Yesterday’s Milwaukee

Menomonee Valley Rail Industry

By the early 1880s, railroads and the rail industry were well-established in the valley. Part 2 of a series.

By - Apr 16th, 2014 09:35 am
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Menomonee Valley, c. early 1880s. Photo courtesy of Jeff Beutner.

Menomonee Valley, c. early 1880s. Photo courtesy of Jeff Beutner.

These two hikers have found a fine viewpoint overlooking the Menomonee Valley.

At this time (the early 1880s) the once-pristine valley was getting “improved’ by dredging canals in the marsh that would be deep enough for shipping. The dredged materials would become landfill.

Milwaukee, at that time, was becoming an important railroad hub. The building complex in the center of the photo was the maintenance shops of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway, which was rapidly expanding at the time. By 1909 the railway would extend all the way to Seattle. In 1886 a new depot would be constructed in downtown Milwaukee. For many it is only a memory as it was demolished in 1965.

The location of this view is approximately at 39th St. and Mt. Vernon Ave., looking southeast.

Jeff Beutner is a collector of photographs, postcards and stereoviews of old Milwaukee. This column features these images, with historical commentary by Beutner.

5 thoughts on “Yesterday’s Milwaukee: Menomonee Valley Rail Industry”

  1. Dave says:

    If the men are standing on or at about 39th and Mt. Vernon then where the river is would be where the freeway is today. Looking at the water and the way it looks like the current is flowing it looks as if it’s going backwards or west which wouldn’t be right. This makes me wonder if this pic was taken on the other side of the valley on or around what is now 30th and Pierce maybe ? Just an observation again do to the way the water looks to be flowing and there even appears to be a small water fall.

  2. Casey says:

    looks like 3 hikers to me

  3. Ms. Ann Thrope says:

    Thanks for the photo; its a nice reminder of how Milwaukee was once a railroading center. May I add to your remarks a bit: by 1909 the Milwaukee Road did indeed reach Seattle, but the railroad’s western terminus was Everett, Washington, thirty-five miles north of Seattle.

    Everett was the port adjoining the west-coast mining and timbering interests of William Rockefeller (brother of John D.), to whom the Mitchell family of Milwaukee had sold the railroad. Rockefeller announced his intention to reach the coast in 1893, (thus the ‘& Pacific’ added to ‘Chicago, Milwaukee’, etc.), but it took fifteen long years to get there.

    Union Station (so named because it served both the Milwaukee Road and the Soo Line) stood on Everett Street, that odd little two-block-long thoroughfare between Second and Fourth streets, where WE Energies now has its headquarters.

    A Milwaukee Road roundhouse occupied the Menomonee valley site until the late nineteen-seventies.

  4. Terry says:

    The spot where the gentlemen are standing is approximately where Stevenson St. would be. The river is the menominee and would be diverted just east of 27th st.

  5. Thomas Manz says:

    What you’re seeing behind the man with the telescope isn’t the Menomonee River. The river is on the opposite (south) side of the valley. That light-colored area is probably just exposed glacial deposits from the valley slope.

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