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.

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