I wish I could have claimed to have invented the bike trail on abandoned interurban railroad grades, but they simply offered relatively level places to ride long distances, and until the cuts were filled in, sometimes featured opportunities to duck under busy streets.
Now the Waukesha to Oconomowoc section of Milwaukee Electric, which last saw trains in 1941, is the Lake County Trail, and if we get anything resembling late spring or summer riding conditions, it mostly offers those relatively level places. "The Lake Country Trail follows an old railroad line for most of its route, and because of that is relatively flat, save for a section in the middle where the rolling Kettle Moraine challenged my weak winter legs and lungs." The rolling Kettle Moraine also challenged the builders of the interurban line. The Milwaukee Road already occupied the low ground north of Pewaukee Lake and onwards toward Oconomowoc. Delafield, to the south of the lakes, offered a passenger population without rail service. Thus the interurban followed the south shore of Pewaukee Lake, providing service to Waukesha Beach, an amusement park, then tackled the moraine on a twisty grade, and returned to lake level between the two Nemahbin Lakes. "I huffed and puffed my way up a beast of a hill by Naga-Waukee Golf Course and cruised down the other side toward Highway 83, where big-box stores and fast-food places dominated the landscape and broke the back-in-time spell." That infill development followed Interstate 94, not the interurban.
The article offers recollections of adolescence in the Lake District and suggestions for places to make a journey break to go with the railroad lore.