Tunnels in Wisconsin

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Re: Tunnels in Wisconsin

Postby raysaron » Tue May 15, 2012 7:14 am

Accurate list by trailryder. Two comments--

Since the tunnels were built by the railroads, they had the naming rights--tunnels were usually
named for the nearest depot. (More accurate communication--"There is a cave-in at the Greenville
tunnel." That way, you knew the exact location. The "Stewart Tunnel" is a named for the
construction engineer who was surveying the route by horseback or buggy and was killed in an
accident. The real name for the tunnel was Belleville, for the nearest depot. It is my favorite--
the only curved tunnel in Wisconsin. I visited a couple of times before I found that out and
walked the length of the tunnel. My rule was not the enter a tunnel if I couldn't see daylight.)

Two additional tunnels are shown on the Wisconsin Historical Society web site: Lacrosse and
Manitowoc. There is a sketch of the tunnel at Lacrosse.
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Re: Tunnels in Wisconsin

Postby Scoring Guy » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:11 am

The "tunnel in the bluffs near La Crosse (circa 1858)" is certainly a reference to the tunnel at "Tunnel City" 40 miles east of La Crosse. This was the year the the La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad opened between the two cities and that was the only tunnel on that line. From Tunnel City to La Crosse the line followed the La Crosse River valley, and no other tunnels would have been required. This is a less than accurate notation on the Wisconsin Historical Society website.
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Re: Tunnels in Wisconsin

Postby Desertdweller » Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:09 pm

The C&NW tunnel at Tunnel City collapsed in 1973, not 1972. I was working at the yard office in LaCrosse (Camp 20) the night it fell in.

It collapsed after several days of hard rain saturated the sandstone bluff the tunnel was bored through. Our railroad (the Milwaukee Road) bore was through the same hill, but was unaffected.

A shoofly was quickly constructed, allowing the C&NW to cross to our mainline so they could get through the Milwaukee tunnel.

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Re: Tunnels in Wisconsin

Postby RJF39 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:32 pm

I have an ongoing interest in this topic because I ride the bike trails in Wisconsin and down south in the winter. Being a history buff I'm always asking "What RR ran over this route, when, and where, and what kind of equipment." I live 1/2 mile away from the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, on the old Milwaukee Northern interurban route, and ride often on it. There is an active RR alongside, the WI Central/CN (WI & Southern runs on it too), formerly MKE Road going north out of Milwaukee towards Green Bay.

But I'm interested in the history so I picked up a book from the library, "Steam & Cinders," The Advent of Railroads in Wisconsin, by Axel Lorenzsonn (Wisconsin Historical Society Press) and Axel found this little snippet of info about the tunnel at Tunnel City.

The La Crosse and Milwaukee line was completed in October of 1858. Axel wrote "The new line lacked one critical feature - at Tunnel City, forty miles east of La Crosse, there was a north-south range of hills that separated the Mississippi and Wisconsin watersheds and blocked the railroad line, but there was as yet no tunnel. Eastbound or westbound, passengers had to descend from the trains and climb or be carried with their luggage over the hills through which the tunnel was to be made. Before the year was over, the company would install a great capstan on the brow of the hill. Oxen hitched to poles would turn this enormous pulley device, which in turning, would wind the cables fastened to the cars, drawing them up the hill. Upon reaching the top, the process would be reversed to lower the cars to the tracks and waiting locomotive on the other side. This would be the working arrangement for three years until the tunnel was completed."

(Axel's source was Monroe County Wisconsin Bicentennial Committee, Monroe County, Wisconsin, PIctorial History 1976 (Tomah, WI: Tomah Journal Printing Company., 1976), 202.

It looks like you can see the path they took to go over the hill in Google Maps.
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Re: Tunnels in Wisconsin

Postby Scoring Guy » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:05 am

Adding to the record: The original Milwaukee tunnel, at (Greenfield) Tunnel City, WI, which was completed in 1858, collapsed in 1875 and a new tunnel was dug next two it, as shown in the photo from the Wisconsin Historical Society that is referenced in two of the postings.
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