Larry Sakar, TM, and Speedrail

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don's Rail Photos: "1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952." It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don’s Rail Photos: “1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952.” It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Today, we are featuring some recent correspondence with Larry Sakar, author of the 1991 book Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?. This has long been a collector’s item– try finding a copy at a reasonable price, and you will see what I mean.

Larry has continued his research in the 26 years since this book came out, and has a new book in the works. Larry is very outspoken, and doesn’t pull any punches. Perhaps that is because he knows his subject so well.

Meanwhile, this Wednesday, I sent off the corrected proofs of our own book Chicago Trolleys to the publisher. That means our part in it is now pretty much done, except perhaps for answering any questions that the proofreaders might have. Then it will go to press and the publication date is September 25.

If any of you have ever written a book, you may know that it is something akin to wrestling an alligator. However, now I believe I’ve got the alligator wrestled to the ground, and am very happy with the finished product. Chances are, you will be too.

-David Sadowski

Larry A. Sakar writes:

I just discovered your site and saw the 3 color photos of LVT 1100 & 1102 loaded onto flat cars for the trip to Milwaukee (Odds and Ends, May 5, 2017). The Feb., 1948 date is not correct. Speedrail did not exist in 1948. It began on 9/2/49 after Jay Maeder bought the Waukesha line from Northland Greyhound for $110!

I know because I’m Larry Sakar, author of “Speedrail Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?” published by Interurban Press in 1991.

Cars 1100 & 1102 were purchased sometime in late October by Jay Maeder who went to Allentown for the purpose of buying additional Cincinnati Curved side lightweight cars to go with the 6 purchased by Ed Tennyson, Speedrail’s VP of operations in Sept. 1949 from Shaker Heights Rapid Transit (cars 60-65). SHRT sold Tennyson the 6 cars for $500 each and he leased them back to Speedrail. The sale was supposed to be contingent on Mr. Maeder putting up the additional $2300 for spare parts. Whether or not he did I have never been able to find out.

Maeder paid $750 each for 1100 & 1102 which were supposedly the best 2 of the 4 cars (1100-1103). You are absolutely correct about the refurbishing of 1102 into MRT car 66 which premiered on 3/31/51 and served only for 3 months before Speedrail ended all operations on 6/30/51. As part of the rehabilitation it exchanged trucks with car 64 which was wrecked in the collision with e-TM 1121 serving as Speedrail’s freight motor. That happened just 3 days after the terrible and fatal accident on the NMRA fan trip of 9/2/50. The 3 man crew on 1121 finished switching the C&NW Ry. interchange just south of West Jct. early that day and were in a hurry to get home so they ignored the proper procedure for entering the mainline from the C&NW interchange and smacked into car 64 bashing in a significant portion of the front platform. They did not have to worry about getting home early after that. All 3 were terminated. But it caused Travelers Insurance to pull the plug on Speedrail’s liability insurance because of 2 serious accidents in 3 days and also because Maeder was 6 months behind in paying the premiums. He had used money set aside for insurance to buy Shaker Heights cars 300 & 301! As President and sole stockholder he could do what he wanted. The money was used to buy equipment and not for any personal purposes thus making it perfectly legal but also perfectly stupid!

To the best of my knowledge Maeder never intended to use car 1100 for spare parts. That only happened because it was dead on arrival in Milwaukee and would not run period. 1102 blew a motor on arrival and had to be sent to TMER&T’s Cold Spring shops for repair. Cold Spring was marking up costs by 100%! The small shops facility in the Public Service building terminal could not do major repairs.

I don’t know if you would be interested but I have just completed a new manuscript entitled, “The Complete History of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line from TMER&L to Speedrail.” There are 146 pages of text plus an additional 160 pages of photos and documents. Of these there are 37 pages of color photos.

The money to pay for refurbishing 1102 into 66 came from the sale of 14 surplus ex-TM 1100 series cars to Afram Brothers Scrap Metal Company in Milwaukee. This all took place several months after Bruno V. Bitker the federal bankruptcy trustee dismissed Jay Maeder. The seats put in what became car 66 came from some of those 1100’s. It also switched trucks with the damaged car 64.

I think if Maeder had remained in charge he would never have sold those surplus 1100’s. He had a sentimental attachment to TM which he first discovered in 1926 when he attended St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin for his senior year of high school. Delafield was a stop on the Milwaukee-Watertown line.

Thanks and continue the great work. You have a fantastic website.

Thanks for writing, and also for all this wonderful information. As you are well aware I am sure, the information people write on slides, prints, negs, etc. is not always 100% accurate. I appreciate your corrections.

Lehigh Valley Transit purchased four Cincinnati curved-side cars second-hand in 1938 for the Easton Limited interurban line. Unfortunately, these cars were underpowered, and not really up to the task of working this hilly route. They were sharp-looking cars as LVT renovated them, but could not maintain the schedules of the cars they replaced. So it is no great surprise that by the time Speedrail got two of them in 1949, they were in bad shape.

Larry replied:

Yes, I do know that incorrect info often turns up in both pics and books. My 1991 Speedrail book has errors but when I wrote it in 1988 it was based on the best information I had at the time. I never dreamed that after it came out I’d be contacted by Jay Maeder’s daughter Jane and would be the recipient of several boxes of documents her father left behind. She and her late brother Jay Jr. decided that I should have them as they would never do anything with them. Neither of them knew much about Speedrail other than that their father once “owned a railroad”.

That reminds me. I saw the discussion as to whether Jay Maeder ever lived in Texas. No he didn’t but his daughter Jane Maeder Walsh lives in Houston. And Jay Sr. is survived by a lot of grandchildren. I didn’t know Jay Jr. drew that cartoon but I’m not surprised. He was an authority on the Dick Tracy comic strip having authored two books on the subject. I only spoke to him one time while he was working for the New York Daily News and was writing a column called “Lounge Lizard” which reviewed NYC lounge acts. I’ve had a lot of contact with Jane.

I wanted to scream when I got the last shipment of documents in 2012. At the bottom of the box was a scrapbook – the kind with the brown pages like many of us had as kids where we glued things in with Muselix glue. That’s what I expected to see when I opened it but instead found blank pages. Then I looked again. What he did, David, was rip out newspaper clippings related to Speedrail. Then he’d rip out the date and using a nail like the ones you get with picture hooks, would attach it to the clipping. But instead of placing the clippings on the pages he literally shoved them into the spines of each page. Well, after 60 years as I’m sure you know the newsprint deteriorated and the dates fell off as the paper deteriorated. Newsprint is notorious for that. Consequently, I ended up with about 25 clippings where the event could have happened anytime in the 22 months Speedrail existed.

You’re 100% right that the 9-2-50 accident is still controversial. I would say that in terms of blame 80% goes to Maeder and 20% to Tennyson. The Maeder/Tennyson working relationship had been deteriorating ever since the fall of 1949 when Maeder bought the Local Rapid Transit line (Milwaukee-West Junction-Hales Corners) without ever bringing the matter before the Speedrail Board (such as it was). Tennyson was opposed. He told me that when he went to Cleveland on 9/12/49 and met with Maeder’s Cleveland Attorney, Frank Taplin, Taplin told him, “Ed, whatever you do do not let Jay buy that Local Rapid Transit line. He will lose his shirt!” Tennyson was there to buy the 6 Shaker Heights curved side cars. Anyway, according to what he told me, when he found out what Maeder had done he went to the third member of the board, Oliver A. Grootemaat Speedrail’s general counsel and secretary. He said Grootemaat told him, “Maeder owns all the stock. He can do whatever he wants.!”

As for 9-2-50 Tennyson told me Maeder had asked him to draw up a schedule and rules for the 5 NMRA fan trips which he did. On the morning of 9/2 he discovered the trains were running late and that’s when he called the so-called dispatcher, Joe Bellon at the Public Service Building to find out what was going on. It was then that he found out that Maeder and one of the senior motormen, Gerald Greer had spent the night before drawing up “anticipatory train orders” that required every train to call from every siding. Also, the rules were that photo stops were to be made southbound to Hales Corners only. And anyone who did not come when time was up for the photo stop would be left behind. When Maeder’s train got to Hillcrest loop in Hales Corners the fans asked for a photostop going back to Milwaukee. Maeder should have said “NO” but he went along with it. So Tennyson called Bellon and told him to go back to the original orders where trains were to operate by schedule and timetable and only call if they ran into trouble. Maeder had called from Hillcrest to report they’d be stopping for a photostop northbound but from that point on he wasn’t heard from again. In order to allow the regularly scheduled southbound Hales Corners pass Maeder pulled in to Greenwood Jct., a siding never used which was the connection to the Lakeside Belt Line. It was seldom if ever used and once the M-R-K (Milwaukee-Racine Kenosha Line) was abandoned in Dec. of 1947 it was useless.

As a result of the reversal of orders Equitz assumed Maeder would hold at Oklahoma Ave. for him to pass. Maeder, still operating under his revised orders expected the dispatcher would tell Equitz he’d cleared Maeder’s train all the way to West Jct. The end result was that 10 people were killed because two guys didn’t get along. I do think Maeder went thru a red signal. And I also feel he had no business running the train especially since it was discovered he was color blind. If he’d been familiar with the Nachod signals that should not have made a difference. The position of the lights would have shown if the signal was red or white. Maeder was too occupied by all of the railfans gathered around him and he didn’t give the signal more than a quick glance, something you could not do with Nachod signals.

Maeder made an idiot of himself at the Coroner’s inquest. When the DA asked him why his train was running late he objected. the DA asked why he objected to his train being labeled as late and he replied, “My train was an extra train. Extra trains cannot be late. They can only be behind schedule.” HUH?? What’s the difference? Isn’t being behind schedule being late? He also testified that he and the regular motorman George Wolter weren’t relying on the signals. “They were a help but we weren’t relying on them”, is what he testified. Yes, Maeder was exonerated in court but only because the law on 4th Degree Manslaughter required it to be a deliberate act. I seriously doubt if he would be as lucky today not to mention that he personally would face a ton of lawsuits. And though he was exonerated in court he could and did not fare as well in the one court he could do nothing about, the court of public opinion. Bitker clearly didn’t want him around anymore. Tennyson said Bitker banned Maeder from the property but I don’t know if that’s true.

The Rapid Transit book I’ve completed contains photos you’ve never seen before. One of my sources is John Schoenknecht the head of the Waukesha County Historical Society and he has supplied me with some really great photos.

I see Bill Shapotkin comments quite regularly. I’ve known Bill since 1986. Great guy!

This is all great stuff. Who is publishing your book? I see that Interurbans Press put out your Speedrail volume.

Larry:

Interurbans Press did put out the Speedrail book. They published one or two books after that and went out of business. Mac Sebree, the owner retired and sold the company to video producer PENTREX. PENTREX had no interest in selling or publishing books. They bought Interurban Press for one thing and one thing only – their videos. And even if they were still around I’d be extremely reluctant to deal with them again! At the time they accepted the book they had purchased PTJ Publications which was in Waukesha. PTJ as you may know was the original publisher of Passenger Train Journal.

 In 1988 home computers and the Internet did not exist. But since they had the office in Waukesha I begged and pleaded for them to do the book there even though the normally did all books in Glendale, CA. Mike Schaefer was part of PTJ Publications and he was the person I wanted to edit and layout the book. I pointed out that it would be much easier for all concerned should any problems arise. I couldn’t hop a plane to Glendale, CA.  just like that. I was working. But driving out to Waukesha would be no problem. What I didn’t know until later was that “bad blood” existed between Mike and this Paul Hammond who ran things in Glendale. Interurban Press interpreted my request as taking sides. I was trying to do what I felt would be best especially since I knew Mike knew the subject which the California people did not. Interurban Press refused.

The book was to have been published in 1989 but a tragedy at the Waukesha office delayed it by two years. A young staff member was engaged to be married. Something happened and the engagement was called off. He become despondent and went out to Butler and killed himself by stepping in front of an on-coming C&NW train. Horrible! Anyway they resumed work on it and things seemed to go well from there. I don’t know how it works today but back then you received 3 final drafts. The first two showed the space where the photos would be and the caption but not the actual photo. The final proof was called the blue line. So the blue line arrives in the mail and I absolutely exploded. What was supposed to be a photo of the 9-2-50 Speedrail wreck was a photo of the 8-24-49 Soldiers Home wreck. I probably didn’t even need long distance I was so angry. Their excuse: “Well, we just assumed that the wrecks were one and the same.” YOU ASSUMED?? So I had to quickly run out to Waukesha. They had the Milwaukee Journals for the day of and days after the 9-2-50 wreck. With the space already dedicated we had to choose that really bad picture that appears in the book. It was the only one that fit.

There were any number of other things that happened over those 2-3 years (1988-1991). I can’t tell you how many times they told me they “expected to take a loss” on the book and discouraging things like that. Loss nothing! It sold out all of the first printing in 18 months. I had thought about pitching it to Kalmbach but didn’t think I’d stand much of a chance being an unknown at the time. I was right. In 1999 a couple of years after the video, “Rapid Transit in Milwaukee From TMER&L to Speedrail” was put out by TMER&THS of which I was Secretary and Treasurer we decided to write a companion book to the video. Jack Gervais was co-authoring it with me. He was handling everything up to Speedrail and I was writing from Speedrail to the end. When we finished it in 2000 I tried pitching it to Kalmbach now that I had a book published. They turned it down. They were full of compliments about it being well written and all but felt it was too limited as a subject and would not sell the way a book on a more popular subject like the Milwaukee Road would. Gervais then contacted Larry Plachno. I did not want to deal with him as I’d heard a great deal of negative things about him from Bill Shapotkin. Well we did end up driving all the way to Polo, Illinois only to have Plachno open the binder, look at a few pages and go, “Tsk, Tsk, Tsk! I have a problem with you people already” HUH? “All this quoting. Don’t you know a good historian never quotes. He paraphrases.” I politely took the binder, shut it, said, “Thank you for your time, Mr. Plachno. That may be your philosophy for writing books but it isn’t mine!” In the intro to the new book I address that. I don’t believe in paraphrasing because that puts my interpretation on what was said. I quote and I let my readers decide how to interpret what was said. 

So in terms of a publisher I don’t have one and I’ve no idea of who I could give it to. I’m not looking to make money from this. The Maeder family designated me “Keeper of the Flame” where Speedrail is concerned. They entrusted what Jay left behind because they feel I would know best how to make use of it. I take that both as a compliment and a responsibility to preserve this history. That is my goal, here. Norm Carlson is a perfect example of someone who understands that. I have worked with him quite a few times and enjoyed it. He’s a professional and “First & Fastest” is the high quality publication it is because of his dedication. Browsing thru your site I see much the same thing, David. You obviously have a real feel for preserving this history and those are the type of people I like to work with. I really enjoy the Trolley Dodger site.

The Speedrail book was written as a way to promote TMER&THS Inc. I quit the group 14 years ago so this book has absolutely no connection to them or any other group. I am a member of Shore Line. Norm has been very gracious in publishing my articles. I’m also writing for “Landmark,” the publication of the Waukesha County Historical Society. My goal is to leave behind a historical record so that someday someone can come along and view this history. 

I saw your comment that maybe if things had been just a little different Speedrail might still be around today. Actually, David, sad to say, Speedrail was dead before it began. The following chapters from my book and  a page from a city of Milwaukee subcommittee in March, 1945 will show you what Milwaukee thought of the Rapid Transit. Once the city caught what I call “expressway fever” and they decided the Rapid Transit line west from downtown was the place for the East-West Freeway they stopped at nothing to get it. Maeder owned the track, overhead wire, cars and bridges but not the land on which those tracks sat. That remained Wisconsin Electric Power Co. property. Shaker Heights did not have that problem. Maeder wrongly assumed that Milwaukee would rally to support his efforts to save the Rapid Transit as happened in Shaker Heights. It was the Waukesha riders who rallied to support it. Milwaukee could’ve card less except for Mayor Zeidler, of course. More to follow soon.

The photo I sent you earlier today which shows a guy up on a stage addressing a crowd of people goes with the chapter”The First Public Pledge Meeting.” The date is 6-27-51. The place was Kuney’s dance hall in the Town of Calhoun. I think the man on stage is Edwin Knappe but am not sure. You’ll read about him and the Calhoun Farms Riders Group in the chapter about them. Kuney’s is still there today if you think I should put in a present day picture. There’s nothing special about it. Calhoun Farms was to the north and west of the Calhoun Road stop on the Waukesha line. There’s a historical marker which explains about it and the area of Calhoun which is east of Waukesha. It even mentions the Rapid Transit. I have pictures of that too.

One of the people you’ll see quoted in the Speedrail section fairly often is former Speedrail motorman Don Leistikow. I’d say that at least 50% of what I learned about Speedrail over the years came from Don. I’m attaching his famous “Skunk” story. I think you” get a laugh out of it. Don was quite a story teller. He passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 85 and is sorely missed.

While I never actually met Don L. Leistikow, I did correspond with him a bit, and I almost met him once.  I went out to East Troy onetime and took some pictures, and after I posted them to the web, someone identified him in one of the pictures.  What a nice man.

Larry:

NSL fans may be interested to know that after being vacant for the last 47 years the site of the North Shore’s Harrison St. shops at S. 5th St. and W. Harrison Ave. (remember NSL called it “street” but Harrison is actually an avenue) is finally being redeveloped. Sadly, not for traction purposes. A private charter school whose name I can’t remember is building on the property all the way to where it dead-ends above the KK River and Cleveland Ave. and extending west on Harrison Ave. to the southeast corner of S. 6th St. It’s a huge, multi-story facility. Back in 2005 when I visited the site of the shops with Norm Carlson of the Shore Line interurban Historical Society and Walter Keevil of CERA I noticed that the city of Milwaukee had paved S. 5th St. from the point where the private right-of-way began on the south side of the street all the way to the fence and concrete barrier that mark where the NSL’s bridge over the river began. Let’s face it. Vacant lots do not generate property tax revenue. The dilapidated shops building stood until about 1970. I remember a Milwaukee Journal editorial cartoon and article in 1968 urging its demolition because it presented a bad image of Milwaukee to drivers coming in (northbound) on I-94 which sits below the east end of the property. The school is supposed to open for the fall 2018-2019 semester next year.

I’m sure most NSL fans don’t know this. After the 6th and Michigan station in downtown Milwaukee was razed in May or June of 1964 somebody came up with the ideas of building a tourist tower on the south end of the property at about the point where NSL trains entered and left the elevated platforms that were attached to the south end of the terminal. Here is an artists rendering of what it was going to look like from the Milwaukee Journal of 11-22-64. Of course it ever happened. What did happen was this. In the summer of 1965 the church whose denomination I have forgotten that was on the north side of Wisconsin Ave. between N. 10th & N. 11th Sts. was being forced to move. The entire block on both sides of the street was disappearing, literally. The I-43 freeway was and does cross beneath the “Avenue” at this point. So the church spent almost $2 million to buy the entire 4 square blocks where the NSL station had stood. That encompassed W. Michigan St. on the north. W. Clybourn St. on the south. N. 5th St. on the east and N. 6th St. on the west. The plan was to build the church and some sort of shopping area around it. I say the “plan” because that too never happened. I remember a wooden sign erected on the station site facing W. Michigan St. that said, “Future home of…” and it named the congregation. For the next 33 years the property sat vacant. Then in 1998 Time Insurance Co. which had been located on the corner of N. 5th St. and W. Wells St. downtown built their new corporate headquarters on the site. A check of the Milwaukee city directory shows the building there as of 1998. The Wells St. building was sold to make way for Milwaukee’s first downtown convention center which was called “MECCA – the Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center and Arena.” It was judged as the boxiest and ugliest building ever built in Milwaukee and it too fell to the wrecking ball when the new, and very underused, downtown convention center was constructed along Wisconsin Ave. between N. 4th & N. 6th Sts. Why the church was never built and how Time Insurance acquired the property (sale, foreclosure??) is something I have been unable to find out. The congregation disappears from the Milwaukee city directory in 1966. Perhaps they moved to one of the suburbs or merged with another congregation. If any of the NSL fans know I’d be very interested in the details. Time Insurance has since been thru all kinds of mergers and the building now says Securant Insurance.

In the summer of 1971 I went to the site of Ryan Tower on the abandoned NSL r.o.w. I didn’t drive back then so it meant to very lengthy bus rides from my home on Milwaukee’s northwest side. and a long walk up Ryan Rd. from the end of the Rt. 66 bus line. I knew I was at the right spot when I got to the crossing with the C&NW’s new line. And that was the only way I knew. The NSL was gone with nary a trace. I had to walk a block or so north before I came across the abandoned NSL r.o.w. As I continued north there much to my surprise was the NSL’s Carrollville substation still standing 8 years after the abandonment. I took this picture of it on 8-17-71 using a Polaroid camera I’d gotten for Christmas the previous year. My ANSCO 8-shot box camera took better pictures than that Polaroid! And then you always had the chore of having to spread this smelly fixer on the photo to keep it from curling up. So please forgive the quality of the pictures.

Larry’s Human Interest Stories

I’ll be glad to write this. There are four of them, all involving people who had they been where they had planned to be might not have lived another day.

What I have found in the 52 years I have been studying and researching the Rapid Transit and Speedrail is that fate and coincidence seem to play a major role. For example, take how I got to know Jane Maeder Walsh, Jay’s daughter. In 1991 when the Speedrail book came out she had a daughter who was a student at Carroll College (now University) in Waukesha. Jane was living in Atlanta at the time but decided to come to Waukesha for a visit. While there she decided to go to the Waukesha Public Library and see what she could find out about “the railroad that my father owned.” At first, all the librarian was able to find was a folder containing a few newspaper clippings from the Waukesha Freeman, Waukesha’s daily newspaper. Then she remembered that the library had just received a new book about Speedrail. She gave it to Jane to browse through there since she obviously would not be able to borrow it.

A short time later, on a Saturday morning my phone rang. The lady on the other end asked if I was the person who wrote the Speedrail book. I said I was. She said, “My name is Jane Walsh. I know that name doesn’t mean anything to you until I tell you my maiden name. It is Maeder and Jay Maeder was my father.” I kind of held my breath for a second thinking the next thing I’d hear was that she didn’t like the things Tennyson said about her father and she was going to sue me. Quite to the contrary she wanted to know where she could go to buy copies of the book. I put her in touch with one of the local hobby shops that I knew was carrying it and she bought half a dozen copies for her family. I didn’t hear from her for quite a while after that until the day she and her brother discovered a box of material relating to Speedrail, long forgotten, left behind by her father. She said that she and her brother had no interest in it and asked if I would want it? Are you kidding? Over the course of the next few years they found other boxes of things. She e-mailed Jay Jr. and asked if he wanted it. He replied, “Are we still in touch with that Sakar guy?” Jane said she had talked to me about it and I’d said I wanted it if her brother didn’t. Jay Jr. then replied, “Let’s face it… neither you nor I will ever make anything out of this stuff. I say, let’s make him keeper of the flame. Larry will know what to do with it.” That was a great honor that they had confidence that I could make use of the material.

We still keep in touch by e-mail from time to time. My friend and colleague Chris Barney and I paid to have copies made of that picture of her father walking alongside car 60 flagging it on the inaugural Speedrail fan trip of 10-16-49. We sent them to her and she was thrilled. It’s the only picture she has of her father with “his railroad.”

You might remember that on the 9-2-50 the motorman of the 1192-93 heavy duplex that collided with Maeder’s train (39-40) was LeRoy Equitz. In the fall of 1971, I got a job as a student library aide at the main library in downtown Milwaukee. One night I was sitting in the lunchroom on break with a brother and sister who also worked there. Terry, the brother struck up a conversation with me. “We hear you like trains.” I said, “Well yes. I do like trains but my main interest is streetcars and interurbans.” They had no clue as to what either of those were. Terry said, “Our uncle was a train engineer.” I said, Oh really, where?” He said, “Right here in Milwaukee.” I asked which railroad he worked for, thinking it had to be either the Milwaukee Road or the C&NW. Terry said neither one sounded like the one their uncle had mentioned. I asked when he worked as an engineer and he said, “In the ’50’s.” Then he continued. “Our uncle was involved in an accident and ended up losing a foot because of it.” Suddenly, my curiosity was on high, so to speak.” So I said, “This accident. Could it have been in 1950 itself?” Terry said, “Come to think of it, yes. He did say 1950.” So I continued, “And this accident, could it possibly have been on Labor Day weekend in 1950?” BINGO! He said that it was. That’s when I said, “Don’t tell me your uncle’s name. Let me guess it. Is it LeRoy Equitz?” The brother and sister sat there for a second in amazement. “Yes. How on earth did you know that?” Of course I explained about Speedrail and told them which newspaper and dates to look at if they wanted more information. As I recall, LeRoy was still living but he had moved away some years earlier. I don’t recall to where so I never had an opportunity to talk to him.

You ask yourself what were the odds that I’d end up working with the niece and nephew of LeRoy Equitz. And I have found that to be the case so often in this hobby. So call it fate, destiny, coincidence. There are times when you can’t help but feel this was meant to be.

Thanks for taking the time to write this and your other reminiscences. I’d like to share these with my readers.

Naturally, I won’t use any of the material you sent me from your upcoming book, but is there anything else that you would not want me to run in my blog?

Larry:

Please feel free to use any of the material I’ve sent you for the Trolley Dodger. Anything and everything I write is for the enjoyment and/or information of others. What’s the point of keeping what I’ve learned over the years to myself? That benefits no one!

I saw the piece in The Trolley Dodger on the late Maury Klebolt. From 1983 to 1987 I went out to SFO every September for the Historic Market Street streetcar festival. I used to see Maury at the Market and Duboce storage facility below the former San Francisco mint. He was very involved with that Market Street Railway group. I seem to recall that he acquired a couple of streetcars for them. I wasn’t acquainted with him but had stories about his fan trips from the late Jack Gervais who apparently knew him. Bill Shapotkin also told me some stories about him.

By the way I kind of chuckle every time I see a Joe L. Diaz photo of a CSL “Sedan”. My good friend Dave Stanley knew Joe very well, along with a number of other well-known Chicago fans like the late Bob Gibson. I met both Dave and Bill Shapotkin in 1986. Both Dave and Bill told me Joe would have a fit when someone called those cars “Sedans.” It would provoke an “Ooh, they weren’t called that” response. I knew him by sight but I didn’t actually know him as such. I remember seeing him at CERA meetings in the back of the room selling books. That was back in the days when CERA met at the old Midland Hotel. I believe that’s now called the Blackhawk Hotel. I was a CERA member in the ’90’s but didn’t keep up my membership. Going to meetings meant having to drive to either Kenosha and take METRA which also meant leaving the meeting early to catch the 9:00pm train back to Kenosha and then an 11:00pm one hour drive back to Milwaukee. I never cared for night driving. Then in 2009 I lost all of the sight in my left eye as a result of diabetic retinopathy, which I didn’t know I had until it was too late. Since then I have been advised not to drive at night or on the highway or expressway. I no longer have the necessary depth perception and bright light, especially headlights coming at me blind me. Amtrak experimented with a late night (first 11:00pm then changed to 10:30pm) train to Milwaukee but they never promoted it so the ridership never materialized. Now the last train to Milwaukee leaves Chicago at 8:45pm.

I knew a lot of really nice guys in Chicago all of whom I have not seen nor spoken with in at least 15 years. Bruce Moffat and Ray DeGroote are two who come to mind. I always called Ray the Rick Steeves of the traction world. In any Ray DeGroote program you could always count on a money lesson, a geography lesson and a culture lesson. When I was the program director for TMER&THS from 1989 to 1995, I used to refer to Ray as “our world traveler”. The last time I saw Bruce was on a CERA fan trip on METRA Electric in the ’90’s. Bill Shapotkin was the trip director. At the first photo stop GK wanted a photo with the other car host and myself. Bruce took the picture but to this day I’ve never seen it.

I haven’t seen all of the issues of The Trolley Dodger but here are some Milwaukee streetcar photos from my collection that I think readers might enjoy.

Every now and then you get a photo that really has you stumped trying to figure out where it was taken. That’s what happened with this photo given to me by Bob Genack. I saw the RT 35 Route sign and stupidly assumed this had to be somewhere on the 35th Street route. But what really threw me a curve was the “35th St.” sign in the destination sign box below the big roof Route sign. If this was a northbound car it should have said “Burleigh,” and if southbound “St. Paul”. After puzzling over it I looked it over with a magnifying glass to see if I could detect any business names. And there in the left background was the solution. This is a time exposure so it’s a “ghosted” image. But if you look closely you will see a TM heavy duplex. OK. Now I see what this was all about. This is a TM posed, company photo. The 943 isn’t on 35th St. It’s on Michigan Street. You can’t see it but the Public Service Building is just out of the right hand side of the picture. The duplex is inbound from Sheboygan on N. 3rd St. It will turn left onto Michigan St. go one block east and then turn right onto N. 2nd St. to enter the PSB terminal. Those aren’t passengers standing waiting for the streetcar. They are TM company employees posing for the picture. The 943 looks brand new so I’m thinking this was taken in about 1928 or 1929. OK TM, you fooled me.

Streetcar advertising was a frequent occurrence on TM. But unlike the buses of today where the advertising is put on mylar sheets and then attached to the bus with a heat gun, and it is simply peeled off when the time is up, in streetcar days the car was actually repainted. Here’s one of the all-time classic examples of a repainted Milwaukee streetcar that is from the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. days. M&STC bought TMER&T at the end of 1952 and took over operation of the system on Jan. 1, 1953. They continued to use “The Transport Company” as their shortened name. M&STC lasted until July, 1975 when Milwaukee finally municipalized its transit system when M&STC was purchased by Milwaukee County. That is when the present-day Milwaukee County Transit System was born. But the “Transport Company” name had become so ingrained in the minds of Milwaukeeans that many continued to call it “The Transport Company” for quite some time after the county took over. Now everyone refers to it as MCTS.

Anyway, in 1955, car 943 was chosen to be repainted with a “safety message” from the Milwaukee Safety Commission. Isn’t it a bit ironic that the car advertising safety was involved in an accident downtown at 4th and Wells Streets in a collision with a city garbage truck? I guess the car didn’t heed its own message! The close-up b&w shot was taken at the Farwell Ave. terminal where Rt. 10 streetcars and Rt. 21-North Ave. trolleybuses laid over. The trolley bus service on Rt. 21 North Ave. lasted until 1961 or 1962 when it was converted to diesel bus operation using the new 1500 series GM new look fishbowl buses M&STC had purchased for that purpose. A portion of Rt. 10 east of Jackson & Wells Sts. downtown was eventually abandoned and most of the route from Jackson & Wells Strees east covered by Rt. 30 Sherman Blvd. buses.

Next up are 2 beautiful color photos of 943 in its “safety commission” paint job taken by Don Ross (Don’s Rail Photos. In the close-up shot, the car is on a fan trip at S. 81st St. and W. Greenfield Ave. which was Route 18-National Ave. That line ended at S. 92nd St. & W. Lapham Ave. Before West Junction was rebuilt Rt. 10 cars ran all the way out there via the private right-of-way which continued all the way out there. Prior to the construction of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line between 1925 & 1930, interurbans also used that r.o.w. Today the r.o.w. is still there going west from 92nd & Lapham and is used by We Energies vehicles to get to West Jct. so that the power lines can be serviced. In the second, more distant photo 943 is crossing W. Wisconsin Ave. on the p.r.o.w. that paralleled N. 52nd St. from Wells to the entrance to the Calvary Cemetery cut, later the stop for Milwaukee County Stadium from 1953 to 1957. Streetcars were gone by the opening of the baseball season in 1958.

The TM 900-series streetcars were an updated version of the 800-series built in 1920. The earliest 900’s were identical to the 800’s in all respects except one. The center motorman’s window on an 800 is narrower than on a 900. Other than that there was little if any difference. But by the time the group of cars from 976 seen here at Cold Spring shops to 985 were built, the interiors now had leather seats vs. rattan for all previous cars, and this group of 10 was unique in that they had that sort of visor/sun shield over the center window. One car in this group survives today. Car 978 was saved by former Milwaukeean Al Buetschle on behalf of the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club. They wanted a streetcar for outdoor display in Hart Park which is just to the east of the Wauwatosa end of the No. 10 line at Harwood Ave. and State Streets. Al loved the cars with the front visor and that is why he chose the 978. The car is now the property of the East Troy Electric RR and is currently undergoing an extensive rehabilitation. There is a very involved history of how the car was acquired and what happened to it over the years which I wrote for a fan publication in 1998. Al now lives in Oakley, Ca. a city in Contra Costa, County 60 miles northeast of San Francisco.

As I mentioned the 800’s had a narrower center window than the 900’s. You can see that in this photo of car 870 at the end of Rt. 40 at Kinnickinnic & St. Francis Aves. in St. Francis. The area doesn’t look much different today save for the absence of the streetcar. St. Francis is a suburb of Milwaukee on the southeast side.

Here’s a second shot of an 800 seen at the end of Rt. 11 at Howell & Howard Aves. probably in the 1950’s. Rt. 11 was converted to bus operation in 1956 and was Milwaukee’s second to last streetcar line.

At the start I mentioned “mystery” photos, and to close out here is one such example. I know where this is and I think this is probably in the 20’s or 30’s. What I can’t figure out is what a 600 series car (at least that’s what it looks like with that roof destination sign in the middle) is doing on Rt. 12 – 12th St. or why the destination sign says Center. Center is Center St. which was home to the Rt. 22 streetcar line. Rts. 21 & 22 were some of the earliest conversions from streetcar to trackless trolley. I question the destination because Rt. 12 cars usually operated all the way to 27th & Hopkins Streets. In the late 1920’s a transfer station was constructed here. It was a smaller version of the one at Farwell & North Aves. When Rt. 12 was converted to diesel bus operation the building was torn down and became a parking lot for the nearby A.O. Smith Corp. At last report the streetcar tracks are still in the pavement.

Thanks so much for this and your other recent messages. You have given me plenty of material to work with here. I am sure our readers, especially those in the Milwaukee area, will love reading this.

Who knows, it might even help you find a publisher!

This excerpt from a 1945 Milwaukee freeway report shows how even then, planners intended to take the Rapid Transit Line right-of-way for highway use.  The bottom photo, of course, was a composite.

This excerpt from a 1945 Milwaukee freeway report shows how even then, planners intended to take the Rapid Transit Line right-of-way for highway use.The bottom photo, of course, was a composite.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified this photo. Here, M&DSTC car 943 is going eastbound on the famous Wells Street trolley viaduct on a 1955 fantrip.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified this photo. Here, M&DSTC car 943 is going eastbound on the famous Wells Street trolley viaduct on a 1955 fantrip.

Book Review:

The Street Railways of Grand Rapids
By Carl Bajema and Tom Maas
Bulletin 148 of Central Electric Railfans’ Association*
Hardcover with dust jacket, 304 pages

The authors present a fascinating and very thorough account of street railway service in Grand Rapids, Michigan, covering the years up to 1935, when the system was abandoned in favor of buses. There was quite a variety of service in the area, including horse cars, cable cars, steam dummies, streetcars of various types, and interurbans connecting to other cities such as Holland. The authors coverall these ably and thoroughly.

This book has just been issued in a very limited edition, and chances are it will not be reprinted once the first edition has sold out, which I am sure it will. CERA Bulletins have a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and this book does not disappoint.

Having had a few discussions about this book with Mr. Bajema myself, when it was in its early stages, I can attest that it presented a considerable challenge. After all, Grand Rapids streetcar service ended in 1935, and anyone old enough to have ridden one, and remember it, would be close to 90 years old by now.

Color photography was still in its infancy in 1935. Fortunately, there are ways to add color to such a book, including color postcards, yellowed newspaper clippings, and maps. All these are present in abundance.

Another challenge is the lack of corporate records for the operator. And then, there is the matter of a roster, which is pretty much de rigueur for a book such as this.

Complicating matters, the Grand Rapids system used names for their cars instead of numbers, which makes it very difficult to put forward a complete roster.

The names of all such cars as of 1927 are given. Interestingly, though, the one Grand Rapids photo we have posted on this blog is not included in the book. It shows the F. W. Wurtzburg, named after a local department store. Since this photo probably dates to the 1930s, perhaps the name was applied after 1927.

This book should interest anyone who likes streetcars in general, or lives in Michigan in particular. It is available from the publisher. At 304 pages, it is also somewhat larger than the typical 224-page CERA length.

The general approach the authors have taken here could also be applied to other subjects of a similar vintage, such as the Chicago, Ottawa and Peoria, an Illinois interurban which quit in 1934.

It is somewhat ironic that Grand Rapids was at the forefront of innovation in the 1920s, but just a decade later, was also among the first cities of its size to completely replace streetcars with buses.  But there is a connection– the need to innovate was born out of necessity.

Read the book, and you’ll find out why.

-David Sadowski

The "F. W. Wurtzburg," built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

The “F. W. Wurtzburg,” built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

*Please note that The Trolley Dodger is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

Product Review

This picture shows the lightbox with the light turned off.

This picture shows the lightbox with the light turned off.

Tracing Light box Dbmier A4S USB Powered Light Pad Artcraft Tracing LED Light Board for Drawing, Tracing, Sketching, Animation Active Area 8.27″ X 12.20″

Here is a new product that should interest anyone who works with photographic negatives or transparencies. It is a modern version of a lightbox, using LED technology. It is powered by a USB cord that can connect to a computer. I expect you can get an adapter that will allow you to use AC power. Otherwise, you would be limited to using it in the vicinity of your computer.

In years past, there have been various lightboxes on the market. Some had conventional light bulbs, and others used florescent lighting. All were somewhat problematic and all were also bulkier than this ultra-thin model, which has three levels of brightness and puts out white light (which many of the older lightboxes did not).

The old type lightboxes also put out a lot of heat, which this one does not.  It’s a 21st century solution to a 20th century problem, but better late than never!

It is available for a very attractive price. I highly recommend it, and gain nothing financially if anyone does buy one. I only wish a product like this had been available 30 years ago.

-David Sadowski

Recent Correspondence

Bruce Fastow writes:

Perhaps you can guide me. I own a Johnson fare box similar to the one attached. Can you tell me how I can take the top off so I can clean out the hopper? My kids put paper in the unit.

 

Chances are, one of our readers knows the answer and can help, thanks.

Pre-Order Our New Book Chicago Trolleys

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 221 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans Under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping. Shipping within the US is included in the price. Shipping to Canada is just $5 additional, or $10 elsewhere.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

We are pleased to report that selected images from our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will be available on September 25th in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

street-railwayreview1895-002

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 189th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 305,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

Surface Service

FYI, we recently acquired 41 more copies of Surface Service, the Chicago Surface Lines employee magazine that was published from 1923 to 1947. Here are the front and back covers from these issues. (Back covers are missing from two issues. We will eventually find replacements.)

Surface Service is full of interesting tidbits of information on CSL operations. Many individual employees are mentioned, especially old-timers and retirees. They frequently ran old photos sent in by current or former employees. Back in CSL days, there was no mandatory retirement age, and some employees worked well into their 70s.

There are perhaps 700 pages of material in these 41 issues, and all this is being added to our E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available in our Online Store. This joins 34 issues of Surface Service that we had previously scanned.

In addition, this post features more recent photo finds, and another great batch of classic Chicago Aurora & Elgin pictures courtesy of Jack Bejna.

-Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

We ran this photo some time ago in Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part Seven (February 26, 2016):

CTA 5565 on September 10, 1949. This was known as a Brill-American-Kuhlman car. M. E. writes, "Methinks this photo is at Root St. (4130 South) and Halsted. Under that assumption, the view faces north, the L is the Stock Yards L, and the streetcar is on the 44 Wallace-Racine line, heading from westbound on Root to southbound on Halsted."

CTA 5565 on September 10, 1949. This was known as a Brill-American-Kuhlman car. M. E. writes, “Methinks this photo is at Root St. (4130 South) and Halsted. Under that assumption, the view faces north, the L is the Stock Yards L, and the streetcar is on the 44 Wallace-Racine line, heading from westbound on Root to southbound on Halsted.”

Now we have another picture, taken at the same location:

CSL 5094 is clearly a Wallce-Racine car in this picture, which supports the idea that this is Root and Halsted, with the Stock Yards "L" in the background. Note the old Bowman dailry milk truck at right. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 5094 is clearly a Wallce-Racine car in this picture, which supports the idea that this is Root and Halsted, with the Stock Yards “L” in the background. Note the old Bowman dailry milk truck at right. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

I would say this photo of prewar PCC 4047 was taken circa 1948, when the loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett was brand new. Formerly, double-ended cars ran to Oak Park Avenue a half-mile west of here.

I would say this photo of prewar PCC 4047 was taken circa 1948, when the loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett was brand new. Formerly, double-ended cars ran to Oak Park Avenue a half-mile west of here.

CTA 4019 is westbound on private right-of-way on 63rd Place, near the Narragansett loop. You would hardly recognize the location today, as it is in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood. This prewar PCC, in "tiger stripes," still has a CSL logo on it.

CTA 4019 is westbound on private right-of-way on 63rd Place, near the Narragansett loop. You would hardly recognize the location today, as it is in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood. This prewar PCC, in “tiger stripes,” still has a CSL logo on it.

CTA 4023 at 63rd and Narragansett.

CTA 4023 at 63rd and Narragansett.

CTA postwar PCC 7261 at the west end of the 63rd Street line (63rd Place and Narragansett).

CTA postwar PCC 7261 at the west end of the 63rd Street line (63rd Place and Narragansett).

This picture (and the previous one) appears to have been taken in the latter days of streetcar service on 63rd. By then, most service was provided by red Pullmans, but some two-man postwar PCC cars were there too (such as 7261, seen here). The prewar PCCs had by this time been converted to one-man and were moved over to Cottage Grove.

This picture (and the previous one) appears to have been taken in the latter days of streetcar service on 63rd. By then, most service was provided by red Pullmans, but some two-man postwar PCC cars were there too (such as 7261, seen here). The prewar PCCs had by this time been converted to one-man and were moved over to Cottage Grove.

This picture of South Shore Line cars 25 and 38 at Randolph Street is dated 1954, but an earlier date seems likely as there is no sign of the Prudential Building. Construction began on August 12, 1952, and the building was topped off on November 16, 1954. There was also a large sign advertising Pabst beer, not visible in this picture. Perhaps it had already been removed by the time this picture was taken. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

This picture of South Shore Line cars 25 and 38 at Randolph Street is dated 1954, but an earlier date seems likely as there is no sign of the Prudential Building. Construction began on August 12, 1952, and the building was topped off on November 16, 1954. There was also a large sign advertising Pabst beer, not visible in this picture. Perhaps it had already been removed by the time this picture was taken. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Recent Correspondence

Jack Bejna writes:

Here’s the latest, The Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railway ordered 10 cars to be built by the Niles Car Company in 1906, numbered 300-308 plus a parlor-buffet to be named Florence. CA&E 305 was rebuilt as parlor-buffet 600 in 1929, later rebuilt again and renumbered 436 Florence Florence was rebuilt into parlor car 601 in 1923 no image found. Florence was rebuilt again in 1929 and renumbered 435. Thanks again for your website and all of the interesting stories within.

We are very appreciative of all the great pictures that Mr. Bejna shares with out readers.

Car 600 (ex-305).

Car 600 (ex-305).

Car 436 at the Wheaton Shops (ex-car 600).

Car 436 at the Wheaton Shops (ex-car 600).

Car 435 at Wheaton Shops (ex-parlor car 601).

Car 435 at Wheaton Shops (ex-parlor car 601).

Car 308 (Niles, 1906). This picture looks like it was taken near Laramie on Chicago's west side.

Car 308 (Niles, 1906). This picture looks like it was taken near Laramie on Chicago’s west side.

Car 307 (Niles, 1906).

Car 307 (Niles, 1906).

Car 306 (Niles, 1906) at the Elgin terminal.

Car 306 (Niles, 1906) at the Elgin terminal.

Car 304 (Niles, 1906).

Car 304 (Niles, 1906).

Car 303 (Niles, 1906).

Car 303 (Niles, 1906).

Car 302 (Niles, 1906).

Car 302 (Niles, 1906).

Car 301 (Niles, 1906).

Car 301 (Niles, 1906).

Car 300 (Niles, 1906).

Car 300 (Niles, 1906).

Car 32 (Stephenson, 1902) at Glen Ellyn.

Car 32 (Stephenson, 1902) at Glen Ellyn.

Pre-Order Our New Book Chicago Trolleys

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 221 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping. Shipping within the US is included in the price. Shipping to Canada is just $5 additional, or $10 elsewhere.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

We are pleased to report that selected images from our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will be available on September 25th in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

street-railwayreview1895-002

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 188th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 301,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

Reader Mailbag, 6-25-2017

Outbound Chicago, Aurora & Elgin 460 in Aurora on May 19, 1957. Near the terminal, overhead wire was used instead of third rail. Passenger service only lasted another six weeks before abandonment.

Outbound Chicago, Aurora & Elgin 460 in Aurora on May 19, 1957. Near the terminal, overhead wire was used instead of third rail. Passenger service only lasted another six weeks before abandonment.

A close-up of the previous picture.

A close-up of the previous picture.

The Trolley Dodger mailbag is overflowing this month. We also have some new photographic finds to share with you.

Along with our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys, we are pleased to report there will also be a related item– a pack of 15 postcards, showing selected classic images from the book. This is part of Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America series. More information below.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

CA&E 427 (right) at the Wheaton Shops.

CA&E 427 (right) at the Wheaton Shops.

CA&E 428, an outbound Elgin Limited, passes over Union Station on the Met "L". Looks like this picture was taken from a passing car heading east.

CA&E 428, an outbound Elgin Limited, passes over Union Station on the Met “L”. Looks like this picture was taken from a passing car heading east.

Here, we see CA&E 425 at Glen Ellyn, a photo stop during an early Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip. Notice how everyone is dressed up for the occasion.

Here, we see CA&E 425 at Glen Ellyn, a photo stop during an early Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. Notice how everyone is dressed up for the occasion.

CA&E 459 is at the tail end of a three-car outbound train at Oak Park Avenue on the Garfield "L". The building at right is still there, now fronting the Eisenhower Expressway.

CA&E 459 is at the tail end of a three-car outbound train at Oak Park Avenue on the Garfield “L”. The building at right is still there, now fronting the Eisenhower Expressway.

CA&E 424 at Harlem Avenue on the Garfield "L". Since this station was located on the west side of Harlem, it follows that this car is heading east. Fare control was on the inbound platform only. It, and Harlem Avenue, would be behind the photographer in this view. This area is now taken up by the Eisenhower Expressway.

CA&E 424 at Harlem Avenue on the Garfield “L”. Since this station was located on the west side of Harlem, it follows that this car is heading east. Fare control was on the inbound platform only. It, and Harlem Avenue, would be behind the photographer in this view. This area is now taken up by the Eisenhower Expressway.

Here is a different angle than we are usually used to seeing of the CA&E Wheaton Yards. Cars 315 and 415, among others, are present. On the other hand, Jack Bejna writes: "The photo that you labled a different view of the Wheaton Yards is probably a view of the Laramie Yards taken from a different angle (looking northeast). The crossing is probably Lockwood Avenue and the view is generally toward the tower. Zoom in the image and under the short part of the gate you can see the top half of the tower. In addition, the dark building has 6 short windows and two long windows. The photo I've attached was labled Lockwood Yard and shows the same building as well as the top of a radio tower and a water tower in the background (you can see both in your recent photo)."

Here is a different angle than we are usually used to seeing of the CA&E Wheaton Yards. Cars 315 and 415, among others, are present. On the other hand, Jack Bejna writes: “The photo that you labled a different view of the Wheaton Yards is probably a view of the Laramie Yards taken from a different angle (looking northeast). The crossing is probably Lockwood Avenue and the view is generally toward the tower. Zoom in the image and under the short part of the gate you can see the top half of the tower. In addition, the dark building has 6 short windows and two long windows. The photo I’ve attached was labled Lockwood Yard and shows the same building as well as the top of a radio tower and a water tower in the background (you can see both in your recent photo).”

Here is the photo that Jack Bejna sent us:

Here is Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley (better known as the Laurel Line) car 34 at the Scranton (PA) station on September 21, 1941. Don's Rail Photos says, "34 was built by Osgood-Bradley Car Co in 1924. It was sold to John C Bauman in 1953 and scrapped in 1956." The question has been raised in the past, as to whether the Laurel Line fleet, retired in the early 1950s, could have been any use to the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, which needed to replace their wood cars with steel. It would appear that these cars were too long for the CA&E and would have needed modification. However, such changes had been made in 1937-38 to eight ex-Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis cars, which were renumbered into the 600 and 700-series. What was lacking in 1953, unfortunately, was the will to keep operating and investing money in a railroad that management thought was worth more dead than alive.

Here is Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley (better known as the Laurel Line) car 34 at the Scranton (PA) station on September 21, 1941. Don’s Rail Photos says, “34 was built by Osgood-Bradley Car Co in 1924. It was sold to John C Bauman in 1953 and scrapped in 1956.” The question has been raised in the past, as to whether the Laurel Line fleet, retired in the early 1950s, could have been any use to the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, which needed to replace their wood cars with steel. It would appear that these cars were too long for the CA&E and would have needed modification. However, such changes had been made in 1937-38 to eight ex-Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis cars, which were renumbered into the 600 and 700-series. What was lacking in 1953, unfortunately, was the will to keep operating and investing money in a railroad that management thought was worth more dead than alive.

South Shore Line freight loco 702 in Michigan City on September 5, 1966. It was originally built in 1930 by Alco-General Electric for the New York Central, and came to the South Shore Line in 1955. The 700-series locos were scrapped in 1976. (Photo by Leander)

South Shore Line freight loco 702 in Michigan City on September 5, 1966. It was originally built in 1930 by Alco-General Electric for the New York Central, and came to the South Shore Line in 1955. The 700-series locos were scrapped in 1976. (Photo by Leander)

We posted a New Orleans Public Service photo recently (see Points East, West, and South, May 17, 2017), and here is another. This 1940s shot shows car 438 on Canal Street, when it still had four tracks.

We posted a New Orleans Public Service photo recently (see Points East, West, and South, May 17, 2017), and here is another. This 1940s shot shows car 438 on Canal Street, when it still had four tracks.

Here, we see Lehigh Valley Transit car 1023 at Norristown on May 9, 1950. LVT interurban service to Philadelphia on the Liberty Bell route had been cut back to this point the previous year, and even this truncated version would only last about another year before abandonment. Riders would have changed trains to ride the Philadelphia & Western the rest of the way to the 69th Street Terminal. Through a great coincidence, the man at right has been identified as Ara Mesrobian, who is mentioned elsewhere in this post!

Here, we see Lehigh Valley Transit car 1023 at Norristown on May 9, 1950. LVT interurban service to Philadelphia on the Liberty Bell route had been cut back to this point the previous year, and even this truncated version would only last about another year before abandonment. Riders would have changed trains to ride the Philadelphia & Western the rest of the way to the 69th Street Terminal. Through a great coincidence, the man at right has been identified as Ara Mesrobian, who is mentioned elsewhere in this post!

North Shore Line car 300, during its days as the official club car of Central Electric Railfans' Association, in August 1941. At left is diner 414, which was out of service at the time. It was motorized and returned to service as a coach in 1942.

North Shore Line car 300, during its days as the official club car of Central Electric Railfans’ Association, in August 1941. At left is diner 414, which was out of service at the time. It was motorized and returned to service as a coach in 1942.

North Shore Line city streetcar 359 at Great Lakes. Don's Rail Photos: "359 was built by St Louis Car Co in January 1928, #1453. It was retired in 1949 and scrapped in 1950."

North Shore Line city streetcar 359 at Great Lakes. Don’s Rail Photos: “359 was built by St Louis Car Co in January 1928, #1453. It was retired in 1949 and scrapped in 1950.”

Recent Correspondence

Hagerstown & Frederick car 48 on June 24, 1939. Don's Rail Photos: "48 was built by Brill in 1926. It came from the CG&W (Chambersburg Greencastle & Waynesboro Street Ry.), since they were owned by Potomac Edison, too. It was retired in 1949 and disposition is unknown." (Al Seibel Photo)

Hagerstown & Frederick car 48 on June 24, 1939. Don’s Rail Photos: “48 was built by Brill in 1926. It came from the CG&W (Chambersburg Greencastle & Waynesboro Street Ry.), since they were owned by Potomac Edison, too. It was retired in 1949 and disposition is unknown.” (Al Seibel Photo)

Hagerstown & Frederick combine 172 on September 24, 1939. Don's Rail Photos: "172 was built by Brill in 1921. It was retired in 1954. The disposition is unknown." (Al Seibel Photo)

Hagerstown & Frederick combine 172 on September 24, 1939. Don’s Rail Photos: “172 was built by Brill in 1921. It was retired in 1954. The disposition is unknown.” (Al Seibel Photo)

Kenneth Gear writes:

In that Railroad Record Club paper I scanned and sent to you last week there is a list of books Steventon was selling. One of them, “BLUE RIDGE TROLLEY The Hagerstown & Frederick Railway” By Herbert H. Harwood interested me. I searched online and found a copy for sale and purchased it (at a much higher price than the $10 Steventon was asking).

Many of the photos in the book were taken by Ara Mesrobian. This is the same photographer who took the photos of William Steventon along the H&F in January of 1954. These photos, as you know, were used in the article Steventon wrote for TRACTION & MODELS magazine. Since it is a certainty that Mesrobian and Steventon were together (with several others) while some of the recordings were being made that were included on RRC LP #6, the possibility exists that some of the photographs Ara Mesrobian made at the time may have been used in this book.

Using some clues from the RRC liner notes, the T&M article, and the photo captions in the book, I found a few photos that may very well have been taken at the same time as the sound recordings. I’ve scanned and attached two of them.

The first one shows car # 172 near Lewiston, MD. We know sound recordings were made here because of the T&M photo of Steventon at this location. The photo shows a snowless winter landscape that matches the T&M photo. The date of the photo is not given in the book, but this could be the visual of one of the cuts on side one.

The second photo’s caption does not give the car number but it appears to be car # 172 again. The date is not given but again the winter landscape and weather conditions are not unlike the photos in T&M.

There are a few more photos by Mesrobian in the book that could have been taken during the recording sessions but to me, these two are the most likely. Cars 171 & 172 were the only two H&F cars in operation at the time so all passenger car photos taken in this time frame would be of them.

Pinning down dates would be difficult too. The RRC #6 record label has the years 1953 -55 printed on it so we have this to work from. Steventon was in Washington DC in July of 1953 according to the liner notes of RRC 27. He was recording cars of the Capital Transit, and being that close to the H&F (and that far from Wisconsin) it’s possible he made H&F recordings on that trip. I could not find any photos in the book taken by Mesrobian that look like they may have been taken in midsummer.

Perhaps he did not accompany Steventon on that H&F trip, if indeed Steventon made one. We know he made H&F recordings on January 3, 1954 because the photos in T&M are dated. All passenger service on the H&F ended on February 20, 1954 (Steventon made his recordings just six weeks earlier) so anything recorded in 1955 had to be of the freight motors. Steventon wrote in the liner notes of RRC 6 that the in cab recordings of locomotive #12 were “made on a very cold day in January, with drifts of snow across the rails”. The T&M photos show no snow on the ground and the coat Steventon is wearing does not seem to be very heavy. Additionally he is hatless and not wearing gloves or a scarf. This indicates to me that in all likelihood it was not extremely cold that day. However, there may have been snow at higher elevations. Electric freight operations lasted, according to the book, until “early 1955”. So my guess would be the cab ride in # 12 took place in January of 1955, one year and a month after the end of passenger service.

All of this is just conjecture on my part but it seems reasonable and was a fun exercise.

Another interesting photo in the book is an interior shot of H&F car 172. This is one of the Railroad Record Club photos that you got on eBay! The photo was taken by Steventon himself and it’s a safe bet that he took it at the same time he made the on train recording, where he placed the microphone under the car’s floor, that is band 4 on side 1. Of note, Steventon’s name is spelled incorrectly in the photo credit. He is credited as William A. Stevenson! I’ve scanned and attached the page.

Anyway if you have an interest in the H&F I would recommend this book. There are many used copies available online.

Well that’s how I spent my afternoon today, it sure beat cutting the grass.

This is great detective work on your part.  I will run this in my next post.

Of course, there may have been charters using the passenger cars even after the end of passenger service.

I know someone, now close to 87 years old, who rode one of those late H&F trips.*

The book didn’t have any photos or make any mention of fan trips after the end of regular passenger service, but It can’t be ruled out. It must be remembered that the wires came down in early 1955 so that only left a window of about 12-14 months for any fan trips to have run. Also in the book’s equipment roster it lists both 171 & 172 as having been retired in 1954 but does not give any disposition info. I look for fan trip photos online.

 

As long as the cars were still on the property, they could have been used for fantrip service. As the last operating interurban on the east coast, chances are there would have been a demand for such trips.

I will see what I can find out.

One other fairly interesting thing I thought of today. I watched a documentary about the H&F on Youtube  (I can send the link if you wish), and in the closing credits there was a list of people whose photographs were used for the still frames in the film. One of the photographers listed was Steventon’s friend Bob Crockett. He may have been along on one or more of these recording trips. He also my be one of the people in the T&E photos too. There aren’t any of Crockett’s photos in the book however, and I can’t find any H&F photos of his online.
Also in the acknowledgments of the book Ara Mesrobian is listed and said to live in Washington. He being so close to the H&F I’m sure he made many trips to the property without Steventon.

 

I believe that in 1953 Steventon was working for the Federal government in Washington, D. C., so he wasn’t living in Wisconsin yet. I think he grew up in Illinois, actually.

Good point, I hadn’t thought of that. I just always associate him with being in Wisconsin. You are right about him growing up in Illinois. RRC LP #20 liner notes he says he was born and raised in Mt. Carmel. I didn’t know of his government work, at least I don’t recall having read about it.

 

Pretty sure it is mentioned in that newspaper article about Steventon that I posted some time ago.

I re-read the newspaper article and you are correct, it states he was working in Washington DC in 1953. I overlooked this fact and it may put a little different spin on some of my assumptions as to the dates of the recordings. He could have made the trip easily to the H&F on many occasions during the time he worked for the government, and we don’t know the years he worked in DC.
He was in Wisconsin, and apparently for some years, by the time of the newspaper piece was written in 1958. At any rate, we can be sure of the January 3, 1954 date because we have the T&M photos which are dated. As I said, it was just a fun way to fill a free afternoon and avoid doing yard chores.

 

Thanks!

Tracing the Hagerstown & Frederick:

Howard Sell Films of Hershey Transit and the Hagerstown & Frederick:

C&WT 127 and 104 in Maywood. The grade crossing at rear may be a clue as to the exact location. Don's Rail Photos notes: "104 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948." The 127 looks to be the older of the pair, built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Joe writes: "The photo of C&WT cars 127 and 104 is in Maywood at 19th and Railroad Avenue looking north."

C&WT 127 and 104 in Maywood. The grade crossing at rear may be a clue as to the exact location. Don’s Rail Photos notes: “104 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948.” The 127 looks to be the older of the pair, built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Joe writes: “The photo of C&WT cars 127 and 104 is in Maywood at 19th and Railroad Avenue looking north.”

Bill Shapotkin writes:

In your most recent post (which covers your Chicago Streetcar book), there is this photo (above). Indeed, the pic is in Maywood (just barely). We are looking N/B on 19th Ave from a point just north of St Charles Rd. The Grd Xing is the C&NW (its Melrose Park station is out-of-view to right). Busses of PACE RT #303 continue to operate in 19th, passing this location.

Thanks!

Lou Astrella writes:

I was wondering if you had a picture of the trolley barn/garage that used to be at Division & Oakley in Chicago IL many years ago. Thank you.

I don’t have such a picture at present, but will keep an eye out for one in the future. Probably the best place to look for pictures of the car barn would be in the CSL employee magazine (Surface Service), from around May 1947 when it closed. Unfortunately, I do not have either the May or June 1947 issue in my collection at present. Perhaps the CTA might, however.

Here’s a partial view of it:

Hopefully, our readers may have other pictures to share.

Jack Bejna writes:

I have enjoyed your recent posts as always, and I find myself checking often, hoping to find another of your posts waiting for me. Good work! Here are some images of the second order of CA&E cars, built by Niles in 1905. Car 205 had its motors removed in the late years. Car 209 was rebuilt in 1924 by the company shops from parlor-buffet car Carolyn. The original photo of car 207 was an in-train image that I decide to modify to show the end details better. I spent way too much time on this one but I think the end result looks much better than the original image.

Thanks, Jack, once again for all your incredible work in making these cars look better than ever. I am sure our readers appreciate it as well.

CA&E 201 at Laramie Yard.

CA&E 201 at Laramie Yard.

CA&E 203.

CA&E 203.

CA&E 205.

CA&E 205.

CA&E 207.

CA&E 207.

CA&E 209 at Wheaton Shops in 1924.

CA&E 209 at Wheaton Shops in 1924.

CTA PCC 4384 at Archer and Wentworth.

CTA PCC 4384 at Archer and Wentworth.

Warren Kostelny writes:

I would like to express my satisfaction with your book Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era.**  It is really a great book to enjoy.

Thanks!

Are you planning to publish other books for the other cities that had PCC streetcars?

They say you should write what you know, and while I have learned a lot about Chicago’s PCCs over the years, this doesn’t necessarily carry over to other cities.  I will leave that to people who know those subject much better than I could.  I will always be a Chicagoan at heart.

Meanwhile, I have a new book coming out this September called Chicago Trolleys, via Arcadia Publishing (see below).  Chicago’s PCCs, and the experimental models that preceded them, are an important part of this tome.

I did find some discrepancies.  On page 15 PCC cars #7035-7114 is listed as 90 cars built and delivered.  If you add up the postwar PCCs it comes to 610 built.  It should be only 600 cars.

That is a typo and should say 80 cars.

On page 428, cars #7035-7114 is listed as 80 cars built and delivered.  When you add up postwar PCC cars built and delivered it is 600 cars.  Which is the correct number built?

600 cars– 310 by Pullman, and 290 from St. Louis Car Company.  No doubt the order was too much for either company to build in a timely fashion, so it was split.

Also on page 15, the 4 car lines were to get 182, 150, 171, and 75 PCC cars.  This only adds up to 578.   Where did the other 22 go so it totals 600 cars?

I would expect 22 cars were to be held in reserve to account for down time caused by accidents and mechanical issues. Having a total of 600 cars does not mean you have 600 cars available at all times.

On page 321, the picture is identified as July 1955.  The car is a 1956 Pontiac.  Next year’s new models usually came out in October, November, December.

Your point is well taken.  1955 and 1956 Pontiacs have the same basic body, but slightly different bumpers.  You are correct in noting that the picture shows a 1956 model.

I recall, as a kid, that new car models were introduced during September. So, in some cases, you could have a photo with a 1956 model car that was taken in 1955. This tradition began to fray when Ford introduced the Mustang in April 1964, as a “1964 1/2” model.

1956 license plates have white background and black numerals, which this car has.

You are correct.  Chances are this picture was taken shortly before the end of streetcar service on Western Avenue (June 1956).  In some cases, the information that comes with a photo turns out not to be completely accurate.  We do our best to catch such errors.  Good eye!

I used a similar strategy to help date the photo of the Third Avenue El in our recent post Badgered (June 12, 2017). There, New York used the same plate in 1955 and 1956, but in the latter year, there was a sticker in the upper right hand corner. That helped date the picture to 1955. The type of slide mount on this “red border Kodachrome” also indicated a date no earlier than 1955.

Other 1956 photos which show this are pages 355 bottom, 322 bottom, 319 top and bottom, 309 top and bottom, 195 bottom, and 351 top.

Yes, and in those cases, the photos are correctly identified as 1956.

1955 car plates had black backgrounds and light-colored numerals.  Pages 360 top, 334 top, 337 bottom, and 351 bottom.

And those photos are accurately listed as 1955.

It is a great book and hope there are more books to come on the PCC streetcars.

I’ll settle for partial credit regarding my new book, and hope it meets with your approval.  Meanwhile, I am working hard to ensure that minor errors do not creep into Chicago Trolleys.  Books such as this are full of complexities.  Since humans are not perfect, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the books they create aren’t perfect either.  But we do strive for perfection, naturally. To err is human; to forgive, divine!

A 1956 Pontiac.

A 1956 Pontiac.

The last #36 streetcar, February 16, 1957.

The last #36 streetcar, February 16, 1957.

Meanwhile, shortly after the PCC book was published, I received the following message from our resident South Side expert M. E.:

Yesterday I received B-146 and have been poring over it since then. B-146 is one heck of an achievement. I can only imagine how deteriorated the photos must have been. Your photo editor did a Herculean job restoring the photos.

The late Bradley Criss was an absolute master with Photoshop, a true magician. But instead of waving a magic wand, it took him endless hours of hard work, dedication, and attention to detail to make these pictures look as good as they do. My new book is dedicated to him.

I found a few booboos to tell you about:

(1) On page 38, the map you contend is from 1950. I knew the south side Surface Lines routes pretty well. Most of them are represented accurately in the map. But:

— Your own text, corroborated by Alan Lind’s book, says that streetcar service on Halsted south of 79th St. was eliminated in 1949. Therefore the route to 111th and Sacramento would have disappeared by 1950.

The map in question is correct as of early December 1949, and not 1950. We regret this error.

— Also, Lind’s book says the Halsted-Downtown route was the one that first ran to 111th and Sacramento. But by the late 1940s it was route 8. Lind’s book has a picture of a red streetcar on 111th St. with a destination sign showing route 8. From my personal experience, hanging around 63rd and Halsted as often as I did, I can state it really was route 8. Incidentally, I think the route 8 number itself was a rather late development. I remember destination signs on red streetcars that had no route numbers.

Route numbers were first used internally by CSL for accounting purposes, but gradually became public due to their use with the various Through Routes. So, for example, Lake-State was Through Route 16, and eventually the Lake route itself became 16.

— Also, that map shows route 8 between 79th and 81st Sts. The CTA may have retained trolley wire between 81st and 79th to connect routes 22 and 8/42, but there was no streetcar service south of 79th after 1949.

This map, produced by Dennis McClendon and Chicago Cartographics, is basically a color-coded version of one in a contemporary CTA Annual Report. Presumably their map showed wire between 79th and 81st since it was still there and available for car movements if needed, although not actually used as part of routes 8, 22, or 42.

(2) On page 211, the upper caption has the date October 1958.

That is, of course, a typo since the last car ran in June 1958. Possibly the correct date should be October 1957, based on the automobiles present.

(3) On page 381, the caption says the location is 63rd and Lowe. Not so. The view is facing west, and you can see the spire of the Southtown Theatre. The Southtown Theatre was at 63rd and Lowe, west of the railroad tracks. The true site of this photo is 63rd and Normal Parkway, which was 500 West. How do I know? In the photo is a sign for the 505 Grill. 505 is an address just west of Normal.

I wrote the caption for that photo, and mistakenly put down the cross street for the Southtown (Lowe) instead of the one for the photographer’s location (Normal).

The photo atop page 111 shows the 63rd Place short turn adjacent to the Halsted L station. For your information, the green and white bus belonged to the Suburban Transit System, based in Oak Lawn. Its route, starting at the L station, was north on Halsted to 63rd, west to Morgan St. (1000 west), south to 87th St., east to Vincennes (which at that point was about 900 west), south on Vincennes to 95th St., then west to any of several terminals along 95th St.

Also, there is a glimpse of a red and white bus in the distance. That one belonged to South Suburban Safeway Lines, which ran two routes into Englewood. One was the Harvey bus (currently route 349), which ran north on Halsted to 63rd, west to Western Ave., then south to Blue Island and Harvey. The other was the Chicago Heights/Crete bus (currently route 352), which turned south on Halsted and ran straight to the suburbs.

Thanks for all the great information!

The only other minor errors that I know about in B-146 involve some photos taken in the vicinity of Wrigley Field. These were mistakenly attributed to the late Charles Tauscher instead of Robert Heinlein. We regret this error, and thank Mr. Heinlein for taking such wonderful photographs.

It would be difficult to name a railfan book published within the last 50 years that did not have a few minor errors in it. This would include the legendary Lind book, which is rightfully considered the “gold standard” by which all other Chicago streetcar books should be judged.

I have seen the late Joe Saitta‘s personal copy of the CSL book, which included his own copious handwritten notes, for better or for worse, detailing what he regarded as corrections.  The handwriting was very difficult to read, but there were notations on nearly every page.

-David Sadowski

*Ray DeGroote writes:

Yes, I visited the H&F for a day at Thanksgiving time, 1952. I borrowed a camera from Tom Desnoyers since I did not have my own yet. I rode the line from Frederick, MD to Thurmond, about 20 miles, where the interurban connected with the Western Maryland RR. By that time they were down to just a few trips each day, and the rest of the system had been abandoned.

If there were any fan trips around that time, I did not hear about then. But it is possible either the Baltimore or Washington groups may have arranged something.

**Published in 2015 by Central Electric Railfans’ Association.  The Trolley Dodger blog is not affiliated with CERA.

Pre-Order Our New Book Chicago Trolleys

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 221 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping. Shipping within the US is included in the price. Shipping to Canada is just $5 additional, or $10 elsewhere.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

We are pleased to report that selected images from our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will be available in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

street-railwayreview1895-002

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 187th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 297,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

Our New Book: Chicago Trolleys

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 221 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

How Chicago Trolleys Came To Be

Arcadia Publishing contacted us several months ago, after becoming aware of the work we do on this blog, and asked if we would be interested in authoring a book about Chicago streetcars. This being an exciting prospect, we responded very much in the affirmative.

This would be, by any stretch of the imagination, a very different book than our last project, the color Chicago PCC book. For one thing, with color photographs, you are largely limited to the era from 1940 on. A black-and-white book can cover a much larger time-frame. Great black-and-white photograph have a timeless appeal.

It is possible, although certainly not easy, to tell a cohesive and coherent story largely through pictures and their accompanying text. With Chicago Trolleys, we believe we have succeeded in this, and have created a book that will appeal both to railfans and the general public.

We decided to broaden the scope of our book to include more than simply Chicago streetcars. This gives the book greater variety, but also allows for a more thorough overview of the subject, in the context of local history and development.

Thus, it seemed natural to include the horsecars and cable cars that preceded trolleys, the important suburban streetcar lines, the interurbans that used overhead wire, and even those portions of the Chicago “L” that did the same.

Since the last Chicago streetcar ran in 1958, you would have to be “of a certain age” to remember them. But there are many more people who still fondly recall Chicago’s trolley buses, whose singing wire was an important part of everyday life until 1973. Trolley buses fit in our overall theme of Chicago trolleys, and we have therefore included them.

Our concluding chapter takes a look at ongoing efforts to preserve past transit history, for the benefit of future generations.

When we were putting this book together, our challenge was not what to include, but what to leave out. There are so many great Chicago-area photographs that the process of distilling them down to an acceptable number was quite difficult.

While there may be some subjects where finding enough photographs of good quality is difficult, the opposite is true for Chicago traction. There is an embarrassment of riches.

We had, as a starting point, our own extensive collections of images. We reviewed thousands of images for possible inclusion, creating detailed lists of potential candidates, which we pored over, debated and rearranged for months.

Gradually, all the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle began to fall into place. The narrative gradually found its own form, just as a river finds its own course.  This “winnowing-down” process helped distill our narrative into a potent brew.

We are especially proud of the chapter on how the various transit agencies did their patriotic duty, and supported the war effort during World War II.

We are indebted to other collectors and photographers for sharing their images with us. They say that “no man is an island,” and that is certainly true when putting together a book such as this.

The text for the introduction and captions went through several revisions, including a “peer review.” We are fortunate to have an excellent editor, whose assistance has greatly improved the book in various ways.

Not wanting to duplicate the work of previous publications, we went out of our way to avoid, if at all possible, using images that have already appeared in other books. The great majority of images in the book are appearing between covers for the first time.

In addition, a large number of pictures were sourced from original camera negative or slides in our possession. Many of these are larger than 35mm and hence of greater sharpness and clarity.

Chicago Trolleys represents an investment of several thousand dollars in original research. There is no guarantee, of course, that we can recoup this investment, but we hope to do so, if only for the sake of funding research for future books. We have an idea for our next book, but naturally much depends on the success of this one.

Chicago Trolleys is now available for pre-order. Other booksellers are already doing the same. Since we have a responsibility to help promote the book, we might as well join in.

Books will be shipped on or about September 25th. Each copy will be signed by the author, unless otherwise specified by the buyer at the time of purchase. We are offering free shipping on copies sent to US addresses. Books will be shipped in the order they are purchased, so why not reserve your copy today.

We hope that you will enjoy it.

-David Sadowski

Pre-Order Chicago Trolleys

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping. Shipping within the US is included in the price. Shipping to Canada is just $5 additional, or $10 elsewhere.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

street-railwayreview1895-002

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 186th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 295,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

Badgered

Chicago, South Shore & South Bend car 30 was built in 1926 by Pullman, and retired in the early 1980s. It, and several of its sister cars, are an important part of East Troy's fleet.

Chicago, South Shore & South Bend car 30 was built in 1926 by Pullman, and retired in the early 1980s. It, and several of its sister cars, are an important part of East Troy’s fleet.

There’s plenty of traction action going on nowadays in Wisconsin, the Badger State. We just spent an eventful weekend checking it out.

On Friday, we stopped by Kenosha for a ride on their two-mile streetcar loop. 4616, the Cincinnati tribute car, was out on the line that day.

On Saturday, I spent some time in Milwaukee, where track construction on Phase 1 of their new modern streetcar line is well underway. A few blocks of track are already in place on St. Paul Street.

The 2.5 mile-long line begins near the Milwaukee Intermodal Station (Amtrak), and heads east into the historic Third Ward. It will cross the Milwaukee River, but as of this writing no work has been done to add tracks to the existing bridge on St. Paul.

From the Third Ward, home of the Milwaukee Public Market, the line heads north into the Lower East Side, via two one-way routes, before turning north and east to its initial terminus at Burns Commons.

Here is a map showing the planned lines. Cars will be stored underneath nearby highway 94.

This is the first time I have seen new streetcar construction. I’m used to seeing decades-old tracks, long buried under asphalt, being torn out. The idea that this line will be completed sometime within the next two years is an exciting prospect.

Here is a recently discovered video, showing the final day of service on Route 10, Milwaukee’s last streetcar line, on March 1, 1958:

On Sunday, we headed out to the East Troy Electric Railroad, to ride on the last remaining original interurban trackage in Wisconsin.

South Shore Line car 30, which is one that was never lengthened and modernized, was out that day, as was Twin cities Rapid Transit 1583. The two 4000s are out of service and being worked on, as are the two Milwaukee cars.

We rode 1583 last year (see our previous post Badger Traction, 2016).

This was our first time riding a South Shore Line car at East Troy, and they seem to do quite well there. The South Shore cars, which were capable of high speeds, used 1500 volt DC current on their home tracks, but now have to make do with just 600. This is not a problem, as top speed on this demonstration railroad is about 15-20 mph.

The South Shore cars are wider than the line was designed for, which means tighter clearances with the line poles. If you do travel there, be sure not to stick anything out the windows.

While tourist trolleys and railroad museums are important and deserve your support, I for one will be glad when Wisconsonites will be able to use a streetcar for its original intended purpose, which is to get from one place to another.

-David Sadowski

Don's Rail Photos: "4616 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1950, #1674, and completed by Canadian Car & Foundry in 1951, #1912, as TTC 4515, Class A8. It was rebuilt in 1991 as 4616, Class A15. It was sold to Vintage Electric Streetcar Co in 1996 and sold to KTL as 4616. It was painted in a Cincinnati Street Ry scheme."

Don’s Rail Photos: “4616 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1950, #1674, and completed by Canadian Car & Foundry in 1951, #1912, as TTC 4515, Class A8. It was rebuilt in 1991 as 4616, Class A15. It was sold to Vintage Electric Streetcar Co in 1996 and sold to KTL as 4616. It was painted in a Cincinnati Street Ry scheme.”

At left, the Milwaukee Intermodal Station.

At left, the Milwaukee Intermodal Station.

This was originally a smoking compartment.

This was originally a smoking compartment.

Car 30 still has its original mahogany wood, unlike the South Shore cars that were lengthened and modernized in the 1940s.

Car 30 still has its original mahogany wood, unlike the South Shore cars that were lengthened and modernized in the 1940s.

Recent Finds

This August marks 50 years since my first trip to Boston. This picture of MBTA 3295 was taken on Beacon Street on August 31, 1967, and shows the PCCs just as I remember them from that time. (Frederick F. Marder Photo)

This August marks 50 years since my first trip to Boston. This picture of MBTA 3295 was taken on Beacon Street on August 31, 1967, and shows the PCCs just as I remember them from that time. (Frederick F. Marder Photo)

Chicago Missouri & Western GP 40 3025, as it looked on September 5, 1987. If the CM&W logo looks surprisingly familiar, that's because it was copied from the CA&E. All of which should be no surprise, as the Venango River folks, who owned the South shore Line at that time, were involved. In fact, it was taking on this railroad that proved their undoing. (Bruno Berzins Photo)

Chicago Missouri & Western GP 40 3025, as it looked on September 5, 1987. If the CM&W logo looks surprisingly familiar, that’s because it was copied from the CA&E. All of which should be no surprise, as the Venango River folks, who owned the South shore Line at that time, were involved. In fact, it was taking on this railroad that proved their undoing. (Bruno Berzins Photo)

Here is a very interesting streetscape. It shows one of the old Third Avenue El stations in the Bowery, Manhattan in 1955, possibly after the line closed on May 12. Those two convertibles are Fords.

Here is a very interesting streetscape. It shows one of the old Third Avenue El stations in the Bowery, Manhattan in 1955, possibly after the line closed on May 12. Those two convertibles are Fords.

This is indeed a rare and historic photo. By comparison with a postcard view on Don Ross' web site, taken at exactly the same time, we can say with certainty that this shows Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria freight loco 25 pulling some coaches into Princeton, Illinois on July 31, 1908. This was the first CO&P train to this area.

This is indeed a rare and historic photo. By comparison with a postcard view on Don Ross’ web site, taken at exactly the same time, we can say with certainty that this shows Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria freight loco 25 pulling some coaches into Princeton, Illinois on July 31, 1908. This was the first CO&P train to this area.

Interior shots from long ago are fairly rare. This one shows Shaker Heights Rapid Transit PCC 42 in May 1967. Don's Rail Photos says, "42 was built by St. Louis Car in 1946, #1655, as SLPS 1767. It was sold as SHRT 42 in 1959 and converted to MU operation after purchase."

Interior shots from long ago are fairly rare. This one shows Shaker Heights Rapid Transit PCC 42 in May 1967. Don’s Rail Photos says, “42 was built by St. Louis Car in 1946, #1655, as SLPS 1767. It was sold as SHRT 42 in 1959 and converted to MU operation after purchase.”

Old-time railfanning was, unfortunately, often a series of "lasts." Here we see DC Transit 1101 at the Peace Monument in front of the Capitol building on January 27, 1962, the last day of service. Streetcars have since returned to Washington, D. C.

Old-time railfanning was, unfortunately, often a series of “lasts.” Here we see DC Transit 1101 at the Peace Monument in front of the Capitol building on January 27, 1962, the last day of service. Streetcars have since returned to Washington, D. C.

Here is a northbound five-car North Shore Line train at Great Lakes on December 30, 1951, with 706 at the rear.

Here is a northbound five-car North Shore Line train at Great Lakes on December 30, 1951, with 706 at the rear.

Chicago, Aurora & Elgin woods 317 and 316 went to the end of the line on the Batavia branch on an Illini Railroad Club fantrip on October 16, 1955.

Chicago, Aurora & Elgin woods 317 and 316 went to the end of the line on the Batavia branch on an Illini Railroad Club fantrip on October 16, 1955.

North Shore Line 733 is at Chicago Avenue on the "L" in June 1953.

North Shore Line 733 is at Chicago Avenue on the “L” in June 1953.

CA&E caboose 1001 at Wheaton, February 21, 1959. This was just prior to the end of freight service on the railroad. Passenger service ended on July 3, 1957, except for a few charters.

CA&E caboose 1001 at Wheaton, February 21, 1959. This was just prior to the end of freight service on the railroad. Passenger service ended on July 3, 1957, except for a few charters.

CTA trolley bus 9440, northbound on Lake Park at 56th, in October 1958. Trolley bus service ended on the 51st-55th route on June 21, 1959, exactly one year after the last Chicago streetcar ran. This was the beginning of a 14-year phase out of electric bus service.

CTA trolley bus 9440, northbound on Lake Park at 56th, in October 1958. Trolley bus service ended on the 51st-55th route on June 21, 1959, exactly one year after the last Chicago streetcar ran. This was the beginning of a 14-year phase out of electric bus service.

Recent Correspondence

Jack Bejna writes:

The Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railway started operations with 8 motors and 2 trailers built by the Niles Car Company in 1902, and 16 motors and 5 trailers built by the John Stephenson Car Company, also in 1902. Here are images of the Stephenson cars except for: CA&E 32 (rebuilt to flat car 1936), CA&E 40 (retired 1911), CA&E 50 (no image found), CA&E 58 (burned 1911).

Thanks for the CA&E photos!

Great stuff, as always.

Jack replies:

My plan is to eventually provide you with as complete a photographic record of the CA&E roster that you may use as you see fit. As I find new images that are worthy of your wonderful site I will provide them to you. The latest group of the original Stephenson order is missing a few of the cars that either were off the roster early or were not photographed much. Car 38 is, of course, the only car that was converted to rectangular end windows so I created an image that highlights the windows.

Thanks for the last two posts of The Trolley Dodger; both of them present a huge amount of information, images, etc., of properties that disappeared many years ago but still live thanks to your continuing efforts!

Good job!!

Chicago Trolleys

Work continues on our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys, which is now in the layout and proofreading stage. The expected publication date is September 25th of this year. We will keep you advised as things progress.

street-railwayreview1895-002

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 185th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 293,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

Chicago’s “L” Turns 125

Chicago’s famous “L” service first began on June 6, 1892, 125 years ago. The Chicago Transit Authority celebrated that anniversary this Tuesday with two special trains going around the Loop. A lucky few also received a commemorative poster (see above).

The event was well publicized. By the time I got to Clark and Lake around noon, there were hundreds of people waiting to ride historic cars 4271 and 4273, which were built in 1923. There was another train of 2400-series cars, which were retired a few years ago, but a lot fewer people were riding them.

In fact, some riders tried to board them without even realizing they were historic cars. They look very similar to current equipment.

This reminded me of stores I have heard about late 1950s streetcar fantrips here in Chicago. Although red cars were last used in regular service in 1954, they were such a familiar sight to Chicagoans that some tried to board the fantrip cars without realizing these type of cars were no longer being used.

On the way downtown via the Blue Line, I noticed a freight train running on the B&OCT, a rare occurrence nowadays. I also saw a work train, where a flatcar was being hauled by six 2400s. Using retired equipment in work service is a practice railroads have done for a long time.

When the CTA retired the last 4000s in 1973, only two cars were kept. In retrospect, it would have been preferable to have saved more, as evidenced by the large crowds yesterday. But at least something was saved.

Unfortunately, when the iconic 6000s were retired in the 1990s, none were retained as historic cars. The same is true of the 2200s, the last series with “blinker doors.” To see examples of these cars, you will need to visit a trolley museum.

I was one of the lucky few who snagged a poster, but there was no way I could get on the 4000s train at Clark and Lake. So I rode a few stops down, got some pictures, and crowded into the train, which had a “crush load.”

4271-4272 are part of a series of 455 “L” cars built between 1913 and 1924. In their time, they were “state of the art,” and provided good service for about 50 years.

To me, the best part of the 4000s is the gear noise they make when accelerating. While I did not shoot any video yesterday, figuring many other people would fill that gap, I did make some audio recordings, which I hope to post at a future date.

After riding to LaSalle and Van Buren, I got off for some more pictures, before riding the 2400s back to Clark and Lake. A fine, if crowded, time was had by all.

-David Sadowski

A rare freight on the B&OCT in Oak Park.

A rare freight on the B&OCT in Oak Park.

Clark and Lake.

Clark and Lake.

Hundreds attempt to board the special train at Clark and Lake.

Hundreds attempt to board the special train at Clark and Lake.

Clark and Lake.

Clark and Lake.

Clark and Lake.

Clark and Lake.

Between Clark and State.

Between Clark and State.

Randolph and Wabash.

Randolph and Wabash.

Randolph and Wabash.

Randolph and Wabash.

The interior of 4271.

The interior of 4271.

LaSalle and Van Buren.

LaSalle and Van Buren.

The 2400s train.

The 2400s train.

An out of service train passes while we wait for the 4000s.

An out of service train passes while we wait for the 4000s.

4000s between Library and LaSalle.

4000s between Library and LaSalle.

4000s between Library and LaSalle.

4000s between Library and LaSalle.

LaSalle and Van Buren.

LaSalle and Van Buren.

2400s interior.

2400s interior.

2400s at Clark and Lake.

2400s at Clark and Lake.

Riders on the historic train also received vintage paper transfers, which are no longer in use.

Riders on the historic train also received vintage paper transfers, which are no longer in use.

Omnibus Society Trolley Bus Fantrips, 1972-73

North Avenue at the Kennedy Expressway, April 1, 1973.

North Avenue at the Kennedy Expressway, April 1, 1973.

Here are some photos from the last Chicago trolley bus fantrips, sponsored by the Omnibus Society of America. The April 1, 1973 trip took place one week after the last regular trolley bus runs on the CTA. Immediately after this trip, the last two trolley buses to run in Chicago were towed to the Illinois Railway Museum, which now has an operating trolley bus loop. The buses used were all built by Marmon-Herrington.

According to one of the participants on the April 1, 1973 trip, in the week since regular TB service had quit, wires were already removed from a short stretch on North Avenue, near the Kennedy Expressway. Chances are, this was done to provide trucks with greater clearance.

Central at North, northbound, December 3, 1972.

Central at North, northbound, December 3, 1972.

Belmont at Nagle westbound, December 3, 1972.

Belmont at Nagle westbound, December 3, 1972.

Belmont at Kimball eastbound, December 3, 1972.

Belmont at Kimball eastbound, December 3, 1972.

Pulaski at Diversey southbound, December 3, 1972.

Pulaski at Diversey southbound, December 3, 1972.

Belmont at Cumberland, eastbound, December 3, 1972.

Belmont at Cumberland, eastbound, December 3, 1972.

Belmont at Cumberland, eastbound, December 3, 1972.

Belmont at Cumberland, eastbound, December 3, 1972.

Central Avenue at North Avenue, northbound, December 3, 1972.

Central Avenue at North Avenue, northbound, December 3, 1972.

Pulaski Road, April 1, 1973.

Pulaski Road, April 1, 1973.

Pulaski Road, April 1, 1973.

Pulaski Road, April 1, 1973.

Pulaski Road at Diversey, with the old Marshall Fields man-made waterfall in the background, December 3, 1972.

Pulaski Road at Diversey, with the old Marshall Fields man-made waterfall in the background, December 3, 1972.

Central at North Avenue, December 3, 1972.

Central at North Avenue, December 3, 1972.

North and Narragansett, eastbound, April 1, 1973.

North and Narragansett, eastbound, April 1, 1973.

Wires down, at the Kennedy Expressway, April 1, 1973.

Wires down, at the Kennedy Expressway, April 1, 1973.

Fullerton at Parkside, April 1, 1973. This bus turnaround has since been removed.

Fullerton at Parkside, April 1, 1973. This bus turnaround has since been removed.

Belmont at Kimball westbound, April 1, 1973.

Belmont at Kimball westbound, April 1, 1973.

Fullerton at Orchard, westbound, April 1, 1973.

Fullerton at Orchard, westbound, April 1, 1973.

Fullerton at Orchard, westbound, April 1, 1973.

Fullerton at Orchard, westbound, April 1, 1973.

Fullerton Avenue eastbound, April 1, 1973.

Fullerton Avenue eastbound, April 1, 1973.

Chicago Trolleys

Work continues on our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys, which is now in the layout and proofreading stage. The expected publication date is September 25th of this year. We will keep you advised as things progress.

street-railwayreview1895-002

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 184th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 291,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

Remembering Truman Hefner (1926-2017)

This picture was taken prior to September 20, 1953, looking east from the old DesPlaines Avenue station. The eastbound CA&E train is about to cross the B&O, a source of many delays. Due to expressway construction in the city, the CA&E stopped running east of here, and a new terminal facility was constructed to the west of this one, where riders could switch to CTA trains for the trip downtown. (Truman Hefner Photo)

This picture was taken prior to September 20, 1953, looking east from the old DesPlaines Avenue station. The eastbound CA&E train is about to cross the B&O, a source of many delays. Due to expressway construction in the city, the CA&E stopped running east of here, and a new terminal facility was constructed to the west of this one, where riders could switch to CTA trains for the trip downtown. (Truman Hefner Photo)

Recent Correspondence

Stewart Odell writes:

I’m hoping you can help clarify something for me.  A dear family friend of many years passed this weekend in OKC. In searching his official obit I have come across a reference to him in your August 2015 blog. Truman Hefner was from Cook County and lived with his family for many years in OKC, where I met him.

I’m trying to determine how he might have come to be mentioned in your column. The coincidence of 1) his birthplace- 2) His name and- 3) the fact that he was a miniature railroad enthusiast to the point where he built a miniature railroad in his back yard for his children and the neighborhood kids to enjoy, is uncanny to me. It only follows that he might have also been an amateur photographer.

Truman also traveled the state of Oklahoma (and probably the country) pursuing his enthusiasm for both miniature and full-size rail systems and their history.

Have you any idea how the lone reference on your site may have come to be? Not a show-stopper, just sentimental, and interested. Meanwhile, I’ve discovered your amazing site.

Thanks for writing. I am very sorry to hear that Truman Hefner has passed away.

I knew him as one of the very best railfan photographers, whose work has been widely distributed, including any number of books. When I was involved with putting together Central Electric Railfans’ Association bulletin 146, we used several of his color images of Chicago PCC streetcars.

I spoke to him on the phone several times, and he was always very cheerful, upbeat, enthusiastic, and generous.

In September 2014, when CERA held an event called the Chicago Streetcar Pictorial Round Table, we invited him to attend. He bought a plane ticket, but unfortunately there was some sort of computer problem at O’Hare that day that prevented flights from arriving or departing.

Still, he did participate in the meeting by telephone. At the time, he was about 88 or 89 years old.

He told me that he only took railfan photos for a few years, and described his camera to me. It was made in Germany and had an excellent quality lens. He still had the camera, but said it was no longer working.

I would imagine he was excited about the prospect of streetcars returning to Oklahoma City.

My sincere condolences go out to his family.

He’s mentioned in four of my blog posts.
The one titled CA&E Mystery Photos Answers – Part 1 has an image of his in it, taken from an original slide in my collection. The very first picture in the post titled The CTA, the CA&E, and “Political Influence” is Mr. Hefner’s.

He is also mentioned in a few posts on the blog I did before this one. That was in connection to the Chicago Streetcar Pictorial Round Table. For that event, I designed a poster that featured a photo of Mr. Hefner’s. It shows a Chicago PCC at the Museum Loop near Soldier Field, and was taken on April 26, 1951, the day that Gen. Douglas MacArthur spoke to a large crowd there.

From his Legacy remembrance page:

Truman Dale Hefner

October 24, 1926 – May 21, 2017

Truman passed away at his home in Oklahoma City. He was born in Lexington, Illinois to parents, Guy and Ferne Hefner. Most of his early life was in Berwyn, Illinois, where after graduating high school in 1944, he enlisted in the Air Force. He was called into the service in 1945, and was discharged at the end of the war. Truman continued his military service with the Air Force Reserves and reached the rank of first lieutenant. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and went on to work for Motorola and Eureka Williams before transferring to Oklahoma City in 1958 to work for Western Electric where he remained until his retirement in 1989.

Truman’s lifelong interest in trains sparked his other interest of photography. He loved to travel with family and friends, always taking pictures and movies of their journeys. The 1/8 scale model train hobby was his true passion. He enjoyed traveling near and far visiting many club and friend’s tracks. He was one of the founding members of the Locomotive Operators of Central Oklahoma, a member of the Oklahoma Railroad Museum and many more railroad clubs over the years. Truman and his partner, Jim Murray, started a business, Cannonball, to supply hobbyists with railroad equipment.

Truman is survived by his wife of 69 years, Vera (Hoch) Hefner; daughters Trudy Hefner, Nancy and Herb Conley, Susan Carey and Marshall Lee, Barbara and Philo Hatch; daughter-in-law Ellyn Novak Hefner; 9 grandchildren; 6 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Anna Mae Meyer and his only son Jimmy Hefner.

Truman Hefner took many great pictures with a German Karomat camera similar to this one, which has a high-quality Schneider lens.

Truman Hefner took many great pictures with a German Karomat camera similar to this one, which has a high-quality Schneider lens.

CA&E 453 in a winter scene. Here, we are looking east from Halsted. (Truman Hefner Photo)

CA&E 453 in a winter scene. Here, we are looking east from Halsted. (Truman Hefner Photo)

CTA 586 at Milwaukee and Canal on route 56 in October 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)

CTA 586 at Milwaukee and Canal on route 56 in October 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)

This was perhaps Truman Hefner's best-known photograph. Please note, the Trolley Dodger blog is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans' Association.

This was perhaps Truman Hefner’s best-known photograph. Please note, the Trolley Dodger blog is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

I found two videos showing Mr. Hefner and his miniature railroad train.

Over the Years at Mexican Hat (the C&IG RR from April 1986 to May 2009) by Truman Hefner

Over the Years at Zuni by Truman Hefner

He will be missed by everyone in the railfan community.

Genevieve Heydt writes:

Dear Trolley Dodger,
While working on a group history project with some friends, I stumbled upon your website while tracking some train cars from the AE&FRE line that was shut down during the Great Depression and had some questions regarding some of these lines and what was going on with them in certain periods because I struggled to find answers myself online. I noticed a trend of cars being sold from CI/SHRT to Speedrail in 1950 to Speedrail and then being scrapped in 1952. Regarding these trends, I was wondering if you had any information or speculations around these events.

If you could, a response between now and Thursday night would be appreciated because we present on Friday and I would love to learn more before we present.

Thank you,
Genevieve Heydt
Sophomore of the Gifted Academy in Elgin Highschool

Thank you for writing.

To answer your question, it helps to know the history of the various properties involved.

The AE&FRE halted passenger service in 1935, so all their rolling stock would have been put up for sale. Lighweight interurban cars 300-304 and 306 (not sure what happened to 305, perhaps it was involved in a wreck or used for parts) were sold to the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit line, which still exists in Cleveland.

These fine cars (built by St. Louis Car Co.) were just over 10 years old at the time and were well suited for use on the SHRT, which was by then completely grade-separated and did not run in traffic on city streets at all.

SHRT also bought a half-dozen lightweight interurban cars of another type, known as “Cincinnati curved-side cars.” These were built by the Cincinnati Car Co. in 1928-29 and were a popular style, used by many properties across the country.

Between 1947 and 1953, SHRT modernized its fleet by purchasing PCC streetcars, which had become the industry standard. Some were bought new, and others second-hand.

Having newer equipment meant they no longer needed some of these older cars, which were put up for sale. By this time, streetcars and interurbans were getting to be fewer and fewer, and the market for such vehicles was shrinking.

The last new PCC car was built in 1952. It was nearly 25 years before another new American streetcar was built.

Meanwhile, in the Milwaukee area, the once mighty Milwaukee Electric interurban was in decline. Parts were abandoned and replaced by buses. By 1949, the last remaining segment, running from Milwaukee to Waukesha, was sold to Jay Maeder, who renamed it Speedrail.

As much as possible, he wanted to replace their heavyweight equipment with lighter cars that would use less electricity. Speedrail bought several of the Cincinnati curved-side cars from SHRT, and a couple from Lehigh Valley Transit.

These were refurbished and continued in use until 1951, when Speedrail shut down in the aftermath of a horrific head-on collision in which several people were killed. A heavy car struck a lighter one on a fantrip, with Jay Maeder at the controls.

The Speedrail cars were put up for sale, but there were no buyers and all were cut up for scrap in 1952.

In 1954, SHRT sold six cars (300-304, 306) to Gerald E. Brookins, a developer who had built a trailer park in the Cleveland suburbs. He built a streetcar line in this development to take people back and forth from their trailers to his general store.

This development was called Trolleyville, USA and continued in use for many years. The first car ran in 1963.

You could consider this something akin to an operating museum for trolleys.

After Mr. Brookins died, his family kept Trolleyville going for some time, but eventually decided to sell the trailer park. There was an attempt to create a museum operation that would run on the SHRT, and some of the Trolleyville cars did actually operate there briefly, but ultimately the plans came to naught and all their collection was sold to various trolley museums at an auction.

Fortunately, AE&FRE car 304 was purchased by the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin, so it now operates on a small portion of its original tracks.

I have posted pictures of AE&FRE equipment on my blog, including passenger cars in service, and electric freight operations in South Elgin after 1935.

I hope this helps.

Good luck with your presentation.

PS- One of my posts has several pictures from Trolleyville USA.

Jack Bejna has shared more of his wonderful restoration work with us. This time, the pictures feature Chicago, Aurora & Elgin cars built by the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. in 1902.

From Don’s Rail Photos:

Niles Cars 10 thru 28 even

These 10 motor cars were built by Niles Car & Mfg Co. in 1902 and were part of the original stock. 10 was rebuilt with a baggage compartment in 1910. It was later removed, but then reinstalled in April 1933 for funeral service. It was wrecked September 10, 1948, and scrapped. 12 was modernized in April 1940 and retired in 1955. 14 was modernized in December 1939 and retired in 1955. 16 was modernized in December 1939 and retired in 1959. 18 was modernized in March 1941 and retired in 1955. 20 is preserved at the R.E.L.I.C. museum at South Elgin. 22 was wrecked on October 12, 1911, at Waller Avenue, and scrapped. 24 was modernized in July 1943 and retired in 1959. 26 was modernized in June 1943 and retired in 1959. 28 was modernized at an unknown date and retired in 1959.

10 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was rebuilt with a baggage compartment in 1910. It was later removed, but then reinstalled in April 1933 for funeral service. It was wrecked September 10, 1948, and scrapped.

CA&E Car 10 and trailer 5, CERA fantrip #12, August 6, 1939.

CA&E Car 10 and trailer 5, CERA fantrip #12, August 6, 1939.

CA&E Car 12.

CA&E Car 12.

CA&E Car 14.

CA&E Car 14.

CA&E Car 16.

CA&E Car 16.

CA&E Car 18.

CA&E Car 18.

CA&E Car 20.

CA&E Car 20.

CA&E Car 24.

CA&E Car 24.

CA&E Car 26.

CA&E Car 26.

CA&E Car 28 west of DesPlaines Avenue.

CA&E Car 28 west of DesPlaines Avenue.

Joe Kaczynski writes:

Hello David,

I was going thru some things and found the attached photo that I had gotten on E-Bay several years ago. It’s the West Town neighborhood where I grew up. I was born in ’57 and sadly missed the streetcar era. But fondly recall the Marmon-Herrington trolley buses that ran in their place until 1967.

In all probability the photo was taken from the Chicago Ave. El platform on the old Logan Square Line. It’s a westbound streetcar on Route #66 Chicago Ave., just having crossed Paulina St.

On the rear of the photo is written:

“CTA 3165
Chicago-Paulina
8-27-50
T.H. Desnoyers”

I don’t recall ever seeing this photo on your website.

Thanks! Thomas H. Desnoyers (1928-1977) took many great photographs, but unfortunately died before his time.

CTA 3165 at Chicago and Paulina, August 27, 1950. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo)

CTA 3165 at Chicago and Paulina, August 27, 1950. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo)

On a personal note, since this is Memorial Day, I thought I would share a blog post written about my uncle, Frank Sadowski, Jr. (1921-1945). The “Bobbie” mentioned there is my father, Edmund Robert Sadowski (1924-1996). Both served their country during World War II. My aunt Margaret (1922-2004), who drove an ambulance during the war, is also mentioned.

-David Sadowski

Chicago Trolleys

Work continues on our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys, which is now in the layout and proofreading stage. The expected publication date is September 25th of this year. We will keep you advised as things progress.

street-railwayreview1895-002

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 183rd post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 288,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.