sawmills to sunfish number 2 spot
In Wisconsin, United States
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THE NUMBER "2" SPOT
Transportation between Onalaska and La Crosse
during the early 1900's was by the electric street
car trolley, known as the No. "2" Spot. This car
was similar to, and probably purchased by the same
company that ran the street cars in La Crosse, but
the Onalaska line was operated as a separate busi-
ness. The full-time drivers on this line were Mar-
tell "Art" Walker and Jewett Nutting. Elmer Ly-
saker served as the relief driver.
In 1916 the average pay for a driver was 18 cents
an hour. The drivers' uniforms were a dark blue all
wool serge trouser and jacket, and included a hat
with an emblem in front.
The route started at the corner of Main and Sec-
ond Streets (now Main and Highway 53) in front
of what was then the Onalaska Bank. The line then
ran down what is now Highway 53, or Second
Street, to the south end of the city limits where it
followed Second Avenue, southwest down the hill
past what was then the Onalaska Pickling and Can-
ning Company, and crossed the marsh in a south-
westerly direction to the corner of Livingston and
Loomis Streets on the North Side of La Crosse.
Here the riders could transfer onto a city car if
they desired to go to the South Side. The fare from
Onalaska to North Side was 10 cents; from North
Side to South Side, 5 cents.
Many of the riders were people from Onalaska
going to La Crosse to work at the Rubber Mills;
and later, at the Auto-Lite. La Crosse people rode
the street car north to go to work at the Canning
Company. Mr. Lysaker recalls that he often didn't
charge the Canning Company workers for the ride
and was given dented cans of peas, corn, or kraut
in return for the favor. He tells how important his
suspenders were to keep his trousers up, and how
his coat would bulge-heavy with the cans.
He also tells of a favor he did for Butch Schut-
tenhelm, the owner of the butcher shop. Butch
would ask him to deliver a couple rings of bologna
down to the "Line House," a tavern which stood
on the line between La Crosse and Onalaska. When
he delivered it, in return, he would be given two
bottles of beer and piece of the bologna, which
served as a nice lunch when the workday was
Most of the trolley patrons were adults going to
work. Mr. Lysaker recalls few problems with kids.
North Side kids occasionally would grease the
tracks going up over the viaduct, but few problems
were encountered in Onalaska. Todgy Collins was
remembered for helping to turn the car around and
would get a free ride in return. Some old-timers re-
member getting a ride on the "cow-catcher" once
The car was a single truck trolley having two
wheels in front and two in back. It had only hand
brakes. The brakes were operated with a hand
wheel within the car that mechanically forced a
braking "dog" against the trolley wheel. There
were no crossing gates at the railroad tracks; there-
fore, the driver had to be very watchful for the
many trains. He knew their schedules well.
The trolley operated from 6:00 a.m. to Midnight
all week, and even on Sundays, on a 30-minute
schedule, as it took about 15 minutes to get to Liv-
ingston Street and 15 minutes to return.
The Onalaska operation ended in 1930.
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Last Updated: on 3/28/2014 1:09:33 PM Pacific Daylight Time (8:09 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum