Monday, August 17, 2015

Crews unearth piece of local history

Crews installing a new gas main on Wells Street in Wauwatosa are taking a trip down memory lane. Underneath all the layers of concrete, they’ve unearthed old railroad tracks. They date back to the late 1800s, when Milwaukee’s original streetcars ran down Wells Street.

Our crews are upgrading a natural gas main in Wauwatosa, installing a new main underneath Wells Street. Before they can install the new pipe, they have to tear out the old trolley tracks. One crew has been busy ripping out the old steel tracks and railroad ties, while another crew follows behind to install the gas line. The old streetcar pieces are being hauled away to a scrap yard, but at least a couple are being saved for posterity. We’re told the historical society may get one. 
We looked through our archives and found this picture of an old Wells Street streetcar (bottom photo at right).

According to John Gurda’s “Path of a Pioneer,” Milwaukee’s first electric streetcar, a Sprague model, made its triumphal maiden voyage down Wells Street on April 3, 1890.

Known as the Route 10 streetcar line, it was the first streetcar route in Milwaukee and the first route to leave the city for a suburb.

According to Wauwatosa Alderman Dennis McBride who serves on the Wauwatosa Historic Preservation Commission, the old Wells Street line was a key component to Wauwatosa’s rapid growth from town to village to city.

The old streetcars operated out of our headquarters building on Michigan Street, called The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company at that time.

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