The Village of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin today is a quiet community of 14,000 people located about six miles north of downtown Milwaukee on bluffs above Lake Michigan. It is primarily residential, with a retail strip located on Silver Spring Drive. Over one hundred years ago, however, the village was a leisure destination for Milwaukeeans seeking to escape from the noise, heat and smoke of downtown Milwaukee.
In the 1880s, Captain Frederick Pabst of brewery fame decided that Whitefish Bay would be an ideal location for a grand beer garden, hotel and amusement park. Land was acquired in the area that is today Lake Drive just North of Henry Clay Street. Lake steamers, such as the "Bloomer Girl," made regular trips from the City to Pabst's dock below the bluff, where a series of switchback paths led up to the resort. The resort consisted of a hotel (the "Bellevue"), a restaurant, band-shell and other amusements, and enough beer to satisfy the thirsts of all excursionists. Later on, a ferris wheel was added, to be eventually replaced by a merry-go-round. The park operated until about 1914.
A train of the Milwaukee & Whitefish Bay Railway at the Whitefish Bay depot circa 1890. At that time, the road's officers included William H. Bradley, President; Martin J. Higgins, Superintendent; M.D. Mahoney, Superintendent; and Charles F. White, Station Agent. The line was eventually electrified and absored into the electric street railway system (photo source "White Fish Bay, Milwaukee's Favorite Resort-A Souvenir," collection of Whitefish Bay Public Library.)
The other heavy railway route between Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay was the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railroad which was eventually purchased by the Chicago & North Western Railway. Passes for free transportation like the one below were routinely issued as courtesies to officials of other railroads (pass from the webmaster's collection). Click here for more historical information on roads and railroads.
Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay were also linked by Milwaukee's streetcar system, which took over much of the M&WFB right-of-way. The postcard below shows one such trolley just south of the Pabst Resort (from webmaster's collection).