Reminders of the Milwaukee & Northern Main Line – Hilbert Junction to Green Bay

The M&N completed the 27 miles of their main line, from Hilbert Junction, Wis., to Green Bay, Wis., in 1873.

It became the Superior Division of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul (CM&StP), or Milwaukee Road (MILW), on 1 July 1893. It reorganized as the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific (CMStP&P) in 1928.

The majority of this portion of the main line is now the Fox River State Trail. The Canadian National (CN) still owns, and sporadically uses, 2 miles of track from the Hilbert depot to Ott Rd.

The active rails of this portion of the former M&N main line end, and the Fox River State Trail begins, at Ott Rd., Town of Brillion, Calumet Co., Wis.

Looking south along the former M&N main line from Ott Rd., Town of Brillion, Calumet Co., Wis., on 17 May 2021. The ends of the rails lie just beyond the pile of branches. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking north from Ott Rd. along the former M&N right-of-way, Town of Brillion, Calumet Co., Wis., on 17 May 2021. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking north along the former M&N right-of-way at the North Branch of the Manitowoc River, Town of Brillion, Calumet Co., Wis., on 17 May 2021. The timber trestle bridge spans the North Branch of the Manitowoc River. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Forest Junction, Wis., was Milepost 88 on the M&N according to an 1873 timetable; it was Milepost 91 on later timetables.

Looking northeast along the former M&N right-of-way at Forest Junction, Wis., on 17 May 2021. The former Church Rd. grade crossing is in the distance. There used to be a spur running parallel along the west (left) side of the main line here to serve the charcoal kilns of the De Pere Furnace Co., later the National Furnace Co. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking northeast along the former M&N right-of-way at Forest Junction, Wis., on 17 May 2021. Main St. runs parallel to the left. Milwaukee St. used to run parallel to the right, passing in front of the awesome, old buildings in the background. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

A pair of awesome, old buildings, and historic M&N customers, stand along the former M&N right-of-way at Forest Junction, Wis., on 17 May 2021. One is the Graetz & Otto General Store, built in 1884, and the other is the Jeremiah Hunt General Store, built in 1874. By 1888, both stores were owned by Friedrich G. Haese. Years ago, there was talk of using these historic buildings for a museum. Let us hope they follow through, before it is too late. Milwaukee St. used to pass in front of these buildings. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

A forlorn crossbuck still guards a grade crossing of the former M&N right-of-way at Forest Junction, Wis., on 17 May 2021. The awesome, old building in the background is the Jeremiah Hunt General Store, built in 1874 (a historic M&N customer). By 1888, this store and the neighboring store, just out-of-frame to the right, were owned by Friedrich G. Haese. Years ago, there was talk of using these historic buildings for a museum. Let us hope they follow through, before it is too late. The path angling toward the left is the northwestern terminus of the Friendship Trail, which runs to Brillion. That trail is a remnant of the former Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western (MLS&W) right-of-way. That line was originally laid by the Appleton & New London (A&NL) in 1872. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking northeast along the former M&N right-of-way at Forest Junction, Wis., on 17 May 2021. The diamond formed when the M&N crossed the Appleton & New London (A&NL), laid a year earlier, was at the center of this scene. The A&NL was soon sold to the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western (MLS&W). The union depot stood to the left, on the west side of the M&N and the south side of the MLS&W. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking southeast along the former right-of-way of the Appleton & New London (A&NL) (laid in 1872), later Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western (MLS&W), from the former M&N right-of-way, at Forest Junction, Wis., on 17 May 2021. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking northwest along the former right-of-way of the Appleton & New London (A&NL) (laid in 1872), later Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western (MLS&W), from the former M&N right-of-way, at Forest Junction, Wis., on 17 May 2021. The volleyball court straddles the former right-of-way. The union depot stood to the left, on the west side of the M&N and the south side of the MLS&W. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking southwest along the former M&N right-of-way, at Forest Junction, Wis., on 17 May 2021. The diamond formed when the M&N crossed the Appleton & New London (A&NL), laid a year earlier, was near the far edge of the tree line at left. The A&NL was soon sold to the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western (MLS&W). The union depot stood to the right, on the west side of the M&N and the south side of the MLS&W. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Holland Station, Wis., was Milepost 94 on the M&N according to an 1885 timetable.

Looking northeast along the former M&N right-of-way toward Wayside Rd. at Holland Station, Wis., on 17 May 2021. The bridge near the center of the scene crosses a branch or tributary of the East River. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking northeast along the former M&N right-of-way toward Wayside Rd. at Holland Station, Wis., on 17 May 2021. Some old maps depict a siding along the west side of main line. The south turnout was right about here, the north turnout was beyond Wayside Rd. The depot stood at Wayside Rd. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking southwest along the former M&N right-of-way toward Wayside Rd. at Holland Station, Wis., on 17 May 2021. Some old maps depict a siding along the west side of main line. The north turnout was right about here, the south turnout was beyond Wayside Rd. The depot stood at Wayside Rd. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Askeaton Station, Wis., was Milepost 96 on the M&N according to an 1892 timetable.

Looking northeast along the former M&N right-of-way toward Hill Rd./Hwy. Z at Askeaton Station, Wis., on 17 May 2021. Some old maps depict a siding along the west side of main line from Hill Rd. to a point midway between the road and the bridge for a tributary of the East River. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking northeast along the former M&N right-of-way from Hill Rd./Hwy. Z at Askeaton Station, Wis., on 17 May 2021. Some old maps depict a siding along the west side of main line from Hill Rd. to a point midway between the road and the bridge for a tributary of the East River. The depot was depicted near the north end of the siding on some maps, it stood at Hill Rd. on other maps. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking southwest along the  former M&N right-of-way, toward Hill Rd./Hwy. Z at Askeaton Station, Wis., on 17 May 2021. Some old maps depict a siding along the west side of main line from Hill Rd. to a point midway between the road and the bridge for a tributary of the East River. This was the approximate location of the north end of the siding. The depot was depicted near the north end of the siding on some maps, it stood at Hill Rd. on other maps. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

De Pere, Wis., was Milepost 105 on the M&N according to an 1873 timetable; it was Milepost 108 or 109 on later timetables.

Looking north along the former M&N right-of-way from the intersection of William St. and Front St. at De Pere, Wis., on 19 June 2021. The depot stood here, on the west (left) side of the main line, on the north side of William St., with a passing siding running behind (to the left of) the depot. The A. G. Wells Grain Elevator once stood near the right edge of this scene. The awesome ca. 1925 Sinclair gas station to the left was moved here in 2004, when the area’s burgeoning urban sprawl threatened its existence at its original location north of town. It now rests right about where the passing siding would have been. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking southeast at the intersection of William St. and Front St. from the former M&N right-of-way at De Pere, Wis., on 19 June 2021. The former C. A. Lawton Co. foundry and machine shop complex dominates the scene. Founded by Charles Augustus Lawton, a Civil War veteran, in 1879 as the Novelty Manufacturing Co., it would have undoubtedly been a M&N customer. That original factory is still part of this complex. The company’s name was changed to C. A. Lawton in 1886. It was changed to C. A. Lawton & Co. in 1896, when his son became a partner. The firm was incorporated in 1903 as the C. A. Lawton Co., and is still family owned today. This portion of the facility was erected between 1900 and 1914 and was served by the MILW via the large red doors on this corner of the building. Those rails were pulled in 1970, when the C. A. Lawton Co. moved production to a new facility in a nearby industrial park. Thankfully, miraculously, this awesome facility was saved from the wrecking ball and transformed into apartments in 1992. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Green Bay, Wis., was Milepost 109 on the M&N according to an 1873 timetable; it was Milepost 113 on later timetables.

The south and east walls of the former MILW depot, 400 S. Washington St., Green Bay, Wis., on 28 October 2022. This depot was built in 1898, to replace the circa 1873 M&N depot. This depot was designed by Charles Sumner Frost, in the Flemish Renaissance Revival style. The MILW retired this depot after they transferred passenger service to their Oakland yard, where service commenced on 15 January 1958. They donated the depot and land to the City of Green Bay on 17 December 1957. The Milwaukee Road Women’s Club threw a party at this depot on the evening of 11 January 1958 under the name “Operation Farewell.” About 200 active and retired railroad employees and city officials mingled, ate, and danced long into the night. Music was provided by an orchestra from the Bay School of Music. The Chamber of Commerce occupied the building for many years. There have been other tenants from time to time. It is currently home to the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation. The depot is also a stop on the Green Bay Packers’ Heritage Trail. Photograph by Tom Bruss.