Wisconsin railroad timeline: 19th century

Railroad history in Wisconsin begins in earnest in the 1830s, not long after the first railroads were chartered and built on the East Coast. The century saw rapid expansion throughout the state with a large number of railroads chartered and building new lines to a majority of the towns in the state. This period is also marked with a number of mergers and acquisitions as less profitable entities were absorbed into (usually) larger systems. By the end of the century, the railroad scene in Wisconsin would be very familiar to most viewers.

Entries in this timeline with a pale yellow background are related to model railroading events in Wisconsin. Specific sources are listed in parentheses after the associated events.

19th century

1831-1840

  • September 17, 1836 - A public meeting is held in Milwaukee to discuss proposals for a railroad across the Wisconsin Territory to the Mississippi River. Those attending the meeting resolve to petition the territorial legislature to establish a railroad that would build from Milwaukee through or as close as possible to Mineral Point and eventually to the Mississippi River. (Lanz 1998, p 3; Meyer 1898, p 207)
  • December 3, 1836 - The La Fontaine Rail Road is chartered to build a railroad between Winnebago and La Fontaine. (Meyer 1898, p 293)
  • December 7, 1836 - The DuBuque (sic) & Belmont Railroad is chartered to build a railroad connection from Belmont, then the territorial capital, to an as yet undetermined point on the Mississippi River. (Lanz 1998, p 3; Meyer 1898, p 294).
  • 1837 - Territorial representative George Wallace Jones presents a proposal to the U.S. Congress from the Wisconsin Territory to survey the route for a railroad from Wisconsin through Dubuque to San Francisco, California. The presentation was reported to be received with laughter among Congress. (Lanz 1998, p 3)
  • January 11, 1838 - The Root River Railroad is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 294)
  • March 6, 1839 - The Pekatonica (sic) & Mississippi Railroad is chartered to build a railroad from Mineral Point to the Mississippi River at a point in Grant County. (Lanz 1998, p 3; Meyer 1898, 9 294)
  • January 8, 1840 - The Michigan & Rock River Railroad is chartered to build a railroad from the intersection of the Rock River and the Illinois border to a Southport on Lake Michigan. (Meyer 1898, p 294)

1841-1850

  • December 10, 1841 - In his annual address to the state, Governor Doty uses the speech to argue against the construction of the Rock River Canal and instead for the construction of a railroad from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. (Meyer 1898, p 231).
  • 1842 - At a railroad planning meeting held in Madison, Moses M. Strong argued strongly for the development of a railroad to connect the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes asserting that the railroad's utility in hauling iron ore from southwest Wisconsin could earn as much as $150,000 in revenue annually. (Lanz 1998, p 3)
  • November 23 1843 - Henry C. Payne, who would become president of the Wisconsin Telephone Company, First National Bank of Milwaukee, Milwaukee & Northern Railroad, Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company, Milwaukee & Cream City Traction Company, American Street Railway Association, and receiver for the Northern Pacific Railway, is born in Ashfield, Massachusetts.
  • January 13, 1844 - A Wisconsin House of Representatives report detailed the desire of Wisconsin residents to build a railroad connecting the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes as an overland link between the waterways connecting the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (Lanz 1998, p 3)
  • 1845 - Asa Whitney begins an exploration survey from Milwaukee westward in an effort to find a practical railroad route to the Pacific Ocean. (Lanz 1998, p 4; Meyer 1898, p 250)
  • January 25, 1847 - The Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Railroad is chartered to build a railroad between its namesake cities. (Meyer 1898, p 295)
  • February 4, 1847 - The Lake Michigan & Mississippi Railroad is chartered to connect the two waterways by rail. (Meyer 1898, p 295)
  • February 10, 1847 - The Fond du Lac & Beaver Dam Railroad is chartered to build a railroad from an unspecified point in Fond du Lac County to a point near Beaver Dam. (Meyer 1898, p 295)
  • February 11, 1847 - The Milwaukee & Waukesha Railroad is incorporated. It soon reorganized as the Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad. (Meyer 1898, p 295-6)
  • August 19, 1848 - The Madison & Beloit Railroad is incorporated to build a railroad from Madison through Janesville to Beloit. (RLHS 1937, p 14; Meyer 1898, p 296)
  • August 19, 1848 - The Beloit & Taycheedah Railroad is chartered to connect its namesake towns by rail. (Meyer 1898, p 296)
  • 1850 - The Milwaukee & Mississippi Rail Road completes 10 miles of new track between Milwaukee and Elm Grove via Wauwatosa. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24) The first freight train is operated from Milwaukee to Wauwatosa. (WisDOT Timeline)
  • February 9, 1850 - The Madison & Beloit Railroad is renamed to Rock River Valley Union Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 14; Meyer 1898, p 296)
  • February 9, 1850 - The Shullsburg Branch Railroad is chartered to build a railroad from Shullsburg to an unspecified point on the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad. (Meyer 1898, p 296)
  • February 9, 1850 - The Madison, Waterford & Kenosha Railroad is chartered to build a railroad from Kenosha to an unspecified interchange with any railroad in Rock County. (Meyer 1898, p 296)

1851-1860

  • 1851 - The Milwaukee & Mississippi Rail Road completes construction of 10.7 miles of new track from Elm Grove to Waukesha. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1851 - The Illinois & Wisconsin Railroad is chartered. (NPS HAER WI-13, p 5)
  • February 10, 1851 - The Potosi & Dodgeville Railroad is chartered to build a railroad between its namesake towns. (Meyer 1898, p 297)
  • February 17, 1851 - The Illinois Parallel Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 15)
  • February 21, 1851 - The Milwaukee & Fond du Lac Railroad is chartered to build a railroad from Milwaukee through Iron Ridge to Fond du Lac. (Meyer 1898, p 297)
  • February 25, 1851 - The first passenger train is operated on the Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad. (Meyer 1898, p 216)
  • March 11, 1851 - The Madison & Swan Lake Railroad is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 297)
  • March 11, 1851 - The Milwaukee & Watertown Railroad is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 297)
  • March 13, 1851 - The Green Bay, Milwaukee & Chicago Rail Road is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 15; Meyer 1898, p 297)
  • March 13, 1851 - The Fort Winnebago, Baraboo Valley & Minnesota Railroad is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 297)
  • March 15, 1851 - The Manitowoc & Mississippi Railroad is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 297)
  • March 17, 1851 - The Delavan Railroad is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 298)
  • 1852 - The Milwaukee & Mississippi Rail Road completes construction of 41.5 miles of new track from Waukesha to Milton. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • January 7, 1852 - The Illinois & Wisconsin Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 14)
  • February 18, 1852 - The Beloit & Madison Rail Road is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 15; Meyer 1898, p 298)
  • March 8, 1852 - The Sheboygan & Mississippi Rail Road is incorporated to build a railroad to an unspecified point on the Mississippi River. (RLHS 1937, p 15; Meyer 1898, p 298)
  • March 23, 1852 - The Cascade & Lake Michigan Railroad is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 298)
  • March 23, 1852 - The Fond du Lac, Beaver Dam, Columbus & Madison Railroad is chartered to connect its namesake cities. (Meyer 1898, p 298)
  • March 24, 1852 - The Madison & Prairie du Chien Railroad is chartered to connect its namesake cities. (Meyer 1898, p 298)
  • March 24, 1852 - The Green Bay & Lake Superior Railroad is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 298)
  • April 2, 1852 - The La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad is chartered to connect its namesake cities. (Meyer 1898, p 298)
  • April 10, 1852 - The Southern Wisconsin Rail Road is chartered to connect to an unspecified point on the Mississippi River. (Meyer 1898, p 299)
  • April 14, 1852 - The Madison, Ft. Atkinson & Whitewater Railroad is chartered to connect its namesake cities. (Meyer 1898, p 299)
  • April 16, 1852 - The Portage City, Stevens Point & Wausau Railroad is chartered to connect its namesake cities. (Meyer 1898, p 299)
  • April 17, 1852 - The Racine, Janesville & Mississippi Railroad is chartered to connect its namesake cities to the Mississippi River (Meye 1898, p 299)
  • April 17, 1852 - The Mineral Point Railroad is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 299)
  • April 17, 1852 - The Northwestern Railroad is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 299)
  • April 17, 1852 - The Milwaukee & Horicon Rail Road is chartered to connect its namesake cities. (Meyer 1898, p 299)
  • 1853 - The Southern Wisconsin Rail Road completes 8.1 miles of new track from Milton to Janesville. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1853 - The Milwaukee & Mississippi Rail Road completes construction of 18½ miles of track from Milton to Stoughton. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • February 5, 1853 - The Illinois Parallel Railroad is reorganized as the Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 15)
  • February 11, 1853 - The Watertown & Berlin Railroad is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 300)
  • February 28, 1853 - The Michigan & Wisconsin Transit Rail Road is chartered to build a railroad between Manitowoc and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. (Meyer 1898, p 274 and 300)
  • March 4, 1853 - The Kenosha & Beloit Railroad is chartered to connect its namesake cities. (RLHS 1937, p 16; Meyer 1898, p 300)
  • March 4, 1853 - Wisconsin Central Railway is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 300)
  • March 7, 1853 - The Green Bay & Minnesota Railroad is chartered. (Meyer 1898, p 300)
  • 1854 - The Rock River Valley Union Railroad, a Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary, completes a 29-mile line from Minnesota Junction to Fond du Lac. (RLHS 1937, p 8)
  • 1854 - The Milwaukee & Mississippi Rail Road completes construction of 15½ miles of track from Stoughton to Madison. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1854 - The La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad completes construction of 8 miles of track from Chestnut St. in Milwaukee to North Milwaukee. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1855 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Chicago, St. Paul & Fond du Lac Rail Road completes construction of 21 miles of track between Carey, Illinois, and Janesville. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • 1855 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Green Bay, Chicago & Milwaukee Rail Road completes construction of 40.4 miles of track from Milwaukee to the Illinois border. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • 1855 - La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad completes construction of 44.7 miles of track from North Milwaukee to Horicon. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1855 - Milwaukee & Horicon Rail Road completes construction of 14 miles of track from Horicon to Waupun. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1855 - Milwaukee & Watertown Railroad completes construction of 31.8 miles of track from Brookfield to Watertown. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1855 - Racine & Mississippi Rail Road completes construction of 46¾ miles of track from Racine to Delevan. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • July 5, 1855 - The Rock River Valley Union Railroad and the Illinois & Wisconsin Railroad are merged to form the Chicago, St. Paul & Fond du Lac Rail Road. (RLHS 1937, p 14)
  • 1856 - Racine & Mississippi Rail Road completes construction of 22.6 miles of track from Delevan to Beloit. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1856 - La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad completes construction of 47.6 miles of track from Horicon to Portage. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1856 - Milwaukee & Horicon Rail Road completes construction of 15 miles of track from Waupun to Ripon. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1856 - Milwaukee & Mississippi Rail Road completes construction of 71 miles of track from Madison to Boscobel. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1856 - Sheboygan & Mississippi Rail Road begins construction westward from Sheboygan. (Harnack, p 26)
  • June 3, 1856 - Two land grants are made: one to the La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad, the other to the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Railroad. (UW Bulletin 1899, p 98)
  • August 20, 1856 - The Ontonagon & State Line Rail Road is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 14)
  • October 11, 1856 - The Wisconsin & Superior Rail Road is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 14)
    An 1857 ad for rail travel through Wisconsin
    An advertisement promoting railroad travel across Wisconsin in 1857.
  • 1857 - Milwaukee & Horicon Rail Road completes construction of 12 miles of track from Ripon to Berlin. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1857 - Milwaukee & Mississippi Rail Road completes construction of two new lines: 28 miles from Boscobel to Prairie du Chien, and 34 miles from Janesville to Monroe. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1857 - La Crosse & Milwaukee Rail Road completes construction of two new lines: 43 miles from Portage to New Lisbon, and 18.8 miles from Watertown to Columbus. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1857 - Watertown & Madison Railroad completes construction of 24½ miles of track from Watertown to Sun Prairie. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1857 - Mineral Point Rail Road completes construction of 31¼ miles of track from the Illinois border to Mineral Point. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • January 16, 1857 - The Marquette & State Line Rail Road is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 14)
  • January 20, 1857 - The Kenosha & Rockford Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 15)
  • February 12, 1857 - The Chicago, St. Paul & Fond du Lac Rail Road is reorganized. (RLHS 1937, p 14)
  • February 14, 1857 - The Kenosha & Beloit Railroad is reorganized as the Kenosha & Rockford Railroad. Note that this was a separate company from that of the same name incorporated a month earlier. (RLHS 1937, p 15-16)
  • March 2, 1857 - The Galena & Southern Wisconsin Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • March 5, 1857 - The Kenosha, Rocford & Rock Island Rail Road is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 15)
  • March 6, 1857 - The Green Bay, Milwaukee & Chicago Rail Road is reorganized as the Milwaukee & Chicago Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 15)
  • March 6, 1857 - The La Crosse, Trempeleau & Prescott Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 16)
  • April 13, 1857 - The Wisconsin & Superior Rail Road is consolidated into the Chicago, St. Paul & Fond du Lac Rail Road. (RLHS 1937, p 14)
  • April 15, 1857 - Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad completes its line to Prairie du Chien. (Molldrem and McCoy, 4th quarter 1998, p 12)
  • May 18, 1857 - The Ontonagon & State Line Rail Road is consolidated into the Chicago, St. Paul & Fond du Lac Rail Road. (RLHS 1937, p 14)
  • May 19, 1857 - The Marquette & State Line Rail Road is consolidated into the Chicago, St. Paul & Fond du Lac Rail Road. (RLHS 1937, p 14)
  • May 21, 1857 - The Chicago, St. Paul & Fond du Lac Rail Road is reincorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 14)
  • September 8, 1857 - Both Kenosha & Rockford Railroad companies are merged into the Kenosha, Rockford & Rock Island Rail Road. (RLHS 1937, p 15-16)
  • October 1, 1857 - The La Crosse Railroad is leased to Selah Chamberlain. (NYT, 20 March 1861)
  • 1858 - La Crosse & Milwaukee Rail Road completes construction of 61.3 miles of track from New Lisbon to North La Crosse. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • January 26, 1858 - A supplemental deed of trust is made for the La Crosse Railroad limiting the company's bond liability to $4 million. (NYT, 20 March 1861)
  • October 14, 1858 - The whole line between Milwaukee and La Crosse is officially opened for traffic with a dedication train carrying dignitaries that operates over the entire route from east to west. (Johnson, p 47)
  • March 9, 1859 - Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad's Milton Branch conductor George Price is seriously injured in a work-related collision. He was riding the rear of an unoccupied passenger car being pushed around a curve toward Milton when the train he was on struck a stationary freight car loaded with lumber on the same track. Price died from his injuries on March 23 and is buried next to the mainline in North Prairie. (Adler 2009)
  • March 14, 1859 - The Chicago & North Western Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 15)
  • 1859 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of three lines: 57 miles between Janesville and Minnesota Junction and 17 miles between Fond du Lac and Oshkosh. (RLHS 1937, p 8)
  • 1859 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Sheboygan & Mississippi Rail Road completes construction of 13.9 miles between Sheboygan and Plymouth. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11; Harnack, p 26)
  • 1859 - Racine & Mississippi Railroad completes construction of 0.27 miles of track from Beloit to the Illinois border. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1859 - The La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad files for bankruptcy. (NYT, 17 Sept 1863)
  • July 1, 1859 - The Chicago & North Western Railway purchases the Chicago, St. Paul & Fond du Lac Rail Road. (RLHS 1937, p 14-15)
  • 1860 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Beloit & Madison Rail Road completes construction of 16.1 miles of track between Beloit and Magnolia. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • 1860 - Ripon & Wolf River Railroad completes construction of 9.6 miles of track from Rush Lake Junction to Omro. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • March 29, 1860 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Sheboygan & Mississippi Rail Road completes construction of 5.7 miles of track between Plymouth and Glenbeulah. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)

1861-1870

  • 1861 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of 20 miles of track between Oshkosh and Appleton. (RLHS 1937, p 8)
  • 1861 - Regular service on the Ripon & Wolf River Railroad is reduced to three times per week. The line's president, Chauncey Bigelow, and Seward Cady of Omro begin meeting the evening train at Rush Lake with a handcar to get the daily mail and express deliveries for Omro. (Easton 2007, p 4)
  • 1861 - The Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad is reorganized as the Milwaukee & Prairie du Chien Railroad. (Molldrem and McCoy, 4th quarter 1998, p 12)
  • March 2, 1861 - Samuel L. Benson purchases the Sheboygan & Mississippi Rail Road. (RLHS 1937, p 15)
  • March 19, 1861 - The Sheboygan & Mississippi Rail Road is reorganized and incorporated as the Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Rail Road. (RLHS 1937, p 15-16)
  • September 3, 1861 - At a meeting of bondholders, the principals in the La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad establish an agreement to reorganize the railroad through foreclosure. (NYT, 17 Sep 1863)
  • October 1, 1861 - The reorganization plan for the La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad is officially adopted at the bondholders meeting; the company is to be renamed as the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad with trustees Francis Vose, Isaac Seymour, Horace Galpin, Mr. Dawson, D. M. Hughes and Mr. Gould. (NYT, 17 Sep 1863)
  • October 3, 1861 - The trustees of the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad execute a trust deed to take over the former La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad. (NYT 17 Sep 1863)
  • 1862 - Building northward from Milwaukee, Chicago & North Western Railway tracks reach Green Bay. The railway completed the 28.4 mile section from Appleton to Fort Howard. (RLHS 1937, p 8)
  • 1862 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Kenosha, Rockford & Rock Island Railroad completes construction of 28 miles of track between Kenosha and Rockford, Illinois. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • September 18, 1862 - The Beloit & Madison Rail Road is reorganized. (RLHS 1937, p 15)
  • October 23, 1862 - A suit is brought to Wisconsin Supreme Court to prevent the trustees of the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad from dismissing Francis Vose as a trustee and to instead expel all trustees except Vose; the suit claims that Vose was excluded from company proceedings following the 1861 trust deed. (NYT, 17 Sep 1863)
  • 1863 - The West Wisconsin Railway is chartered. (Grant 1986, p 20)
  • 1863 - The Tomah & Lake St. Croix Railroad is organized. (NPS HAER WI-13, p 5)
  • June 22, 1863 - The Milwaukee & Chicago Railroad merges with the Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad to form the Chicago & Milwaukee Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 15)
  • June 23, 1863 - The Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway purchases the Milwaukee & Horicon Railroad
  • October 30, 1863 - The Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway purchases the Ripon & Wolf River Railroad. (Easton 2007, p 4)
  • 1864 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Beloit & Madison Rail Road completes construction of 31.8 miles of track between Magnolia and Madison. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • 1864 - Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway completes construction of three new lines: 28.2 miles between Columbus and Portage, 13 miles from Milwaukee via West Allis to Brookfield, and a 0.3 mile extension in Berlin. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • January 7, 1864 - The Kenosha, Rockford & Rock Island Rail Road is sold to new owners. (RLHS 1937, p 15-16)
  • January 8, 1864 - The Dixon, Rockford & State Line Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 16)
  • January 15, 1864 - The Kenosha & State Line Railroad is organized by the investors that purchased the Kenosha, Rockford & Rock Island Rail Road a week earlier. (RLHS 1937, p 15-16)
  • January 19, 1864 - The Kenosha & State Line Railroad is merged with the Dixon, Rockford & State Line Railroad to form the Dixon, Rockford & Kenosha Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 15-16)
  • January 23, 1864 - The Dixon, Rockford & Kenosha Railway, organized four days earlier, is incorporated and deeded to the Chicago & North Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 15-16)
  • March 9, 1864 - The Madison, Lodi & Baraboo Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • June 20, 1864 - The Chicago & North Western Railway is reincorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 15-16)
  • November 13, 1865 - Regular train service is reinaugurated from Omro to Milwaukee, now using Milwaukee & St. Paul trains. (Easton 2007, p 5)
  • 1866 - Fox Lake Railroad completes construction of 2.7 miles of track from Fox Lake Junction to Fox Lake. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1866 - The West Wisconsin Railway assumes control of the Tomah & Lake St. Croix Railroad. (NPS HAER WI-13, p 5)
  • 1866 - Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Rail Road begins construction on an extension from Glenbeulah to Fond du Lac. (Harnack, p 27)
  • April 9, 1866 - The Appleton & New London Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 16)
  • 1867 - The Tomah & Lake St. Croix Railroad begins construction. (NPS HAER WI-13, p 5)
  • 1867 - The Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway fully incorporates the Milwaukee & Prairie du Chien Railroad. (Molldrem and McCoy, 4th quarter 1998, p 12)
  • November 4, 1867 - At a meeting of the Board of Directors for the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway, a resolution is passed to extend the line from Omro to Oshkosh, based on Oshkosh's contribution of $50,000 and land for the right of way and station grounds in Oshkosh. (Easton 2007, p 6)
  • 1868 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Rail Road completes construction of 23.4 miles of track between Glenbeulah and Fond du Lac. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11; Harnack, p 27, asserts that this extension was completed in 1869)
  • 1868 - Dubuque, Platteville & Milwaukee Railroad completes construction of 9.6 miles of track from Calamine to Belmont. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1868 - The West Wisconsin Railway begins operations. (Grant 1986, p 20)
  • April 1868 - Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway begins construction on the swing bridge in Omro. (Easton 2007, p 8)
  • August 31, 1868 - Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway completes construction of 5.3 miles of track from Omro to Winneconne and the Muskego Yard Cut-Off in Milwaukee. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24) The first train to Winneconne arrives and then departs the town with four carloads of lumber. (Easton 2007, p 8)
  • September 10, 1868 - The Milwauke & St. Paul Railway holds official opening ceremonies for the newly completed Winneconne branch. (Easton 2007, p 8)
  • 1869 - Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway completes construction of 6.2 miles of track from Grand Avenue Junction to North Milwaukee and 12 miles of track from Sun Prairie to Madison. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1870 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary La Crosse, Trempeleau & Prescott Railroad completes construction of 28.9 miles between Winona Junction (then known as Tower WJ) and Winona, Minnesota. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • 1870 - Madison & Portage Railroad completes construction of 33 miles of track between its namesake cities. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1870 - The Western Union Rail Road completes construction of 16.6 miles of track from Elkhorn to Eagle. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1870 - Dubuque, Platteville & Milwaukee Railroad completes construction of 7½ miles of track from Belmont to Platteville. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24)
  • 1870 - The Milwaukee & Northern Railway is chartered to build a railroad line from Milwaukee northerly to a point on the Fox River south of Appleton, and to eventually extend the line north to Lake Superior. (Harnack, p 31)
  • March 8, 1870 - The Baraboo Airline Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • March 10, 1870 - The Milwaukee, Manitowoc & Green Bay Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 16)
  • August 11, 1870 - The first train arrives in Eau Claire. (Follmar 2008, p 21)
  • September 9, 1870 - Baraboo Airline Railroad acquires the Madison, Lodi & Baraboo Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • October 1870 - West Wisconsin Railway completes the wooden high bridge over the Chippewa River. (Follmar 2008, p 22)
  • November 1870 - The Milwaukee & Northern Railway completes construction of 13.7 miles of track from North Milwaukee to Cedarburg. (RLHS 1937, p 20 and 24; Harnack, p 31)

1871-1880

  • 1871 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of four lines in Wisconsin: 49.45 miles between Fort Howard (Green Bay) and Marinette, 35.4 miles from Fond du Lac to Princeton through subsidiary Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Rail Road, 8.7 miles from Genoa to Lake Geneva through subsidiary State Line & Union Railroad, and 21.3 miles between Manitowoc and Brillion through subsidiary Appleton & New London Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • 1871 - The Oshkosh & Mississippi River Railroad completes construction of 19 miles of track from Ripon to Oshkosh. (RLHS 1937, p 21 and 24)
  • 1871 - The Wisconsin Union Railroad completes construction of two lines: 37.6 miles from Reed Street in Milwaukee to the Illinois border, and the Bay View Spur in Milwaukee. (RLHS 1937, p 21 and 24)
  • 1871 - Milwaukee & Northern Railway completes construction of 79 miles of track from Cedarburg via Hilbert Junction to Menasha. (RLHS 1937, p 21 and 24)
  • 1871 - West Wisconsin Railway expands its Eau Claire shops. (Follmar 2008, p 23)
  • January 10, 1871 - Chicago & North Western Railway purchases the Beloit & Madison Rail Road. (RLHS 1937, p 15-16)
  • January 19, 1871 - West Wisconsin Railway inaugurates regular passenger train service to Eau Claire. (Follmar 2008, p 23)
  • February 1871 - Wisconsin Central Railway is established by an act of the Wisconsin State Legislature and incorporated.
  • February 25, 1871 - The Milwaukee & Northwestern Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 16)
  • March 2, 1871 - The State Line & Union Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 16)
  • March 10, 1871 - Chicago & North Western Railway purchases the Baraboo Airline Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • August 1871 - West Wisconsin Railway purchases three new locomotives, raising the number of locomotives owned by the railway to five. (Follmar 2008, p 26-27)
  • September 24, 1871 - Fire destroys the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway depot in Winneconne. Newspaper reports indicate that 25 tons of freight, three cars and all of the line's financial documents are also destroyed by the fire. (Easton 2007, p 10-11)
  • November 1871 - A new depot is opened in Winneconne to replace the structure that was burned in September. (Easton 2007, p 11)
  • Fall 1871 - West Wisconsin Railway purchases four new locomotives, increasing its roster to nine locomotives. (Follmar 2008, p 26-27)
  • 1872 - The Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad inaugurates the first passenger train service between Chicago and Minneapolis as train numbers 1 and 4.
  • 1872 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Milwaukee, Manitowoc & Green Bay Railroad completes construction of 48.5 miles of track between Lake Shore Junction and Sheboygan. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • 1872 - Chicago & north Western Railway subsidiary Appleton & New London Railway completes construction of 20 miles of track between Brillion and a point one mile east of Appleton. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • 1872 - West Wisconsin Railway expands its Eau Claire shops for the second time since opening in 1870. (Follmar 2008, p 23) The railroad's car construction shops are moved from Eau Claire to Hudson. (NPS HAER WI-13, p 4)
  • 1872 - North Wisconsin Railway opens between Hudson and New Richmond. (Follmar 2008, p 24)
  • 1872 - West Wisconsin Railway purchases five new locomotives, bringing its roster of locomotives to fourteen. (Follmar 2008, p 26-27)
  • February 1872 - West Wisconsin Railway opens a connection to the St. Paul, Stillwater & Taylors Falls Railroad, linking Eau Claire to St. Paul by rail. (Follmar 2008, p 23)
  • May 3, 1872 - The Milwaukee & Northwestern Railway is reorganized as the Northwestern Union Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 16)
  • June 1, 1872 - The Milwaukee, Manitowoc & Green Bay Railroad purchases a line of the Appleton & New London Railway that connected Manitowoc and Appleton; the railroad is reorganized as the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 16)
  • October 21, 1872 - The Chicago & Tomah Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • 1873 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of 216.9 miles of track on three lines: 129.1 miles between Madison and Tower WJ (Winona Junction), 62.6 miles between Milwaukee and Fond du Lac through subsidiary Northwestern Union Railway, and 25.2 miles between Sheboygan and Manitowoc though subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11) CNW also removes 3 miles of track from Syene to South Madison. (RLHS 1937, p 10)
  • 1873 - Milwaukee & Northern Railway completes construction of 27 miles of track from Hilbert Junction to Green Bay. (RLHS 1937, p 21 and 24; Harnack p 31)
  • 1873 - Wisconsin Valley Railroad completes construction of 45 miles of track from Tomah to Wisconsin Rapids. (RLHS 1937, p 21 and 24)
  • 1874 - The Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad is reorganized as the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. (Molldrem and McCoy, 4th quarter 1998, pp 12-13)
  • 1874 - The narrow gauge Galena & Southern Wisconsin Railroad begins operating between Galena, Illinois, and Platteville, Wisconsin.
  • 1874 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of three lines in Wisconsin: 21.2 miles between Galena, Illinois, and Platteville through subsidiary Galena & Southern Wisconsin Railway, 6.3 miles between Two Rivers Junction and Two Rivers through subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railroad, and the 1 mile segment from Appleton to the line from Brillion just to the east through subsidiary Appleton & New London Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • 1874 - The Potter Law is enacted in Wisconsin setting freight rates for shipments by rail; railroad companies protest that the assigned rates are unreasonably low and both Alexander Mitchell (president of Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad) and Albert Keep (president of Chicago & North Western Railway) send letters to governor Taylor that they intend to ignore the new law and continue charging the same rates as before. (Stover 1997, p 120)
  • 1874 - The Fond du Lac, Amboy & Peoria Railway is incorporated. (Hilton 1990, p 557)
  • 1874 - The Fond du Lac & Whitewater Railway is incorporated. (Hilton 1990, p 557)
  • 1874 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of the "Airline" Subdivision, connecting Milwaukee to Tower NW in Fond du Lac. (Harnack, p 27)
  • 1874 - Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad completes construction of the pontoon bridge across the Mississippi River to connect Prairie du Chien and Marquette, Iowa. (Molldrem and McCoy, 4th quarter 1998, p 13)
  • December 17, 1874 - The Chippewa Falls & Western Railroad opens for service between Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire. (Follmar 2008, p 23)
  • 1875 - The Fond du Lac, Amboy & Peoria Railway and the Fond du Lac & Whitewater Railway merge, keeping the former's name for the merged company. (Hilton 1990, p 557)
  • January 1, 1875 - West Wisconsin Railway enters receivership after it fails to pay the interest on bonds due that day. (Follmar 2008, p 23)
  • February 9, 1875 - The Menominee River Railroad is organized. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • December 10, 1875 - A one mile section of the Appleton & New London Railway in Appleton is sold to the organizers of the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 16)
  • December 11, 1875 - The Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • 1876 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of 19.9 miles of track between Appleton and New London though subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • 1876 - Wisconsin railroads and the state reach a compromise on the Potter Law regulating rail freight rates; railroads agree to adopt the rates, but provide substandard service at those rates. (Stover 1997, p 120)
  • 1876 - Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad completes its bridge across the Mississippi River at La Crosse. (Follmar 2008, p 25)
  • Spring 1876 - Construction begins on the Fond du Lac, Amboy & Peoria Railway but is soon halted due to the railroad's failure to pay the construction contractors. (Hilton 1990, p 557)
  • 1877 - Wisconsin Central Railway tracks reach Ashland.
  • 1877 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of 8.5 miles of track between Ipswitch and a point south of Rewey through subsidiary Galena & Southern Wisconsin Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • 1877 - Two drunk brakemen for the West Wisconsin Railway take a locomotive from Eau Claire and use it to travel eastward one mile to visit a prostitute. When they return with the locomotive to Eau Claire, they crash into a caboose which in turn pushes a flat car through the door at the shops building. (Follmar 2008, p 23)
  • 1877 - Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Rail Road and Milwaukee & Northern Railway end their trackage rights agreement that allowed the M&N to operate over S&FdL tracks to Sheboygan and also to Fond du Lac. (Harnack, p 31)
  • September 6, 1877 - Chicago & North Western Railway purchases the La Crosse, Trempeleau & Prescott Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 15)
  • 1878 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of 31.4 miles of track between Woodman and Lancaster through subsidiary Chicago & Tomah Railroad, and 16.2 miles of track between New London and Clintonville through subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • March 1878 - The West Wisconsin Railway is reorganized as the Chicago, St. Paul & Minneapolis Railroad. (Grant 1986, p 20; NPS HAER WI-13, p 4)
  • 1879 - The Eau Claire Lumber Company becomes the first consigner in Eau Claire of lumber by rail when it ships five carloads from there to Nebraska. (Follmar 2008, p 23)
  • 1879 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes four new lines in Wisconsin: a 3.63 mile long extension in Appleton, 13.5 miles between Lancaster Junction and a point south of Montfort Junction through subsidiary Chicago & Tomah Railroad, and 18.6 miles between Clintonville and Tigerton, and 11.4 miles between Hortonville and a point south of Larsen, both segments through subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 8 and 11)
  • 1879 - The Fond du Lac, Amboy & Peoria Railway, in receivership, pays $120,000 to George H. Wellman to settle a debt for construction of the railroad. The railroad also begins taking standard gauge cars on narrow gauge trucks in interchange off the Milwaukee Road connection in Iron Ridge. (Hilton 1990, p 557)
  • 1879 - Chicago & North Western Railway fully takes over the Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Rail Road. (Harnack, p 27)
  • May 15, 1879 - The Illinois section of the Galena & Southern Wisconsin Railroad is split off to form the Galena & Wisconsin Railroad, an Illinois corporation. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • May 16, 1879 - The Wisconsin section of the Galena & Southern Wisconsin Railroad, what is left after the split from the day before, is reorganized as the Galena & Wisconsin Railroad, a Wisconsin corporation. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • August 16, 1879 - Both of the Galena & Wisconsin Railroad companies are consolidated and incorporated to form a united Galena & Wisconsin Railroad company. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • September 5, 1879 - The St. Paul Eastern Grand Trunk Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • November 21, 1879 - The Menominee Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • 1880 - Wisconsin Central Railway assumes control of the Chippewa Falls & Western Railroad. (Follmar 2008, p 23)
  • 1880 - The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway completes construction of a new iron and stone bridge across the Chippewa River in Eau Claire to replace a wooden bridge that opened in 1870. (Follmar 2008, p 23)
  • 1880 - The Milwaukee & Northern Railway is reorganized as the Milwaukee & Northern Railroad. (Harnack, p 31)
  • February 27, 1880 - The North Wisconsin Railway is listed on the New York Stock Exchange with $900,000 in capital stock and $800,000 in mortgage bonds. (NYT, 28 Feb 1880)
  • March 19, 1880 - The Rock River Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • April 1880 - Chicago & North Western Railway purchases the Galena & Southern Wisconsin Railroad.
  • April 6, 1880 - The Sheboygan & Western Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 15)
  • April 10, 1880 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes the purchase at auction of Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Rail Road for $1.5 million, renaming the S&FdL to Sheboygan & Western Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 15-16; Harnack, p 27)
  • May 1880 - The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway is incorporated in Wisconsin. (NPS HAER WI-13, p 5)
  • May 18, 1880 - The Milwaukee & Madison Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • May 26, 1880 - North Wisconsin Railway, West Wisconsin Railway, St. Paul & Sioux City Railroad and Chicago, St. Paul & Minneapolis Railway are merged to form the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway. (Follmar 2008, p 23 and 27; Grant 1986, p 18)
  • August 31, 1880 - The Galena & Wisconsin Railroad and the Chicago & Tomah Railroad are consolidated to form a new Chicago & Tomah Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • October 27, 1880 - The State Line & Union Railroad is consolidated with the Elgin & State Line Railroad to form a reorganized Elgin & State Line Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 14-16)
  • November 15, 1880 - The Menominee Railway and the Menominee River Railroad merge to form a newly incorporated Menominee River Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • December 3, 1880 - The Chicago & Tomah Railway and the Milwaukee & Madison Railway merge to form a newly incorporated Milwaukee & Madison Railway
  • 1880 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of several new lines in Wisconsin: 11 miles from Menominee River to a point west of Florence through subsidiary Menominee Railway, 8 miles from south of Rewey to a point south of Montfort Junction through subsidiary Chicago & Tomah Railroad, 6.1 miles from Janesville to Afton through subsidiary Rock River Railway, and 12.4 miles from Tigerton to Eland, 10.3 miles from Eland to Aniwa, 11.7 miles from south of Larsen to Oshkosh, 23.9 miles from Eland to Wausau, all four through subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 11)

1881-1890

  • 1881 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of 60.8 miles of track from Madison to Montfort Junction through subsidiary Chicago & Tomah Railroad and 26.4 miles from Aniwa to Summit Lake through subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 11)
  • 1881 - Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway begins construction on a new iron bridge across the Eau Claire river and a new yard and shops facility in East Eau Claire (now known as Altoona). (Follmar 2008, pp 23-24) Major locomotive repair services are moved from Eau Claire to Shakopee, Minnesota. (NPS HAER WI-13, p 4)
  • April 12, 1881 - The Chicago & Milwaukee Railway, Milwaukee & Madison Railway and the Sheboygan & Western Railway merge to form the Chicago, Milwaukee & North Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 15-17)
  • September 28, 1881 - The Vieux Desert & Lake Superior Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • 1882 - Chicago & North Western Railway converts the former Galena & Southern Wisconsin Railroad route from narrow to standard gauge.
  • 1882 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Menominee River Railroad completes construction of 2.7 miles of track from west of Florence to Crystal Falls, Michigan, and 4.71 miles of mine spurs near Florence. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 11)
  • 1882 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of several new lines in Wisconsin: 80 miles between Milwaukee and Madison through subsidiary Milwaukee & Madison Railway, 10 miles from Oconto to Stiles Junction through subsidiary St. Paul Eastern Grand Trunk Railway, and 28.8 miles from Summit Lake to Three Lakes, 15.7 miles from Monico to Rhinelander, and 5 miles from Antigo to a point west of Bryant through subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 9)
  • 1882 - Chicago & North Western Railway obtains a controlling interest in the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway. (Grant 1986, p 18-19; NPS HAER WI-13, p 5)
  • 1882 - Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad purchases the Chippewa Valley & Superior Railway. (Follmar 2008, p 25)
  • April 6, 1882 - The Galesville & Mississippi River Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • May 1882 - The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway begins using the new yard in East Eau Claire for limited freight service. (Follmar 2008, p 24)
  • October 3, 1882 - Chicago & North Western Railway acquires the Menominee River Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • October 14, 1882 - The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway announces it has renamed the area of East Eau Claire to Altoona; the name change is presented as a way to avoid confusion on freight shipments. (Follmar 2008, p 24)
  • December 31, 1882 - The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway completes construction of its line between Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. (Follmar 2008, p 24)
  • 1883 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of several new lines in Wisconsin: 6.7 miles from Trempeleau to Galesville through subsidiary Galesville & Mississippi River Railroad, 5 miles from Stiles Junction to Oconto Falls through subsidiary St. Paul Eastern Grand Trunk Railway, and 31 miles from Three Lakes to State Line, 5.6 miles from Bryant to a point near Sherry Junction, 1.85 miles from Sherry Junction to Drexel all three through subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 11-12)
  • 1883 - The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway builds the Omaha House in Altoona, a hotel to serve the trainmen. (Follmar 2008, p 24)
  • 1883 - Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway begins a project to rebuild most of its mainline to reduce grades and curves around Eau Claire. (Follmar 2008, p 29-30)
  • 1883 - The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad extends the former Chippewa Valley & Superior Railway to Chippewa Falls, which necessitated a crossing of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad's track in Eau Claire. (Follmar 2008, p 25)
  • 1883 - The Milwaukee Road opens an extension from Crivitz to Marinette and beyond to Menominee, Michigan.
  • March 16, 1883 - Chicago & North Western Railway purchases the Rock River Railway and the Galesville & Mississippi River Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 17-18)
  • May 3, 1883 - A new Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • May 4, 1883 - The Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway and the Vieux Desert & Lake Superior Railroad are consolidated into the new Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 17)
  • June 13, 1883 - Chicago & North Western Railway acquires the Chicago, Milwaukee & North Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 15-16)
  • July 1, 1883 - The Chicago, St. Paul & Minneapolis Railway completes its line to Bayfield. (Follmar 2008, p 24)
  • August 4, 1883 - The Princeton & Western Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • August 20, 1883 - The Winona, Alma & Northern Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 19)
  • December 31, 1883 - The Chicago, St. Paul & Minneapolis Railway acquires the narrow gauge Fond du Lac, Amboy & Peoria Railway. (Hilton 1990, p 557)
  • 1884 - Wisconsin Central Railway completes its line between Minneapolis and Chippewa Falls.
  • 1884 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of 41 miles of track from Oconto Falls to Clintonville through subsidiary St. Paul Eastern Grand Trunk Railway and 16 miles of track from Wyeville to Necedah through subsidiary Princeton & Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 11-12)
    The railway bridge over the Root River in Racine
    The railway bridge over the Root River in Racine, sometime between 1880 and 1899.
  • May 24-26, 1884 - The Chicago, St. Paul & Minneapolis Railway standard gauges the former Fond du Lac, Amboy & Peoria Railway, and begins operating with standard gauge equipment making the line into the Fond du Lac Branch. (Hilton 1990, p 557)
  • 1885 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway completes construction of 39.6 miles of track from Hurley to Ashland. (RLHS 1937, p 9)
  • July 8, 1885 - Wisconsin Central Railway forms a new subsidiary company to build a new line from Chicago northward, paralleling both the Chicago & North Western Railway and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad as far as the Wisconsin border; from the state line, the new subsidiary will build toward Schlesinger, where it will connect to existing Wisconsin Central track. (NYT, 9 July 1885)
  • August 28, 1885 - The Wisconsin, Burlington & Northern Railroad of Wisconsin is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 19)
  • September 7, 1885 - The Wolf & Wisconsin Rivers Railroad is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • October 12, 1885 - Wisconsin, Burlington & Northern Railroad acquires the Winona, Alma & Northern Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 19)
  • October 21, 1885 - The Chicago, Burlington & Northern Railroad companies of Wisconsin and Minnesota are consolidated to form a new Chicago, Burlington & Northern Railroad.
  • 1886 - Milwaukee Road opens its Everett Street Station in Milwaukee.
  • 1886 - Wisconsin Central Railway tracks connect to Chicago.
  • 1886 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of 4 miles of track from Tower WJ to La Crosse. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 11)
  • 1886 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Janesville & Evansville Railway completes construction of 15.7 miles of track from Janesville to Evansville. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 12)
  • March 1886 - The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway and the Chicago & North Western Railway jointly announce the North Western Limited, a new passenger train service between Chicago and St. Paul with new Pullman Palace Hotel cars for overnight service. (Follmar 2008, p 30)
  • April 16, 1886 - The Janesville & Evansville Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • July 14, 1886 - The union depot in Plymouth, built by the Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Rail Road, is destroyed by fire that is believed to have been started by sparks from a passing steam locomotive. (Harnack, p 31)
  • October 1886 - The Chicago, Burlington & Northern Railroad completes construction of 221.8 miles of new track from the Illinois state line at East Dubuque to the Minnesota state line at Prescott. (RLHS 1937, p 19; Follmar 2008, p 30)
  • October 27, 1886 - A Milwaukee Road passenger train derails while traveling at 40 miles per hour and telescopes its cars near Rio, killing 22 of the train's 66 passengers. (Morton, McArthur and Neverman, pp 39-40)
  • 1887 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway builds two new spurs and completes one new line in Wisconsin: 16.9 miles from Hurley to the southwest, 2.3 miles from State Line to the west, and 2¼ miles from Kelley to Schofield. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 11)
  • 1887 - The Chicago, Burlington & Northern Railroad completes construction of 1½ miles of new track between Grand Crossing and North La Crosse, ½ miles of new track in Winona, and the 5.2 mile La Crosse Cut-Off. (RLHS 1937, p 19)
  • May 6, 1887 - Chicago & North Western Railway purchases the Janesville & Evansville Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • August 9, 1887 - The Lake Geneva & State Line Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • 1888 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of almost 46 miles of new track: 6 miles from Lake Geneva to Williams Bay through subsidiary Lake Geneva & State Line Railway, 26.8 miles from Rhinelander to Lac du Flambeau through subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway, and 13 miles from Pratt Junction to a point near Jeffries Junction through subsidiary Wolf & Wisconsin Rivers Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 11-12)
  • February 27, 1888 - The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen begin a systemwide strike against the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad to force the adoption of new employment rules and a new wage scale.
  • 1889 - Northern Pacific Railway leases the Wisconsin Central Railway.
  • 1889 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of just over 59 miles of new track in Wisconsin: 45.6 miles from Lac du Flambeau to Hurley, 4½ miles from Parrish Junction to Parrish, 4½ miles from near Jeffries Junction to Harrison, 2.1 miles from Jeffries Junction to Jeffries all through subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railroad, and 2.4 miles from Stiles Junction to Stiles through subsidiary St. Paul Eastern Grand Trunk Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 11)
  • 1889 - Chicago & North Western Railway opens the Lake Front Depot in Milwaukee.
  • January 15, 1889 - Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway purchases The Wolf & Wisconsin Rivers Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 17-18)
  • June 10, 1889 - Chicago & North Western Railway purchases the Lake Geneva & State Line Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • March 1890 - Edwin H. Abbot is elected to the presidency of Wisconsin Central Railway. (NYT, 13 April 1890)
  • August 18, 1890 - The Ahnapee & Western Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 6)
  • 1890 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway completes construction of 2 miles of track from Stella Junction to Stella. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 11)

1891-1900

CNW station in Milwaukee c. 1898
The Chicago & North Western Railway station in Milwaukee circa 1898.
  • 1891 - Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway opens new shops facilities in Altoona to replace buildings that had burned a few years earlier. (NPS HAER WI-13, p 4)
  • 1892 - The Ahnapee & Western Railway completes construction of 14 miles of track between Casco Junction and Algoma. (RLHS 1937, p 6)
  • 1892 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway completes construction of four new lines in Wisconsin: 40 miles between Wausau and Marshfield, 5½ miles between Hunting and Big Falls, 9.1 miles between Hiles Junction and Hiles, and 9.6 miles between Aniwa and Mattoon. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 11)
  • 1893 - Northern Pacific Railway declares bankruptcy and terminates its lease of Wisconsin Central Railway.
  • 1893 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway completes the 2½ mile Lac du Flambeau spur and 3.7 miles of track from Woodruff to Arbor Vitae. (RLHS 1937, p 9 and 11)
  • 1893 - Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway acquires the Eau Claire Railroad. (Follmar 2008, p 34)
  • 1893 - Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad purchases the Milwaukee & Northern Railroad. (Harnack, p 31)
  • August 19, 1893 - Chicago & Northwestern Railway purchases the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 17; Harnack, p 27)
  • 1894 - The Ahnapee & Western Railway completes construction of 18.5 miles of track between Algoma and Sturgeon Bay. (RLHS 1937, p 6)
  • 1895 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes the ¾ mile connection between Niagara and Quinnesec, Michigan. (RLHS 1937, p 9)
  • 1895 - The Milwaukee Road opens the Middleton station.
  • 1896 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of 10.4 miles of track between Mattoon and Mattoon Junction. (RLHS 1937, p 9)
  • 1896 - Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway opens a new station in Eau Claire at a cost of $35,299.03. (Follmar 2008, p 37)
  • February 12, 1896 - Wisconsin Northern Railway is incorporated. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • June 5, 1896 - The Green Bay, Winona & St. Paul Railway is reorganized and rechartered as the Green Bay & Western Railroad. (Poor's 1917, p 75)
  • October 13, 1896 - The Chicago, Minneapolis & St. Paul Railway and the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway jointly open an interlocking tower at the grade crossing of the two railroads in Eau Claire. The structure was owned by CM&StP, while the mechanical equipment was owned by the CStPM&O; the latter railroad also staffed the interlocking tower. (Follmar 2008, p 37)
  • 1897 - Chicago & North Western Railway subsidiary Wisconsin Northern Railway completes construction of 46.1 miles of track from Northern Junction to Wabeno. (RLHS 1937, p 10 and 12)
  • September 10, 1897 - Chicago & North Western Railway purchases Wisconsin Northern Railway. (RLHS 1937, p 18)
  • December 30, 1897 - The Wisconsin Central Railway is organized. (Illinois PUC, 1915, p 1246)
  • 1898 - Milwaukee Road opens its station in Green Bay. Milwaukee Road also re-equips and rebrands its Chicago-Minneapolis passenger trains as the Pioneer Limited.
  • 1898 - The short deck truss spans of the High Bridge over the Chippewa River in Eau Claire are replace with deck girder spans. The main deck truss spans over the water are retained, but the bridge's entire deck is reinforced and receives new rails. (Follmar 2008, p 30-31)
  • 1899 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of almost 15 miles of track from Wabeno to a point north of Laona. (RLHS 1937, p 10) The railroad also completes construction of a new passenger depot at 200 Dousman Street, Green Bay. (Koehn 2008, p 19)
  • January 27, 1899 - The Chicago, Harvard & Geneva Lake Railway is organized. (Illinois PUC, 1915, p 1253)
  • June 1, 1899 - The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad acquires the Chicago, Burlington & Northern Railroad. (RLHS 1937, p 19)
  • October 17, 1899 - The Mineral Point & Northern Railway is incorporated by New Jersey Zinc Company to build a railroad from Highland Junction (just south of Mineral Point) along the Pecatonica River to Linden and Highland. (Clark, 1st quarter 2008, p 13).
  • 1900 - Chicago & North Western Railway completes construction of track from Tower CF north of Oshkosh 2½ miles to the west. (RLHS 1937, p 10)
  • June 24, 1900 - A Chicago & North Western passenger train arriving in DePere is unable to fully back into a siding to clear the mainline in time to allow an opposing freight train to pass. The locomotives collide causing the first two cars of the passenger train to telescope, killing 5 passengers instantly; one more passenger dies on the way to the hopspital and 37 other passengers are seriously injured in the accident. (Morton, McArthur and Neverman, pp 40-41)