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tmer&l
TMER&L
     When Milwaukee fans refer to The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Co., they usually use the abreviated initials TM,
and it usually includes TMER&L and its subsidiaries and successors.  Milwaukee Light, Heat & Traction (MLH&T),
The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co. (TMER&T),  Wisconsin Motor Bus Lines (WMBL)  and The Milwaukee
& Suburban Transport Co. (M&ST)
     The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Co. was the largest electric railway and electric utility system in Wisconsin.   It
combined several of the earlier horsecar, steam dummy and streetcars lines into one system.   Its Milwaukee streetcar lines
soon ran on most major streets and served most areas of the city.  Its interurban lines reached throughout southeastern
Wisconsin. They also operated the streetcar lines in Appleton, Kenosha and Racine as well as doing their own switching
operations at the Port Washington and Lakeside power plants.
     TM operated its own shops, which could repair, rebuild or build complete streetcars, interurbans and freight locos.  They
also designed many innovations, such as an articluated three-truck train.
     The first electric streetcar in Milwaukee operated on Wells Street April 3, 1890.  The last streetcar in Milwaukee (and
Wisconsin) operated on Wells Street on March 2, 1958.
     The first interurban ran between Milwaukee and Kenosha on June 1, 1897.  Other lines soon reached out to Watertown,
Burlington and East Troy.  In 1922 TM acquired the Milwaukee Northern Railway and added their Milwaukee to Sheboygan
interurban line to the system.
     During the depression, streetcar and interurban lines were cut back, replaced with buses, abandoned or sold.  
Abandonments ceased during WWII, when gas and tires were rationed, and defense workers needed transportation.  After the
war, riders returned to their autos and abandonments resumed.  The last two remnants of interurban lines were to Hales
Corners and Waukesha.  They closed out their days being operated in Rapid Transit service by Speedrail until June 30, 1951.  
Electric locos continued operating at the power plants until the early 1970's.
     A complete history, or even a comprehensive list of historical highlights would be too involved for the purpose of this
website.  If you are interested in more details, the are several fine books listed on our "Resources" page.
This map shows the TM interurban system after 1922 when the
Milwaukee Northern Line was added from Milwaukee to
Sheboygan.
Plans for the Watertown line to reach Madison, the East Troy
line to reach Delevan and Elkhorn, and the Burlington line to
reach Lake Geneva were never fulfilled.
Built in 1905, the Public Service Building takes up the block
bounded by 2nd, 3rd, Michigan and Everett.  It contained the
corporate offices as well as interurban terminal. The building
remains in use by WEPCO, and is a Wisconsin Historical Bldg.
Early TMER&L interurbans were built with the unique two front windows as shown in these two photos.  At left, in a posed
company photo, a train bound for East Troy pauses at one of TM's rural shelters.  At right, the crew poses for the camera in
this postcard view of Watertown.
TM shops later rebuilt the cars into the more tradition cars as seen in these photos in Waukesha.  A single car leads a duplex
articulated unit. Because of short loading platforms a single car (with door in rear) always lead the duplex (with door in
middle).  Except for special occasions, no more than two single cars were trained together.  In later years, a single car was
enough to handle off peak loads.
One of the more memorable features of TM's streetcar system
was a ride across the Wells Street Viaduct used by Route 10.
It was built in the 1890's for the Wauwatosa Motor Railway (a
steam dummy line).
Contrary to some claims, it was steel, not wood, and was
never "rickety" or swayed.  It was solid enough to carry heavy
interurbans as shown in this early postcard view.
A Rt. 10 800 series streetcar rolls along the private
right-of-way near Hawley Road on the West Allis branch.
Space along the left was used by Rapid Transit tracks.
The extensive use of private right-of-way is one reason
Route 10 lasted longer than the other lines.
The Wauwatosa branch of Rt. 10 ended at  Harwood Ave.  At
one time the streetcars continued up Harwood to the County
Hospital and other institutions.
A portion of the line ran parallel to the Milwaukee Road tracks
and often the streetcars "raced' the Milwaukee Road trains.  
Today, the area once occupied by tracks is a service drive and
parking lot for Hart Park.
Although Rt. 10 lasted the longest, and more people remember
it, TM streetcar lines once traversed most major streets in
Milwaukee.
A crowded north 3rd street shows a southbound 500-series car
in the foreground, a 800-series behind it and a northbound
600-series to the right.  Also note the safety island for riders.  
While they offered some protection at many major
intersections, getting on or off at other stops meant walking
into the traffic on the street.  What isn't visible is the yellow
interurban sign on the post.  Interurbans to Port Washington
and Sheboygan also operated on 3rd street adding to the
congestion.
Although most traction fans preferred streetcars, the public found the trackless trolleys to be fast, quiet and smoother
riding.  Being operated electrically they weren't considered motor vehicles by the state and operators didn't need a drivers
license.  Also, although the company didn't officially condone it, they weren't subject to speed limits, and often sped
along less traveled streets such as Forest Home Ave., and across the viaducts.  They also developed a fan following of
their own.
TMER&L operated its own print shop where
they printed their own tickets, transfers, passes,
schedules, utility bills and all the various forms
needed.
Each year, or whenever a major change was
made they had to print thousands of these
schedules, maps and guides to give to the public.

Here are some examples of the guides and
schedules with routes, fares and other
information, tickets and passes.  
Above is an interurban ticket sold on the train.  This half was given to the rider, the other half
remained inside the holder carried by the conductor.  The notches indicate were the trip began
and ended and the fare paid.

The transfer above right is an early version from the streetcars and the punch marks indicate the
time it expires and fare paid.  They later went to a tear off version.
To boost riding in the 1930's, like many other cities, the $1.00 weekly pass
became the standard.  There were also versions with extra fare zone coupons.  
The pass above is notable, as it was one of hundreds returned for refunds after
the 1947 blizzard.  Note the "paid" stamped with small holes.

School children had their own versions of the pass.  Early version were a
simple pass, later versions required a special pass holder.
Buying "Car Tickets" was another way to save money paying fares.  To count the
tickets, TM devised a method to separate tickets from coins by air, then weighed
them in piles.  This was actually found to be more accurate than counting them by
hand.
TM also printed passes for other
companies.  Sometimes they used
the same design on the same date,
other times they used the design on
different dates.  Here is an example
from Capital Transit.


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