North Western Intersection Removed
WDT 06 23 1977
In three days of work, a crew of the Milwaukee Road disassembled the intersection of the Chicago and North Western Railroad with the Milwaukee Road tracks, leaving the Milwaukee Road as the only through railroad serving the city.
Freight service will not be affected by the removal of the intersection because Watertown industries which are served by the Chicago and North Western will be serviced through Clyman Junction to the north and will travel south to the Milwaukee Road tracks but will not cross the tracks again.
Removal of the intersection this past week ended 118 years of a rail line operating through Watertown and connecting Fort Atkinson with Fond du Lac.
The Chicago and North Western tracks actually had not been used for a through route for nearly two years since the decision was made to use the line as a spur from Clyman Junction and to run a switch train from Clyman to Watertown as needed rather than operate a train daily. That train still operates and picks up and delivers cars to the Milwaukee Road tracks at a siding near the train depot off of Montgomery Street.
Watertown residents who are in their 30s and older may even remember when the line regularly carried passengers. Passenger trains operated along the Janesville to Fond du Lac route from its inception and up until June 6, 1950 when the service stopped.
An early passenger schedule for the line, dated July 15, 1896, showed passenger service was available from Janesville to Fond du Lac.
One train operated daily except Sunday from Janesville at 12:45 p.m., Milton 1:08 p.m., Koshkonong 1:21 p.m., Fort Atkinson 1:40, Jefferson 1:58, Johnson Creek 2:21, Watertown 2:38, Clyman 2:53, Juneau 3:07, Minnesota Junction 3:13 p.m. and several other stops on the way to Fond du Lac at 4:20 p.m.
Other northbound trains stopped at Watertown at 9:42 p.m., and 7:55 a.m. and made all of the above mentioned stops.
Return trips from Oshkosh stopped at Watertown at 8:37 a.m., 6:45 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. daily.
The Chicago and North Western dates back to 1859 in Watertown. It was in that year the line between Janesville and Minnesota Junction, north of Juneau, was constructed by the North Western. That section included the intersection because the Milwaukee Road had laid its main line through here four years earlier.
The section of the line from Minnesota Junction to Fond du Lac, a distance of 29 miles, was constructed in 1854 by the Rock River Valley and Union Railroad.
The entire line from Janesville to Fond du Lac was reconstructed in the years 1914 through 1916. Since that time the intersection itself has been replaced several times, the last of which was in the late 1950s.
The junction point between the Chicago and North Western and the earlier lines which formed the present Milwaukee Road became a focal point of activity almost immediately upon installation of the intersection.
Bay State House; Junction House
A railroad ticket office was maintained there and in 1863 the Bay State House, a hotel was built to accommodate railroad men and the traveling public.
The Bay State House burned in 1875 and was replaced by the three-story, brick Junction House which contained ticket and telegraph offices for the railroads and a hotel and restaurant.
The Junction House served the public until it, too, was destroyed by fire at high noon on Friday, Oct. 9, 1920. It was never rebuilt.
Freight and passenger service on the line was at a peak in the 1930s and 1940s and gradually declined until the passenger service was terminated in 1950.
Although the intersection has been removed, a number of Watertown industries continue to rely on the North Western for service.
Those industries include Midland Cooperative, Specialty Foods, Loeb Industries, Redigas, Mining Liquor, Wisconsin School Service, Dadant and Sons, Rock River Consumers Cooperative, and Sealy Mattress. Their service will not be affected by the removal of the intersection.
The Milwaukee Road has been anxious to have the intersection removed because of the high maintenance of an intersection, higher speeds are allowed when there is no intersection, and a major track renovation program between the intersection and Ixonia will be undertaken later this summer.
The Milwaukee Road agreed to reinstall the intersection if the need should every again arise.
The present line between Watertown and Johnson Creek is in poor condition and is no longer used because no business or industries are serviced on that segment.
The portion from Clyman Junction to Watertown is used as a spur line to bring cars to and from Watertown industries.
The North Western spur line in Watertown connects with the Milwaukee Road through a siding located adjacent to the Milwaukee Road depot. Cars are transferred to and from the Milwaukee Road tracks at this location, and the switch engine still operates to and from Watertown as needed which is about three times each week.
After 118 years of through service for two railroads in Watertown, all that remains of the intersection is the ties and steel which are piled up as a stop for a loose box car.
History of Watertown, Wisconsin