Shorewood considers installing “Ghost Train” public art project

Light show would mimic passing of old train

An old photograph of the Twin Cities 400 passing over the Oak Leaf Trail bridge in Shorewood.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:14 pm

The ghost of an old passenger train that once passed through Shorewood could rumble across the Oak Leaf Trail bridge over Capitol Drive starting this Halloween.

An old photograph of the Twin Cities 400 passing over the Oak Leaf Trail bridge in Shorewood.
An old photograph of the Twin Cities 400 passing over the Oak Leaf Trail bridge in Shorewood.

At least that’s the illusion the Shorewood Public Art Committee and designer Marty Peck would like to create with a planned $350,000 light and sound project.

The Shorewood Public Art Committee calls the project the “Ghost Train,” and hopes it will become a destination for people searching for an artistic sensory experience that connects them to the past.

“We’re going back to the past and celebrating the past, but we’re bringing it to the future through the use of LED lights and technology,” said Pat Algiers, a member of the village’s Public Art Committee and chair of the Ghost Train Committee.

Twice a night from 1935 to 1963, an opulent passenger train operated by the Chicago and North Western Railway referred to as the “Twin Cities 400” passed over the Oak Leaf Trail Bridge in Shorewood. The train connected Chicago to Minneapolis, and famously made the trip in 400 minutes.

“It was very innovative, it was very elegant, it was high speed and it was the type of transportation in the United States that none of us will ever experience again,” Algiers said.

Plans for the Ghost Train project include installing LED lights that will be programmed for a 30-second light show and speakers that will emit sounds “reminiscent of a train” twice each evening at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to replicate the old train’s schedule, Algiers said.

A community discussion session about the project is planned for March 24.

The Shorewood Village Board will vote on whether to approve the Ghost Train project in April. If it is approved, planners hope to complete installation by Oct. 31.

The Shorewood Historical Society plans to place signs with historical information and photographs of the Twin Cities 400 to accompany the light and sound display.

Algiers estimated 90 percent of the committee’s $350,000 fundraising goal for the project has already been secured through private donations.

The project is part of a place-making initiative spearheaded by the Public Art Committee to create more public attractions and destinations in Shorewood.

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Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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