Monday, February 12, 2024

WSOR/WICT/(WIWR+CWRC): Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois Overview

[WATCO has broken these links. Below is what they have in 2024.]


On their system map:

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, financial difficulties forced the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad to abandon much of its trackage in southern Wisconsin, including lines from Prairie du Chien to Madison, Madison to Janesville, and Janesville to Fox Lake, Illinois. At the same time, the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad abandoned its line from Madison to Freeport, Illinois. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation formed the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission (WRRTC) in March 1980 in the interest of preserving rail service on these lines. Two short line operators, Wisconsin Western Railroad (WIWR) and the affiliated Central Wisconsin Railroad (CWRC), were contracted to operate on the Prairie du Chien-Madison and Madison-Freeport lines.

These two operators filed for bankruptcy in December 1984, leaving WRRTC to find another operator. The Wisconsin and Calumet Railroad (WICT) was formed on January 1, 1985. WICT would eventually operate all of the above-mentioned rail lines, as well as lines from Janesville to Waukesha, and Janesville to Monroe. In 1989, the first Wisconsin & Calumet trains ran from Janesville to Fox Lake on the route known during the MILW era as the "J-Line". Shortly thereafter, WICT reopened the line between Janesville and Madison; bringing rail service back to Milton, Edgerton, Stoughton and McFarland.

The Wisconsin & Calumet was purchased by the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad in 1992, but it continued to operate as a subsidiary until it was officially merged into the WSOR in 1997.

Most of the rail lines operated by the Wisconsin & Calumet remain in service today under the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad, with the notable exception of the line from Madison to Freeport [the ICG segment], which was removed in 1999. The Badger State Trail currently occupies the old road bed.

Zaky Joseph posted
Fledgling Wisconsin and Southern northbound freight train on the BRC, going underneath the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) and banging over the Santa Fe diamonds at Nerska. This train was always affectionately known as the "Little WICT" on the BRC, since Wisconsin and Southern took over operations from the old Wisconsin and Calumet Railway. Chicago, Illinois. Taken in August, 1998.

Looking at the map at the top, my 2005 SPV Map indicates the branch going northwest from Rondout is Metra+WSOR and the route going south of Rondout is Metra+CP+Amtrak+WSOR. The branch going north is CP+Amtrak. All of these segments used to be Milwaukee. At Tower A-5, WSOR uses another former-Milwaukee line to jog west over to BRC, which it takes south to Clearing Yard.

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