Waukee Town Yard






Waukee was a small agricultural village in Waushara County Wisconsin,  which was served from the north west by a stub road off a SOO branch from Plover Wis. and from the south east by another stub road owned by the Milwaukee Road [MILW ] from Milwaukee. They were not connected.


Both existed to service grain shippers and not much else. The lines gradually fell out of use as traffic costs became prohibitive and the grain went by road.


The SOO acquisition of the Milwaukee Road and the sale of the SOO  Lake States Division  enabled  Wisconsin Central [WC] to commence operations,  the line from Plover passed into WC ownership.


The MILW line was acquired from the SOO subsequently.


At about this time Government and State funding became available to convert a former US Marine training camp for industrial and housing use with a view to zoning the Waukee region as a commercial development/growth area.


WC immediately saw that the former SOO and MILW track beds could be connected as no development of the adjoining lands had yet taken place. This would provide a new through relief route between Fond du Lac at the foot of Lake Winnebago and Stevens Point  and forward north westwards to  Minneapolis / St Paul, Central Minnesota and on to Winnipeg and to Toronto via Saulte Ste Marie Ontario. It also provided a south bound relief road to Chicago and gave WC additional access to its yard in Chicago and a faster road to Milwaukee.


 The availability of the newly zoned development land on the former airfield meant that new industries could be tempted to move into rail connected sites and new housing estates and a trailer park would enable work forces to find housing accommodation.


State Government at Madison set up and  funded the Waukee Community Transportation Authority [WCTA]  which Wisconsin Central agreed to support with maintenance and technical assistance.






New Industrial Development


Once a ground survey was completed and the bed of the newly connected line was determined, it became clear that there would be three main zones into which industrial operations could be established. One site  was on the west of the new north west  - south east  railroad; one on the east and a further island site heading eastwards into the heart of the old Marine Corps training area into what became Wisconsin Central’s Emerson Sub division, terminating for the time being at Bourbon Valley close to the original entrance to the Marines Training area.




West Yard Site


The WCTA charter required it to provide rail facilities for small businesses to enable them to take advantage of single car shipments, so by agreement with WC as principal shipper, a Transload terminal was built at the south end of this site which is switched by W C for WCTA the site owner.


This site has now expanded and boasts a small three road staging yard to enable established businesses to become rail served. There is now a daily WC trip freight into West Yard from Fond du Lac


WCTA was formed partly to provide the growing Waukee township with an experimental commuter and shoppers service via Fond du Lac into Milwaukee for connection with Amtrak to Chicago and beyond... WCTA decided that this would only pay if a parcels service could be incorporated. To that end three Budd RDC units have been leased from Engine Leasing Partners LLP - symbol ELPX and painted into WCTA livery. Two of these units are part passenger and part parcels carrier, the third unit is a 90 seat passenger car, which can be used to strengthen one of the mixed units if required.


Funds were made available to convert an old mid 19th century house into the Waukee Town Depot with a car park. Part of the car park has been let out for a diner.


Also on the west side adjoining the Transload terminal is a site recently redeveloped by ADM for grain drying, storage and shipping. Incoming grain usually arrives by truck. . This yard is switched by the WC East Yard switcher.


The West Yard now houses a small Intermodal yard which required a flyover to be built. This was funded by CP Rail whose major customer JB Hunt has opened a local facility in Waukee.  Intermodal flats are added to a WC Intermodal service to and from Green Bay.



East Yard Site


Numerous industries and shippers have moved into new and existing buildings. Some older established businesses at the north end - mainly engineering workshops - have become rail connected. 


At the southern end a scrap reclaim company has created a new facility and ships one or two gondolas of scrap each day. A timber yard has also been opened next to a former factory which has now become a rail served fruit & vegetable packing and canning operation.


An oil and gas retail distributor has recently opened a rail served retail business on the site next to Betty’s diner.


Emerson Sub Division.


At the entrance to this reclaimed area are two grain silos operated by a farmer owned co-operative, mainly housing animal feeds. Before reclamation these were served by lake boats . At the back of these the Magic Pan bakeries have built an ultra modern facility specialising in cake manufacturing . Most of the ingredients come in by rail but at present almost all of the production goes out by truck within the local community catchment area.


The next section contains the Waukee Engine and Car Body Company, jointly owned by WC and Engine Leasing Partners LLP - Symbol ELPX  who store their locomotives on the site when not out on hire. They have a small local office facility in the Works yard. ELPX are mainly in the spot hire business. They also act as hiring agents for some of the large railroads when the latter have to sideline their regular power. It is not uncommon to see engines from the majors sitting in the ELPX storage road.


The Engine Works specialises in tyre turning, brake replacements and urgent servicing in addition to heavier longer term work mainly on prime movers, traction motors and electrical cubical jobs. One regular job is the nightly arrival of a pair of Metra F40s from Antioch, the northern end of the Chicago Metra system. By rotation  the engines which stable at Antioch are tripped to Waukee for overnight tyre checks and turning if needed, brakes, oils, sand  and fuel, returning in time to operate the last morning commuter train into Union Station, Chicago.


The tall engine works boasts a 180 ton hoist for power unit, generator and bogie lifting.


The adjacent Car Shops are equipped to carry out almost any repairs to car bodies and running gear including wheel and bogie changes. The paint shop can take engines and freight cars for body repaints.


Adjacent to the Car Shop is a Wisconsin Central refuelling facility also visited by engines from other railroads including the WCTA railcars..


The highway viaduct divides the town of Waukee from the Emerson township.

In the Bourbon Valley district of Emerson stands the original Wisconsin Electric Company power plant  which used to serve the marine base. This has recently been converted to a dual fuel plant. It  receives coal hoppers from the Powder River area of Nebraska and tank cars from Minnesota with fuel oil.


The newly formed Emerson Quarry company is recovering valuable marine gravels which are shipped to the Chicago area using the Duluth Missabee and Iron Range (DMIR) and Lake Superior & Ishpeming (LS&I) Joint service from Argonnne Upper Wisconsin.. The third rail-served industry in Bourbon Valley is the Emerson Meat Packing Company who receive a daily reefer with meat for processing into speciality cuts delivered by road to butchers and supermarkets.



Through Workings


A number of railroads have acquired reciprocal running rights over this new line and re-route overhead traffic from other routes using WC Engineers on an ad hoc basis.


At present the new diversionary route sees two daily trains of auto racks in each direction - Canadian Pacific to Winnipeg and Union Pacific to Minneapolis. Each has an empty return working. Both trains originate in Mexico via St Louis, Miss. But also load auto racks from Detroit at their respective Chicago yards.


Canadian National run a daily freight service to Winnipeg from Milwaukee, a daily grain train and a train of tank cars from Alberta to their yard in Chicago.  Wisconsin Central have diverted one daily newsprint train over to this route from Upper Wisconsin to Chicago and also a Quad Graphics  printed magazines train  both due to congestion on their main route as the magazines are very time sensitive. Quad Graphics is a large WC customer.


A coal train uses the line with run through power from Union Pacific, BNSF or CSX, again crewed by Wisconsin Central engineers. This trains loops at Waukee in both directions to pick up or set down Wisconsin Electric  coal gondolas.


As mentioned earlier an aggregates service calls to pick up and set down 28’ gondolas for Emerson Quarry.


There are a number of WC manifest freights in each direction daily pulling into the yard to drop and pick up cars.


The growing volume of rail served users in the Yards has caused Wisconsin Central to locate a small number of switchers and smaller four axle engines at Waukee for local trip and yard work. The Waukee based drivers use a former MILW office in the Works area.


Each day Wisconsin & Southern [WSOR] operate a Rugby Junction - Waukee and return service to exchange cars with the WC at Waukee before also loading any incoming WC and overhead traffic from Waukee yard. This service utilises a new cut off at the diamond at Ripon where WC cross at grade from Fond du Lac.





Operational Growth.


In the early/mid 1990s, Wisconsin Central acquired two small local railroads to be able to streamline operations using some more direct routes. In doing so W C also acquired the locomotives and rolling stock of the Fox River Valley Railroad and the Green Bay and Western Company.


Shortly after these purchases, the Canadian Government invited W C to take the Algoma Central Railroad (ACR) off their hands This was a more significant acquisition as the ACR based in Saulte Ste Marie Ontario gave WC a through route to Hurst, Ontario where it could exchange traffic with both the CP and CN.

With this acquisition came a fleet of GP 38-2s and a small number of SD 40-2s. WC gained an important customer in the form of Algoma Steel.


ACR was also a passenger service carrier and ran excursion trains through to the scenic Agawa Canyon.


By the end of the year 2001 prior to the acquisition by Canadian National, W C had getting on for 250 active engines.






Schedule of through freight trains


All are return services


Operator                                   Train Title                               Engines  ++


Wisconsin Central    Newsprint Stevens Point - Chicago Schiller Park       WC SD45/SD40


Wisconsin Central   Magazines Quad Graphics - Chicago Schiller Park     WC SD45/SD40


Wisconsin Central   Grain                      Duluth - Milwaukee Butler Yard     WC SD45/SD40


Wisconsin Central   Mixed            Belt Railway Chicago - Stevens Point     WC SD45/SD40


Wisconsin Central   Plastic pellets               Indiana H B - Twin Cities         WC SD45/SD40


Wisconsin Central    Timber/china Clay    Milwaukee - Stevens Point        WC GP40/GP38/GP35



C N                            Chemicals                        Winnipeg - Milwaukee           Any 6 axle CN      **


C N                            “ Hot Shot “                       Chicago - Winnipeg                     “        “           **


U P                             Auto Racks                       Mexico - Twin Cities             C 40 /C44


C P                             Auto Racks                     St Louis - Manitoba               Any CP power


LS&I/DMIR              Ore     Argonne - Wisconsin Rapids {reverses WTY}     Any  LS&I/DMI


NS/CSX                      Coal                       Powder River - Twin Cities         Any NS/CSX/UP





++   All the above require a minimum of two engines per train


**     BN SD power can be used on these trains






                                                                                                             Appendix 2

Local Services Switching in Waukee Town Yard


All trains are operated by Wisconsin Central except where shown


Local Manifest freights   operating variously between Stevens Point - Fond du Lac - Green Bay -Saulte Ste Marie - Milwaukee [Butler yard]




 Normal Motive Power : WC -  GP 9; GP 30; GP 35; GP 38.


Usually load to 6 boxcars


Local Deliveries and yard Switching:   WC SW1500; SW1200





Wisconsin & Southern ( WSOR)


Daily Rugby Junction - Waukee Town Yard exchange train


WSOR  motive power


Contributed and Built by David Aldridge.