There’s plenty of traction action going on nowadays in Wisconsin, the Badger State. We just spent an eventful weekend checking it out.
On Friday, we stopped by Kenosha for a ride on their two-mile streetcar loop. 4616, the Cincinnati tribute car, was out on the line that day.
On Saturday, I spent some time in Milwaukee, where track construction on Phase 1 of their new modern streetcar line is well underway. A few blocks of track are already in place on St. Paul Street.
The 2.5 mile-long line begins near the Milwaukee Intermodal Station (Amtrak), and heads east into the historic Third Ward. It will cross the Milwaukee River, but as of this writing no work has been done to add tracks to the existing bridge on St. Paul.
From the Third Ward, home of the Milwaukee Public Market, the line heads north into the Lower East Side, via two one-way routes, before turning north and east to its initial terminus at Burns Commons.
Here is a map showing the planned lines. Cars will be stored underneath nearby highway 94.
This is the first time I have seen new streetcar construction. I’m used to seeing decades-old tracks, long buried under asphalt, being torn out. The idea that this line will be completed sometime within the next two years is an exciting prospect.
Here is a recently discovered video, showing the final day of service on Route 10, Milwaukee’s last streetcar line, on March 1, 1958:
On Sunday, we headed out to the East Troy Electric Railroad, to ride on the last remaining original interurban trackage in Wisconsin.
South Shore Line car 30, which is one that was never lengthened and modernized, was out that day, as was Twin cities Rapid Transit 1583. The two 4000s are out of service and being worked on, as are the two Milwaukee cars.
We rode 1583 last year (see our previous post Badger Traction, 2016).
This was our first time riding a South Shore Line car at East Troy, and they seem to do quite well there. The South Shore cars, which were capable of high speeds, used 1500 volt DC current on their home tracks, but now have to make do with just 600. This is not a problem, as top speed on this demonstration railroad is about 15-20 mph.
The South Shore cars are wider than the line was designed for, which means tighter clearances with the line poles. If you do travel there, be sure not to stick anything out the windows.
While tourist trolleys and railroad museums are important and deserve your support, I for one will be glad when Wisconsonites will be able to use a streetcar for its original intended purpose, which is to get from one place to another.
Jack Bejna writes:
The Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railway started operations with 8 motors and 2 trailers built by the Niles Car Company in 1902, and 16 motors and 5 trailers built by the John Stephenson Car Company, also in 1902. Here are images of the Stephenson cars except for: CA&E 32 (rebuilt to flat car 1936), CA&E 40 (retired 1911), CA&E 50 (no image found), CA&E 58 (burned 1911).
Thanks for the CA&E photos!
Great stuff, as always.
My plan is to eventually provide you with as complete a photographic record of the CA&E roster that you may use as you see fit. As I find new images that are worthy of your wonderful site I will provide them to you. The latest group of the original Stephenson order is missing a few of the cars that either were off the roster early or were not photographed much. Car 38 is, of course, the only car that was converted to rectangular end windows so I created an image that highlights the windows.
Thanks for the last two posts of The Trolley Dodger; both of them present a huge amount of information, images, etc., of properties that disappeared many years ago but still live thanks to your continuing efforts!
Work continues on our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys, which is now in the layout and proofreading stage. The expected publication date is September 25th of this year. We will keep you advised as things progress.
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