More Historic Chicago Buses

A lineup of CSL trolley buses purchased in 1937 from Brill. The location probably Central and Avondale, now the site of the Kennedy expressway.

A lineup of CSL trolley buses purchased in 1937 from Brill. The location probably Central and Avondale, now the site of the Kennedy expressway.

We generally don’t feature buses on this blog, since our main interest is in streetcars, light rail, and electric rail transit. But we do get requests to post more bus photos, and we are fortunate to have some excellent ones to show you today, thanks to the incredible generosity of George Trapp. Mr. Trapp has been collecting these type of pictures for nearly the last 50 years, and we thank him for sharing them with us.

We featured some of Mr. Trapp’s PCC pictures in our last post, and there will be several more such posts to come in the near future. Watch this space for more great Chicago PCC pictures.

From 1930 to 1947, the Chicago Surface Lines had an operating philosophy called “Balanced Transit,” whereby streetcars were for the ehaviest lines, trolley buses for the medium-sized routes, and gas or diesel buses for the lightest lines. Trolley buses were first used on new routes that went into the northwest side of Chicago, which was then developing rapidly.

There had been a competition between CSL and the Chicago Motor Coach Company to see which firm would get these routes, and CSL won out. While it may be that their intention was to eventually convert trolley bus lines to streetcar once they had developed sufficient ridership, in actual practice, this never happened.

The Chicago Transit Authority took over from CSL on October 1, 1947, and converted some additional streetcar lines to trolley bus. But the last such vehicles were purchased circa 1951 and by 1959, one year after streetcar service ended in Chicago, began a gradual phase-out of trolley buses in Chicago. The last one ran in 1973.

A 1951 CTA consultant’s report, the full text of which is included in out E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story (available in our Online Store), recommended that the agency not purchase any more electric vehicles, due to the cost of electric power purchased fro Commonwealth Edison. A 1954 study by CTA Board member Werner W. Schroeder (which is also included in our E-book) said that trolley buses were the most profitable vehicles used by the CTA, but explained this away by saying they were being used on the cream of the routes.

During the 1950s, CTA’s preferred type of surface vehicle was the propane-powered bus. Propane was very cheap for most of the decade, but by 1960 costs had risen to the point where there was no cost advantage over diesels. There were many operational problems with propane buses, which were underpowered, sluggish, and had difficulty maintaining schedules. There were also a few spectacular fires and explosions involving propane.

The propane vs. diesel debate prompted a rare public spat between Chicago Transit Board members, which was settled when the CTA began purchasing GM diesel buses in 1961. The heyday of the propane bus, once the CTA’s darling, proved to be much shorter and less successful than that of the trolley bus (aka trolley coach or trackless trolley), which was fast, quiet, efficient, and very popular with the riding public.

Trolley buses are still being used in a half dozen North American cities, more than 40 years after Chicago stopped using them. Today, the only electric buses on the CTA system are a couple of battery-powered ones recently put into use.

Most of today’s pictures feature buses purchased by the Chicago Surface Lines prior to the 1947 CTA takeover.

As always, if you have any interesting tidbits of information to share about the photos you see here, don’t hesitate to let us know, either by making a comment on this post, or by dropping us a line to:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

Thanks.

-David Sadowski

PS- Today (September 30th), The Trolley Dodger blog reaches another milestone with 75,000 page views, and has been read by over 22,000 individuals. We thank you for your continued support.

CTA trolley bus 116.

CTA trolley bus 116.

CSL 1602. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 1602. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 6518. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 6518. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CTA 6615 and 6622.

CTA 6615 and 6622.

CTA 6410.

CTA 6410.

CTA 6830 - March 1951. (Chicago Transit Authority Photo)

CTA 6830 – March 1951. (Chicago Transit Authority Photo)

CSL 6410, a General Motors gas bus from the 6401-6410 series, on March 5, 1944.

CSL 6410, a General Motors gas bus from the 6401-6410 series, on March 5, 1944.

CSL 448. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 448. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CTA 6206, a GM gas bus, built in 1942, in March 1951. The photo caption says that one bus in this series, #6306, was a diesel, used on 115th Street. Andre Kristopans adds, "In March 1951 CTA sent a photographer out to shoot exteriors and interiors of every bus and trolley bus series in the city. Most of the GM/Yellows were at Beverly Garage at the time. The 6200 photo caption is a bit incorrect. The 6201-6220 series were gas TG-3205’s, while the 6301-6306 were indeed diesels, TG-3605’s, one window and four seats longer." (Chicago Transit Authority Photo)

CTA 6206, a GM gas bus, built in 1942, in March 1951. The photo caption says that one bus in this series, #6306, was a diesel, used on 115th Street. Andre Kristopans adds, “In March 1951 CTA sent a photographer out to shoot exteriors and interiors of every bus and trolley bus series in the city. Most of the GM/Yellows were at Beverly Garage at the time. The 6200 photo caption is a bit incorrect. The 6201-6220 series were gas TG-3205’s, while the 6301-6306 were indeed diesels, TG-3605’s, one window and four seats longer.” (Chicago Transit Authority Photo)

CSL 3444. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 3444. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

White-built CSL bus 3426 in 1945. (CSL Photo)

White-built CSL bus 3426 in 1945. (CSL Photo)

An ACF builder's photo of CSL 507. (Railway Negative Exchange)

An ACF builder’s photo of CSL 507. (Railway Negative Exchange)

CSL 506, an ACF gas bus, in 1935.

CSL 506, an ACF gas bus, in 1935.

CTA 9763, dubbed the "Queen Mary" by fans, was an experimental articulated bus that was converted to a trolley coach. It is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CTA 9763, dubbed the “Queen Mary” by fans, was an experimental articulated bus that was converted to a trolley coach. It is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

A CTA trolley bus used on route 80 - Irving Park.

A CTA trolley bus used on route 80 – Irving Park.

CTA trolley bus 192, signed for route 72 - North Avenue.

CTA trolley bus 192, signed for route 72 – North Avenue.

CSL trolley bus 198.

CSL trolley bus 198.

CSL trolley bus 184. Interestingly, a sign on the front urges people to ride streetcars for short and long trips. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL trolley bus 184. Interestingly, a sign on the front urges people to ride streetcars for short and long trips. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CTA trolley bus 176, signed for route 77 - Belmont.

CTA trolley bus 176, signed for route 77 – Belmont.

CSL trolley bus 173, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1935, signed for route 86 - Narragansett. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL trolley bus 173, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1935, signed for route 86 – Narragansett. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 177, signed for route 76 - Diversey. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 177, signed for route 76 – Diversey. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL trolley bus 165 on route 76 - Diversey. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL trolley bus 165 on route 76 – Diversey. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL trolley bus 106 on route 76 - Diversey on November 14, 1930. (Railway Negative Exchange)

CSL trolley bus 106 on route 76 – Diversey on November 14, 1930. (Railway Negative Exchange)

CSL trolley bus 80.

CSL trolley bus 80.

CSL trolley bus 116, signed for route 85 - Central Avenue.

CSL trolley bus 116, signed for route 85 – Central Avenue.

A 1931 CSL trolley bus equipped with a snow plow. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

A 1931 CSL trolley bus equipped with a snow plow. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

More Chicago PCC Photos – Part One

CTA 4061, a product of St. Louis Car Company, heads southbound on route 8 – Halsted near Congress. A shoofly is under construction to divert streetcars around the site where a bridge will soon be built for the Congress expressway. The old Garfield Park “L” at rear remained in service until the new Congress median rapid transit line opened in June 1958. In this area, the “L” ran just north of the highway. Other photos taken in this area show the shoofly in use during 1952. Car 4062, the next in sequence, was built by Pullman and was the first postwar PCC delivered to Chicago Surface Lines. Despite being numbered lower, 4061 was delivered 10 months later. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

I like to think of this web site as a collaborative effort with our readers. Since we started this enterprise at the beginning of this year, I believe I have learned as much from you as vice versa, and today’s post is but the latest example of how that can work to everyone’s benefit. If people are willing to share their material with us, and this seems to be happening with increasing frequency, it is probably because our previous 80 posts have shown that we are serious about the original research we are engaged in, and sharing it with you.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of George Trapp, we now have close to another 150 images of Chicago PCC streetcars that we can post. Nearly all of these are previously unknown to me. Mr. Trapp has been collecting these type of pictures for nearly the last 50 years, and has let us borrow some of them so that we might feature them here and add them to our electronic book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, which is available through our Online Store.

Mr. Trapps’ photos are an embarrassment of riches. Since there are too many to post all at once, check this space in coming days from further installments in this series.

Of course, the deluxe hardcover book Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era 1936-1958, published in June by Central Electric Railfans’ Association, is the premier volume covering the rise and fall of the modern streetcar in the Windy City. That book contains hundreds of great color photos and is a must-have for anyone who is interested in the subject, or even anyone who is interested in knowing what Chicago’s disparate neighborhoods looked like in a bygone era. While I am proud to be a co-author of that work, B-146 is available directly from the publisher. I would be remiss if I did not mention that Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with CERA.

In my humble opinion, B-146 is a fantastic bargain and a great value for the money, and I urge you to get a copy if you have not already done so.

My more recent E-book, available on a data disc in PDF format, is intended as a very unofficial supplement and companion to that noble work. One advantage that an electronic book has over a printed one is that more information can be added to it as things become available. We have already added numerous photos, maps, etc. to it, and the material from the Trapp Collection is a tremendous addition, which we are very grateful to have.

On top of that, we are adding another section of photographs to the book covering Chicago’s rapid transit system as it appeared early in the CTA era. That will give the reader a very clear idea of how badly the system was in need of improvement and modernization, a factor in the process by which CTA ultimately decided to eliminate streetcars.

With the E-book, we are not attempting to duplicate anything covered in B-146, which mainly showcases color photography. But there are still lots of great black-and-white photos that deserve to be seen, and lots of other information which could not be included even in a 448-page book. Chicago once had the largest streetcar system in the world, and chances are it will be a long time, if ever, before anyone has the “last word” about it.

If you have already purchased our E-book, and wish to get an updated copy with the additional information, this can be done at little or no cost to you. We always intended that it would be improved over time and offer an upgrade service to our purchasers on an ongoing basis.

As always, clicking on each photo with your mouse should bring up a larger version of the picture in your browser. You may be able to magnify this if you then see a “+” on your screen.

This being our 81st post, perhaps it is fitting that several of the pictures here were taken at 81st and Halsted.

Finally, if you have any interesting tidbits of information to share about the photos you see here, don’t hesitate to let us know, either by making a comment on this post, or by dropping us a line to:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

Thanks.

-David Sadowski

PS- I did some checking on the Railway Negative Exchange, the source for many of the photos in today’s post. It was started by Warren Miller (1923-1989) who operated out of California. Upon Mr. Miller’s passing, his collection went to his nephew, Bob Hall, who I understand was still continuing these efforts as of 1996. I do not know whether they are still in business today.

All the photos from today's post, and many more courtesy of Mr. George Trapp, are being added to our E-book this week, along with a section covering Chicago's rapid transit system early in the CTA era.

All the photos from today’s post, and many more courtesy of Mr. George Trapp, are being added to our E-book this week, along with a section covering Chicago’s rapid transit system early in the CTA era.

7213 and 7274 are side-by-side in this scene from 81st and Halsted. As the south end of the busy Clark-Wentworth route, it was a favorite place for railfan photographers (and also close to the south terminus of route 8 – Halsted’s PCC at 79th). Due to the advertising signs on the PCCs, this photo is from 1950 or later. 7213 was the last streetcar to run in Chicago in 1958. Jon Habermaas adds, "The cars at 81st and Halsted were turned by wye-ing using a portion of abandoned track of the former Halsted line to 111th." (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

7213 and 7274 are side-by-side in this scene from 81st and Halsted. As the south end of the busy Clark-Wentworth route, it was a favorite place for railfan photographers (and also close to the south terminus of route 8 – Halsted’s PCC at 79th). Due to the advertising signs on the PCCs, this photo is from 1950 or later. 7213 was the last streetcar to run in Chicago in 1958. Jon Habermaas adds, “The cars at 81st and Halsted were turned by wye-ing using a portion of abandoned track of the former Halsted line to 111th.” (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

The interior of prewar PCC 4051, as it appeared in July 1939, at the Madison and Austin loop. Circa 1940-41, CSL modified the doors on this car as part of their work on the development of the postwar cars. With the revised configuration, 4051 was tested extensively on route 56 - Milwaukee, which did not otherwise use PCCs. (S. Walker Photo)

The interior of prewar PCC 4051, as it appeared in July 1939, at the Madison and Austin loop. Circa 1940-41, CSL modified the doors on this car as part of their work on the development of the postwar cars. With the revised configuration, 4051 was tested extensively on route 56 – Milwaukee, which did not otherwise use PCCs. (S. Walker Photo)

CTA 4400 at Ashland and 71st. This picture was probably taken in the Fall of 1952. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CTA 4400 at Ashland and 71st. This picture was probably taken in the Fall of 1952. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CTA 7122, signed for route 49 - Western, at Ashland and 71st. The election ad on the side of the car and the lack of leaves on the trees would date this picture to the Fall of 1952. Sherwood Dixon (1896-1973) was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor that year, losing to State Treasurer William G. Stratton, who served two terms. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CTA 7122, signed for route 49 – Western, at Ashland and 71st. The election ad on the side of the car and the lack of leaves on the trees would date this picture to the Fall of 1952. Sherwood Dixon (1896-1973) was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor that year, losing to State Treasurer William G. Stratton, who served two terms. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

PCC 7132 going south on route 36 - Broadway-State, having just passed the Santa Fe Freight Office. Just to the left of the streetcar, you can see an entrance to the State Street subway, which opened in 1943. That looks like a Continental Air Transport bus behind the PCC. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

PCC 7132 going south on route 36 – Broadway-State, having just passed the Santa Fe Freight Office. Just to the left of the streetcar, you can see an entrance to the State Street subway, which opened in 1943. That looks like a Continental Air Transport bus behind the PCC. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CTA PCC 7262 at the Western and 79th loop when it was brand new. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CTA PCC 7262 at the Western and 79th loop when it was brand new. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

PCC 7116 is laying over at 119th and Morgan before heading north on route 36 - Broadway-State. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

PCC 7116 is laying over at 119th and Morgan before heading north on route 36 – Broadway-State. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

PCC 7228, signed for route 36 Broadway-State, crosses the Chicago River towards the Loop. This car was delivered March 29, 1948, and scrapped March 1, 1957, a service life of about 9 years. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

PCC 7228, signed for route 36 Broadway-State, crosses the Chicago River towards the Loop. This car was delivered March 29, 1948, and scrapped March 1, 1957, a service life of about 9 years. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CTA 7116, built by St. Louis, at the Museum Loop. The Field Museum of Natural History would be off to the left, as is Lake Shore Drive. At rear, we can see the old Chicago Park District headquarters and Soldier Field. This loop was built to bring large numbers of visitors to A Century of Progress in 1933, Chicago's second World's Fair. The Illinois Central suburban electric tracks are at right. The streamlined moderne Park District building was built as the headquarters of the World's Fair administration. Unfortunately it was demolished as part of the project to renovate Soldier Field. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CTA 7116, built by St. Louis, at the Museum Loop. The Field Museum of Natural History would be off to the left, as is Lake Shore Drive. At rear, we can see the old Chicago Park District headquarters and Soldier Field. This loop was built to bring large numbers of visitors to A Century of Progress in 1933, Chicago’s second World’s Fair. The Illinois Central suburban electric tracks are at right. The streamlined moderne Park District building was built as the headquarters of the World’s Fair administration. Unfortunately it was demolished as part of the project to renovate Soldier Field. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

PCC 4057 is laying over at Cottage Grove and 115th before heading north on route 4. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

PCC 4057 is laying over at Cottage Grove and 115th before heading north on route 4. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

St. Louis-built PCC 4056. At irst I thought this was 81st and Halsted, but as Mike Engelberg points out, "Notice there is only a single track on this street. Therefore it is not at 81st and Halsted. Methinks this is on Emerald south of 79th, particularly because the roll sign is for Halsted route 8, not Clark-Wentworth route 22. Also compare the two-story building here versus the two-story building in photos of 81st and Halsted. They are not the same." That appears to be a 1949 Ford at right, but this picture was taken later, due to the presence of advertising frames on the side of the streetcar. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

St. Louis-built PCC 4056. At irst I thought this was 81st and Halsted, but as Mike Engelberg points out, “Notice there is only a single track on this street. Therefore it is not at 81st and Halsted. Methinks this is on Emerald south of 79th, particularly because the roll sign is for Halsted route 8, not Clark-Wentworth route 22. Also compare the two-story building here versus the two-story building in photos of 81st and Halsted. They are not the same.”
That appears to be a 1949 Ford at right, but this picture was taken later, due to the presence of advertising frames on the side of the streetcar. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

St. Louis-built PCC 4056, signed for route 4 - Cottage Grove, has just crossed the Chicago River. While the iconic Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower are at rear, the Sun-Times building (1958) had not yet been built when this picture was taken. Note a Chicago Motor Coach bus at rear. CTA purchased Motor Coach's assets as of October 1, 1952, probably not too long after this picture was taken. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

St. Louis-built PCC 4056, signed for route 4 – Cottage Grove, has just crossed the Chicago River. While the iconic Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower are at rear, the Sun-Times building (1958) had not yet been built when this picture was taken. Note a Chicago Motor Coach bus at rear. CTA purchased Motor Coach’s assets as of October 1, 1952, probably not too long after this picture was taken. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

PCC service on Cottage Grove was mainly provided by prewar PCCs in the early 1950s, but here is postwar car 7044, which has been converted to one-man. (And we do mean “man,” since CTA did not hire any female operators until 1974.) Here, we are at Cottage Grove and 115th, the south end of the Cottage Grove line on route 4. The car is using route 38 as a sign although PCCs never ran there. The reason is the northern terminus of route 4 was changed, and this roll sign had the correct end point. 7044 was delivered on April 29, 1947 and was scrapped on January 16, 1957, a service life just short of 10 years. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

St. Louis PCC 4054 at 81st and Halsted. It was delivered on July 17, 1947 and scrapped on January 10, 1957, a service life of less than 10 years. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

St. Louis PCC 4054 at 81st and Halsted. It was delivered on July 17, 1947 and scrapped on January 10, 1957, a service life of less than 10 years. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

PCC 4227, at Clark and Howard, prepares to head south on route 22 - Clark-Wentworth. The building on the left is still there. You would hardly recognize this location, which has been converted to an outdoor cafe. When this turnback loop was constructed, the surface and rapid transit systems competed against each other and there was little effort to coordinate them. After CTA was created, buses were diverted to bring passengers directly to the Howard "L" terminal, some distance behind the scene of this photo. Car 4227, a Pullman product, was delivered on March 7, 1948, and scrapped on August 15, 1953, a service live of less than 5 1/2 years. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

PCC 4227, at Clark and Howard, prepares to head south on route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. The building on the left is still there. You would hardly recognize this location, which has been converted to an outdoor cafe. When this turnback loop was constructed, the surface and rapid transit systems competed against each other and there was little effort to coordinate them. After CTA was created, buses were diverted to bring passengers directly to the Howard “L” terminal, some distance behind the scene of this photo. Car 4227, a Pullman product, was delivered on March 7, 1948, and scrapped on August 15, 1953, a service live of less than 5 1/2 years. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

A current view of the location of the previous picture. Streetcars once ran right between these two buildings. Interestingly, the address on the building at right has been changed from 7547 to 7545. Jeff Wien writes, "The building identified now as 7545 is not the same structure that was there in streetcar days. The original building was torn down and replaced with a new brick building which looks similar as a part of the redevelopment of the Clark/Howard Mall about 15 to 20 years ago. How the address of the two commercial spaces located at almost the same spot could change by two digits is something that only the County Assessor would be able to explain."

A current view of the location of the previous picture. Streetcars once ran right between these two buildings. Interestingly, the address on the building at right has been changed from 7547 to 7545. Jeff Wien writes, “The building identified now as 7545 is not the same structure that was there in streetcar days. The original building was torn down and replaced with a new brick building which looks similar as a part of the redevelopment of the Clark/Howard Mall about 15 to 20 years ago. How the address of the two commercial spaces located at almost the same spot could change by two digits is something that only the County Assessor would be able to explain.”

CTA 7207 at Schreiber and Clark. Half the car barn lacked a roof due to a fire in the early 1920s. This photo probably dates to circa 1955-56 due to the presence of a prewar car at rear, which would have been used on route 49 - Western. 7207 had a scrap date of July 30, 1958, meaning it lasted until the end of Chicago streetcar service on June 21st of that year. The "Enter at Rear" sign means this car was still being used as two-man, with a conductor. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CTA 7207 at Schreiber and Clark. Half the car barn lacked a roof due to a fire in the early 1920s. This photo probably dates to circa 1955-56 due to the presence of a prewar car at rear, which would have been used on route 49 – Western. 7207 had a scrap date of July 30, 1958, meaning it lasted until the end of Chicago streetcar service on June 21st of that year. The “Enter at Rear” sign means this car was still being used as two-man, with a conductor. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CSL 7047, delivered on May 3, 1947, at 81st and Halsted, site of many railfan photos back in the day. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CSL 7047, delivered on May 3, 1947, at 81st and Halsted, site of many railfan photos back in the day. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CSL 4010, in 1945-46 experimental paint, heads east at 5322 West Madison. The Surface Lines tried out various color schemes before deciding on the iconic combination of Mercury Green, Croydon Cream, and Swamp Holly Orange for the postwar cars. Interestingly, none of the six cars that were repainted had the exact color scheme that was ultimately selected. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CSL 4010, in 1945-46 experimental paint, heads east at 5322 West Madison. The Surface Lines tried out various color schemes before deciding on the iconic combination of Mercury Green, Croydon Cream, and Swamp Holly Orange for the postwar cars. Interestingly, none of the six cars that were repainted had the exact color scheme that was ultimately selected. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

Prewar PCC 7027, in “tiger stripes,” heads east at 5054 West Madison. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

The experimental pre-PCC car 7001, built by Brill in 1934, spent its final years as a shed at 77th and Vincennes before being scrapped in 1959. It was briefly considered for purchase by the fledgling Illinois Electric Railway Museum, but was passed up because its windows were considered to be at the wrong height for its intended use as a hot dog stand. Ideas about historic preservation were different back then. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

The experimental pre-PCC car 7001, built by Brill in 1934, spent its final years as a shed at 77th and Vincennes before being scrapped in 1959. It was briefly considered for purchase by the fledgling Illinois Electric Railway Museum, but was passed up because its windows were considered to be at the wrong height for its intended use as a hot dog stand. Ideas about historic preservation were different back then. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

Prewar PCC 4050, in experimental colors, heads east about a block from the turnaround loop at Madison and Austin on route 20. This photo was taken circa 1945-46 and you can just barely make out a Chicago & West Towns streetcar further back. Austin Boulevard is the boundary between Chicago and Oak Park. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

Prewar PCC 4050, in experimental colors, heads east about a block from the turnaround loop at Madison and Austin on route 20. This photo was taken circa 1945-46 and you can just barely make out a Chicago & West Towns streetcar further back. Austin Boulevard is the boundary between Chicago and Oak Park. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CSL 4080 heads southbound on the route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. According to Jeff Wien, this is “Vincennes Avenue near 76th.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Pullman-built PCC 4205, without a logo on the side, does have a sign at front heralding “Another New CTA Streetcar.” It was delivered on on February 18, 1948 and is shown here at 81st and Halsted, the south end of route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Brand new PCC 4315, which already appears to have been sideswiped by something, does not have a CTA logo on the side in this view taken at the loop at State and 84th. But it does have a banner across the front advertising “Another New CTA Streetcar.” This car was delivered in December 5, 1947, just two months after the CTA takeover. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Experimental 1934 pre-PCC car 4001, built by Pullman. This is similar to a photo on page 5 of CERA Bulletin 146, although it is a different photo. They may have been taken at the same time, however, and if so, the date would be July 1936. The location is 78th and Vincennes. It's definitely early, since the trolley is still painted like a barber pole.

Experimental 1934 pre-PCC car 4001, built by Pullman. This is similar to a photo on page 5 of CERA Bulletin 146, although it is a different photo. They may have been taken at the same time, however, and if so, the date would be July 1936. The location is 78th and Vincennes. It’s definitely early, since the trolley is still painted like a barber pole.

Some PCCs are visible at rear in this view of the barn at 77th and Vincennes. But the foreground shows both Twin Coach buses and trolley coaches. George Trapp says, “The trolley buses in the photo with the new Twin Coach gas buses are St. Louis Car products, also new in early spring of 1948 and mainly used on 78 Montrose line.” Jeff Wien adds that they were also used on route 80 – Irving Park.

PCC 4396 southbound at Clark and Devon. The election poster would indicate a date of 1955 for this picture, since, as Jeff Wien notes, this car has already been repainted in Everglade Green, which the CTA started doing around July 1952. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

PCC 4396 southbound at Clark and Devon. The election poster would indicate a date of 1955 for this picture, since, as Jeff Wien notes, this car has already been repainted in Everglade Green, which the CTA started doing around July 1952. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

More Chicago Rapid Transit Photos

A two-car Garfield Park train, including car 2848, on the Loop “L”. (George Snyder Photo)

Our last major post on Chicago’s rapid transit lines was on April 28, so we figure it’s time for another look. In newspaper parlance, -30- means “the end,” (there was even a 1959 film by that title directed by Jack Webb) but here, we present 30 classic Chicago “L” photos that we think are the living end.

While we have some information for these pictures, if you can share something interesting about them that we might have missed, do not hesitate to contact us. You can leave a comment to this post, or write us directly at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

-David Sadowski

A Ravenswood Local made up of “Baldy” 4000s (including car 4200) on the Loop “L”. (George Snyder Photo)

A Douglas Park Cicero-Berwyn Express on the Loop “L”. This picture must date to before December 9, 1951, when A/B service began on Douglas. (George Snyder Photo)

Articulated “Doodlebug” 5001 at Laramie Yard on the Garfield Park “L”, when this car was new (late 1940s). (George Snyder Photo)

The location of this photo would be hard to identify, if not for the presence of overhead wire instead of third rail. That makes it Isabella on the Evanston line. This station closed on July 16, 1973.

The location of this photo would be hard to identify, if not for the presence of overhead wire instead of third rail. That makes it Isabella on the Evanston line. This station closed on July 16, 1973.

Niles Center train 1045 in the pocket at the Dempster station, with North Shore Line track in the foreground. The Skokie Swift never used this terminal arrangement.

Niles Center train 1045 in the pocket at the Dempster station, with North Shore Line track in the foreground. The Skokie Swift never used this terminal arrangement.

A rare shot of the lower Wilson Avenue station on the north side “L”. This was once the terminal before the “L” was extended north. This station opened on March 5, 1907. The intent was to alleviate crowding at the upper Wilson station, already in use. Lower Wilson closed on August 1, 1949, early in the CTA era.

Skokie Shops, date unknown. Probably early in the CTA era.

Skokie Shops, date unknown. Probably early in the CTA era.

A single car Niles Center train in the open cut in Evanston.

A single car Niles Center train in the open cut in Evanston.

A six-car CRT “L” train on the Niles Center branch. Service on this line quit on March 26, 1948. This was part of the North Shore Line’s Skokie Valley Route. After the interurban quit in 1963, the CTA bought the line to Dempster and the Skokie Swift (today’s Yellow Line) was born. Service did not generally warrant the use of a six-car train in the 1940s when this picture was taken, but sometimes CRT trains were used on the North Shore Line to haul the military.

A two car CRT "L" train in December 1935. The location is given as Austin, but the photo does not indicate whether this is the Douglas Park branch or Garfield. Bill Shapotkin writes: "I can't tell you where this pic was actually taken, but I can tell you where is was NOT taken. This photo is NOT on Garfield Pk/Westchester. If it were anywhere on that line, the third rail chairs would be the CA&E's wooden third rail chairs -- the chairs shown in this photo are rapid transit third rail chairs. Additionally, if it were "Austin" (on Garfield Pk), we should see the B&OCT next door (and it is not). Now, as for where I think this photo was taken -- there appears to be an interlocking nearby (notice the piping next to outside rail). Thus, I believe the train is WB on DOUGLAS approaching Oak Park Ave (where, if I recall correctly) there was an interlocking. Therefore we would be looking east. At least that is my best guess."

A two car CRT “L” train in December 1935. The location is given as Austin, but the photo does not indicate whether this is the Douglas Park branch or Garfield.
Bill Shapotkin writes: “I can’t tell you where this pic was actually taken, but I can tell you where is was NOT taken. This photo is NOT on Garfield Pk/Westchester. If it were anywhere on that line, the third rail chairs would be the CA&E’s wooden third rail chairs — the chairs shown in this photo are rapid transit third rail chairs. Additionally, if it were “Austin” (on Garfield Pk), we should see the B&OCT next door (and it is not).
Now, as for where I think this photo was taken — there appears to be an interlocking nearby (notice the piping next to outside rail). Thus, I believe the train is WB on DOUGLAS approaching Oak Park Ave (where, if I recall correctly) there was an interlocking. Therefore we would be looking east. At least that is my best guess.”

The east end of the CTA’s Jackson Park “L” in July 1959. The “L” has been truncated west of here since and no longer crosses the Illinois Central (now Metra) Electric.

The DesPlaines Avenue terminal at the west end of the CTA Congress line in November 1959. Wooden “L” cars were no longer being used for passenger service by time, and the three cars were probably being used here for offices as the station was being somewhat reconfigured. Note the lack of a canopy.

A Kenwood shuttle car at 42nd Place terminal on June 12, 1957. November 30 was the last day of service on this branch. Andre Kristopans notes, "The Kenwood car at Indiana is actually laid up and not in service. The old NB track was where a spare car would be put away." (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)

A Kenwood shuttle car at 42nd Place terminal on June 12, 1957. November 30 was the last day of service on this branch. Andre Kristopans notes, “The Kenwood car at Indiana is actually laid up and not in service. The old NB track was where a spare car would be put away.” (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)

A downtown-bound train at the old Logan Square “L” station on May 10, 1958, about 6 weeks before service on the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway was connected up with the Congress and Douglas branches. (Laurence H. Boehuring Photo)

Six old wooden “L” cars, including 1784, in the Linden Avenue yard in Wilmette on June 12, 1957. (Laurence H. Boehuring Photo)

The view looking south from the platform at the Linden Avenue station in Wilmette on June 12, 1957, showing two old wooden “L” cars in the yard, including 1793 and 3156(?). In the distance, we can see one of the four articulated 5001-5004 series cars. (Laurence H. Boehuring Photo)

The arcade at the old Logan Square “L” terminal on May 10, 1958. About a dozen years later, this station was replaced by a subway as part of the extension of this line to Jefferson Park. (Laurence H. Boehuring Photo)

Kedzie and Linden, the site of the old Logan Square "L" terminal, as it looks today. Andre Kristopans says,"The old Logan square station is still under there under the new façade. There is a substantial gap between the inside ceiling and roof of this building because of the supports for the shop above the north half of the building were part of the structure and were not removed, and for aesthetic reasons the high walls were extended all the way around."

Kedzie and Linden, the site of the old Logan Square “L” terminal, as it looks today. Andre Kristopans says,”The old Logan square station is still under there under the new façade. There is a substantial gap between the inside ceiling and roof of this building because of the supports for the shop above the north half of the building were part of the structure and were not removed, and for aesthetic reasons the high walls were extended all the way around.”

The view looking north at the Linden Avenue terminal in Wilmette, showing wooden “L” cars (including 1770 and 1736). A poster at right advertises Waterman fountain pens. The date is June 12, 1957. (Laurence H. Boehuring Photo)

A view looking east towards the Marion Street station on the Lake Street “L” on June 7, 1957. (Laurence H. Boehuring Photo)

A Kenwood shuttle car at the Indiana Avenue station on June 12, 1957. November 30 was the last day of service on this branch. (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)

A Kenwood shuttle car at the Indiana Avenue station on June 12, 1957. November 30 was the last day of service on this branch. (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)

This picture was taken at the Oak Park Avenue terminal along the outer end of the Douglas Park “L”, looking west. The apartment building at right is still standing. The line was cut back to 54th Avenue 1952. The train is a Cicero-Berwyn Express, ready to head downtown. It must be before December 9, 1951, when A/B skip-stop service was instituted. Note the Burma Shave sign at right.

CRT/CTA snow plow S220 at Laramie on the Garfield Park "L" in 1948.

CRT/CTA snow plow S220 at Laramie on the Garfield Park “L” in 1948.

A CTA Met “L” train crosses the Chicago River in 1950, on the double Scherzer rolling lift bridge that was there at the time. Now, just south of here, the CTA Blue Line passes underneath the river.

CTA 2703-2753 at the east side of Skokie Shops on May 1, 1955. This was a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip that included a shops tour.

CTA 2703-2753 at the east side of Skokie Shops on May 1, 1955. This was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip that included a shops tour.

An open platform/vestibule two-car Douglas Park train at Van Buren and Wells in September 1949. One of the cars is 2775. Contrast this with the later photo taken at this same location, after the removal of the “L” structure west of here for the construction of Lower Wacker Drive.

The same location as the last photo, but no earlier than 1955. The “L” structure and tower west of here have been removed. The Garfield Park “L’ connection to the Loop was moved slightly north of here via a new connection through the old Wells Street Terminal. The sign on the train says that the last stop is Clinton. The Insurance Exchange building is at right.

The Pulaski station on the Douglas Park “L” on May 10, 1958. There was a yard there at the time. (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)

Laramie Yard on the Garfield Park “L”, looking east. A few blocks back, the “L” went up a ramp onto steel structure. Today, the Eisenhower expressway would be somewhere off to the right.

CTA Met car 2819, signed for Garfield Park, at Laramie Yard in August, 1954.

CTA Met car 2819, signed for Garfield Park, at Laramie Yard in August, 1954.

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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

We thank you for your support.

Chicago Horsecar Replica For Sale

Although the auction description does not mention it, replica car 10 was also used at the Chicago Railroad Fair.  This picture was taken by Charles Cushman (1896-1972) in 1949.  (Charles W. Cushman Collection, University Archives, at Indiana University, Bloomington.)

Although the auction description does not mention it, replica car 10 was also used at the Chicago Railroad Fair. This picture was taken by Charles Cushman (1896-1972) in 1949. (Charles W. Cushman Collection, University Archives, at Indiana University, Bloomington.)

Bonham’s auction house recently announced that they will be selling some historic railroad items from the collections of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. While we, of course, have no connection with either institution, we thought our readers would enjoy reading about the replica cable car that is being offered. There are links just in case anyone is interested in pursuing this further.

There is an authentic horse car at the Illinois Railway Museum, built in 1859. We have published a couple pictures of this car being used by the Chicago Surface Lines in 1925 and 1936, celebrating streetcar line extensions.

We can also share a bit of the backstory behind how and why this railcar was made. According to a 1938 article in Surface Service magazine, the “house organ” of the Chicago Surface Lines, the heads of CSL and MSI (Julius Rosenwald?) got together around 1929, and CSL agreed to donate a couple of historic items to the museum, which was then just getting started. (The other is cable car 532, still on display at MSI. There is another similar cable car replica at the Illinois Railway Museum.)

Let’s hope that this car, although a replica, stays in the Chicago area. It was actually used at both the Century of Progress 1933-34 World’s Fair and the 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair.

-David Sadowski

What follows is from Bonham’s:

Never to be repeated, early railway locomotives and cars from the Museum of Science and Industry – highly significant to America’s history and heritage – are to be sold in Philadelphia

Bonhams is honored to present five significant pieces of transportation history from the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. These wonderful artifacts have been housed at the museum on full-time display for over 80 years and will now be sold at Bonhams’ “Preserving the Automobile” auction at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia on October 5th.

…Other artifacts from the museum include the exact replica 1859 horse car “Archer Avenue No. 10” that was donated to the museum by the Chicago City Railway Company in 1930. These beautiful, craftsman-built, horse-drawn rail cars were operated in congested urban areas, such as Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, where steam locomotive transportation was impractical. They were the antecedent of the electric streetcar that later dominated urban public transport.

Lot 201
From the collection of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

Built for the 1933-34 Century of Progress Fair in Chicago
c.1929 Chicago City Railway Built ‘1870 Archer Avenue No. 10’ Horsecar
US$ 25,000 – 35,000
£16,000 – 22,000
To be sold without reserve

Auction 22793:
Preserving the Automobile
An Auction at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

5 Oct 2015 14:00 EDT

Philadelphia, Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

Built for the 1933-34 Century of Progress Fair in Chicago
c.1929 Chicago City Railway Built ‘1870 Archer Avenue No. 10’ Horsecar
THE HORSECAR

The horse drawn streetcar, typically contracted as ‘horsecar,’ was a significant early step in the evolution of urban transport. In this context, the term ‘car’ refers specifically to a railway vehicle and does not imply an internal combustion engine automobile (now commonly known as a ‘car’).

As cities in America grew during the first half of the 19th century, the working population began to live ever further from their places of employment, shopping and entertainment. Greater distances and larger numbers of people on the move increased the need for pay as you go urban transport, and so private companies emerged to supply transport using omnibuses on fixed routes and schedules. An omnibus was a compact horse-drawn coach. Chicago’s first commercial omnibus service was operated by Frank Parmelee beginning in 1853. (Parmelee’s business evolved and in later years his name was associated with Parmelee Transfer service that provided over-the-road connections between all of the City’s six primary railroad passenger terminals. By World War I, Parmelee had begun to use motor vehicles).

The horsecar was an important advancement to the omnibus. This innovation allowed a single horse to draw a heavier vehicle while providing a smoother and more comfortable ride. Among the drawbacks of the horsecar operation were that the mode was severely limited where cars encountered ascending grades, while busy lines required many more horses than cars because it was only possible to work horses for a few hours a day. In some instances mules were preferred over horses because of their greater stamina. By one estimate, Chicago street railways employed 8,400 horses in 1893.

The horsecar led to development of the steam-dummy (a small streetcar powered by an on-board steam engine) and later to the cable car, which was drawn by an underground cable. British-born Andrew Smith Hallidie was the San Francisco cable manufacturer credited with melding key cable innovations and establishing the city’s Clay Street Hill Railroad in 1873, the world’s first urban cable hauled street railway. This set important precedents that resulted in an urban transit revolution emulated across San Francisco and in approximately 30 cities across the United States and around the world.

More significant was the development of the electrically powered streetcar, commonly known in America as trolley car or trolley, which describes the wheel at the end of the pole, used to run along the overhead wire to draw electricity for propulsion. While ‘trolley’ is occasionally used as a synonym for a streetcar in the United States, the term should only be correctly applied to electric cars with trolley poles.

Various inventors had dabbled with electric streetcars in the mid-1880s, but it was in 1887-1888 that electrical genius Frank Julian Sprague successfully demonstrated a practical electric street railway in Richmond, Virginia. Electric operation was cheaper and simpler than cable hauled lines, and allowed streetcar lines to practically cover much greater distances than possible with horses. Within a year of Sprague’s demonstration, hundreds of new electric streetcar schemes were being considered and by 1900 most American cities and many small towns were connected by electric railways. Since horsecar street railways they already had an established route structure and track infrastructure, often they upgraded existing lines with electrification.
Often, companies that began as horsecar lines upgraded their operations.

The overwhelming cost and operating advantages of electric operation rapidly displayed horsecars on city streets. By 1900, the horsecar had vanished from most cities. In Chicago, some horsecar and cable car routes survived until 1906 owing to a regulation or law that prohibited the erection of overhead wires in downtown areas. Once this obstacle was overcome the electric streetcar prevailed. Nationally, horsecars disappeared very quickly from the scene and despite their early prevalence very few were preserved for posterity.

THE HORSECAR OFFERED

Chicago Horse Car No. 10 is a replica constructed by the Chicago City Railway at its South Shops for the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry during 1929 and 1930 and is believed to be the second object donated to the museum. Although a replica, the car is an accurate rendition of a period street railway vehicle. At the time of construction, it had been less than 25 years since similar horse cars had worked Chicago streets and thus the cars were still in the living memory of men working for the company.

The replica was intended to represent one of Chicago’s first horse cars built in 1859. This is a comparatively small car, measuring about 9 feet 9 inches tall, 7 feet ½ inches wide,16 feet and 1 ½ inches long. It weighs 4,560 lbs. The car was designed for one-man operation with a single horse drawing it. Average speed would have been between 3-5 mph. It had space for 18 seated passengers.

Passengers are believed to have entered via a door at the back of the car and paid their fare by dropping a coin into a slot that delivered it by gravity to the driver. This clever system was intended to avoid unnecessarily distracting the driver while the car was in motion. The car uses a ‘Bob-tail’ design, so-called because it only has a platform at the drivers’ end. The driver rode on the small exterior platform at the front of the car that was covered by a roof extension. Other than horse reins, his only other control was a hand brake consisting of a metal arm used to slow and stop the car and prevent it from colliding with the horse, or rolling backward when on an upgrade. Other equipment includes a stovepipe exhaust stack from the passenger compartment, although there doesn’t appear to have been a stove installed in this replica.

In its early years the replica was displayed as Archer Avenue No. 10 of the Chicago City Railway Company. It was one of three replica streetcars used as part of a larger exhibit to demonstrate the evolution of urban transport in Chicago. The other two cars were replicas of the cable-hauled grip car and its trailer. (Between 1892 and 1906 Chicago had a cable car system, similar to that still in use in San Francisco, that was the most extensive of its kind in the world). Horsecar No. 10 was among the exhibits at the ‘Wings of a Century’ pageant for the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition held during 1933 and 1934.

As an authentic replica, Chicago Horsecar No. 10 can provide a key element to any urban transport exhibit since it bridges the gap between the horse-drawn omnibus and the electric streetcar. This piece is significant to both Chicago history and to the greater story of urban transportation in North America. It also demonstrates the comparatively primitive expectations of the traveling public at the time of the American Civil War. Comfort levels and travel speeds were much lower than today. Imagine riding to work every morning and home every evening squashed into a vehicle like this one?

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Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry in the 1950s. (Charles W. Cushman Collection, University Archives, at Indiana University, Bloomington.)

Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry in the 1950s. (Charles W. Cushman Collection, University Archives, at Indiana University, Bloomington.)

Cable trailer 209, now in the collection of the Illinois Railway Museum, was most likely built by Chicago Surface Lines in 1934, although it may contain some original parts. The caption on the back of this photos says the car is “old” and probably built around 1892, but this appears to be incorrect. This photo was taken on October 23, 1938, date of a Surface Lines fantrip that included a shops tour. (Alfred Seibel Photo)

Footnotes

As indicated in the special notice above, this lot will require special arrangements for viewing and collection. Please contact Samantha Hamill in the NY Motorcars department (+1 212 461 6514, samantha.hamill@bonhams.com) to arrange a viewing and for further information. Please note that this lot may not come with its original base.

Postscript

FYI, the horsecar replica sold for $38k:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/museums/ct-msi-chicago-trains-sell-for-nearly-500000-at-auction-20151005-column.html

Traction in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Electric 1121 crosses the Chicago and North Western on a 1949 fantrip over the North Shore Line. It even has a Skokie Valley Route sign on it.

Milwaukee Electric 1121 crosses the Chicago and North Western on a 1949 fantrip over the North Shore Line. It even has a Skokie Valley Route sign on it.

Our last post featured the Kenosha streetcar, which has been running now for 15 years. Milwaukee is planning a streetcar line of its own, and may begin construction next spring.

Today, we pay tribute to this rich traction history with a selection of classic photos showing Milwaukee streetcars and interurbans. Much of the information we are sharing about these railcars comes from Don’s Rail Photos, an excellent online archive. Don Ross has been collecting photos since 1946 and if you have not yet checked out his web site, I hope you will do so.

Milwaukee once had an interurban system, part of which was called a “rapid transit” line. The last vestige of this once-great system was called Speedrail.

Speedrail was a valiant effort to keep service going on a shoestring, in an era before government funding for transit. Unfortunately, there was a horrific accident on September 2, 1950 that led directly to the end of the interurban on June 30, 1951. That this crash was involved a train full of railfans, many of whom had come to Milwaukee from out of town to attend a convention, made things even more tragic. Jay Maeder, head of Speedrail, was at the controls of one of the two trains, which hit head-on on a blind curve. The exact cause of the accident was never determined. You can read more about it here.

Milwaukee’s last streetcar ran in 1958. If you would like to hear the sounds of Milwaukee streetcars in action, you may be interested in our compact disc of Railroad Record Club LPs #35 and 36, which you can find in our Online Store.

This Hi-Fi recording, made in the 1950s, has been digitally remastered and sounds great. It is paired with additional vintage recordings of the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee, Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, plus the Chicago Transit Authority’s Garfield Park “L”.

When the Illinois Electric Railway Museum, then located in North Chicago, purchased a Chicago, Aurora & Elgin railcar after the “Roarin’ Elgin” was abandoned, the suggestion was made to use a CA&E car on a North Shore Line fantrip. And although an inspection showed that the CA&E car was, most likely, in better shape than some of the CNS&M’s existing rolling stock, IERM was unable to get permission to use the car, and this historic opportunity was lost.

However, about a dozen years before this, a similar sort of trip was run, when Milwaukee Electric interurban car 1121 ran on a fantrip over North Shore Line trackage. We are pleased to offer three photos from that trip in this post.

According to the book Kenosha on the Go, by the Kenosha Streetcar Society, page 79, this fantrip took place on Sunday, December 4, 1949, with North Shore motorman Howard A. Odinius at the controls. It had been 27 months since the abandonment of the MRK (Milwaukee-Racine-Kenosha) interurban line of KMCL (Kenosha Motor Coach Lines), which ran to downtown Kenosha. (Speedrail ran service to Waukesha.)

You can read Don Ross’ account of the fantrip here.

After Milwaukee lost its streetcars, the era of traction continued there until the North Shore Line quit in 1963, and the last Milwaukee trolley bus ran in 1965. Now, the Illinois Railway Museum has a variety of Milwaukee equipment in its extensive collections.

Let’s hope events in Milwaukee are gaining traction, and not losing it.

-Ye Olde Editor

PS- Here’s a video showing Milwaukee’s route 10 streetcar in 1957:

Milwaukee Electric car 1121 and an Electroliner near Racine on the 1949 North Shore Line fantrip. Don's Rail Photos adds, "1121 was built by Kuhlman Car in February 1909, #405. It was rebuilt in 1927. It was equipped with GE-207B motors to allow it to pull trailers. In 1949 it was found to have the best wheels, and thus it was selected for the fantrip on the North Shore Line to Green Bay Junction near Rondout. It was also used as a freight motor after the last regular freight motor was wrecked in 1950."

Milwaukee Electric car 1121 and an Electroliner near Racine on the 1949 North Shore Line fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “1121 was built by Kuhlman Car in February 1909, #405. It was rebuilt in 1927. It was equipped with GE-207B motors to allow it to pull trailers. In 1949 it was found to have the best wheels, and thus it was selected for the fantrip on the North Shore Line to Green Bay Junction near Rondout. It was also used as a freight motor after the last regular freight motor was wrecked in 1950.”

Milwaukee Electric car 1121 alongside an Electroliner (probably 803-804) at the Kenosha station. This was a 1949 fantrip where a TMER&T car was operated on part of the North Shore Line.

Milwaukee Electric car 1121 alongside an Electroliner (probably 803-804) at the Kenosha station. This was a 1949 fantrip where a TMER&T car was operated on part of the North Shore Line.

Don's Rail Photos says, "1182-1183 was rebuilt from an I&C (Indianapolis & Cincinnati Traction Co.) car in 1929 and scrapped in 1952." The car is shown at the North Side station in Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.

Don’s Rail Photos says, “1182-1183 was rebuilt from an I&C (Indianapolis & Cincinnati Traction Co.) car in 1929 and scrapped in 1952.” The car is shown at the North Side station in Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.

Don's Rail Photos says, "1196-1197 was built at Cold Spring in 1929. The second car was equipped with small dining facilities but it was shortly rebuilt with a baggage compartment at the rear end. It was stored at West Allis Station after a few years. In 1942 it was rebuilt with all coach and scrapped in 1952." This car is shown in downtown Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.

Don’s Rail Photos says, “1196-1197 was built at Cold Spring in 1929. The second car was equipped with small dining facilities but it was shortly rebuilt with a baggage compartment at the rear end. It was stored at West Allis Station after a few years. In 1942 it was rebuilt with all coach and scrapped in 1952.” This car is shown in downtown Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.

Milwaukee Electric Railway (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co.) car 1137, westbound on the Rapid Transit Line, 68th Street Bridge, July 22, 1949.

Milwaukee Electric Railway (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co.) car 1137, westbound on the Rapid Transit Line, 68th Street Bridge, July 22, 1949.

Speedrail cars 300 and 65, both signed for Hales Corners. According to Don's Rail Photos, "300 was built by St Louis Car in 1924. #1308. In 1936 it was sold to Cleveland Interurban RR as 300. CI became Shaker Heights Rapid Transit in 1944. It was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail in May 1950 as 300. It was scrapped in 1952." Car 65 at right is a "curved side" car built by the Cincinnati Car Company. It also came by way of Shaker Heights.

Speedrail cars 300 and 65, both signed for Hales Corners. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “300 was built by St Louis Car in 1924. #1308. In 1936 it was sold to Cleveland Interurban RR as 300. CI became Shaker Heights Rapid Transit in 1944. It was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail in May 1950 as 300. It was scrapped in 1952.” Car 65 at right is a “curved side” car built by the Cincinnati Car Company. It also came by way of Shaker Heights.

Speedrail car 66, shown here on the Waukesha loop, was a Cincinnati "curved-side" car. It had formerly been used by both Lehigh Valley Transit and the Dayton and Troy. This car, after having been refurbished for Speedrail, was only in service for a short period of time before the line quit in 1951.

Speedrail car 66, shown here on the Waukesha loop, was a Cincinnati “curved-side” car. It had formerly been used by both Lehigh Valley Transit and the Dayton and Troy. This car, after having been refurbished for Speedrail, was only in service for a short period of time before the line quit in 1951.

The tragic result of a head-on collision between two Speedrail cars on a blind curve on September 2, 1950. Heavyweight cars 1192-1193, at left, ran into lightweight articulated cars 39-40. Ten people were killed and dozens were injured.

The tragic result of a head-on collision between two Speedrail cars on a blind curve on September 2, 1950. Heavyweight cars 1192-1193, at left, ran into lightweight articulated cars 39-40. Ten people were killed and dozens were injured.

Here is a video about the Speedrail wreck:

Milwaukee city streetcar 570 on route 15. Don's Rail Photos adds, "570 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1911. It was one manned in 1931."

Milwaukee city streetcar 570 on route 15. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “570 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1911. It was one manned in 1931.”

The caption to this photo reads, "City car - Milwaukee. Last 2-man car pulling into station on last run in West Allis." Charles Kronenwetter adds, "Car 638 appears to be coming Northbound on 84th St approaching the National Ave intersection." Don's Rail Photos: "638 was built at Cold Springs in 1913. It was reconditioned as a two man car in 1928."

The caption to this photo reads, “City car – Milwaukee. Last 2-man car pulling into station on last run in West Allis.” Charles Kronenwetter adds, “Car 638 appears to be coming Northbound on 84th St approaching the National Ave intersection.” Don’s Rail Photos: “638 was built at Cold Springs in 1913. It was reconditioned as a two man car in 1928.”

Don's Rail Photos says, "589 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1911. It was rebuilt in 1927." This car is shown at the end of one of the Milwaukee city streetcar lines in West Allis. Charles Kronoenwetter says, "589 is coming off the short section of private right-of-way which ran between Mitchell St. and Becher St. onto Becher St."

Don’s Rail Photos says, “589 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1911. It was rebuilt in 1927.” This car is shown at the end of one of the Milwaukee city streetcar lines in West Allis. Charles Kronoenwetter says, “589 is coming off the short section of private right-of-way which ran between Mitchell St. and Becher St. onto Becher St.”

Milwaukee city car 556 on Becher St. in West Allis. Don's Rail Photos adds, "556 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1911. It was one manned in 1928."

Milwaukee city car 556 on Becher St. in West Allis. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “556 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1911. It was one manned in 1928.”

Railroad Record Club LP #35 features Hi-fi audio recordings of Milwaukee streetcars in the 1950s. We have digitized this and many other recordings, which you can find in our Online Store.

Railroad Record Club LP #35 features Hi-fi audio recordings of Milwaukee streetcars in the 1950s. We have digitized this and many other recordings, which you can find in our Online Store.

Updates

FYI, we’ve added another picture to a previous post, More Hoosier Traction:

Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago car 74.

Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago car 74.

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

This is our 78th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a donation there as well.

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

We thank you for your support.

Kenosha Streetcar Day

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Streetcars have become a tourist attraction in Kenosha, and bring many visitors there who also visit the museums, restaurants, the lake shore, and many other attractions. Yesterday was their annual Streetcar Day, and Kenosha Area Transit introduced newly refurbished PCC 4617 into service, in 1950s-era San Francisco colors, replete with “wings.”

The car, which looks beautiful both inside and out, took a long road to get there, starting in Toronto in 1951, with a stint at the East Troy Electric Railroad. Being a single-ended car, it was not a good fit for the museum, which lacks turning loops at its ends. To operate 4617 on that line would involve backing up the car 50% of the time. We can be thankful that it has found a good home elsewhere in Wisconsin.

We got there just in time for the ceremonial breaking of a banner as the car backed out of the barn. They put the car on display for a while and then began running it on the two mile long trolley loop that goes between the local Metra station and the lakefront.

The San Francisco car joins a fleet that already pays tribute to such cities as Chicago, Pittsburgh, Johnstown PA, Philadelphia, Toronto and Cincinnati. All of these (except for the Philadelphia car) were built in Canada and originally ran in Toronto.

After stopping for lunch at the historic Franks Diner, where they serve up a kind of organized chaos along with their signature “garbage plate” of eggs, cheese, meats, onions, green peppers and hash browns, we rode the 4617 and took many pictures and videos of it and the other cars that were being shuffled in and out of service.

With the wind and all the clouds out over Lake Michigan, we could have had some foggy San Francisco weather, but the day was mostly sunny instead. Besides the streetcars, we also spotted a couple of classic autos– a rare 1929-32 Cord L-29, the first production car in the US with front-wheel drive, and a 1927-31 Ford Model A.

If you have not yet visited Kenosha’s streetcar loop, it is well worth a trip. And while plans to expand the system have been shelved for the moment, they run a first-class operation, in large part due to the hard work of streetcar technician Brad Preston.

-Ye Olde Editor

PS- Today’s photos and videos are by David Sadowski and Diana Koester.

You can read another article about the SF tribute car on the Market Street Railway blog.

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Historic Chicago Buses

CTA Marmon-Harrington trolley bus 9620 at the Cicero/24th terminal on July 3, 1967. (Stephen M. Scalzo Photo)

CTA Marmon-Harrington trolley bus 9620 at the Cicero/24th terminal on July 3, 1967. (Stephen M. Scalzo Photo)

While our main interest is in electric transit (streetcars, light rail, rapid transit and interurbans), from time to time we get requests to show bus pictures. We don’t have many, but we figure it’s time to make good on our promise to show what we do have.

Buses have been an important part of Chicago’s transit scene since the 1920s, when the Chicago Motor Coach Company began using them.

Whether you call them trolley buses, trolley coaches, or trackless trolleys, rubber-tired buses with overhead wires were used in Chicago from 1930 to 1973 and were very popular. I have fond memories of riding them as a kid, since I lived near Grand, Fullerton, North Avenue and several other such northwest side routes.

Despite an internal CTA study that showed trolley buses were very profitable in the early 1950s, the agency gradually phased them out between 1959 and 1973. (You can read more about trolley buses here.)

They remain in use in half a dozen North American cities to this day.

It is not widely known, but the Illinois Railway Museum has an operating trolley bus line and actually has six Chicago trolley buses in its collection, in addition to some from other cities.

In our recent E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available in our Online Store, we discuss how Chicago transitioned to an all-bus surface fleet.

From 1930 to 1947, the Chicago Surface Lines believed in “Balanced Transit,” where streetcars were best for the heaviest routes, trolley buses for the medium sized ones, and gas buses for the lightest routes. The 1937 “Green Book” study commissioned by the City of Chicago, following national trends, envisioned replacing about half of the streetcar system with buses. However, the report, mainly written by Philip Harrington, who became the first head of the Chicago Transit Board, governing body of the CTA, also said that in the future, it might be advantageous to replace all the streetcars with buses.

If not for World War II, Chicago might have undergone a more orderly transition to buses over a longer period of time. But the delays caused by wartime shortages and the Great Depression meant that much of CSL’s rolling stock was quite old by the end of the war.

There was a pent-up need for change, and it should therefore be no surprise that as soon as CTA was created in 1945, they pressed CSL and the bankruptcy courts that controlled it to order large numbers of buses in addition to the 600 PCCs that were purchased for the busiest lines. (You can view the original CSL/CTA delivery records for those 600 streetcars further on in this post.)

Although CTA did not take direct control until October 1, 1947, they felt they had been given a mandate to make transit improvements immediately. Therefore, they “stage managed” equipment orders and actually dictated on what routes the new equipment was used on.

During this period, many CSL routes received extensions to areas of the city that had been developed since the last streetcar lines were built. Express bus routes were also started.

Transit unification in Chicago finally became complete when the CTA purchased the assets of the Chicago Motor Coach Company, effective October 1, 1952. CMC was a privately owned bus operator whose routes mainly ran on Chicago’s boulevards and parks. By 1952, they had a fleet of about 600 buses.

The Motor Coach was profitable, while CTA during this period was losing money. CTA felt that CMC was skimming the profitable “cream” off the city’s surface routes, and they wanted desperately to buy them out.

As it happens, the CTA had to pay at least $1m more for Motor Coach than they had wanted to, since they were, after all, a profitable enterprise that was owned by a national company that did not really want to sell.

The CTA applied some “hardball” tactics in the run-up to the sale. They tried to stop accepting transfers from CMC buses, and since there was a fare differential, began collecting the difference between the lower CMC fare and the higher CTA fares when riders did transfer.

In addition, they began competing directly against CMC on the Austin Boulevard route. There was more of this to come, and CMC saw the handwriting on the wall and sold out. After all, they had never actually been operating under a franchise from the City of Chicago, while the CTA, the courts determined, had few constraints on what they could do.

Mayor Martin H. Kennelly made public statements that opposed the sale, although there is some evidence that he was in favor of it privately.

Immediately upon taking over Motor Coach, the CTA raised the fares on those routes so that they matched the CTA’s higher rate.

Perhaps not coincidentally, it was right at the time that the CTA announced their so-called “PCC Conversion Program,” whereby 570 of the 600 Postwar cars were eventually scrapped, and some of the parts recycled for use in new rapid transit cars.

At this point, the CTA had achieved a virtual monopoly on surface transit in Chicago, and no longer had to try and compete with the Motor Coach Company. Interestingly, CTA did not purchase the Motor Coach name, which is why it is now in use by a private operator.

-David Sadowski

PS- For more Chicago trolley bus pictures, check out Tom’s Trolleybus Pix.

CSL trolley buses at a storage yard at Central and Lexington. The Garfield Park “L” is at left.

CSL 6511 and other TDH 4506's in Garfield Park.

CSL 6511 and other TDH 4506’s in Garfield Park.

CSL 623 at the North and Cicero garage.

CSL 623 at the North and Cicero garage.

CSL 3405 at Archer and Rockwell.

CSL 3405 at Archer and Rockwell.

From the St. Petersburg Tram Collection web site:

The largest group of coaches ordered by CSL from a single builder was 3400-series White 798 buses, 297 units at total. First 40 were delivered in 1944-45 (allocated to CSL by Office of Defence Transportation). In 1946-1948 257 coaches of 3441-3697 series arrived, last 100 were ordered by Chicago Transit Authority and had some improvements, such as marker lights on the roof, brigher interiors with improved lighting. Coaches 3496-3697 were automatic transmission-equipped. The post-war Whites arrived in then new Mercury green and Croydon cream livery and the fleet was centralized at Archer for turns on the new 62X Archer Express service, CSL first limited-stop bus line, which made its debut on October 21, 1946 between the Loop and Midway Airport.

Trolley bus 395 on route 78 - Montrose.

Trolley bus 395 on route 78 – Montrose.

CSL 516, signed for route 57 - Laramie.

CSL 516, signed for route 57 – Laramie.

Chicago Motor Coach Company 63 on Michigan Avenue, in front of the Fine Arts building.

Chicago Motor Coach Company 63 on Michigan Avenue, in front of the Fine Arts building.

Chicago Motor Coach Company double decker bus 162.

Chicago Motor Coach Company double decker bus 162.

The cover illustration from a Surface Lines brochure printed in August 1947.

The cover illustration from a Surface Lines brochure printed in August 1947.

Postwar Chicago PCC Delivery Dates

Thanks to the generosity of Andre Kristopans, we now have copies of the original CSL/CTA records that give exact delivery dates for all 600 Postwar Chicago PCC streetcars. This information has been added to Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story:

CCI09082015_0001

CCI09082015

CCI09082015_0002

CCI09082015_0003

CCI09082015_0004

CCI09082015_0005

CCI09082015_0007

CCI09082015_0006

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a donation there as well.

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

We thank you for your support.

Chicago Motor Coach's routes as of 1943.

Chicago Motor Coach’s routes as of 1943.