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Milwaukee and Watertown Railroad


Watertown Chronicle, 07 06 1853; republishing of a Milwaukee Wisconsin article




This enterprise is one which must and will command the attention of capitalists.  The country on the line of this road is one of the most productive portions of the state - which is a guarantee to the road, not only of a highly remunerative, but an exceedingly lucrative business.  The business of this road to Watertown will be entirely a local business, and not exposed to reduction from competition.  The heavy receipts of the Watertown Plank Road are a sufficient indication of the value of this enterprise as an investment.  But, however valuable this enterprise may be as an investment, it is much more valuable to the city of Milwaukee, as it secures a railroad communication with Watertown, which is one of the most important of our interior cities, and with the fertile section of country along its line - and were not the road secured to be built, Watertown would have sought an outlet via the Rock River Valley railroad and Janesville, to Chicago, instead of Milwaukee.


The road to Watertown is now secured to be built.  The company has now between 3 and $400,000 of stock subscribed, and eighty thousand dollars of Watertown city bonds, as a basis for their own first mortgage bonds.  These means will be much increased by additional stock subscriptions here and along the line, and it is hoped by its friends, by the aid of this city.  The entire road to Watertown is under contract to Messrs. Bishop, Stewart & Co., of Bridgeport, Conn., whose reputation as strong railroad men is sufficient to place the construction of the road beyond any contingency.  The sub-contractors are at work on the line, and about one-half of the road will be completed ready for running of the cars, in time to do a large business this fall, and the contractors expect that the whole line to Watertown will be completed in the spring.


Negotiations for a portion of the Watertown city bonds have already been made at par, and it is probable that they will rise to a premium, as they bear eight per cent interest, payable semi-annually in New York, and are the only indebtedness of the city of Watertown.


The first mortgage bonds of this company will have a basis of at least two dollars for every one issued, and at eight per cent interest cannot fail to be a premium security in the eastern market.  In short, few railroad companies, either at the east or west, have ever before commenced the construction of a railroad under as favorable auspices, or with so reliable means for its necessary expenditures, as does the Milwaukee and Watertown Railroad Company.



Salah Post Webb, physician and lawyer.  The family settled near Oconomowoc, his father having a subcontract for the construction of the railroad between Watertown and Oconomowoc.  That was in 1854. 



The Milwaukee and Watertown railroad was completed to Watertown in 1855.


Later, the railroad was purchased by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Co.



June 30 - At a recent meeting of the council Mayor Wertheimer communicated to the council that the last payment of the railroad and railroad bonds indebtedness of the city would be paid off July 15, thus releasing the city from all railroad bond indebtedness which has hung over the city for almost half a century. He said it was a day of which all citizens should be proud, as it marks the payment of a debt which many people though the city could or would not pay. The railroad bonds have hung for many years like a millstone about the necks of the people and officials, but the city was equal to the occasion and have paid every farthing which the courts decided it was liable for. Instead of the day coming as once predicted years ago, when potatoes would be planted in Main street, we see the city steadily growing and among the most prosperous and well-to-do cities of the state. It is befitting that this event should be commemorated in a substantial and fitting manner.


July 29 - Now that the bond question has been settled and the financial cloud lifted that the sun of prosperity may shine upon the city, it is time that the Advancement Association of Watertown should get busy and begin systematic and active work for the industrial advancement of the city. There are many manufacturing industries looking for advantageous localities in which to locate their factories. But few cities in the country have more inducements to offer than Watertown. It possesses rail road facilities that make it a desirable point, there is a splendid water power and a volume of water sufficient to furnish the motive power for many mills and factories; there is an abundance of labor and the taxes are low, the people being conservative in their municipal expenditures. Now is the time to reach out for industries and it can be down to the best advantage by the association which should move in the matter at the earliest possible moment.




No 1:  Theodore Prentiss, Watertown’s first mayor:  Involvement in first railroad

No 2:  1868, city served with writ of mandamus, railroad bond issue