The Electric Park of Eau Claire, Wis – The Interurban Streetcar Tour of Local Shops

July 4, 2012
July 4, 2012 Travis Dewitz

Looking south down Barstow Street in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

History of the Interurban Streetcar Line

Streetcars have been going down the streets of Eau Claire, Wisconsin since 1879. The horse-drawn streetcar line was converted to electric in 1889. The Electric Car Interurban Service operated under Chippewa Valley Electric Railway Co.  began in Eau Claire, WI, in 1889. Arthur Appleyard, a wealthy Boston financier  merged the Eau Claire Street Railway Company with the owners of the Chippewa Falls Water Works & Lighting Company. The line served the Downtown Eau Claire area, through Hallie,  into Chippewa Falls & and later Altoona. In fact many old-timers still refer to the Hallie area as “Electric Park.”

In our Electric  Car Interurban photo, you can see the rail cars running down what is Barstow Street. If you’re familiar with the area, you will even recognize the dome shape of what is now The Stones Throw. As you can see, the track ran down the center of the road, with opposing lanes of traffic going down either side.

Electric Park

Midway Park was created in 1895 by John Ure, Jr. Mr. Ure prepared 400 acres of land which united the Eau Claire & Chippewa areas. Residing in Lake Hallie, this location was a midway stop between Eau Claire & Chippewa. It was later renamed Electric Park in 1910 when Chippewa Valley Railway and Light & Power Company worked with Bob Lange to rename the park. Electric Park included a band shell, amusement park complete with rides, a canopied Railway Waiting Shelter, dance pavilion, and ball park. In its heyday, the park was known to have dances, moving pictures, and fishing. The Electric Park has lost much of its history and former glory, known only by the historical marker at the Waiting Shelter in Irvine Park. The true Electric Park was situated where the Eau Claire Press building is now sits.

The Interurban Tour of Local Shops

In a concentrated effort between local photographers, Bobbie Sue Baker & Travis Dewitz of Violet Photography & Design and Dewitz Photography; the two are working hand in hand to share some of the history of our area. Forming a project, aptly named “The Electric Park,” the two photographers will be visiting local Chippewa Valley small businesses, and providing a history of the small business along with information pertaining to the owner, what they offer, and any available contact information. The project will take Travis & Bobbie Sue from downtown Eau Claire, through Altoona and Lake Hallie, into downtown Chippewa Falls. Their hope, is that through their project, the people of the Chippewa Valley will be reunited with their rich and prosperous history and will be connected with the incredibly talented local businesses our area has to offer. Both photographers have a strong drive to support locally owned businesses, business owners, and artisans and are very excited to share their immense love for their beautiful city with you.

 

Travis Dewitz

I. Love. Photography. I love it. It lightens my heart, fills my soul, and allows me to capture life the way that I see it. I constantly yearn to show life in a way that hasn’t been seen before, to bring images to people in a fresh and innovative way. My favorite focus in photography, my specialty I guess you would say, is Railroad Photography & Art. Something about the rumbling of these great, big, beautiful machines. The way they shake the earth beneath you as they rumble by, how they invade your chest and you can feel the rumble inside you. The plumes of heat on a hot day represented in a heat wave. Snaking through a western valley, void of trees or any other distracting element. Just the train, by itself, in it’s own inexplicable beauty and power. From the time I was a child, they have captured my imagination. I’ve recently gotten into portraiture a bit, and I want to bring some of my experiences with trains to that arena. To capture the power of a person, the sadness, loneliness, omniscience, pride, love, & carefree spirit in a way that hasn’t been done before. I want people to look at themselves in a photograph I have taken, and see a side of themselves that they think no one else has ever seen. Dewitz Photography is all about capturing a moment in a way that has never been seen before, capturing a beauty that some never knew was even there.