Guest speaker

Author Arlyn Colby holds his fifth book in a series about abandoned branch line railroads in the area. His latest is entitled The Park Falls Line: He will be the guest speaker at the Annual Meeting of the Superior Lobe Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, at 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31.

The annual meeting of the Superior Lobe Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, will be held at 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31, in the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire/Barron County, Ritzinger Hall, Blue Hills Lecture Room, 1800 College Dr., Rice Lake.

Arlyn Colby will review his new railroad book, The Park Falls Line: The History of the Omaha Railway Branch Line from Tuscobia to Park Falls. Colby’s interest in western Wisconsin railroad history has resulted in The Park Falls Line, his fifth book in a series about local abandoned branchline railroads.

This 75-mile railroad in northwest Wisconsin was built by the Omaha Railway in 1902. Originating in Barron County, it traversed through southern Sawyer County and into western Price County. It branched off the Omaha’s mainline track from Eau Claire to the Twin Ports north of Rice Lake. Locations on the line were Tuscobia, Brill, Angus, The Narrows, Birchwood, Wooddale, Yarnell, Lemington, Couderay, Radisson, Ojibwa, Winter, Loretta, Draper, Kennedy, Kaiser and Park Falls. It was built to move hardwood logs to area sawmills and became a general freight line after the logging industry ended.

The railroad line was abandoned in 1965. Today the line is an all-purpose trail called the Tuscobia Trail and enjoyed by many ATV riders.

Arlyn Colby will unfold bygone times of building and operating the Tuscobia railroad line from Rice Lake to Park Falls. It all starts after 1900 when the Knapp Stout & Company had depleted their source of pine logs that could be floated to lumber mills in Rice Lake and Menomonie. Railroads became the solution to transport the remaining hardwood logs that could not be floated for milling.

Colby has intriguing stories to tell about towns along the 74-mile rail corridor. He will emphasize the route from Tuscobia Junction, just north of Rice Lake, to Mile Post 12.4 in Birchwood. Congress designated most of this section of trail on July 27, 1984 as Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

After Colby tells of the last train that pulled into Park Falls on April 10, 1965, Alice and Ray Hilfiker will describe how their Mother Hulda Hilfiker was instrumental in persuading Governor Warren Knowles to purchase the corridor for Wisconsin’s second state recreation trail.

Colby previously wrote four books about local abandoned branch line railroads: The Mondovi Line, The Blueberry Line, The Chippewa Valley Line and The Cornell Line.

The event is sponsored by the Superior Lobe Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance. For more information, call 715-354-3827.

The Park Falls Line book has 224 pages that include 286 pictures and 171 maps, charts, and diagrams. It sells for $35 plus $5 postage and handling, and available in perfect binding or spiral binding.

Coby’s recently published book will be on sale at the meeting. Before and after the presentation all five of Colby’s railroad books will be available for purchase and signing.