The railroad had built a line from Kenosha into downtown Milwaukee and to Wiscona in 1855, which connected to a line into Chicago.
The line was merged into the Milwaukee & Chicago Railroad in 1857, which changed itsname to the Chicago & Milwaukee Railway by 1863. In 1881, they became the Milwaukee, Chicago & Northwestern. After years of instability, the railroad finally became part of the Chicago & Northwestern's growing empire in 1883.
At one time, the core of the line in downtown Milwaukee and just south of the location could see well over 100 trains a day.
On the north, the line connected to another C&NW family railroad, which had been built in 1872 and 1873. The major junction would later become vital to the C&NW system.
The junction became known as Wiscona, and allowed this line to connect with a major Milwaukee Road line, the C&NW mainline west to Saint Paul, East/north to Green Bay and this line continued towards Oshkosh.
The route served as the more industrial line between Milwaukee and Chicago, which went through Racine and Kenosha. A bypass line was built several miles to the west of these towns in 1906.
When the Milwaukee, Sparta & Northwestern built the Airline in 1911 around the north side of Milwaukee, the C&NW spend a lot of money upgrading this line along with many others.
Beginning in Kenosha, the line is used by the METRA, a Chicago commuter rail.
The line is still used by numerous local trains per day, but is abandoned north of National Avenue in Milwaukee.
Today, as the result of a 1995 purchase of the C&NW, Union Pacific owns everything that was the original Kenosha Subdivision. In downtown Milwaukee, and around the immediate northern suburbs, the line is the Oak Leaf Trail.
The remaining portions of the line from Wiscona to Capitol Drive are the Capitol Drive Industrial Lead, which was abandoned in 2009, and purchased by the state to create an eventual trail in 2014.
The line is one of the oldest in the Milwaukee area, and was one of the most significant to its economy.
This massive bridge crosses the N. Branch Chicago River along Ashland Avenue.
Of the movable bridges in Chicago, this one is one of largest. Built to carry 3 tracks, every bit of this bridge towers over the surroundings.
This bridge was built in 1916 to replace a double track swing bridge, which was built in 1887. That bridge was built to replace a single track bridge.
When built, this bridge could not disrupt traffic for a long period of time. In a 24 hour period, almost 200 trains crossed the river at this location.
To do this, the swing span was put in open position, portions cut out, and the new bridge lowered.
This meant railroad traffic was only interrupted for 18 hours as the old bridge was cut away.
The bridge is a skewed structure, with a Strauss Heel Trunnion design.
The main truss is a 7 panel, riveted Warren Through Truss. The third track is currently not in use, but is expected to be returned to service soon.
A massive concrete counterweight sits on the south side. The substructures of the bridge are concrete. An approach on the north side features a short Deck Girder.
The photo above is an overview from Ashland Avenue.
N. Branch Chicago River Railroad Bridges
|Upstream||Jacob Park Rail Bridge|
|Downstream||Bloomingdale Line Swing Bridge|