Monday, May 18, 2020

The Kenosha & Rockford Railroad

The Kenosha & Rockford Railroad, or the KD Line, was first organized by Kenosha area businessmen as the Kenosha, Rockford and Rock Island Railroad. First proposed to connect Kenosha with Beloit, WI, Beloit showed little interest in the road, and promoters chose to connect the line to Rockford, IL instead, a distance of 68 miles. It opened in 1861 after eight years of planning and construction. 

Image: Mark Atkinson Collection via

The line transported passengers between the two cities, often to tourist sites near Silver Lake and Twin Lakes, WI. Those same lakes became important sources for ice before the days of refrigeration. Two ice spurs connected to lakes at Paddock Lake and Powers Lake

Shown in Periwinkle are the ice spurs this line connected to. The abandoned mainline is in blue. Image: Abandoned & Out-of-Service Railroad Lines

Early in the 20th century, it was acquired by the Chicago & Northwestern Railway, who named it the Kenosha Division, or "KD Line". 

A video of satellite imagery of the mainline in 1939 just post-abandonment.
Most of the line was abandoned in 1939, but portions of the line are still active between Rockford-Loves Park, Chemung-Harvard, and Kenosha-Pleasant Prairie.

Part of the right of way is submerged under Pierce Lake, which in the days of railroading was a rock quarry.

The Long Prairie Trail uses the right of way between Capron, IL and Caledonia, IL, with the Hebron Rail Trail running near Hebron, IL.

Image: "A train on the KD Line speeds northeast through the cut in the limestone which gave Rock Cut its name. From the treeline down, this area is now under water as part of Pierce Lake at Rock Cut State Park. The tracks were removed before the lake was filled. (Brian Landis collection)" via Old Northwest Territory
Image: "A train on the KD Line speeds northeast through the cut in the limestone which gave Rock Cut its name. From the treeline down, this area is now under water as part of Pierce Lake at Rock Cut State Park. The tracks were removed before the lake was filled. (Brian Landis collection)" via Old Northwest Territory.

Further Reading: Rockford Area Railroads, by Brian Landis. (Amazon)

Thanks as always for reading!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

El Firdan Railway Bridge - A Bridge Not Far Enough

In the context of railway infrastructure, "Transcontinental" typically refers to the original Transcontinental Railroad, particularly in the United States. But very few pieces of infrastructure can truly be considered transcontinental. 

One that can be considered is Egypt's El Ferdan Railway Bridge (Google Maps), which is a dual swing bridge that spans the Suez Canal, connecting Africa with Asia. The bridge opened in 2001, and is (or was) the longest swing bridge in the world. Between 2001-2015, it served the Egyptian National Railway

Railway bridges over the Suez Canal have had a tendency to not last very long, as it was the fifth bridge over the Suez Canal built in that location. 

The first bridge over the Suez was built in April 1918 for the Sinai Military Railway, but removed after World War I as it was a hindrance to shipping. 

A swing bridge built in 1942 was removed in 1947 after being damaged by a steamship. 

A dual swing bridge replaced it in 1954, but was closed in 1956 after the Suez Crisis. 

It was replaced in 1963, only to be destroyed in 1967 during the Six-Day War with Israel. 

Image credit: H Nawara, Wikipedia Commons

While this bridge has had the longest life of any railway bridge in the vicinity, it has not operated since 2015. The Suez Canal was expanded to include a second shipping line, causing the rail line that used the bridge to end at a dead end. A new railway tunnel is planned to connect the railway east of the Suez to the rest of Egypt's railway network, rendering the El Ferdan Railway bridge obsolete. 

Al Firdan area, with the out-of-service right of way. The Maroon color is for the African continent, while the Yellow is for Asia.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Dulaney Railroad: Delaware's First Abandoned Railroad

Within the State of Delaware, the first railroad built south of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal was also the first railroad abandoned within the state, known as the Dulaney Railroad. 

Walter Dulaney owned land in western Delaware about six miles west of present-day Clayton. The area was eventually known as "Dulaney Manor" or simply "Dulaney". 

The land at the time was heavily timbered, and to clear land for farming, in addition to making money from the timber industry, a railroad was constructed from Dulaney east to a point on the Smyrna River known as  Brick Store Landing, where the timber could be shipped.

Image: Delaware DOT. Note the Dulaney RR in the central part of the state.

Operation began in 1849, using wooden rails for the roughly 10-mile distance, and ended just one year later. Using a single horse for power, it was not a common-carrier railroad, and built for and used exclusively by the Dulaney family. The right of way generally followed present-day Clayton-Delaney Rd and Brick Store Landing Rd. 

By virute of its 1850 abandonment, it marks the first abandoned railroad in Delaware, although as it was not a common carrier operation, the first chartered railroad abandoned in the state belongs to the New Castle & Frenchtown Railroad, which was abandoned west of Bear, DE in 1859. 

Links to cited works in this blog - 
History of Delaware : 1609-1888: Local history

Thanks as always for reading!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Iowa's First Abandoned Railway: The Farmers Union Railroad

Despite being one of hundreds of failed short-lined railroads throughout the United States, the Farmers Union Railroad is notable for a number of reasons.

In 1875, the company was incorporated in the State of Iowa to build a road from the Mississippi River to the Missouri River in the central part of the state, a distance of about 300 miles.

What wound up being built was a wooden-railed, narrow-gauge railway between Liscomb, IA and Beaman, IA, roughly between 10-12 miles in length. One engine and 10 cars was all the company could afford to run the route. As a result of poor construction, rolling stock, and lack of financing, the railroad lasted only months into 1876. I simply can't imagine a wooden railway operating anywhere near the length that the original charter for the road was considering.

From Liscomb east to Beaman, IA, almost no trace of this railroad exists today, and as far as we can tell, no photographs exist of the road itself. By virtue of its 1876 abandonment, it was the first abandoned railroad in Iowa.

Not all was lost of the proposal, however. Between Vinton, IA and Trayer, IA, the Burlington Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway completed part of the right of way of the route, which fared much better, and passed down to the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific, and later the Iowa Northern Railway short line before being abandoned in the early 2000's. It is now the Old Creamery Trail.

Iowa has a ton of abandoned railways, which we do our best to map. The State of Iowa has been a fantastic resource to that end, with their own map of railroad abandonments within the state.

Image: Abandoned & Out-of-Service Railroad Lines

Thanks as always for reading!