The Sheboygan and Fond du Lac Railroad
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Awwww no pics, looks like I may have a project soon
The tracks still remain in Sheboygan Falls and Kohler, however they are heavily abandoned. Wisconsin and Southern owns the abandoned tracks, while Union Pacific owns the small stubline to Kohler. It would be nice if they could reactivate the line in Kohler, because there are a set of Wigwags in Kohler that I would love to see active.
Also, the tracks through Plymouth are used by Wisconsin and Southern twice a week. On Google maps, you can see the siding where the original line was. The line is easily traceable from Plymouth to Kohler, but less from Plymouth to Fond du Lac.
The right of way is owned by the State of Wisconsin, with operating rights granted to WSOR. The line from Plymouth to Kohler is currently being completely rebuilt, expected to be finished this fall. It was never abandoned. Just out of service.
As of 2015, WSOR took full responsibility for the old Milwaukee Road line in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Union Pacific still had the R.O.W. into Kohler & Sheboygan Falls. WSOR's Headquarters is in Madison. The whole line between Kohler and Plymouth had to be reestablished by W.D.O.T. standards to sustain proper speed and weight capabilities. Plymouth was in shambles to begin with. It was last used by CNW. WSOR is owned by WATCO out of Kansas. It operates Wisconsin's old Chicago,Milwaukee,St.Paul & Pacific railroad trackage. For more information on this (Wikipedia.org ) WSOR. Look on YouTube for the ground breaking and some other footage.
Government money has been spent to re-track the line between Plymouth and Kohler, but for some reason it is not complete across the road in Kohler to connect it to the UP line that services Kohler Corporation from Sheboygan (this line was once connected). There is traffic on the new line to several locations just west of Sheboygan Falls. Tracks end on both sides of the main street in Kohler. The UP line is active to the Kohler plant and car storage goes almost up to the end of the line. Kohler has some rather expensive homes right next to the tracks that have been renewed and I suspect there is resistance (Kohler is a fancy mill town complete with company housing and an ancient factory still operating) to having a connection between Wisconsin Southern and the UP railroads resulting in rail traffic on this branch which goes right through downtown Sheboygan Falls next to roads and buildings. Kohler likes golf courses and fancy resorts, it does not like the railroad.
Those wig wags still work I think and are in Plymouth, not Kohler. The trains run so infrequently that I have never had a chance to see them operate, but they seem to be completely intact.
The Sheboygan & Fond Du Lac railroad also ran all the way to Princeton. A map I found on CNWHS or another search engine shows that it went that far starting around the 1900's. I would have never guessed that the CNW had a line that far, but there was at one time a line going to the Mississippi River too.
The wig wags in Plymouth are now gone. I spoke with a railroad employee about this and they were spoken for a long time ago and removed recently. Kohler connection to WSOR and UP still not any work being done.
The line west from Fond du Lac went all the way to Marshfield by way of communities such as Wautoma and Wisconsin Rapids. At Marshfield, it connected with the C&NW line from Green Bay by way of Wausau and the Omaha route from Merrlllan, which connected with the main line between Chicago and the Twin Cities there.
Traces of what once was the line East out of Fond du Lac now exist as a bike trail as far as Hwy.151 bypass. Right of way as far as Pebbles was still visible in the early 90's but is now overgrown or redeveloped. The grade leading North out of Pebbles was hard to trace even in the late 80's. C&NW had pretty much abandoned the line in the early 40's according to an article in their historical magazine. Once the line reaches the top of the hill at St. Peter and turns East, the right of way is hard, if not difficult to follow across the farmlands referred to as the "holy land", but traces can still be found in some of the small towns to the East that dot the area.
There was a lot of government money spent to make a new connection over old right of way between Plymouth and Sheboygan on the WSOR and it came to a halt in Kohler across a road that connects to existing tracks from UP rail lines that go to the Kohler plant. I think there is some kind of a conflict between the 2 rail lines or Kohler letting rail travel behind expensive homes. Just saying that UP seems to not want to connect to WSOR. I mean that this connection is literally right across the road. Something is going on. And mostly politics.
Can anyone out there with any good memories of this section or railroad confirm this... As the railroad climbed East out of Fond du Lac, North out of Pebbles,... I was told by a local farmer that in order for the train to scale the rock ledges on the East side of Lake Winnabego, the railroad used a series of switch backs North of Pebbles, before continuing North towards Silica and turning once again to the East. It might be true, but the rails in that area have been pulled up since the late 40's and it's hard to envision with the changing landscape where that series of switch backs once existed.
I found another old treasure. I took a side street on the north side of Sheboygan and there is a WORKING set of wig-wags on the UP line there. I happened to see a train headed north where it crosses Business Drive and did a side street detour until I reached it.