Central Wisconsin Railroad History

Many people from Central Wisconsin and Portage County have established themselves as notable Railroad historians. Among the best are Malcolm Rosholt and Professor Raymond Specht (UWSP).

Raymond Specht penned many books and articles. Many were published by Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, Inc. Unfortunately these are out of print. NOTE: the Portage County Historical Society has recently obtained permission to republish some of his works. Check our "booklets" for availability.


Keith Meacham, a long time president of the Hub City Model Railroaders located in Marshfield Wisconsin, has contributed several articles here. His monograph on telegraphy is a fitting tribute to his father's many years as a telegrapher for the Soo Line.

  1. Telegraphy
  2. Engine #2442
  3. Greenwood Line Part 1
  4. Greenwood Line Part 2
  5. Greenwood Line Revisited
  6. Working on the Portage Line circa 1944-1945
  7. Snow Storm
  8. I Remember: The CNW In Marshfield, 1967-1982. Long article!
  9. A Life Long “love” Of Lake Michigan Railroad Car Ferries
  10. A Fond Look Back On The Marshfield & Texas Spur. Another Long article! Many historic photos. Will take some time to load.

Malcolm Rosholt has written several books about Wisconsin life and his "Trains of Wisconsin" is out of print, but available through McMillan Digital Library Collection - Malcolm Rosholt for viewing online. He has an extensive photo collection, part of which is at UWSP's Archives Dept.

Professor Maurice Perret in collaboration with Prof. Specht produced the following articles:

  1. Railroad Passenger Service and Population Pattern


The history of the Wisconsin Central is tied to that of the Soo Line. A good history of the WC was "HISTORY of the WISCONSIN CENTRAL RAILWAY" written by Roy L. Martin. Unfortunately this book is no longer in print.

James Lydon, a Soo Line employee, has written extensively about the railroad's history and as the WC was a major part of that railroad's development this road's history is also included. The Central Wisconsin Model Railroaders, Ltd., received a copy of the "Lydon manuscript" about 1992. This model railroad club had formed a symbiotic relationship with Portage County Historical Society restoring the Society's ex-Bancroft Depot and in exchange using the basement under this structure as a clubhouse. CWMR along with the Society received permission from the Wisconsin Central RR Ltd., owners of the manuscript, to publish this document. Because of the numerous areas that have missing parts this is not possible. Further research at the Minnesota State Historical Society may turn up a more complete document.

Other sources of historic data about the Soo Line and its various lines is the Soo Line Historical and Technical Society and two authors with many books on Wisconsin railroading, Ray Specht and Malcolm Rosholt. Most of these books are out of print.

  • James Lydon Manuscript -- Presented here in 25 parts.
  • Pendergast Family -- This family has four generations of engineers.
  • The Pine Line   -- Ray Pendergast's memories of the Medford run.


Railroad maps are of particular interest to railroad historians. This section will feature new applications for better viewing that we hope you will enjoy.

Wisconsin Railroad Depot Photos

Wisconsin's railroad depots are rapidly disappearing. Some, like the Bancroft Depot, are being saved and restored. Many others are less fortunate. It is the goal of this webmaster to have historic photos available here of all the Wisconsin depots. This will not be an easy task. I know the photos exist and ask that they be made available for display here. Anyone wishing to donate a photo, complain or comment email me.

Go to Wisconsin Depots to view photos.

Interesting Links

  1. Railroad Depot Historical Society.
  2. Steam Locomotives.
  3. Library of Congress's Railroad Maps 1828-1900.



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