East Troy Electric Railroad celebrates 105 years

May 23, 2012

Staff Report

EAST TROY, Wis. — Beginning Memorial Day weekend, the East Troy Electric Railroad will celebrate 105 years of riding the rails through southeast Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine countryside.

This not-for-profit railroad continues to be operated and managed by a legion of volunteers committed to the operation and preservation of historic trolleys and interurban railcars.

In East Troy, Wis., 20 minutes from the resort area of Lake Geneva, Wis., the East Troy Electric Railroad operates 10-mile round-trip excursions from its historic depot and museum to the turn-of-the-century-styled terminal at the renowned Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago, Wis.

The railroad and adjoining museum are home to more than 20 rail treasures, including open cars, locomotives, streetcars and interurban coaches.

The railroad also operates the only electric interurban dining car train in North America, recreating the luxury that patrons once enjoyed when life seemed to pass by a little slower.

The East Troy Electric Railroad allows visitors to seemingly step back in time and ride the rails aboard a variety of environmentally friendly, magnificent rail treasures,” said Chuck Damaske, president of the East Troy Electric Railroad. “These are the same trolleys and coaches that once whisked travelers through the country connecting towns and cities, as well as operating in major metropolitan areas including Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis.”

The railroad is planning several special events commemorating its 105th anniversary, including two weekends featuring stately trolleys that once serviced the cities of Chicago and Milwaukee. A variety of rail treasures will be featured during the events, including cars from the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Line and Chicago’s workhorse “L” cars that debuted in the 1920s, as well as a rare trolley built for the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company in 1920 and a lavish interurban trolley from 1908 originally manufactured for the Sheboygan Light Power & Railway.

All special events are included in the daily unlimited ride fare: $12.50 for adults; $10.50 for seniors; $8 for children ages 3-11; children younger than 3 are free. For additional information, visit www.easttroyrr.org.

The 2012 East Troy Electric Railroad summer events calendar includes the following:

Railfan Weekend, June 23-24 — From a 1907 maintenance trolley that responded to railway emergencies by parent Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company to a meticulously restored double-truck streetcar that once served as a storage shed, the entire collection of the East Troy Electric Railroad will be on display during Railfan Weekend. Visitors will have the opportunity to ride on a number of trolleys and interurban coaches, and examine the cars awaiting restoration. This weekend is a must-see for train aficionados of all ages.

South Shore Days, July 28-29 — The historic Pullman-built cars of the famed Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad will be on display and ferrying passengers from the railroad’s historic depot and museum to the turn-of-the-century-styled terminal at the renowned Elegant Farmer. The iconic cars high-arching steel-panel ceiling and frosted-glass pendant light fixtures give the grand feeling of a spacious car, while the leatherette semi-bucket seats, mounted on swivel pedestals to allow forward-facing seating, were the last word in electric line luxury. Tours of the car barn, housing restored coaches and cars undergoing restoration, will also be featured during South Shore Days.

Chicago Days, Aug. 25-26 — Celebrate Chicago’s railway history during Chicago Days as the East Troy Electric Railroad features its collection of rapid transit cars that once whisked people around Chicago and its suburbs. Riders of Chicago’s “L” line prior to 1970 will remember the iconic 4000-series cars with its interesting interiors, old-time light fixtures, walkover leatherette seats and “bowling alley” seating at the ends. The historic Pullman-built cars of the famed Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad will also be running the rails during the weekend, ferrying passengers from the railroad’s historic depot and museum to the turn-of-the-century-styled terminal at the renowned Elegant Farmer. Tours of the car barn, housing restored coaches and cars undergoing restoration, will also be featured during Chicago Days.

Milwaukee Days, Sept. 29-30 — Home to the only remaining streetcar from the Milwaukee transit system still running the rails today, the East Troy Electric Railroad celebrates Milwaukee’s rich railcar history during Milwaukee Days. Joining the 1920-built streetcar, which once whisked residents from the greater Milwaukee area to the ballpark and shopping centers, is a 1907 line car equipped to respond to trolley emergencies. Also featured during the weekend is L8, a stately locomotive built in 1935 that once provided track maintenance, brush-cutting services and was fitted with a snow plow to keep the tracks clear for line maintenance and freight service. Tours of the car barn, housing restored coaches and cars undergoing restoration, will also be featured during Milwaukee Days.

East Troy Electric Railroad

The East Troy Electric Railroad is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization run by volunteers committed to the operation and preservation of historic trolleys and interurban railcars. All proceeds and sales benefit the education and preservation work of this museum. The railroad operates Memorial Day through October. For information about the East Troy Electric Railroad, visit www.easttroyrr.org or call (262) 642-3263.

From the May 23-29, 2012, issue

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