A portion of the AE&FRE right-of-way is now occupied by the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin. Former AE&FRE car 304, sister to the 301 shown here, has found its way back to its original rails, and you can ride it at the museum. Meanwhile, the Illinois Railway Museum in Union has the largest collection of CA&E cars anywhere.
Historical color pictures are naturally more popular than black-and-white, but are naturally limited to the era when Kodachrome and other slide films were available. Personally, I find there is much to appreciate in these black-and-white photos, which often date to an older era that predates the availability of color. The original negatives were usually larger than 35mm, which means the picture has the potential of being a lot sharper than a slide.
We hope that you will enjoy this trip down memory lane. If these images inspire you to add your own insights or comments, do not hesitate to write to us, either using the “comments” function here, or to:
PS- We thank Don Ross and Don’s Rail Photos for providing much of the information on the history of individual cars via his very comprehensive web site.
#2 – A three-car CA&E train heads west over Union Station, having just left Wells Street Terminal. (B. H. Nichols Photo)
#3 – CA&E freight motor 15 at Wheaton on February 1, 1954. (Arthur B. Johnson Photo)
#4 – Aurora, Elgin & Fox River #49 at Coleman on September 1, 1940, with the Illinois Central overhead. This was one of the earlier CERA fantrips. By then, the line was freight-only, although still operating under wire. (Roy Bruce Photo)
#5 – Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric 301 in 1929. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “301 was built by St Louis Car in 1924, (order) #1308. In 1936 it was sold to CI/SHRT as 301 and to Speedrail in May 1950. It was scrapped in 1952.”
#6 – CA&E snow plow 3 at Wheaton Shops. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “3 was built in the company shops in 1909 as a plow.”
#7 – CA&E 10. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “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.” (James B. M. Johnson Photo)
#8 – Metropolitan West Side Elevated car 800 and train at Glenwood Park on the CA&E Batavia branch on a charter. This car was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 and was renumbered to 2800 in 1913. This photo must predate that renumbering.
#9 -CA&E line car 11. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “11 was built by Brill in 1910, (order) #16483. It was rebuilt to a line car in 1947 and replaced 45. It was acquired by Railway Equipment Leasing & Invenstment Co in 1962 and came to Fox River Trolley Museum in 1984. It was lettered as Fox River & Eastern.
#10 – CA&E 603 at Wheaton on April 2, 1957. Don’s Rail Photos says, “In 1937, the CA&E needed additional equipment. Much was available, but most of the cars suffered from extended lack of maintenance. Finally, 5 coaches were found on the Washington Baltimore & Annapolis which were just the ticket. 35 thru 39, built by Washington Baltimore & Annapolis in 1913, were purchased and remodeled for service as 600 thru 604. The ends were narrowed for service on the El. They had been motors, but came out as control trailers. Other modifications included drawbars, control, etc. A new paint scheme was devised. Blue and grey with red trim and tan roof was adopted from several selections. They entered service between July and October in 1937. “
#11 – Although this is a double exposure, it does show an unnumbered wooden interurban, ex-Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee in Wheaton in 1946. It was part of the 129-144 series, the last passenger cars purchased by CA&E. Don’s Rail Photos says, “In 1936, the CA&E leased 11 surplus cars from the CNS&M. These cars were modified for service by raising the coupler height, installing electric heat instead of the coal-fired hot water heaters, modifying the control, and adding jumper receptacles and other minor fittings to allow them to train with the other CA&E cars. Since these were 50 mile per hour cars, and the CA&E cars wer 60 MPH cars, they were soon operated only in trains of their own kind rather than mixed in with other cars. In 1945 they were returned to the North Shore where they operated briefly. They were purchased in 1946 and last ran in regular service in September, 1953.”
#12 – CA&E 402 at Laramie in March 1946, with CRT 2893 at left. 402 was built by Pullman in 1923 as one of the first steel cars on the CA&E.
#13 – The Chicago & North Western station at Wheaton. CA&E paralleled C&NW in this area and its tracks are off to the left.
#14 – CA&E wood cars 310 and 309 at Batavia station on a May 19, 1957 fantrip. According to Don’s Rail Photos, 309 and 310 were built by Hicks Car Works in 1907 and modernized in October 1941. Car 309 was acquired by the Illinois Railway Museum in 1962.
#15 – Car 134 under a 90 foot stretch of trolley wire at State Road on the Batavia branch on August 31, 1941. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “134 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1907 as Chicago & Milwaukee Electric 134. It was rebuilt in 1914 retired in 1948.” When this picture was taken, this car was being leased by CA&E from the North Shore Line.
#16 – CA&E 453 at Des Plaines Avenue terminal in August 1955. Cars 451-460 were ordered in 1941 but delayed by war. They were built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1945-46 and are considered the last “standard” interurban cars built in the US, although this is a somewhat debatable point.
#17 – CA&E 312 (described as “part steel”) just west of Wheaton in August 1952 on the way to Aurora. This appears to be the same location (Childs Street) as Photo #88 in Part 2 of our recent CA&E Mystery Photos Contest. Randy Hicks: “the lead car is the 309; the train is eastbound.”
#18 – CA&E 318 in Warrenville on a July 4, 1956 fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos says, “318 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It had steel sheating and was modernized in 1944. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Raiway Historical Society in 1962. It was wrecked in transit and the parts were sold to IRM to restore 321.” Randy Hicks: “the second car on this fantrip was the 300. This car was not preserved, but its seats were acquired by North Freedom and are now at IRM.”
#19 – CA&E 422 at Wheaton in February 1952.
#20 – CA&E 406 at State Road on the Batavia branch in 1954.
#21 – CA&E 404 and 453 at Forest Park sometime between 1953 and 1957.
#22 – CA&E 460 at Lakewood in 1954.
#23 – CA&E 10. This car was wrecked on September 10, 1948 so this photo must predate that. Randy Hicks: “the 10 is at the end of the train; the next car is the 320. I doubt this was a fantrip, as I’ve never seen five (or more) cars used for this purpose.”