Railroad: Wisconsin Central, Limited (new)

The Wisconsin Central railroad (new) was a regional railroad organized in 1987 and acquired the former Soo Line main track from Wisconsin to Sault Ste. Marie, and the former DSS&A line between Trout Lake and Houghton via Marquette. In 1997, it also purchased operations of the C&NW lines in Michigan from the Union Pacific. In 1997, the WC was sold to the Union Pacific railway and the Michigan operations were spun off to the Canadian National railway.

Soo Line Railroad → Wisconsin Central (new) → Union Pacific Railroad

Bought: 1987 - Michigan lines of the Soo Line Railroad. Controlled at incorporation by the Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation.

Operated: 12 Years.

Sold: Date unknown, to Union Pacific, and then to CN in 2001.

Reference: [MRRC]

WC Train North of Eagle Mills

Photo Info: Wisconsin Central 6002 leads a train north of Eagle Mills in 2002. [Tom Carello photo].


The Wisconsin Central grew to 2,850 miles over its 14 year existence. Company annual revenues grew from $100 million to $350 million. [CLT-2023-Su]

The Wisconsin Central herald was taken from the original WC railroad from 100 years before.

Rail lines operated within Michigan were:

  • Former MStP&SSM line from Ladysmith to Sault Ste. Marie via Gladstone.
  • Former DSS&A line from Trout Lake west to Baraga, via Marquette.
  • Former DSS&A line from near Ashland, WI east to White Pine via Bergland.

Time Line

1987. The Wisconsin Central purchases the assets of the Soo Line railroad in the upper peninsula. [MRL]

1987. October 11. Wisconsin Central Railway freight trains have begun rolling through Michigan's upper peninsula on nearly 2,000 miles of routes formerly operated by the Soo Line Railroad Company. Service to the region was restored last week, shortly after Chicago-based Wisconsin Central Ltd. purchased the routes from the Soo Line for $122 million. About 400 former Soo Line employees joined WC as a part of the transaction, completed October 11. More jobs will be added as service is expanded and improved over active routes, Marquette trainmaster Clinton Jones said. [SJHP-1987-1020]

1990. The WC purchases the remaining track of the LS&I between Munising Junction and Munising. [MRL]

1991. The WC line from Wisconsin to Ironwood and Bessemer (former Soo Line) was leased to a new corporation known as the Wisconsin & Michigan railroad. This was 6.8 miles in Michigan. The lease was terminated in 1995 when the new W&M went into receivership. [MRL]

1996. The 2.6 mile Dead River branch in Marquette is abandoned. [MRL]

1997. WC purchases C&NW lines in the upper peninsula. This includes Menominee to Escanaba, Powers to Antoine, and branches to Empire Mine, Cascade Jct. to Palmer and Ishpeming including the Tilden Mine, branch to the Tracy Mine and the Niagara Branch. [MRL]

1999. The WC abandons the old DSS&A line between Munising Junction to East Yard in Houghton, as well as the lead to the Marquette ore dock. They also abandon the former Soo Line main line between Hermansville and Larch.


The following sources are utilized in this website. [SOURCE-YEAR-MMDD-PG]:

  • [AAB| = All Aboard!, by Willis Dunbar, Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids ©1969.
  • [AAN] = Alpena Argus newspaper.
  • [AARQJ] = American Association of Railroads Quiz Jr. pamphlet. © 1956
  • [AATHA] = Ann Arbor Railroad Technical and Historical Association newsletter "The Double A"
  • [AB] = Information provided at Michigan History Conference from Andrew Bailey, Port Huron, MI

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