Posts Tagged ‘The Milwaukee Road’

Steam Saturday: Surrounded by the Milwaukee Road

February 26, 2021
Canadian Pacific 2816 before its departure on Aug. 29, 2007

Over the years I’ve photographed and ridden trips behind Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261. However in 2007 and 2008 there were trips in which we were surrounded by visions of the Milwaukee Road but 261 nowhere in sight.

In August 2007, Jeff Troutman and myself Amtraked to Minneapolis to ride a ferry move excursion from Minneapolis to Milwaukee behind Canadian Pacific 4-6-4 No. 2816.

During our layover in Chicago we had time to take a Metra commuter train to Franklin Park and return in time to catch the Empire Builder to Minneapolis.

The following August I returned again to Minneapolis with my brother Ronnie and two of his boys, Alex and Ryan for two ballgames at the Metrodome.

All the photos except for one have something tied to the Milwaukee Road.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

At Franklin Park, Illinois
This city bus in Minneapolis caught us by surprise in August 2007
The former Milwaukee Road passenger station in Minneapolis is now a hotel. We stayed there in 2008
The Mary Tyler Moore statue in downtown Minneapolis on the the spot where she threw her hat up in the air in the opening of the show every week.
Steaming east on former Milwaukee Road rails in August 2007
The old and the new on Canadian Pacific
Jeff Troutman during the service stop in Portage, Wisconsin.
At Sturtevant, Wisconsin

F40s in Chicago

December 8, 2020

Over the years when I visited Chicago and its adjoining suburbs I often explored the commuter lines operated by Metra.

I spent some time at Rondout, Illinois, which was a junction of The Milwaukee Road, and the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern.

Overhead there used to be a bridge carrying the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee interurban railway branch that operated from Lake Bluff to Mundelein.

The North Shore, which ceased operation in January 1963, was famous for its Electroliners.

Two of those train sets still exist, including Nos. 801-802 at the Illinois Railway Museum and Nos. 803-804 at the Rockhill Trolley Museum adjacent to the East Broad Top in Pennsylvania. 

Also of interest in Rondout was a June 12, 1924, train robbery, the largest in U.S. history.

The Milwaukee Road’s Fast Mail was robbed by the Newton Gang and a corrupt postal inspector.

Over $2 million in cash, jewelry and securities were taken. All of the robbers were eventually caught and prosecuted. The stolen loot was recovered except for $100,000 of stolen goods.

Rondout was a commuter train stop until Nov. 22, 1984.

The top and middle photos were made from the commuter platform in September 1985.

The top image shows a Chicago-bound Amtrak Hiawatha led by an F40PH.

On the left of the photo can be seen the bridge abutment where the North Shore branch to Mundelein crossed over.

A bridge has since been built for the North Shore bike path, which occupies the former right of way.

Also off to the left past the signal bridge is where the Metra line to Fox Lake branches off. 

The middle image shows a commuter train led by an F40C crossing the EJ&E diamonds. It will cross over behind me to get to the Fox Lake branch.

These locomotives were operated by the Milwaukee Road and later Metra on commuter lines to Fox Lake and Elgin. In later years they were renumbered in the 600 series. 

The bottom photo was made from the rear of Amtrak’s Empire Builder at Western Avenue in Chicago during a trip to the Twin Cities on Aug. 27, 2007.

They are F40Cs 614 and 611 and were the last of their kind in revenue service.

I wonder why I find those roster numbers appealing.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas  

1983 Highlights: Steam and Amtrak

April 28, 2020

Amtrak took me to visit my sister Janet and her husband, Billy, in Libertyville, Illinois, in July 1983.

I then rode Amtrak to Richmond, Virginia, for the 1983 National Railway Historical Society Convention.

The photo of the eastbound Empire Builder at Rondout, Illinois, was made on Thanksgiving Day 1983 prior to dinner at Janet and Billy’s home. The entire Ribinskas family drove in from Ohio for that holiday.

Also among my favorites from 1983 is a photograph of a Milwaukee Road train that I made waiting for a commuter train at the Libertyville station for the trip to Union Station to catch Amtrak on my way to Richmond on July 19.

Another favorite is an image of myself posing in front of Norfolk & Western No. 611 on our convention excursion from Richmond to Balcony Falls, Virginia, on July 21, 1983.

This was my introduction to the 611 which has become my favorite steam locomotive.

In that photo I am wearing my favorite Chessie Steam Special hat that I unfortunately left in the hotel when we were attending the 1984 NRHS Convention in Cincinnati. I never saw that hat again.

I’m featuring a couple of images from the 1983 NRHS convention, including the N&W 611 photo run by at Balcony Falls.

There is also the Southern F unit on July 22 at the triple crossing in Richmond in a photo op set up in which I was standing next to the late Jim Boyd, a famous railroad photographer who was once editor of Railfan & Railroad magazine.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

F Unit Returns to Service in Upper Michigan

February 15, 2020

F units have returned to revenue service on the Escanaba & Lake Superior in upper Michigan.

FP7 No. 600 began pulling freight in late January after having been out of service for eight years.

Trains magazine reported that No. 600 replaced SD40-2 No. 500, which sustained a mechanical failure last year and is likely to be retired.

No. 600 was built in 1951as Milwaukee Road No. 96A and pulled commuter trains in Chicago for many years.

The E&LS purchased it from Wisconsin & Southern in 2005. It continues to wear W&S’s red and silver livery.

The FP7 can be seen on former Milwaukee Road tracks between Pembine, Wisconsin, and Channing, Michigan.

An online report indicated that shortly after it returned to service No. 600 had a problem with its air compressor and was out of service awaiting repair.

CSX to Restore Service to Section of Ex-Monon

January 23, 2020

A recent online report said CSX will restore service to a four-mile portion of the former Monon Railroad in New Albany, Indiana.

The segment in question is between the K&I Bridge over the Ohio River to North Vernia (Grant Line Road Crossing).

The carrier plans to provide service to Northwest Ordinance Distilling, which is owned by the Sazerac Company.

Northwest Ordinance opened in November 2018 in a facility that once hosted a Pillsbury Prepared Dough Products Plant. The Pillsbury plant closed several years ago.

The former Monon line in question, known as the Hoosier Subdivision, has been abandoned from North Vernia to Cloverdale, Indiana.

The Hoosier Sub was last used as a through route by the Indiana Rail Road, which access it via a connection from a former Milwaukee Road branch between Terre Haute and Bedford, Indiana.

The former Milwaukee Road line was abandoned after the INDR ceased using it and has been converted into a hiking and biking trail.

CSX will reach what remains of the Hoosier Sub on trackage rights on Norfolk Southern in Louisville and over the K&I bridge.

The Hoosier Sub still had several semaphore signals in place when it last lasted used.

Remembering the Owosso Train Festival of July 2009

July 28, 2019

Southern Pacific Daylight 4449 returns to Owosso in late afternoon after an day trip to Alma and back on the former Ann Arbor Railroad.

It was 10 years ago this month that 36,000 people flocked to Train Festival 2009 held in Owosso, Michigan.

There was something for everyone, ranging from three mainline steam locomotives in steam to excursions to a Lego model railroad layout.

The event, held at the home of the Steam Railroading Institute, had its share of glitches, including rain, long lines to tour the steam locomotive cabs and a mechanical breakdown of SRI’s own steamer, Pere Marquette No. 1225.

Aside from Railfair 1999 in Sacramento, California, it was one of the most comprehensive railfan-oriented events I’ve ever attended.

A number of Akron Railroad Club members attended the event, which was held July 23-26.

I originally wasn’t going to attend the festival until I figured out a way to do it on the cheap.

My wife had a cousin who lived near Flint, Michigan, which is about 30 to 45 minutes from Owosso.

Dan was agreeable to going with me to the festival and I could stay at his house, thus avoiding lodging expenses.

The festival officially opened on July 24, but everything was up and running on July 23, a Thursday, and the day I was there.

After parking, Dan and I walked to a location north of the festival so I could photograph the day excursion being pulled by former Southern Pacific Daylight 4-8-4 No. 4449.

Getting open view of the Daylight and its train wasn’t a problem, but rain and overcast skies were.

I was still using slide film and I didn’t have enough film speed to make good images. My photographs turned out dark and a little blurry.

Then it was on to the festival itself, which featured the 1225, Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765, Leviathan 4-4-0  No. 63, three 0-4-0T switchers (Flagg Coal Company 75, Little River Railroad No. 1 and Viscose Company No. 6), and Little River Railroad 4-6-2 No. 110.

The latter provided motive power at one end of the one-hour excursion trains that operated throughout the day while the tank engines took turns taking a spin on the SRI turntable.

You could also purchase throttle time behind some of the tank engines and look inside their cabs.

The Leviathan had just been completed and was making its “world premier” at the festival.

Another notable visitor was Southern Railway FP-7 No. 6133, which traveled from the North Carolina Transportation Museum. It did not operate during the festival but you could visit its cab.

There was a large-scale model of Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 on static display and a few live steamers taking passengers for rides on temporary track.

There were diesels pulling the 7.5-inch gauge trains and I spotted Akron Railroad Club member Paul Emch at the throttle of one of those.

Also on display was a Great Lakes Central freight locomotive and various pieces of rolling stock from the SRI collection.

I wanted to maximize my time seeing the exhibits and steam locomotives so I didn’t chase any of the excursions.

Another factor was that I didn’t know the territory where the excursions were operating and didn’t want to try to learn it on the fly.

But ARRC members Peter Bowler and Paul Woodring did chase. Peter, in particular, was all-in on the festival, chasing multiple trips and taking part in the night photo shoot.

Another ARRC member on hand for the festival was the late Richard Jacobs.

For some reason, the line to see the cab of the 1225 was far shorter than that of the 765, so I focused on it.

That turned out to be a good thing because the 1225 later in the day developed a problem with a flue and had to be shut down. It missed its assigned turn pulling the day excursion on Saturday.

By late afternoon the clouds had begun to break and sunlight began peeking through.

That meant the SP Daylight and its train would return in sunlight and I could, at last, get decent images of it.

The challenge, though, was the sun angle. The 4449 and its train would be coming almost directly out of the sun. At best I could get good light on the side of the locomotive.

On the flip side of that equation, it meant good light for the pair of former Milwaukee Road passengers, including a Skytop lounge-observation car, in their striking traditional passenger livery.

I hung around a little while longer to get more photographs of the 4449 after it had cut off from its train and returned to the festival grounds.

The next morning I had a long drive ahead of me. The ARRC was meeting that night and I planned to get back in time to preside at the meeting.

But I spent time that morning photographing Canadian National trains in Durand and Amtrak trains in Ann Arbor before driving home to Ohio.

As far as I remember, most ARRC members who attended the festival stayed around a few more days.

Paul tells the story of how he spent most of his time chasing the excursion trains and making video, but he did visit the festival grounds on the last day.

At one point during a chase, he became annoyed at an airplane that was circling the excursion train and making a lot of noise in doing so.

If the festival were being held today, he noted, the party that chartered the plane to get overhead video would use a less noisy drone.

“I’m glad I got to go,” Paul wrote “It will probably be the only time I’ll ever get to see the SP Daylight.”

He said a prominent memory of the festival was arriving at the motel in Owosso at which he had made a reservation months earlier and upon arriving to check in being told he didn’t have a room.

Paul said he had been quoted a great rate when he made the reservation, but the motel didn’t give him a confirmation number and he had not asked the name of the man who took his reservation.

He thinks that what happened was that once the motel owners found out about the train festival they jacked up their rates.

“So, I staged a sit-in in the lobby loudly complaining to anyone who would listen what they did to me, until they gave me a room not normally given out because it really wasn’t in very good shape.

“However, I didn’t have much choice at that point because there weren’t any other rooms available all the way to Lansing.

Paul said he learned a lesson about doing everything possible to confirm room and rate when making motel reservations.

Memories, photographs and video of the Owosso train festival were the focus of the January 2010 ARRC program.

Four of us were to present with Paul showing video of his steam train chases, Peter showing still images of the steam excursions and night photo shoot, and Jake and myself showing images of the festival displays.

The program went off as scheduled, but I never got to show my images. Two weeks before the ARRC meeting I tore the retina in my left eye in three places and had to have surgery.

I was still recovering from that surgery and couldn’t attend the ARRC meeting. So Jake, Peter and Paul presented their segments in what was the first use of the tag team program format during an ARRC program.

So with this post I am finally showing, nearly 10 years later some of the images I would have shown on that cold January night had I been able to attend the ARRC meeting.

A view of the engineer’s seat inside Pere Marquette 1225. A mechanical problem later that day would mean the Berkshire would only be in steam for just one day during the festival.

A view from cab level of Pere Marquette 1225.

The former Milwaukee Road passengers cars on the rear of the long steam excursions was a most pleasing sight.

At one end of the hour-long excursions that operated throughout the day was this Great Lakes Central GP35 while . . .

. . . Little River Railroad provided the motive power for the other end of the train.

The newly completed Leviathan made its “world premier” at the Owosso train festival.

Viscose Company No. 6 takes a spin on the turntable as seen from the cab of the Leviathan.

The 2009 train festival has proved thus far to be my only encounter with Flagg Coal Company No. 75. Ahead of it is Little River Railroad No. 1

A Southern FP7 from the North Carolina Railroad Museum made the trip to Michigan to be among the displays of railroad equipment.

Norfolk & Western 611 made an appearance in Owosso — well, at least a model of it.

Two CN trains meet on the double track in front of Durand Union Station on Friday morning.

An Amtrak Wolverine Service train arrives in Ann Arbor on July 24. It was my last railfanning experience during my visit to the 2009 train festival in Owosso.

INRD, CSX to Remove Spring Hill Diamond

October 2, 2018

The Indiana Rail Road and CSX have notified the U.S. Surface Transportation Board authority of their plans to remove a diamond at Spring Hill near Terre Haute, Indiana.

The diamond is the crossing of the former Chicago & Eastern Illinois line now owned by CSX and the former Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific line now owned by INRD.

In the filing the two railroads said they plan to relocate a short segment INRD track as well as remove the diamond.

“The joint project will not result in the disruption of service to any shippers, expand the operations of INRD into new territory, or alter the existing competitive situation among carriers,” the carriers said in the STB filing.

As part of the reconfiguration, INRD will receive overhead trackage rights over a short portion of the CSX CE&D Subdivision, which is a major freight artery between Chicago and the Southeast.

INRD plans to build 800 feet of track southeast of Spring Hill to create a connection to CSX and remove 1,000 feet of track northwest of the diamond.

The two railroads plan to finish the work on or shortly after Oct. 27.

The arrangement will be similar to how R.J. Corman operates over a short section of Norfolk Southern’s Fort Wayne Line at Mace interlocking in Massillon.

To view the filing to$FILE/246439.pdf

The Quest for Fallen Flags

January 21, 2017








The popularity of the heritage locomotives of Norfolk Southern can be explained by a number of factors, but chief among them is that they represent something that can’t be seen anymore and, in some instances, has never been seen by some.

Railroads that no longer exist under their original corporate identity are known as fallen flags because their “flag” has been folded and relegated to history.

Typically, for a few years after a railroad is acquired or loses its identity in a merger, rolling stock bearing the fallen flag’s name, logo and markings can be seen out on the line.

Repainting locomotives and freight cars can get expensive so it’s more economical to let the old look linger a while longer until a car or locomotive is due to go into the shop or is retired from the roster.

In the past couple years, I’ve been on the lookout for freight cars still bearing the long-since vanished identity of a previous owner.

Finding fallen flag cars takes patience and vigilance. Many fans tend to stop watching a train closely once the motive power has passed.

But if you keep observing, you might be rewarded if you have your camera ready and spring into action at a second’s notice.  That is not as easy as it might seem.

I present here a gallery of fallen flags that I found within the past couple of years.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Indiana Depot Moved to New Site in Bedford

June 10, 2016

The former Milwaukee Road passenger station in Bedford, Ind., reposes in the morning sunlight. Both the structure and the tracks are currently unused.

The former Milwaukee Road passenger station in Bedford, Indiana, reposes in the morning sunlight in May 2014. The depot was recently moved to a new location and will become a community information center.

A long-vacant Milwaukee Road passenger station in Indiana has a new home and will be repurposed into a community and tourism information center.

The depot in Bedford, Indiana, was picked up and moved to a new location at 14th and J streets. The station was moved by truck from its previous site at 10th and J streets.

The front of the limestone station now faces the street. In time, the depot will provide tourism information and a gallery providing photographs and information about the Bedford region’s limestone industry.

Efforts to save the station began 20 years ago, led by the Bedford-Urban Enterprise Association.

The group purchased the building in 1995 and later received a $245,000 grant to replace the roof, which was leaking and deteriorating.

The station has been placed on the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures.

Built in 1900 by the Southern Indiana Railway, the station came under the control of the Milwaukee Road in 1921.

The line extended from Terre Haute to Westport, Indiana, and was the only route east of Chicago owned by a western railroad.

The last passenger train to serve the Bedford station was a Bedford-Terre Haute gas-electric car that made its final trips on July 15, 1950.

The tracks by the depot were most recently used by the Indiana Rail Road, but have been out of service since 2009.

NKP 765 To Operate Chicago Excursion in June

May 5, 2016

765 trip logo

Chicago was the western terminus for Nickel Plate Road passenger service, but NKP steam locomotive 765 hasn’t been there for a while.

That will change on June 11-12 when the 2-8-4 Berkshire pulls its first public excursion in Chicagoland in more than 20 years.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society announced on its website on Wednesday that the 765 will be on display between 19 a.m. and 3 p.m. on June 11 at the annual Railroad Day festival in suburban Franklin Park near Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

On June 12, the Berkshire will pull a public excursion between The Glen of North Glenview and Janesville, Wisconsin, using former Milwaukee Road tracks.

Fort Wayne Railroad Historical SocietyIn honor of that, the excursion has been named The Varsity after a Milwaukee Road passenger train that operated between Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin, until the coming of Amtrak in 1971.

The Varsity will make an intermediate stop at the Metra station in Fox Lake.

Tickets are now on sale and range in price between $349 and $148, depending on the class of accommodation.

Tickets can be ordered by calling 888-718-4253 or at the FtWRHS website at

The train will depart from North Glenview at 7 a.m. and from Fox Lake at 8 a.m. Lunch will be served onboard. The price of lunch is included in the fare.

Equipment for the excursion will include  “The Varsity” will feature vintage passenger cars from the 1930s-1950s. Accommodations include standard coach, deluxe coach, and first class and dome car.

The trip will be the first steam motive power to user portions of the route to be traveled since 1953.

It will be the first excursion of 2016 for the NKP 765 and the locomotive’s owner said that details about additional excursions this year will be announced later.