Thursday Doors – Milwaukee Road

The Depot

No surprises today. I split 24 hours in Minneapolis between a somewhat-restored blown-up building and a hotel located in an old railroad terminal – you had to know this was coming. And you had to know that a reference from Wikipedia (be nice) and the National Registry of Historic Places (NRHP) was also likely to be coming.

The Milwaukee Road is the common name for “The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.” I think it’s easy to understand why folks would be looking to abbreviate that name. The full block of buildings that include the hotel I stayed in, are the old Depot Freight House and Train Shed, and are known today as the Milwaukee Road Depot, or The Depot. According to the entry in Wikipedia, the station served 29 trains per day, at its peak.

According to the NRHP nomination form:

“ The station-shed unit, built 1897-99, is a head or stub-end type railroad station. The station building or “head house” is Renaissance Revival style and almost square in plan, being 130 feet long, 120 feet wide. The two street facades are three stories (50 feet high) while the remainder of the building is two stories. It is constructed of pink granite block at the first story level with smooth stone at the foundation and rough cut stone above. This level has large arch doorways on the west and south sides and massive sash windows. The upper levels are of yellow brick and are united in design by applied Roman arches that rise the full height of the building. These arches frame the square windows of the second level and form the arched windows of the third level. A heavy cornice is inset with terra cotta wreath ornaments…

…Extending behind the station is a long span steel truss roof train shed approximately 625 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 40 feet high at the ridge of the monitor roof (which replaces an original, larger monitor). The five stub tracks are spanned by a single 100-foot riveted truss of the Fink type, supported on steel posts each having pierced metal ornamental brackets beneath a longitudinal steel lattice beam running the length of the shed.”

“…a single 100-foot riveted truss of the Fink type, supported on steel posts…” Oh, I love that kind of talk.

The important thing about this depot, is that it’s one of twelve terminals that have survived with the “long span truss roof” train shed intact, and it’s the only one in the upper Midwest. In 1900, close to when this shed was built (1897), there were hundreds of these types of depots in the United States. They were being constructed to replace depots that sat alongside the tracks, because those stations couldn’t accommodate the increasing volume of rail traffic. As rail use declined in the second half of the 20th century, most of the train sheds and many of the terminal buildings were destroyed to make room for “modern” buildings.

I could go on for days, talking about trains and depots and train sheds, but I’ll stop here to welcome our Engineer, Norm back to the lead train of the Montreal, Indianapolis, Hartford and Roma Railroad.

To Norm’s? All aboard!

Norm has been on vacation the past few weeks. I had the privilege of guest hosting Thursday Doors for a week, as did Joey and Manja. We traveled First Class, thanks the arrangements Norm had made in advance. While that experience was amazing, it feels so good to know that Norm is back. Check out the Railroad’s main page, and look for our conductor (little blue frog). Careful, that colorful tadpole has spent a lot of time in the baggage compartment, he’s a little skittish. Click on him and he’ll welcome you and your doors into the gallery.

The gallery includes the doors of the buildings I shared on Monday, as well as a couple historic photos, courtesy of the Library of Congress. Remember, this train will be at the station until noon Saturday.

All Aboard!


  1. I clearly love the patio door and its space the best. It’s so unique! I think it would be a bit surreal to sit on a patio in a blown out building. Even more so after a couple of beers.

    What can I say about the rest? 50 bonus points for using the word “Milwaukee” and you also get a smile from me, knowing how special this place is to a guy who loves all things train related. It’s a very cool place and I’m glad you were able to enjoy.

    That being said, it’s coffee time…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oooh, bonus points – yay! Thanks Mary. I’m pretty sure I will be back in that hotel at some point, hopefully in one of those historic rooms. I’d also like to tour the museum that occupies that old mill building. I think it’s so cool, the way they’ve embraced their past and incorporated it into the very busy city.

      It’s hard to say “Milwaukee.” as the Pirates drop game after game to them and slink into the basement of our division. Oh well, there will be another train to the playoffs next year. Besides, they are the Brewers, so it can’t be all bad.

      Being on that patio was surreal. I did not want to go back inside to our meeting. I wish I could have stayed for the reception, to see that at night, but duty called.

      Enjoy your coffee. Thanks for stopping by this early.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m chuckling over your Brewer’s comment. I’m not a big baseball fan, but I still root for the home team…even though they seem to implode at some point every year. Sorry about your Pirates. Maybe they will do better next year.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t expect the Pirates to get much better until the owner agrees to spend some of his precious profits on baseball. My brother and I have been saying all season that the Brewers will collapse at some point. Maybe not. If it isn’t us in that division. I’d go with Mil-Chi-StL-Cincy, in that order.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Judy. I was hoping to find something special to welcome Norm back. I never expected to find it on an overnight business trip, but I couldn’t ask for better doors. These all fall within my happy place.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You hit the jackpot Dan, this place is amazing.
    Loved that patio door and the meeting area is awesome!
    I don’t know where you found that froggie conductor but thanks for the warm welcome back :-D

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wanted something special to welcome you back, Norm, and that short trip to Minneapolis gave me everything I needed. Being in that hotel and that building were amazing experiences, and I hope to get back to both of them.

      Guest-hosting for one week drove home how much you do for us in this community. We all really appreciate your efforts. The froggie conductor are two images from The Noun Project (a gazillion icons, to which I enjoy a subscription) that were squished together in PhotoShop.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the patio/patio door, too, and that first shot. The logo is pretty cool as well. Yes, you’re always on track (see what I did there?) to be predictable, but we don’t mind being railroaded :-) into reading. You’ve trained us well (cough, cough.) I always chuckle a bit when I see the word “depot” as a friend of ours used to call Home Depot “Home Despot”, a rather apt choice in some ways. Happy Thursday, Dan.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha – Thanks for riding along with me today, Janet. I appreciate the puns, and, yes, I am predictable, but at least it’s a harmless obsession. Despot might be better for the big orange box, but I wouldn’t mind going down to the depot to wait for my order to arrive by train. Those must have been interesting times.


      • I grew up in Omaha which, at the time, was still an important part of the route to California. We took the train at least a few times to visit my mom’s family there, but I don’t remember that much about it, as it was years ago. There’s just something both attractive and nostalgic about train travel…or even the remnants of it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The midwest depots are such a part of the history. My brother lives in Ames, IA and that town is only there because it had a reliable water supply.

          I hope to take at least one significant trip by rail at some point. For some reason, I just think it would be good to experience. I’ve been from Pittsburgh to Hartford and numerous trips from Hartford to Washington, DC. I do like being on board.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. “a single 100-foot riveted truss of the Fink type, supported on steel posts…” Oh, I love that kind of talk.” 😂
    But seriously, I love all the photos and history. My favorites are the black and white historical shots. I think many people have lost that sense of connection to a vastly diferent yet relatively ‘not-so-long-ago’ past that was the face of America for our parents and grandparents. You have been a great conductor in Norm’s absence Dan. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Milwakee depot reminds me very much of Indianapolis’s Union Station. What could be smarter than a giant clock/ belltower on a train station?
    Love all the old brick and stone, especially the patio door shot.
    I’ve no doubt you were happy to be located there temporarily :) Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great place to have a meeting! The station/shed is wonderful. I love the arches, tower, and stone.

    I like the name Train Shed, but you’re right its full name is a mouth full!

    I love the way your wrapped up the post tying Norm, doors, and your post together in such a fun and witty way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah. I wanted to have something special for Norm’s return. That building was such a cool place to be. It was almost surreal. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like a business venue was “cool” before this.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Like the door way with the fans (?) above it! Interesting that history turned and people who made use of trains changed to cars! Compared to Europe, I think they still make more use of a train than on this side of the ocean.9and less people have a car, because public transportation is so reliable).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I guess I should be complimenting all the doors (and it’s another good set, believe me), but I’m focused on that cool safe, Dan. Looks like something right out of a Western …

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There’s just so much to like in here! First, the tower on the building in the first photo. You don’t see them like that any more!
    This entire space looks like the perfect place for a meeting, reception, etc. My favourite door is the slider against that interesting mixed stone/brick patched-together wall. Throw against it those modern brightly coloured chairs and it just checks all the right boxes for me!! btw – putting a comfortable chair in a meeting room … what a concept!!
    Lastly, I love the safe. Once upon a time in my working life, I had a safe in my office. I wish I had a photo of it because it was really cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Joanne. It was such a treat to have our meeting there. I felt like a little kid who had been granted a wish. Several of the people in our meeting suggested that I had picked the room because of the door! I had nothing to do with the choice. I knew I was using the safe as soon as I saw it. I used to have one in my office (fireproof for backup tapes) too 🙂


  10. For a guy who loves trains and doors, you’ve won the jackpot, Dan. The Depot and the Renaissance Hotel are my kind of places. Love the patio and its door and also the barn door that you thought was painted. The meeting room is lovely. Love the contrast of colors and texture. The coffee shop is cool too with the bins used to store the beans. I’ve only passed through Minneapolis but the more I hear about the city the more I want to explore. Your blog post confirms the rumors that there is a lot to see there.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, Dan, what a cool place! Great photos of your fun discoveries at Milwaukee Road. I’d be a little intimidated sitting on the patio and would surely be contemplating whether or not the shoring of the wall would keep the wall from falling on me. But, that’s probably because I live in California and live in the shadows of shaky ground.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When you look out at those walls, it does give you a otherworldly feeling. I wasn’t worried about the walls but I also wasn’t thinking of earthquakes. I guess they aren’t common in the Midwest. I don’t guess a venue like this would get approved in CA. Thanks Donna.


  12. The patio door is so ancient. And the other one does look painted on the wall, indeed. Some excellent doors there. I think the entrance to the historic portion of the Renaissance hotel is beautiful and the floor off the hotel lobby is amazing..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Peter. I wish I could have stayed longer. I think there is so much to learn about these places and their history. The flour mills must have been amazing, powered by the Mississippi River, via waterfalls that were constructed or altered for that purpose. I hope to return.


  13. Hi Dan – well you’ve had a fun time – and great you could combine the photos and visit with memorabilia for Norm and his return. Doors are fascinating subjects … while the development of Minneapolis and its history in the area must be fascinating … I’d love to visit the area … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m fascinated with the deconstructed patio… is it being left that way as a venue to host receptions, or is it just being used like that in between construction projects? I hope the former since it looks like an incredible space. Great doors and wonderful descriptions… your enthusiasm for the trains, doors, and history is very apparent.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. wonderful gallery Dan- and the three chairs photo is my fav. and did not think it was a real door but I saw the larger photo and it is extra great to see the contrast – new and old – color fabric and metal
    and looks like a great trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. For a brief time, I rode the Milwaukee Road to work and the CTA home, and finally decided the Milwaukee Road wasn’t all that and a bag of chips. I did like that their conductors were dressed like I always saw conductors dressed in the movies, but really, it wasn’t all that comfortable. By this time, they were thinking of terminating their passenger service or turning it over to Metra, so that might have had something to do with it. There are some pretty good videos of what their passenger service used to be like on YouTube.

    Great buildings, though…

    Liked by 1 person

Add your thoughts or join the discussion. One relevant link is OK, more require moderation. Markdown is supported.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.