(Trolley, Street Car)
1908 – 1940
Interurban book; general, not Watertown specific
08 17 READY TO BUILD OUR LINE TO DELAFIELD
John L. Beggs, manager of the Milwaukee Railway and Light Co. says: “We are ready to build our line to Delafield if we can get a suitable right of way. We are ready to do the grading this fall, and would have the road ready for the steel rails next spring. Possibly we could have it open for travel by the time the season opened at Waukesha Beach, which is generally about Decoration Day, May 30. The road will eventually be put through to Oconomowoc, thence to Watertown and north to Green Bay. I said some years ago that we would have a line from Chicago to Green Bay. We are not crowding this thing, for the reason that the line would have to be carried if we were to hurry it up. We shall build it step by step as there is a demand for it.” WG
Watertown Leader, 01 06 1904
At proceedings of a regular meeting of the Common Council, held January 5, 1904. — Ald. Mayer introduced the following entitled ordinance:
An ordinance granting to the Rock River Traction Company, a corporation organized under the laws of the State of Wisconsin, its successors and assigns, the right to construct, maintain and operate an electric railway in certain streets and avenues in the city of Watertown, Wisconsin and prescribing the terms and conditions upon which said streets and avenues may be used and occupied by said Traction Company.
After the first reading of the ordinance, there being no quorum present any more the council on motion adjourned until Friday, January 8, at 7:30 o’clock P. M.
Watertown Leader, 03 14 1905
In an interview in Sunday's Sentinel, John L. Beggs, president of the Milwaukee Electric Railway Company, states positively that the building of the new line from Waukesha Beach to Oconomowoc, which the people in that section of the state have desired for a long time, will be accomplished during the summer. The company expects to expend $300,000 in constructing this line. It will be 13 miles long and a trip over the line can be made in an hour's time. The officials in the town of Emmet have granted a right of way over the cross ways and highways and the company now has the entire route from Waukesha to Oconomowoc. An ordinance is now pending before the Oconomowoc council to allow the extension of the line through the city, and the officials have consulted with them which will undoubtedly result in the passage of an ordinance which must result in the passage of an ordinance (sic) for the mutual protection of the interests of the city as well as the street car company . . .
Naturally citizens of Watertown are interested in the early completion of the Oconomowoc-Waukesha street car line, believing this will indirectly hasten the completion of the Oconomowoc-Watertown line. William C. Stone, president of this company, states that the line from Oconomowoc to Watertown would certainly be built but could not tell when the work would be commenced. "The line," said he "will be put through to the city as soon as practicable but will not touch portions of streets where property owners have refused permits. That is out of the question. The line, however, will be built to Watertown and seek another avenue besides West Main streets for the projection of the line south and west of Watertown as proposed."
03 17 New line from Waukesha Beach to Oconomowoc announced by John I. Beggs The Oconomowoc Enterprise, 03 17 1905
Watertown Leader, 06 25 1905
Two grading gangs have commenced work on the proposed extension of Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company’s system from Waukesha to Oconomowoc. It is expected that this part of the road will be completed by June 1, 1906. The line will then be extended to Watertown.
Watertown Republican, 09 20 1905
Friday forenoon, John I. Beggs, president of the Milwaukee Electric Railroad and Rights Company, and Charles F. Pfister, a heavy stock-holder and one of the directors, reached this city coming in Mr. Pfister’s 40 H.P. automobile, accompanied by two civil engineers, making the run quickly considering the round-about way they came.
The object of the trip was to make a preliminary inspection of the routes with the view of securing the best when ready to build an interurban line into this city from Oconomowoc, which it is expected will be reached early next season, and it is quite probable to this city within a year, if the unforeseen does not happen. We understand that the lines when built will enter the city from the south so as to avoid building a bridge and will cross the river over the Main street bridge and will go as far west as the Northwestern depot. It is a project that should receive the earnest support and encouragement of all for it means much for Watertown which will certainly be on the “map” when the line has been constructed and is in operation.
Watertown Leader, 09 23 1905
Friday forenoon, John I. Beggs, president of the Milwaukee Electric Railroad and Lights Company and Charles F. Pfister, a heavy stockholder and one of the directors, reached this city coming in Mr. Pfister's 40 H.P. automobile, accompanied by two civil engineers, making the run quickly considering the round-about way they came.
The object of the trip was to make a preliminary inspection of the routes with the view of securing the best when ready to build an interurban line into this city from Oconomowoc, which it is expected will be reached early next season, and it is quite probable to this city within a year, if the unforeseen does not happen. We understand that the lines when built will enter the city from the south so as to avoid building a bridge and will cross the river over the Main street bridge and will go as far west as the Northwestern depot.
It is a project that should receive the earnest support and encouragement of all for it means much for Watertown which will certainly be on the "map" when the line has been constructed and is in operation.
Watertown Leader, 09 26 1905
Last week, there was a very good imitation of a street railway now in one of the front windows of the hardware store of Henry Winkenwerder. The car was constructed entirely of hardware and was certainly unique and attractive as an advertisement. Upon the car were the placards “Third St. Line;” . . . “All aboard for Fair Grounds” and “Watertown Street Railway.” Otto Winkenwerder designed and constructed the car, which was very ingenious.
Watertown Leader, 01 09 1906
We Will Have Trolley Lines
Application Made by the Milwaukee Traction Co for Franchise
A trolley line to this city from Milwaukee and making this a division point for branches from north, south and west means a large increase in the population of Watertown in the immediate future and the enhancement in the value of all kinds of real estate. It means a new and better epoch in the history and experience of the city. ... This is an important matter - one that should receive the most careful consideration and the writer would suggest, that before the committee makes its report, that a public mass meeting should be called at the council chamber and the matter discussed, so that thereafter none can say, and that they were ignorant of the provisions of the franchise. If there are objections let them be made at such meeting, that the committee and council can act advisably and for the best interests of the city, its citizens and the company asking for the franchise.
Watertown Leader, 02 09 1906
The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company has asked this city for a franchise for a trolley line through certain specified streets in the city. The building of the line will add at least one third more to the population of Watertown and enhance the volume of real estate in an equal ratio. It means the beginning of a new era of advancement and prosperity in which every citizen will participate and every one should be active in furthering the project . . . The franchise is now in the hands of the council, and a change in the franchise will be asked for which will cause considerable additional expense but will be of great advantage to the city. The change anticipates going south on Utah and Kansas Sts. to the city limits passing the fairgrounds. The change is made at the request of a large number of our citizens.
Watertown Leader, 02 13 1906
Few in this city are aware of and appreciate the fact, that we have a very important manufacturing enterprise here which may develop into gigantic proportions in the years to come. Reference is made to The Hopkins Geared Street Car Co. which has its factory at 112-116 Fifth St. which proposes to improve urban transportation by reducing the expense and increasing the speed and making travel more safe and comfortable. A gentleman recently at the Schlitz Hotel in Milwaukee in speaking of the wonderful progress being made during the past twenty years said: “Twenty years more will see another revolution in the traction business. Overhead wires and posts on the streets will be done away with. A man is now working at Watertown building two cars, which are destined to revolutionize the street and interurban business. His cars will be propelled by gasoline engines, of which there will be two on each car, one in case of accidents. These cars will carry sixty passengers each; will be able to stop in their length. It is claimed for them, that they can be operated more cheaply than electric cars and that they will save a large initial expenditure in the construction of roads, doing away entirely with costly power plants and unsightly wires and poles.”
Watertown Leader, 02 17 1906
The special committee appointed by the mayor at the last regular meeting of the council, consisting of six aldermen and five businessmen to examine the franchise asked for by the Milwaukee electric street railway company, met Friday evening at the city clerk's office all being present but Thomas Brooks. After examining the franchise and discussing the same, the meeting was adjourned until copies of the franchises of other cities could be obtained when the matter will be taken up by the committee and a conclusion reached.
Watertown Leader, 03 06 1906
The special committee to consider the franchise asked for by the Milwaukee Electric Street Railway company and quite a number of interested citizens met at the council chamber last Friday evening to hear the matter discussed and listen to an argument in favor of granting the original offered by John I. Beggs of Milwaukee, president of the company . . . The first objection he raised was to the limitation of the life of the franchise to thirty years and very bluntly and frankly informed the committee that the company he represented would not accept the franchise with that limitation. He stated that the line was only a part of the system and that the road would not be a profitable enterprise for years and as they purchased the right of way between cities and villages in perpetuity, the company could not afford to take a franchise for a less period than asked for. Mr. Beggs objected to cleaning and sprinkling streets as the cars occasion neither debris nor dust. In case of snow or ice the company will clean the streets of the snow or ice thrown off the track should it interfere with travel adjacent to the tracks. In regard to bearing a part of the expense of maintaining the bridge on Main street, Mr. Beggs thought it was asking too much, as the company would pay the city annually about $9,000 in taxes and called attention to the fact that the state statutes provide for much of the detail incorporated in the substitute franchise ... Mr. Beggs left a good impression upon the minds of the auditors.
Watertown Leader, 03 08 1906
The report that Henry Mulberger as a member of the special committee voted against granting the Milwaukee Electric Street Railway Company was a mistake and did him an injustice. He voted against but one provision in the franchise - the time limitation of fifty years, he having opposed it and would not conscientiously vote for it although he was in favor of the franchise aside from that one provision.
1906 At a meeting of stock holders of the Hopkin's Diamond Gear Car Co. held yesterday afternoon at the office of the company ... officers were elected for the coming year ...
In conversation with representatives of the Republican, the manager said that the company is in no manner allied with the Milwaukee Electric Street Car Co., and is entirely independent and will remain so. That in connection with car building it will conduct a machinery and foundry repair shop. That the company is doing business on its own capital without any aid from the city as yet, but could use some to an advantage in extending its business, upon which it would guarantee a good dividend.
There is no question but that the business, will develop in time into a large and profitable industry and be a great help to Watertown and surrounding country; an enterprise that the citizens of the city can afford to aid, for the returns promise to be great. Mar 23 WL
1906 At an adjourned meeting of the common council held Tuesday evening the ordinance granting a franchise to the Milwaukee Electric Street Car Co. to use certain streets in the space for a trolley line was passed, by a unanimous vote of the aldermen present. The ordinance has been signed by Mayor Wertheimer and will be enforced as soon as the company files its acceptance with the city clerk. April 1 WL
1906 The engineers of the Milwaukee and Light and Traction company has been busily engaged the past week in making a permanent survey of its proposed trolley line from this city to Johnson Creek, Jefferson and Fort Atkinson. There is no doubt but that the line will be pushed from Oconomowoc to this city at an early date for it will be in the interest of the company to have the line in operation at the earliest possible date and one need [not] be surprised to see cars running on Main street before snow flies. As soon as the line is completed to Watertown, work on the extension south, west and north will be begun and there is no doubt but that by a year from next fall the extensions will be well under way if not completed. It means much to Watertown, for it will be on the maps and take on a new life and prosper. May 7 WL
1906 Watertown Electric Light plant disposed of, to the John I. Beggs interests.
1906 Fred G. Simmons, chief engineer of the Milwaukee Light, Heat and Traction Company, was in the city yesterday and in company with W. C. Stone drove out to Pipersville to close up a franchise at that place. The company proposes to push work on its time to this city and will reach here as soon as it is possible to complete the road bed, set its poles and string the wires and will be here long before the time specified in its franchise. There is no doubt in the mind of The Leader that when the trolley line is completed to this city and other lines radiate to the north, south and west, a large power house will be erected here and constant employment will be given to a large number of men. It means much to Watertown which will be a division point and many people living in the surrounding country will be attracted here to do their trading and with the advent of large manufacturing industries, the city will take on a new life, grow and prosper. As The Leader has repeatedly said, Watertown possesses advantages which should make it one of the largest, if not the largest, inland city in the state. Every citizen should let local pride inspire them to labor for the city in all possible ways. May 2 WL
1906 Clipped from the “Heard at the Hotels” column of the Milwaukee Sentinel under date of July 3rd;
“A better tone is already making itself felt in Watertown due to the announcement that the city will be the division center of part of the interurban system of the Milwaukee Street Car Company,” said Miss Mollie Gritzner [114 Monroe St], (one) of the society leaders in that city, at the St. Charles. “There have been some people who at first thought Watertown would lose by coming in closer touch with the metropolis of the state but that sentiment is fast dying away. It is becoming apparent that instead of losing the city will gain, and this will be especially true in the summer months.
No more beautiful scenery can be found anywhere in the vicinity of Milwaukee than around Watertown along the river. Boating is excellent through the summer months and the finest sylvan picnic ground can be picked out on both banks. Watertown now has a population of about 10,000 but with the coming of the new line this summer this number will surely be doubled, thus benefiting our merchants, who may feel that some of their customers still prefer to do their shopping in Milwaukee. Personally I do not think that any more of this will be done in the future than at present, while, on the other hand, there will be the paying from visitors, who may always be relied on for spending money liberally . . “ July 3 WL
1906 Al Kraft, chief engineer of the Milwaukee Electric Railroad, and Light Co. with his force has for the past few days been examining and testing the Main Street bridge for the purpose of ascertaining its strength and the probability of its being strong enough to hold fifty tons which would be the maximum weight it would have to sustain when the trolley line was in operation and the cars passing to and fro over the structure. Sept 29
01 24 All work on the extensions of the Milwaukee Light, Heat & Traction company’s lines with the exception of the Waukesha Beach-Oconomowoc extension has been suspended for the winter. The last line is now constructed to within two miles of the limits of Oconomowoc and will be ready for business early in the spring.
Many of the employees of the company have taken advantage of the extension of the line to purchase tracts of land along the right-of-way which is being laid out in lots and blocks and will be sold to summer resorters as sites for cottages. Milwaukee Daily News
02 10 It is rumored that the Milwaukee Heat, Light and Traction Company, the corporation for an interurban line, has, through another party, purchased a piece of land in the vicinity of the gas plant for the erection of its shops here. It is also reported, that a change has been made in the plan of entering the city and that the line will run up Western Avenue and down Second Street to the city proper. Every indication points to the fact that operations will be commenced just as early in the spring as possible.
04 05 Great local interest is centering in the building of the interurban line from Milwaukee to this city and the public is anxious at all times for news of the latest developments. The work of construction means much to the city of Watertown and will have a tendency to enliven things here soon and continue for several months. William Sommerfeld of this city, right-of-way man for the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company, was joined yesterday by a couple of gentlemen experienced in the work and the fragments of this end of the work will be finished up soon. The right-of-way between here and Oconomowoc has been pretty well secured. There are a few condemnation proceedings now pending, otherwise the land necessary has been bought and paid for. A large crew of laborers is now engaged in the work of grading east of here. They are working this way from Oconomowoc.
04 05 Considerable delay on the Oconomowoc extension of the electric railway has been caused by the bad weather of late and crews are kept working day and night surfacing, putting switches, extra track, and otherwise putting the line in readiness to open for regular traffic as early in May as possible. The grading crew are now established in their new camp west of this city.
02 19 No meeting of the city council was held last evening, a quorum not being present. Several matters of importance were to have come up, notably the application of the Milwaukee Heat, Light and Traction Company for an extension of time to complete their line into the city in accordance with the terms of their franchise. The committee on judiciary, together with the city clerk and the city attorney to whom was referred the matter of revising the rules proceedings of the council, have prepared a report stating that they have now in force and have prepared a revision of the same. Owing to the lack of the quorum last evening, it was decided that Mayor Mulberger call a special meeting for next Friday evening. The amended rules . . . will then be presented to the council for their approval . . .
06 16 Interurban line rails laid as far west as Stafeil's farm near Pipersville. WL
06 14 Poles - Stringing poles along Main St as supports for trolley wires
A meeting of the board of public works, together with representatives of the Milwaukee Heat, Light and Traction Company was held yesterday afternoon to arrive at some conclusion relative to the matter of stringing poles along Main Street for the supports of the trolley wires. It seems that the franchise calls for iron posts on both sides of the street. The company, however, is desirous of placing wooden poles on the south side of the street, placing a cross arm thereon and painting the same black at the base and white at the top. It seems that there is a division of opinion among the members of the board, the majority, however, holding to the original provisions as set forth in the franchise, calling for iron poles on both sides of the street. WG
07 10 Request to substitute wood poles instead of iron poles on Main St. WG
07 10 Petition against laying track from Fifth to Second streets along Western Ave. WG
1908, laying of track, 100 and 200 blocks of East Main
1908, laying of track, 100 block of East Main
07 10 Petition against change in the sidewalk lines near corner of Main and 5th WG
07 17 Oconomowoc to Watertown extension to be opened middle of next week WG
07 31 Lewis Fountain removed from Main St while street car tracks being laid WG
08 14 Rate to high near city limits; Real estate booming along route WG
08 28 The first electric car crossed Main Street bridge. WG
09 04 Interurban car kills man. 09 04 1908 WG
09 04 All arrangements completed for fair, including special trains WG
09 11 Rebuilding of Main St bridge by Milwaukee Light, Heat and Traction Co completed WG
09 11 Order for extending the interurban from Montgomery St to the C.&N.W. Ry. Depot WG
09 18 Street car startles horses WG
10 16 Carl Schurz homestead proposed for memorial park; Purchase of estate from the Milwaukee Light, Heat and Traction Co WG
11 13 Matter of the condition of streets after construction for interurban WG
12 04 Watertown-Beaver Dam, Beggs line, proposed, W. C. Stone of Watertown WG
1908 07 30 1908
WHS_005_039 and WHS_005_039b and WHS_PC_032
Having made the turn off of Fifth Street onto Main, the first street car enters Watertown, July 30, 1908
Watertown Daily Times, 07 31 1908
Arrival of First Street Car was Joyous Event
Dawn of a new era for the city of Watertown.
Completion of electric line into the city means progress and prosperity in the future
Firebells and whistles announce arrival of first car last evening.
Thousands crowd Main Street to witness the demonstration
The interurban electric line is an accomplished fact. The first car from Milwaukee reached the city shortly after 6 o’clock last evening.
The railway system between Oconomowoc and Watertown, which was the connecting link between the cream city and Watertown, was put into service with a blare of trumpets and a congregation of people which included almost the entire population. The word had been given that the first car would reach Watertown about 6 o’clock and the crowds which thronged the streets bore evidence of the interest that was taken by the people.
Shortly after the hour the big special car Watertown bore down Richards Avenue, Western Avenue and Fifth Street and when it reached the corner of Fifth and Main streets, where the band and members of the city council were stationed, a short stop was made, and anxious people along Main Street were happily expectant. From Fifth Street, the car, which was occupied by officials of the Milwaukee Heat, Light and Traction Company and Milwaukee newspaper men, proceeded slowly down Main Street, headed by the mayor and aldermen with the Watertown band.
As the car progressed there were cheers on all sides and when the visitors left the car at the junction of Main and First streets thousands of people, young and old, gathered to see the sight. It was a gala evening for Watertown and both officials and citizens entered into it.
When the climax came, the mayor was called on for an address and he responded in a neat speech which was heartily applauded. He said:
“This occasion marks a great epoch in the history of Watertown. The interurban came at a critical period in our fortunes and by the employment of 350 of our citizens in the work of construction it has come to pass that Watertown has not felt the depression which has been so serious elsewhere. Equal thrift and transcendent pluck have marked the people of Watertown and we feel today that the rise of our city is just beginning. We thank the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company for the expedition it has shown in this work and we hope the new line will inure to the financial benefit of it owners.”
The arrival of the car in the city limits was heralded by the ringing of the fire bells and the blowing of steam whistles in the manufacturing plants about the city. This was also the signal for the rush of thousands of people to Main Street, which from Fifth to First Street was lined with people, the children being in great evidence. So infatuated with the situation were the latter that they filled the car at First Street and remained there for over an hour and 225 of them were given a ride to the city limits and back.
After the supper hour throngs of people congregated about the car which for many minutes had been taken possession of by the children. They were given a ride up to Richards Avenue and return and shortly after the Milwaukee people entered the car for the return trip. The band was there as was also thousands of people to cheer them on the return journey. Supper had been served at the New Commercial Hotel, the officials of the road and city officials and newspaper men being seated at the table.
Main Street Demonstrates
When the car moved eastward from First Street there was a flare of red fire along the street and the band played. The procession was led by Fred Felshaw and Patrick Finerty, the men who have charge of the work of building the line from Oconomowoc to Watertown. Their names have been familiar to the people of Watertown for more than two years. It was a recognition of the steadfast and persistent effort of the men along the line which made possible the culmination of what was wrought out in the brains of the men at the head of the undertaking.
Included in the party which made the trip were Chief Clerk E. B. Meisner; E. W. Olds, superintendent of rolling stock; George Kuemmerlein, superintendent of transportation; R. H. Pinkley, superintendent of drafting; F. G. Simmons, superintendent of construction; C. N. Duffy, controller; C. J. Davidson, superintendent of power plants; H. L. Everest, superintendent of printing; C. W. Lamb, superintendent of publicity; C. J. Munson and J. E. White, division foreman; Anthony Killa, interurban division foreman; Carl Riegel, Christian Priener, James McCuen, instructors; George Hubbell, assistant superintendent of rolling stock; C. A. Cahill, assistant superintendent of power plant; Fred Yeo, clerk transportation department; E. D. Whitcomb, claims department; Howard Mullett, electrical engineer; Nels Renquist, chief clerk in chief clerk’s department; T. C. Kelcey, Milwaukee Free Press; George C. Nuessy, Journal; C. L. Clark, Wisconsin, and H. Luening, Sentinel.
Charles Gillis of route 6 has the honor of paying the first fare on the interurban line. When the car stopped in Watertown, Mr. Gillis stepped up to the conductor and tendered him a coin for a ride this morning. The money was accepted.
The first regular electric car left this city this morning at 6 o’clock having on board seven passengers at First Street. The car was in charge of Henry Bence, motorman, and Bert Olson, conductor. Cars will run every hour thereafter until 10 at night. The first car from Milwaukee started at 5:30 a.m. and the last car will leave at 11:30 p.m.
On leaving Waukesha Beach the line drops the direct current used in Milwaukee and up to that point and picks up an alternating current which is sent out from the Commerce Street power station at high tension, 33,000 volts. This is stepped down in the transformer tower at Waukesha Beach to 3,300 volts and again in the car to a direct current of 550 volts.
61 Miles an Hour
Between Waukesha and West Allis, with George Kuemmerlein, superintendent of transportation, at the controls, the big 53 foot car weighing 40 tons and costing between $14,000 and $15,000, ran 5,390 feet a minute, or over 61 miles an hour, yet so smoothly that one would not have believed it had not the watches of the railway men borne testimony to the fact. It was a splendid showing for the roadbed of this interurban line.
The electrical system used is known as the alternating current, single phase system, just becoming recognized as the fastest thing in interurban railroading. The application of the alternating current to transportation was commenced at Budapest and has been improved within the last four years until it is now at the head of the known systems.
A powerful current can be sent a long distance over a wire no larger than is used for the ordinary direct current and with far less loss in transmission. This system would enable the Milwaukee Road to use power from the new $1,000,000 dam at Kilbourn, which is one of the plans of the company, according to rumors.
Although no definite schedule has been arranged for stopping the cars in the country districts, it is rulable for the car to stop at public highway crossings on signal or allow passengers to leave the car. This is quite an advantage to people desiring to go into the country for a visit or on pleasure.
Three crews will lay over in Watertown each night.
Attorney C. R. Blumenfeld bought the first ticket sold on the car this morning.
Watertown’s trolley cars were part of The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company's (T.M.E.R.&L.) fleet of interurbans built by St. Louis Car Company just before the turn of the century.
WATERTOWN GREETS FIRST TROLLEY CAR
City Turns Out on Completion of Electric Line
In Touch With Milwaukee
Center of Great System
Watertown Gazette, 08 07 1908
Branches of T. M. E. R. & L. Co. Will Radiate in All Directions From New Terminus
Shortly after 6 o'clock on Thursday evening, July 30, 1908, the first car on the Inter-Urban Railway entered this city from Milwaukee. It contained officials of the Milwaukee Light, Heat and Traction Co., and representatives of the Milwaukee daily newspapers. All along the line from Oconomowoc to this city, the arrival of the car was the cause of hearty cheering and especially so from the time the car entered the city limits south of Richards cut till it came to the terminus of the line at corner of Main and First streets. At the corner of Fifth and Main streets the car was met by the city officials, members of the local press, and Watertown brass band and hundreds of business men and representative citizens. The brass band and city officials marched in front of the car to First Street, where Mayor Mulberger delivered an eloquent little speech. The first Watertown people to ride on the car were James W. Moore, editor of The Gazette, and Paul Schoechert. The first to pay for a ride was Chas Gillis of route 6. When the car stopped at First Street he handed the conductor and tendered him 10 cents for a ride that evening on the cars return to Milwaukee. Charles R. Blumenfeld bought the first ticket on the Friday morning car, when schedule time began.
The entrance of the Inter-Urban railway marks another period in Watertown's prosperity, and it means much to our city's advancement. A few years ago, the press of the city took up the matter of public improvements here, and our people in general gave a generous response, till now we have nearly everything in that line that could be wished for, and still the good work goes on—sewerage, waterworks, electric light, finely paved streets, etc. Later on the Watertown Advancement Association was organized and incorporated. This little body of energetic, progressive and public-spirited men have kept reaching out for factories and locating them here, securing several of the very finest in the country, and what has been the consequence? There is not an empty building in the city, many new ones have been erected, others are being built over the city, and the latest result of these men's efforts have been the Inter-Urban electric railway.
The majority of our business men and citizens have responded generously in a financial way and by moral encouragement to the Advancement Association, and by pulling together, Watertown is now considered the most progressive little city in Wisconsin. True, discouragement and some opposition have been encountered, but they were all passed over as smoothly and diplomatically as possible, and many who discouraged and threw cold water on these enterprises are now enthusiasts. Since the entrance of the Interurban into our city we hear of several who opposed it are now as happy over the event as though they had been enthusiasts from the start. Let's all pull together, regardless of immediate personal interests, work for the advantage of the city as a whole, and our personal interests will eventually turn out all right. Beginning next year the Inter Urban lines out of the city, south, west and north will no doubt be completed. Watertown will then be a very important railway center, and other industries will fast be attracted here, and our city's prosperity and advancement continued to a point that few of us can now realize. The men in charge of the securing of the right of way in this city for the railway, Messrs. J. C. Fitzpatrick and G. A. Dean, have handled the matter with as little friction as it was possible under such circumstances. True, they have not pleased everybody, but over 75 per cent of the people who own property along the right of way of the railway, have been satisfactorily settled with, and that speaks well for the efforts of these gentlemen The cars will leave Milwaukee for this city at the present on the half hour, and Watertown for Milwaukee on the full hour, the trip taking two and one-half hours. The fare for the round trip is $1.75; one way $1.10; to Oconomowoc one way is 30 cents, return , ticket 50 cents ; fare in the city 5 cents, into the country on a mileage basis.
Below we republish a full write-up of the first car's entrance into the city from last Friday's Milwaukee Free Press.
At 6 o'clock this morning regular service will begin over the new interurban line between Watertown and Milwaukee, the first car leaving Watertown at that hour.
At 6 o'clock last evening the first street car rolled into Watertown and the residents gave it a royal reception. When the city limits was reached at Western Avenue cheering crowds were found lining both aides of the street, and so it was up Fifth and down Main Street to the bridge.
Mayor Arthur Mulberger was on hand to extend the official welcome of the city and at Main Street a band was waiting which marched down the street ahead of the car while every whistle in Watertown sounded a note of welcome.
At First Street the reception committee, Dr. A. H. Hartwig, Dr. F. C. Werner, J. P. Holland of the Watertown Times, George Nichols and G. Gahlmann, met the incoming party, the band played again and the cheers which had followed the car in its progress through the streets were stilled while Mayor Mulberger addressed the visitors and his townspeople,
"This occasion marks a great epoch in the history of Watertown," said the mayor. "The interurban came at a critical period in our fortunes and by the employment of 360 of our citizens in the work of construction it has come to pass that Watertown has not felt the depression which has been so serious elsewhere. Equal thrift and transcendent pluck have marked the people of Watertown and we feel today that the rise of our city is just beginning. We thank the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company for the expedition it has shown in this work and we hope the new line will inure to the financial benefit of its owners."
The entrance of the road into Watertown will be observed formally Aug. 27, when the time for its completion under the franchise will expire and when the car barns will have been located and the line completed across the bridge to the intersection of West Main and Montgomery streets.
While the Milwaukee visitors were being entertained at dinner through the courtesy of the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company, a perfect mob of children took possession of the big interurban car, No. 1109, which was the first to bear the words: " Waukesha-Oconomowoc-Watertown," and the ringing of bells was kept up by the excited youngsters until the dinner at the New Commercial was finished. Then their cup of joy was filled to overflowing by the officials of the road who obligingly ran the car, packed to its capacity, out to the city limits and back to give the children their first street car ride.
The electric arches put up for Watertown's homecoming Saturday and Sunday were lighted for the occasion; colored fire was burned at every street corner and the band played, while the cheers of the children were echoed by their elders along the streets. It was a fitting welcome for the great improvement which had come to bring Watertown up into the line with her sister cities in the state.
The entrance of the Milwaukee company means more to Watertown than to almost any other city in Wisconsin. Watertown is destined, according to the plans of President Beggs as sketched to the state railroad commission, to be a great interurban center from which lines will extend to the four points of the compass. From the intersection of Main and Montgomery streets, which will be the terminus of the present extension, the line is to be extended west thirty-nine miles to Madison. From the same street intersection a line is to be run south through Jefferson, Ft, Atkinson to Janesville, fifty-three miles distant. Another line is to be extended from this corner northerly through Juneau to Beaver Dam and Waupun and eventually to Fond du Lac, while the Milwaukee line completes the list.
"Watertown granted a franchise for this road March 27, 1906," said Mayor Mulberger in an interview. ''The time was extended and will not expire until Aug. 27. Watertown is fifty-three years old and it is just fifty-three miles to Milwaukee by the route traversed by the car which is now here. Our people hardly realize what this is the beginning of for Watertown. It means that farmers all along the route can come to Watertown to trade, no matter what the condition of the roads, and poor roads have heretofore been our great drawback.
“The company owns our gas and electric light systems, so that all will be under the same management and we think that will be for the best. Pewaukee Lake is brought to our doors and our people will make common use of Waukesha Beach and its improvements with Milwaukeeans, while the relations of Watertown with the state metropolis will be made more binding and will result in good to both parties. We have reason to rejoice tonight."
"The new road cannot help but conduce to our prosperity," said Col. A. Solliday, banker and retired business man. "It will make Watertown a trading center for a large and rich farming community, the trade of which has largely gone to Oconomowoc in the past because of the poor roads about Watertown at certain seasons of the year. In connection with the big Van Camp milk condensing recently located here, the new line can work up a big business in milk and cream from farms along its line. It is certainly a great thing for us to have such a strong company enter our city and become interested in it, as must needs be the case."
The new line is most substantially built. It embraces some unusually heavy construction, as it runs across ridges necessitating cuts, while between lies low ground which must be filled. The largest cut is thirty-eight feet deep and 1,000 feet long; the maximum grade is 1% per cent and every curve between Oconomowoc and Watertown is a high speed curve built on steam railroad lines. The steel weighs eighty pounds to the yard and is of the latest American Society of Civil Engineers' pattern, while the trolley is of the catenary type.
On leaving Waukesha Beach the line drops the direct current used in Milwaukee and up to that point, and picks up an alternating current which is sent out from the Commerce Street power station at high tension, 33,000 volts. This is stepped down in the transformer tower at Waukesha Beach to 8,300 volts and again in the car to a direct current of 550 volts. On the way out the Oconomowoc station had not been cut in and the car ran through to Watertown on the current as transformed at Waukesha Beach. The new station was cut in at 7:30 and the difference was very marked on the return.
Between Waukesha and West Allis, with George Kuemmerlein, superintendent of transportation at the controller, the big 53-foot car weighing forty tons and costing between $14,000 and $15,000, ran 5,390 feet a minute, or over 61 miles an hour, yet so smoothly that one would not have believed it had not the watches of the railway men borne testimony to the fact. It was a splendid showing for the roadbed of this interurban line.
The electrical system used is known as the alternating current, single phase system, just becoming recognized as the latest thing in interurban railroading. The application of the alternating current to transportation was commenced at Budapest and has been improved within the last four years until it is now at the head of the known systems.
A powerful current can be sent a long distance over a wire no larger than is used for the ordinary direct current and with far less loss in transmission. This system would enable the Milwaukee Road to use power from the new $1,000,000 dam at Kilbourn, which is one of the plans of the company, according to rumors from Watertown. The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company is reported there to be financially interested in the new power project from which Madison has been expecting so much, and as it is the plan to extend the Watertown line to the capital city another season the report may well be true.
Although this was the first car to run over the line into Watertown, the return trip, fourteen miles, to Oconomowoc was made in exactly thirty minutes while the 500 men in the five construction camps cheered themselves hoarse and fired guns and revolvers in celebration or the event as the lighted car swept past them.
Four locomotives, two steam shovels, one of the heaviest traction engines in the country and other equipment have been engaged in the completion of this line since work was resumed April 1. The result is a road bed which will stand comparison with the very best new construction in the country.
The round trip was greatly enjoyed by the party of transportation officials and newspaper men who made it. The first stop was at the large spring at the Waukesha gravel pit, which has been improved by the company and which furnishes the water supply for the Public Service building, the water being brought to Milwaukee daily in tank cars. At Waukesha Beach improvements costing $30,000 were looked over under the escort of T. M. Holl, in charge of the park, and the plans for an additional expenditure of still more another season were explained.
Nearing Oconomowoc the line runs for nearly three miles through land owned by Fred Pabst and used for his great horse farm. It dodges among the lakes of Waukesha County, past splendid farms where ripened oat fields contrast with the fresh grass of pasture land, and not a sign of the hot weather of the past few weeks was to be discovered in the crops. The little shelter stations, of concrete and steel and painted in the canary yellow and turkey red of the company, were especially noted. On the new line long strings of dump cars marked the sidings and cheering work crews hailed the advent of the first interurban over the lines.
The Milwaukeeans were greatly impressed with the richness of the country traversed in Waukesha and Jefferson Counties. Magnificent farms stretched on every side, the fields yellow with ripening oats and barley or deep green with corn and crowing crops. The character of the farm buildings denoted wealth and abundance on every hand. A threshing machine at work attracted attention to the rapidity with which grain is ripening, while the farm machinery in use on all sides was noticeable because of the latest improved models. Splendid dairy cows and fine stock, were seen in every pasture, and the new line seems destined to increase the trade of Milwaukee with this favored people,
In the party were: F. A. Simmons, superintendent of construction and maintenance of way; E. W. Olds, superintendent of rolling stock; George Kuemmerlein, superintendent of transportation; O. M. Rau, superintendent of lighting and chief electrician; R. H. Pinkley, superintendent of the draughting bureau; C. N. Duffy, comptroller; C. J. Davidson, superintendent of power plants; H. L. Everest superintendent of printing; F. G. Goetz, roadmaster in charge of construction; C W. Lamb of the publicity bureau; George Hubbell, assistant superintendent of rolling stock; C. A. Cahill, assistant superintendent of power plants; Fred Yeo, clerk in the transportation department; E, D. Whitcomb, claim department; E. B. Meisner, chief clerk; Anthony Killa, interurban division foreman, C. J. Munton and J. E. White division foremen; Carl Riegle, Chris Priener and James McCuen, instructors, and Nels Renquist of the chief clerk's department, Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light company, and representatives of four Milwaukee papers.
President Beggs had expected to accompany the first car, but a bank directors' meeting held him in the city.
The first regular car will leave Watertown for Milwaukee at 6 o'clock this morning in charge of Henry Bence, motorman, and Beart Olson, conductor. Cars will run every hour thereafter until 10 at night. The first car from Milwaukee will start at 5:30 a. m. and the last at 11:30 p. m.
Watertown Intercity Fair
When the Interurban Railway came to Watertown in 1908, it laid tracks down Second Street to the fairgrounds on the south side of the city, site of the Watertown Intercity Fair (held 1905-1927), charging a nickel for the ride. The cars were always crowded. On one "Watertown Day" - always the Wednesday of the four-day fair - 11,000 people attended. But by 1927 interest had waned and Watertown called it quits with the fair for the last time.
200 S Second
Kiessling, Elmer C., Watertown Remembered (Watertown: Watertown Historical Society, 1976), pp 202-203
. . . The Interurban made an attempt to bolster its failing business by opening a fine new depot on Second Street (later the Ford garage), adding plush new cars and reducing the time of the Milwaukee run. When the new electric train came to town for the first time, it stopped at the city limits to pick up the employees of the Electric Company, who had been taken out there to board the train and make the entry more impressive. The ride to Milwaukee was much more pleasant than it had been on the old trolleys. But the Interurban could not compete with the automobile, and it followed the fair into oblivion in 1940.
01 01 Watertown to become center for interurban traffic; a junction point; eventually a Iine will be built west to Madison WG
01 15 Request to build interurban this year as far south as the fairgrounds so that it could be of use in time for the 1909 annual fair WG
02 19 A RIDE ON THE TROLLEY
Watertown Gazette article, 02 19 1909
Have you ever been on a Watertown trolley car? It is a fine craft, rocking along in fine style. If the swaying motion doesn't exactly lull one to a state of blissful unconsciousness, it will assuredly make him at times feel like taking a good snooze. They have several little conveniences too for the security and comfort of the sleepy or seasick passengers. The window sills particularly were devised especially for convenience in resting the arms and elbows when it is impossible to sit up without something to hold onto or lean against.
A young gentleman from the west side has it in for the trolley cars. He says but little about it himself, but a number of happy and joyous fellow passengers are telling it. He got on one of the cars the other night, and the only unoccupied space being by the side of a pretty, well-dressed and refined-looking young girl, he took the seat, although with apparent diffidence. The young woman's elbow was on the window next to him. She had found it necessary to brace against something, being evidently worn out with a round of strenuous shopping and the car careening and plunging along like a merry-go round. When the car bumped passed one of the side streets the girl’s arm slipped from the window, and in some inexplicable way onto the young man's shoulder. She was certainly sound asleep, he says, and he is equally certain, in his modest way, that she did not open her eyelids previous to this unfortunate accident. He being a young man of retiring disposition and somewhat inclined to bashfulness in the presence of ladies, found himself in a delicate position.
It was very evident to the other passengers that it was a serious problem. The perspiration starting from his forehead showed this, also the fixed and glassy way in which he gazed at the "Uneeda Beer" advertisement on the opposite side. Several acquaintances of his among the passengers were making unseeming exhibitions of mirth over his unfortunate predicament. One man was trying to place a bet that he would stay to the end of the line and back again, unless the girl woke up, and each and every villain agreed that he would stay on the car as long as he did. He didn't know what to do. If he got up, the girl would wake and be embarrassed; if he stayed, those devils in the car would never let him hear the last of it. Just when he had given up all hope, the conductor shouted "tickets," and the girl awoke with a start, shot one glance at the bashful young man, smiled happily, and went to sleep again.
04 23 Franchise to go down Second Street considered WG
05 14 Interurban excursion to Watertown on Memorial Day, Milwaukee Northwestern University Club WG
05 28 William Gruetzmacher Watertown agent for street railway guide WG
06 25 Waukesha Beach resort, daily interurban cars to WG
07 01 Matinee Races; interurban carried crowds to main gate WG
09 16 Inter County Fair, interurban carried crowds to the grounds WG
INTERSECTION OF WESTERN AVE. AND TWELFTH ST.
TRACKS TURNING OFF OF WESTERN AVE ONTO S. FIFTH
FIFTH AND MAIN INTERSECTION
100 BLOCK OF EAST MAIN
12 05 INTERURBAN OFFICIALS IN CITY
W. A. Way, assistant general manager; G. G. Post, electrical engineer, and J. L. Fay, superintendent of wire, of the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Co., were in the city last Saturday and inspected the new gasholder recently built here. WG
IVAR ZABEL, employee
Having passed his 87th birthday this week, Ivar Zabel of 1307 Neenah Street isn't a man to sit around and be idle. He still indulges in his hobby, wood carving and painting. Mr. Zabel has been a resident of Watertown for the past 20 years, coming here from Milwaukee. He is a native of Norway and was born in Dramman, 28 miles from Oslo. His birth date is March 20, 1875. From 1912 to 1935 he worked on the old interurban line and was a conductor for 20 years. His period of service with the Electric Co. covered almost 34 years. He retired on Jan. 1, 1941. After that he did various odd vacation jobs and kept busy with his hobbies. WDT, 03 28 1962
KILLED BY INTERURBAN CAR
Watertown Gazette, 04 10 1913
The eleven o’clock interurban car from the east last night brought the body of Owen Collins to the undertaking establishment of Thos. Brooks, West Main Street, this city.
It is supposed he was struck by the outgoing interurban at 10 o'clock and instantly killed. The accident happened about five miles east here near the Sauerkraut Club crossing (i.e., Hustisford Rd). His skull was cracked but otherwise his body was not injured.
Deceased was about 60 years of age, was unmarried and made his home with his sisters on the Oconomowoc Road (i.e., Highway 16) about five miles east of here.
At this writing the arrangements for the funeral have not been made and the exact manner of his death we are unable to ascertain.
Deceased was well known hereabouts and looked after the farm interests of his sisters, with whom he made his home in a most faithful manner.
He was a hardworking, genial man and his sad death is sincerely regretted by a large acquaintance.
It is said Mr. Collins took the 8 o’clock interurban car out of this city for his home, getting on the card at the corner of 3d and Main streets, so it seems there is some question as to how he met his death.
1914 TO FORCE BOND COLLECTION
12 31 The following letter has been sent to the city clerk and will be read at the next meeting of the city council:
Dec. 29, 1914
To the Mayor and City Council, Watertown, Wisconsin.
I, William G. Cody, taxpayer and citizen, have consulted Madison attorneys as to the bond given to the city of Watertown by the interurban line, as to running a line on North Montgomery Street and so forth, as to the collection of said bond. The said Interurban line has failed to run said line and I am advised by counsel at Madison to ask this honorable city council to inform me as to what has been done in the matter as to collection of said bond, and as to what your intentions are in the future as to collection of said bond, so as to enable me to take the proper legal steps to compel the collection of said bond if necessary. Kindly answer and oblige.
Yours very truly,
William G. Cody. WG
--- INTERURBAN BRINGS IN THE NEWS
Interurban, TMER&L Co Express truck, plow, winter 1919-20, spring 1920, WHS_006_Semrich_series of images.
INTERURBAN POWER LINES RUNNING ABOVE MAIN ST
Profile of Frank J. Boehm of the Wisconsin Gas & Electric Co, an associated company of The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Co, owner of Watertown gas works.
TMER&L CO FUNDS HELP PAY FOR MAIN ST. BRIDGE
The cost of the 1931 Main Street bridge was borne by the state, Jefferson County and Watertown, the city taking its share from a fund of $10,000 which had been paid the city under an agreement by which T.M.E.R. and L. Co., Milwaukee, was allowed to remove its tracks and abandon its interurban service.
12 28 TRANSPORT CO. TO ABANDON WATERTOWN - OCONOMOWOC RAILS
in a Few Weeks. Busses to Run for Interurbans.
Electric trains will be discontinued between Oconomowoc and Watertown by the Transport Co. on Jan. 28 and busses will be substituted. Permission was granted Wednesday by the state public service commission for the change. Abandonment of this portion of the Milwaukee-Watertown electric line was authorized after the company said it would cost $68,000 to repair it. The Transport Co. said that income from the route line been going down steadily as motor trucks and busses took the business away. Rapid transit trains will continue to operate between Milwaukee and Oconomowoc. The Watertown-Madison bus line of the Transport Co. will then be extended between Watertown and Oconomowoc. Pleas of business interests and residents of the territory that transportation facilities should be kept intact because of the European war were rejected by the commission. Milw Jour
THE LAST TRAIN PULLED INTO WATERTOWN ON JANUARY 31, 1940
Last Street Car Will Make Run Here Tonight
Bus Service Inaugurated
Last interurban, interurban terminal, 200 S Second, 1940
Watertown Daily Times, 01 31 1940
The last interurban electric cars will run in and out of Watertown tonight and tomorrow morning a new bus service will be inaugurated between here and Oconomowoc, connecting with the electric line there for Milwaukee.
In accordance with a ruling of the state public service commission granting the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Transport Company the right to abandon its electric line from here to Oconomowoc, the company announced it is abandoning the service tonight and replacing it with the bus line between the two cities. Meanwhile, the city of Watertown has started suit in the Dane County circuit court seeking to have the order of the public service commission set aside. However, the company is not waiting for the outcome of the court action and is going ahead with the abandonment of the service.
Open Ticket Office
With the abandonment of the electric line will also come the closing of the terminal here. Beginning tomorrow a new ticket office and waiting room will be established in the Hotel Carlton.
A new time schedule for service has been worked out but no copy of it was released today for publication. However, it was announced information for the present could be obtained at the terminal until closing time tonight or at the new ticket office tomorrow morning.
Six through bus trips daily to Milwaukee, via Okauchee, Hartland and Pewaukee will be made and direct connection at Oconomowoc with the interurban trains will be made at Oconomowoc for Delafield and Waukesha, it was announced by the Wisconsin Motor Bus lines, operated by the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Transport Company.
End 32 Year Service
With the closing of the electric line here, the company will bring to an end 32 years of service. It was on July 30, 1908 that the first street car came into Watertown. The year before the service had been extended from Milwaukee as far as Oconomowoc and in 1908 the tracks were laid to this city. At first the line ran to Main and First streets. A short time later it was continued all the way to the Chicago and North Western Railroad tracks at the West Main Street crossing of the railroad.
Coming of the first car into Watertown over the line was the subject of a civic celebration such as Watertown has rarely seen. Thousands were on hand to view the arrival of the car. There was band music and the evening was an event that was hailed at the time as the beginning of a new era for Watertown. It was the late Haney Bence who was the motorman to bring the first street car into the city. Mr. Bence died in 1935. Bert Olson was the conductor.
Arthur Mulberger was mayor of Watertown at the time and Joseph E. Davies, late ambassador to Russia and Belgium, was city attorney.
Huge Yellow Cars
The first street cars, which were huge yellow affairs, were later replaced with more modern cars as the trains were gradually improved and years later when the new terminal was established fast and the most modern cars were put on the line.
Several months ago the utility company announced it had filed a petition with the public service commission seeking permission to abandon the service. Following a hearing at which the company introduced testimony as to its losses in operating the line and at which the city fought for retention of the service the commission made public its report and announced that it had granted the utility’s petition.
The city then asked for a rehearing of the case but was turned down and the city council ordered filing of the suit in the Dane County court.
The suit was filed a few days ago by City Attorney Harold W. Hartwig in accordance with the council s resolution.
Kiessling, Elmer C., Watertown Remembered (Watertown: Watertown Historical Society, 1976), pp 202-203
The last train pulled into Watertown on January 31, 1940 and that night left for the last time. Alas, Watertown’s affair with the electric interurban was over.
The T.M.E.R.&L. had come to Watertown 32 years before, in 1908. It once ran the length of Main Street, from Fifth to the Northwestern depot. The screeching of its wheels as it rounded corners was a familiar sound, and the owl car, coming in around one in the morning and bringing home a few late Milwaukee visitors, would often awaken sleepers until they heard it rumble on, realized it was only the owl car and went back to sleep again.
This interurban depot location later became the Ray Miller Ford garage.
1990 50th anniversary of last interurban
03 24 INTERURBAN TRACK TO FAIRGROUNDS TORN UP
South Second St, between Milwaukee St & Western Ave
11 09 INTERURBAN BIKE ROUTE PROPOSED
06 21 2016
Click to enlarge
1908c, Main St, West,
looking east from Water
1909, Crowd arriving at
fairgrounds via Interurban fair line
Third and Maine (sic),
Main Street at night
1915, map, route through Watertown
1926, Birney 63, along Main St between bridge and First St
John I Beggs
Aug 11, 1937, M-1, Western Ave
A street car apparently zips along down the main street of the Wisconsin Dells and is one of a vast series of fake trolley photos published in the first decade of the 1900's.
Interurban Buffet and Restaurant, 415 E Main, 1914, Richard Pouchert, Prop., “Hot Lunch Served All Day”
Louis E. Dornfeld and his team of horses worked on the construction.
History of Watertown, Wisconsin