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.

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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.

Departing Green Bay

Only a small contingent of on-lookers has gathered to witness the departure of train #110, The Flambeau pulled by the mighty Pacific 2911 from the Chicago & North Western’s Green Bay Wisconsin depot located on Dousman Street. The snow on this March morning has all but melted away as the powerful E-2-A , 4-6-2 leaves the depot with a High Ball signal for Milwaukee.

This beautiful red brick depot opened to passengers on July 29, 1899 and was build by Charles C. Rioch (who also constructed the Milwaukee Road’s depot in Green Bay) stands today as a reminder for how traveling was once synonymous with home town railroads. The depots stately clock tower was once proudly adorned with a large round neon lighted “400” emblem that was perched track side below the clock so there would be no confusion as to what roads famous fleet of speed liners stopped there on a daily basis.

24 x 30 original acrylic painting completed was in 1998.

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Ballast Scorchers of the North Shore

The Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad depot at 5th and Michigan Streets in Milwaukee Wisconsin opened for service on September 15, 1920, a mere stones throw form the Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul and Pacific railroad station. While the Milwaukee Road had its share of loyal riders, so too did the North Shore, transporting countless shoppers and commuters and tens of thousands of military personnel on weekends between the Great Lakes Training Academy and the cities of Milwaukee and Chicago. Over its 65-year history, the North Shore prided itself on its well-groomed right-of-ways and spit-shined train sets. Widely recognized as the Country’s most well know commuter line, the North Shore outlived all of its interurban predecessors.

On this chilly day in Milwaukee, we see an assorted line up of equipment offered by the “Line of Service.” Sitting to the right of the boarding platform is car 764 built by the Standard Steel Car Company in 1930. Donning her original green and crimson enamel paint, she straddles the inspection pit before a run over the Skokie Valley Route to Chicago. Ready to follow is Silverliner 737, one of 27 cars repainted with an artists touch in the late 50’s to resemble the fluted stainless steel cars in use on larger roads. With 38 fast trains per day between the two cities, 10 of them were modern Electroliners like #802, poised to leave in five minutes for a ballast scorching 90 mph run to the Windy City, some 90 miles to the south. The North Shore ceased operations on January 21, 1963 during a raging snowstorm. Both cities have seen many a snowstorm since then but never a railroad like the North Shore Line.

22 x 28 original acrylic painting was completed in 2005.

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.