Rails & Trails Pages

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mondovi Line

On Wednesday, September 23, three friends and I rode ATVs on "The Mondovi Line."  This is an all-terrain trail on a railroad grade and on a sand base.  Some of it has crushed limestone on it and could be ridden with a bicycle but most of it is only suitable for ATV and horseback riding.

This is the line I wrote a book about in 2008 called "The Mondovi Line."  I tried to ride my bicycle on it but it was too sandy.  This would be the first time I would see many parts of the line.

Left to right are friends Dan Morris, Terry Kirkman, and Jim Malecki:



The foundation for the Eleva depot can still be found in the grass along the trail:



We set on at Eleva and headed east to Fairchild.  The plan was to go to Fairchild and back and then to Mondovi and back.  First thing we cross the Buffalo (or Beef) River at the edge of Eleva.




Much of the trail is now overgrown with foliage, creating a neat canopy:



We quickly enter farming area:



Terry was the "engineer" on this train and he saw the most wildlife--a couple of pheasants and about a dozen wild turkeys.  Yours truly, being the caboose, only saw this ringneck as he didn't want to get out of the way and kept running down the "track."




Here we enter Strum.  The stockyard, pickle salting station, and lumber yard were on the right hand side:



The Strum depot was located in the treeline on the left of the trail:




Between Strum and Osseo is essentially a sand prairie, best suited for growing sandburs and pine trees:




We cross Tracy Valley Road.  The train crossed on a trestle here that only had 7' 9" clearance.  The trail has been drastically lowered:



We again cross the Buffalo (Beef) River on a trestle as we come to Osseo.



We enter Osseo.  The lumber yard, elevators, and depot were located on the right.  The smokestack is from the condensary.



The condensary building still stands.



Between Osseo and Fairchild we parallel US Highway 10.



Terry spotted this neat concrete sign.  It looks like it would be a railroad whistle post but it is parallel to the track.  Any ideas??



The village of Price is hardly recognizable any more.  If you have the book, compare this to the photo from the 1910s.  The pickle salting station was on the left, the train station between the track and highway (Old Highway 10) and the village buildings where the house is.  Only the Church remains (hidden by trees).



We found an Amish man picking his apples with a mobile ladder:



This is the dreaded "Price Cut."  It doesn't seem very deep but before there were trees, this cut would fill with drifted snow.  In 1917, three steam engines were caught in this cut and had to be shoveled out by hand--by people who walked from Mondovi so they could get the trains moving and their goods in.



The colors hadn't started changing much but this is one day the four of us all could "get off from work" on the same day.  It was overcast in the morning but it had rained the day before and with the heavy humidity and fog cover, there was no dust until late afternoon. 



We enter Fairchild.  The mainline was Omaha, then Chicago Northwestern, and now Union Pacific trackage.  The 2 depots sat on both sides of the mainline.



N.C. Foster built the Mondovi Line as one of 3 separate spurs radiating from Fairchild.  Another one went to Greenwood, shown in the center of the picture.   It looks like this is also an ATV Trail--which none of us knew about.  Looks like another ATV ride some day . . .




We went back to Eleva and then headed to Mondovi.  Here is where all the industries and depot were located in Mondovi.




I attended Eleva-Strum Central High School which is just across the river from the railroad.  I remember occasionally seeing the train during noon hour or football practice.  I always had thought how fun it would be to ride that train and see exactly where it went.  Now, 47 years later, I got the chance to do that.  Although it wasn't steel wheels on steel rail, rubber tires on a trail was a great way to see it.  Thanks MUCH to Dan, Terry, and Jim for a great day.  Another check-off on the "bucket list."

The End!

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