12.6.18

SUMMONING THE ECHOES.

After excursions riding first class on the Capitol Limited, Silver Meteor, Brightline, and Great Western, it's back, Friday last, to the good old reliable Hiawatha, for a look at the new downtown circulator streetcar slated to hit Milwaukee's streets later this year.

There are lots of illustrations in this post.  Click to expand it.



The Union Station that replaced the Everett Street Depot got a new train shed recently, and the west end of the building, now called the Intermodal Station is where the buses call.


I went north on Train 335, the first afternoon departure.  It was pretty full.  The Hiawatha service is now so well-patronized that the two weekday morning eastbound and late afternoon westbound trains are effectively by reservation.  I suspect that would be the case if Amtrak would add yet another car, that is, if there are enough cars to run the two train sets as seven car formations.


The stock turns within half an hour as 336 for Chicago, and a good-sized crowd is waiting to go south.  Home Cub game and a couple of downtown festivals are drawing the travellers.  In a few more years, Chicago will be a date-night destination for Wisconn Valley residents taking advantage of the favorable business and tax climate on the cheesy side of the Cheddar Curtain.


Creative destruction along Fourth Street at Wisconsin Avenue.  At right, the red awnings are on the soon-to-be-closed downtown Boston Store.  At left, the spires of the Midwest Center or whatever it's known as these days, the exhibition hall that replaced the exposition and convention center called MECCA: the arched roof of the 10,746 seat Milwaukee Arena, which was too small for the Milwaukee Bucks, but it's too big for Wisconsin - Milwaukee's basketball team is behind.  The other arched roof behind the pedestrian bridge is the new basketball arena for the Bucks.  Naming rights may still be available.


The streetcar line, which will trade under the name "The Hop" (as in hop on and off, will the cast of "Happy Days" show up to sing "Let's Go To The Hop?") runs sort of down the middle of Milwaukee Street.  Are those heavy-duty catenary poles really necessary?


Just to the west of Milwaukee on Mason, the idle quarters of Karl Ratzch's German eatery, another casualty of dietary perceptions.  I did not walk far enough north to see where the quarters of the John Ernst Cafe now house a Chipotle.  Creative destruction, forsooth.


Down by Associated Bank, where the streetcar bends the corner around.  Intended routing here is west on State Street, then south on Milwaukee.  The streetcars have battery power, and it appears they will be running on batteries as they bend this corner.

I had good reason to throw in a trip to the Grohmann Museum as part of this trip.  The sculpture garden is open and the weather is favorable.


City Hall and municipal office buildings.


That "Badger State" refers to Wisconsin miners.  Blatz?  Maybe available in syndication.

The streetcar operators laid on an open house at their combination car-barn and repair shop.


If you want to ride a historic streetcar, which might be the Duluth unit in the poster, or it might be one of three or four surviving Milwaukee streetcars, there's an opportunity as close as East Troy.  Sorry, you have to drive there.


Close to a century of ferroequinology journalism in that photo.


Inside, when the streetcar bends the corner around, it's a sitting room, an attached bicycle garage, and another sitting room.  The design is intended for people travelling short distances, you won't find the kind of seating the old city cars, which were intended to bring workers to and from work, or to schlep purchases from the stores.  The rental bicycle agency in Milwaukee is called "bublr."


It's a small, well-equipped workshop.  With only six cars to be delivered, you don't need a full on Cold Spring Shops, although you want something bigger than East Troy's new workshop.  Each work bench comes with an attached vice, very good.


The lubricating oil stations are still tidy, let's see what happens in a few years.  That's an eye-washing station behind.


There's an inspection pit, which is not equipped for dropping wheels.  There is, however, a lift to permit the removal of wheel sets for servicing.


The battery propulsion feature will come in handy moving cars into the car washer.


The control position of the streetcar includes lots of camera displays and electronic readouts.  You'll look in vain for a traditional controller, reverser, or brake lever.


That's the expressway going overhead, the one that led to the relocation of The Milwaukee Road from the Everett Street Depot.

Look to the northeast.


Once, you could see Hiawathas loading here.


John Karlson photograph, fall 1940.

The clapped-out concrete at Fifth and Clybourn has been fixed.


Once, the view to the southwest featured Hiawathas swift-of-footing toward Portage.


John Karlson photograph, fall 1940.

That parking deck occupies space where the North Shore Line Milwaukee terminal was.  North Shore streetcars also bent the corner around (if a single-truck car can be said to bend) at Fifth and Clybourn, just out of the picture above at right.


John Karlson photograph, January 1941.

North Shore coach 726 is one of three older cars wrecked when a motorist took an unnecessary risk and ducked around the rear of a freight train to run into a passenger train that was subsequently rebuilt for Milwaukee Limited service with fancier seating.

You can't see the Public Service Building from the new shop because of all the new office buildings occupying the Everett Street Depot space, but you can see a flag on the top of it.


That is the overhead wire coming out of the Hop House along Fourth to St. Paul.  Unfortunately, there won't be any interurbans leaving the Public Service Building for Hales Corners or Waukesha or Muskego Beach or East Troy, not any time soon.


John Karlson photograph, June 1940.

Then it's time to catch a train for Chicago.  The 7.35 departure generally isn't full, it's running in part to position stock for the late evening service that will make an entertainment trip into Chicago for Wisconn Valley types easier.  The weather was cloudy and cool, but comfortable.  If you don't like the weather around the Great Lakes, wait.


Amtrak Hiawatha service 342, Milwaukee to Chicago, 8 June 2018: cabbage car 90219, Horizon Fleet coaches 54540 - 54571 - 54533 - 54560 - 54543 - 54555, Siemens Charger diesel 4601.  Temperature 62 degrees and cloudy, dry rail.  Watch not synchronized to standard clock.  Leave Milwaukee 7.33; Airport 7.43 - 7.44; overtake freight train east of Lake; Sturtevant 7.57 - 7.58; cross over Wadsworth 8.14; pass Rondout 8.23, A-20 8.33; Glenview 8.35 - 8.36; signal check for Mayfair, stop 8.46 - 8.48, Metra C&NW train crossing, pass A-5 8.52; arrive Union Station 9 pm, clock at station shows 9.04 as I pass it, several minutes off the train.


The new diesels are lettered for Amtrak Midwest, and property of Illinois Department of Transportation.  Sometimes the destination sign on the nose is lit up.  This rake will return to Milwaukee later in the evening.

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