By Shelby Rowe Moyer | Photo courtesy East Troy Railroad Museum
In 1907, nearly 30 years after the first electric passenger train glided enigmatically before an audience in Berlin, Germany, it became a transportation necessity in a small Wisconsin town.
When the East Troy rail line was completed by the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company, it was the only mode of public transportation in the area, and it was designated a U.S. Mail route with freight service.
The interurban rail system with 200 miles of track helped ignite growth in several businesses in the area from an oil distribution center to a milk products plant. As rail service declined due to the development of better roads and highways, the East Troy line changed hands several times, and now it’s a relic of innovative history that can be experienced by the public.
The East Troy Railroad Museum maintains and operates dozens of rail cars with the oldest dating back to the 1880s. Sure, you can meander the museum to learn more about electricity and see railway artifacts firsthand, but the real fun is the train ride.
Hop aboard for a 10-mile trip that begins at the East Troy Depot, just 14 miles north of Lake Geneva, with stops at the Elegant Farmer and Lower Phantom Lake in Mukwonago. The 90-minute scenic experience is a lovely, all-weather way to see Wisconsin’s landscape. Tickets range from roughly $10 to $15 and must be booked online.
Typically, the museum also hosts dinner trains with a prix fix menu, but due to COVID-19, it has adapted that option with a train ride followed by dinner at the Depot.
Because of the coronavirus, museum staff are asking that all visitors wear a mask, including children 2 years old and above, and extra precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of the virus.
For ticketing information, visit the museum online.