~Hylife~ wrote:I have checked everywhere I could think of on the internet and I couldn't find any lists or anything of where I could find abandoned railroads in Wisconsin.
I discovered a portion of abandoned railroad in Estabrook park here in Milwaukee, Wi. while geocaching (visit geocaching.com for more details). I thought that it was pretty amazing. The geocaches were arcived, and I wanted to replace them myself. But since we travel a lot, I thought it would be cool to bring geocachers to the abandoned sites all over the state. But I don't know how to find out where these sites are.
Currently, the only spots I know of right now are the one in Estabrook park, a segment we discovered while caching in Appleton, and we also bet we could find some along the Gandy Dancer trail in NW Wi, as that's a Rail to Trail system.
Any and all information is welcomed and greatly appreciated in this matter. Thanks for your time and help!!
The responses to this thread really did not cover all that much as far as Estabrook Park is concerned...
Estabrook Park is the first park that was acquired by the Milwaukee County park system eons ago. It was purchased from the Milwaukee Cement Company after it ceased operation in 1916, although the firm was still in existence up to 1946, selling off what was left of its original 350+ acres on both sides of the Milwaukee River between the Capitol Drive and Port Washington Road bridges--about 1 1/2 miles apart. For around thirty years, starting in 1876, that cement company in Milwaukee ran the largest such cement plant in the entire US, producing natural high-grade hydraulic cement from the Devonian dolomite quarried at what is now Estabrook Park and directly across the river north of where WTMJ is located today.
The CNW built a three-track N-S spur leading into Mill #1 of the cement company east of the Milwaukee River, and later built a trestle bridge across the river to connect to Mill #2. The CNW was granted rights for an easement for an E-W ROW to interchange with the Milwaukee Road Beer Line (at around 11th Street and Congress) from Mill #2, about 1/2 mile north of Capitol Drive, then known as Lake Street. These two maps show what was present there in 1901 and 1934.
The cement company altered the flow of the Milwaukee River by building a dam and quarrying a new channel east of the original and then letting the river flow through it. The original river bed was used to dump massive amounts of slurry waste, creating a bend in the river at that point. Most of the lagoons formed in the quarrying process are now filled in except for three or so small lagoons. The biggest lagoon, called Cement Lake or the Blue Hole, some 15 acres (about three city blocks in area) was eventually filled with polluted landfill starting with filling in the northern part back in the Mayor Hoan era, which was later totally filled in and capped around 1975 and part of it is used as a UW-M student parking lot today. MATC also own 32 acres north of the parking lot. Because the deed for Estabrook Park specified that its western boundary was the center line of the original river bed, Estabrook Park reclaimed some of the land west of the present Milwaukee River, thereby curtailing some filling of the dump site at the Blue Hole.
1931 Milwaukee Journal article
Back during 1955, 30 million gallons of water was emptied out of the Blue Hole, hoping to stock the lagoons in other Milwaukee County parks. However the 5000 fish that were seined were too stunted to be of any use and were dumped into the polluted Milwaukee River (and very likely died as a direct result).
1955 Milwaukee Journal article
The grandson of the owner of the cement company helped in writing a historical account of the cement company back in 1949
. The original owner lived just north of Mill #1, in a house now reserved for the superintendent of Estabrook Park.
The Milwaukee Public Library has several historical photos and drawings from that era, such as this one
. Browse their website for others.
BTW, the quarry site near the waterfalls contains fossil specimens of trilobites and other such paleo-creatures. I, myself, as an eight-year-old attending free day camps at Estabrook was advised to bring a hammer and chip away for fossils there--one of the best fossil-hunting locations in Wisconsin--back during 1951. Also back then, I crossed the trestle connecting the two cement mills.