The East Troy Museum and Electric Railroad

Keeping up with the recent past regarding blogs, here's our trip to the East Troy Railroad Museum on June 6th of last year!

East Troy, WI was the westernmost stop on the electric railway from Milwaukee, known as the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company.

Electric railway history in East Troy, WI dates back to nearly the turn of the 20th century in 1907, when electric railway building was booming across much of the United States, but especially in the urbanized sections of the Northeast, Midwest and Western US. Using electric motive power, this disorganized system nonetheless allowed commuters to connect to a major city from rural areas, and even inter-city connections via both steam and electric railways. 

A post card I picked up from the museum of the East Troy Museum Car #24.

In Milwaukee's case, one could hop on to the MER&L Railway from East Troy and connect to Milwaukee. From there, you could connect to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad and reach Chicago, make your way to the South Shore Line and reach South Bend, IN, and from there, make your way into various parts of Michigan.

While not without its faults, and certainly not profitable, the fact that one could use various electric transit systems to reach such a large area over 100 years ago, which is almost impossible to do today without an automobile, should certainly make anyone think about our transportation funding priorities, to say the very least.

The museum serves as a living reminder, and one of the very few remnants, of the system today.

The museum runs the East Troy Electric Railroad, a 7 mile back and forth trip between East Troy and Mukwonago, which was one of the stops on the Milwaukee-East Troy line. 

Looking along the right of way from Mukwonago as the early June sun shines. Thankfully, the cars have windows that you can open, allowing for a terrific breeze.

The railroad runs between East Troy and Mukwonago, stopping right near a market known as the Elegant Farmer. There's enough time between the journey back and forth to visit and do a little shopping!

I believe you can purchase one-way tickets between East Troy and Mukwonago, but I'm not sure why you would.

Originally built in 1907, like many interurbans, the East Troy line was not long for this world, and by 1939, the line northeast of Hales Corners was abandoned. The same fate would've occurred with the line all the way to East Troy, had the village not purchased the right of way. As East Troy was relatively disconnected from the road and railroad network outside of the interurban, the village fought hard to save it for both the freight and passenger operations.

For the next ten years, it operated as part of TMER&LC, but finally became independent in 1949, and was then known as the Municipality of East Troy Wisconsin Railroad. In 1985, it was decided that the Wisconsin Trolley Museum would relocate to East Troy and run the operations there.

The museum uses a few different trolley cars from various parts of the Milwaukee Electric Railway system for its motive power.

The depot at East Troy is full of memorabilia and historical artifacts of the railway and electric interurbans in general.

Despite being a museum, the rail line to East Troy remains a common-carrier railroad, as it interchanges with the US railroad network via a connection with the Canadian Pacific Railway, and there are a handful of on-line customers who use part of the right of way to transfer freight to the CP as a result. Thus, the railway does not appear on our abandoned and out-of-service railway map, but does show up on our map of Heritage Railways.

Thanks as always for reading! We enjoyed our time here and I'm sure you will too!


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