Monday, January 20, 2014

(Photos) Abandoned line: Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad and rails-to-trails

The Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad was an interurban--a countryside rail line made up of streetcars--that connected Chicago with Wisconsin's largest city. Service ended on January 21 1963, but the southern end of the line is still operated by the Chicago Transit Authority--its Yellow Line--formerly the Skokie Swift.

The rails are long gone but the ties remain. This is what the old line looked like yesterday afternoon in Skokie--just north of Dempster.

This is how what's left of the tracks looked like in Northfield in November.

A Yellow Line train last spring just north of Oakton.

The Chicago & North Western Railway owned parallel rights-of-way to the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad and it bought the better maintained north-of-Dempster portion of its old neighbor's line. South of Dempster it used its old tracks--and the portion than used to run from Oakton to Dempster now makes part of the Skokie Valley Trail, pictured above. I sometimes run on this trail and I appreciate the plowing job by municipal authorities.

Someone on the Forgotten Chicago Facebook page suggested that this structure was a Chicago & North Western crew shack. Trains stop running on this C&NW line in 1995, the same year that the Union Pacific acquired that railroad.

The Oakton-to-Dempster trail segment, which was built by the Village of Skokie after purchasing the right-of-way from the Union Pacific, opened in 2012. A few public sculptures decorate the path, such as this one near Niles Center Road.

There are many plans for this trail. The obvious one is to connect it to the northern part of Skokie Valley Trail in Lake County. This longer path would intersect with the North Branch Trail in Northfield--just steps where I captured the second photograph. That would make one heck of a long loop for bicycle riders and runners.


Anonymous said...

Those Ties are not original North Shore, but recently abandoned UP (C&NW)

thancko said...

I believe the building refereed to as a crew shack was once a station when the line was still a main line.