East Troy Electric Railroad offers summer riding fun

Staff Report

EAST TROY, Wis. — Celebrating 106 years of riding the rails through southeast Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine countryside, the East Troy Electric Railroad, in East Troy, Wis., has planned a number of special events for the upcoming season showcasing its stable of interurban rail treasures, as well as the addition of a pizza train to its dinner train schedule allowing young rail fans the opportunity to dine aboard former coaches of the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad.

East Troy Electric Railroad is at 2002 Church St., East Troy, Wis., about an hour northeast of Rockford.

A variety of antique trolleys and interurban coaches that once whisked passengers from major cities to surrounding towns and nearby summer retreats will be featured during the season, including Chicago’s workhorse “L” cars that debuted in the 1920s, a rare trolley built for the Milwaukee Transport 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; and children younger than 3 are free.

The East Troy Electric Railroad, one of only three electric interurban railways in the U.S. that have maintained electric operations for more than 100 years, is home to more than 20 rail treasures, including open cars, locomotives, streetcars and interurban coaches. The railroad continues to be operated and managed by a legion of volunteers committed to the operation and preservation of historic trolleys and interurban railcars.

The 2013 summer events calendar includes the following:

North Shore Day, June 22 — Celebrate the famed North Shore Line that once whisked passengers from Milwaukee to Chicago and all points in-between. Photos and memorabilia of the North Shore Line, which ceased operation 50 years ago, will be on display, including a retrospective from noted railroad photographer John Gruber from the Center for Railroad Photography & Art in Madison, Wis. Historians from Classic Trains magazine will also be on-hand to discuss the interurban era and classic railroading in general. A variety of historic railcars will be on display, and ferrying passengers from the railroad’s depot and museum to the turn-of-the-century-styled terminal at the renowned Elegant Farmer. North Shore Day will serve as the launch of a fund-raising campaign to restore Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad coach 761, which will be on display during the event.

Chicago Day, July 27 — Celebrate Chicago’s railway history during Chicago Day 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 1978 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 and 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.

Milwaukee Day, Sept. 21 — Home to the last remaining streetcar from the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company still in operation, 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 served as a secondary work car called on to help in track maintenance and brush cutting, as well as serving as a yard goat and backup locomotive.

Dinner Trains — Recreating the time when commuter trains offered lavish meals served on china atop white table cloths, the East Troy Electric Railroad offers guests a two-hour, four-course exquisite dining experience. Home to the last remaining electric interurban dining car train in North America, dinner train service for the 2013 season will take place June 15, Sept. 14 and 28, and Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26. Tickets are $72 per person, and prepaid reservations are required.

New this year, the railroad’s family-friendly pizza train will ride the rails June 13 and Aug. 17. The two-hour casual dining experience, taking riders from the railroad’s historic depot to Phantom Lake in Mukwonago, Wis., and back, includes pizza, beverage and garlic bread. Ticket price varies per number in party. Prepaid reservations are required.

The East Troy Electric Railroad’s dining cars are former coaches of the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad. Built in 1927 and acquired by the railroad in the early 1990s, each Pullman car underwent extensive renovation by museum volunteers resulting in mahogany-trimmed, beautiful Art Deco interiors complemented by an exterior color scheme featuring the railroad’s colors of red and silver.

For complete details on all East Troy Electric Railroad special events and dinner trains, visit www.easttroyrr.org or call (262) 642-3263.

From the June 19-25, 2013, issue

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