Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Milwaukee Road's River Division Abandonment

Like roads, many railroad lines have been realigned and improved over time, and thus there are many examples of railroad abandonments that do not result in any loss of railroad service. Typing in "original alignment" onto our map will display all of the re-alignments we have found, although many more exist across North America.

One example of this was the Milwaukee Road's River Division between Hastings, MN and Red Wing, MN. The original alignment of the road lay along the Vermilion River on swampy land, and was thus prone to flooding and track washouts.

Image: "Red Wing's leading quarry owner G.A. Carlson built this 1882 Barn Bluff limestone kiln near the Milwaukee Road's tracks. He wished to facilitate shipments of lime and cement. The kiln, pictured about 1885, still exists."

In 1908, this roughly 13 mile section of line was abandoned in favor of a straighter, more easterly grade on higher ground.

The 13.1 mile original alignment in Blue, and the 12.4 mile re-alignment on higher ground. Image: Google My Maps.
Nonetheless, the stations of Etter and Eggleston on the old alignment of the tracks were closed down; two new stations replaced them on the new line.

Despite being abandoned over 100 years ago, the right of way can still be traced on satellite imagery, although HistoricAerials helps out a ton, for this line and pretty much every line!

A bridge of the former alignment of the River Division still exists, albeit completely abandoned. The new alignment is still in service today, run by the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Image: Jeff Streiff, Flickr. "CP train 2-198 has a surprise GP38-2 leading" at Red Wing, MN.
Thanks as always for reading!


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