Until 1952, rail passengers could travel to and from Madison, Wisconsin from not one, but three rail stations, served by the Chicago and Northwestern and the Milwaukee Road Railroads. Two of the city’s once iconic train stations, both on the National Register of Historic Places, still stand:
- the Chicago and Northwestern East Madison Station on Blair Street, currently the headquarters of Madison and Gas and Electric, and;
- the Milwaukee Road Station on West Washington Avenue, currently home to a bicycle shop and a cafe.
Chicago and Northwestern ceased passenger operations in 1965, and the Milwaukee Road followed suit in 1971. With the new national passenger rail system Amtrak bizarrely choosing to locate its Empire Builder depot in Portage, Wisconsin’s second-largest city has had no passenger rail service for 51 years. Previous efforts to re-establish rail service have all failed. Now, though, with federal infrastructure funding available, Amtrak is looking to expand its Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha service to Wisconsin’s Capital. Madison Transportation Planner Philip Gritzmacher, Jr. joins us now to tell us about the hunt for a new train station.
Photo of Chicago & Northwestern Passenger Depot / Madison Gas & Electric by TheCatalyst31, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons