News: Owen – Wisconsin Central Soo Line RR Impact (1909 - 1910)

Transcriber: Stan

Surnames: None

----Source: Marshfield News


OWEN — The atmosphere of busy railroad construction prevailed between Owen and Spencer in 1909-1910 when the Wisconsin Central Line (Soo Line) built the Spencer-Owen cutoff involving about 19 miles of construction.
The project was L move to provide a shorter and easier route to Duluth and St. Paul by shortening the overall distance from Chicago by nine miles.

In 1910 when the Spencer- Owen cutoff opened a new gate to the north and west, Owen inherited the railroad's division headquarters previously located at Abbotsford.
Before construction of the Spencer-Owen cutoff, Abbotsford was the railroad's number two division point north of Chicago, and the last before reaching St. Paul.

Once established, Abbotsford held sway for nine years as an important division point and j railroad junction. The main line continued west from

 Abbotsford j through Curtiss to St. Paul, and it was at Abbotsford that the Ashland division joined the main line.
All trains changed engine crews at Abbotsford. Time freights and locals alike took time out there to be switched and reassembled in directional order. Only the site, the main line passenger trains, escaped the confines of Abbotsford.
When the railroad completed the Spencer-Owen cutoff it put an end to Abbotsford’s major usefulness as a rail center. Twelve miles of old main line between Abbotsford and Owen, via Curtiss, were torn up, and Spencer became the terminal of the Ashland division, while Abbotsford rated the courtesy of a station stop only.

Construction of the Greenwood-Loyal branch from Marshfield in 1891 was the first attempt of the Wisconsin Central Line to whittle down some of the excess mileage on its main line.

At that time, of the three competing lines between St. Paul and Chicago, the Wisconsin Central covered 460 miles, the Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul 410 miles, and the Chicago and North Western 360 miles The passenger trains of the three lines operated on about the same time schedules, but with the longest mileage, the Central was compelled to run at higher speeds and use every advantage to overcome the handicap.

A right-of-way cutoff was projected from Marshfield through Loyal and Greenwood to Bateman, 5 miles east of Chippewa Falls to reduce the distance between Chicago and St. Paul by 15 miles. Ground was broken at Greenwood and in July of 1891 the section between Greenwood and Marshfield was completed.

Before the project could be completed from Greenwood to Chippewa Falls, the financial depression of 1892 hit the Central and totally obscured the short line vision. The main line cutoff never matured beyond Greenwood, and the 224 mile section between Marshfield and Greenwood fell heir to the name of the Greenwood branch.

Memories of a day that is no longer on the Soo Line were recalled a few years ago when the Spencer roundhouse, built in 1911, when the steam locomotives really were something, was dismantled.

It was the time when the last of the Soo Line's locomotives were moving to Chicago where the once proud giants of the road were reduced to scrap.

From then on the day was left to the diesel, powerful, efficient and somehow with th e personality that had lured thousands of person to the tracks to watch when the steamers went bv, the drivers nothing but a blur of motion.


[Newspaper Clip]



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