Mike's Train House
Maps of the GB&W
and predecessor lines
The Green Bay and Lake Pepin Railway Co. was mainly constructed over a two and one half year period, during 1871-1873. The name was changed to Green Bay and Minnesota Railway Co. shortly before the mainline was completed. Eastern terminus was the town of Fort Howard (now part of the city of Green Bay), while the western end of the line was a rail-to-water facility on the Mississippi River named Eastmoor. Directly across the river lay the city of Winona, Minnesota. The history of the far west end of the "West End" is of particular interest.
Entry into Winona came in 1875 through a trackage rights agreement with the Chicago and Northwestern Railway, over their line and bridge from the GB&M crossing at Marshland, two miles east of Eastmoor. A small depot and stub track was set up by the GB&M in downtown Winona. This set up lasted fifteen years until 1891, when GB&M's successor Green Bay, Winona and St. Paul Railway Co. partnered with Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad to build a bridge into Winona themselves.
The Winona Bridge Railway Co. was owned 2/3 by the CB&Q and 1/3 by the GBW&SP. It completed a long iron truss bridge which featured a swing span in the navigation channel, thus allowing river triffic to pass by. WBR began in downtown Winona and ran down Second Street to the southeast edge of the city. There, it curved sharply and climbed a grade to rise above the flood levee along the river. Off the bridge, the track set foot on Wisconsin soil and connected with the CB&Q mainline from St. Paul to Chicago at a spot called Bluff Siding (later known as East Winona). The Eastmoor facility, which had burned down numerous times, was abandoned.
Numerous branch lines were also constructed over the length of the line, some under the guise of becoming mainline extensions. Most of these started as independent operations, later merging into the GB&W proper.
Below are three maps; one depicting the early days in Green Bay, one showing all lines built by GB&W and predecessors, and one showing the final route and neighboring lines.
Green Bay and Western and it's predecessors either directly built or backed the construction of several smaller railroads; changing economic conditions prompted the abandonment of most of these. Others were successful enough to last to the end in 1993. One prospered as an important leg of the GB&W system, not giving up it's own corporate identity (and reporting marks) until 1969.
In the early days of the railroad, much of the westbound traffic came from the docks of Fort Howard; the GB&LP/GB&M's first yard was there. In the late 1870's, GB&M moved to a new yard one-half mile west. This came to be known as Norwood Yard. One hundred years later, GB&W considered building a larger, modern facility several miles farther west; nothing ever came of it.