedsville ? They would have been used by the G.B.W. & Milwaukee Road. The diamond was in what is now a farm field.
Sorry, I do not remember anything like that in Reedsville; Forest Junction had an intersection between Milwaukee Road (to DePere) and this C&NW branch. Who would have been the other railroad?
All I know about Reedsville was the usual passing track which serviced the feed mill/elevator. I believe Frank Doubek ran that business at on time.
You could be very right, because the old railroad depot is still on the southwest corner of Hwy's 32 & 10. It is being used as an auto service garage or something.
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