ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


The Interurban


(Trolley, Street Car)

1908 – 1940


Watertown’s trolley cars were part of

The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company's (T.M.E.R.&L.)

(today We Energies)

fleet of interurbans


Interurban book; general, not Watertown specific




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.


         John I. Beggs



   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.





Line cars for installing the trolley wire.  They are being moved with a small steam loco as there are no overhead wires in place yet.  Octagon House in the distance



   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




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       Watertown Electric Light plant disposed of, to the John I. Beggs interests.



Work on the trolley line for the Milwaukee Heat, Light and Traction Co., which has a franchise through this city, is in progress west of Oconomowoc and it is the intention of the company to push the work with all possible dispatch.  And there are rumors in this city to the effect that work will soon be begun in this city on the line eastward so that in the early fall the line will be in preparation and the cars running from the southeast limits of the city to the Northwestern depot and then everybody will know that Watertown is on the map and the city of “fat geese and retired farmers” is a place of importance.



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.      WL



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.    WL



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 . . “   WL



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.   




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



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. 



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.



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.




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 . . .   


04 03       Active construction operations to commence as soon as frost out of ground, in time for 1908 Homecoming event.   WG


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



There is every indication now that the electric line between this city and Milwaukee will be opened to traffic next week, or at least in time to carry homecoming visitors.  In an interview President John I. Beggs of Milwaukee said that cars will run at the time of the Watertown homecoming.  Until September the Watertown train will leave Milwaukee every hour, on the half hour.  The cars will be run from Milwaukee to Watertown, leaving Milwaukee on the half hour from 6 o'clock in the morning until 11 o'clock at night, two and a half hours being necessary to make the trip.  This schedule will be maintained until September, when the travel to the inland lakes and summer resorts enroute begins to slacken up, when a change in the schedule will be made and the headway will be materially reduced to meet the diminished demand on the resources of the road.    WDT




The overhead bridge which will carry the electric cars over the Milwaukee road track in what is known as Richard's cut will be rolled into place tomorrow morning.  Everything is now in readiness and it certainly will be an interesting sight.  The steel structure known as a pony truss, was built for the electric company by the Dornfeld-Kunert company of this city.  It was erected on the north side of the railroad tracks and will be rolled into place on rollers.  There is a gap over the tracks 42 feet wide which must be left open for the passage of trains and the truss will be carried out over that without any support except its own weight on the land until it touches the falsework on the other side and eventually be placed in the concrete abutments.  It is possible that a locomotive on the electric line now stationed south of the cut will furnish the power.


The truss is of steel, 96 feet in length, and will rest upon huge concrete foundations built last spring by Edward Racek of this city.  The truss will be at a height of 24 feet above the railroad tracks, sufficient to clear any train.  The rails have been laid up to the south side of the cut, but are not yet laid between the cut and Western Avenue, but this will require only a short while.       Watertown Daily Times, July 22, 1908


-- --           ROUTE INTO WATERTOWN


click to enlarge




Engine was former C.M.&St.P RR 4-4-0, used on construction trains.

A syphon hose is noted on the tender, used to take water from rivers and creeks.

Concrete bridge abutments still exist on both sides of tracks, visible from the end of Terry Lane.


07 31       Lewis Fountain removed from Main St while street car tracks being laid   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.


Mayor Talks


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.


First Customer


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.




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 businessmen 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 businessmen 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 inteurban 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.


Interurban Terminal

  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.


       1908, Main St, looking east from First and Main


Watertown Remembered


When the Interurban Railway came to Watertown in 1908, it laid tracks down Second Street to the fairgrounds, site of the Watertown Inter-County Fair, charging a nickel for the ride.  This annual fair was initiated by Mayor Herman Wertheimer in 1905 and the fair site was on the grounds south of the Armory.  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.


In that same year the Interurban made an attempt to bolster its failing business by opening a fine new depot on Second Street, 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.


The T.M.E.R.& L., as it was called (The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company), 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.


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



The interurban electric line will be extended from Montgomery Street to the North Western railroad depot and work on the extension will begin at once, John I. Beggs of Milwaukee, president of the Milwaukee Light, Heat and Traction company, has issued orders to this effect and work will probably begin tomorrow.  This will mean a great deal to people in Watertown using the cars, as it will afford rapid transportation to the railroad station.  Local labor, as much as possible, will be hired on this work and it is expected it will be finished before late fall.  It seems to be the aim of the electric company to give Watertown as good a service as possible and it is to be hoped that city officials and citizens generally will not retard the work when it is being pushed now.  All that can be reasonably expected is that the company construct its lines according to the terms of the franchise and petty exactions should not be made a deterrent.  Watertown is in the field for all the transportation lines it can get and the sooner we leave aside ill will and ill feeling and boost the sooner we will receive what we are after.


An order has also been issued to the effect that beginning next Monday all electric cars running into the city from Milwaukee will make one round trip between Montgomery Street and Western Avenue.  This is a trial which Mr. Beggs will make to determine whether the traffic will warrant this measure.  It will be given a fair trial and if found of mutual benefit will be continued.  It will be continued any way until the North Western extension is in operation and will allow each car fifteen minutes in which to make the round trip before leaving on the interurban trip.


During next week each electric car will have a trailer and enough other trolley cars will be put on to give a good service for the Watertown Inter-County Fair, and each car will bear a banner advertising the fair.


The agitation for the extension to the North Western depot was started in the Daily Times sometime ago and it was urged that business men and city officials unite in an endeavor to secure it.  The matter was placed before Mr. Beggs before local action was taken, with the result that he has ordered the work done.  In this connection it might be well to state that farmers from as far southeast as Delafield are taking advantage of the transportation facilities to do their trading in Watertown.  This means much to local merchants and in turn to the public generally.  Let's boost the work along and hope that the line will be extended south next year as far as the fairgrounds, at least.


09 11       Rebuilding of Main St ` by Milwaukee Light, Heat and Traction Co completed   WG


09 11       EXTENDING THE INTERURBAN from Montgomery St to the C.&N.W. Ry. Depot 

John I. Beggs of Milwaukee, president of the Milwaukee Light, Heat and Traction Co., has given orders that work begin at once on extending the interurban railway from Montgomery Street to the C.&N.W. Ry. depot.  This means a great deal to the people of this city, for it will add greatly to the good service already in force here, and it is hoped all will help the good work along.  Mr. Beggs has also ordered that all electric cars entering the city make one round trip between Montgomery Street and Western Avenue, allowing 15 minutes for this service.  If the experiment pays, this service will be continued.  During the fair next week each car will have a trailer, and enough cars will be run to accommodate all going to the fair who wish to patronize the electric line between Montgomery Street and Western Avenue.  The company means to give Watertown the best possible service, and as merchants and business men have already felt the good effects of the interurban railway, it is hoped that no citizen will do anything to retard the growth and extension of this public enterprise.       WG



On Sept. 15th the interurban railway service between this city and Milwaukee put on the two-hour schedule, cars coming and going every two hours, from now till May 15th next, when the hourly schedule will be resumed.  The same rule prevails with all interurban roads controlled by John I. Beggs.  Between 9:05 a. m. and 10:05 p. m. a daily city service will be maintained between Montgomery Street and Richards Avenue leaving Montgomery Street at 9:05 and arriving at Richard's Avenue at 9:15, returning to Montgomery Street at 9:05 and back to Richard's Avenue at 9:35, and back to Montgomery at 9:45, and so continuing till 10:05 at night. This service will be continued till the extension is completed to the Northwestern depot; and if it is found the local service pays, regular city cars will be put on next year.


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



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 05       Winter storm brings interurban to standstill    WG



       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



A sprinkler system will be installed in the car barns of the electric railway company, corner of Hyland and Second streets.  A water main is now being laid in Hyland Street to Second Street and the company has laid the main from that corner past their building to insure fire protection.  A hydrant will be placed at the corner named.     W News



In a few days the interurban track on Second Street will be connected with the main track on Main Street and as soon as the poles are set and trolley wires attached, cars will be run and the road [track] pushed on to the fair grounds.  There is little or no prospect of the line going farther south this season than the fairgrounds, although it was the universal desire of the people of this city that it should be extended as far south as Johnson Creek, if no farther.  It requires money to construct, equip and operate interurban lines and money does not grow on bushes.  It must be obtained by the sale of bonds, and investors must be assured, in fact, convinced, that the interest on the bonds will be paid when due, before they will part with their money.  The people of Watertown must be patient for some time, the fruition of their hopes may be realized and this city become a division point in the Beggs system.     W News


Cross reference note:  Tracks on S. Second removed in 2015





07 01       Matinee Races; interurban carried crowds to main gate   WG


09 16       Inter County Fair, interurban carried crowds to the grounds   WG






   1910c, Lewis Fountain and St. Bernard's




       Trolley headed up S. Fifth to Main Street, then west on Main.



      400 block of East Main is seen





A petition for the improvement of Western Avenue will shortly be circulated among the residents of that street for their sanction.  It is proposed to boulevard a strip 14 feet wide in the center of the roadway and place the street cars rails on each side of the street, with a strip of paving 25 feet in width on each side.  As the street is a wide one the contemplated improvement if accomplished would make a beauty spot of that thoroughfare.






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




   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.



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










       A picture containing text, outdoor, building, road

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Mrs. Amalia [Emilie] Krause killed at Main and Second streets

      and two other women injured when struck by electric car.


Mrs. Amalia [Emilie] Krause, 109 Green Street, widow of the late August Krause, was almost instantly killed and two other women, Mrs. Carl Schumann and Miss Martha Schumann, were injured when run down by an interurban electric car at Main and Second streets Sunday night at 10 o’clock.


Mrs. Krause was thrown under the wheels, which passed over her body, severing one arm, and death resulted almost instantly.  The accident was witnessed by Police Officer Henry Rutz and several others who were about to take the car east.


Mr. Rutz says that the 10 o’clock car was going east and when it struck the split switch at Second street the front trucks passed over alright, but the rear trucks were diverted to the Second street line and that portion of the car went south.


Four women, Mrs. Amalia Krause and daughter Anna and Mrs. Carl Schumann and daughter Martha, were standing near Cole’s block and when the car was passing on the north track started to cross over in the direction of the Penney store.  The swerving car struck them before they were able to get out of the way, and Mrs. Krause was thrown under the wheels of the rear truck, while Mrs. Schumann was injured internally, but not seriously it is believed, and was removed to St. Mary’s hospital, and her daughter Martha was injured about the face, but not seriously.


The injuries sustained by Mrs. Schumann consisted of two broken ribs and other internal and external injuries, but the physician does not look for any serious results.  Her daughter. Miss Martha, was quite severely bruised about the face and one of her hips is also badly injured.  She also sustained a fracture of the nose, but will recover.  Miss Krause escaped uninjured.  That all of them were not mangled under the wheels is something to be thankful for as they were all in danger. The motorman on the car was Charles Struck and the conductor, Joseph Esser, both of Milwaukee.


The body of Mrs. Krause remained under the car for half an hour before the car could be raised in order to remove it, and a large throng of people watched the work.


Mrs. Krause was the widow of the late August Krause and has been a resident of Watertown for the past years.  She was born in Germany September 4, 1853, and is survived by four children:  Otto Krause, Milwaukee, Mrs. August Huth, Whitewater, Arthur Krause and Anna Krause, at home.  Mrs. Krause was a woman whose death will be learned with extreme sorrow by a host of friends.  She is spoken of as an excellent neighbor and devoted mother and her sad and tragic death is a distinct shock to the whole community.


The initial cause of the accident is unknown.  It is pretty certain that the split switch in some manner was jarred out of place after the wheels of the forward truck had passed through the switch, but what caused it is only conjecture.  It is not the first time that such accidents have happened, but this is the first fatality which has occurred on the interurban line in Watertown since the advent of the company ten years ago.


Will Hold Inquest.


An inquest will be held before Justice of the Peace Ferd. Schmutzler at 10 o’clock Tuesday morning at which time witnesses of the accident will be examined by District Attorney A. L. Stengel.


Funeral Tuesday.


The funeral will take place on Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 o’clock from the late residence, 109 Green Street.  Services will be held in the Immanuel Lutheran church in North Ninth Street at 2 o’clock.  The burial will be in Oak Hill cemetery.  Friends are requested to call at the home as the casket will not be opened in church.      Watertown News


_____________ more on the same _________________


AUGUST 12. 1918 --- Ten seconds after Mrs. Amilla Krause had laughingly asked Police Officer Henry Rutz whether he intended to put her in jail, her mangled and lifeless body lay beneath the rear truck or a T.M.ER.& L. electric car at Main and Second streets.


The car had "split the switch." that is to say, the front trucks continued east on Main Street, the direction in which the car was going, and the rear trucks left the main tract and went up the Second street track.  As a result the rear end of the car swung around toward the Achtenhagen & Borchardt stand with terrific force.


The speed of the car was sufficient to force the rear trucks from the Second Street track, and they moved forward on the pavement to within two feet of the curb line, the trucks and the rear end of the car blocking the right of way of foot passengers along the south side of Main street.


The other three members of the party of which Mrs. Krause was a member, were also more or less injured. All three were probably struck. At least two others had to be drawn 

from under the car.


They were:  Mrs. Amelia Schumann, two ribs broken, ankle sprained and body bruises. Miss Martha Schumann, nose broken and severe face and body bruises. Miss Anna Krause, suffers from shock.


Whether or not Miss Krause was hit by the car seems a mooted point, Charles Herro was probably the first man on the scene. He attempted to release the body of Mrs. Krause, but quickly saw that it was impossible. He then attempted to assist Mrs. Schumann, but she was entirely under the car and was drawn out from the other side—the west side. Abe Herro was also quickly on the scene and assisted Officer Rutz in drawing Miss Schumann from beneath the car. Charles Herro says he saw only the three women under the car; he rushed from the front of the Main street bowling alleys, only a few feet away, when the car stopped. If Miss Krause was knocked down she had arisen before he arrived.


Mrs. Krause and Mrs. Schumann with their daughters were coming home from church. They were walking west and expected to cross the street at the Achtenhagen & Borchardt corner to go north in North Second street.  When the car approached, they waited for it to pass.  When it was even with them, Mrs. Krause and Mrs. Schumann, who were walking in front, stepped down off the curb to cross to the "Golden Rule" corner, expecting to cross Main street from that corner and take the west side of North Second street to Green street where both families live, Mrs. Krause No. 109 and Mrs. Schumann at No. 112.


Miss Schumann and Miss Krause followed, Miss Krause a little behind. Just what happened then, even the survivors can scarcely tell. It was too sudden—too awful.


Mrs. Schumann and her daughter were taken to the Leopold bakery, and later a physician took them to their home. When he had examined the injuries, the physician decided to take both to the hospital. At noon today Mrs. Schumann was resting fairly well, but in considerable pain. She is about sixty-six years old and the mother of eleven children, eight of whom are living.


There was great excitement and a great crowd about the Main street corner for about three-quarters of an hour during which carline employees and volunteers worked desperately to raise the rear end of the car and release the mangled body—the wheels passed over the body above the waist line, severing one arm and practically bisecting the body.


During practically all this time Miss Krause stood in the crowd, watching the efforts of the men and believing that the mother was still alive.


There were many complaints heard about the speed which the car was making when it hit the switch. Officer Rutz, who had intended to take the car at this corner, will be one of the witnesses at the inquest, which will be held at 10 o'clock Tuesday morning, and he will likely be one of those who will be questioned as to the speed of the car.


Justice of the Peace Schmutzler was called to the scene, arriving soon after the accident. The inquest will be held in his court. The members of the coroners jury viewed the body at the Kohls and Knaak undertaking parlors this morning.  They are Otto Wegemann, F.W. Lehmann, Leonard Oestreich, Emil Tanck, J.P. Holland and Patrolman Arthur Doerr.


Mrs. Amalia Krause, 109 Green Street, widow of the late Mr. August Krause, who was killed in the street car accident here Sunday evening, was born in Germany, and spent her early years in that country. She was Miss Amalia Neitzel prior to her marriage, which also took place in Germany. Mr. and Mrs. Krause, with the oldest son, came to this country thirty-six years ago, coming directly to Watertown, where she has since resided.


The surviving relatives are two sons and two daughters, as follows: Mrs. August W. Huth, Whitewater; Otto Krause, Milwaukee; Arthur Krause, this city; and Miss Anna Krause, at home. Funeral services will be held Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 o'clock from the late home and at 2 o'clock at Immanuel Lutheran church. Interment will be made in Oak Hill cemetery.


Krause, Emilie, b. Sep 4, 1853, d. Aug 11, 1918

Krause, August C., b. Apr 3, 1856, d. Jul 6, 1917

Krause, Arthur W., b. Oct 27, 1887, d. Jan 9, 1962



13-year-old Theresa lad follows Papa’s advice.






The interurban maintained a pick-up and delivery service in Watertown.


As an experiment to determine the practicability of motor truck lines acting as feeders to electric interurbans The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company established during 1919 a motor truck line to several business centers beyond the terminal of one of its branch lines.  The idea of the truck line was to reach directly a number of towns that were not served by direct transportation to Milwaukee and to thus provide a new service to these centers and increase the haulage of express over the interurban lines.


Watertown has the second largest terminal on this system.  This terminal was recently remodeled and made modern.  It is especially designed to facilitate the rapid and efficient handling of express.  The incoming platform has an area of approximately 3,000 sq. ft. and the outgoing platform 1,500 sq. ft.  A track runs between these platforms permitting the easy loading and unloading of cars.  This terminal is also provided with a two-car team track.  Suitable warehouse and platform facilities are provided at all stations and stops along the lines.     Source:  Electric Traction, Vol XVI, No. 1, January 1920.






1920s, late





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.




Watertown's Indian Chief, originally the Lewis Fountain, who has stood guard for years at the intersection of West Main and Washington Streets, bit the dust at an early hour this morning when he failed to survive what proved to be a very modern motor and street car crash. 


When [With] so many white people unable to stand the terrors of the modern automobile, the Indian is hardly to be blamed for passing into the happy hunting grounds.


The Indian's end came this morning.  A Ford car driven by John Neuman and the street car which arrives from Milwaukee at that [same] time, collided and the Ford was knocked against the red man.  The Indian was unable to withstand was shock and the shattered remains were scattered in every direction.


Luckily Mr. Neuman was not injured although one of his hands was bruised, it was stated by the police.  The Ford was almost as badly wrecked as the Indian and the street car, being made of sturdier stuff, survived quite nicely.


The Indian suffered a similar mishap sometime ago when a motorist took a fall out of him, but that time he survived and was put back into place after much patching.  This time it looks as if it will be impossible to save him. There isn't enough of his face left to allow a beauty expert to lift it.     WDTimes



      300 block of E. Main Street






The two-story brick building at 206 South Second Street, recently acquired by T.M.E.R. & L. Co. as part of the site for the new interurban and bus terminal at 200 S. Second, has been completely wrecked.


10 04       BY THE WAY: The large elm tree at the corner of S. Second and Market Streets with its spreading branches and huge trunk should be spared if possible although it may have to go to make way for the new terminal station to be built there. In the many years it has stood as a silent sentinel on the corner its grateful shade has been enjoyed by many people. It should be spared if possible.



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This is how Watertown’s new interurban railway and motor bus terminal will look when completed.  Construction work is under way and will be finished in about two months, according to officials of The Electric Co. and the Wisconsin Motor Bus Lines.  Improvement of the terminal facilities, including purchase of necessary land, erection of the building and relocation of tracks, will cost $107,000.


The terminal, located at Second and Market streets, will accommodate Rapid Transit trains operating to Milwaukee and motor buses operating to Madison, Janesville and Beaver Dam.  Transferring of passengers between trains and buses will take place under cover.    WDT


Street view of this location  




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New Passenger Terminal for the T.M.E.R.&L. Co, the Interurban Railway, 200 South Second Street.


Portion of architectural drawing for terminal held by Maas Bros. Construction.  To be determined if Maas Bros. was awarded the winning bid.








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. 




       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 had 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



       1940, Pipersville Station             1940, Turning onto Western Ave


       Jan 28, 1940, Motorman Kopitzke & Conductor Miller




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.



   Image 2




South Second St, between Milwaukee St & Western Ave; were laid in 1909.



      Online article  






The Watertown/Oconomowoc Interurban Trail is a non-motorized recreational trail, transforming the former electric rail line into a bike and pedestrian path.  The project is currently in phase one, with the Watertown trailhead complete, and a stretch of the trail available for recreational use.  At the completion of all 3 phases, this blacktopped, off-road trail will support people bicycling, walking, and other non-motorized recreational purposes.  It will offer cyclists the opportunity to ride safely from the northern end of the Glacial River Trail in Watertown east to the shores of Lake Michigan connecting along the way to trails such as the Lake Country Trail in Waukesha County and the Hank Aaron Trail in Milwaukee.  A pedestrian bridge over the Rock River is scheduled for completion in 2018.




        Humboldt & Clark streets



Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article





Jefferson County will receive $1,102,840 to put toward development of the interurban bike/pedestrian trail from Watertown to Oconomowoc.   The ultimate goal is to link Watertown bicyclists with the Milwaukee lakefront.  The grant money will be used by the county to construct the trail from River Road to County Highway F, a span of 4.7 miles.





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The Jefferson County Interurban Recreation Trail will be closed during the Wisconsin gun deer season from November 17th to the 25th.


The trail will be closed from River Road to Hwy F beginning Friday at sunset and continue until sunrise on Monday November 26th.


The trail will remain open during this time from the Watertown Trailhead to River Road, and trail users are asked to wear florescent or blaze orange clothing to ensure the highest level of visibility.


In all other Jefferson County Parks and Trails we discourage users from wearing brown and white clothing or anything that could be mistaken for a white-tailed deer.








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.


THE TOONERVILLE TROLLEY:  Of the days when Watertown still had street car [interurban] tracks on Main Street and the battle that was fought in and out of the council over their removal —— and the little yellow "Toonerville Trolley” that was kept in service, running from West Main Street to Northwestern College hill and then back just so folks who had been used to the street cars could keep riding the car before it was finally abolished.   WDTimes 08 16 1938

Note:  The interurban ended (was abolished) in 1940.  I interpret the above as the "Toonerville Trolley" possibly running on the abandoned interurban tracks for a short time afterwards.  If so, this would have occurred after the splendid history period of the interurban documented by Chuck Damaske  / Ken




Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin