Hubbard Park Stone Arch

Stone Arch Bridge over Hubbard Park Entrance
Shorewood, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Hubbard Park Stone Arch
Built By Chicago & Northwestern Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Milwaukee County
Length 42 Feet Total, 21 Foot Spans
Width 2 Tracks
Height Above Ground 10 Feet (Estimated)
Type Double Stone Arch
Date Built 1884
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
Bridge Number 1601
Within the state of Wisconsin, the Green Bay, Milwaukee & Chicago Railroad had early hopes of connecting the three namesake cities.

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 stone arch is a noted bridge in the area, and serves as the entrance to the riverfront area of Hubbard Park, along the Milwaukee River.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation did a historic bridge narrative in 1984, which is presented below.

Written by Jeffrey A. Hess as part of the 1986 Wisconsin DOT Historic Bridge Project
The structure is a rock-faced, coursed-ashler, sandstone bridge with 2 semicircular arches, perpendicular wing walls, and ornamental, triangular cutwaters on both faces of the central pier. Springing about 5 ft. above grade, the arches rise 7 ft. 6 inches over spans of 15 ft. Differences in stonework on the east and west elevations suggest that the bridge has been widened. The east elevation displays ring stones with a smooth, chamfered margin on the bottom edge; the keystone is elongated. In contrast, the west elevation makes no distinction between the keystone and the other ring stones, which are chamfered with a smooth margin on the intrados. The bridge's length, excluding wing walls, is about 24 ft.; its width about 97 ft. Although the bridge's width is sufficient to have accommodate multiple tracks, it now carries a single track, bordered on the east by a pedestrian walkway. [Note: The track is now gone, the right-of-way has been converted to a bike trail.]

Constructed by the Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Westerrn Railway Company, the bridge embodies a standard stone-arch plan favored by many American railroads during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. There are seven similar, stone-arch highway crossings in Wisconsin built by the Chicago & North Western [sic] Railway. The Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Western bridge differes from these primarily in its use of ornamental cutwaters and perpendicular (instead of flared) wing walls. These features make the design a significant, and architecturally interesting, variant of the standard, stone-arch, railroad bridge.

[Note: This document was prepared by Jeffrey A. Hess and Robert M. Frame III for the Wisconsin DOT. It is part of a project that was launched by the Wisconsin DOT in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration. It was published by the Wisconsin DOT in 1986, in a report entitled Historic Highway Bridges in Wisconsin, Volume 1, on pages 103-108.]

One questionable call was the date. The original document calls the bridge an 1890 structure, while Wisconsin History, as well as documents call the bridge an 1884 structure.
Another was the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western. While the Green Bay, Milwaukee & Chicago built the line in 1855, the line became part of the Chicago & Northwestern in 1883, never touching the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western.

Regardless, the bridge is one of two double stone arches in Milwaukee County, the Other being in South Milwaukee, and built 11 years later.

The bridge was also reportedly used as an underpass during ice harvesting from the Milwaukee River.

The photo above is an overview.

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