Fairfield to Milwaukee

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The abandoned bridge over the Milwaukee River. Photo by Chandler Benn, May 2009.

This Chicago & North Western line, now owned by Union Pacific, originally ran from the Ganville area of Milwaukee through the eastside of the city to downtown on Lake Michigan. However for decades the line has ended near Estabrook Park at Hampton Avenue. The line is about 2 miles long, has bridges over I-43, Estabrook Park, Lincoln Park, and bridge over Milwaukee River. The line runs from a connection north of Green Bay Avenue to Hampton Avenue.

Thanks to Chandler Benn for contributing information about this route.

I have a picture of the old signal bridge at Wiscona. I walked this weeded line north to get the pics in October of 2007. Would anyone be interested in posting them on here?

Steven C Jensen
Milwaukee, WI
11/5/2010

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Will there ever be pics of the Ex-Milwaukee Road Beer Line or the Old C&NW Ridge Runner Line From Madison to Fennimore?

Steven C Jensen
Milwaukee, WI
11/5/2010

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I hired out as a brakeman on the CNW in February of 1967 and traveled this piece of track many times before I moved to Waukegan in 1985. It was no longer a main line from Wiscona to North Avenue but a yard spur. There was a yard at North Avenue that served several industries where the line ended. This area was served by the North Street Yard job five days a week. At Lindewerm there was a line that branched off and crossed the Milwaukee River in Esabrook Park, crossed a branch of the Milwaukee Road's beer line and ended at Capitol Drive. There were two jobs that daily that served this area. The First and Second Capitol Drive Switch Runs. Check the book from the CNWHS, The Air Line Subdivision by Jim Yanke. It gives information on this line.

Dan Sylvester
Waukegan, IL
8/19/2013

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There are plans to rip up the remaining tracks between the north end of Estabrook Park to just south of Mill Road and turn the line into a recreational trail. If all goes to plan, that work will be completed by fall of 2014. So, take your pictures before its too late. Farewell, old rail line. I loved watching the trains cross Lydell and Hampton avenues when I was a kid.

Aaron B
Glendale, WI
12/4/2013

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I grew up just a few blocks from the C& NW railroad near Edgewood Ave in Milwaukee. Trains Southbound could coast from Hampton Ave. to downtown Milwaukee as there was a slight down grade. Walked the abandoned LINE FROM silver spring north to Mill road. I have also attempted to walk the "wye" connecting the abandoned line to the still operating lake branch, but discovered that The City of Glendale had breached the berm for a road leading to a maintenance yard beyond. This seemed odd since the UP railroad only recently officially "abandoned this right of way. There were no rails on any of the two remaining berms. More to follow on my memories of this rail line.

Richard Krueger
Milwakeee, WI
2/21/2014

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The rails were pulled up this spring (2015). I passed through the Hampton Ave crossing area yesterday and the pile of old ties had been picked up sometime in the past two months. It looks like trail development has started, but I recall the UP and Milwaukee County has requested an extension of the trail use negotiation deadline. Milwaukee doesn't have the money right now.

Kurt Hoefert
Milwaukee, WI
7/25/2015

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The segment form Hampton Avenue to just north of of Forist Ave. has been converted to a hiking and biking trail. It is now part of a trail network in Milwaukee known as the Oak Leaf trail. Great connection finally completed this past fall. You can ride from downtown Milwaukee all the way to Port Wahington and only cross about a dozen roads to do so.

Healy MD
Brookfield, WI
1/24/2016

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