Watch and Listen to Gil (below) describe the experiences of the real life Cannonball (will open a new page at YouTube)
The Milwaukee Road Cannonball at Brookfield, WI Station.
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?
“Brookfield was more than a whistle-stop” – article refering to Brookfield and Elm Grove depots. Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal July 23, 2003
Color photo of watercolor artwork – image 19″ x 13-1/4″ on 20″x 16″ Kodak Professional Paper