|By KEVIN PASSON - Special to TimeOut||
November 27, 2013
Robert Duerwachter never believed the search for a route to a
trout stream in northern Wisconsin would lead to a post-retirement
hobby and a series of books telling the tales of Wisconsin
“My son and
I were in Langlade County, and when we had to find a trout stream,
I pulled out a map,” the Waukesha author said. “I saw what
turned out to be an old railroad line, and that’s how it all
recently gave a presentation about his latest book, “It’s
Train Time! The Story of the Bug Line,” to a gathering at the
Oconomowoc Public Library. He said it was sixth such talk of the
Line” was originally the Milwaukee, Menomonee Falls and Western
Railway, eventually becoming part of the Milwaukee Road. It was in
operation from 1885 to 1978. It initially was built from the
village of Granville (now part of the city of Milwaukee) to
Menomonee Falls and then to Templeton (now part of Sussex). Later,
it was extended to North Lake.
businessman) Richard Weaver said on the first day that people
could ride from Sussex to Menomonee Falls and back for free,”
Duerwachter said. “A woman on the train compared the ride to a
bug following a grapevine, the way it followed the rolling
landscape. The name stuck.”
said his book traces the history of the railroad, from its early
beginnings when it was used to transport stone, sugar beets and
products from the feed mills.
beginning stages, plans were to extend the line throughout
supposed to go to Superior from Milwaukee,” Duerwachter said.
“They had great dreams. Those dreams died in North Lake.”
line saw its last run in 1978. A few years earlier, the North Lake
branch became the route for the Kettle Moraine Scenic Railway.
That would eventually give way to urban growth, and its last run
was in late 2001.
route is the Bugline Recreational Trail.
County recently spent $950,000 to blacktop the strip from the end
of the Merton tracks to Menomonee Falls,” Duerwachter said.
“It’s a 10-foot wide strip of blacktop.”
Duerwachter published his first book, “The Dousman, Marlboro
& Southern: The Tibby Line,” which chronicled the private
railroad of the Eagle Lime Products Company in Waukesha County.
His second book, “The Whistle Didn’t Blow Long Enough: The
History of the Chicago & Lake Superior Railroad,” was
published in 2008. “The Ponds of the Scuppernong” was
published in 2010. He also wrote a biography of lumber baron
Charles Whitwood Fish of Elcho, Wis.
a contributor to the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society,
the Chicago & North Western Historical Society, the Langlade
County Historical Society and the Forest History Association of
Wisconsin. In 2009, he published “The Ponds of the
Scuppernong” for which he was the recipient of the Libbie
Faulkner Nolan Award for his scholarly contribution to the history
of Waukesha County.
graduated from Marquette University in 1959 with a bachelor’s
degree in history and a teaching major in English. He was awarded
a master’s degree in U.S. history in 1963.
career as a high school teacher ended in 1994, when he retired
after 28 years at Kettle Moraine High School.
He and his
wife, Barbara, live in Waukesha. They have three grown children
and seven grandchildren.
In his free
time, he continues to work on two more books, “The History of
the Wisconsin & Northern Railroad” and “The Railroads of
Langlade County,” the place that inspired his railroad hobby and