Lake Front Depot

The Lake Front Depot was a train station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin built in 1889–1890 by the Chicago and North Western Railway (C&NW). It was located near the shore of Lake Michigan at the end of East Wisconsin Avenue, by today's Milwaukee County War Memorial. The structure was built with stone in the Romanesque style, and had a tall clock tower which reached 234 feet (71 m) high. The depot cost $200,000 to build at the time, and eventually served 98 trains a day.

Lake Front Depot
Lake Front Depot 1898 LOC ds.00203.jpg
The depot as it appeared in the 1890s
Location918 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Owned byChicago and North Western Railway
Line(s)Kenosha Subdivision

Waukesha Subdivision

Shoreline Subdivision
ClosedMay 15, 1966
Preceding station Chicago and North Western Railway Following station
Butler Chicago – Minneapolis via Milwaukee Racine
toward Chicago
Terminus Milwaukee Division National Avenue
toward Chicago
National Avenue
toward Madison
Madison – Milwaukee Terminus
toward Ishpeming
Ishpeming – Milwaukee
Fox Point
toward Green Bay
Green Bay – Milwaukee via Sheboygan

Chicago and North Western owned the depot until 1964 when Milwaukee County bought the structure and surrounding land for $7 million, with the intent to use the land for a freeway. C&NW continued to use the depot until May 15, 1966 when trains were moved to the new Union Station (now the Milwaukee Intermodal Station) after it was built by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road). The Milwaukee Road had itself vacated its old Everett Street Depot the previous year.

The Lake Front Depot lasted two more years until 1968. Some efforts were made to save the building from being torn down, but they were unable to raise the needed money. Estimates ranged from $325,000 to restore the structure to $575,000 to move it to another location.[1]

Many of the C&NW's "400" trains served this station starting in 1935. In the early days of the Twin Cities 400, the steam locomotives which pulled the train were exchanged at the Milwaukee station. The engines ran at such high speeds on the route from Chicago to Minneapolis–Saint Paul that some components in the drivetrain couldn't withstand the 410-mile (660 km) trip. The railroad eventually got the exchange process down to a very quick five minutes.

Other trains to serve the depot included the Flambeau 400, Peninsula 400, and Valley 400.[2]


  1. ^ Charlie House (February 2, 1968). "End of Line in Sight for Towering Depot". The Milwaukee Journal. pp. 1, 5 (Accent section). Retrieved 2010-02-16.
  2. ^ Scribbins, Jim (2008) [1982]. The 400 Story. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-5449-9.

Coordinates: 43°02′20.2″N 87°53′59.0″W / 43.038944°N 87.899722°W / 43.038944; -87.899722