Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Weekend Excursion to Twin Towns (part 1)

Ray: Satiating an urge of wanderlust, Galen and I took a weekend run up to the Twin Cities at the end of April. We had no concrete objectives for this excursion, other than to just take in the scenery. Starting out on Saturday, we headed essentially west-southwest to rendezvous with the big river at Prairie du Chien. After our first brief stop in Horicon, to see what the WSOR had on display, we passed JLP transport's headquarters.

Yes, I realize this has little to do with trains, but those of you innately familiar with the membership of this group will understand the connection, albeit loosely.

Our next stop was in Dodgeville. There, we took a quick ride through the parking lot of the locally famous Don Q Inn. This hotel features a rather eclectic collection of objects, including a large Boeing C-97G airplane sitting on the front lawn. Also nestled in the back is the Dodgeville Depot, moved from its orginal location in town.

Speaking of Don Quixote, heading west on highway 18, we came across one of Wisconsin's recently developed wind farms near Cobb. The size is nowhere near the magnitude seen elsewhere, but it's at least a start, and to my knowledge the largest grouping of wind turbines in the state of Wisconsin at present. I suspect that the project near Fond du Lac will eventually dwarf this installation in comparison.

Galen: The wind farm was found as we were headed, toward the CNW coaling tower at Montfort Jct. One of four coaling towers left in the state (Adams, Ashland and Clyman Jct are the others) and made of reinforced concrete, when steam was dropped it was deemed too expensive to raze (and it would be only more so today).

A little bit further down the way, we made a quick visit past the railroad museum in Fennimore. Fennimore proclaims itself as the home of the "Dinky." The Dinky was a narrow gauge short line railroad that served the local transportation interests during the late 19th and early 20th century. Due to the nature of our trip (lots of driving) and the fact that the museum was closed, we did not take the opportunity to explore much further here.

Upon our arrival in Prairie du Chien, we found little of interest going on in town. We took a moment to check for activity on the other side of the river in Marquette, IA. Upon doing so, we found some activity with the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern.

Returning to the Wisconsin side, we proceeded to LaCrosse along the BNSF, with little worth mentioning to see.

Galen: STH35 follows the BNSF from PdC to LaCrosse like white on rice almost the whole way. During my fall River Run (opening day of gun deer season, with the MR2), I usually can find a southbound to pace from LaC to PdC, keeping mind of the Ferryville cops (first 25mph zone south of La Crosse, a big pain if I have a 70mph stacker on the line).

Ray: After a late lunch, we crossed over to the Minnesota side and followed the CP. Oddly enough, our first catch would appear to have ended up on the wrong side of the river.

More on this adventure in the next installment..

Click Here to go to part two of this series

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