By Carol Strause, Monticello
The last run of the Limburger Special took place in March 1972, with over a foot of recent snowfall on the ground. Old 508, Milwaukee Road diesel locomotive pulled its last freight train on the Milwaukee Road now called the Sugar River State Trail. The five man crew switched on two freight cars, one held lumber billed from Tacoma, Washington, the other soybean meal headed for Rockford. Two days before the train switched on a flatcar that had been emptied of farm machinery. The line began losing out financially when the milk plants closed; first the Indiana Condensed Milk Company at Albany, and the Pet Milk facilities at New Glarus. Then stockyards began to ship by truck. Rail service changed from four passenger cars a day to finally no passengers allowed. The freight service schedule lessened as shipments fell off. Finally the run was down to only Thursdays.
Trainmen on the run felt this was a very scenic route, being primitive with the wooded areas seldom seen otherwise, an outcrop of rock that dwarfed the train, the crops, creeks, Little Sugar River, wildlife areas, and the magnificent view of Lake Winnetka at Albany. Skirting Decatur lake and County Club the train traveled into Brodhead going halfway through the city before arriving at the depot and mainline. With the last run, went the last diesel engine, the last two freight cars and the last caboose of the Milwaukee Road's, "Limburger Special," a name applied to the train since its early day cargo was told by its aroma-limburger cheese. Another era came to an end.
Of the three villages on the Milwaukee Road, only Monticello still received freight by rail, being served by the Illinois Central on its Freeport to Madison run. This freight destined for Laidlaw Corp and Walnut Grove Feeds.
The New Glarus, WI Depot Preservation Society has an HO model of the Limburger Special which contains historically accurate replicas of the four depots on the Brodhead-New Glarus Branchline. This layout is set up for children to operate. After successfully running the Limburger Special they can purchase a certificate which designated them as certified engineers on the Limburger Special. The Limburger Special will be on display at the Monticello Depot during Depot Days of Green County.
Train Crew Members on the last run
of the Limburger Special
Past and Present
by Henry J. Elmer
With the coming of the railroad it was necessary to have bus and dray service, or freight lines, to and from the depot. Consequently, a livery stable was built about 1890 by either George Legler or Emil Voegeli. Other owners were John J. Voegeli, Emil Blumer, Henry F. Freitag, Walter Wittenwyler, Henry J. Elmer, Charles Clark and Emil Zentner. All freight including coal was shipped in by rail and hauled to town. Two busses met the passenger trains. According to Henry J. Elmer, past owner and operator, they met six or eight trains each day. At one time the stable had eighteen horses and would rent teams to salesmen who came to town to tour the country. The driver of the team would usually se that the salesman met with only two or three good paying customers during the day-the idea was to keep him in town as long as possible.
From the Monroe Sentinel September 21, 1887
Last week Mr. Streiff, the first leader of the colony of New Glarus and myself, his assistant, made up our minds to make our first home in this then far and wild north-west a visit over the now finished railroad, by way of Brodhead and Albany, which was extended since spring to New Glarus, with remarkable decision and quickness, as the survey and the work were completed inside of five months. The building of the Northern R.R.(Chicago, Madison & Northern) through Monroe, which had a branch to New Glarus in prospect, no doubt, opened the eyes of our old company and she made up her mind to do the job--and did it according to her promise made to New Glarus--in a real honorable manner, to the great joy of that burgh.
After waiting four hours at Brodhead, the cars started with freight and passengers, and carried us to Albany and Monticello over the smooth and well ballasted road to New Glarus, where we arrived at 3 P.M. They ran about 20 miles per hour, and we were astonished to find the new road from Monticello so well made after we had heard that the work was done so lightly and poorly. True, the season was very favorable for such workmen and as to the bed is laid and built on low lands it may experience hard times in wet seasons, but no doubt it will be improved steadily with time.
We were very interested in our trip-looking at the country which we knew so well years ago, and through which we now, against all expectation, were carried with such speed to our old home. It was just 42 years, by a few days that Mr. F. Streiff arrived with the first 15 families, and built the first hut for them a short distance from where the depot is now built, and one year after the writer arrived, and was received by the men, then building the third or fourth log cabin a few rods further away. So the times change. A rich and thriving village covers the wildness now and civilization benefits a large community, where the Indian passed, yet where we first arrived to found our new home. We feel happy that God spared our lives to witness this blessing and joy of railroad to our first home-- New Glarus. May it prosper forever!
Monday December 1, 1886
James Stewart, of Lancashire, Pa. who has the contract for the construction of the new Chicago, Madison & Northern line from Monroe to Madison, was killed at a point five miles west of the village of Brooklyn, in this county, on Sunday last. Mr. Stewart, with three other gentlemen, was on his way to Belleville. They were passing along a high grade on the public highway when one of the horses shied and crowded the other to the edge of the embankment. The vehicle was thus run off the grade on one side and tipped, throwing the party down an embankment of about eight feet. Mr. Stewart was the only one hurt, and his injuries were very serious. Medical aid was at once summonsed from Brooklyn. He lived until the doctor arrived, and told the doctor that he must act promptly, and on finishing the speech expired. Mr. Stewart was a railroad contractor of considerable note. He was about 50 years of age. The party was starting out for Belleville, where they were to drive over the proposed new route to Madison. As a consequence the work north has been delayed.
January 19, 1887
Last Saturday morning, while men were engaged in warming some dynamite in pans over a stove, in one of the shanties on the McKinney sub-contract, on the Dunlap grading, near Orangeville (IL), the dynamite, which does not explode except by concussion caught fire. The men lost their heads and left the shanty pell-mell. There were 28 kegs of blast powder in the apartment, which may account for the unwillingness of the men to stay-by. The Dynamite got in its work unmolested. It blazed higher and higher and finally set the shanty on fire. This ignited the black powder and--well! During the process of dynamite to powder and powder back to dynamite, which was rather slow, considering the provocation and opportunity it had to go off- a man being warned by the fugitives from the shanty, thought of his team of horses, in the stable near the burning shanty, and at risk of his life, went boldly up and got them out and away just in time to hear the explosion of the powder. The concussion set off the dynamite and then there was a terrific noise. Things were torn to shreds and splinters, and bedding, dishes & Etc. filled the air. Luckily no lives were lost. Had the men followed the rule in warming dynamite, there would have been no such accident.
Southern Wisconsin Railcar Group.