Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Eisenbahn I Want To See

Did you ever wonder just where the Eisenbahn State Trail would take you if it kept going south instead of ending at Rusco Drive? Don’t get too excited; the railroad corridor is still in use by local industries. But it’s fun to fantasize and it’s not unrealistic that someday we will see additional development of the trail.

Just within Washington County, the Eisenbahn could be extended another 14.85 miles to the south:

From that point you would be less than five miles from the southern terminus of the Ozaukee Interurban Trail in Mequon and less than four miles from the eastern terminus of the Bugline Trail in Menomonee Falls.

Jackson would be the big winner. An extended Eisenbahn would bisect the village from north to south, forming the western boundary of Jackson Park. Just one block away from Jackson Elementary, the new trail would be an attractive route for school children. Get those kids riding to school at an early age and maybe they will follow the trail north to West Bend when they’re in middle school and high school. From Main Street in Jackson to Decorah Road in West Bend, it’s an easy 6.25-mile ride. For some kids, taking the trail would be quicker than riding the school bus.

Things get more complicated south of the county line. In Milwaukee County this rail line connects to many others and crosses a lot of surface streets. Once you link up with the Oak Leaf Trail, it probably doesn’t make sense to push farther south. But wouldn’t that be nice enough?

Extending the Eisenbahn to the north should be a no-brainer … someday. All of this takes money and coordination just to get off the ground, and then the willingness of local authorities to maintain the corridors that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the railroads make available. Today the trail ends in Eden but it’s not hard to imagine it extending another 6-7 miles north to Fond du Lac:

Once in Fond du Lac, the Eisenbahn would connect easily to the Wild Goose State Trail, the Prairie Trail, the Mascoutin Valley State Trail and the Peebles Trail. Fond du Lac is a major trail hub already. Imagine it with access to the Eisenbahn and to an extended Old Plank Road Trail, something that Fond du Lac County and Sheboygan County have been talking about since at least 2006.


  1. As a rail fan and a cyclist, I think it'd be great if the trail could be extended while keeping the rail lines intact. Heck, while riding the Eisenbahn, I spend most of my time daydreaming about what it must've been like when the Chicago North Western 400 used to travel the same path :-) Unfortunately, the rail lines north and south of the Eisenbahn are owned by Canadian National and are not state-owned, so I'm not holding my breath on seeing the trail extended any time soon unless CN stops servicing the customers at the end of each line.

    1. Rails with trails would be an OK option, but I'm not holding my breath, either!