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 AbandonedRails.com


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!

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