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The Ex-Illinois Central in Wisconsin was a very unique railroad. Its construction was difficult because the terrain is hilly and very rocky. One of the most difficult things to overcome was finding a route to build the railroad. A tunnel had to be constructed and there are deep valleys and high overlooks that had to be dealt with.
The Chicago, Madison & Northern Railroad took on a large job overall, building a railroad between Freeport and Madison through the resistant hills of Southern Wisconsin, but no single project on its entire line was was larger than building the tunnel through the solid limestone ridge between Monticello and Belleville. This tunnel penetrated the hill 100 feet below the summit and went through the hill on a curve for a quarter mile requiring considerable engineering skill. In addition, a large fill 47 feet high was constructed over the Lynn valley, near the tunnel which required 155,000 cubic yards of earth. By late 1887 the CM&N was substantially completed.
The towns through which the the railroad was being constructed readied themselves for the new, long awaited form of transportation. The railroad too was getting ready for the passenger and freight business that would be carried on after the completion of the road. New business sprang up in the towns along the route. Depots were placed in most of these towns too.
On February 1st, 1888, the first train to run the entire distance between Freeport and Madison passed through the tunnel with engineer Palmer at the throttle of engine number 99.
site Created & Maintained by: Jim Kalrath © 1999
Changes Last Made: May 15th, 1999