CA&E #20 in May 1957


Today’s post is from guest contributor William Barber:

As a 14 year old, I had the pleasure of riding the CA&E with my late father in May, 1957 on a Illini Railroad Club fan trip. At that time, the CA&E terminated at the Forest Park loop where our fan trip started. We covered the entire railroad from there to Wheaton, Elgin, Batavia and Aurora. We started with car #459 and would have used it for the entire trip except for a mishap that occurred while we were traveling up the Mt. Carmel Branch along Mannheim. One of the third rail shoes struck a pile of gravel in the stone quarry and was damaged. We were able to operate to Wheaton with one shoe, but the Railroad decided that we should change cars there. This was a fine turn of events and significantly improved the trip for most of the passengers. The replacement car was no. 20. My dad took a number of slide photos during that trip. Unfortunately, I have only scanned one so far. I believe it was taken at Prince Crossing on the Elgin branch.

Hopefully, someone else will respond who was on the same trip. I would like to hear from them. I am guessing that there were probably 40 people on that trip.

Car 20 is preserved today at the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin, Illinois, and is still in operable condition, even though it is now 113 years old.

12 thoughts on “CA&E #20 in May 1957

  1. I am not sure that is Prince Crossing. There is no Sidwell Studio building there. My dad worked there for many years.

  2. Obviously, I have the location incorrect. Prince Crossing is on the Elgin branch and would have been third rail. Since it is under wire and the track appears to be maintained to a lesser level than CA&E mainline rail, I suspect that this photo was taken along a portion of the Batavia Branch. At that time, there were a crossing at Glenwood Park (Rt. 25), Hart Road, Wagner Road, State Road and Bilter Road. I don’t recall where the wire ended on the Batavia Branch, but the photo may have been taken at one of these locations. It is not Rt. 25 as even in those days, that was a more prominent crossing. My recollection is that this was a rather remote location. I would certainly like to know the exact location.

      • It is not State Road as there was a single crossing gate there along with crossing lights. There was also a passenger shelter there with a semophore and a signal there to indicate a passenger waiting. There is a 1947 photo of car no. 142 at State Rd. in the softcover book by James D. Johnson, titled Aurora ‘N’ Elgin, published in 1965. That photo shows a two lane road and paved crossing.

  3. That photo had me tearing out what is left of my hair. Consensus has it narrowed down to the Batavia branch. It couldn’t be State Road, as it’s a paved state highway with crossing gate protection. The other flag stops mentioned are all in third rail territory. State highway 25 passes over the railroad. The other stretch under wire extends from north of Glenwood Park to the Wilson Street terminal. A Google map of Batavia doesn’t clearly identify a crossing of the current trail. Finally, I located a very similar photo on page 117 of Volume I of the Plachno CA&E series. It is from the Daniel Frizane collection and identified as being “between the power house siding and Batavia station”.

    • Thank you, George. Do you have any way of posting the photo you have in the Plachno series? Maybe photograph it with a smart phone camera. It would be interesting to see another view of the crossing.

      • The location is roughly a quarter mile south of the end of track. It’s not really a road, just the entrance to the park at the south end of the Three Islands. I don’t know a better way of identifying it, but I could easily drive there and take a picture of the same location today if somebody paid me enough. 🙂

  4. I have a better explanation: If Chestnut St. in Batavia is projected west to the river, this crossing is just slightly south of there. Hope that helps.

  5. Randall – I know exactly where you are talking about. To my knowledge, this very could well be the Batavia Branch, however, I cannot be certain. I could see this being the Batavia Branch for a few, small, key details. One is that yes, there is overhead wire, which by the time this fan trip would have occurred, Batavia would have switched over to Overhead Wire from Batavia Terminus to Glenwood Park. The second is that there was a crossing to get into Clark Island Recreational back in those days. There was an entrance to the islands on the east side, meaning there had to be a crossing. With the parking lot in the back of your photo, it makes me skeptical, but the map I’m going off of is from 1945 (here is a copy if you want, its ll overhead photography, which is cool to see from this time period – ) and Clark Island may not have had a car lot at that time. I’m not saying it is Clark Island, but you could have made a valiant point. Hope this helps, despite this news being four or five years too late.

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