TMER&L (Milwaukee)

General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.

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TMER&L (Milwaukee)

Postby Komachi » Fri Mar 12, 2004 1:21 am

Started this on the old forums, let's see if we can start any new interest here...

I'm not a native of Milwaukee, but I finished my last three years of college at the UW-Milwaukee (2000-2003... so I'm an honorary Milwaukean, I guess) and learned a little about the TMER&L through some college history classes I took. Is there anyone else out there who has an interest in the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Co.? Are there any current/former Milwaukeans out there who have memories of the TMER&L that they'd like to share? With such a colorful history and influence it had on Milwaukee (made a Daniel Hoan a household name with all the lawsuits he brought against it!) how can you NOT like it?

So grab a Schlitz and lets talk!
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Postby Trainsofthefuture » Sat Mar 13, 2004 7:27 pm

Would you happen to know anything about the Milwaukee subway?
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Milwaukee Subway

Postby Komachi » Sat Mar 13, 2004 8:54 pm

I've done a little digging on the subject, and all I can find are mentions of plans for one (route unknown at this point) in the 1920s, but it was abandoned with the onset of the Great Depression.

While I was there, there, Milwaukee was talking about adding more mass transit to the Milwaukee County transit system, with trolleybusses and light rail sitting at the forefront. I don't know if a subway was suggested in the mix or not, but I doubt it would be implemented.

Anyone originally from Milwaukee know more about this?
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Postby Otto Vondrak » Wed Mar 24, 2004 10:32 pm

Milwaukee Subway? That's new...

But what about Speedrail? They took over one of TMERL's lines late in life, did they not? It was an unfortunate accident during the NMRA convention that shut down the line, I heard...

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Re: Milwaukee Subway

Postby RMadisonWI » Sun Apr 04, 2004 12:03 pm

Komachi wrote:I've done a little digging on the subject, and all I can find are mentions of plans for one (route unknown at this point) in the 1920s, but it was abandoned with the onset of the Great Depression.

While I was there, there, Milwaukee was talking about adding more mass transit to the Milwaukee County transit system, with trolleybusses and light rail sitting at the forefront. I don't know if a subway was suggested in the mix or not, but I doubt it would be implemented.

Anyone originally from Milwaukee know more about this?


A bit late in getting to this, but I hail from Milwaukee (currently in Vancouver, BC for the next month or so).

For some reason, Milwaukee's (and Wisconsin's) political climate is very hostile to the concept of rail transit. There are reasons that I suspect, but I won't go into them here as it would lead to a WAY off topic discussion.

That said, plans over the last decade for rail transit have faced a lot of criticism from suburban politicians.

Currently, there are two non-bus transit plans for Milwaukee. There is the Metra commuter rail extension from Kenosha to Milwaukee (UP-North line), and the Milwaukee Connector http://www.milwaukeeconnector.com. The former has a pretty good chance of being implemented before 2010. The latter seems to be more a dream for downtown businesses than a good transportation plan.

The Connector folks have basically ruled out any rail alternative, and instead are pushing guided bus (street tram) technology. Their routing proposals are very suspect (in my opinion, anyway), and don't seem to take future growth into consideration.

No subway has been proposed, as far as I am aware.
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Postby Markitect » Mon Oct 25, 2004 8:06 pm

Trainsofthefuture wrote:Would you happen to know anything about the Milwaukee subway?


Komachi wrote:I've done a little digging on the subject, and all I can find are mentions of plans for one (route unknown at this point) in the 1920s, but it was abandoned with the onset of the Great Depression.


Otto Vondrak wrote:Milwaukee Subway? That's new...


Several months late to the discussion but...

During the 1920s, TMER&L built a grade-separated, double-track, private right-of-way rapid transit line through the west side of the city and suburbs. The new line replaced the previous in-street route that zigged and zagged its way through the same territory. However, there was a gap between the downtown interurban terminal (the Public Sercie Building at 3rd and Michigan Streets) and the start of the rapid transit line (at roughly 8th Street between Clybourn Street and St. Paul Avenue) where interurbans had to navigate some right-hand turns and in-street running for the few blocks in between those points. The "subway" was planned to eliminate that stretch of street running by connecting the Public Service Building (which would get an underground platform/boarding area) and the rapid transit line--so the subway was really just going to be a tunnel about five blocks in length.

The western end of the tunnel (near 8th Street) was actually partially built; it was alongside the newly-built Transport Building, which was the transfer terminal for TM's freight service. This building is now known as the Aldrich Chemical building, which literally sits in the middle of the existing Marquette Interchange--the freeway ramps actually weave over and around the building...it will soon be demolished as the interchange is going to be completely reconstructed. Of course, the Great Depression prevented TM from ever completing the tunnel project, so interurbans had to continue zig-zagging those few blocks down the middle of the streets. I think the subway approach was eventually used as car storage tracks; and the tunnel--however far it got--was eventually obliterated by the time the freeway interchange was put in during the late-1960s. And the rapid transit line through the West Side itself became the right-of-way for the I-94 freeway.

I do not know how the eastern end of the subway, beneath the Public Service Building, was supposed to look like. It could have been a simple stub-ended arrangement, or perhaps an underground loop around the block. In any case, it's likely the only stops interurban would have made in the tunnel would be at the terminal, since the tunnel was only five-blocks long...so it would not have been like the usual kind of subway we're familiar with.

Of course, if this "subway" could have been completed, it could have been a catalyst for addional interurban tunnels in Milwaukee. Perhaps it could have motivated TM and the City to build a tunnel to link the Public Service Building with the private right-of-way of the northern interurban line on the North Side of the city (which had to traverse a few miles on city streets instead). Such an operation would have probably behaved more like a traditional subway too, since it would have been a distance of a few miles, rather than just a few blocks.

Hope this helps!
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Postby MR77100 » Mon Aug 15, 2005 1:26 am

I know the TMER&L had an extensive 200 miles system running from Milwaukee to Kenosha, as well as the East Troy and Burlington. A 7-mile segment exists between East Troy and Mukwanago as the East Troy Electric Railway, after the rest of that line abandoned in 1939. Several pieces of their equipment have been preserved at various museums.
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Re: TMER&L (Milwaukee)

Postby trainmaster611 » Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:04 pm

I've been looking everywhere but I can't seem to find a map of the TMER right of way. I've looked at the shape of system maps and tried to compare it to the Milwaukee area on google maps but I still don't have a clue where the right of ways were. I'm especially interested in the Waukesha and Hales Corners lines that were later operated by the Speedline. Anyone got any ideas?
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Re: TMER&L (Milwaukee)

Postby edbear » Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:25 pm

The Waukesha line was a cutback from Oconomowoc which was a cutback from Watertown. There was also a line to Sheboygan and Port Washington. There's a soft cover book on the Speedrail era and a huge hard cover on the whole Milwaukee scene published by CERA about 35 years ago. Title TM. The property was for many years The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light (TMER & L) and when the utility and transit businesses were split the transit operation became the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport (TMER & T). The city properties were then separated from the suburban and interurban properties. These were eventually sold to Kenosha Motor Coach Lines which operated the interurban/suburban routes and abandoned all but the Hales Corner and Waukesha routes. Speedrail bought these routes and ran them for a couple of years until the went bankrupt and out of business, due primarily to a bad head on collision, Labor Day weekend 1950.
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Re: TMER&L (Milwaukee)

Postby trainmaster611 » Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:05 pm

Thank you but I was actually just looking for information on the ROW. These are the best I've got so far:

http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/cdm ... DMROTATE=0
http://web.me.com/willvdv/chirailfan/mkeg1938.gif

Unfortunately, the streets aren't labeled so I still can't tell where the ROW went.
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Re: TMER&L (Milwaukee)

Postby Jollygreenslugg » Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:54 am

Big fan of TMER&L here. I have a much-thumbed copy of CERA 112, so gimme a couple of days and I'll get some details together for you.

Basically, the old private ROW ran west from what is now the Marquette Interchange, running where the East-West Freeway runs today. The work in the 1920s to get the interurban off the streets only got that far east. A 'temporary' timber ramp took the tracks up to Clybourn, which then turned on to N 6th St, near what was the North Shore terminal. It was 'temporary' because a subway was planned to run east to the Public Service Building, the interurban terminal. Along came the Depression and the plans were shelved.

The big cloverleaf junction was pretty-much built over what was the freight transfer yard, at the easternmost end of the private ROW. Indeed, the TM freight 'express building' was only pulled down a couple of years ago, after standing, isolated, amongst the cloverleaf ramps.

I'll get some scans together tomorrow, and try and tie them in with Google Maps.

Cheers,
Matt
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Re: TMER&L (Milwaukee)

Postby trainmaster611 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:34 pm

Jollygreenslugg wrote:Big fan of TMER&L here. I have a much-thumbed copy of CERA 112, so gimme a couple of days and I'll get some details together for you.

Basically, the old private ROW ran west from what is now the Marquette Interchange, running where the East-West Freeway runs today. The work in the 1920s to get the interurban off the streets only got that far east. A 'temporary' timber ramp took the tracks up to Clybourn, which then turned on to N 6th St, near what was the North Shore terminal. It was 'temporary' because a subway was planned to run east to the Public Service Building, the interurban terminal. Along came the Depression and the plans were shelved.

The big cloverleaf junction was pretty-much built over what was the freight transfer yard, at the easternmost end of the private ROW. Indeed, the TM freight 'express building' was only pulled down a couple of years ago, after standing, isolated, amongst the cloverleaf ramps.

I'll get some scans together tomorrow, and try and tie them in with Google Maps.

Cheers,
Matt


Thanks for the response! I'll be looking forward to it!
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Re: TMER&L (Milwaukee)

Postby CarterB » Sat May 16, 2015 1:54 pm

On the Burlington, Wi line there was a stop at Bellwood Road. Any idea on a current map where that was, or what the stop was for?
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
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