Kenosha and Rockford Railroad
The Kenosha and Rockford Railroad is a historic railroad that operated in Wisconsin from 1861 until 1939.
Construction of the Kenosha, Rockford and Rock Island Railroad was encouraged by the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin. The 72-mile line began as an independent enterprise created by several Kenosha businessmen in 1853 and it was opened on July 21, 1861. Earlier plans had called for the line to be built between Kenosha and Beloit, Wisconsin, but Beloit had shown little interest in being the western terminus of the line. The construction of the railroad encouraged the development of various communities along the line.
Passenger traffic was usually light; the line served several tourist areas along the numerous lake resorts in western Kenosha County. As many as twelve daily trains operated during the early 20th Century; freight traffic included milk and ice from the numerous dairies and lakes along the route. The line was renamed the Kenosha and Rockford Railroad and it was eventually purchased by the Chicago and North Western Railroad. Under the CNW, it became known as the Kenosha Division, or the KD Line.
Electric refrigeration became widespread in the 1930s and the need for ice diminished. Dairy farmers also turned to trucking during and after World War II, further decreasing traffic levels. By 1938, only two mixed trains still operated, and passenger counts had diminished to one or two riders per day.
The main portion of the KD Line was abandoned by the C&NW on May 31, 1939. A crew of five on Train No. 917 left Kenosha at 9:30 AM with three fare-paying passengers: rail historian Anton E. Klova and Kenosha County Historical Society officials William E. Dickinson and C. Ernest Dewey, plus retired KD Line conductor P. H. Galligan, who rode as far as Salem. En route, the crew of No. 917 made lengthy stops at each station to strip its contents and load them aboard No. 917, which as a result arrived at Harvard, Illinois nearly eight hours late.
The line's eastern and western portions currently survive for local freight service in Kenosha and Rockford.
The CNW was merged into the Union Pacific Railroad in April 1995 and the UPRR continues to maintain ownership of the KD Line.
- Behrens, P. L. (1986). The KD Line. ASIN B0006EMSSC.
- History of the Kenosha Division between Kenosha, WI and Rockford, IL, with interactive map and pictures.
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