Hudson to Bayfield

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The former depot in Mason, WI, looking north. Fortunately the depot and the flag signal has been preserved. Photo by Chuck.

This branch of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway (subsidiary of the Chicago & North Western) extended from Hudson just east of St. Paul, MN, on the still-active Union Pacific mainline from St. Paul to Milwaukee, through Turtle Lake, Spooner, Hayward, Benoit, Ashland Junction, Washburn, and ending at Bayfield, WI. A short branch extended from Ashland Jct to Ashland, WI. This was the route of Namekagon, a three car doodlebug train.

Today, only the Hayward to Hayward Junction section (connecting with the ex-Soo Line main line to the west of Hayward) is in use today for revenue service. The section between Spooner and Hayward Junction has been preserved as the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. The WGNR offers passenger excursions between Spooner and Springbrook along the Namekagon River. Spooner was once a major hub of the Omaha Road, located at the center of the "Omaha X". The majority of the remainder of the line was abandoned in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Thanks to Chuck for contributing information about this route.

My Uncle Johnny was the last depot agent in Mason before the CNW closed it. Thanks for the photos of the depot as they brought back very pleasant memories when I was a young boy watching Uncle John work his telegraph key. I also hooped up my first train orders when I was 10 years old (1961)at the Mason Depot and currently work as a train dispatcher for the BNSF Railway in Fort Worth, Texas. Thanks again for the pictures of the old depot in Mason and am glad to see it survived.

Dan Blume
Fort Worth, TX
6/28/2009

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My uncle worked for the CNW out of Ashland and I grew up just across the field from Ashland JCT. Its all gone now but the coal tower is still standing at the old CNW yard in Ashland. I work for the LS&I railroad as a conductor.

CJ Sukanen
Marquette, MI
7/30/2009

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I grew up in Ashland in the 40s and 50s. The house I lived in was less that 80 feet from the tracks of the Chicago North Western Line. At 22 Ave. West there was a switch track that supplied coal to the Ashland Electric Power Plant. The line continued west to Ashland Junction, then split with one rail going north around the bay to Washburn and Bayfield, the other went south to Cable, WI. The N.W. also followed Hwy. 13 going to Chicago. The N.W. went east to the iron and copper mines in upper Michigan.

William Schroeder
Rockford, IL
9/13/2010

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I grew up in Ashland on the west end (120, 22nd Ave West) and still remember the Namekagon and the switch crews filling their water jugs from a well in our back yard.

Jim Schroeder
Coon Rapids, MN
8/1/2011

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I was born in Ashland in 1930 and lived at 606 18th Avenue West until I left home to go to the university in Madison in 1948, never to return except for brief vacations. As a child I rode the Namekagan from Ashland to Minneapolis many times. The Omaha track was only a block from my house and I walked it many times to Prentice Park when I was a child. So many memories. I would like to correspond with anybody who grew up in Ashland in the 30's and 40's. There can't be many of us left. jsandberg3143@gmail.com

John H. Sandberg
Baltimore, MD
12/31/2013

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