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Baumann Report Archives

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Jeff Baumann gives his reports on what's happening to the ex-GB&W in and around Green Bay.

March 2015: Last Customer in Manawa

The last customer still left from the Green Bay to Manawa section of the GB&W has stopped rail shipments apparently for good. Sturm Foods in Manawa was the last customer left after the removal of the tracks from New London to Green Bay over the course of the last 10 years. Track sections and railroad signals have been removed and grade crossings have been repaved. I expect the tracks from New London to Manawa will eventually be removed and the trackbed returned to nature. At this time I don't believe a Nature Trail will be built as the Black Creek to New London section was allowed to return to nature.

Norwood Yard has been pretty quiet lately with only a few cars parked by the Pickle Factory.

- Jeff Baumann
March 1, 2015

January 2013: Track Removal

Another 2 miles of tracks has been removed on the GB&W For the last few years, the removal of tracks from New London to Green Bay stopped at Mile 6 (Pamperin Park). In the last few months, another 2 miles was removed around the same time the new entrance to Pamperin Park was being built and the area around Hwy. 29 and Packerland Drive was under construction. The tracks now are removed to Mile 4 (Packerland Drive) where a large dirt and gravel pile prevents rail cars from running off the tracks.

- Jeff Baumann
January 1, 2013

July 2012: Wolf River Lumber stops rail shipments

The ex-GB&W has lost another customer in Northeast Wisconsin. I have recently confirmed that Wolf River Lumber in New London has stopped shipping and receiving lumber by rail. Crews have removed the tracks and railroad signals from the County Road S crossing in New London, just east of US 45. The rest of the rails are overgrown with grass and is quickly being reclaimed by nature. I have checked on Sturm Foods in Manawa and when I did, boxcars were parked at their facility, so it seems that, at least for now, that rail shipments are continuing. This is always a concern for me because usually when a rail line is down to their last few customers, it seems that it isn't long before the line is deactivated, and then abandoned. Since Sturm Foods is the final customer on this end of the GB&W, we will have to wait and see.

Also, I drove through Black Creek last week, and it looks like the three miles of remaining track that was used for boxcar storage is no longer being used.

- Jeff Baumann
July 2, 2012

June 2011: Trail to Black Creek

Things are pretty quiet on the GB&W since my last report. The trail from Green Bay does indeed end in Black Creek and has not crossed State Highway 47. I am a little disappointed in the condition of the trail though. When I inspected it last fall, there appears to be an insufficient amount of ballast laid down on the trail as you can see cracks on the trail bed where rain has washed small amounts of dirt away. Maybe someday they will upgrade it better as it becomes more popular with trail users.

Other trails on the GB&W seem to be in good condition including the one from Amherst Junction that goes under Highway 10.

And there is an update to the caboose roster for the GB&W. Caboose number 115 that I see countless times in the CN yard off Whitman Street in Appleton appears to be in its' new home. It gets moved in and out of the yard as they do track work and other projects in and around Appleton.

- Jeff Baumann
June 1, 2011

March 2009: Newton Blackmour Trail

Things have been progressing well in the rail-to-trail conversion of the GB&W. The Duck Creek Trail from Howard to Seymour has been completed. The next trail-The Newton Blackmour Trail-is currently under construction. As of Valentines Day 2009, the railbed has been smoothed over from Seymour to County Rd. PP, just east of Black Creek. A backhoe was parked on the railbed at PP. Also, the small railroad trestle just west of this intersection is being renovated. Several large timbers have been laid across the top of the trestle. These will be used to support the walkway across the bridge when completed. I'm not sure what will happen with this trail when it crosses Hwy. 47 in Black Creek, as the 3 miles of track is still in place west of town. Currently, there are no railcars being stored on this section of track.

Things have been quiet elsewhere on the GB&W. In Norwood Yard, the large area of green pipe stored there is long gone so the yard has been returned to a relative calm. Only about 10 railcars are parked there now. And the grain silos in the yard see frequent use, though are quiet at the current time.

- Jeff Baumann
March 1, 2009

August 2008: Duck Creek Trail

A new trail currently being built on the GB&W is nearing completion. It is called The Duck Creek Trail and runs from Howard to Seymour. This is very good news for GB&W fans, as it helps to preserve the railbed and right-of-way from being redeveloped. My hope is that more of the right-of-way will be preserved this way in the future. In places where there is no rail or trail, the railbed is quickly being re-claimed by nature, and is disappearing from view. This is really apparent from Seymour-west, and also in the Scandinavia area.

In other news, GB&W Caboose #115 made a brief appearance in the CN South Whitman Avenue yard in Appleton on July 10th. Before I could get close enough to snap a photo, a CN engine hooked up to it and moved it out onto the main line track.

Farther out west on the line, Americold/McCain Foods in Plover (formerly Ore Ida Foods) has been doing a great business with tanker cars and reefers in and out of the plant. And in Biron, CN has been doing great business with the NewPage paper mill hauling coal and wood into the plant, and finished products out.

- Jeff Baumann
August 1, 2008

April 2008: Pipeline unloaded at Norwood Yard

There has been lots of activity in Norwood Yard in the last month. There have been lots of TrailerTrain-type flatbed railcars full of green large-diameter pipes arriving in Norwood Yard by the CN Railroad. CN/WCL crews have been unloading the pipe from these cars, and have been lining them up in rows facing North-South in the large field where the old GB&W shops and turntable once stood. The rows of pipe were started at the Eastern edge of the yard working West. The rows also take up an area from the current tracks to the Southern edge of the yard. I'm not sure what this project is about. They will get maybe 7 or 8 carloads of pipe in at a time and unload them. Then they will pull the empty cars out of the yard and bring in another 7 or 8 cars. If I can get pics, or can find out what the pipe is intended for, I'll pass the information on.

In other news, the line from Norwood Yard out to Anamax and Samuels Recycling is doing a steady business. Several trains each week are still serving these businesses.

In the last month, I took a few loads out to Luxemburg. The line is still intact from Green Bay to Luxemburg.

And finally, CN is still serving the Manawa area, though I've noticed a slowdown in rail freight into and out of New London.

- Jeff Baumann
April 1, 2008

May 2007: Manawa Trail

Things have been going good with the GB&W since my last report. For some time now there has been a gravel trail from Manawa on westward. It consists of an orange-colored, pea sized gravel bed appearing to be approximately 10 feet wide. I'm still in the process of determining just how far west it is completed, but it looks like it might be at least to Plover. (If you are crossing the GB&W on I-39/US 51 in central Wisconsin and look east, you can make it out.) At some intersections where trail meets road, there are posts to prevent cars from using the trail.

Wolf River Lumber and Sturm Foods are still shipping by rail. In other news, another 1/4 mile of tracks have been removed in the New London area. The area affected is from mile 37.75 (House Road) to mile 38. The rails are laid to the side and the ties, spikes and rail plates are still there. Also, the last round railroad crossing warning sign (RXR) has just been removed in the last week at the intersection of County Rd. H and Highway 54 in Oneida.

And finally, there has been tremendous activity at the grain silos in Norwood Yard. Most times, there are grain cars lined up from the elevators to 12th Avenue. And there has been a signal improvement upgrade where the GB&W crosses S. Oneida Street (next to the Boy's & Girl's Club.) New lights and gates have been installed.

- Jeff Baumann
May 1, 2007

April 2006: Car storage at Black Creek

Things have remained pretty much the same on the GB&W since my last report. Wolf River Lumber, Sturm Foods, and Norwood Yard are still busy. And there is still moderate train traffic heading west out of Norwood Yard to service the West Green Bay businesses.

In other news, it looks like The Soo Line/WCL/CN is again using the 3 miles of old GB&W trackage from Black Creek-west for car storage. When traveling out there on March 27th, those tracks were almost completely full of cars.

Also, on that same day, I noticed some construction work on the railroad bed behind the Oneida One Stop at Oneida Hill. Not sure what this is about, but I noticed that there were some rails left in place there from when those tracks were removed 2 years ago.

- Jeff Baumann
April 1, 2006

September 2005: Black Creek and Packerland Industrial Park still see service

Things have been very quiet on the ex-Green Bay & Western. Sturm Foods and Wolf River Lumber still get pickups and deliveries of railroad cars -- usually one or two trains a week service these companies.

The three miles of track still in place in Black Creek haven't been used by the Canadian National in months. They may well have stopped using it altogether for rail car storage. I have closely inspected the right-of-way, and the tracks are all overgrown with weeds and grass and the rails are all discolored with rust.

There are still GB&W rolling stock in use by other railroads that visit various Wisconsin towns and rail yards. Earlier this year, I happened upon three GB&W boxcars that were sitting in the yard at Chippewa Falls. And, at the time of this report, a GB&W boxcar (with a WCL number painted over the old GB&W number) is sitting at Norwood yard hooked to a WCL boxcar. It's been here since early August.

Finally, speaking of Norwood yard, it's been a fairly busy place. At any one time, you will see between fifteen and thirty-five railcars parked in this yard. Several times a week, Canadian National does switching operations here, and also drive from their North Green Bay Yard off Interstate 43, through this yard and on to service Anamax [the former Green Bay Soap Co. in the Packerland Industrial Park - editor]and the various other companies on the west side of Green Bay. The Norwood Yard office off Twelfth Avenue is used each weekday morning by CN/WCL track crews and signal maintainers as a meeting place. I'm not sure if this is where they get their daily assignments or not, but some mornings you see a lot of pickup trucks and equipment trucks adorned with WCL and CN logos parked here. They also still use the large grain silos at Norwood Yard, as sometimes you will see a string of grain hoppers parked underneath it. So, as long as there are companies on the old GB&W's line that still must be serviced, Norwood yard will still be here and in use.

- Jeff Baumann
September 1, 2005

July 2004: Sturm Foods, Wolf River Lumber & Amherst Junction bridge still see traffic

Things have been fairly quiet on the ex-GB&W since the last report. Back in March, the new signals for the crossing in Hortonville next to Charlie's Place drive-in were finally installed. In addition to the two overhead signals controlling the State Highway 15 traffic, Canadian National also installed a third signal-turned sideways-that has a three-way purpose. The third signal is positioned in a way that controls a side street, a private driveway, and one of the driveways for Charlie's. So they have that crossing pretty well protected.

In other news, I have no clue about what became of the half-dozen gondola cars that were parked at mile marker 38 in New London. One day they were just gone and there hasn't been any track additions or removals that would normally indicate the need for those types of cars.

Sturm Foods and Wolf River Lumber still ship or receive boxcar loads, although rail activity has slowed down at times for both. I haven't seen any cars at Wolf River Lumber for awhile.

I was lucky enough back in early May to see a Canadian National engine with around six grain cars sitting just off the bridge in Amherst Junction over US 10. It's nice to know they still use that bridge even though the 'Green Bay Route' sign has been removed.

- Jeff Baumann
July 1, 2004

January 2004: Track removal complete to Oneida.


Track removal at Oneida
The Oneida track removal has been completed. Through the Canadian National Railway and Wisconsin Central Ltd. I learned that a salvage company by the name of J & J Salvage was the contractor hired by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to do this enormous project of removing all the tracks, ties, signals, and signage along the right-of-way from New London to the Village of Howard. The tracks have now been removed all the way down to near milepost 6, near Pamperin Park in Howard.

Since the last Baumann Report, J & J Salvage not only removed the Seymour to Oneida segment, but from New London to Howard removed all remaining railroad signals, electrical boxes, signs, and removed all the track pieces at all the public and private crossings, highways, and driveways. It now looks like one long gravel path from mile marker 37.75 in New London all the way to near mile marker 6 in the Village of Howard. It is indeed sad and shocking to see what was removed even in the last twelve months. I learned recently that my grandfather, Richard Baumann, was a high ranking official with the Green Bay & Western, something like third or fourth from the top. He loved the company he worked for and was proud of it. Although he died in the early 1960's, he would be greatly saddened, as we all are, at what has become of it.

In other news, the U.S. Highway 45 crossing in Hortonville (now renumbered State Highway 15) still doesn't have the new signals trucked to the site yet. And finally, I have spotted half a dozen gondola cars -- one of which has a few prefabricated tracks lying on their side in the car, parked at milepost 38 in New London next to the siding going into Wolf River Lumber. It usually isn't good news to see gondola cars in large quantities parked together. We'll have to see what becomes of this.

- Jeff Baumann
January 1, 2004

September 2003: Track removal in Seymour; trail in Black Creek?

The last remaining section of the former GB&W line from Green Bay to New London is now being dismantled. Last week workers started removing the rails from the ties and laying them to the side. The tracks have been separated from Seymour to the siding at Oneida Hill.

In other GB&W updates, a bulldozer with a pick attachment was observed July 30 pulling up the ties from the track bed in Black Creek. There has been a lot of activity concerning this. From milepost 37 all the way to the Hwy. 54 crossing near Seymour (excluding the 3 miles of track still in existence from Black Creek west) the ties have been removed from the track bed, loaded onto logging trucks, and the track bed smoothed over. If appearances are any indication, it looks like the old line will be preserved as a trail.

In Hortonville, the crossing work south of town has been completed. And at the crossing in town next to Charlie's Place, the construction work here has been completed. However, the actual signals haven't been trucked to this site yet.

- Jeff Baumann
September 1, 2003

June 2003: Seymour - Black Creek removal; changes in New London.

Canadian National (CN) has been busy in Northeastern Wisconsin lately. Since my last report, they have removed the siding in Black Creek, and have started the process of removing the temporary south to east track spur in Black Creek, which we now know was only built to allow the track removal equipment to head down the track to Seymour to begin the track removal. There is approximately 2-3 miles of track that has been left intact from the Soo Line tracks heading west on the GB&W. From what I can gather, this is just for railcar storage for the Soo Line. The signals have been removed in Black Creek at Hwy. 47 and in Shiocton at the Hwy. 76 crossing. Further west on the GB&W line, the CN has pulled the tracks from mile 35 to 37.75. The tracks are pulled just short of the new spur heading into Wolf River Lumber. That spur is located at mile 38.

Here's some insight to the signal upgrades in and near Hortonville. First, the signal upgrade south of Hortonville on Hwy. 15/45 is near completion. The signals are up and functional already. From what I can see, all that is left is site cleanup. Second, here are some details about the Hortonville crossing. This crossing is located on 15/45 as you come into town from New London. Charlie's Place drive-in is located here. The electrical lines have been laid and there are two holes in the ground where the signal concrete bases will be laid. Sitting near these holes are concrete bases upon which the signals will be bolted to. These are gigantic bases, appearing to be approximately 2'x2' square and about 3' tall. I talked to the owner of Charlie's this week. During our chat, he told me that the reason for the signal installation is that most of the trains that go to New London and Manawa go through Hortonville during the night. Too many people have had close calls with the trains, and CN decided to install the signals to improve safety.

- Jeff Baumann
June 1, 2003

March 2003: Seymour - Black Creek removal continues.

Our recent concerns about the track removal from Seymour to Black Creek have come true. Starting the week prior to January 17 when the Canadian National began this removal, they have been going gung-ho. Last week, they finished the section to Black Creek. According to my estimates, the tracks have been removed near milepost 14 and are removed all the way to Black Creek with the exception of the siding coming east out of Black Creek. Two weeks ago, the overhead signals at the State Highway 54 crossing west of Seymour were removed. This removal of the tracks occurred even as the sale of the trackage rights is still pending. As far as the section from Oneida to Green Bay, the only thing that they have done is to remove the electrical junction box from the crossing in Oneida. This is the crossing that has the crossing gates on it. The signals are still at the County Highway J crossing.

I have found some good news to report. Two Highway 45/15 railroad crossings that serve New London and Manawa are getting a facelift. The first is in Hortonville where the crossing by the drive-in restaurant is getting signals installed where there have always been crossbucks. And the second is south of Hortonville on 45/15 at the next railroad crossing where there is going to be a signal upgrade including overhead signals.

- Jeff Baumann
March 1, 2003

January 2003: Seymour - Black Creek removal; Manawa going strong

There are some BIG changes happening with the GBW. This past fall, I discovered that the Wisconsin Central / Canadian National Railway (WC/CN) had removed the diamonds in Black Creek where the GBW and the Soo Line crossed. At this track junction there were two connecting spurs (one from the west to the north, and the other from the east to the south). This past fall there was a large buildup of cars stored in this area. As they were removing the approaches to the diamonds from the east, they also removed part of the east-south spur. Now, this early winter, a track crane with about half a dozen gondola cars has been parked on the siding on the east end of Black Creek. After the approach to the diamonds was removed, they put the rest of the east-south spur back together again.

I spoke on Friday, January 17 with a WC Abandonment Coordinator (who spoke on condition of anonymity), who was in Black Creek. He told me that they have started to remove the tracks from Seymour to Black Creek. Indeed he was right, because on towards Green Bay, WC Trakrane #9410 is parked at the crossing where state highway 54 and county road PP meet. Also, checking on the Seymour track removal, the tracks have been removed starting near milepost 15 and proceeding west. From the looks of things, they are now at milepost 19. He also told me that the removal of the tracks from Seymour to Green Bay is on hold because of talks with the Oneida Indian Nation. I was told though, that this section will eventually be removed. Also, the sale of the trackage right from Green Bay to New London is still on hold. I can confirm this because at each crossing between Black Creek and New London where they removed the rails last year, they have started replacing crossbucks with signs reading 'Tracks Out Of Service.' Where there are signals, those have been kept at their location for now pending the sale.

On a lighter side, the section of the GBW still in use today between New London and Manawa is still going strong. Sturm Foods in Manawa is still receiving bulk commodities by boxcar, and boxcars filled with lumber still are being shipped out of New London via Hortonville on the new spur.

- Jeff Baumann
January 17, 2003

November 2002: WC spur to Wolf River Lumber; Sturm in Manawa

Well another summer has come and gone. Some recent updates to what's left of the GB&W. This past year, the WC [acquired by Canadian National in 2001, now operated as a division of the CN] built a spur line to New London coming from the Hortonville area. The new spurs ONLY purpose is to serve the new Wolf River Lumber. If you travel north on US 45 and look off to your right just before the exit for Wisconsin 54, you will see the lumber company with WC boxcars parked there.

Also, Sturm Foods in Manawa has started up using boxcars again to ship and receive bulk commodities. When the GB&W went out of business and abandoned their line, Sturm suspended their train car business. My guess is that when the new spur was completed, that Sturm negotiated with WC to resume that part of their operations. This past week, the WC put new railroad crossing crossbucks in Manawa. I thought something was up this summer, because I kept seeing WC pickup trucks riding the rails in this town. Who knows what lies in the future of this old line...

- Jeff Baumann
November 2, 2002

August 2002: MILW removals; Shiocton news; abandonment speculation

They have been removing the former Milwaukee Road railroad bridge over Shawano Avenue in Green Bay for the last week. I visited it last Monday and yesterday to get some pictures and I was able to retrieve some large rivets from the cross members. They still have the large side girders, but will be removing them in the next day or so.

They are also going to be removing the former Milwaukee Road trestle near Bayport High School off Velp Avenue. If the project goes as planned, I believe a pedestrian bridge will be built for the preservation of the trail.

And finally, I took a ride out to the Shiocton area on Saturday to take some pictures of the GB&W trackage. I took Hwy. 54 to County Hwy. M, and turned to the crossing and parked. The only thing that is gone is the rails. The ties are still there and the track bed is littered with spikes, rail plates, bolts, nuts. Besides pictures, I took an assortment of souvenirs home from the track bed. Then we headed back into Shiocton. If you come from the West on 54, turn right and follow the river to the GB&W railroad trestle. That area as well is littered with an assortment of parts and good pictures of the trestle can be taken. Our final picture is of downtown Shiocton on Wisconsin 76 at the GB&W crossing. If you want a couple of large ties for a souvenir, Mark, you should head down there. The railroad signal is still there, and large amounts of track parts and ties are here as the siding starts near the street. The ties that were lying there were too big for me to take, but you might be interested in them. From going to this crossing, it looks as though they removed rails east of town towards Black Creek. I also took some pictures of the GB&W tracks still in place on Oneida Hill at County Hwy. J.

The question that nags at me is whether the WC will remove the remaining tracks up to the point of Packerland Drive in Green Bay, or if they will leave the tracks up all the way to the WC diamonds in Black Creek. I know that they haven't sent a train out there in a while, but one can only hope that some part of the GB&W will remain intact.

- Jeff Baumann
August 18, 2002

August 2002: GBW remnants; WC trains, Green Bay yards

The GB&W was a very busy railroad in the 70's when I was just a teenager. It was very common for the trains to block 12th Street in Green Bay while putting together or dismantling lines of cars. The train office still stands right on 12th Street, and is still standing, although it is boarded up. The roundhouse and locomotive shops were all torn down by the Wisconsin Central railroad in 2000. The few remaining tracks in the Green Bay yard now serve as extra storage tracks for rail cars, mainly coal cars. The farthest that Wisconsin Central sends locomotives on this route, is on the far western edge of Green Bay to service a meat processing plant and a recycling facility. The remaining tracks on the GB&W extend only until the town of Manawa, WI, some 47 miles to the West. The tracks are out west of this town. An ironic twist to this observation, is that there is an old GB&W boxcar on a siding in this town sitting up on wooden blocks, wheels and coupler gone.

Up until 1999, the WC railroad had full trains head west on this line to the town of Black Creek, and then head south along Wisconsin Hwy. 47 towards Appleton. They also utilized a large siding in Black Creek for the storage of cars. The last train that I saw on this line was in July 1999 heading east towards Green Bay when I was stopped at the Hwy. 54 crossing west of Seymour. Beginning this year, they have slowly started removing the tracks between Shiocton and New London.

I appreciate very much the story that you told on your website. Having grown up in Green Bay, I have many railroad memories to share. It was a crazy time for railroading in the 50's, 60's and 70's. In the space of about 5 miles, there were three major railroad yard operations-the Chicago & North Western, the Milwaukee Road, and the Green Bay & Western. Now two are gone, and WC has taken over the C&NW yard off I-43.

- Jeff Baumann
August 8, 2002


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