Illinois Central Gulf Railroad || Southwest Commuter Path

Railroad: Illinois Central Gulf Railroad
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Date: 1974
Credit: John Gruber, Center for Railroad Photography & Art, Gruber-06S-02-03

A short Illinois Central Gulf freight train, using a borrowed locomotive from the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad, waits for a Milwaukee Road train where the two lines crossed in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, on a winter day in 1974.

Railroads played a profound role in shaping Wisconsin’s capital city, but this short train attests to declining business on this former Illinois Central branch line. It was later spun off into a smaller company and ultimately taken out of service in 1993.


Trail: Southwest Commuter Path
Trail length: 5.6 miles
Date: November 20, 2021
Credit: Hailey Paige, courtesy of the photographer

A lively group of University of Wisconsin-Madison students heads to Camp Randall Stadium along the Southwest Commuter Path to watch the last Wisconsin Badgers home football game of the 2021 season. The Southwest Commuter Path is one of several repurposed rail corridors in downtown Madison that form a well-used trail network.

Located partially on an isthmus between two lakes, Madison faces unique space constraints. To expand transportation infrastructure as the city’s population continues to grow, planners sought alternative modes—in part by repurposing former rail corridors. A network of trails incorporating three former railroads provide transportation and recreation options away from roadways.

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