Eagle River Depot Museum
116 S Railroad St, Eagle River, WI 54521
The Milwaukee, Lakeshore and Western Railroad brought the rails to Eagle River in 1884. The Milwaukee Lakeshore and Western RR didn’t build a depot in Eagle River; they set a boxcar, minus its wheels, alongside the tracks just south of the water tower.
When the Chicago and Northwestern Railway bought out the Milwaukee Lakeshore and Western RR in 1893, they constructed Eagle River’s first depot west of the tracks that could be seen by people heading west on Wall Street.
The first depot burned to the ground in the winter of 1923 and the Chicago & Northwestern Railway replaced the structure that spring with the present depot. Passenger service ended in the 1960’s, freight service was discontinued in the late 1970’s, and the rails were removed in 1982.
The City of Eagle River bought the strip of land that comprised the railroad right of way in 1985, reportedly for $100. For a short time, the building stood deserted, empty. Then the City took it over to use as City Hall; the city offices, the police department, and an information bureau were housed in the small building.
When the new K-8 school building was built on Pleasure Island Road, the City moved to the abandoned middle school wing, abandoning the depot once more.
In 2004, the City wrote a $250,000 grant proposal to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The grant was approved with the proviso that Eagle River pay 20% of the 80-20 grant. The Rotary Club donated the necessary funds and the depot was modernized; the walls were stripped bare to the studs and new insulation, wiring, plumbing and heating and air conditioning were installed. The original tin ceiling was saved, as was an old coal stove and one of the waiting room benches.