Hudson to Bayfield


GOOGLE MAPS no longer available: With apologies, I am unable to continue showing Google Maps. Google has forced my hand by increasing their map usage fee from nothing/free to OVER $300 A MONTH for the Abandoned Rails website! This is an expense that I simply cannot afford. Rest assured I am looking at available open source alternatives, so maps should be back online soon!

Greg Harrison

Showing of

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


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


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


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


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.

John H. Sandberg
Baltimore, MD


I love to read all your comments ! I grew up watching trains in WI. I Love CNW and SOO !!

Menomonie , WI


My Grandfather Was a Enginer for the Soo line in Ashland. When we moved to Milwsukee my Dad was a Engjner for CNW. We got to ride the train free from Milwaukee to Ashland because my Dad worked for CNW. I miss riding these trains to Ashkand now. My train memories will live forever and every time I hear the Train whistle blow I will remember my Grandpa and Dad Bertheaume.

Lynn Roth
Ashland, Wisconsin


I also have been lucky enough to get to get a ride a couple of times.Once when I was very young in Hastings Mn when they were doing some switching.I got to ride in the engine. My Dad was a brakeman for the Milwaukee road in the late 70s. Then another time in the early 80s Me and my friend got to ride in a CNW caboose from South Beloit Ill to Beloit WI. I'd give anything to go back to those times ! :)

Menomonie, WI


I grew up about 500' from the Northern Pacific spur from

Rush City, MN to Grantsburg, WI. I was always interested in

trains, and the periodic trips to Spooner, Wisconsin 40 miles

to the east of Grantsburg over WI 70 to pick up family members

either coming south from Superior, WI or north from Chicago,

were very memorable. Even in the 1940's and 1950's, Spooner

had a tough reputation, probably no longer deserved then.

I can still feel the shaking from the large steam locomotives

used by the Omaha for passenger service.

David Strang
Drums, PA


rode the cnw from chgo to ashland in the 60s & 70s had family in the northland was only in my teens and loved drinking beer at andys on old route 2 what a great area also loved going to madeline island i get up in the ashland area every few years and would like to talk to some local historians

william duda
warren ohio


In reality, the right of way from Ashland Junction [2 miles west of Ashland] to Bayfield was a part of the Ashland Railroad the stocks of which were later consolidated with the Omaha Railroad

Lawrence Gueller
Keshena, WI


Looking for information: Was there a depot in Washburn, especially between 1905-1920? If so, where might I find specific info on that location/building? Thanks!

Joe B
Raleigh, NC


I currently live on 22nd Ave West in Ashland. The old railway has been ripped up, although if you walk on the trail that is left behind, you can see the some remaining ties scattered in the the woods nearby. You can walk on the trail until about 100 yards from the end of Prentice Park, then it is cut off by a property border.

Brooke Sapper
Ashland, WI


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Do you have any pictures or information about Hudson to Bayfield? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.