Ribbon-cutting marks end of rail restoration as first trains hits the tracks

PLYMOUTH – Nine long years of waiting finally came to an end Monday morning.

The first train in more than two decades to make the run from Plymouth to Sheboygan Falls pulled away from Plymouth following a ribboncutting ceremony attended by public and private officials.

The Wisconsin and Southern Railroad (WSOR) train marked the culmination of a combined effort to restore the long-dormant rail line that began in 2007 that began when the Union Pacific Railroad terminated service to three Sheboygan Falls businesses — Bemis Mfg., Richardson Building Products and Kettle-Lakes Cooperative — and abandoned its rail spur from Sheboygan to Sheboygan Falls.

“This is an historic event that we’ve all been waiting all these many years for,” Plymouth Mayor Donald Pohlman said as he introduced state and local officials before leading the ribbon-cutting for the restored rail line. The mayor then got to ride along in the lead engine of the first train to Sheboygan Falls.

Local, county and state officials joined with area business representatives and representatives of the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Monday to cut the ribbon for the newly-restored Plymouth to Sheboygan Falls rail line (above). After the ceremony, the first train for Bemis Mfg. in Sheboygan Falls departed (below and cover) with Plymouth Mayor Donald Pohlman (right, photo at left) joining the crew for the ride.

Local, county and state officials joined with area business representatives and representatives of the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Monday to cut the ribbon for the newly-restored Plymouth to Sheboygan Falls rail line (above). After the ceremony, the first train for Bemis Mfg. in Sheboygan Falls departed (below and cover) with Plymouth Mayor Donald Pohlman (right, photo at left) joining the crew for the ride.

“This is a recognition of the important part freight rail plays in our economy,” Wisconsin Secretary of Transportation Mark Gottlieb told the audience. “This is a great day for Sheboygan County.”

“Rail is a very important part of our operations,” Michael Stelter, representing Bemis, stated. “We’re looking forward to getting our first load of plastic resin so we can unload it directly at our (Sheboygan Falls) plant.”


Review story andphotos byEmmitt B. Feldner Review story andphotos byEmmitt B. Feldner Since losing direct rail service from the UP to its facility, Bemis has been trans-shipping the plastic resin from rail cars in the WSOR rail yard in Plymouth via truck to Sheboygan Falls.

Bemis was one of several local industries and businesses — including Kettle-Lakes and Morrelle Transfer Inc. — that provided funds for the $2 million pledged by local governments and businesses toward the $17.1 million restoration project.

“This is a tremendous example of leveraging support,” in the public and private sector for a necessary project, County Board Vice-Chair Thomas Wegner commented. “This is a local and state investment, public and private, that will help support economic growth.”

The County Board contributed $100,000 to the rail line project ion 2011, while the city of Plymouth put up $400,000 and the city of Sheboygan Falls added $250,000.

The 11-mile rail line, which runs through the city of Sheboygan Falls to Kohler, is owned by the state of Wisconsin. The state purchased the line from the Union Pacific for $1 million in 2006 after that railroad had left it dormant for nearly two decades.

WSOR will operate trains along the line and be responsible for its maintenance and upkeep.

In addition to serving existing industries in Sheboygan Falls, the line serves industrial parks in the cities of Plymouth and Sheboygan Falls.

Sheboygan Falls Mayor Randy Meyer likened the saga of restoring the Plymouth-Falls line to the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”

He explained that the effort began with a plane ride to Washington, D.C., to enlist the support of then-Congressman Tom Petri to restore rail service to Sheboygan Falls and included many car trips to Madison to work with state officials to restore the Plymouth-Falls line.

“And now it ends with a train trip to Sheboygan Falls,” Meyer concluded.

Ground was broken for the final work on the rail line restoration in March and North Shore Track Service of Duluth, Minn., was the contractor for the work.

That work, which included reconstruction of 36 rail crossings and the replacement or rehabilitation of four railroad bridge structures, took place through the summer and was recently completed.

The line runs to Kohler, where it connects to the Union Pacific rail spur from the city of Sheboygan. WSOR officials are hoping to complete an agreement with the UP to use that line to run trains to Sheboygan, but that is years in the future, they have indicated.


Most recent cover pages:













Poll
POLL: Do you think Elkhart Lake made the right decision in not allowing Strawberry the pot-bellied pig?:

Copyright 2009-2018 The Plymouth Review, All Rights Reserved

Contact Information

113 E. Mill St., Plymouth WI 53073
Local: 920-893-6411 Toll Free: 1-877-467-6591
Fax: 920-893-5505










Harvest Festival