Gresham Depot

1311 Main St Gresham, WI 54128

Former Wisconsin Central/Soo Line depot, now a museum with limited hours


East Elevation

Photo taken by J.R. Manning May 2019




Typical of museums operated, and staffed, by volunteers, the depot is open limited hours during the summer. Here's how Gresham describes it:

"Tour a former railroad depot with telegrapher’s equipment, railroad lanterns, timetables, freight wagon and other historical memorabilia and Village of Gresham history on display. The depot is located 13 miles northwest of Shawano on Main Street in Gresham. Open June-August Saturdays: 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. For special tours, call 715-787-3271.

"The depot was opened in 1907. The railroad was known as the Wisconsin Northern or by its nickname, “The Whiskey Northern”. In 1921, the railway was sold to the Soo Line Railroad.

"A mix of freight and passenger trains ran daily. At that time, all freight came in by rail, as there was no truck service until the 1940’s. Draymen would deliver the freight from the depot to the various businesses. The U.S. mail also came by rail.

"In 1963 the depot closed. In 1974, the Gresham Women’s Club and the former depot agent, Russell Ferrall and his wife, Grace were instrumental in getting the depot moved to its present site. Many community members pitched in to help with the move. It’s original site was just south on top of the hill."

Quotation from the Depot page on the website of the Village of Gresham.

Railroad Crossing Crossbuck 

Written by J.R. Manning

In the early days of the automobile, grade crossings of railroad tracks gave rise to fatal collisions of trains and cars. A search began for a standard and easily recognized symbol to identify railroad crossings.

The ultimate design was the crossbuck, which remains the universal symbol. The name is a portmanteau of "cross" from skull and crossbones, and "buck" from the sawbuck, used for cutting logs.

To make signs more visible at night, in the late 1920s, signmakers began to use a reflection appliance called a Cataphote. The Cataphote was used into the 1940s when reflective buttons came into favor. All were replaced with the familiar reflective sheeting used today.

This sign demonstrates two characteristics of those early crossbucks. Horses were still in wide use, so crossbucks were mounted nine feet above grade, to be visible to a mounted rider, as this one shows. It is also populated with Cataphote reflectors to make the crossbuck more visible at night.

Update Log 

  • May 27, 2019: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • May 27, 2019: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • May 27, 2019: Added by J.R. Manning


  • J.R. Manning - Lugnuts969 [at] gmail [dot] com