Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday ride

Holy Saturday, waiting to celebrate the Resurrection at Easter Mass tomorrow.

Somehow the world seems quiet, dead...


Took the 'Strom out for a nice long ride, 69 degrees today!!! (A three hour tour...)
Visited a Veteran's memorial in a town about an hours ride from here. Also stopped
to read some of the many Historical Markers along the way.










7 comments:

  1. Perfect ride for Easter....right down in God's country.

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  2. A nice historical ride. I always enjoy the bits of history in ride reports.

    And such toasty weather too. Glad you got out for a ride.

    Happy Easter.

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  3. Maybe I'll make it a nice day long ride this summer, to ride the area within about 100 miles of here and visit all the historical markers and see the story of the area. Hmmmm...maybe I'd better count on a month...

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  4. Enjoyed this very much! Looks like a great ride!

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  5. As to the railroad...it was a twisting line originally narrow gauge. The La Crosse and Southeastern Railway was built by W.S. Cargill, whose father started the vast Cargill grain empire, and was designed to provide more convenient service from Viroqua and Westby to La Crosse than the Milwaukee Railroad line via Sparta, and capture the majority of grain, livestock and tobacco shipments from the many farms in the area to markets in La Crosse. Conceived and built in 1904, the line from Stoddard through Chaseburg, Coon Valley and Westby was completed to Viroqua on Jan. 4, 1905. Later in 1905, rails were laid to a terminal in La Crosse.

    The Southeastern, as it commonly was called, was the favored means of travel for points between Viroqua and La Crosse, if only because a round trip could be made in the same day, unlike the competing Milwaukee Railroad. Shopping trips were common on the Southeastern, as were visits to Lutheran Hospital and Gundersen Clinic in La Crosse. The initial fare from Viroqua to La Crosse was $1.25, equivalent to $30 today, with one daily round trip. By 1907, service had increased to four round trips daily. The Southeastern also carried the mail between

    La Crosse and the outlying towns from 1905 until the early 1930s.

    Unfortunately, the Southeastern was built late in the period of railroad expansion - just as Americans were beginning their love affair with the automobile. Although the 32-mile line attempted several innovative means of controlling costs, the line showed small profits in only three of its 29 years. By 1919, the Southeastern cut back to two daily trains pulled by steam locomotives and added a railbus capable of carrying 32 passengers. The railbus was able to make the trip from Viroqua to La Crosse in only two hours, one less than conventional trains. It was so successful that the railroad soon used it to make two round trips a day, eliminating another steam-powered train. The year 1919 also was the last that the Southeastern made a profit.

    Competing bus service began in 1922 between Coon Valley and La Crosse. As a result, the Southeastern formed a subsidiary company that provided bus service from La Crosse to Madison through Viroqua. The subsidiary later added a trucking service to its La Crosse-Madison route, but neither the bus nor the truck service proved profitable. The advent of the Great Depression led to increased losses for the railroad - to the extent that in 1933 the Southeastern threw in the towel and received permission to abandon all service.

    Cargill, who still owned the railroad, worked a deal with the Milwaukee Railroad in 1933 that benefited both. In exchange for a grain elevator and loading dock in Milwaukee, the Southeastern was given to the Milwaukee Railroad. Service between La Crosse, Stoddard and Chaseburg was terminated on Aug. 7, 1933, and the rails soon were removed. The Milwaukee Road expanded its Sparta to Viroqua line by taking over Southeastern's line from Westby to Coon Valley and Chaseburg. Service to Chaseburg was continued until 1964 and to Coon Valley until 1971.

    Only a few reminders remain today of the Southeastern Railway, as its rails and old depots have been removed.

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  6. Bryce, thanks. Fascinating history!!!

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