A special thanks goes to everyone who tried to keep the Ex-Illinois Central here in Wisconsin in place. The ex-Illinois Central rail line runs from Madison, WI to Freeport, Ill. This rail line is now owned by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. State officials have now removed the rails and are converting this line into a recreational trail. There was a group of people that don't want this to happen, but it did.
For more complete up to date information on this rail line, please visit The Wisconsin Historic Rail Connection. Check out the "Railroads in Green County" section to find stories on the line and how they removed it.
In order to understand the situation, we must look at some history and examine how the rail line was used before it was removed.
The last train to use the line was the Wisconsin and Calumet Railroad in the late 1980's. After that, the line stood unused and brush and trees took over the corridor. Seeing a unique opportunity, a group of Motorcar operators got together, and cleared a section of the abandoned rail line. They received permission from the state to hold events and provide Motorcar rides to the general public for a nominal fee. In the spring, as part of the Green County Depot Days celebration, Motorcar rides were available three years in a row. In the fall of 1998, there was a "Fall Color" ride available. During all of these events, thousands of people were given an opportunity to explore a seldom seen part of Green County including a 1000 foot railroad tunnel. These rides were VERY popular. People were turned away at almost every event because the rides "sold out" all the time! People involved in these events wanted to keep them happening. This corridor was a perfect place for this.
In July, 1998, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Recourses conducted a feasibility study to learn if a state trail would be the best use for this rail line.
Because of the threat to the rail line, the Motorcar group got together, and formed the Wisconsin Heritage Rail Corporation. The purpose of this group was to preserve a 29 mile section of rail for Motorcar excursions and other events. Due to local politics, their attempts failed.
What can you now? It is still important that the Wisconsin State Officials know how you feel. If you are a rail-fan and wanted to see a part of rail history preserved, and might have enjoyed a motorcar ride some day, PLEASE let them know!
Thank you for your time.
Southern Wisconsin Railcar Group.