Elegant Farmer BoothNew Ticket Booth at the Elegant Farmer Station
Over the years, the Fall Fun Days have been the busiest time for the railroad's regular passenger service. Much of this traffic comes from the Elegant Farmer Market, and the line's eastern stop adjacent to it. When the patronage is the heaviest, a ticket agent is installed there to ease things back at the East Troy Depot. At times, the shelters used have included the caboose C-1, various member's automobiles, a spare passenger car, or just plain having the agent sit under the existing shelter.
In an effort to provide a more useful and permanent space, General Manager Paul Averdung set plans to construct a permanent building. Prompted by offers of donations by volunteers, led by Jack Franklin's $500 pledge, among others, Friends also moved to chip in. It was decided to add south from the existing shelter between the main line and the spur.
The call for concrete went out. Volunteer Andy Witkowski formed and poured a concrete slab for the booth and waiting area. Then, a distinctively interurban-styled booth, tall and narrow, with large, protective overhangs to cover the windows in inclement weather and afford patrons some shade or shelter while purchasing tickets was constructed by volunteers the weekend of September 18-21, 1998.
Volunteer Jack Franklin then painted the entire station, using 50th Avenue Traction Orange as the main color.
The booth is open for business and is serving passengers originating at this end of the line. Amenities include permanent lighting and some heat for those chilly late-season weekends.
Elegant Farmer DepotDepot gets painted
Ever wonder how it gets done? Here's one way: Friends President John Tews aboard the ETER John Deere sickle-arm mower tractor filling in a rare slow moment during the Open House weekend in September, 1999.
East Troy Yard WireEast Troy Yard Trolley System Construction
Working atop Line Car D-23, volunteer Bob Stankovsky installs a section insulator during the trolley reconstruction phase of the East Troy yard and shop rebuild project of 1997-8. As part of doubling the size of the Shop carbarn, the trackage in front had to be completely redone, including adding a fifth track. Consequently, the trolley system was revamped, using all new poles supporting a double-crosspan system covering everything west of Division Street.
Also visible in this east-facing shot is the ex-WEPCO utility truck used in the project (and many others); in the distance, past Division Street, is interurban coach 30; alongside D-23 is Ravenswood diner 25, serving as a second work platform.
The last trolley frog went in in November, 1997; apart from a few adjustments as the system settles in, the project wrapped up in April, 1998.
D 13D 11
A wonderful old shot of TMER&L utility motor D-13 at work, believed to be near Wisconsin Highway 20 near East Troy.
Unfortunately, little information about this photo is available to the Site Administrator and any would be appreciated.
m-15intMETW M-15 Interior
Here's a great old shot of the interior of Village of East Troy all-purpose box motor M-15 showing a day in the life of a shortline railroad.
This photo was passed along by Tom Matola, and any further information about it would be appreciated, and would any other historic photos that will help us depict the long history of this remarkable little railroad.
M-15M15 Hard at Work
Hard at work, METW (ex-TMER&L) all-purpose boxmotor M-15 shoves a boxcar into the Malupa Nut Company plant on Beulah Street in East Troy in 1966. The location shown in this photo is immediately north of the current East Troy Shops yard.
In the early days, the track in this area was part of the East Troy wye. This spur was removed about 1989.
Thegrass portion of the property that the spur was located on was purchased by Friends in February, 2000 for possible yard and restoration facility expansion.
M-15Municipality of East Troy Wisconsin Motor M-15
TMER&L mechandise dispatch unit M-15 served the Village of East Troy for many years as the all-purpose vehicle, hauling thousands of frieght cars, plowing snow, working as the line car, track maintenance car, and countless other small tasks.
l6 at ESL6 doing some Line Work
Volunteers Brett Forster (L) and Jack Franklin (inside) take advantage of a beautiful November Saturday to begin the autumn ritual crossing-slot cleanout. This shot shows the busy Highway ES crossing in Mukwonago. Behind work motor L-6 to the right is the interchange with the Wisconsin Central Lines, and to the left, the towers of Wisconsin Electric marching away along the former right-of-way towards Milwaukee.
After the regular passenger season ends, this type of preventive maintenance is the first priority of the railroad volunteer staff. The slot cleaning allows for the normal buildup of road ice in the grade crossing slots to be crunched out by the railcar wheel's flanges, instead of allowing it to form a concrete-hard sludge that can actually lift the wheel of a lighter car clear of the railhead. As the snow season begins, salt will be maintained in the slots as well to help keep the buildup frangible.
DepotThe East Troy Depot and Substation
(With a little electrical industry tech thrown in)
2002 Church Street, East Troy Wisconsin
Chicago Elevated Lines 4420, a 1924 Cincinnati Car Co. product, pulls up to the East Troy Depot, the East Troy Electric Railroad's main ticket agent and gift shop facility.
Built in 1907 as part of the original electrification of the East Troy area, the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company's East Troy Substation has been a brick monolith on the otherwise mostly residential Church Street in town. It was never really envisioned as a passenger depot; indeed, the main East Troy terminal was a block west at Division Street, and featured a beautiful trainshed consisting of a gable roof-on-posts structure that spanned both tracks and connected to the station agent's house on the north side of the tracks. While the shed is long gone, the house that served the ticket agent still stands at the northeast corner of the Division Street crossing.
The TM substation also housed the trolley power supply, in the form of a huge 500 kilowatt motor-generator set. M-Gs are just that: a large motor fed by the incoming line electricity, directly driving the generator supplying the output current. The usual reason for this seemingly complex arrangement has to do with the nature of direct current, the form of electricity typically used by street railways, interurbans, and their later offspring, Diesel-electric locomotives.
Alternating current, usually called "AC", is the familiar form used in the home via the 120 volt outlets you plug your appliances into. This form has the polarity, the direction of the current flow, reversing at a specific rate, or frequency: sixty cycles per second, in the case of most commercial electricity. In other words, the "positive" and "negative" change directions. Because of the nature of electricity, alternating current produces a magnetic field when wound around a ferrous core, and when two fields are combined around one core, a "transformer" results, with the voltage being transformed from the input to the output in a predictable way based on the ratio of windings.
Voltage represents the value of the "pressure" of the current- how hard it's going through the wire, so to speak. This is contrasted with the wattage, which represents the volume. When voltage and wattage are factored together, "current" is the name applied to the output, usually expressed in amperes, or amps.
Therefore, it's relatively easy to alter the voltage of alternating current. Direct current, however, lacks this characteristic and is more difficult to manipulate. The large motors of the early part of the century as used in railroad equipment were direct current, as a result of the limitations of the technology of the day. Basically, in the confines of rail vehicles, it's reasonably simple to vary the torque output of direct current motors through variable resistances- placing obstructions to the voltage passing through, to lower its "pressure".
To transmit large amounts of electricity any appreciable difference, either very large wires or very high voltages are required so as to minimize the loss of energy. (The two factors are inversely related.) As electrification evolved, it became apparent that alternating current, with the ability to have its voltage raised and lowered by simple transformers, would be the form used in commercial power transmission.
TMER&L originally obtained much of it's power for the traction system from the Kilbourn Dam located in the Wisconsin Dells, using transmission lines which operated at 69,000 volts and 25 cycles. TMER&L CEO John I. Beggs signed a contract on September 1, 1909 to buy the Kilbourn Dam's full 6,000 kilowatt output for 14 hours a day for 30 years at a flat rate of $15,000 a month. That is 0.6 cents per kWh!
Later in the development of the railroad, TMER&L switched to supplying the power needs from transmission lines which supplied industrial customers. The industrial customers wanted the 60 cycle rather than 25 cycle power because lights flickered less and the 60 cycle system was becoming the national standard. TMER&L used the power lines which were already in place to supply industrial customers and added short extensions for the railroad supply. In the case of the TM's electric railroad substation in East Troy, this meant transmitting the power at 26,400 volts, 60 cycles per second and then converting it to 600 volts direct current for the trolley wire.
Given the methods available, the most practical method was the motor-generator. As systems evolved, a simplification of the concept resulted in the rotary converter, in which the two elements were combined into one shell with one rotating element. It is such a machine that is on display in the East Troy Substation Depot. Rotaries like this were installed about every five to ten miles in every electric railway, to ensure the maintenance of consistent voltage in the trolley wire.
Nowadays, this conversion is handled by solid-state devices such as the two subs the East Troy Electric Railroad operates at DeGraves and the East Troy Shop carbarn, with no moving parts other than the contactors that close to connect the trolley to the Wisconsin Electric Power Company's high lines.
East Troy Depot Substation gets Masonry Repairs(2-99)
Since the Museum operations have become the main use of the line, the old substation was a natural choice for the west end's ticket agent, gift shop, and the museum displays. The building was built by TM in the Egyptian Revival style, a brick colossus that blends into its surroundings surprisingly well. The heaviest construction techniques imaginable were used, resulting in a building of almost bomb-proof strength. The foundation walls run two feet thick and the rest of the structure is just as massive. Much of the roof is poured concrete, and had sufficient strength to support transmission apparatus.
The front and back ends of the building feature dormers that have a bank of windows to light the upper reaches of the interior. Down through the years, although the building received a modicum of care from it's owners, TMER&L, Wisconsin Electric Power Company, the Village of East Troy, and the Friends of East Troy Railroad Museum, the brickwork over these windows finally began to succumb to the ravages of the Wisconsin winters. Water found its way over the lintels supporting the brick above the windows and after many freeze-thaw cycles, caused the masonry to start to buckle out.
It was evident that this has happened before, as the bricks used in the previous repair, believed to have been done in the late 1950's, did not properly match. Furthermore, the caulking used finally failed and the deterioration began again. During the sewer installation project in the fall of 1998, an inspection of the upper parts of the building resulted in decision to rebuild the dormers entirely.
A mason contractor from the Milwaukee area with considerable experience in this type of work, Schrank Restoration, was hired to reconstruct the dormers. The onset of winter weather made for some delays, but the work has finally been completed in February, 1999. Bricks matching the original structure were acquired from salvage yards and cleaned for the restoration; now, the depot once again matches up and down.
In the future, we hope the execute more projects like this to preserve this interesting and historic structure, as well as improve its utility to the patrons of the Museum. There was no time to mount a specific fundraising campaign for this masonry restoration, owing to the urgency of the work. However, the building could also use some window and door work as well as cosmetic and restroom improvements.
Meeting on Buelah SidingFormer Strafford Car 64 (East Troy 64) and Minneapolis Streetcar 1583 sit at Beulah Siding during the Revenge of the Streetcars event in 2003. This picture was taken from the operators spot of Philadelphia PCC 2185.
Former Strafford Car 64 (East Troy 64) and Minneapolis Streetcar 1583 sit at Beulah Siding during the Revenge of the Streetcars event in 2003. This picture was taken from the operators spot of Philadelphia PCC 2185.