The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company
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Preserved 1920-vintage Milwaukee streetcar 846 at the East Troy Electric Railroad
|Dates of operation||1905–1958|
|Predecessor||Milwaukee & Muskego Lake Traction Company|
|Successor||Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail Company|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Length||191 miles (307 km)|
|Milwaukee Electric Railway|
The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company, also referred to as the Milwaukee Interurban Lines or the TMER&L is a defunct railroad in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. 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 streetcar lines into one system. Its Milwaukee streetcar lines soon ran on most major streets and served most areas of the city. The interurban lines reached throughout southeastern Wisconsin. TMER&L also operated the streetcar lines in Appleton, Kenosha and Racine, as well as its own switching operations at the Port Washington and Lakeside power plants.
The first electric streetcar in Milwaukee operated on Wells Street on April 3, 1890. The first interurban ran between Milwaukee and Kenosha on June 1, 1897. Other lines soon reached Watertown, Burlington and East Troy. In 1922 TMER&L acquired the Milwaukee Northern Railway and added their Milwaukee to Sheboygan interurban line to the system.
During the Great Depression, services on streetcar and interurban lines were reduced, replaced with buses, abandoned or sold. Abandonments ceased during World War II, when gas and tires were rationed, and defense workers needed transportation. After the war, riders returned to their autos and abandonments resumed. The last streetcar to run in Milwaukee, and the entire state, operated on Wells Street on March 2, 1958. Electric locomotives continued operating at the power plants until the early 1970s.
The last two remaining sections of interurban lines were to Hales Corners and Waukesha. They continued in operation until June 30, 1951 as part of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit and Speedrail Company's rapid transit service. The outer end of the East Troy branch (beyond Mukwonago) continues to operate as the East Troy Electric Railroad, a 7-mile (11 km) long heritage railroad.
The Milwaukee Interurban's station at Waukesha Beach, ca. 1911