The Friends of the Railroad Park (FORRP) invite the public to attend a ribbon cutting and media event on Friday, August 4th at 3pm at the former Chicago and North Western Railway roundhouse in Spooner. The remaining stalls of the roundhouse, the surviving turntable, as well as other notable aspects of the original rail yard are located directly behind the Railroad Memories Museum located at 424 North Front Street. There will be free tours of the grounds, including the roundhouse, during this event.
Several local and state organizations have collaborated for years on efforts that would ultimately lead to the preservation of this unique and historic property. “Spooner’s origin and colorful history is rooted in the railroad expansion of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Spooner roundhouse is one of few remaining today, and is an important aspect of our history. For this and many other reasons, it is essential for the City of Spooner to lead and support the preservation and future restoration of our railroad facilities” said Gary J. Cuskey, Mayor of Spooner. The City of Spooner re-acquired this property in the fall of 2016, adding it to the remainder of the Spooner Railroad Park which has been managed by a city board for several years. The Railroad Memories Museum is housed in the original passenger depot, and the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad operates the active trackage on the site.
Spooner was an important railroad center of the Chicago & North Western Railway, and handled tremendous tonnage. A local newspaper reported on July 27, 1883: “The new town at the Division has been named Spooner, after Col. John C. Spooner, the attorney of the road”. A large passenger depot, freight depots, a restaurant, express office, switching yards, locomotive and car shops, roundhouse, lumber yards, and offices were constructed. Approximately 600 persons were employed. Its large payroll was a vital part of the local economy. “Personally two of my uncles and my grandfather were railroad engineers who were headquartered in Spooner”, William Marx, Spooner City Administrator said. “The roundhouse and turntable are a significant part of our history and should be preserved”.
The Friends of the Railroad Park is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, operating under the guidance of the Spooner Development Corporation. Terri Reiter, City Council Alderperson, is the Chair of the Railroad Park Board and the Chair of FORRP. “I realized this incredibly awesome project needed a local liaison, and if I stepped up to the challenge, I could help preserve our community’s rich railroad history. I am involved because I love Spooner, its people, and love the fact this city was built because of the railroad. Please consider supporting this wonderful opportunity.”