Author Scott Sasse will be at the New London Heritage Historical Village on Saturday, May 2 to sign copies of his latest book, “Chicago & North Western Railroad History at New London, Wisconsin.”
Sasse, a 1975 graduate of New London High School, worked closely with Historical Society President Robert Polaske for several years, completing research for the book.
The book documents railroad activities on the C&NW line at New London for over a 125-year period from the 1870s until today.
It opens with a brief discussion of the settlement of the area where the Embarrass River joins the Wolf River circa 1848. Early information includes several paper railroads that never got off the ground, the birth of the Appleton & New London Railroad in 1866 and the arrival of the Green Bay & Lake Pepin in 1871. In 1876 the Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western, which had by then absorbed the Appleton & New London, finished the line from Appleton Junction to New London. The MLS&W was merged into the Chicago & North Western in 1893.
Much of the book moves chronologically, allowing time to explore certain events or segments of C&NW operations at New London. Among the pages of the book, there is perspective of railroad telegrapher George Jillson, who retired in 1923 after 43 years of railroad employment, briefly recalling his experiences.
The rise of the passenger train is followed, including famous name trains such as the Flambeau, Wisconsin Lakes Special, and the much-heralded Chicago to New London ski trains of 1941.
Industrial users of rail are traced as manufactures came and went or changed ownership and name.
Activities of the Green Bay & Western at new London Junction are recalled along with the 50-50 arrangement for cost sharing of the joint agency with the C&NW.
There are floor plans of the original 1876 depot, the replacement passenger station of 1923, and the Junction depot built in 1882 and razed in 1946.
Carload data from New London and the outlaying communities it served as a central agency, detail the decline in railroad service and use during the waning years of Class 1 dominance.
The book’s 144 pages are supplemented with photos, timetables and railroad advertising.
Selections from a century and a quarter of newspaper accounts enhance the text and are featured near the back of the book as standalone quotes of interest.
It is also observed that with Wisconsin Central’s rebuilding of the line between Greenville and New London in 2001, Canadian National’s first revenue train to new London ran exactly 125 years to the day after the Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western first began regularly scheduled service in 1876.
Copies of the book will be available at Saturday’s event for $10.
National Historic month
As part of Saturday’s book signing event, the railroad depot and buildings within the New London Heritage and Historical Village will be open at 10 a.m. to kick off the beginning of National Historic Preservation Month. There is no charge for the event. The New London Heritage and Historic Village is located next to Memorial Park on Montgomery Street.
Brat Fry/Rummage sale
The New London Heritage Historical Society is kicking off their summer season with a brat fry and book/rummage sale during the Saturday’s event. The proceeds will go towards maintenance of village buildings.
The Society is planning their Heritage Days for August 1-2. There are many activities planned for people of all ages. Some of the activities include face painting for the kids, trackless train rides, along with vintage tractor display, tours of the six buildings, locomotive and railcars. There will also be a petting zoo, bake sale and on Sunday, an 11 a.m. church service in the village’s chapel. A three-day buck skinners’ encampment will begin with folk music on the grounds Friday evening July 31.
About the Heritage Historical Village
The village will again host open houses from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. on the first and third Sundays in June, July and August. Anyone interested in New London area history or maintenance of vintage buildings, is welcome to join the Society’s monthly meetings at 8 a.m. on the fourth Saturday of the month at Marly’s Restaurant. Recent topics of discussion have been one-room schoolhouses, area churches and New London railroad history.
Spring-cleaning will be done at the village the third week of May and meetings will resume on June 27.
For more information on the events or membership in the Society, contact Bob Polaske at 920-982-5186.