More Hoosier Traction

Gary Railways #17 and #3. The body of a sister car, #19, is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Gary Railways #17 and #3. The body of a sister car, #19, is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.

The next Hoosier Traction Meet (see below) will take place in Indianapolis on September 11 and 12, the weekend after Labor Day. We thought it would be a good idea to give that event another plug, and at the same time, this gives us an excuse to some examples of Hoosier traction from days gone by.

We are fortunate to have found some great pictures, including a couple original negatives from some of the earliest fantrips by Central Electric Railfans’ Association on Gary Railways. CERA* is one of the premier railfan organizations, and it is our considered opinion that if you are not already a member, you ought to become one.

In general the Chicago Surface Lines did not operate outside of the City of Chicago, but there was an unusual joint operation, as described by the Chicago Railfan web site:

Service into Indiana was jointly operated with the Hammond Whiting & East Chicago Railway, later Calumet Railways, and finally Chicago & Calumet District Transit Co. Originally, route duplicated Windsor Park route between 63rd St. and Stony Island and 92nd/Commercial. In 1913, route was revised to operate via South Chicago from a new terminal at 63rd St. and South Park (now King Drive), using South Park south of 63rd St. After streetcars were discontinued, Chicago & Calumet District Transit Co. continued to operate replacement bus service, while streetcar service within Illinois was replaced with South Chicago-Ewing route, which evolved into present CTA route 30.

Service into Indiana was discontinued on June 9, 1940. Fortunately, we were able to hunt up a few pictures.

Indiana Railroad car 65 was the first piece of equipment acquired by the Illinois Railway Museum (then called the Illinois Electric Railway Museum). This is a wonderful lightweight, high-speed interurban car and is a joy to ride. It has recently been fitted with reupholstered leather bucket seats.

We tracked down a picture showing sister car 63 from the IR. The only other survivor from that order is car 55, which was turned into Lehigh Valley Transit Company car 1030, now at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine.

Bill Shapotkin: “Gary Railways car 19 at Indiana Harbor (that is the Pennsy’s Indiana Harbor passenger station at right, by the way). taken on March 19, 1939 — the day AFTER the last day of service on the Indiana Harbor (and Hobart) lines. (See CERA Bulletin 137, Pages 229-233, which includes a similar pic to above on Page 230.)”

Gary Railways car 19 crossing the EJ&E near Valparaiso on the very first CERA fantrip, May 1, 1938. Bill Shapotkin: “This is a different vantage point to the one shown on Page 224 of CERA Bulletin 137.” The body of this car is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Chicago Surface Lines #3219, a one-man car built by CSL, as it looked on September 8, 1940. This car had formerly been used on the line to East Chicago, Indiana, which was abandoned three months before this picture was taken. This is also known as a "maximum traction" car because of its trucks. The white stripe on the end indicated it was a one-man car. Bob Lalich says this is "106th and Indianapolis. The car is eastbound."

Chicago Surface Lines #3219, a one-man car built by CSL, as it looked on September 8, 1940. This car had formerly been used on the line to East Chicago, Indiana, which was abandoned three months before this picture was taken. This is also known as a “maximum traction” car because of its trucks. The white stripe on the end indicated it was a one-man car. Bob Lalich says this is “106th and Indianapolis. The car is eastbound.”

Chicago and Calumet District Transit Company #70, the last car to be scrapped. It was built by the St. Louis Car Company. We see it here at the Hammond Barn on September 8, 1940. These lines were abandoned in June 1940.

Chicago and Calumet District Transit Company #70, the last car to be scrapped. It was built by the St. Louis Car Company. We see it here at the Hammond Barn on September 8, 1940. These lines were abandoned in June 1940.

Chicago and Calumet District Transit Company #70 at Hammond in February 1939.

Chicago and Calumet District Transit Company #70 at Hammond in February 1939.

A Chicago and Calumet District transfer.

A Chicago and Calumet District transfer.

Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago car 74.

Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago car 74.

Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed interurban car 63 at Bluffton in 1936. (C. Edward Hedstrom, Sr. Photo) Car 65, a sister to this one, is preserved in operable condition at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed interurban car 63 at Bluffton in 1936. (C. Edward Hedstrom, Sr. Photo) Car 65, a sister to this one, is preserved in operable condition at the Illinois Railway Museum.

-David Sadowski

PS- We occasionally add photos to old posts. Here are a couple of recent examples:

This photo was added to Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 8-12-2015, since it goes along with the photos of the Chicago, Ottawa and Peoria.

Chicago and Joliet Electric Railway #242, shown at the Archer and Cicero station in Chicago in September 1933. (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo) Mehlenbeck was member #11 of Central Electric Railfans’ Association. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “242 was built by Cummings Car & Coach Co in 1927.” Service on this line, which connected to the Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria, was abandoned on November 16, 1933.

Somehow we managed to leave this photo out of our recent post A North Shore Line Potpourri, Part Two:

CNS&M 168 heads up a three-car Chicago Local on the Shore Line Route, stopping at Linden Avenue in Wilmette. The date is February 11, 1939.

CNS&M 168 heads up a three-car Chicago Local on the Shore Line Route, stopping at Linden Avenue in Wilmette. The date is February 11, 1939.

It would be interesting to know whether the train is heading north or south. Going north, it would turn west onto street running on Greenleaf Avenue before turning north to run parallel with the Chicago & North Western. Heading south, it would begin running over the Chicago “L” system’s Evanston route. I am sure one of our keen-eyed readers can provide the answer.

Val Ginter writes:

The question on the page had to do with the direction of the train. I haven’t been there in many, many years; however, it looks like the train is northbound, and will turn left–or to our right–onto Greenleaf Avenue, where it will travel in the middle of the street for about three-fourths of a mile, before turning north onto its own right-of-way and the Wilmette station. I miss that whole thing: a big bite out of the Chicagoland apple.

On the other hand, Myron Moyano says:

Relative to the direction of the train at Linden Avenue on the Shore Line Route, take a close look at the angle of the sun and also the destination sign of the lead car. The picture is looking north at a southbound train.

The building at left in the North Shore Line picture is still there, located just north of where the CTA line ends at Linden Avenue. This proves the photographer was indeed looking north and the train was heading southbound.

The building at left in the North Shore Line picture is still there, located just north of where the CTA line ends at Linden Avenue. This proves the photographer was indeed looking north and the train was heading southbound.

So now we have a real difference of opinion. They can’t both be right.


HOOSIER TRACTION 2015

This September, a group of men and women will converge upon Indianapolis, IN for the annual gathering of the Hoosier Traction Meet. Considered by many to be the premier event of its kind, this conference of interested enthusiasts, historians, published authors and rail and transit professions consists of two complete days of audio/visual presentations on the history, operation and technology of electric railway and transit operations throughout the Midwest. In addition to the numerous auditorium events, there is an exhibition of electric rail and transit, where items of interest from transfers and photographs to fare boxes and operating models are for sale.

This year marks the 32nd annual Hoosier Traction Meet. Founded by Dr. Howard Blackburn, the Hoosier Traction Meet features, in addition to its auditorium events and exhibition hall, a opportunity for those interested in electric railway and transit to exchange ideas and swap stories with old acquaintances and meet new friends.

Allow me to take this opportunity to cordially invite each and every one of you to this special event — an event which has been the rail and transit highlight of my year for nearly twenty years. Attached you will find a copy of the Prospectus for this year’s gathering. Note that by mailing in your reservation in advance, the admission price is half that paid at the door — now that’s a bargain in anybody’s book! In addition, there are numerous restaurants and shops nearby, allowing plenty of opportunities to and have lunch or supper with your fellow enthusiasts.

Please consider joining us for this year’s event.

Wm Shapotkin
Auditorium Manager
Hoosier Traction Meet

Mr. Shapotkin is co-author of Faster Than the Limiteds:
The Story of the Chicago – New York Electric Air Line Railroad
and Its Transformation into Gary Railways

Central Electric Railfans’ Association* Bulletin 137

By Dr. Thomas R. Bullard and William M. Shapotkin

Published in 2004 – now out of print

*Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.


As an added bonus, here is some authentic 1920s jazz, courtesy of Bix Beiderbecke. Although the legendary Bix (1903-1931) hailed from Iowa, he did spend at least one summer blowing his cornet (which is now in the collection of the Chicago History Museum as far as I know) at Hudson Lake in Indiana, and I’m sure he got there via what we now know as the South Shore Line interurban.

5 thoughts on “More Hoosier Traction

  1. Relative to the direction of the train at Linden Avenue on the Shore Line Route, take a close look at the angle of the sun and also the destination sign of the lead car. The picture is looking north at a southbound train.

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