The old Wells Street trolley over the Menomonee Valley
With the continued controversy over the street car issue in Milwaukee, I have a faded memory of the old Wells Street trolley over the Menomonee Valley. Here, you can see Miller Brewery in the background as the car reaches the western side of the tressel.
Our family moved to the far west-side of Milwaukee in 1952, and before the freeways were built, the easiest way to reach the downtown area to go shopping with my mother was the Wells Street trolley. That tressel over the valley was plenty scary, although there was never a mishap. I enjoyed sitting in the rear of the car at the controls, as the conductor sat on the other end actually driving the trolley. To return, he simply disengaged the controls at the "east end" of the car and returned to the other side of the car for the return trip. That tressel swayed in the wind and looking out of the windows was a thrill, as nothing was near the tracks and the tressel towered over the valley. That was mid-1950s fun. The new street car proposal doesn't seem to come close to being nearly as exciting.
The Wells Street Viaduct was built by the Milwaukee & Wauwatosa Motor Railway , a steam dummy line. Built of steel it originally had one track and a roadway for horse drawn wagons. It was later changed to two tracks. When TMER&L purchased the company, they electrified the line. Contrary to folklore, the viaduct never "swayed", "shook" or "rattled". The motion of steel wheels on rails may have given that impression. It was very solidly built. It carried the steam dummy trains, interurban cars each weighing over 50 tons and streetcars. Here is postcard showing a train of four heavy interurbans crossing the viaduct.