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outfi ts, 25 cents for team and rider and 5 cents per head for foot passengers. Af- ter the new highway bridge on Michi- gan Street in Sturgeon Bay opened in 1931, the city sold the old swing bridge back to the A&W for $1.


By the turn of the century Decker


was in dire fi nancial straits, as an invest- ment in the Jackson National Bank of Chicago had failed terribly, taking with it the Decker empire. In 1906, the line was sold to the GB&W, but Decker never recovered, dying nearly destitute in 1914.


T e railroad he founded, however,


was doing much better than him. T e early years of the 20th century were a busy time for the A&W. In 1906, the Forestville Station shipped 199 carloads of hay, 42 of grain, 39 of peas, 27 of sug- ar beets, 25 of stock, two of posts, two of wood, one of junk, one of household goods and 389,171 pounds of LCL (less than carload lots) of cargo.


Andy Laurent, vice president of the


Green Bay & Western Historical Society, grew up visiting grandparents in Casco and Rosiere and is a serious student of A&W history now working on a book about the line. Laurent, who resides in South Bend, Indiana, writes on www.greenbayroute. com that on a given day in the 1930s, the 17 freight cars on the A&W train, origi- nating from 10 diff erent railways, carried a variety of loads including:


liquid propane


for Wulf Propane in Sturgeon Bay; a load of sawdust for Plumber Woodworking in Algoma (manufacturers of Badger Brand toilet seats); 50-pound blocks of salt for the Door County Cooperative; and an empty insulated boxcar for Badger Foods (formerly Reynolds Brothers Canning) in Sawyer.


T e railroad gave options to North-


east Wisconsin businesses that previous- ly had to depend on shipping by water. For example, the Van Camp Condens- ery in Sawyer developed into a major


– A&W continued on next page >>


(Below) The Sturgeon Bay Bus Depot was a busy place for decades as vacationers came through on their way to northern Door County and northern residents made trips to Sturgeon Bay for work and shopping.


Walking the rails with his dad


(although he never saw a train on them!) was a favorite childhood activity.


Now 34, he lives in South Bend, Indiana, where he’s manager of growth initiatives for the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad, and in his basement he has a 16-foot by 27-foot model of Sturgeon Bay with, of course, a little train making its way up from the south.


For years, he’s been collecting information for a book about the A&W. He spent two years researching the Algoma Plywood Company, one of the A&W’s best customers, along with the Sturgeon Bay shipyards that depended on the railroad, especially during the World War II years.


Anyone with information about the A&W may contact him at andy.laurent@yahoo.com.


A PASSION FOR RAILROADS


Andy Laurent’s love of the electric train set of his childhood has expanded to a passion for the history of the Ahnapee & Western Railway that once served his grandpa’s oil company and the lumberyard where his father and uncles worked in Casco, as well as the hatchery his Rosiere grandpar- ents owned.


doorcountyliving.com


Winter 2011/2012 Door County Living 25


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