A Midwest Regional Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company
Milwaukee Electric

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The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Co. was the largest electric railway and electric utility system in Wisconsin. It combined several of the earlier horse car, steam dummy and streetcar lines into one system. Shortly after the Milwaukee street car lines were electrified in 1895 they came under the control of the North American Company, a large holding company influenced by H. H. Willard who had completed the Northern Pacific Railway. The Milwaukee streetcar lines soon ran on most major streets and served most areas of the city. TMER&L was formed in 1896 and at its peak its 198 niles of interurban lines reached throughout southeastern Wisconsin. They also operated the streetcar lines in Appleton, Kenosha and Racine as well as doing their own switching operations at the Port Washington and Lakeside power plants.
On most lines a single car was enough to handle the passenger loads. Even on busier lines most non rush hour trips were handled by single cars.
In addition to repairing and rebuilding streetcars and interurbans. TM shops were innovators and held patents for several designs and inventions. One design was the articulated train, joining two bodies over a single center truck. First used on their streetcars, they also used it on several interurbans.
Parlor car and diner service were limited luxuries provided by TM to compete with the steam railroads. Most trips were not long enough to take advantage of the extra fare service and they were eliminated during the depression.
When St. Louis Car Co. built the 1030-series cars for TMs South Milwaukee suburban service, they used the articulated design developed by TM. Articulated units could handle as many passengers as two single cars, but only needed one crew.


Milwaukee Electric
July 30, 1933

Short history of the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company.
The expansion period 1890-1909
pre 1890 - Milwaukee has a horse car system.
1890 - Milwaukee horse car system is electrified and is the origin of the lster TMER&L. This Milwakee Electric came under control of the North American Company influenced by H. H. Willard who had completed the Northern Pacific Railroad
1890 - The first electric streetcar in Milwaukee operated on Wells Street April 3, 1890.
1895 - Branch to Waukesha Beach, 5 niles built by then independent company connects to TMER&L.
1895 - Milwaukee-Wawatosa Electric Railway (MWE) builds line to Wauwatosa, 12 miles.
1896 - TMER&L is incorporated and, under John I. Beggs, plans expansion in interurban lines.
cir 1896 - TMER&L purchases MWE.
1897 - TMER&L builds south to Racine on March 16 and to Kenosha by June, 34 miles from Milwaukee.
1898 - Line comp[leted from Wawatosa to Waukesha, 18 miles from Milwaukee.
1902 - A new downtown station is opened in Milwakee.
1903 - A third line (sw) is completed to Hales Corners, 13 miles on June 27.
1904 - SW line extended to St. Martins on June 21 and Muskego Lake on Sept. 1.
1907 - East Troy reached on Dec.13th, 36 miles from Milwaukee.
1907 - West line completed from Waukesha Lake westward to Oconomowoc on June 3.
1908 - West line complete to Watertown, 50 milrs from Milwaukee on July 31.
1909 - A 21 mile branch off the East Troy line to Burlington completed on Oct. 1. This ended the Beggs expansions since influenced passed from his hands. Plans to expand to Chicago, Madison, Lake Geneva and elsewhere were never completed
Milwaukee Northern Railway (MN).
1905 - Milwaukee Northern Railway Company (MN) incorporated.
1907 - MN completed 29 miles from Milwaukee north to Port Washington. Placed in operation on November 2.
1908 - On September 22 the MN reached Sheboygan, 57 miles from Milwaukee.
1922 - The North American Company acquired a controlling interest in the Milwaukee Northern Railway and added their Milwaukee to Sheboygan and Port Washington interurban line to the system maintaining the MMN name.
1928 - MN merged into TMER&L.
TMER&L Physical Plant & Operating Improvements - 1910-1930's
After the era of interurban rail expansion was completed the TMER&L embarked on a series of plant and operation improvemrents including: - Wooden sided cars steel clad.
- New all-steel cars obtained.

TMER&L prior to 1922

TMER&L after MN aquisition (due) This indicates maximum extent of interurbanlines
- Articulated diner-coaches developed, but were not successful.
- Private right of ways constructed on west line through Milwaukee and on most of the south line to Kenosha to reduce street running.
- Double or more tracks installed in high volume areas.
- All company lines standardized to 600 VDC.
- Bus service extensions to Fond du Lac, Madison, Lake Geneva and Beloit instituted.
- Frequent and relatively high speed service continued umtil about 1938.
The Declining Years.
1938 - The Burlington branch was abandoned.
1938 - Name changed to The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Company (TMERT) affiliated with the Wisconsin Electric Power Company.
1939 - The East Troy line was cut back to Hales Corners on August 13.
1939 - The village of East Troy purchased the 6 mile segment to the interchange at Mukwonago for carload freight service.
1940 - The Watertown line was abandoned beyond Oconomowoc on February 1.
1940 - In September the north line was closed beyond Port Washington.
1941 - The west line was cut back beyond Waukesha.
1942 - Having lost interest in the bus operation business the Port Washington line was sold to a bus service but operated by TMERT.
942-45 - Heavy war traffic on remaining lines.
post 1945 - TMERT lines sold to Kenosha Motor Coach Lines prior to abandonment.
1946 - Waukesha line sold.
1946 - Racine to Kenosha abandoned on September 13 and balance of southern line abandoned on December 31.
1948 - North line to Port Washington abandoned March 28.
cir 1948-49 - Waukesha and Hales Corners lines sold by KMC to Greyhound.
1949 - Waukesha and Hales Corners lines sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit and Speedrail Company. Light rail operations started.
1950 - Labor day crash kills 10 and injurs 47.
1951 - MRT&S cannot survive after crash and shuts down on June 30.
1958 - The last streetcar in Milwaukee (and Wisconsin) operated on Wells Street on March 2, 1958.
1960 - TMERT had retained a 5 mile stretch of track to service the Lakeside power plant.
early 1970's - Electric locomotives continue to operate at power plants until early '70's.

More detailed history of TMER&L may be found in:
"TM (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Lights Co.)" by Joseph Canfield, published by CERA as their Bulletin 112.
"Path Of A Pioneer" by John Gurda, The story of Wisconsin Electric Power Co., published by WE Energies.

The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Co. Timetable map - 1933
This shows added bus lines to Fond du Lac, Beaver Dam, Green Bay. Janesville, Beloit, Madison, Lake Geneva and elsewhere

Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- various editions
The Electric Interurban Railways in America, George W. Hilton & John E. Due (due)
To contact our contributors please make a request by Email to: Richard Parks


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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, May 1, 2009, revised July 20, 2011