This post features many great contributions from our readers that we hope you will enjoy. Our sincere thanks go out to Larry Sakar, Miles Beitler, Jack Bejna, Jeffrey Haertlein, Kathryn Boyer, and Mitch Markovitz.
PS- Happy 88th birthday to two of my uncles, Raymond and Robert Wakefield, fraternal twins born September 10, 1930. They are my late mother’s younger brothers.
I hope they each have a wonderful day.
According to my mother’s memoirs, they were both first day riders on the new Chicago subway, which opened on October 17, 1943, nearly 75 years ago. My new book Building Chicago’s Subways, which will be released on October 1st, tells the story of how this came to be.
Larry Sakar writes:
Recently you asked if car 66 was the used for the last run to Hales Corners and back on MRT’s (Speedrail) last day, 6-30-51. As I said, the 66 did make at least one round trip to Hales Corners that day. The first photo I am attaching shows it westbound at 85th St. The water tower in the background is at N. 84th St. The 84th St. stop on the Rapid Transit Line was adjacent to it. The tower is still there today. No trace of the station or the right of way exists. Car 66 would be adjacent to the present day Honey Creek business park which would be at right.
As I also mentioned car 63 made the last round trip to Hales Corners and back shortly before midnight. Here we see it earlier in the evening of 6-30-51. In the second photo the motorman has just called for orders at the call in booth you see at right It was adjacent to the West Jct. stop just beyond the platform on the single track .
In the last photo car 63 has turned on Hillcrest loop and is laying over before returning to Milwaukee. Note some of photographer Robert Townley’s equipment sitting on the platform. The poor motorman looks rather forlorn. As of tomorrow 7-1-51 he will be unemployed.
The Hales Corners station was located on the southeast corner of Highway 100 (S.108th St.) and W. Janesville Rd. (Hwy. 24). The northbound curb lane of Highway 100 now occupies the former r.o.w. Except for the power lines, no traces of the line can be found today. The Hales Corners loop which was located about a half mile or so southwest of the station is now the site of a Menards store. For anyone unfamiliar with Menards, it’s a home improvement chain like Home Depot.
These photos and others including the last round trip to Waukesha were taken by Robert Townley. His capture of Speedrail’s last day were somewhat of an unplanned event. Remember this was during the height of the Korean War and guys were being drafted or were enlisting. Bob had enlisted in the Navy in order to avoid being drafted into the Army. His enlistment point was somewhere south of Chicago but definitely not Great Lakes Naval Training Station. I have forgotten where he said it was located.
Anyway, Bob was in Council Bluffs, Iowa taking pictures of whatever traction system they had in that city. He happened to overhear a couple of railfans mention that the next day 6-30-51 was Speedrail’s last. He had planned to visit Milwaukee later on, but now that Speedrail was about to shut down it became a priority. The next day he boarded a bus for Peoria, Illinois where he caught the Rock Island’s Peoria Rocket for Chicago. Upon arriving in Chicago in the afternoon he made his way to the Adams & Wabash “L” station where he took the next North Shore train to Milwaukee. He arrived in the late afternoon and headed from the NSL station at 6th & Michigan to the Public Service Building. He rode the trip to Hales Corners you see photographed. I’m sure he took either a Hales Corners local or a West Jct. train and got off at 84th St. which is how he was able to capture car 66 bound for Hales Corners.
One other interesting coincidence. Bob, who is from Columbia, CA. (that’s in Gold Rush country east of Sacramento) met up with another Milwaukee traction fan/photographer – Don Ross! It was while both men were serving in Korea. Small world!
I mentioned the Hales Corners station site at Highway 100 & Janesville Rd. I took the attached photo around 1995 but it really doesn’t look much different today. You are looking north along Highway 100. The curb lane is where the TM r.o.w. would have been.
The station stood right in front of the traffic light you see center right. Janesville Rd. was only a two lane highway in the days of TM and Speedrail. Where you see the car on the right edge of the photo there was only grass. Where you see the two cars across from it was the extent of Janesville Rd. back then. None of the buildings behind those two cars were there then either. The grassy median you see dividing the north and south lanes of Highway 100 was also not there back then. The highway consisted of the lane where you see the dark colored car passing the second light pole on the left, and the lanes on the other side of that median.
Today there is no transit service to this area. At one time MCTS Rt 28-Highway 100 did go all the way to Hales Corners. Subsequent budget cuts saw it cut back to the MCTS Hales Corners Park ‘n’ Ride lot which ironically is not in Hales Corners!
For anyone confused, highway 100 goes by three different names, depending what part of it you’re traveling on. It is S. 108th St. to the point that south streets end and north streets begin. Then, it’s technically N. 108th St. It is Highway 100 from Franklin which is south of Hales Corners to Wauwatosa and Brown Deer. At that point, Highway 100 becomes an east-west and it is also known as Brown Deer Rd. On the far south side, it also turns to running east-west and it is Ryan Rd., the same Ryan Rd. crossed by the North Shore Line (but way, way east in the suburb of Oak Creek). The idea was to make it a sort of belt line highway around Milwaukee. Want more confusion? Through parts of Wauwatosa, it is also known as Lovers Lane Rd.
PS- Here are three additional pictures of the TM Watertown line abandoned r.o.w. from the point where street running in Oconomowoc ended and the p.r.o.w. heading for Watertown began. The one looking east to where eastbound trains entered the street on Oconomowoc’s west side was taken to try and match the picture of the same spot on p.261 of the TM book. I took these in the summer of 1976.
Miles Beitler writes:
Here are a couple of Chicago and North Western photos that I took in the late 1970s or early 1980s at the old Dee Road station in Park Ridge. The old station was torn down and moved one block west some time in the 1990s. (Editor’s note: Bill Wulfert says the new station was dedicated in 2006- see his Comment below.)
I located a few more photos but unfortunately only one has a locomotive in view. The rest only show tracks or stations. I’ll keep looking — maybe I can find more.
The two Metra photos show the Amtrak/Milwaukee District tracks approaching Union Station. The photo of the Lake Street L was taken near Lake and Des Plaines on the near west side. All of these photos were taken circa March 2001.
The shots of the downtown Des Plaines C&NW station are late 1970s (pre-Metra) and although no trains are shown, the photos show the tracks running through the station as well as two buses (one Nortran and the second RTA) across the street. Both bus operators later were merged into the PACE suburban bus system.
Jack Bejna writes:
In my continuing search for CA&E photos and information I came across this interesting item from the John Stephenson Company describing quite a ride with brand new CA&E Car 32.
Here is another batch of Michigan photos. I believe these photos were taken circa 1921 as they were in the notebooks containing DUR photographs used for an audit for an upcoming fare increase request.
These photos don’t include the location where they were taken, and again, since I’m not familiar with Michigan towns and cities, I don’t have any idea where the pictures were taken, with some exceptions. It is interesting that many non-DUR photos were in the notebooks; perhaps the photographer was a railfan!
As far as I know the DUR triple car 5000 was unique, and it was used to accommodate large numbers of Ford employees at shift change.
The Benton Harbor & St Joseph photos are not the best but I’ve included several shots taken in winter. As you can see, the BH&StJ served the Graham & Morton Steamship Lines, but the steamship business was not enough to maintain the line and it quit in the mid-thirties.
I hope that readers of your fine blog may help to identify locations of some of the photographs.
Detroit United Railway
Benton Harbor & St Joseph Railway
Jeffrey Haertlein writes:
The Wisconsin Dells MINIRAMA was an O scale layout in operation as a tourist attraction from 1960 thru 1969. It was a great train layout, one in which I marveled at for decades, even after it closed.
Long story short, after many years I was able to purchase quite a bit of it starting in 2005. It was sold to a guy in Milwaukee (130 mi.), and now a good amount of it is only 15 miles away from where it started.
I’ll attach a few pictures of the attraction. Sure wish I could find more of it.
Kathryn Boyer writes:
I am an art historian, and I am trying to find someone who knows enough about trains of the 1930s to help with some specific information related to the Edward Hopper painting Compartment C, Car 193, painted in 1938. (See above.)
After looking at some websites and a YouTube clip with John Smatlak, it seems as though the painting rather accurately presents many of the features of a McKeever Pullman Sleeper. The lamp in the corner does not seem to correspond to any of the images I’ve seen, but the other elements are fairly similar.
I was wondering if someone is able to pinpoint more specifically
– the train(s)/cars that this image most closely represents
– when it was first made
– how long it was out in circulation
-and what do you notice in the painting that deviates from actuality?
That is, basic information about the train/car.
But I’m also wondering if you know if there is a place to seek out information about facts such as
– how much would a ticket on this train/in this car cost (including the sleeping berth)?
Also, are you aware of any information put together or research done on the profiles of passengers of this era, for example, the number of men and women and their socio-economic status.
I appreciate any leads or directions as well as photos and documents that you can provide.
I am no expert on Pullman sleepers, but let’s hope some of our readers can help you out, thanks.
I posted this picture to Facebook, and this led to some discussion with Mitch Markovitz. He is an accomplished artist who has been researching both Edward Hopper and the Pullman Company for the last 60 years. Here is what Mitch has to say:
As a railroad historian, and with Edward Hopper’s work having a great influence on my own i can say this. Hopper would never fly anywhere. His wife, Josephine, complained that on trips he spent much time in railroad yards painting engines. He has several great works that include Pullman equipment including “Pennsylvania Morning.” In most of his works his model was his wife. This is just your standard Pullman section sleeper of the time. Once during one of his only TV interviews he was on a Sunday morning program on Boston Public Television being interviewed by Brian O’Dougherity. Brian asked Hopper, “We noticed you came up to Boston by train today (instead of flying.) Isn’t that a bit old fashioned?” Hopper looked down for a moment, thought, and then replied, “No. It isn’t. I just didn’t feel like dying this morning.”
The art historian wants to know what the factual basis is for the painting, whether the artist made any changes… how much a train ticket would have cost, and the socio-economic status of train travelers in the 1930s.
The factual basis would be one of Hopper’s many trips by rail in a standard sleeping car. This accommodation, the section, was the least expensive one available. Used by people of middle income. This type of car would have had one or two “drawing rooms” at one end. More expensive priced accommodations for people that expected more privacy. A traveler in a section sleeper would have to use a general washroom at each end of the car for both shaving and brushing of teeth in the morning, and for the other prerequisites. Traveling salesmen used sections a lot. A traveler would pay the first class railroad fare, and then the appropriate Pullman accommodation fare in a separate ticket between the two stations. If one were to travel on a premiere train and desired a shower and the services of a barber they were available in the club car, front of the train. Please keep asking questions, I’m happy to answer.
Is this something that the average person could afford back then?
In general yes. But during the depression it would depend on the definition of “average.” In this era we saw the rise of the “All coach train.” The section sleeper was the bottom of services. If one were to travel on say the “Twentieth Century Limited,” with a premium schedule, a premium dining car, and a barber shop with a shower one would pay the rail fare, the Pullman accommodation fare, and then, on top an “extra fare,” which in today’s dollars would be an additional $100 or so. A successful artist who lived in a 4th floor walk-up apartment, and had a small cottage on Martha’s Vineyard could afford this accommodation. (Hopper was cheap by the way.)
“Pennsylvania Hotel,” 20″x30″ Pastel on sand paper, 1989. One of my works that people compare to those of Hopper.
The car depicted would be of heavyweight construction before streamliners. Into the late 1930s all private rooms began to rise in popularity aboard streamlined (modern) trains. Pictured below is a standard Pullman sleeper. There were the Pullman Manufacturing Company, who built many types of railroad cars, and “The PULLMAN Company,” who owned, operated, and maintained sleeping, parlor, lounge, and restaurant cars. Both companies were part of Pullman Inc.
Thanks… did Hopper, in this painting, change anything in the interior of the sleeping car for artistic license?
Everything seen is correct. Including the interior color. The only thing I could mention is the lamp. The shade would have had a golden yellow-orange color to it on a brass or bronze colored fixture.
Hopper also took an interest in cars and trains. It is a pity he didn’t live long into the jet age, though we sense his shadow in many contemporary works. The artist was drawn to the introspective mood that travelling seems to put us into. He captured the atmosphere in half-empty carriages making their way across a landscape: the silence that reigns inside while the wheels beat in rhythm against the rails outside, the dreaminess fostered by the noise and the view from the windows – a dreaminess in which we seem to stand outside our normal selves and have access to thoughts and memories that may not emerge in more settled circumstances. The woman in Hopper’s Compartment C Car 1938 seems in such a frame of mind, reading her book and shifting her gaze between the carriage and the view.
Hopper’s people give the impression of being people attempting to escape something. They are involved in themselves and cannot seem to get their lives straight. They escape the society of others, and would like to escape themselves. They are not really at home anywhere, neither in a room nor outside, neither at work nor at play, neither alone nor with others. That is why they are on the move. Their home is a train station, a highway restaurant, a gas station, a hotel or motel, a train compartment, a snack bar, a theater foyer, a movie house.
They are going somewhere without being able to arrive. They have personality traits that seem mutually exclusive. They are mobile and restless, yet statically tied to some location from which they will probably never escape.
Our thanks to everyone else who contributed to this post. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
Here are a few pictures we have recently acquired.
New Steam Audio CD:
Farewell To Steam
Mister D’s Machine
# of Discs – 1
Farewell To Steam
On February 6, 1955 the Santa Fe Railway ran a railfan train from Los Angeles to Barstow and back for the Railway Club of Southern California. This was Santa Fe’s last run powered by a steam locomotive over this route. The engine was a 4-8-4, #3759. We have used the original, rare 1955 mono version of this recording, and not the later 1958 reissue that had a bunch of echo added to create a fake stereo effect.
Mister D’s Machine
When diesel locomotives replaced steam in the 1950s, they offered a multitude of different sounds. This original 1963 stereo recording showcases the many sounds of diesels on the San Joaquin and Los Angeles Divisions of the Southern Pacific, including the Tahachappi Loop, an engineering feat that made modern railroading famous.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 72:56
Pre-Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways
There are three subway anniversaries this year in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.
While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960
Building Chicago’s Subways will be published on October 1, 2018. Order your copy today, and it will be shipped on or about that date. All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.
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