“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Muskego in Waukesha County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

The Devil's Teapot

The Devil's Teapot Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Linda Hansen, March 18, 2017
1. The Devil's Teapot Marker
Inscription.  In 1904, the coming of the interurban electric railway (TREM&L) made railroad travel possible between downtown Milwaukee and East Troy, WI. At this very location, a railroad trestle was constructed to bridge a two-acre pond/waterhole in a pasture on the Kingston farm. It appeared to be just an ordinary little farm pond where a person could catch bullheads and carp in the 20-foot deep marsh bordering the pond. A 200-foot long trestle was built over the sinkhole, but as interurban cars passed over it, strange groaning and gurgling sounds came from the trestle. John I. Beggs, supervisor for the TREM&L system nicknamed it the "Devil's Teapot."

On Friday morning, April 20,1917, after a westbound interurban car had just passed over it, the trestle collapsed into the sinkhole. From then on, people traveling westbound would have to get off at the Muskego Centre station, just east of here on Pioneer Drive, walk along a boardwalk that was constructed over the sinkhole, board another interurban car and continue westward to Big Bend, Mukwonago and East Troy. In the evening, lanterns were placed along the boardwalk so people could find their way
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across the marsh.

The TMER&L Co. tried everything to stabilize the trestle. They laid 16 foot oak planks across the sinkhole but the water oozed right up over the tracks. The company then decided to fill in the sinkhole and lay the tracks directly across it. The company hired 26 workers from Milwaukee to work on it. Now the Devil's Teapot would really earn its name.

Within the next year various items were pushed, dumped, tossed and disappeared into the sinkhole. Dump cars full of gravel were used to fill the hole, but it all sank out of sight. Ten thousand old railroad ties were sucked into the bottomless pit. A thousand hand-cut trees from Big Bend were deposited into the hole. During the entire year the sinkhole kept up a gurgling and bubbling and swallowed everything fed into it. Then, one Friday night, seven railway dump cars loaded with gravel were left on the track, ready to unload. By next Monday morning, all seven had rolled in and sunk and were never recovered!

A year later the sinkhole was finally filled in and tracks were laid directly across the trembling ground, but every year the tracks would sink, and every year the workers had to raise the tracks another foot.

Finally, as modern highways were improved for cars and trucks, the electric interurban faded into history. Now all that remains of the legend is the roadbed that you
The marsh surrounding the marker. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Linda Hansen, March 18, 2017
2. The marsh surrounding the marker.
are standing on and the story of the DEVIL'S TEAPOT.
Erected 2014 by Muskego Historical Society.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Bridges & ViaductsRailroads & Streetcars.
Location. 42° 54.03′ N, 88° 8.811′ W. Marker is in Muskego, Wisconsin, in Waukesha County. Marker can be reached from Racine Avenue near Janesville Road. Marker is on a bike trail just across the street from Culver's restaurant. It is fairly close to Racine Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Muskego WI 53150, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Old Muskego Town Hall (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Electric Interurban Muskego Centre Station (approx. 0.3 miles away); Historic Muskego Centre Park (approx. 0.4 miles away); Janesville Plank Road Tollgate (approx. 0.6 miles away); Muskego Beach Amusement Park (approx. 0.7 miles away); "Do I Smell Pizza-Burgers?" (approx. 0.8 miles away); Park Arthur (approx. 2 miles away); Linnie Lac (approx. 2.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Muskego.
Additional keywords. Devil's Teapot, TMER&L, interurban electric railway
Credits. This page was last revised on March 21, 2017. It was originally submitted on March 21, 2017, by Linda Hansen of Waukesha, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 2,851 times since then and 234 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 21, 2017, by Linda Hansen of Waukesha, Wisconsin. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 15, 2024