& North Western
(Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad)
Compiled and Edited by Michael R.
Railroad workers living in the 1910 Sussex - Lisbon Area (unfortunately the
railway they worked for isn't listed, except for some of the Chicago & North
Western employees working to build the new railroad). Source 1910 Federal Census
Residence - Township of Lisbon
Cleary, Frank, 49, b. Mass., railroad foreman.
Noble, Otho, 43, laborer
Evanson, Elmer, 21, depot agent
Miller, Rheinhart (?), 50, foreman
Miller, Jacob, 49, laborer
Askew, Frank, railroad agent, bds. with John R. Small family
Pettmann, Albert, 32, laborer
Miller, Louis, 30, laborer
Dempsey, Thomas, 42, laborer.
Weaver, S (?), teamster for NWRR (age 48, born abt 1862, wife
Sarina ?, age 47, son Harry, age 22, married to Gertrude, age 24, and son
Clarence, age 10 - Source 1910 Federal Census, Wisconsin, Waukesha County,
Lisbon Township. Related to Sussex Weavers ?)
Note the following NWRR employees boarded at a Sussex hotel
run/operated by Fuller Hurdinger (?):
Seus (?), Arny or Army, 23, Superintendent NWRR
Irving, Thomas, 30, Civil engineer NWRR
Whitehouse, Myson, 29, Civil engineer NWRR
Ralely (?), Harry J., 26, Civil engineer NWRR
Davis, Fredrick E. (?), 22, Civil engineer NWRR
Railroad workers living in the 1930 Sussex - Lisbon Area (unfortunately the
railway they worked for isn't listed.). Source 1930 Federal Census
Residence - Town of Lisbon
Well, Emory C, 25, telegraph operator
Held, Adam, 54, railroad caretaker
Beier, Fred, 22, section hand
Brochner, Ralph, 18, section hand (nephew to
Schmidt, William R., 29, section hand
Stone, John W., 51, section hand
Soto, Panfilo, 23, Mexican, section hand
Sanchesz, Elenterio, 33, Mexican, section hand
Residence - Village of Sussex
Morgan, Raymond J., 33, telegraph operator
Gasman, Charles C., 51, foreman
Weber, Joseph C., 28, foreman
Miller, Reinhard, 67, foreman
Meyer (Mesye?), Arthur T., 38, station
Kayser, Peter, 59, section hand
McEntee, John E., 46, watchman
Johnson, Edwin, 62,
Chambers, Paul, 51,
Wileden, Charles A., 56,
Woodchick, Henry C., 62, station agent
Cleary, John T., 33, car inspector
Mudlitz, John, 46,
Stroick, Matthew F., 33, foreman
Pautzke, Alfred, 32, foreman
Muth, John, 22,
Brochner, John, 22, bds. with Muth
McCann, Elra, 21,
Petihehowski, Martin, 49,
Sussex depot linked Milwaukee, Minneapolis
Fred Keller, Sussex Sun Correspondent
This railroad line enters Waukesha County at Butler, then runs
westward somewhat north of Silver Spring Drive, skirting the south
of Menomonee Falls and Lannon before entering Sussex. From there it
runs to Merton and North Lake and on to Mapleton, where it enters
A roadway followed Sussex-Templeton Main Street to the east of
Templeton. It was online with Mill Road, "Whiskey Corners."
The Sussex Depot, built in 1911, was abandoned in 1977 and moved to
downtown Sussex in June 1978. In 2003, it became the Sussex-Lisbon
The Northwestern Railroad merged with the Union Pacific in April
1995, a dozen years ago.
Before World War II, railroad passenger trains were a big deal. The
Northwestern joined the competition with a special train from
Chicago to Milwaukee and Minneapolis called "The 400" because that
was how many miles it traveled and because they promised to make it
in 400 minutes.
In 1909, the railroads tried to buy up the right-of-way without
condemnation, but they eventually had to resort to condemnation for
Some people were reluctant to let the railroad go through their
land. Others were not satisfied with the compensation they were
offered. Usually, the railroad wanted 100-foot-wide swaths of land,
for which it paid about $1,000 per acre.
When this roadway was closed down for a while, the railroad used the
down time to bend the eastern end of Main Street south to intersect with
Town Line Road. A double bridge was eventually built over that street.
One section remains and has been known to each graduating class at
Hamilton High School since 1962 as "graffiti bridge."
In 1911, the Northwestern Railroad began mining Observatory Hill, a
glacial hill east of Sussex, for gravel to fill their many miles of
Traveling on raised wood trestles through the Towns of Menomonee
(Menomonee Falls) and Lisbon, railroad engines would leave that gravel
pit every 24 hours, pulling 150 gondolas with 22 yards of gravel each.
The Sussex depot, constructed in September 1911, was about 20 feet wide
and 72 feet long. At the same time, a house was built on the other side
of the tracks for the section foreman. (It still stands today next to
The late Sussex resident Roy Stier used to tell a story about some
temporary work his father, Fred, did for the Northwestern Railroad.
It seems Guy Peterson of Madison was drilling for the company's depot,
but lost the bit at 500 feet. Fred, an accomplished blacksmith and
troubleshooter, was hired to retrieve the lost bit, but failed.
The well driller eventually gave up on the plugged well and drilled an
800-footer next to it. Collectively, that meant about 1,300 feet of
drilling. Roy said that working on the problem consumed almost a year's
A pump house and water tower were built to take in the well's water, but
it was so "hard" (filled with calcium) that it ruined the engine's
The solution, Roy said, was to dam the nearby Sussex Creek, put in a
pump and use creek water.
The water tower and pump houses were torn down about 1930. John
Hutchinson worked many years keeping the water tank filled for passing
trains needing water.
Meanwhile, the older Soo Line Railroad (now Wisconsin Central) had lost
most of its workers to the Northwestern, which paid better wages. Frank
Clarey was a section foreman in the early days, with Albert Dettmann
taking care of the line east of Lisbon and Sussex.
The first operating trains drove through in October 1911, though work on
the line was not completed until the next year.
A train accident Dec. 5, 1912, at the Herman Abel crossing (today
Highway 164) marred that year's operations. A train stopped, going east,
and the train behind it crashed into the caboose, causing a lot of train
and property damage. The caboose stove set the wreckage on fire, burning
three cars: a wood slab car, a general merchandise car and the caboose
İSussex Sun 2007