Tag Archives: Wisconsin

The Milwaukee Road

Chicago – Milwaukee – Saint Paul

1847 – 1986

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I had not heard the term Milwaukee Road in years.  I came across a plaque honoring the rail line when I was looking around Union Station in Chicago.

The railroad started in 1847 as the Milwaukee & Waukesha.  At the time, rail was needed between Milwaukee and the Mississippi River.  Changes came and went, the railroad went into receivership in 1859 and was purchased by another railroad and then combined with still another.  Out of the chaos emerged the Milwaukee and St Paul.  In 1874, the line absorbed the Chicago and Pacific Railroad Company.  The name changed once again to the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul: The Milwaukee Road.

The passenger train was the Hiawatha.  My grandmother told me stories of riding the Hiawatha from St. Paul to Chicago.  It must have been quite the ride for the details flowed smoothly.

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Hiawatha’s “Beavertail”

By the mid 1930’s the Hiawatha added the famed “Beaver Tail” cars.  The streamlined observation cars were a hit, and earned their nickname from the rail car’s shape.

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Milwaukee Road plaque: Union Station, Chicago

Expansion would begin with the Olympian Hiawatha, which ran out to Puget Sound; the Midwest Hiawatha, which ran between Chicago & Omaha; and the Southwest Limited: Chicago-Milwaukee-Kansas City.

There was a burst of ridership after WWII, and the railroad came out of the bankruptcy caused by the Great Depression.  Unfortunately, like much of the railroad industry, hard times returned again.  Between 1971-1974, Milwaukee Road lost $100 million.  After downsizing, selling of track and assets, Milwaukee Road was finally bought by two competitors: Soo Line and C&NW.  By 1986, the Milwaukee Road was on the route to memories.

Today, much of the abandoned Milwaukee Road is now Rails to Trails.


The Battle for The Axe

And the Big Ten West Title

The longest running rivalry in college football.


Iowa Pacific


Iowa Pacific in Milwaukee en route to Saint Paul


Sawmills and Hardware, and Lugosi


Border Battle Weekend

The Minnesota Golden Gophers host the Wisconsin Badgers this weekend at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. The Gophers will be celebrating their 1979 National Championship team on its 40th anniversary. Herb Brooks may be gone, but former players will be honored, and can no doubt be found wandering the rink’s concourse before games and during intermission.

The Gophers defeated North Dakota 4-3 in the title game in Detroit. They had three 70 point scorers on the team: Steve Christoff (77), Don Micheletti (72), and Neal Broten (71). Captain Bill Baker set a program record that year with 54 points from the blue line. Eight members of the 1978-79 Gopher hockey team would join Coach Herb Brooks at the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Prices at the concession stands are said to be at 1979 prices for Saturday’s game. Which makes me ask: Were they really charging $2.00 for a hotdog at the hockey end of Williams Arena back in 1979?

A program note: All University of Minnesota home games will be free to Federal employees & one guest, from now until the government shutdown ends.

Visuals courtesy of Golden Gopher Hockey


January Observation:

Special thanks to the Aldo Leopold Foundation


The Return of The Axe

Minnesota 37, Wisconsin 15

The Minnesota/Wisconsin rivalry is the most played in FBS football. They first met in Minneapolis in 1890, with Minnesota winning 63-0.

On Saturday, the two teams met up for the 128th time. On the line, just like every year since 1948, was Paul Bunyan’s Axe. With a solid win at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, The Axe returns to the University of Minnesota campus for the first time since 2003.

The overall record between the two teams in the border rivalry is 60-60-8.


Golden Gopher Football players with The Axe; Photo credit:(AP/Andy Manis)


Wild River State Park

Along the Saint Croix River, Minnesota Bank


The Saint Croix River

When I was back in Minnesota, I took three kids, ages 11, 13 & 14, camping out to Wild River State Park, which lies along the St Croix River, on the Minnesota side. We had beautiful weather, but it did drop down to the low thirties at night.

We did a lot of hiking, the kids may say that I made them do a lot of hiking, either way… that was the point of getting out. The wildlife was out enjoying the sunshine too, as we spotted turkeys, deer, ruffed grouse, hawks, eagles and plenty of ducks, geese & loons. The kids learned the different croaks of three species of frogs, including the wood frog, which is Alaska’s only frog. They also learned several bird calls. We also did some geocaching, even though an exasperated 11 year old, found that entire endeavor, a complete waste of time.

With three kids, a campfire was mandatory. S’mores, and roasted hotdogs were part of the menu, but I was greatly amused by the kids’ willingness to try out several dried food choices. The freeze dried mac & cheese was a disappointment, the chili a 50/50 deal, and the spaghetti being the overwhelming winner.

I think it is safe to say that my type of camping was a new experience, and this was as close to “glamping” as this wandering Alaskan ever gets. My favorite question of the weekend was: “How do you boil water without a microwave?” I was left speechless. I had picked up a used Coleman stove and lantern, thinking that this would not be the only camping trip I took the kids on. Coleman camping gear is about as bullet proof as gear gets, and the used gear can be picked up at some very reasonable prices. I bought the gear from a guy who had at least a dozen stoves to choose from, and over twenty lanterns! Coleman hoarding?

Pressurizing the stove, I kept getting asked, “Why isn’t it turning on? What’s taking so long? Is it broken?” Alas, I may have taken them out too late. It took some explaining, and I thought I was making progress, but the same questions followed the lantern lighting. My responses were simple, yet widely ignored: “Quiet. Watch the whole process. No, it’s not broken. If the three of you stopped talking at once, you might learn something. It’s the same as the stove. What do you mean you forgot how the stove lit?” In the end, they received a couple of new experiences, if nothing else.


Not the Wild River

Designated a National Scenic Riverway, The St Croix River is one of the original rivers to be protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. The St Croix is 169 miles long, and it’s final 125 miles forms the boundary between Minnesota & Wisconsin. It really is a beautiful river, and would well be worth the time to float.

When we were there, the river was over the flood stage, after the area received the ridiculous April blizzard, which dumped 18″ or so of vile snow. Fishing had opened on the river, but with the high water, it was near impossible for the kids to fish from the bank. Shrubs and small trees which would have been behind you, were now under water in front of you. Snags were commonplace, and I had to wade in to untangle lures on occasion.

Overall, a great little park, with a beautiful setting. Lots of wildlife, trails and most important: 18 miles of the St Croix.


Milwaukee from Amtrak


#3000

The University of Minnesota Golden Gopher hockey team took on The Wisconsin Badgers this weekend in Madison. It was the 3000th game in the program’s history since 1921. The first intercollegiate hockey game was played in 1895 at the University of Minnesota, but the program gained varsity status in 1921.

Minnesota would sweep Wisconsin this past weekend. On Saturday, 15,359 fans watched Minnesota get the sweep, with a 7-1 win at the Kohl Center. Glad to see so many fans pack the Kohl to see Minnesota play #3000. It was also senior night for the Badgers.

Minnesota first played Wisconsin in 1922; Michigan in 1923; Notre Dame in 1925 and the rivalry with North Dakota started in 1930.