Rockwood to Denmark


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In Rockwood, at Rockwood Road, where the active line ends. The line continues southward on its way to Milwaukee. Photo by Beaver.

This abandoned railway was originally built in 1906 by the Chicago & North Western Railroad, and subsequently served the C&NW for the next 82 years. The C&NW ran most of their express trains from Chicago, IL, to Green Bay/Escanaba, WI, along this route, including the Flambeau 400 and the Peninsula 400. These passenger trains ran up until 1971.

In 1988, the C&NW sold over 200 miles of its track, including this line, to the Fox River Valley Railroad, who ultimately merged with the Wisconsin Central in 1993. Abandonment of the line came under WC's ownership in 1996, when they removed the 10-mile segment between Rockwood and Denmark. The remaining track on either side of this abandoned line is still in use: one serves a local that runs from Manitowoc to a limestone quarry and fertilizer plant in Rockwood, and the other is used to serve a feedmill in Denmark from Green Bay.

Thanks to Beaver for contributing information about this route.

I remember the semaphores on this line in the 80's. Later they became color lights, after that the Shoreline (as it was once called)is dark now except a lone distant signal the precedes Wiscona Junction in Milwaukee. This is a cool site, except where are the abandoned Airline Cut-off (Ex-Milwaukee Road)[Elm Grove to Milwaukee], The line going thru Spread Eagle and Florence WI, which was removed in 1984 I'm not exactly sure where this line all went though (It was an Ex-CNW line though I remember that). The final two i'd like to see a segment on, are the ex CNW line that went west from Madison, To Fennimore WI which was removed in 1980 I believe, It went thru Verona, Mt. Horeb, Barnveld, Ridgeway, Dodgeville, And Cobb to name a few. This line went east out of Madison too and Thru Dousman and hooked up to or crossed the then Soo-Line Track Now CN in Waukesha. I'd also like to see soemthing on the whole CNW Passenger line from downtown Milwaukee, To Wiscona Jct, which has pretty much returned to nature. It would be nice to see articles on those, but I like this website anyway

Steven C Jensen
West Allis, WI


Hey Steve why not write something about these subjects and maybe take a few pics.

DePere, WI


I have a few pics of the signal bridge at Wiscona. I'm not sure how to post them on here though. I can get some of the old Milwaukee Road Air Line cut-off too. They must've of recently ripped out some more of the shoreline north of Cleveland, WI because in southern Manitowoc County, the line ran adjacent to I-43 for quite some distance and I noticed the last time I was up that way that some more of the track had been pulled up.

Steven C Jensen
South Milwaukee, WI


Its really sad to see the tracks from Newton to Cleveland tore up.I remember watching many long freights heading to Green Bay and Upper Michigan and literally hauling @$$.The sale of the CNW lines in NE Wisconsin to FRVR changed traffic patterns made much of this line surplus and expendable then abandoned

DePere, WI


I grew up in Denmark in the 80's/90's. Up until the FRVR sale in 1988, there were 4-6 trains a day over this segment of the "shoreline" route as the "valley" route had been shut down between Oshkosh and Fond du Lac. It was just the daily Manitowoc-Green Bay freight with some occasional detours during the FRVR years. Rail traffic to Denmark has increased since this article was written. The feed mill has significantly expanded and another customer in town has increased shipments of lumber and other products. I have several photos of this abandoned route, and the still active portions, on my flickr site...

Joe Dufeck
Green Bau, WI


Although not technically included in this stretch, the track from Milwaukee to Sheboygan is more or less on life support. UP still runs it but only because they make pretty good money hauling coal to the Edgewater power plant, which I believe has a timeline for natural gas conversion.

I work at the Kohler Mosel plant and once or twice a week I hear/see two or three cars go by at about 10MPH to service the last remaining customer on the north side of the existing track (a company that fabricates building trusses). I've had the chance to walk the tracks and see the remains of the old spur that used to enter our plant when it was still a toy factory.

Further south near where I live in Port, the other day near the old Simplicity plant I noticed the remnants of two old industrial spurs that headed into the plant. You would never know the remains were there as the railroad cleaned everything up near the main tracks, and the company had gotten rid of the tracks near the plant. The remains are only 20 or 30 feet long and are so old that there are giant trees growing out of them. Got some very cool pictures of this.

Michael B
Port Washington, WI


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