The Milwaukee & Northern Main Line – Fort Howard to the Menominee River

The Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) reached Fort Howard, Wisconsin, in 1874.

In 1881, the M&N laid 24.4 miles of track from Fort Howard to a point 1 mile south of Stiles, Wisconsin.

The M&N constructed 15.1 miles of their main line from a point 1 mile south of Stiles to Coleman, Wisconsin, in 1882.

In 1883, the M&N’s main line was extended from Coleman to Wausaukee, Wisconsin, a distance of 22.2 miles.

In 1884, 9.8 miles of track were laid from Wausaukee to Pike, Wisconsin (now Amberg).

The line was extended 20.12 miles from Pike to Station 4852, on the Menominee River (the border of Wisconsin and Michigan), in 1886.

This portion of the main line is still active, operated by the Escanaba & Lake Superior (E&LS or ELS).

Stiles Junction, Wis., was Milepost 141 on the M&N.

The station was listed as Grand Trunk Junction on an 1885 time table, because the intersecting line was laid by the St. Paul Eastern Grand Trunk Railway (StPEGT), operated by the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western (MLS&W), in 1882-3. The nearby community was originally known as Leightown, but was renamed Stiles Junction ca. 1882.

The circa 1882 former M&N/ Chicago & North Western (C&NW) union depot at Stiles Junction, Wis., circa the 1960s. This view is looking southward. Truth be told, I have not found definitive information to specify which railroad erected this union depot. The M&N and C&NW both reached Stiles Junction in 1882. The depot could have been built by either one of them, or both of them jointly. Photograph from the collection of Larry Easton, co-founder of the MNRHS.

The pathetic remnants of the circa 1882 former M&N/ Chicago & North Western (C&NW) union depot at Stiles Junction, Wis., on 18 June 2013. By April of 2015 this depot was gone. This view is looking southward. Truth be told, I have not found definitive information to specify which railroad erected this union depot. The M&N and C&NW both reached Stiles Junction in 1882. The depot could have been built by either one of them, or both of them jointly. Photograph by Richard Hopfensperger.

An E&LS train backs onto the former M&N main line from the remnant of the passing siding at Stiles Junction, Wis., on 20 August 2021. They have just returned from the Oconto Falls Branch, a remnant of the former Chicago & North Western (C&NW) main line. They will now pick up the rest of their train, left at Duame Rd., and continue north. The train is powered by ELS 502 and ELS 402. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

An E&LS train crosses Hwy. 22 as it heads north with 22 cars via the former M&N, main line at Stiles Junction, WI, on 20 August 2021. The train is powered by ELS 502 and ELS 402. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Pembine Junction, Wis., was Milepost 193 (194 on some time tables) on the M&N.

After a brief pause and a horn blast, a Canadian National (CN) train, led by CN 5646, passes the union depot and crosses the junction with the E&LS, originally M&N, main line as it heads southwest via former Soo Line (SOO) rails at Pembine, Wis., on 30 September 2014. The current depot was built ca. 1887, when the SOO laid their tracks across the M&N main line. Some references state it was built in 1896, after the original depot was destroyed when a MILW train collided with a SOO train which was fouling the junction on 29 Jan. 1896. Other references state the damage to the original depot was repaired. One reference claims the depot was built in 1914. This union depot was wantonly destroyed by arson perpetrated by juvenile miscreants on 17 June 2019. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

The northwest side of the Pembine union depot at the junction of E&LS, originally M&N, and Canadian National (CN), former Soo Line (SOO), rails at Pembine, Wis., on 30 September 2014. The current depot was built ca. 1887, when the SOO laid their tracks across the M&N main line. Some references state it was built in 1896, after the original depot was destroyed when a MILW train collided with a SOO train which was fouling the junction on 29 Jan. 1896. Other references state the damage to the original depot was repaired. One reference claims the depot was built in 1914. This ca. 1887 union depot was wantonly destroyed by arson perpetrated by juvenile miscreants on 17 June 2019. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

An E&LS train crosses the junction with the CN, former SOO, rails as it heads northeast with 16 cars via the former M&N main line at Pembine, Wis., on 23 July 2021. The train was led by ELS 501, originally MILW 22. It is awesome to encounter a former MILW locomotive plying former MILW rails. The ca. 1887 union depot would have partially obscured this view of the train, until it was wantonly destroyed by arson perpetrated by juvenile miscreants on 17 June 2019. Photograph by Tom Bruss.