Friday, December 28, 2018

Trestle Park in Milwaukee

The Trestle of Trestle Park. Andrew Grigg, photgrapher.
Trestle Park is Milwaukee's tiny answer to the growing trend of linear parks in major cities which utilize abandoned railroad corridors, in the same vein as Philadelphia's Rail Park and New York City's amazing High Line. While Trestle Park is much smaller than the other parks mentioned, after visiting it, I can say it nonetheless has a great charm in it's small size.

Looking from one end of the park to the other.
The Park opened earlier this year after being proposed and approved in 2017. The signature trestle pictured, while certainly it's namesake, isn't part of the park. The park, located in the Historic Third Ward neighborhood south of downtown Milwaukee is part of the Third Ward RiverWalk, along the Milwaukee River. It is part of a large scale redevelopment of the area as well, which was quite obvious on the drive to the park. Many new condos, restaurants, and businesses make up the nearby landscape.

One really cool thing about the park, the design incorporates the former railroad crossing signals in it's design!
According to bridgehunter.com, the Trestle was originally built in 1915 to replace an earlier 1890 bridge. Once upon a time, this was the original Chicago & Northwestern mainline through Milwaukee, carrying CNW's signature Twin Cities 400 trains over the river. 400 was so named because of the 400 minutes between Chicago, IL and Minneapolis, MN. The original Milwaukee depot is long gone, and nowadays, Amtrak's Hiawatha and Empire Builder trains use the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, paralleling the river, for it's long distance trains.

Image: Milwaukee County Historical Society via FlyerScope.
Northeast of here, the former line is now the Oak Leaf Trail, but the trestle survived much later, being used in industrial operations until the early 2000's.

Looking west toward the river from Erie St.
I'd been meaning to visit this park for some time. But I couldn't justify the 90 minute trip to Milwaukee for such a small attraction, but it was definitely on my to-do list. Upon passing through the city, we gave it a go. As for my personal opinion on it, it was exactly what I was expecting it to be, small but certainly charming. There are tons of benches for people to sit, relax and enjoy the neighborhood, but it is also not someplace most would visit in the winter (we were the only ones there). The trestle and nearby scenery is certainly well incorporated into the design of the park, with plenty of photo opportunities of your surroundings.

Overall, I think it is a great gem for the neighborhood, although not something that is going to attract people outside Milwaukee.

Except for the occasional abandoned railroad photographer.

That being said, there are a couple proposals that would have the City of Milwaukee purchase the trestle and potentially expand Trestle Park onto the west side of the river, so I might be back here in a few years if that ever materializes.

As always, thanks for reading!

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