Horsebytes -- A blog for Seattle-area horse folks
April 14 2009
Yesterday, as my eye flicked over the Milwaukee Road Rail Trail endurance ride in my calendar - two weeks away! – I wondered how a Great Lakes name had migrated west. I knew it was part of a rails-to-trails route that runs from North Bend all the way to Idaho, where the John Wayne Pioneer Wagon ride is held annually.
I was curious about the connection to Milwaukee, though, and why the railway abandoned, as routes over the mountains are hard to come by. This had to be the most over-engineered horse trail ever. With rain falling all day Sunday, I had time to find out. I didn't delve into all the details provided by railroad buffs, but here's the short version:
How the Cascades became Midwestern
The Milwaukee line began with a paltry five miles of track in the 1850, making a full twenty-mile run to Waukesha, Wisconsin the next year, and growing incrementally from there. The railroad had its ups and downs, bankruptcies, mergers and takeovers, but by the 1880's it owned an empire of track connecting Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska to Chicago, and was known as the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company.