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Lake Front Depot: 1899

Lake Front Depot: 1899

Milwaukee circa 1899. "Chicago & North Western Railway Station." Romanesque Revival structure on Lake Michigan completed in 1890; demolished 1968. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Photographic Company. View full size.


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Late adopters?

The locomotive at left and the coach at right appear to still have link-and-pin couplers. The coach looks like it might have an air brake hose; the resolution is inconclusive, but why would that change not have taken place at the same time as the knuckle coupler retrofit?

They have, at most, a year or so to comply with the Railroad Safety Appliance Act of 1893. The locomotive looks like a 4-4-0, and those were on their way out anyway, so that might explain the lack of change, much like the aged semiconductor manufacturing tools that I remember in 1999 being labeled as exempt from Y2k compliance.

Fond memories

In the late '50s/early '60s, downtown Milwaukee was a fun place to be, and the CNW depot at the foot of Wisconsin Avenue was part of it. My girlfriend and I would stop in there occasionally to use the restroom or have a meal while bumming about downtown, waiting for a movie to start or just sightseeing.

By 1965 trains were routed through a new depot. Milwaukee County had purchased the site in 1964, with the thought of using the land for a freeway interchange. Fortunately we were spared the folly of it all. The depot was demolished in 1968, and it was a sad sight to witness. It was her time though, being in the state of disrepair it was in.

Her main lines have since surrendered to becoming bicycle and hiking trails. If I believed in ghosts I would spend endless hours looking for a ghost of a 100mph CNW 400, thundering north along the lake shore, headed for the twin cities.

It was a wonderful building - inside - and out

In 1968, just before this building was demolished, I found a door that had been left open, so I went inside. Probably this was true of many railway stations of that era, but the main hall was marvelous and grand, but peeling and sadly broken. Days later they began knocking it down, before I got a chance to go back into it to take some photographs.

What replaced that beautiful structure is entirely forgettable, but then I haven't been back there for over a decade. I doubt that much has changed since then.

OOPS! I forgot about the art museum. It's pretty good, but not 100% exactly the same location as the train station.

Demolished in 1968

Was located at 901 E Wisconsin Ave, what the area looks like, today:


Looks like the clock tower has been telling lies.

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