The Shorewood apple orchard standoff

The Northwestern Union built north out of downtown in the 1880s, cutting through hills and filling in ravines as they went. This photo was taken at the location of today's Hubbard Park. Courtesy Milwaukee County Historical Society

The Northwestern Union built north out of downtown in the 1880s, cutting through hills and filling in ravines as they went. This photo was taken at the location of today’s Hubbard Park in Shorewood. Courtesy Milwaukee County Historical Society

In the 1880s the Northwestern Union Ry. began building north along the east bank of the Milwaukee River. In time these tracks became part of the Chicago & North Western system and hosted some of the fastest long-distance passenger trains in the world. But before that could happen, the railroad had to resolve the great apple orchard standoff.

The Milwaukee Notebook has a few loose pages – minor items, but still worth mentioning. Here’s an example from the files of the Shorewood Historical Society:

Do not, and we can't emphasize this point too strongly, damage any apple trees you may find along this trail. Photo By Carl Swanson

Do not, and we cannot emphasize this point too strongly, damage any apple trees you may find along this trail. Photo By Carl Swanson

As the railroad crew moved north through what is today the Village of Shorewood, they damaged an apple orchard belonging to Thomas Bare. Mr. Bare, furious about the harm to his precious apple trees and armed with his Civil War musket, held an entire track gang at gunpoint until a railway official arrived and compensated him for the damage.

You can still see the railroad right-of-way – it’s today’s Oak Leaf Recreational Trail. There have been no further sightings of enraged, musket-waving farmers.

Written by John Swanson
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