The Skokie Subdivision was built in 1891 by the Chicago and North Western Railway as an alternate freight route for their Chicago-Milwaukee mainline that ran alongside Lake Michigan. The line closely paralleled the adjacent North Shore line (see the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad, also abandoned), for most of its length.
As a secondary route, the Skokie Sub saw less and less maintenance over time. In 1963, when the nearby North Shore line was seeking abandonment of its route (and its well-maintained track), the C&NW saw fit to purchase its corridor outright as a cheaper option opposed to rehabilitating their own. When connections were made with the North Shore's tracks at River Junction and Northbrook, the parallel segment of the Skokie Subdivision line was abandoned soon after.