This line was built in 1873 and was abandoned around 1915. Today, WI Route 173 sits atop the right-of-way for most of its length.
Tomah to Babcock, WI
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I am looking for information on this railroad as my grandparents settled in that area in 1887, when the logging business was booming.
There was also a logging line that branched off this one at Mather and ran northwesterly, serving several tiny logging settlements in eastern Jackson County. There was an extensive network of spurs and branches that were moved as logging needs dictated. The Mather branch and associated spurs were abandeoned by 1900. If anyone has any information or photos of the Mather branch, please share!
I've often wondered why Highway 173 was as straight as an arrow and almost perfectly level through this area. Finding out it sits on an old railroad right-of-way explains a lot.
I drove on 173 a few times. Your right, I always felt that if you let go of the steering wheel you could go all the way from Valley Junction to Babcock without leaving the road. I think if look closely you can see soon of the old ROW in Valley Junction today. In late 50's early 60's, I rode the Milwaukee Northwoods Hiawatha, known as the "Valley", from New Lisbon to Wisconsin Rapids a few times. This spur from Tomah met up with the Valley line at Babcock. Also My releatives run and own Wetherbys Cranberry's in Warrens WI.