The Kenosha Division
The Kenosha and Rockford Railroad (originally the Kenosha, Rockford & Rock Island Railroad), running between its two namesake cities in Wisconsin and Illinois, started in 1861, but was largely abandoned by 1939. This railroad, known as the Kenosha Division, or "KD Line", was merged early on into the Chicago & North Western Railroad. The line split west towards Loves Park, IL, going through Argyle, Harlem (which had a depot), a rock quary and into Loves Park. There is another line that runs along the east side of the Rock River; the two may have joined together at some point.
There is virtually no trace of the line's right-of-way today. However, the ROW once traversed property that is now submerged beneath the surface of Pierce Lake, a man-made lake in Rock Cut State Park. It is reported that, in the 1970s, a faulty drain caused the lake to drain, thus exposing the railbed which was easily identified and photographed.
Thanks to Mark Atkinson for contributing information.
A group of model railroaders is working on a model train layout, located in the small community of either Caledonia or nearby Argyle, Illinois, that depicts certain aspects of the line. Also, the Chicago Northwestern Railway historical magazine has an article on Caledonia and mentions the Kenosha line, although I can not remember which issue. Caledonia is a small community, located on IL Route 173, that was a crossing point between the Kenosha line and another CNW line that originated in Chicago, traveled through Belvidere, Illinois, Beloit Wisconsin, and went on to Madison, Wisconsin. At one time, before WWII, Caledonia had over 75 trains a day, in part because two CNW lines crossed there and crews could stay at the old Caledonia hotel, a small hotel for train crews. A recreation path follows the path of certain tracks traveling through Caledonia.
Existing track connecting this abandoned line are still present along the Rock River in Sinnissippi Park in Rockford, IL. The track now ends at a company next to Windsor Road, but used to continue along where the drainage ditch crossing under Alpine Road exists. Further traces of the abandoned line are visible near the dam in Rock Cut State Park where the grade is still preserved. In Argyle IL, you can clearly see where the right of way passed by the creek next to the school. More traces of the grade and path are visible from route 173 looking South as you near Caledonia IL. In Caledonia, you can clearly see the path where it crossed a grade crossing next to the elementary school. The tree line heading East curves showing where the right of way connected with the line heading through Poplar Grove which was still used until its abandonment in the 80's. The line from Poplar Grove originally went straight onto Rockford. It wasn't until later, that the line running North to Beloit was created. That line existed well after the abandonment of the section heading into Rockford.
I spent my working years in Rockford, Illinois. Being a model RR enthusiast an "N" scale model RR based on this line of the downtown Rockford area is in the planning stages. In my possesion are lots of information, maps and photos. A book "The KD Line" was published in 1986 by Paul Behrens that had many photo's and history of this rail road. The Suburban Library in Loves Park used to have a copy. Lots of the track and buildings it served are still in the east side of down town Rockford.
I recently discovered at the Boone County Historical society a map showing the route in which the C&NW ran from Belvidere IL and joined also into the line at Caledonia. What a busy junction! Even more interesting is the fact that Candlewick Lake was the result of blasting to create the right of way for the track in the mid 1800's. Using Google Maps, you can trace the path from Caledonia to Belvidere IL.
You can still see the roadbed along Bain Station rd. in kenosha were the line began. There's not to much left cause of development but it's still there.
Does anyone know where the actual "rock cut" is that was made during construction of the line. Hopefully not at the bottom of the lake. I would be interested in seeing it. I just finished the "KD Line" book. Amazing and facinating.
hi bet you would like to see all the kd line stuff i have. got some real nice photos. and rails form a old grade crossing from hralem il. my speeder car sits on them. also have a old 1857 stock bond. and i will be having a rockford il arcadai book comeing out this year will have rockford. davis junction. harlem.railraod photos. looking forward to it can you tell me how i can get some of my photos on this site let me know thank you brain landis
"THE BRIDGE TO NOWHERE"
Driving back with a friend to the North Shore of Chicago from Lake Geneva, WI we took the back roads towards US 12. On WI County Hwy B just west of Genoa City, WI we crossed a small creek/river and just to to south noticed an impressive RR bridge leading to nowhere in a NE direction. As a railfan and amateur buff, I circled around to seek out the RoW. To the NE through Genoa City the RoW could still be made out at different points: A diagonal small townhouse development, the US Post Office, open grassy land and then the town school encroached it. To the SW after it crossed Fellows Road was a long line of mature trees on the diagonal RoW between fields. I commented to my friend that the line must have been abandoned decades ago (1939 I now know!)for the trees to be that old. I was glad to see that the bridge over the river was not taken down for scrap or we would have missed this completely! Upon arriving home I searched this out on the Net and found this most interesting site, along with the unique history of the "KD Line."
I remember seeing trains in Bristol in the early 60s.
Does anyone know where/how to find a copy of "The KD Line"? I am a member of the Pleasant Prairie Historical Society and we are doing research about the railroad through Pleasant Prairie/Bain Station. Any information would be great!
To HB, the Southwest library in Kenosha has a copy of it (I have a copy too if you'd like to borrow it).
Also I work with the Chicago and North Western Historical Society; if you contact our archives (www.cnwhs.org) we will definitely be able to help you guys find what you need.
The caption noted another line on the east side of the Ropck River, perhaps they connected. The other line was the Rockford-Beloit-Janesville interurban line. It crossed at grade roughly where Higway 251 (North Second Street) and the KD line cross at the south end of Loves Park.
I'm a retired conductor off the Mighty Milwaukee Road. I hired on in '73 in Milwaukee. I was born and grew up in Twin lakes Wisconsin, which is on the abandoned CN&W's KD Subdivision running through Genoa City Wisconsin, Twin Lakes and beyond. My Uncle worked as a brakeman before the subdivision was abandoned. Because of who I knew as boy of 8 years I had the opportunity to ride the job working the KD Line.
I remember seeing a Milwaukee Road locomotive near a depot in Genoa, which later in my life I realized was on what we called the J line originating out of Roundout IL to Madison Wisconsin. These two subdivisions intersected in Genoa which were abandoned in the 50's & 60's.
I've searched to no avail for maps of the old trackage. I know some of the history of the KD line and seen some of the rightaway in Twin Lakes as a kid. Can you direct me to trackage maps of both divisions?
To HB regarding the KD Line Book -- I had a copy of it, but lend it out never got it back. If my memory serves me right. In the book a story was told about a munitions factory at Bain or close by during World War II. The story goes there was catastrophic explosion caused by an in house switch engine out of control wiping the place of the map, which was the meat and potatoes of the division. Many lives were lost. Even though there was other revenue being generated. Such as milk from dairy farmers, some grain and the ice harvest from the area lakes along the division to service Chicago's refrigeration needs. After the munitions factory was destroyed, the division couldn't sustain it's self after the advent of mechanical refrigeration mass produced after the war. Thus, the KD Line was turned over to the C&NW. The C&NW serviced the lumber yards in Twin Lakes, Silver Lake and Salem Wisconsin. As I said my uncle worked on that division and work on the last job emptying all the railroads property not nailed down from all the depots. I know for a fact the depot in Twin Lakes was bought and re purposed into a barber shop.
Towards the end, my other uncle put a trainman's lantern in my hand and we stood at the main crossing in Twin Lakes around midnight on a few nights. When the train was making it's return trip from Salem he had me swing him down and we boarded the engine (GP9). The engineer (Walter Skinkle) let me at the control stand to blow for the crossings all the way into Genoa City. At the time the roadbed was in such disrepair from deferred maintenance track speed was reduced to restricted speed. This was about 1961 and my railroad career started 12 years later.
I'm looking for any of the maps and photos that was published in the book. I've tried looking on the cnwhs.org site. With my A.D.D I might have missed the link. I got my copy from my Mother (God Rest Her Soul). She had ordered it through the mail back in the late 80's. I remember her saying it was a self published book writen by a guy who worked the KD Line. I lended it out and never got it back.
I am extremly interested in the KD Line. I grew up in the burbs of Chicago but frequently vacationed as a child at the End of The Line Motel in Lake Geneva. I read the KD Line book soo much there my mother graciously obtained an autographed copy of the book from the author himself. Ironically as an adult I now live in the area. I would love to get copies of Pictures in the Bristol area to hang up in my train room. I know that you can still see the old ROW along 83rd St. in Bristol, and off of MB in Woodworth. I also know that the limestone bridge abutment over the Des Plaines River still exists. Also to anyone who know the history of the area I was curious as to where the Ice House was on Lake Goerge. Thnaks
Please see my comments in another post regarding my interest in purchasing this line for the resumption of rail service in 1991.
i use to as a kid in the 80s live in salem oaks subdivion. my house was just a block and half north of the old track bed. i always knew there was rail road though town. never knew till today that it was called or any detaild till i went to the kenosha histry center today. i cam home and did some looking for more info tonight on this.
Anyone have information specific to Salem? I work there in the building pictured to the right of the RoW in Picture #3 that appears on this page (looks like a stage stop/2-story building)
As a kid, 50's / 60s, we hiked around Pierce Lake in Rock Cut "Park", (not State Park, yet), and we walked on the railway line, tracks removed but all the ties still on the grade. Now, Willow Creek cuts across the grade in several places and paved bike path that runs parallel to it have left the rail grade abandoned by hikers. There are several old photos of a locomotive crash on the line hanging on the wall of the Lone Rock Cafe, the concession stand on the south side of Pierce Lake near the boat launch. There were several others, but, someone broke into the concession stand and stole them...go figure.
A couple updates/corrections:
- the former Milwaukee Road crossing (207) shown on the map is NOT Canadian Pacific, it is Wisconsin & Southern.
- although "There is virtually no trace of the line's right-of-way today" in most places, several pieces of the line are preserved as bike trail; including the Ice House Trail between Twin Lakes and Bassett (WI), Hebron Trail between Hebron (IL) and just south of Genoa City, and Prairie Trail west of Chemung (IL) to Caledonia, where the trail swings northwesterly onto the Belvidere-Beloit alignment. There is also a trail that runs parallel to the tracks (Chicago-Chemung Railway) between Harvard IL and Chemung. Other pieces of the r-o-w can be found, but you gotta look real carefully!
The guy who wrote the book on the KD still lives in Hebron, and enjoys talking about railroads. His house is across the street from the 1911 Grade School.
Also, "Hebron Tower" was moved a mile or two north, converted to a house, and is still occupied today as a guest house at a nursery. I believe Hebron Tower was built and operated by the Milwaukee Road, as it was the junior railroad at the crossing point, being built about 1900.
The Alden Depot is sort of falling down, but still there at the bottom of the hill in Alden. In the 1970's you could easily make out the name Alden at the east gable end of the depot, and looking in the window you could still see the price of haircuts was 25 cents.
The grocery stores in Hebron received fresh bakery items by train from the bakery in Harvard every morning.
I believe that regular passenger service ended about 1939, but as late as 1949 there was freight service between Harvard and Hebron. By the early 1960's freight only was delivered to Hebron from Genoa City/Junction to the East.
About 1970, there was an old Indian (84 years old) who had been a Conductor on the Kenosha Division, and he spent his days deadheading on the CNW commuter trains.
A friend of mine told me his grandfather was a CNW mechanic at Harvard, Illinois. One of the favorite family activities was to travel from Hebron to Harvard on the KD, then down the main line to Crystal Lake, wait for a Lake Geneva/Williams Bay train, and take it up to Genoa City, and finally return to Hebron at the end of the day on the evening KD train coming from Kenosha, Westbound.
There are too many erroneous memories and "facts" given in this comment section, hard to know where to even start to set the record straight. The Paul Behrens book , THE KD LINE, is THE definitve, accurate source to go to for information on this subject.Well-written, illustrated,and researched, he corresponded with many people who knew the subject they were talking about. My father was among those , very familar with the Harvard to Rockford segment first-hand ,walked and photographed much of that ROW before and as it was being removed. Many of Dad's pictures are featured in the book. Do not put too much faith in internet authorities, verify the information for yourself, which is just one of the fun things about history anyway ,getting the story right. Mr. Behrens book about the Lake Geneva line is an equally awesome read, by the way.
The end for that segment of the old KD from County Line RD., east of Capron, to the former North Wye at Caledonia came as a result of a derailment east of Poplar Grove in early Nov.1986. The cost to repair the damage to ROW embankment was more than CNW would spend, so instead aquired trackage rights to serve Beloit from Clinton Jct. over the SOO, called State Line Sub. starting in ETT #9, eff. date 6-1-1988. They in theory still served Roscoe, Caledonia, & Poplar Grove from the WEST, because the timetable lists the BELOIT SPUR as extending 16.9 miles from Beloit to MP 73.8. (Poplar Grove was 74.6)
What is the title of Mr. Behrens book about the Lake Geneva line? I have the KD Line and was unaware he wrote another book.
The Paul Behrens book is titled STEAM TRAINS TO GENEVA LAKE:C&NW'S ELGIN-WILLIAMS BAY BRANCH, published 2002.
Remarkably, one of ,if not the last train that ran on the KD west of County Line Rd. was pulled by a C&NW steam locomotive, and of the same class type that also pulled the last run May 31, 1939 Kenosha to Harvard.
Fri. March 10, 1989 advertising firm Zechman & Associates filmed a TV commercial for the IL Tourism Bureau about the return of the Lincoln Funeral Train to Illinois. The KD east of Capron was picked for its remote setting, exempt status with no conflicting rail traffic,and being the closest such trackage to Wisconsin, where C&NW R-1 ten-wheeler 1385 came down from earlier in the week, via Madison to Harvard.
A fake diamond stack and pointy, wooden cowcatcher, black garlands, and portrait of "Honest Abe" on pilot couldn't disguise the 1907 ALCo sufficiently for the purist, serious railbuff; 1385 is nearly twice the size and weight of the typical Civil War era locomotive. The steel cars that followed wouldn't be in use for another 40 years. To insult the historians, they also had Union & Confederate flags both hung on the smokebox. Accuracy obviously was not a priority. However, since the filming was mostly done at sunset and after dark, perhaps none of that mattered, and I never did see the finished product, so I can't really say...
My brother and I hung around to watch the production late into the cold night, and the kind engine crew invited us up into the cab to warm up. They even let us remain aboard at one point as they repositioned their train, so we got a short cab ride on the KD. They finally called it a wrap about 10 PM, and we retreated to Chemung to wait and watch their return.
The steaming specter slowly appeared out of the darkness, then disappeared back into the inky, freezing night, the soft chuff of her exhaust and mournful whistle fading in the distance toward Harvard our last memory of the old KD...
I have hunted the remains that you can see on the KD Line many times over the years and would be happy to show anyone in detail of what you can see today. By Silver Lake theres an old wood tender thats derailed off the right of way. Its near hy B. The hardest part for me was finding were the line went through the town of Silver Lake. It took some time by looking at maps and aerial photos. Also the Woodworth depot remains if anyone didnt know. Thats 3 KD depots that still remain!When the snow melts, that would be a good time to checkout the KD. Let me know if anyone would be interested?!
Bryan from Bristol, I read your post from last fall and also wanted to add here if your that interested in the KD,Theres still alot to see today that remains. I have some photos of the bridge that crossed the Des Plaines River as how it looked when it had a steel bridge.Ive done alot of field study and walked in heavy overgrowth of KD mainline over the years and its been fun! Dont forget the Woodworth Depot is in the town of Woodworth! If you can find it!! I will tell you or anyone if they want to know were it is. Its not far from where the line crossed MB. Good luck!
Erik.... I would love to see and photograph the abandoned rail....I've heard about this for years now. Please email me at clare.young@Aurora.org
Is the Woodworth depot still standing. I would love to see the ROW and walk it. I know roughly where it ran from woodworth to Bristol. Thank you Erik.
We built our house in Silver Lake, in 2002. We have a large lot that was full of trees. When we started working on our back yard (after the house was finished) we found a strip going across our yard covered in stuff that reminds me of lava rock. Then we started to find railroad spikes, extremely large nuts and lots of other misc. pieces. We realized that it was a part of the railroad track. Originally we figured it was a spur off the lake when they used to harvest the ice. I've been searching for years trying to get information, today I found this site! I also found some links on the www.WIHistory.org. I found a map that shows the old tracks from Kenosha through Lake Geneva and down into Rockford, IL. Can't believe my back yard had so much more history!
Fellow KD hunters,
Sorry its been awhile since I checked this site. Didnt think I would get any responses! Bryan,The woodworth Depot is the Garage at the old Yellow house on the hill, north of were the tracks crossed MB! So the house is on the Northeast side! Hes a friendly gentlman and he let me go inside is garage and take pics! I even took a old square nail from the original boards on the outside! It would be best to walk in some areas in the fall when the leaves drop off! I can still give a good tour now even if theres leaves on the trees! My contact info is email@example.com. I would enjoy to share with others what I found over the years!
Clare, I will email you about things I found on the old RR!
Sandy, Im amazed you found some spikes!! lucky! I would love to see what you found and Im sure its the Ice house spur. I know where the mainline went in SilverLake. You cant tell where it went west of Hy B! Its tricky! Thanks for sharing that info with us! take care!
You can walk along a section of the abandoned railway if you go to the Roland Olson Lake area of Rock Cut State Park and go to the trails around the dog training area, there is clearly a long trail with grade on either side. When you emerge, if you look across a narrow area of the lake you can see where the railroad went on the other side on to Argyle. That part is hard to walk through, lots of big trees. But the part just south of Olson lake is delightful, almost tunnel like, a great place to hike out of the wind!
Thanks Crystal for that info! I hunted the KD line in most areas over the years except south of Argyle. I always wanted to see what the area looked like around were Harlem was near the rock cut state park! I appreciate that info and I would love to walk what you can of the old RR grade at the state park. Thanks again!
Im a model railroader and I just found out about the KD Line and was wondering if anyone has any old photos of the old Ice House on Hooker Lake that was torn down a few years ago? It was just east of the Salem Vol. Fire Department
Sandy, do you still have the artifacts that you found in your backyard, if possible I would like to see what you found!
I have a few artifacts i found over the years exploring the KD line in the wisconsin portion. Theres some artifacts in your area you can see today but the summer overgrowth makes it tough! theres an old RR car/ wood tendor twisted and burried just east of HyB in Silver lake. its located on the Northwest side of the lake off the right of way. Theres a nice limestone bridge reminent over the desplaines river near the country club in Bristol too! also the Woodworth Depot still stands in Woodworth off of hy MB. Any questions let me know! take care!
As I child I grew up in Salem Oaks, Wisconsin. Our subdivision bordered the KD Line. In the seventies and early eighties we would ride our bicycles and snow mobiles on the old railroad bed for many miles. We could ride well east of Bristol and well west of Silver Lake without much deviating from the rail bed. In those days, the Bristol Progress Days had a tent hosted by the local historical society that had a great many pictures of the railroad, trains and the wreck in Bristol. Recently, at a antique show in Florida I puchased a C&NW timetable from 1936 that not only had the table from the KD line but the line into Lake Geneva. I also remember as a kid going to Lake Geneva seeing the trains that were still traveling that line in the 70's. I've heard rumors over the years that the METRO was thinking about reinstating that line. To bad it has never happened.
I was born in 53 and grew up in Twin Lakes, on the KD Line. My Uncle was a Brakemen on the last Job loading railroad property from Kenosha to Genoa City. His name was Don Brady. In the book KD Line he had a mention as a crew member. I know what happened to the depot in Twin Lakes and where it stands today. Back in the 60's it was turned into a barber shop right where it stood next to the main line. When the village re-routed the west end of Main Street, they moved it closer to the resturant Village Inn by 50 yards. I haven't been there in 10 years, but the shop is east of the resturant on Lance Drive. It might still be still standing at it's new location looking like a barber shop.
Thanks so much for your info as thats new to me and some others too im sure! I didnt know the Twin lakes depot was saved!? theres a replica depot there on the original site were the tracks were. Theres 3 other depots still standing from the KD Line days! I will investagate your story and check on that by driving to Twin Lakes! You got my interst for sure! Thanks!
I've road the KD Line from the crossing downtown Twin Lakes on the east end of town to Genoa City when I was about 9years old. My Uncle was good friends with the engineer. In the early 60's the job still serviced Basset Grain and the lumber yard in Twin Lakes. When they were done I was on the engine for the ride. It took awhile because it was all restricted speed until Genoa City. My next experience with railroading when I hired on to the Milwaukee Road in 73. I'm retired now and miss the hell out of railroading.
I forgot to tell you there is a brown brick house just to the west of the Village Inn. It now has a an asphalt parking lot in front of it. When I lived there in the 60's it was all grass,lol. But, the road bed ran paralel right accross the street before they widened Lance Drive. Before Lance Park was built and before I was born there was siding that ran to the lake. It ran through where the house sits along the fence line to the boat ramp. The reason I know this, is before the boat ramp went in and the first freeze letting me walk on the ice. I could see wheels and axles on the bottom. So, there was an ice house that stood there and a crew had an oops and put a car in the lake. I remember walking on the tracks pulling date nails from the ties when we lived in the house. Where the Post Office sits on Lance Drive was a scale for weighing Ice Cars. If the Pink House is still there, was another ice house and siding. I also had an old map showing branch lines of the KD Line going to Powers Lake, Sliver Lake and the Lower Twin. Sadly enough, through the years I missed placed it as I did with my book of the KD Line, borrowing it out and never got it back. I hope I was helpful in your interest for old relics in Twin Lakes, Wi.
Thanks for your info once again! I really am amazed about your memories on the KD line and glad you shared them with me and others! This fall i will go there and take some pics and check on the hair studio which you say is the old depot! You can look at it by zooming in on the maps provided on this site! I love date nail hunting and glad you got some nails back in the day! That sucks on loosing your KD line book! Loaning it out can be risky too. Look on ebay as one may turn up or check half.com which also has books on that site! I will right down your info before i go to Twin Lakes so I know what to look for! Thanks and take care!
I wanted to ask you about the date nails you found in the Twin Lakes area when you were a kid.Do you have alot and if so would you part with a few? Ive been a big date nail hunter in my area on RRs long gone. I found a square 7 date nail from a pile of ties east of Hebron,IL years ago!Im so glad you shared your KD memories with me and many others who also view this site! I wonder if the set of trucks from were the ice house was is still in the water in Twin Lakes?! I would like to find more date nails if any are around on ties off of the right of way.Today theres a bike trail from Hebron to Genoa City. Also the other bike trail is west of Chemung,IL and goes to Caledonia,IL on the Old KD line.This fall I will do some more searching and will make a trip to Twin lakes!
Dear Erik, If I had the date nails I surely would send some your way. B eing I was young during that time, my Uncle had them, but were mine. we collected a 1/2 lb coffee can worth. The trucks are long gone because a boat ramp was installed in the late 60's. As I said previously, the fence that runs along the east side of Lance Park down to the lake is where the old road bed ran to the lake, where they loaded ice. Yes, I did the same thing with the map and I too located the Barber Shop. The top floor is the old depot or whats left of it. I can draw a floor plan of it's old configuration. If you stand across the street from the old barber shop at the southern edge the parking lot. Look west, you can see where they cut into the north elevation for the road bed for the main line. Then look east for eastward road bed. you would be standing on the old road bed. As I said, I worked for the Milwaukee Road as a conductor and we still recognize Bain on our mainline where the KD crossed.
Erik, I was going through a photo album of pictures I'd taken around 62 maybe... It's pictures prior to the tracks being ripped up. Most of them are land marks, like the Village Inn, my old house next to lance park and I took a pic stand on railroad right a way. You will get good sence of how it was. I will scan them to send you in an email. Mine is Knucklehead811@aol.com
I just moved from Bristol west to Silver Lake. As my earlier comments here have shown, im into the KD line. Im curious as to where exactly the KD went through Silver Lake, and where it crossed Hwy B. I would love to get a copy of pictures of the line/ trains in Bristol or Silver Lake. Also I am a model railroader and qas wondering if anyone had any ideas on kits/rtr rolling stock to get to model the milk train. Thanks. My email is Wifiredad03@aol.com
I went on a field study on the KD line to check the Twin Lakes depot which I cant tell if it was a depot! thanks Guy for that info! Also I took a walk on the Recreation trail, old KD route from Hebron,ILL to near Genoa City,WI Its worth biking on as your in a tunnel of trees then your in the open farm fields too! Last, in Silver lake,WI I noticed the KD right of way has been cleared north of the lake and it appears a hiking/biking trail is being put in! For many years it was just a foot path which you can walk on from the parking lot on the east end of the lake to HY B! Not sure if it will be black topped or just gravel. Also you can walk or bike on the KD route from Twin Lakes,WI to the town North east of there called Bassets,WI That is most of the paths open to the public. More in Illinois of course!Its nice to see the KD right of way being preserved in places!
I am 60 and been in the area most of my life. I knew there had been a railroad through Bristol and Salem and I remember a Chicago & Northwestern freight engine pulling several cars through Genoa City coming from west of the junction crossing what was old Rt 12. I never knew this railroad ran from Kenosha to Rockford due to the total lack of remains where it crossed River Road north of Wilmot and also where it crossed the Fox River. In a Northerly direction just past the sharp turn in the road, there is a road that veers off River Road to the left. I spoke to the man who lives in the house on the north side of that road. He knows where the station and out buildings stood as this is now his property. Also there is an old house that stands where what would have been the north east corner of the junction in Genoa City. ( KD Line and Lake Geneva Line ). The house is occupied by the Son of a former employee of the railroad who lived there when the trains still ran. Also I found where the R.O.W. is through the patch of woods just east of the new Route 12 ( just north of the big wooden Welcome to Wisconsin sign ). It is overgrown ( bring clippers with you ). It looks like I saw what I think may have been a light signal half buried. There were old ties and lots of junk in the grade cut that was very much still in tack. Going east you come upon a new wide road and the R.O.W disappears as I suspect farmers plowed it up and retook the land.
The old KD Line can still be traced from Bain Station to Harvard. Download Google Earth and you can trace it yourself. I grew up in Salem and spent summer days riding my bike from Salem to Silver Lake Park on what was left of the R.o.w.. Some of the r.o.w. is visible from Highway F southeast of Silver Lake park. The current landowner has removed the under growth and left mature trees. Parts of the r.o.w. run through Silver Lake park and have recently been upgraded to a bike/walking path.
I grew up in the Genoa City and Lake Geneva WI area. The Genoa City Grade School (same building today, now called Brookwood School) was located just south of the intersection of the KD line and the Williams Bay-Chicago line of the C&NW. Though the passenger service and complete rail lines were discontinued in 1939, I recall C&NW diesel locomotives and a few cars, traveling adjacent to our school in the late 1950's. Service at that time did extend from Harvard (and perhaps farther west to Rockford???) and did continue to Basset, WI - at a very slow speed.
My 7th grade teacher, Angie Gast was the widow of the former Genoa City station master, Harold Gast. I know the old Genoa City station was still standing into the late 1970's. Mrs. Gast would describe some of the old busy days of the Genoa City (once called Genoa Junction) train station.
In Genoa City, just west of the intersection of the two train lines, and across the street from the depot, there was an old two-story building, that had been a hotel, reportedly serving train passengers and crews, until it was converted into an apartment building.
I believe it is fairly easy to follow the KD line route using Google aerial maps for the route, with only a few areas where the visual evidence is lacking.
The bridge in Genoa City Wisconsin caught my attention when we moved into the area a couple of years ago. I finally tracked down a copy of Paul Behrens book and I'm anxious to know more.
I'm also interested in any updates on model railroads depicting this line.
Now is a great time of year to explore before the vegetation gets too thick. I tried finding where the KD crossed the Des Plaines river to see the concrete abutments I heard were still there. Never got to the river, but I found the ROW west of the Des Plaines. Went from Hwy 50 south on D ( I think). The ROW followed 83rd St ( or 183rd St) west to Bristol. The ROW was to the south of the road. There was a lot of evidence of the ROW. There was houses built on the ROW, but plenty of embankments and cuts through the hilly topography. I followed it all the way to Bristol. Driving while looking at railroad ROW's is almost as bad as driving while texting. There is some sort of building built on the ROW where it crossed D. Looks like an old phone company building or something. Has a fence around it.
Does anyone have a copy of The KD Line they would be willing to part with? I have been searching high and low for one as well as his book about the Lake Geneva line. I grew up in Salem Oaks along the line and remember the trains in Geneva.
Finally found a book through a library interchange loan program. A great and interesting read! I read it in one sitting. Growing up along the row I always suspected a spur off the line along 83rd/84th street in Salem toward Paddock Lake but could never prove it. Not only did the book prove it but showed there was another entering my subdivision to access the ice house that I did know was there. That explained the mother load of spikes and nail plates I found as a child near my house and that of my grandparents in Salem Oaks.
I was born in 1950 and our family farms was on Hwy. B just north of Silver Lake. I have been intrigued by the KD line for some time and see the track in an 1887 Atlas I have of Kenosha and Racine counties. I spent a little time recently with a friend and we found the R.O.W north of Basset. I wonder if it's possible to hike along it going East towards Silver Lake. We used to drive across it often when visiting a friend in the Salem area. I'm retired now and have the time to pursue this. Any interest?
Hi Donald Ellingson A couple of years ago in the winter when there was not much snow on the ground, I hiked eastward from Bassett. I hiked it until I came across the first road I came to which is a road which branches off from W and goes towards Lily Lake ( I think ). I hiked along it between one and two miles until I reached the road and had enough. Farmers took it over and used it as paths. Some places its overgrown.
Thanks for your comments about your adventure- perfect! I might do that leg, then try to pick it up and into Silver Lake, then another leg going east towards Salem, then do another leg towards Woodward, then from there to Hwy 94- perhaps each separate days. I used to see the ROW going east from 94 as you would travel south but haven't been able to spot it in recent years but will do some car exploring to see if I can spot it. Not sure about trespassing issues. Thanks again.
Hi Don I remember driving through Salem and Bristol in the 1980's and you could still tell a railroad went through both places. Now if I did not know, I would not pick up on it. There is virtually no sign left where it crossed the Fox River. I checked it out between Alden and Hebron and found it helps to look at satellite images first on google earth before going out. There is a nasty man out by Alden. Beware.
I had fun on Oct. 26 checking out the KD line in Kenosha County. I spent time in Woodworth, Bristol, Salem, Silver Lake and Shorewood Terrace, and highways W, FR, and JI as I headed west to Basset and then on to Twin Lakes. I drove the north/south roads to identify where the ROW came through- sometimes successfully- sometimes not. My plan is to hike as many of these segments as possible next year- so this was a scouting trip. I did find the wreckage of the car in the Silver Lake area- just east of Hwy. B and north of the now paved ROW. I note that in some places the ROW is posted- parts of Silver Lake and east of Woodworth and, of course, in many areas the ROW has been taken out, leveled, paved, etc. I'm not sure how to deal with the "no trespassing" segments. Any advice?
Very cool Don What kind of car wreckage did you find? Somehow I missed this.
Scott, If you Google "KD line Kenosha County", you'll find an article in the Kenosha newspaper from May 2015 in which the reporter quotes Erik Bryant about this. There is even a picture in the article of the car wreckage. You can see if pretty well although it didn't photograph well because of the light and when I say it's from a railroad car, that's using what I read in the article- but it's clearly a lot of metal and a rectangular shape. I didn't go down the hill from the ROW because I didn't have the boots and gloves for exploring further but it's a matter of a few feet off of the ROW. I intend to go back.
I was in the patch of woods just east of US 12 east of Genoa City, WI. Bring clippers with you. There are thorns. Also bring Paul's book if you have one and a camera. That way you can chat with anyone who wants to know what you are doing walking on what may be their land. Sometimes they have stories they can share.
I have been in the Harvard & Alden area several times this past month. I noticed that east of Harvard and east of Altenberg Rd, Rt 173 runs straight for about a mile. The ROW ( I believe ) runs along the south side of Rt 173 . There are some good remains of the embankment along this part before it crosses Rt 173 and runs north of the highway into Alden. There is a picture in Paul Behrens book of the Alden station which still stands ( but probably not for long ). I took a picture this last Spring standing on the same spot as did the photographer did in 1937. All the buildings from 1937 are still standing. If anyone wants my picture let me know.
Looks like I'll have to "cross the border" to see more of the KD line. I'd love to see your photo and my email address is Dellingson@charter.net. I have just requested a copy of the KD line book [Behrens]through our library system and hope it arrives shortly. I'm going to see if Erik Bryant is still around. It sounds like he's very familiar with the KD line in my old home area in Kenosha County and I'd like to meet up with him and get his help if possible. Thanks.
Correction: the photo from Paul Behren's book of the Alden Station is from 1938
Hello Don and Scott,
I spoke with Don and we are planning a KD Line field trip this spring perhaps in March or April. I have done a lot of exploring in the past and know almost every inch of where it went. I have posted on this site about 3 years ago and mentioned about finding others who have interest in exploring the KD Line. I am looking forward to showing and getting together with any of you! I have a copy of the KD line book and I will bring that with as well as other photos I took for references. Great talking with Don a few days ago and looks like our trip in a go for sure! if anyone else wants to join us please let me know. Thanks.
I enjoying my lunch break today in Silver Lake Park off of hwy F, and was curious if the area where the parking lot is, if that was a small yard at one time for cars during the ice harvest?
As with a few others, the lone bridge in Genoa City sparked my interest years ago and until Google Maps,I never knew the line existed other than seeing a few cuts here and there. I always just figured it was part of the line from Lake Geneva.
According to Paul's book, there was not a rail yard by the lake. There does appear to be a rail yard to the west of there west of Cogswell Drive. There also was Pecks Platform on the east side of the yard on Cogswell Dr
I grew up just north of Silver Lake [my mom taught in Burlington]. The train crossed the river just north of F- on Highway W so not sure if there would have been a yard near where the park is now or not. Could have been a spur running there I suppose but there was a station [Fox River Station] on W just north of 82nd Street so that doesn't seem too likely. I have an 1887 Atlas and there is another track running SE that crosses the KD line. This track runs south of Silver Lake [KD line goes north of it] and there is a spur coming back west from that track- towards the Fox River so there could have been some business being done off of that spur too. Anybody else have an idea?
Thanks. I am in Silver Lake now, actually sitting on the old ROW along Dells St. I am so intrigued with this old line and have traced it all the way west. I would love to see the old roadbed in the lake, but that probably won't happen.
I would love to meet up with you guys one of these weekends when the weather gets better and trek through here and look for artifacts
Hi Mike, Don and Erik
There were two spurs off the KD line which ran towards Silver Lake. One spur off the north east side and the other off the western side. The line which crosses the KD line and ran south of Silver Lake is still active. Former Soo Line ( I believe) and now owned by the Canadian National. Very busy line. It runs into Illinois through Antioch where it shares the line with Metra. I have been at the intersection of this line and the KD line. Quite a difference in the grade due to the KD abandonment in 1939. I can hear the freights blowing their horns in Wisc from my house in Fox Lake. I know they are in Wisc because they don't blow the horns in Illinois.
Don, Mike and Scott,
I know there was a handful of spurs around Silver lake and some are still visible. When I hunted for the KD line in Silver lake about 15 years ago, Dells Rd was gravel leading to the Wisconsin Central back then. Since that time its now paved and there are houses on both sides. I know where it crossed the fox river and will show everyone when the temps warm up and the snow melts. There are plenty of neat surprises still to be seen for sure! I glad all of you have great interest and are exploring with passion like I once did! Will be in touch. Take care!
Will, it was on the northeast side of W. Park Street in between Campbell and Jackman. Small field there now. Roundhouse looked to be a 2-3 stall structure that was there in the 30's through the 50's. It's gone by the mid 60's
If you use Google maps and pull up that open field where the roundhouse used to be, you can faintly see parts of an old foundation that are in a round pattern. Whether that is part of the old roundhouse or not, I do not know, but it definitely looks like it may be.
Yes now that I think about it I do see it more clearly than before.. I found the faint foundation a day or so after Walter pointed it out, but now i think i see the little curve in the building was.. Looks like the rear side faced the street.
Oh gosh! I'm sorry! My kindle glitched.. So sorry for spamming!
No worries. For some reason duplicate messages happen on this site from time to time. Now about the roundhouse -
Looking left to right at that field (west to east), those two rectangle buildings, imagine the engine house lead track following the back edge of those buildings. Then came the turntable. The front of the roundhouse faced west. The back of it is the rounded portion of the field in on the northeast corner.
Now i have been interested in this rail for quite some time...
and i was wondering about that part in rockford where it branches off and then branches off again and does a 'loop'
It is visible that the track starts heading south (not traced on map) and maybe into a building. Did that ever cross the street again or was their a factory or rail necessity that it ended at?
On 12/20/15 I posted a comment about seeing the right of way running beside Rt 173 east of Altenberg Rd east of Harvard. I believe now I was wrong about that. The ROW ran south of Ferris Rd and north of Rt 173. It crosses Reese Rd just south of the intersection of Reese and Ferris roads. It crosses Rt 173 near Red's Pizza place on the north side of Rt 173. Google earth is a great tool. Amazing how you can follow it
The KD line used to run along one side of Silver Lake Wisconsin. On the north side of the Lake. It is now called the Ice House Trail. I watched as someone salvaged the tracks. Along it was a sunken tender in the dirt. we roasted a claim on it as kids but someone said it was not a good idea to eat fresh water claims so we didn't eat it. I tried to take a bite but it was tough and tasteless. At the end was the concrete base of an old ice house. They used to cut the blocks of ice from Silver Lake for the old iceboxes in those days before refrigerators. It is legend there is a gondola in the Fox river where a trestle used to be. We woul d hit with our outboard motors. The Soo Line Railroad also ran through Silver lake along Depot street. There was a dance hall across from the depot owned my Mr Dalton. He later ran the post office.
its great to see all the interest in this line. I remember playing softball in genoa city and seeing the bridge.
Does anyone know where to get the book? With all the interest I wonder if it could get reprinted?
I played in the pits behind silver lake by the old county storage garage. Lots of fun in the dump back there. Tracks jcame out of woods off county b and were somewhat elevated. All dirt is gone now a pond for factory park. Remember playing in the dump and had lots of fun on the timbers of the old bridge that went across county b. Lots of toxic stuff back then. Didnt care having fun in the dump.
To Greg- Lake Villa, IL
Greg, I found the book [Paul Behrens] through our WI library system. Our Oshkosh library ordered it from Madison so it took a couple of weeks. I had to return it in 2 weeks but it's available. Don't know if you can access it from IL but perhaps you know someone who lives close by but in WI?? Cedric in comments from 10/18/11 has full name of book. I have a copy of the cover- somewhere- and could get it to you if needed. My email is Dellingson@charter.net.
Thank you Don, Im in the process of tracking down Behrens books through the library system, looking forward to reading them.
I recommend anyone who pedals a bike or likes to walk to check out the paved portions of the trail. Rode it quite a few times out of rock cut state park.
Thanks to posts here, I was able to find Hebron Tower: https://www.flickr.com/photos/31385681@N02/30375153855/in/dateposted-public/
I have some Right of Way photos of the KD Line in Twin Lakes.
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