Bugline: Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway

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Why is it called the Bugline Trail?
Area historian Fred Keller helps share story of historic path

Living Sussex Sun, Posted: Jan. 5, 2010

“This is just like a bug following a grapevine,” exclaimed a woman who had the delight of being one of the early passengers to take a special excursion train carrying 300 passengers to Menomonee Falls.

She was comparing the train and the way it followed the rolling landscape to a caterpillar following the tendrils of a grapevine.

Over time, the name was shortened to the Bugline Trail, said Village of Sussex historian, Fred Keller. Today, the trail that boasts a rich history is a yearlong recreational outlet for the community.

Trail’s beginnings
The trail was built in 1890 by Milwaukee, Menomonee Falls and Western railroads to serve limestone quarries. It was later acquired by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroads.

The first passengers to take the train back in 1890 were riding a railroad financed in part by Richard Weaver, a Waukesha National Bank official who made a fortune in 1882 investing in hops at a time when a hop locust was destroying crops on the east coast. “Waukesha was a tremendous area in hops growing,” said Keller.

Weaver got wind of a worldwide hops failure, began buying up hop crops and made almost $1 million in 90 days. One of the things Weaver invested in was the railroad.

Another financier was Joe Hadfield, a Waukesha stone baron who once owned the property now known as Menomonee Park. At one time, Lannon was to be named Hadfield until the man went bankrupt, explained Keller.

Back in the 1890s there were two depots in the community now known as Sussex that was formerly divided into two communities, Templeton and Sussex. In 1897, building the railroad came to a halt when the Bugline ran between Menomonee Falls and Merton. The Kettle Moraine Railroad extended from Merton to North Lake.

A listing on the Sussex Lisbon Historical Society’s Web site shows in April, 1897 the Milwaukee, Menomonee Falls and Superior Railroad (Bug Line) started carrying Sussex mail.

Keller pointed out a signed copy of a book about the Bugline railroad that is kept at the Sussex Lisbon-Area Historical Society written by Art Harnack who served as a switchman on the Bugline for many years.

Over the course of its history, the Bugline carried sugar beets from Sussex, stone from Lannon, canning supplies and products from the cannery and many products from the Sussex Mill and the North Lake feed mill. It carried cream from area creameries and cinders and other refuse to a railroad dump. Students could also ride the trains to and from high school.

Bugline freight
Right after World War II, under the Marshall Plan, Sussex Mills sent carloads of oats and bailed hay to supply hungry people and livestock in postwar Europe.

“Sussex Mills had some big years under the Marshall Plan,” said Keller.

The Bugline also inspired the opening of a quarry on the former canning factory site in 1890 that quarried limestone then burned it in kilns to make quicklime and other lime products.

From 1916 to 1991 the quarry served as a popular swimming hole for the community. Recently, Sussex proposed walking paths around the quarry which are currently under review with Waukesha Park and Planning.

The swimming hole was 20-feet deep and featured a high dive, “it was a badge of courage that kids would be off the high dive by first grade,” said Keller.

The Bugline continued serving Sussex Mills delivering coal between 1890 and the 1960s. In the 1960s and 1970s Sussex Mills would ship 60 tons of water softener salt per week.

The Bugline took its last run in 1978 and soon the concept of rails to trails was formed.

Trail transformation
Keller was instrumental in transforming the railway into a recreation trail. He put together a slide presentation and pitched the idea of the Bugline Trail to Waukesha Park and Planning to turn the then Milwaukee Road into the Waukesha Lineal Trail.

But the Waukesha Lineal Trail name didn’t quite fit a trail that had earned a more creative moniker. Keller sold the parks committee on keeping the Bugline nickname as the official name for the recreation trail.

There were no caterpillars or trains on the Bugline Trail on a recent frigid Saturday when the only thing biting was the wind, snowshoes and cross country skis that have taken over the trail.

The Bugline trail and the spurs branching off into the former quarries and businesses now offer a variety of recreational opportunities. The trail leads to Menomonee Park, past historical markers including one at the former Sussex Mills, the Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society, Merton Fireman’s Park and Silver Spring Golf Course.

When it’s not covered with snow, the 14 mile, level surface, Bugline from Menomonee Falls to Merton is topped with crushed gravel to accommodate hikers, runners and bicyclists. It stretches between Appleton Avenue (Highway 175) in Menomonee Falls and Main Street (Highway VV) in the Village of Merton. A separate four-foot wide bridle trail adjacent to the original eight-foot wide recreation trail extends 2.5 miles. The Bugline also follows along the Bark River.

The rails to trails Web site describes the Bugline as a, “surprisingly secluded trail in a sprawling metropolitan area. An active quarry, three parks enroute add to the interest.” The Bugline is used for road and mountain biking, walking and day hiking, cross country skiing and snowmobiling with access to horseback riding trails, swimming and fishing.

Treetop branches arch like a cathedral above Bugline Trail, observed Keller, offering a shady respite in summer.

Whispers of the trail’s industrious history and the trail’s endearing nickname are left for reflection as travelers today embark on excursions of a much different nature.

Simply Sussex honored for summer cleanup project

By Thomas J. McKillen, Managing Editor, Sussex Express News, January 27, 2010

Simply Sussex recently received an award for the first project undertaken by the new organization.

During the Jan. 12 Village Board meeting, Village President Tony Lapcinski presented an award form the Waukesha County Parks to Pat Tetzlaff, a member of Simply Sussex and a trustee on the Village Board.

The award from Waukesha County Park was for work Simply Sussex members did on the Bug Line Trail last summer. The Bug Line is the route of a onetime railroad that is now a walking and bicycle path. Simply Sussex members painted two bridges and cleaned up a portion of the Bug Line Trail that had been closed for approximately 30 years.

During an interview last week, Tetzlaff explained that she thought about starting such an organization last spring to assist with community-related projects in the village.

The first project undertaken by Simply Sussex was the Bug Line. A key portion of the trail — approximately a half-mile — went through property that at one time was the site of the Mammoth Spring cannery and is now owned by Bielinski Builders. Tetzlaff noted that the trail had stopped at  the property and that Bielinski and Waukesha County had to agree of where to plot out the route for the trail. She praised the cooperation of Bielinski and Waukesha County for their work in opening the path.
“I think everyone was ready to get it done because the Bug Line is such a beautiful asset,”Tetzlaff said.

As part of the cleanup, members of Simply Sussex pulled tires and other debris from a stream. Also, members cut down overgrown vegetation across the path.

Simply Sussex members also stained two bridges on the Bug Line Route. One bridge is in the Mammoth Springs area while the second bridge is behind the Piggly Wiggly.

Tetzlaff estimated that 12 to 15 people worked on the Bug Line during fourth Saturdays last summer.

“We just put the sparkle back in,” Tetzlaff said of the improvements to the Bug Line Trail.

As for future projects, Tetzlaff indicated that plans are in the works for a possible collection of supplies to send to Haiti at the end of the month. In addition, members will be working to improve the appearance at the 13 neighborhood parks in the village starting in spring.

Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



The Milwaukee Road, officially the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (CMStP&P RR) (reporting mark MILW), was aClass I railroad that operated in theMidwest andNorthwest of the United States from 1847 until its merger into theSoo Line Railroad on January 1, 1986. The company went through several official names and faced bankruptcy several times in that period. While the railroad does not exist as a separate entity anymore, it is still commemorated in buildings like the historicMilwaukee Road Depot inMinneapolis,Minnesota and in railroad hardware still maintained by railfans, such as theMilwaukee Road 261steamlocomotive.


The Milwaukee Road appeared as the Milwaukee and Waukesha Railroad when incorporated in 1847, but soon changed its name toMilwaukee and Mississippi. After three years, the first train ran fromMilwaukee toWauwatosa,Wisconsin, and the first passenger train ran on February 25, 1851. Critical to the development and financing of the railroad was the acquisition of significant land grants. Prominent individual investors in the line includedAlexander Mitchell,Russell Sage,Jeremiah Milbank andWilliam Rockefeller.[1] In 1874, the name was changed to Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul. By 1887, the railroad had lines running throughWisconsin,Minnesota,Iowa,South Dakota, and theUpper Peninsula ofMichigan. Contrary to the common name of the railroad, its headquarters were inChicago,Illinois, and not in Milwaukee. The company General Offices were located in the Railway Exchange building in Chicago until 1924, at which time they moved toChicago Union Station.[2]


In the 1890s, the Milwaukee’s directors increasingly felt that they had to extend the railroad to thePacific in order to remain competitive with other roads. A survey in 1901 estimated costs to build to the Pacific Northwest as $45 million. In 1905, the board approved the Pacific Extension, now estimated at $60 million. The contract for the westernmost part of the route was awarded toHorace Chapin Henry ofSeattle. Construction began in 1906 and was completed in 1909. The route chosen was to be 18 miles shorter than the shortest competitor’s, as well as better grades than some. It was an expensive route, however, since the Milwaukee, receiving few land grants, had to buy most of the land or acquire smaller railroads. In addition, the two main mountain ranges that had to be crossed (theRockies and theCascades) required major civil engineering works and the use of additional locomotive power. The completion of 2,300 miles of railroad through some of the most varied topography in the nation in only three years was a major feat. (It should be noted that original company maps denote five mountain crossings: Belts, Rockies,Bitterroots, Saddles and Cascades. These are slight misnomers as the ‘Belt Mountains’ and Bitterroots are part of the Rocky Mountains. In fact, the route did not cross over theLittle Belts orBig Belts but over the Lenep-Loweth Ridge between theCastle Mountains and theCrazy Mountains.)

Some historians question the choice of route, however, since it bypassed some population centers and passed through areas with limited local traffic potential. Much of the line paralleled theNorthern Pacific Railroad. It was primarily a long-haul route.

Restored Milwaukee Road depot at Montevideo, Minnesota


The Milwaukee soon found that operation ofsteam locomotives over themountain passes was difficult, with winter temperatures that reached −40 °F.Electrification seemed to be the answer, especially with abundanthydroelectric power in the mountains and a ready source ofcopper on-line atAnaconda, Montana. In 1914, electrification began betweenHarlowton, Montana andAvery, Idaho. The first electric train ran in 1915 betweenThree Forks andDeer Lodge, Montana. The system used a 3,000 volt direct-current (DC) overhead line.

In 1917, the board approved the construction of a separate electrified district betweenOthello andTacoma, Washington, extended to Seattle in 1927. The two electrified districts were never connected, but a total of 656 route-miles (1,056 km) of railroad were electrified, making it the largest electrified railroad in the US.

The electrification was successful from an engineering and operational standpoint, but the cost of building the Puget Sound Extension and electrification had cost $257 million, not the $45 million the road had originally budgeted for reaching the Pacific. The debt load and reduced revenues brought the road to bankruptcy in 1925.

In 1927, the road launched its second edition of theOlympian as a premier luxury limited passenger train and opened its first railroad-owned tourist hotel, TheGallatin Gateway Inn in Montana. The railroad was re-organized as the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company in January 1928 and officially adopted the familiar trade name The Milwaukee Road.

The company had hardly a chance to make anything of its fresh start before theGreat Depression hit. Despite innovations such as the famousHiawatha high-speed trains that reached speeds of over 100 mph, the road again filed for bankruptcy in 1935. The Milwaukee operated under trusteeship until December 1, 1945.


Relative success followed the war. The railroaddieselized in the mid-1950s, replacing most steam locomotives by 1955 and retiring the last in 1957. Other modernizations included modern freight yards. In association withUnion Pacific Railroad, the Milwaukee took over operations of the “Cities” – theCity of Los Angeles, theCity of San Francisco, theCity of Denver, theCity of Portland, as well as the all-coachChallenger from theChicago and North Western Railway.


The whole railroad industry found itself in decline in the late 1950s and the 1960s, but the Milwaukee was hit particularly hard. The Midwest was overbuilt with too many competing roads, while the competition on the transcontinental routes to the Pacific was extremely tough as well. The premier transcontinental streamliner, theOlympian Hiawatha, despite the innovative scenic observation cars was cancelled in 1961, becoming the first visible casualty. The resignation of PresidentJohn P. Kiley in 1957 and his replacement with the fairly inexperiencedWilliam John Quinn was a pivotal moment; from that point onward, the road’s management was fixated on merger with another railroad as the solution to the Milwaukee’s problems.

Railroad mergers had to be approved by theInterstate Commerce Commission, however, and in 1969 the ICC effectively blocked the merger with theChicago and North Western Railway (C&NW) that the Milwaukee Road had counted on and had been planning for since 1964. The ICC asked for terms that the C&NW was not willing to agree to. The merger of the “Hill Lines” — theNorthern Pacific, theGreat Northern, and theBurlington Route, as well as theSpokane, Portland & Seattle Railway — was approved at around the same time, and the mergedBurlington Northern came into being on March 3, 1970, completely surrounding the Milwaukee Road.

Early 1970s

Almost immediately after the BN merger, the owners of the C&NW offered to sell the railroad to the Milwaukee outright. The Milwaukee board rejected the offer, even though it would have given them what they had wanted throughout most of the previous decade, stating that they now believed only merger with a larger system — not a slightly smaller one — could save the railroad. Almost immediately, the road filed with the ICC to be included in the Union Pacific merger with theChicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. Nothing came of this, nor other attempts to force the Milwaukee into other mergers against the desires of the other participants.

Fortunately for the Milwaukee, the BN merger required opening more markets to competitors, and in 1971-73, the MILW’s traffic on its Pacific Extension increased substantially, although the reverse was true on its Midwest lines. The railroad’s foothold on transcontinental traffic leaving the Port of Seattle increased so exponentially that the Milwaukee Road held a staggering advantage over BN carrying nearly 80% of the originating traffic along with 50% of the total container traffic leaving the Puget Sound (prior to severe service declines after roughly 1974).[citation needed] The deferred maintenance on the railroad’s physical plant, however, which had been building up all through the 1960s as the road attempted to polish its financial appearance for merger, was beginning to cause problems. The road’s financial problems were exacerbated by their practice of improving its earnings during that period by selling off its wholly owned cars to financial institutions and leasing them back. The lease charges became steeper and steeper, and more and more cars needed to be sold off in order to pay for the lease payments. The railroad’s fleet of cars was becoming older and older because more money was being spent on finance payments for the old cars than on buying new ones. This, in turn, contributed to car shortages that turned away business.


In February 1973, and against the advice of studies conducted by both the railroad and independent groups, the Milwaukee decided to scrap its electrification scheme. The board of directors considered the electrification scheme an impediment to its merger and consolidation plans, and that the money required to maintain it would be better spent elsewhere. The high copper prices of time, and the $10 million the railroad estimated it would get for selling off the copper overhead wire, contributed to the decision.

The surveys had found that an investment of $39 million could have closed the “gap” between the two electrified districts, bought new locomotives, and upgraded the electrical equipment all along the line. Furthermore, the displaced diesel locomotives could have been used elsewhere and thus reduced the requirement to purchase new, reducing the true cost of the plan to only $18 million.General Electric even proposed underwriting the financing because of the railroad’s financial position.

Rejecting this, the railroad dismantled its electrification just as the1973 oil crisis took hold. By 1974, when the electrification was shut down, the electric locomotives operated at half the cost of the diesels that replaced them. Worse, the railroad had to spend $39 million, as much as the GE-sponsored revitalization plan, to buy more diesel locomotives to replace the electrics, and only received $5 million for the copper scrap since prices had fallen.

The badly-maintained track, which was the part of the system most in need of renewal, was never touched.

Decline to (another) bankruptcy

Circumstances did not get much better after the electrification was dismantled. By 1977, much of the Pacific Extension was under slow orders due to the condition of the track, and transit times had almost tripled. Cars needing repair were being sidelined for lack of money, and locomotives needing major service were being parked. The road filed for bankruptcy for the third time on December 19, 1977.

The bankruptcy resulted in the Milwaukee abandoning the Pacific Extension completely in 1980 and restructuring as a small regional line, which was eventually taken over by theSoo Line Railroad in 1985. However, the ICC’s auditors discovered (too late, as it were) that for some reason the Pacific Extension’s expenses had been double-entered during most of the 1970s. Far from the unprofitable boat-anchor the railroad and the bankruptcy trustees said it was, the ICC found that the Pacific Extension had been returning a profit to the railroad[3] even through 1977 and 1978, at which time traffic was severely down due to the road’s problems.

In Washington State, the Milwaukee Road right-of-way was acquired by the state, through a quitclaim deed, and is used as a non-motorized recreational trail called theJohn Wayne Pioneer Trail. It is currently managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. The corridor is effectively “railbanked” under state legislation that allows for the potential reversion to rail usage in the future along with the creation of an alternative route for a cross-state non-motorized recreational trail.

In theBitterroot Mountains between Loop Creek, Idaho and East Portal, Montana, a 14.5-mile (23.3-km) section of the right-of-way was purchased by the USDA Forest Service (seeChicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company Historic District). It was made into a bike trail, known as theRoute of the Hiawatha Trail.

Regional railroad, 1981–85

The restructured Milwaukee Road proved no more profitable than the previous, losing money every year. Competition by other, larger railroads for control of the Great Lakes area attracted a bidding war for purchase of the railroad in 1984, with the C&NW and the Soo bidding up the prices. On February 21, 1985, railroad operations were sold to theSoo Line Corporation, which reorganized the property as The Milwaukee Road, Inc., and on January 1, 1986, the company was merged into theSoo Line Railroad. As of 2007[update], a few locomotives transferred as part of the sale to the Soo Line remain in the Milwaukee’s paint scheme, sans Milwaukee Road logos with all lettering painted over. On some of these locomotives, weathering has caused Milwaukee Road lettering to become visible once again.


The successor-in-interest to what remained of the Milwaukee Road after the Soo Line sale was its holding company, the Chicago Milwaukee Corporation (CMC). This Corporation’s primary function was now to dispose of Milwaukee Road rolling stock and real estate not sold to the Soo Line, primarily former urban rail yard locations in cities such as Milwaukee and Minneapolis. These properties were developed into big-box retail[4] or industrial sites. The CMC itself was beset with legal and financial woes, filing for bankruptcy (under its new name CMC Heartland Partners) as a result of environmental cleanup costs and liabilities at former Milwaukee Road sites.[5]

Passenger train service

The Milwaukee Road aggressively marketed passenger service through much of its history, maintaining a high quality of service until the end of private intercity passenger operations in 1971. The Milwaukee prided itself on its passenger operations, providing the nation with some of its most innovative and colorful trains. The railroad’s home-built equipment was among some of the best passenger equipment ever run on any American railroad. The Milwaukee’s reputation for high quality service was the principal reason that the Union Pacific shifted its service to the Milwaukee Road for its “City” streamliners in 1955.

The Milwaukee Road’s Pioneer Limited was one of the first named trains and its colorful Hiawatha trains were among the nation’s finest streamliners. The post-World War II Hiawatha trains remain a high water mark for passenger train industrial design.

Train No. 101, the Hiawatha, led by a

streamlined4-4-2class A steam locomotive, passes near Red Wing, Minnesota on August 4, 1937.

Afternoon Hiawatha

The Arrow


The Columbian

Copper Country Limited

Fast Mail

Midwest Hiawatha

Morning Hiawatha

North Woods Hiawatha


Olympian Hiawatha

The Pioneer Limited

The Sioux

Southwest Limited


Twin Cities Hiawatha

The Varsity


Starting in November, 1955 the Milwaukee Road assumed joint operation of the Union Pacific’s

City of Los Angeles,City of Portland,City of Denver, and Challenger trains as well as the Union Pacific/Southern Pacific City of San Francisco.

After assuming operation of the UP’s services, the Milwaukee Road gradually dropped its orange and maroon paint scheme in favor of UP’s Armour yellow, grey, and red, finding the latter easier to keep clean.

The Milwaukee Road’s streamlined passenger services are unique in that most of its equipment was built by the railroad at its Milwaukee Menomonee Valley shops including the four generations of Hiawatha equipment introduced in 1933-34, 1935, 1937–38, and 1947-48. Most striking were the “beavertail” observation cars of the 1930s and the “Skytop Lounge” observation cars by industrial designer

Brooks Stevens in the 1940s. Extended “Skytop Lounge” cars were also ordered from Pullman for Olympian Hiawatha service in 1951. The Olympian Hiawatha set was later sold to the Canadian National Railway.

Postage stamp

On August 26, 1999, the United States Postal Service issued the 33-cent

All Aboard! 20th Century American Trains commemorative stamps featuring five celebrated American passenger trains from the 1930s and 1940s. One of the five stamps featured an image of theHiawatha, known as “Fastest Train in America”, as it traveled over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) on its daily run connecting Chicago,Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the Twin Cities.

See also

Hiawatha (Amtrak)

Iron Horse State Park

Montana Railroad

List of Milwaukee Road locomotives

Category:Milwaukee Road locomotives


References^ Cary, John W., “The Organization and History of The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company, New York, ARNO Press 1981^ Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company (1950). Four Generations on the Line: Highlights Along the Milwaukee Road’s First Hundred Years. Chicago: Ringley – O’Brien Press. http://www.oldmilwaukeeroad.com/content/fourgen/page00.htm.^ Jones, Todd (2000). “What Really Happened”.Milwaukee Road Online.http://www.trainweb.org/milwaukee/article.html. Retrieved 2005-01-08. ^ Murphy, Mary Beth (1999-09-19). “New Jewel/Osco alienates some of its neighbors, delights others”. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ^ Yue, Lorene (2006-04-28). “Heartland Partners files for Chapter 11”. Crain’s Chicago Business Derleth, August (1948).The Milwaukee Road: Its First Hundred Years. New York: Creative Age Press. Johnson, Stanley (2001).Milwaukee Road Olympian: A Ride to Remember. Coeur d’Alene, ID: Museum of North Idaho Publications.ISBN0-96436-477-8.Johnson, Stanley (1997).The Milwaukee Road Revisited. Caldwell, ID: University of Idaho Press.ISBN0-89301-198-3 ISBN 0-97233-566-8.Johnson, Stanley (2007).The Milwaukee Road’s Western Extension: The Building of a Transcontinental Railroad. Coeur d’Alene, ID: Museum of North Idaho Publications.ISBN0-97233-566-8.Schmidt, W. H., Jr. (1977). “The singular Milwaukee – A profile”. Railroad History 136: p 5–129. Scribbins, Jim (2007).The Hiawatha Story. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN0-81665-003-9.Jones, Todd (2000).“What Really Happened”.Milwaukee Road Online.http://www.trainweb.org/milwaukee/article.html. Retrieved 2005-01-08.


Washington State Iron Horse State Park web site [1]

Bug Line Railroad opened in April 1890

Waukesha historian John Schoenknecht recently gave the Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society an extremely rare, big photo, taken probably in 1890 along what is today Waukesha Avenue, near present-day Linda Drive. It was labeled as “Compound Curve – Grape Vine Ry (railroad) near Templeton, Wis.”

This is the northern part of the great “S” curve of the Bug Line Railroad that is the Waukesha County Park’s Bug Line Trail today.

If one could look down from a drone, one would see that the Bug Line Trail in eastern Sussex forms a giant “S” as it crosses the Wisconsin Central Railroad and then comes to Waukesha Avenue, heads south by southwest to the former Mammoth Spring Canning Company grounds (now the Art Sawall Mammoth Springs Apartments) and then, at the Sussex Quarry, meanders west towards Maple Avenue, thus the giant “S” in the Bug Line Trail.

The idea of the Bug Line Railroad from Granville to Menomonee Falls, to Lannon, then to the town of Lisbon, through Templeton and Sussex, was conceived as early as 1883 with the first land purchased in Menomonee Falls for the proposed railroad right of way. By late 1889, the final right-of-way purchases were completed, generally with a 60-foot wide strip. At its terminus west of Maple Avenue, the strip was 100 feet, so a grain elevator could be constructed where the Sussex Mills Apartments stand today.

The photo shows three men astride the northern curve. Then there is a gravel-filled embankment with the single track on top. In the distance on the right side of the photo is the high point of the track as it crosses the 4-year-old Wisconsin Central north-south track.

The trestle timbers proceed west and then south, and one can assume the piled up run of the gravel pit holding the three men and the track also has wood trestles underneath. This was done by filling in a bottom opening railroad gondola with grave dirt and positioning it on the trestle and opening the bottom, and the fill would filter down in a cone shape, eventually enclosing and holding up the elevated track. If one dug into the elevated tracks today, they would run into the wood trestle beams and cross members.

Today, the area of the trail and the northern wetland is part of the Waukesha County Park System’s “Cooling Meadows” green space. It is named after Keryl Cooling, who was married to farmer Mike Cooling. Her maiden name was Busse; she was the daughter of Charles Busse, who served as Sussex Village President from 1933-57.

On the left side of the photo is the hilltop that forms the bend in the road on Good Hope Road, as it descends down to the Wisconsin Central Railroad crossing.

Why is it called the Bug Line? On April 29, 1890, there was a grand opening party for the new mini railroad line from Granville/Menomonee Falls to Maple Avenue, Sussex. Several hundred people from Sussex, Templeton, Lisbon, Merton, Hartland and Pewaukee joined the festivities; a band from Pewaukee provided the music.

There were narrations by Willis L. Cooling (comic burlesque) and Rev. Ames. A 1 p.m. dinner was served at the Lisbon Town Hall, today the office of Sussex Wheaton Family Practice. The speakers were host Richard Weaver, banker Andrew Frame, Abram and Joseph Hadfield, John Ross and Rev. Solomon S. Burlson of St. Alban’s.

Weaver, a Sussex millionaire, invited those attending the celebration to go to the nearby Sussex Railroad Depot and take a journey to Menomonee Falls and back. A woman on this excursion noticed the train meandering, up a little incline, down a little hill. She remarked that the train was like a bug following a twisted grape vine. In the retelling of the woman’s observations, it was eventually shortened to the “Bug Line.”

That evening, a large ball was held at the Lisbon Town Hall in Sussex, and continued throughout the night.

In 1891, the tracks were extended to Merton and later to North Lake. They were abandoned in 1978 and, by 1980, the county picked up the right of way and made it into a 14-mile trail plus the adjacent Cooling Meadow.