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Appleton Electric Streetcar System 1886 - 1930


Photo Gallery
Equipment Roster
Route Map

The Birney Cars Close an Era

Officials pose before last run in 1930

Motorcoaches waiting to take over passenger service 1930.

John Beggs returned to TM management in the early 1920's determined to modernize and upgrade the service in Milwaukee. In 1923 the big Kuhlman cars were returned to Milwaukee and rebuilt into a more modern style of car. In exchange, Milwaukee sent up cars 651-660 which were renumbered to 201-210 to operate on the interurban system. Also at this time small, single truck  Birney safety cars were purchased used from the Boston Railway system to replace the older cars that were showing their age. The North American Company took control of the Appleton systems after 1923 and in 1927 the Wisconsin Traction merged with other utilities to form the Wisconsin-Michigan Power Company. This company concentrated on providing electric power and was moving away from running a railroad. Bus and auto competition was causing a downward trend in revenues and in 1928, the company asked for permission from the Wisconsin Railroad Commission to abandon the interurban portions from Neenah to Kaukauna. The permission was granted on May 9, 1928 and the 600's were sent back to Milwaukee where they ran until 1948. Birney cars continued to serve the city of Appleton until abandonment of all city service was approved in 1930. The last car ran with much fanfare on Sunday, May 6, 1930. Buses from a private operator took over the city routes. The Birneys were then scrapped. The Big A's had a better fate. They operated in Milwaukee until 1953 and then several were sold to the London & Port Stanley RR in Ontario. The L&PS  operated until 1955. Two cars were bought and eventually donated to the Illinios Railway Museum where they are on display in their TM colors.  

Appleton 201 operating on the Appleton-Kaukauna run.