Railroad Depots – Restored: Museums, Restaurants, etc.

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    Wisconsin Railroad Depots – Restored: Museums, Restaurants, Etc.

Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly

Last Revised 03/24/2006

Central Wisconsin

BlackEarth Depot and Museum – Black Earth

DepotDays of Green County – All nine communities in Green County focus on theirindividual railroad history. Also taking place over the weekend were many modelrailroad, railroad collectible and artifact displays, railroad music, tours of 5depots, two of which are on the National Register of Historic Places, locomotiveand caboose tours, hobo history and stew, and much more.

Green County Welcome Center, 2108 – 7th AvenueMonroe, WI 53566, 608-325-4636 – Fax: 608-325-4647, Housed in a meticulouslyrestored Milwaukee Road train depot, the Welcome Center offers visitors a wealthof information on Green County.

LittleA-Merrick-A Amusement Park and Miniature Golf – 700 E Main St, Marshall

            Main Page: http://www.littleamerricka.com/             Railroad Page:  http://www.littleamerricka.com/default.aspx?c=3

NorthwesternRailroad Depot Museum and Log Cabins – Marion

Babe’s Grill & Bar at the Depot, 640 W. Washington Ave.,

Madison, WI

53703-2698, sports bar is in a beautifully renovated space at the old train station, close to the Kohl Center and downtown.

Riverside & GreatNorthern Railway – Open daily 10 am to 6 pm Memorial Day through Labor Dayand on Weekends in May, Sept, Oct. 15 inch gauge steam-powered operatingrailroad, 3 min ride. Call 608-254-6367. N115 Cty N, Wisconsin Dells

Northeast Wisconsin

The DartfordHistorical Society was organized in 1956 to preserve the history of thevillage of Dartford (now the city of Green Lake), Green Lake County, Wisconsin.It owns two historic buildings now serving as museums: an 1870’s railroad depot,and the former public library.

Eagle River – the former Northwoods Depotgift/coffee shop (Editor’s note: wasn’t in business in Oct. 2003)

Fox Lake Historical Museum, Inc, 211 CordeliaStreet, Fox Lake WI

Titletown BrewingCompany – Located in the historic Chicago &North-Western railroad depot, brew pub features a restaurant, billiards hall anda brewery producing five to seven fresh specialty beers.

Gresham Railroad Depot and Museum, 1311 NorthMain Street, Shawano, 715-787-3271 or 715-787-3634. View an unique collection ofrailroad memorabilia at this former railroad depot including telegrapher’sequipment, pictures and timetables, old fashioned railroad lanterns, freightwagons and variety of other railway equipment. Open during the summer months onSaturday afternoons from 1:30 to 4pm, or by special appointments.

LumberjackSpecial Steam Train and Camp Five Museum – Call 715-647-3414 or toll-free800-774-3414. Rt 1, Laona

Markesan Historical Society – Grand River ValleyMuseum and Depot, 214 E. John Street, Markesan, Wisconsin

National Railroad Museum – America’s oldest and largest railroad museum. Open daily May-Oct 9 am to 5 pm. Nov-Apr Mon to Fri 9 am to 5 pm. Call 920-437-7623 or 920-435-7245. 2285 S Broadway, Green Bay. Houses the Hood Junction Railroad Depot.
New London Historical Society Museum, 920/982-5186 Restored Chicago & North Western RR depot.
Rhinelander SOO LINE DEPOT — The depot was built in 1892 by the Soo Line RR, and remained in constant railroad service until 1989. Donated to the City of Rhinelander by the Wisconsin Central Ltd. RR, it was moved to its present location in 1990, from its original position in the Soo Line yards about a mile west and north of the park. Remodeled numerous times during its 97 years of service, the depot has now been restored to its original design and paint scheme. A model railroad display is located in the basement under the depot. It is a representation of the prototype railroads operating in Rhinelander in the 1920’s – 1940’s.

Three LakesWinery, 6971 Gogebic Street · PO Box 37· Three Lakes, Wisconsin Phone:(715) 546-3080 · 1-800-944-54, downtown in the old railroad depot, restored andredecorated.

Northwest Wisconsin

Ashland SooLine Railroad Depot restoration project. Before the devastating fire ithoused the South Shore Brewing Company, a micro-breweryin the historic Soo Line Depot. Built in 1887, the depot had been restored tohouse the brewery and two restaurants.

BayfieldCounty Historical Society Mason Depot Museum – Mason

FredericSoo Line Depot / Frederic Area Historical Museum -Frederic

Kendall Railroad Depot – The original railroad depot hasbeen converted into the Sparta Trail Headquarters’ and history museum. The depotbuilding has been designed as a National Historic Site and a Wisconsin StateHistorical Place. Kendall’s history began when L.G. Kendalls, agent for Chicago& Northwestern railroad offered to purchase some land from J.R. Lyons tobuild a roundhouse near the village of Glendale but they could not reach anagreeable price so Kendalls went two miles up the Baraboo river valley (presentsite of Kendall) and purchased the land. In 1847 W.A. Melbury purchased theremaining land from Kendalls, had it surveyed and platted and thus beganKendalls (the “s” being dropped later).

TheOsceola & St. Croix Valley Railway in Polk County.

Medford’s historic railroad depot is now home to fine coffee,craft & gift shops

MercerArea Historical Society, PO Box 638, Mercer WI  54547

MorrisonvilleDepot Preservation Society Morrisonville lies about halfway between Madisonand Portage. The Depot Preservation Society has just taken ownership of theformer Milwaukee Road depot in Morrisonville and plans to restore it.

Pepin Railroad Depot Museum – Call 715-442-3011.Laura Ingalls Wilder Park

RailroadMemories Museum – Railroad artifacts, photos, videos, equipment and modeltrains in the former C & NW depot. Open daily Memorial Day to Labor Day 10am to 5 pm. Call 715-635-3325. N8425 Island Lake Rd, Spooner

Sparta Depot Headquarters for the La CrosseRiver State Park Trail.

Wausau Railroad Depot – This landmark is a highlyrecognized symbol of Wausau. Wausau Insurance Companies used the depot as itstrademark as early as 1954. Finding this depot while you’re in the area is notas simple as you might think because, in truth, Wausau has three depots. Thedepot in the trademark is modeled after the former Milwaukee Road facilitylocated at 720 Grant Street. A faithful reproduction of this famous building wasbuilt by Wausau Insurance and serves as a meeting facility near their corporateheadquarters. The third depot once served passengers of the Chicago NorthwesternRailroad. Now home to several businesses, it is located on Washington Street indowntown Wausau on the Wisconsin River.

Southeast Wisconsin

The CudahyHistorical Society Railroad Depot, 4647 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is open on thelast Saturday of the month, April through October, from 10 A.M. to 12 noon.

East TroyElectric Museum. “The East Troy Electric Railroad runs from Mukwonagoto East Troy in southeast Wisconsin. Built in 1907 by the Milwaukee ElectricRailway & Light Company, it continues in its 91st year as both a livingshortline as well as a museum.” Features trolley rides and dinnertrains.

ElkhartLake Depot Museum

The Genesee Depot Cafe operates in the originaltrain depot building, from which the community gets its name, near the Wisconsin& Calumet Railroad running through the area. Source: Milwaukee JournalSentinel, Oct. 23, 1999.

IolaRailroad Depot and Museum – Iola

Kettle Moraine Steam Train – A train ride back intime, through the age of steam, when life was a little bit simpler. Thenostalgic ride will take you on an eight mile round trip through the beautifulforests of the northern Kettle Moraine State Forest with a visit to an 1890srailroad depot. (Editor’s note: this may be out of business since 2003)

Menomonee Falls Historical Society, Old Falls Village, Description:  Eight historic homes and buildings, including railroad depot and dairy.  Costumed guides give tours May-September

<–Main Street Depot – Located in Oconomowoc’s Historic Stone Depot (Built 1896), a restored Milwaukee Road station.

North Prairie: the depot on Main Street is now a restaurant, while business occupies the freight depot next door. Source: Waukesha, WI and Waukesha County Depots including Nashotah and Okaukee Nashotah: a Milwaukee Road depot houses a cabinet-making facility.

Okauchee: a former Milwaukee Road depot, which is now said to be a private residence

Ozaukee County Pioneer Village 4880 Hwy I,Cedarburg, WI, Saukville, 262-377-4510, A living history museum ofover 20 buildings of 1840 – 1907, Cedarburg Railroad Depot relocated andrestored here.

C.& N. W. Sussex Depot & Railway History – Sussex Lisbon AreaHistorical Society

The Waukesha Depot restaurant (former), for more photos click here http://www.msoe.edu/st_orgs/some/cc-building/protophotos.php

Southwest Wisconsin

BoscobelDepot Museum

BrodheadHistorical Depot Museum – The historical past is bestseen at the old Wells-Fargo depot in the downtown area filled with memories ofdays gone by. The Brodhead “Milwaukee Road” depot has a caboose andFairbanks locomotive on display. This depot is on an active rail line. Thebuilding has been transformed into a museum which is open to the public fromMemorial Day through September on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidaysfrom 1 pm to 4 pm.

FennimoreRailroad Historical Society Museum, home of the “Dinky“, islocated at 610 Lincoln Avenue, Fennimore, Wisconsin, in the former city powerhouse and utility building. The building has been remodeled inside and out toresemble a depot of the turn-of-the-century. The replica loading platform islaid with brick from the original depot using just sand and brick — the way itwas originally built.

Mazomanie’s downtown district — with 34buildings listed on the National Historic Register. Stroll the Railroad CorridorPath or visit Mazomanie Historic Museum, the 1870’s People’s State Bank, the MazomanieDepot, and the Lynch & Walker Flouring Mill.

Mid-ContinentRailway Museum – Free parking and picnic area. Gift shop.
Call 608-522-4261 or toll-free 800-930-1385 for reservations. E8948 Diamond HillRd, North Freedom

Mineral Point Railroad Society depot

Park Lane Model Railroad Museum – Call 608-254-8050. S2083 Herwig Rd, Reedsburg]

St. Feriole Island Depot Restaurant, Prairie du Chein, WI, original late 1800’s vintage Milwaukee Road depot.

Related links

Circus World Museum – part of the yearly (?) Great Circus Train

The Milwaukee Road Historical Association

Wisconsin Depot History – find information and stories about the vast history of Wisconsin Railroad Depots.

WisDOT Bureau of Railroads and Harbors

Railroad Station Historical Society, Inc., Depot Museums

Other Depot sites

Stiles Junction, Oconto County – Railroad Depot, located 1/4 mile south of Hwy 141 & 22 junction on Hwy 141. This former depot for the east-west Chicago Northwestern line and the north-south Milwaukee line is located at an unusual rural right angle crossing and had platforms on two sides to serve the two lines.

Whistle of Early Locomotive Was Welcome; Called Gabriel’s Trumpet

Waukesha Freeman March 29, 1859

Three separate railroad systems run through the town of Lisbon. The Wisconsin Central tracks were laid through the east side of the town in the 1880s. When the first locomotive puffed along its rails, one woman, hearing the whistle, grabbed up her baby in panic and screamed at her husband: “It’s the day of resurrection! That’* Gabriel’* trumpet!” The shining rails and puffing locomotives passed about a quarter mile east of Sussex. James Templeton recognized an opportunity when he saw one. He built a grain elevator close to the new tracks, started a general store, and built a big, elegant house nearby. He was instrumental in having the place called Templeton. But, in 1932 Sussex and Templeton were merged. That was the year the two post offices were consolidated at Sussex and the name Templeton came down from the Soo Line depot and the name Sussex went up.

Bug’ Ran on the ‘Grapevine’
The Milwaukee, Menomonee Falls and Western railroad built a line through Sussex in 1890. It had a depot in Templeton, another in Sussex. There was great excitement in Sussex. To celebrate the occasion, a community dinner was held in the town hall and there were speeches by some of the leading citizens. Then the people present piled into cars on the new line and were given a ride to Menomonee Falls and back as the guests of Richard Weaver, prominent local citizen. Because of the tortuous curves of this railroad track, the local people referred to it as the “grapevine” and the train that ran on it as “the Bug.” The Bug was indeed important to its surrounding area. People traveling to Milwaukee from Sussex took the Bug to Granville, changing to another train for the rest of the trip.
Once a couple from Lannon came to Sussex on this train. They walked to St. Alban’s cemetery to eat the basket lunch they brought with them. They returned to Lannon on the afternoon train. This was their wedding trip. In 1910 two Important events took place: Hailey’* comet appeared and the North Western railroad tracks were put through Sussex. The North Western tracks, while crossing both the Wisconsin Central (Soo Line) and Milwaukee Road rights of way, were elevated to eliminate grade crossings. The North Western provided Sussex people with the first direct contact with Milwaukee. All three lines had cattle pens along their sidings. Grain elevators flanked the Soo Line track at Templeton, the Milwaukee Road at Sussex. Burned lime from the Templeton kilns was the principal shipping many years ago, along with milk. Today canned peas, beets and carrots are shipped, along with Lannon stone and agricultural lime. Bulk oil, lumber and exchange building stone from Tennessee, Colorado, Arizona and other points are shipped in.

Only One Local Train Is Left
Three lines pass through Sussex. But of all the commuters who go to Milwaukee or Waukesha to shop . . . of all the dozens of children from Colgate, the Sussex area and Duplainville who rode the trains daily to school … of all these, none is left. The only line that carries passengers now is the Soo Line —• one local train. Instead of the whistle and bell of the steam locomotive that coaxed the hearer to board the train and look for adventure, we have the screech of the diesel horn. No longer can one drift off to sleep with a steamer pulling a long freight chug, chug, chugging up grade through the night. No mail is brought to Sussex on the tram now. The mail bag .hooks are gone The big yellow buses take the children to high school. They no longer gather around a red-hot, pot-bellied depot stove on cold mornings,