ebook History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Watertown and Madison Road




Watertown Owes to Milwaukee the loss of a railroad beyond a doubt at least the Madison papers claim such to be the fact. If there is one city in the West, more than any other, that has attempted to build up its own fortunes on the ruin of its neighbors, that city is Milwaukee.

We have no feelings of hostility toward the commercial emporium of the State, but much less fear on her part lest some other place should enjoy a share of the prosperity which she seeks to monopolize, would disarm a great deal of the opposition she always meets when she has any particular measure to carry for her special benefit, which requires the consent of the Legislature.

Clearly, it is for the advantage of Milwaukee, to have the Watertown and Madison road be built and put in operation at an early day. The traveling public would save a vast amount of time and money by the completion of this work. But the Directors of that wretched humbug, the Mississippi Railroad, fearing that it will reduce their receipts, are throwing every obstacle in the way they possibly can to defeat the efforts now being made to finish what they regard as a rival, a better and a shorter line.

Yet Milwaukee quietly looks on, and year after year consents to pay a heavy premium for the privilege of crawling in, crawling out, and crawling around to the capital or the Mississippi, merely that a selfish corporation may make a few more dollars.

Speaking of this suicidal policy, the Madison Argus gives the following illustration:

"Within a few years, we have attempted an enterprise of our own that would yield a vast tribute of trade and travel to Milwaukee. The Watertown and Madison railroad would have brought us within three hours and a half of Milwaukee, and would have carried passengers to Chicago, by way of Milwaukee, within a half hour of the time occupied by going around the crooked and serpentine Janesville route. This enterprise received from the start the bitter hostility of the two great Milwaukee Railroads, and is, temporarily at least, defeated, after Madison, Watertown, and the towns between, had contributed and paid half enough to build it. It owes its defeat to Milwaukee. WD


09 30 The sale of the Watertown and Madison railroad takes place today in the city of Madison, according to the advertised notice. WD


10 07&14 Watertown and Madison Railroad was sold under foreclosure of the first mortgage. Russel Sage of Troy, N.Y. was purchaser. Construction resumed WD




The iron on the Watertown and Madison railroad has been laid to Waterloo WD




Last week a new railroad car, built in this city under the direction of Mr. B. T. Wells, made its first appearance on the Watertown & Madison Railroad. It is designed to answer the double purpose of both a passenger and freight car and is admirably arranged for such use. It is strongly and substantially built of the best materials and is capable of resisting a tremendous shock, yet it is well furnished and finished and glides along lightly and smoothly over the iron track. It will be put on the route between this city and Sun Prairie, on which our young and attentive friend, Mr. O. F. Willis, acts as conductor.


While on this subject we will state the fact that some 25 freight cars are in course of construction at the machine shop of the Milwaukee & Western Company in this city. As good cars are made there as can be found on any railroad in the west. This establishment gives steady employment to a large number of skillful mechanics and all goes on like clockwork under the supervision of Mr. Wells. WD




Some six or eight years ago a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together was made by our people to construct the Madison & Watertown Railroad.


In the enterprise the city of Madison invested $100,000 in municipal bonds and individual citizens subscribed and paid for some $200,000 or $300,600 of stock, a good part of which subscriptions was secured by farm mortgages. At the commencement of the operations of the company a railroad was completed and in running order from Milwaukee to Watertown, leaving only about 35 miles of road to be constructed to connect us (Madison) by rail with Lake Michigan at Milwaukee.


The early extension of the road from Watertown to Madison was a pet scheme on the part of our city . . . . but owing to bad and extravagant management, the great and sudden depression in the money market, and general tumbling of railroad securities in 1857, the completion of the work stopped near Waterloo by the final collapse of the company.


In 1859 or 1860 the road was extended from Waterloo to Sun Prairie by the new company, less than 12 miles from Madison, where it has remained ever since, with no particular effort to continue it to Madison . . . .


Men of Milwaukee, if you want our good fellowship and trade, which now more naturally flows to Chicago owing to superior railroad facilities, take hold with us right heartily and help us to finish this 11 miles of railroad, thus bringing the commercial metropolis of the state and the state capitol within 80 miles of each other . . . . WD





Table of Contents

History of Watertown, Wisconsin