Swansong of the Flambeau

Train 216, The Flambeau 400 with two 1958 bi-level cars in tow, calls on Eland Wisconsin after coming down the line from Ashland enroute to Green Bay, Milwaukee and finally Chicago on this first day of 1960. To the west of the depot on the Marshfield line, a pair of GP7’s idles as the crew, taking advantage of a lull in the action, has gone inside to top off their thermos’s with hot coffee. They’ll soon retreat to the confines of cab # 1549 in hopes to sip a cup or two before hooking up to a string of pulp cars due within the hour from Wausau. Eland’s fine depot once boasted a lunch counter that existed for the pure indulgence of its patrons traveling one of the 38 passenger or 30 freight trains that converged from all four directions each day. Eight of those passenger trains alone arrived between the hours of 11:00-1:00pm daily.

Unfortunately, by the time this scene was captured, automobiles were already replacing the passenger train and semi trucks had their ligature tightening on the remaining freight traffic. Not even new bi-level equipment or a depot freshly painted in matching 400 colors could persuade people to go by train.

The line from Eland north to Rhinelander was abandoned on August 24, 1982 and the last steel wheels to scrape the rust from the rails was GP7 # 4152 on January 30, 1994. The depot still stands today as a faded reminder of the glory days of railroading in Wisconsin’s north woods.

18 x 24 original acrylic painting was completed in 2007.

I hope you enjoy my paintings. If you are interested in purchasing prints, cards or any other items be sure to click on the link and visit my store.

The 400 Calls on Milwaukee

Located at the end of Wisconsin Street (now Wisconsin Avenue) stood the Chicago & North Western’s train depot. The 207 foot tall Romanesque clock tower made it an instant landmark for city folk and favorite target of Mother Nature’s winter furry when completed in 1899. Designed by Charles Summer Frost, the depot featured a train shed that was tucked below the bluff along the shore of Lake Michigan, making the accompanying hillside a perfect vantage point to sit and watch the activity. Efforts to save this splendid structure as a reminder of hometown railroading failed and in 1968, she succumbed to the wrecking ball in a pile of dust. Rail patrons were then redirected to the new Donald Grieb styled depot on St. Paul Avenue where the C&NW shared a train shed with the Milwaukee Road. Today, auto traffic briefly traverses the old line northbound on Lake Drive and most motorists are oblivious to the fact that they are driving on the ghost rails of trains long gone.

On this sunny fall day in the mid 1950’s, before the completion of the War Memorial, the famous 400 calls on the Cream City with a Minneapolis bound streamliner in tow. Intent on keeping her “400 miles in 400 minutes” schedule form Chicago to the Twin Cities, she’ll pause just long enough to detrain patrons and board additional travelers with business in Minneapolis. In the blink of an eye, but not before sounding a few off key notes from her baritone horns, she’ll duck beneath Lincoln Memorial Drive and glide through the suburb of Shorewood where the local police guard the grade crossings from the passing blur of green and yellow.

18 x 24 original acrylic painting was completed in 1999.

I hope you enjoy my paintings. If you are interested in purchasing prints, cards or any other items be sure to click on the link and visit my store.