The 2005 Convention of the
Soo Line Historical & Technical Society
Held from September 16 to 18 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Friday, September 16, 2005
We left Cadott early Friday morning, bound for Manitowoc and the convention. Keep in mind that when a retired guy says "early" it probably won't be at the break of dawn. At any rate, we poked along the Minneapolis sub to Owen and Abbotsford, and then headed down toward Spencer. About that time the scanner tipped us off to a couple west-bounders coming out of Marshfield; we were in time to see one of them.

The new route through Marshfield seems completed (very nice), and we drove by the Soo Line depot aka Sushi Bar and on toward Stevens Point. Unfortunately we didn't see much more than a couple switchers working the Point yard, but did enjoy seeing the progress on the 2713 display there. Continuing east, we stayed on hiway 10 all the way to Neenah. We did stop in Weyaweega for a couple minutes.

We followed hiway 114 through Neenah and across Doty Island, and checked out Lake Winnebego before turning back north to try to find remains of the Brillion and Forest Junction railroad. There were places where it was evident, others where you couldn't tell a rail had ever been there, but all in all, very interesting.

We had no trouble finding the convention hotel in Manitowoc, and we got ourselves checked in, registered, made a stop at the company store, and then went off to explore the city. We got outside of some beans and then came back for the evenings seminars:

  • o Bob Nelson showing us slides of Wisconsin railroad depots.
  • o Larry Bohn giving us the railroad history of Manitowoc.
  • o Rich Hanke showing slides and telling us what it was like for a civilian to work for the railroad.
  • o And of course, the evening was ended by several members sharing their slide and video.
On the way from Cadott to Manitowoc we caught a gaggle of Canadian Geese headed north. They were running at track speed between Marshfield and Spencer.


At Manitowoc we checked into the Convention hotel, registered for the Big Event, then drove down to the shores of Lake Michigan to see what it looked like. We found this huge gathering of sea gulls (Lake Gulls?) who looked like they were waiting for someone to make a speech to them.


A dredge was working near the mouth of the Manitowoc River.


This is the slip where the SS Badger loads and offloads her passengers.


Saturday, September 17, 2005
Saturday morning we slept in and missed the first seminar, the open forum on the Soo Magazine. I'd be happy to include a synopsis here if anyone cares to provide some verbage. We did catch Luke Lemmens talking about the planning and construction of his HO layout in Green Bay, and also took in the Annual Meeting. Worked our way through the Company Store again, too.

I happen to be one of those who are prone to procrastination. Had hoped to get us into the tour of the SS Badger but by the time I sent in my registration they had already reached the thirty-person limit. Instead, we took in the buffet lunch and then joined others to go down to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. We went through the USS Cobia and toured the excellent presentation of the marine history of Manitowoc.

Once back from the museum, we jumped into the car with cameras in hand and endeavored to find all the railroad points of interest that had been so thoughtfully provided by the host committee; I think Joe Lallensack wrote up the info page which I found most helpful and interesting. Thanks, Joe. And we actually found all the points except one; the old C&NW depot is on 13th street, built into the Holiday House facility there. Rich Hanke directed us there Sunday morning.

Back at the hotel, we cleaned up a bit (washed off the cinders, eh?) and had a libation before enjoying the excellent banquet meal. Our guest speaker was Captain William C. "W.C." Bacon, formerly of theAnn Arbor Railroad Marine Division, who shared his experiences working on the boats.

After the banquet, of course, came the Annual SLHTS Archives Auction. If it wasn't so much fun, I think I'd dread it. I always spend too much money. But it was a lot of fun and (I hope) profitable to the society. Thanks to members of the Archives Committee for their work on behalf of our group.

The SS Badger at her slip on Saturday morning. The "Lucky Thirty" had a guided tour of the boat, while the rest of us enjoyed a buffet luncheon and then visited either the Manitowoc Maritime Museum or the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay.


From the convention handout: "Former C&NW lattice truss bridge. It was built to cross the original WC Railway when the line was built into Manitowoc in 1896. Note this on the end portals of the bridge. This former C&NW structure is part of the original line of the first railroad into Manitowoc from Appleton in the 1870's."


In the background is the C&NW High Bridge. From the convention handout: "High Bridge. Crossing the Manitowoc River, it can be viewed from Manitowoc Park, Clay Pit Road, Evergreen Cemetery, or walk to it from Schuette Park. It is 1,022' long and is nearly 80' over the water. It was built between 1906 and 1908 when the line was completed to Green Bay. It is used Mon-Wed-Fri to service customers in Rockwood and the north side of Manitowoc."


The Soo Line "Jackknife Bridge."


The former Medusa Cement facility across the river, beyond the bridge.


The remains of the Soo Line carferry slip.


Another railroad bridge across the Manitowoc River.


...and a look in the other direction along the tracks.


The Wisconsin Maritime Museum, across the Manitowoc River. The USS Cobia is moored in front of the museum.


The light at the mouth of the Manitowoc River. At left (north) is a nice city park adjoining the Maritime Museum.


The USS Cobia. This boat, although built in Groton, Connecticut by Electric Boats, is of the same Gato class as the 28 submarines that were built here by the Manitowoc Ship Company during World War II.


Sunday, September 18, 2005
Usually when I go on vacation I have to endure at least a couple days of lousy weather. That proved not to be the case on this trip; the weather was beautiful all week long. Well, it did rain Monday after the convention, but just in the morning for a while, after which the sun returned along with the 70's temperatures that were a real pleasure after leaving Florida and the mid-90's there (here).

At any rate, Sunday came up bright and sunny. We made the mistake of pulling the shades tightly and it was after nine am before we stirred. We had planned to head back to Cadott early, and not take in the layout tours. But having slept late we figured by the time we got breakfast and checked out it would be eleven anyway so we went ahead and stopped at the Clipper City Model Railroad Club and Rich Hanke's house, both in Manitowoc. The Clipper City layout is amazing, and Rich has a great start on his C&NW layout. I'm glad we were able to see them and regret we couldn't get down to Sheboygan or up to Green Bay for the other three tours.

After we left Rich Hanke's house, we drove by the old C&NW depot site (Joe was right, it was hard to pick out the part of the building that had been the depot) and then proceeded west. We got to Cadott just as the sun was setting, so our timing worked out very well.

When we got to the Expo Center for the layout tour, we found this pickup with a neat airbrushed mural on the tailgate.
Update Sep. 27: Fred Firkus informs me that this beauty belongs to him, and that the mural was painted by a co-worker, Jay Goz. Very nice, Fred... Our compliments to Jay on a very nice job.


As we drove into Owen on our way to Cadott, I spotted a "High Green" at the north end. We waited a few minutes and were rewarded with the arrival of this train.


Another errand led us to turn south from Boyd toward Edson. Imagine our surprise to find fourteen of these cranes feeding in a field.


The sun was setting beyond these guys, who look like they're talking about those goofy bipeds down by the road.


Mark Preussler was kind enough to send along pix from each of the layouts in Sheboygan that we were open on Sunday. Thanks for sharing, Mark and Marvin.
GBW Alco pulls a car from the cheesehouse district on Marvin Preussler's GBW-themed layout.
Soo FM switcher # 315 heads back to the Stevens Point Yard with a short string of cars on Mark Preussler's Soo Line layout.
...and Luke Lemmens passes on two pix from his layout in Green Bay. Thanks, Luke.
County hiway J grade crossing, at Stockton...
Stevens Point...
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