IT'S JUST AS WIDE. Burlington, now BNSF, Milwaukee, now CP, Soo Line, now CN, North Western, now Union Pacific. Farewell, Hillsboro and North Eastern and Ahnapee and Western. But there's a common-carrier railroad in Wisconsin shorter than the East Troy Electric.

The Tomahawk Railway is the shortest railroad line in Wisconsin. Four miles of rail line, two locomotives and 17 workers are all that's left of an old logging railroad built on sweat and dreams.

Yet the Tomahawk remains one of those vital, nearly unseen cogs in the northern Wisconsin economy. It still runs, brings raw material such as coal and waste paper into the Packaging Corporation of America's massive containerboard mill and moves the finished products onto the long-distance freight lines via the CN, the Canadian National.

Here, old-fashioned railroading thrives, a carload at a time.

This isn't nostalgia - it is commerce with an endearing side, a railroad that is but a single red dot on a route map of parent Genesee & Wyoming Inc.

With illustrations and the obligatory train-spotter stories.

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