Railroads in Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Railroads in Wisconsin

Railroads in Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society
Dictionary of Wisconsin History.


Although territorial officials and private developers began discussing possibilities almost as soon as this new technology was invented, the legislature only authorized construction of the first railroad line, from Milwaukee to Waukesha, in 1847. The first train in Wisconsin ran from Milwaukee to Waukesha on February 25, 1851, and by April of that year one passenger and one freight train ran each day. Town officials in Prairie du Chien asked the legislature to charter a line from Madison and in 1857 the first east-west railroad from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi was complete. Soon after, a line from Milwaukee to La Crosse opened, and other lines were extended north from Chicago.

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