Cold Spring Shops

Also known as: Highland Educational Academy
4212 W. Highland Blvd,, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The central maintenance shop for mass transit for decades, now repurposed and looking for tenants.


Overview Looking Southeast

Photo taken by J.R. Manning




Cold Spring Park is a neighborhood in Milwaukee's west side, near Miller Brewing Company and the Harley-Davidson factory. The neighborhood takes its name from Cold Spring Park that used to be here, that included a natural spring that was in the park. Cold Spring Park has been the site of a fair (Wisconsin State Agricultural Society) the Civil War Camp Washburn and later, a race track. There was even a hotel Cold Spring that catered to the racers, reportedly a regular den of iniquity.

10 acres of land in the Cold Spring Park area was purchased by The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company in 1907 and it became the Cold Spring Shops. By 1911, the shop was completed with a quarter million square feet of space. All major and minor repairs were done here, maintenance vehicles were stored here, and there was an interchange track to the (former) Milwaukee Road tracks that run just to the south of the shops.

After TMER&LC spun off the transportation component of the company to concentrate on being the local electric utility, the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Company used the shops for the same purpose. Eventually, The Transport Company was taken over by Milwaukee County, and the Cold Spring Shops continued to be a maintenance facility for streetcars until the end (1958) and bussses until the 1980s when the Fond du Lac Avenue shops were constructed. The buildings were sold to Highland Educational Academy and much of the shop floor area stands empty, waiting for a lessee.

There are still a few signs left that this was once a sprawling streetcar facility, but those are getting hard to find, including some of the access tracks on the south end of the facility. It remains in silent testimony to what was once a great traction empire.

Update Log 

  • July 17, 2011: Added by J.R. Manning