In East Troy, a preserved electic railroad gives visitors a passage into some of the area's hidden treasures.
A short drive from Lake Geneva, East Troy is a small southeast Wisconsin town that has a 100-year railroad history. In 1907, the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company brought the first electric railway through town, connecting the area to Milwaukee for freight and passenger shipping. Though rail is no longer the primary means of transportation, and much of the electric railroad in the area no longer exists, a stretch of electified rail extending from East Troy makes for great group excursions.
We began with a visit to the depot, which is now a museum detailing the history of the electric railroad. After a short introduction, our hosts helped us board a 1927 trolley car, restored to its original look and outfitted with vintage advertising. The car started on the ten mile journey, and our hosts told us more about their family history on the railroad as we passed through forests, corn fields and small villages along the way.
We stepped off at The Elegant Farmer, an orchard and bakery operation that sits right on the train tracks. This group of farmers has created an outlet store that sells area favorites such as Door County cherry products, cider-cured ham and traditional Wisconsin cheese curds. The Elegant Farmer's most famous product, though, is an apple pie baked in a brown paper bag. Owner Keith Schimdit walked my group through the store, and up to the production facility, where we saw workers kneading pie dough, coating carmel apples and preparing other fall products.
We had a great lunch at the Elegant Farmer, tasting a number of their products. The cider-cured ham was delicious, along with the bottle of fresh apple cider that came with lunch. A generous portion of fresh apple pie made the perfect end to a morning spent exploring these travel treasures of southeast Wisconsin.
Inside the historic electric train car
The Elegant Farmer's famous apple pie in a bag
A batch of freshly dipped carmel apples