and Listen to Gil describe the
experiences of the real life Cannonball
(will open a new page at YouTube)
The Milwaukee Road Cannonball at Brookfield,
Originally it ran from Chicago to Milwaukee
then on to Watertown, Wisconsin, where it
divided into two sections, one going to
Madison, the other to Portage. Eventually
the train was reduced to a commuter run,
east in the morning from Watertown to Milwaukee
and back to Watertown in the evening.
The timetable listed the train as 23/12.
Riders called it the CANNONBALL. The regulars
considered it a rolling social club, especially
on Friday nights when a festive atmosphere
prevailed, complete with iced drinks furnished
courtesy of specified commuters. To say
the CANNONBALL was a much loved train might
be an exaggeration, however on its last
run July 31, 1972, the usual two-car consist
was enlarged to three cars to accommodate
the passenger load.
Years later a one-week trial run was made
using a Budd self-propelled rail car to
see if a resurrection of the CANNONBALL
was possible. The first trip out the train
had a breakdown and a diesel locomotive
towed the car, sort of like the way the
old CANNONBALL operated. The idea of a commuter
train finally was laid to rest. The ridership
was there but the railroad wasn't. Fares
collected barely covered half the cost of
operating the trial run.
In 1996 the question of light-rail has been
discussed by metropolitan planners, and a
group of residents along the route of the
old CANNONBALL are broaching HEAVY RAIL, with
the use of existing tracks owned by CP RAIL.
What goes around, comes around?
was more than a whistle-stop - article
refering to Brookfield and Elm Grove depots.
Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
July 23, 2003