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

The M&N constructed the first 77 miles of their main line, from Schwartzburg Junction, Wis., to Hilbert Junction, Wis., in 1870 and 1871. That portion of the main line is still active. The Canadian National (CN) operates from Schwartzburg Junction to Saukville and from Kiel to Hilbert Junction. The Wisconsin & Southern (WSOR) operates from Schwartzburg Junction to Kiel.

A Canadian National (CN) local, led by Grand Trunk Western GTW 4924, services Kaytee Products, Inc., 521 Clay St., via the former Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) main line at Chilton, Wis., on 20 November 2020. The former M&N depot stands to the right. I believe this is the depot built by M&N between the main line and the passing siding at the intersection of Grande St. (now E. Grand St.), Adams St., and Division St. (now E. Main St.). It dates to at least 1892, but I think it may be the original depot from when the line was laid in 1872. The Sanborn maps suggest it was moved about 600 feet to the southeast, its current location, and converted to a freight house after a new depot was built near the original site, but on the southwest side of the main line, between 1904 and 1914. That second depot no longer stands and the site is occupied by Reinl Accounting, 292 E. Grand St. Kaytee Products, Inc., was founded by Nicholas Knauf in Sheboygan, Wis., in 1874 as a grain and feed business. He soon built elevators at Brillion and Chilton, then moved his headquarters to Chilton. The name Kaytee is derived from Knauf & Tesch (K&T), a partnership formed by William N. Knauf (the founder’s son) and Frank Tesch, which took over from Nicholas Knauf circa 1897. They added bird and small animal foods in the 1920s. In 1964 they stopped producing dairy animal feed and have focused on bird and small animal feed ever since. The early village was originally named Stantonville, in honor of Moses Stanton, founder. The land was purchased by John Marygold in 1852 and he changed the name to Chilington, his hometown in England. He sent a request to the county seat, then Stockbridge, to make the name change official. A miscommunication resulted in the middle syllable being lost to history and the name became Chilton.

A Canadian National (CN) local works near the former Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot at Chilton, Wis., on 20 November 2020. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

A Canadian National (CN) local pauses in front of the former Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot at Chilton, Wis., on 20 November 2020. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

A Canadian National (CN) local, led by Grand Trunk Western GTW 4924, pauses in front of the former Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot as it services Kaytee Products, Inc., 521 Clay St., at Chilton, Wis., on 20 November 2020. I believe this is the depot built by M&N between the main line and the passing siding at the intersection of Grande St. (now E. Grand St.), Adams St., and Division St. (now E. Main St.). It dates to at least 1892, but I think it may be the original depot from when the line was laid in 1872. The Sanborn maps suggest it was moved about 600 feet to the southeast, its current location, and converted to a freight house after a new depot was built near the original site, but on the southwest side of the main line, between 1904 and 1914. That second depot no longer stands and the site is occupied by Reinl Accounting, 292 E. Grand St. Kaytee Products, Inc., was founded by Nicholas Knauf in Sheboygan, Wis., in 1874 as a grain and feed business. He soon built elevators at Brillion and Chilton, then moved his headquarters to Chilton. The name Kaytee is derived from Knauf & Tesch (K&T), a partnership formed by William N. Knauf (the founder’s son) and Frank Tesch, which took over from Nicholas Knauf circa 1897. They added bird and small animal foods in the 1920s. In 1964 they stopped producing dairy animal feed and have focused on bird and small animal feed ever since. The early village was originally named Stantonville, in honor of Moses Stanton, founder. The land was purchased by John Marygold in 1852 and he changed the name to Chilington, his hometown in England. He sent a request to the county seat, then Stockbridge, to make the name change official. A miscommunication resulted in the middle syllable being lost to history and the name became Chilton.

A Canadian National (CN) local, led by Grand Trunk Western GTW 4924, pauses in front of the former Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot as it services Kaytee Products, Inc., 521 Clay St., at Chilton, Wis., on 20 November 2020. I believe this is the depot built by M&N between the main line and the passing siding at the intersection of Grande St. (now E. Grand St.), Adams St., and Division St. (now E. Main St.). It dates to at least 1892, but I think it may be the original depot from when the line was laid in 1872. The Sanborn maps suggest it was moved about 600 feet to the southeast, its current location, and converted to a freight house after a new depot was built near the original site, but on the southwest side of the main line, between 1904 and 1914. That second depot no longer stands and the site is occupied by Reinl Accounting, 292 E. Grand St. Kaytee Products, Inc., was founded by Nicholas Knauf in Sheboygan, Wis., in 1874 as a grain and feed business. He soon built elevators at Brillion and Chilton, then moved his headquarters to Chilton. The name Kaytee is derived from Knauf & Tesch (K&T), a partnership formed by William N. Knauf (the founder’s son) and Frank Tesch, which took over from Nicholas Knauf circa 1897. They added bird and small animal foods in the 1920s. In 1964 they stopped producing dairy animal feed and have focused on bird and small animal feed ever since. The early village was originally named Stantonville, in honor of Moses Stanton, founder. The land was purchased by John Marygold in 1852 and he changed the name to Chilington, his hometown in England. He sent a request to the county seat, then Stockbridge, to make the name change official. A miscommunication resulted in the middle syllable being lost to history and the name became Chilton.

A Canadian National (CN) local pauses in front of the former Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot at Chilton, Wis., on 20 November 2020. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

A Canadian National (CN) local passes the former Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot site at Chilton, Wis., on 20 November 2020. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

A Canadian National (CN) local, led by Grand Trunk Western GTW 4924, passes the former site of the Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) and Milwaukee Road (MILW) depots at Chilton, Wis., on 20 November 2020. The former MILW depot stood on this patch of gravel; Reinl Accounting, 292 E. Grand St. (just out-of-frame to the left), currently occupies part of this site. The depot was built on the southwest side of the main line at the intersection of Grande St. (now E. Grand St.), Adams St., and Division St. (now E. Main St.) between 1904 and 1914 (according to the Sanborn maps). This was the former site of the Peter Juckem & Co. Elevator & Warehouse. This new depot replaced the previous depot built by the M&N, which stood between the main line and passing siding (to the right of the locomotive). That previous depot dated to at least 1892, but I think it may have been the original depot from when the line was laid in 1872. The Sanborn maps suggest that the previous depot was moved about 600 feet to the southeast, where it still stands, and converted to a freight house. The awesome, old industrial facility on the right is currently home to JTD Enterprises, Inc., 44 Walnut St. Aluminum Specialty Co., a.k.a. Chilton Aluminum, was the original occupant. Founded at Manitowoc, Wis., they decided to build a second factory at Chilton in 1919, 2 stories, 60 by 200 ft., at a cost of $75,000 ($40,000 for the building and the remainder for equipment). It was built upon the former site of the L. Lindemuth Saw Mill. Other occupants have included Mirro-Foley Co. and Midwest Machine Co. There are remnants of a spur in the pavement, but it hasn’t received rail service for a while. The early village was originally named Stantonville, in honor of Moses Stanton, founder. The land was purchased by John Marygold in 1852 and he changed the name to Chilington, his hometown in England. He sent a request to the county seat, then Stockbridge, to make the name change official. A miscommunication resulted in the middle syllable being lost to history and the name became Chilton.

A Canadian National (CN) local, led by Grand Trunk Western GTW 4924, passes the former site of the Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) and Milwaukee Road (MILW) depots at Chilton, Wis., on 20 November 2020. The former MILW depot stood on the patch of gravel to the left of the locomotive; Reinl Accounting, 292 E. Grand St. (partially visible to the left), currently occupies part of the site. The depot was built on the southwest side of the main line at the intersection of Grande St. (now E. Grand St.), Adams St., and Division St. (now E. Main St.) between 1904 and 1914 (according to the Sanborn maps). It was the former site of the Peter Juckem & Co. Elevator & Warehouse. The new depot replaced the previous depot built by the M&N, which stood between the main line and passing siding (to the right of the locomotive). That previous depot dated to at least 1892, but I think it may have been the original depot from when the line was laid in 1872. The Sanborn maps suggest that the previous depot was moved about 600 feet to the southeast, where it still stands, and converted to a freight house. The local is preparing to spot this covered hopper by the grain bins in the background. The grain facility at 242 E. Grand St., dates to at least 1892, when it was the Chilton Elevator. By 1898, and until at least 1904, Sanborn maps list it as Elevator and Ware Houses, owned and operated by N. Knauf. By 1914 it was the Union Elevator and Ware Houses, Knauf & Tesch Co., proprietors. The facility is currently owned by Kaytee Products, Inc., which was founded by Nicholas Knauf in Sheboygan, Wis., in 1874 as a grain and feed business. He soon built elevators at Brillion and Chilton, then moved his headquarters to Chilton. The name Kaytee is derived from Knauf & Tesch (K&T), a partnership formed by William N. Knauf (the founder’s son) and Frank Tesch, which took over from Nicholas Knauf circa 1897. They added bird and small animal foods in the 1920s. In 1964 they stopped producing dairy animal feed and have focused on bird and small animal feed ever since. The early village was originally named Stantonville, in honor of Moses Stanton, founder. The land was purchased by John Marygold in 1852 and he changed the name to Chilington, his hometown in England. He sent a request to the county seat, then Stockbridge, to make the name change official. A miscommunication resulted in the middle syllable being lost to history and the name became Chilton.

A Canadian National (CN) local passes the former Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot site at Chilton, Wis., on 20 November 2020. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

The Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot at Elkhart Lake, Wis., on 30 May 2020. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

The southwest and southeast walls of the 1871 Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot at Elkhart Lake, Wis., on 30 May 2020. Some references state that it was built in 1870, others say 1872. It is currently home to Off the Rail, a café at 44 Gottfried St. Some references state that the depot was moved to this spot for use by the feed mill after the 1897 Milwaukee Road (MILW) depot (out-of-frame to the right) was completed. I hope to find additional information in order to confirm, or refute, that belief.

The northwest and southwest walls of the 1871 Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot at Elkhart Lake, Wis., on 30 May ’20. It is currently home to Off the Rail, a café at 44 Gottfried St. Some references state that the depot was moved to this spot for use by the feed mill after the 1897 Milwaukee Road (MILW) depot (partially visible in the background to the right) was completed. I hope to find additional information in order to confirm, or refute, that belief.

The Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot and the Milwaukee Road (MILW) depot at Elkhart Lake, Wis., on 30 May 2020. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

The Milwaukee Road (MILW) depot at Elkhart Lake, Wis., on 15 July 2015. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

The northeast and northwest walls of Milwaukee Road (MILW) depot at Elkhart Lake, Wis., on 15 July 2014. It was built in 1897, in the Queen Anne style, to replace the original 1871 Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot (out-of-frame to the right). The MILW closed the depot in 1968. The Elkhart Lake Historical Society organized in 1969 with the goal of acquiring and preserving the depot; they purchased it from the MILW in 1970 for $5,000. After some restoration, it opened as a museum and gift shop on 27 June 1971. On 13 June 1976, the depot was recognized as an official Sheboygan County landmark.

A Wisconsin & Southern (WSOR) crew approaches Hwy. A/Hickory Ln./Kettle Moraine Scenic Dr. as it sorts cars at the passing siding along the former Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) main line parallel to Hwy. 67/Lincoln St. at Elkhart Lake, Wis., on 17 October 2015. The train had three locomotives, WSOR 3809 (GP38-2), WSOR 3813 (GP38-2), and WSOR 3803 (GP38). The main line from Elkhart Lake to Kiel is primarily used for freight car storage now.

A Wisconsin & Southern (WSOR) crew sorts cars on the passing siding along the former Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) main line at Elkhart Lake, Wis., on 17 October 2015. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Former site of the Milwaukee & Northern (M&N) depot at Kiel, Wis., on 30 May 2020. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

Looking southeast at Fremont St., toward the former site of the Milwaukee & Northern (M&N), later Milwaukee Road (MILW), depot at Kiel, Wis., on 30 May ’20. This portion of the M&N main line is currently owned by Canadian National (CN). When the depot was closed in 1970, the MILW offered to sell the building for $2,000 and rent the land under it for $160 per year. A local resident expressed the desire to purchase it, fix it up, and wait for someone interested in using it. I haven’t learned how that turned out or what ultimately happened to the depot. I’m not sure if this was the original depot, or a newer one. If it was the original, it was moved (1894, 1900, 1911 Sanborn maps depict the depot on the other side of the tracks), expanded, and remodeled. There was a station sign here up until a couple of years ago, the post still stands in the background to the left of the platform. The historic J. B. Laun Lumber Co. stands at the far left. Jacob B. Laun purchased an existing lumber yard from Fredrick Griebenow and William Reseburg in 1884. The awesome cream colored brick building, designed by Walter F. Neumann, was built in 1924 (according to wisconsinhistory.org.). I haven’t learned when the lumber yard closed, but it operated until at least 1998.