Oak Creek Parkway Arch

Stone Arch Bridge over Oak Creek and Oak Creek Parkway
South Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Oak Creek Parkway Arch
Built By Chicago & North Western Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Union Pacific Railroad
Length 78 Feet Total, 39 Foot Spans
Width 2 Tracks, 1 In Use
Height Above Ground 12 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Reinforced Stone Arch
Substructure Type Stone Masonry
Date Built 1883, Widened 1890
Traffic Count 5 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
C&NW Bridge Number 1526
Significance Moderate Significance
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.

One of a pair of double stone arches in the Milwaukee Area, this structure crosses Oak Creek and Oak Creek Parkway.
Originally built in 1883, the bridge was reportedly widened in 1890, during a double tracking project. This information was taken from a 1918 valuation of stone arches on this line.
Currently, the arch sits nearly unaltered. However, the bridge was lined with corrugated steel to prevent crumbling.
Overall, the bridge remains in good condition. It is hoped that the bridge will be preserved for years to come.

Historic Photo
Historic photo of the bridge

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the old age and design.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge can be accessed from the rod below.


Source Type


Build Date Chicago & North Western Historical Society Archives
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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