Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 10-4-2015, Etc.


We are pleased to present a previously unknown two-color version of a 1936 Chicago Surface Lines brochure about the new streamlined PCC streetcars. This material has been added to our E-book Chicago’ PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available from our Online Store.













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.

Photo Updates

FYI, we now have an improved version of the TMER&T photo reproduced above, since we have been fortunate enough to acquire the original 1949 4″ x 5″ negative. This has been added to our recent post Traction In Milwaukee.

Three more photos have been added to our post West Towns Streetcars In Black-and-White. One of them shows a West Towns streetcar making the connection with its Chicago Surface Lines counterpart at Lake and Austin.

Reader Mail

The following question was posted to the Chicagotransit Yahoo Group by robyer2000:

I was looking at the letters in The Trolley Dodger about the construction of the reversing loop in the Howard Yard in 1949. The letter from the man at CTA public affairs indicated that before skip stop service trains that terminated at Howard were usually yard put-ins. That seems unlikely, at least since the opening of the State Street Subway in 1943, after which most Jackson Park trains terminated at Howard, other than during owl hours.

My question is this: before they built the reversing loop, just how did they reverse trains at Howard that weren’t put-ins?‎ In rush hours, they were 8 car trains. Where did they switch ends?

I replied:

You must be referring to our recent post Railfan Ephemera.

There is some circa 1975 correspondence between Tom Buck, then Manager of the CTA’s Public Affairs department, and an individual who had asked about a 1949 photo showing the construction of a turnaround loop in the Howard Yard.

The photo is reproduced, along with a brochure detailing the changes brought about by the adoption of A/B “skip-stop” service on the North-South L in 1949.

Previously, there were many trains that terminated at other places such as Wilson.

As Graham Garfield’s web site notes:

North Side “L” service used to be more commonly through-routed into Evanston, with Evanston trains running through to Jackson Park on what’s now the Green Line, from 1913 to 1949. In 1949, the CTA instituted a North-South service revision, at which time the suburban portion was divorced into its own line, running as a shuttle to meet the new North-South trunk line at Howard. Thus was the modern Evanston Route, with the shuttle service at all times and downtown rush hour express service, born.

Starting in 1949, there were a lot more trains terminating at Howard, both from the north and the south.  Meanwhile, North Shore Line trains continued to pass through via the Skokie Valley and Shore Line Routes.

Around this time, CTA proposed turning over the Evanston/Wilmette service to the North Shore Line, in exchange for having all NSL service terminate at Howard.  As CNS&M already wanted to abandon the Shore Line Route, this proposal went nowhere.

Robyer2000 wrote:

I don’t ever like to doubt Graham, but at least after the State Street Subway opened in 1943, few, if any, day time subway trains went past Howard and‎ fewer still terminated at Wilson unless they were putting in there. Consider there were only 455 steel cars that could operate in the subway and alternate daytime trains ran to Kimball, and assume 10 pct. of the cars were needed for spares, 410 steel cars were available for schedules of which 205 would have been in Howard service.   That would be enough for 25 Howard – Jackson Park trains. If the route took 125 minutes round trip with lay over (remember in one direction it had to make all stops from Indiana to Congress), that would have been a steel train to Howard every 5 minutes, or a total of only 24 trains an hour through the subway. Even if I am wrong with my assumptions or my arithmetic, how wrong can I be?

I have seen many pictures of Howard Street Express Via Subway t:rains over the years, but never one signed Evanston Express via Subway, although I know it was an available route on the sign curtain because I have one.

Additionally, that red brochure the CTA issued on the opening of the subway indicated Jackson Park trains would terminate at Howard, except after midnight.

I know too that after 1943 there were Evanston Express via “L” Loop trains that circled the Loop at least many of which ran express south of Loyola and which presumably had wooden consists.

So the question remains, what was the operation for reversing trains at Howard before the reversing loop was built?

I know that what became the loop track at Howard Yard terminated in a bumping post at the landfill to Evanston before the loop was built by tunneling across the landfill. If they used that track to reverse ends, the trains must have had to go through the yard switches to that track, reverse ends and then return through the yard switches.

I replied:

Hopefully, someone here will know the answer.

If they did in fact use the yard track to change ends, they either would have needed personnel at both ends of the train, ready to reverse course, or the motorman would have had to walk through the train to do so, making it more difficult to maintain tight schedules.

The City realized that operating the subway with the 455 steel cars (there was actually a 456th but it was an older, experimental one, not part of the 4000s fleet) was not the optimal situation, but it was enough to get service going in the State Street subway in 1943.

Of course, they still had the “L” route to the Loop, so there were many additional wood car trains going that way besides.

M. E. answered:

I’m averse to posting in threads, but I want to chime in about the L turnaround at Howard St.

I grew up on Green St. south of 63rd. Between our residence and the L, the city tore down all the houses to make a parking lot for businesses on 63rd St. So I had a bird’s-eye view of the L.

Plus I rode the L a lot, by myself, when I was young. These days that’s a no-no, but back then it was safe.

The timing for all this was the late 1940s, after the State St. subway opened. I don’t remember seeing wooden cars on the Englewood L.

I rode the Englewood/Ravenswood L a lot, all the way to Lawrence and Kimball and back. I don’t think I ever changed to the Jackson Park L to go north past Belmont.

As an aside, I also remember wooden cars on the Kenwood L sharing the track with south side steel cars between Indiana and 18th St.

I distinctly remember that the Jackson Park L went north only to Howard. Not into Evanston.

Also, I remember being surprised one day by seeing that the CTA built a loop north of Howard to reverse direction. I don’t exactly remember when that was, just that I was surprised by it.

Given that the Jackson Park L terminated at Howard, and there was no reversing loop yet, there are several possibilities:

(1) The Rapid Transit system put two crewmen on every Jackson Park train — one at the south end, the other at the north end. This would have made it simple to reverse at Howard (as well as at 63rd and Stony Island). But very expensive to operate. This would also have had to be true of any other stub-ending L line with long trains.

(2) At Howard, trains pulled in from the south, changed crew at the station, and took off again heading south, all within a very short time. This seems not too feasible because it would probably delay Evanston and CNS&M trains from using the station.

(3) Suppose the trains proceeded north of Howard into the yard. Perhaps a new crew boarded the south end of the northbound train (which I want to call Train 1) at the Howard station. Then Train 1 pulled straight into the yard. The new crew at the south end took over and brought Train 1 back into Howard station heading south. Then at Howard the northbound crew got off.

(4) Train 1 arrived from the south at Howard. Its crew got off, and walked to the south end of the platform. Two other crews, assigned only to work at Howard, boarded Train 1 — one crew at the north end of the train, the other crew at the south end. These two crews took the train into the yard, reversed direction, and brought Train 1 south to the Howard station. There, the “road” crew, which had previously walked to the south end of the platform, re-boarded Train 1 and took it south from Howard. After that, the two Howard-only crews repeated to handle subsequently arriving trains from the south.

The more I look at these possibilities, I like #4 the best.

When I use the term “crew”, I mean motorman. That’s because on L trains back then, there were conductors between every car. Yes, really. Apparently there was no central control for opening and closing doors, so one conductor could control only his car’s doors. Also, every conductor from rear to front had to ring a bell twice to indicate all was clear to proceed. Those bells rang in each car, one at a time, from rear to front.

Furthermore, to my recollection, the longest trains through the subway had six cars. Not eight. For six cars there were five conductors. Another reason I say six cars is that station platforms were lengthened to accommodate eight cars. Those longer sections were narrower (not as deep) as the original platforms. In fact, the northmost track at the 63rd and Loomis terminal was extended over Loomis to accommodate eight-car trains. By that time there were no more double-deck buses on Loomis to preclude extending the L structure over the street.

Also, there were no married pairs of steel cars at that time. I remember seeing one-car trains on Sunday mornings. Consider also the Normal Park branch. Before it became a shuttle from 69th to Harvard, the Normal Park car coupled onto the back of an Englewood train. West of Harvard, people on the tracks coupled or uncoupled the Normal Park car, which had its own motorman and conductor. With a maximum of six cars, this means an Englewood train west of Harvard would have had only five cars max, so that the Normal Park car became the sixth car.

I have seen pictures of two-car Normal Park trains, but I never saw that personally.

I concede it’s possible that there were six cars on Englewood trains, plus one Normal Park car, total seven cars. I’m just not sure.

Everything I say here is based on 65-year-old memories. I may have some facts wrong, but I simply don’t know.

Then, robyer2000 wrote:

Thank you for your post. It is fascinating to me to hear your memories.

They in fact used 8 car trains, but due to the door control issues you mentioned, the furthest front and back doors were not used so an 8 car train could berth at a platform which would be a 6 car platform today.

I believe that trains of all 4000 series car only needed what they called a “gateman” every other car because the far doors of a car could be separately controlled at the opposite end of the car. One of the gateman was the conductor, I’m not sure where he stood in a long train. Logically, he would have been at the rear as he had to ascertain the train was properly berthed before opening the doors, but he may have been near the middle if at that time they already had lines drawn on the platform edge to assist the conductor.

Train door control wasn’t instituted until 1952-1954.

Your alternative 2 doesn’t sound possible because of the necessity of moving the train to the Southbound platform at Howard.

And then, M. E. wrote:

Some things I thought of after sending my last note:

Exit doors on 4000-series steel cars were at the ends of the cars. So at any coupled cars, there were exit doors at the rear of the first car and exit doors at the front of the second car. The conductor assigned to that location stood outside, over the coupling, and operated controls for the exit doors immediately to either side of him. The conductor could see the unloading and loading activity at each of the two exit doors, so he knew when all that activity was finished. He then rang the bell twice to indicate that his station was clear. As anyone can imagine, during winter the conductor had a very cold job.

The rearmost conductor was the first to ring the bells twice, then the second rearmost conductor, and so on to the frontmost conductor, who was stationed between cars one and two.

Because there was no conductor at the rear of the train, nor one at the front, passengers could not use the exit doors at the very rear and the very front. At the front, the motorman’s cabin occupied the right-side exit door area. And the motorman did not operate the left-side front exit door.

There was no public address system on those cars. Each conductor had to enter each of the two cars at his station to announce the next stop.

At that time it was permissible to walk between cars. Every car had doors at the ends of the cars that passengers could open to change cars. For safety, over the coupling area there were extended metal plates to walk on, and there were chains at each side of the walkway. (In effect, cars were connected not only with couplers but with chains too.) There were three chains vertically on each side of the walkway, from about knee height up to below chest height.

Unlike in the 6000-series cars, there was no railfan seat at the front opposite the motorman. As I recall, in 4000-series cars the seats closest to the exit doors were side-facing, and there was a solid partition between the seats and the exit door area. The only way to watch the track ahead was to stand at the front, next to the motorman’s cabin, and look through the glass in the end-facing door. Yes, there was a front-facing window in the exit door area, but that window was blocked by the route sign on the front of the train. The sign itself was wooden and was hung onto grillwork that spanned the window.

Earlier I mentioned another cold winter job: Coupling and uncoupling Normal Park cars to the rear of Englewood trains. Not only was it cold, it was also dangerous, because it was close to third rails. I cannot imagine the Environmental Protection Agency ever permitting such work today.

What became of the Normal Park car’s motorman and conductor? After a northbound run from 69th to the Englewood line west of Harvard, the Normal Park motorman likely detrained at Harvard, walked downstairs, across to the other side, and up to the south platform. Then he waited for the next southbound Englewood train, boarded it, and took his position in the last car, the one destined for Normal Park. Meanwhile, the northbound Normal Park conductor would have to stay with the Englewood train to be assigned to the newly coupled cars. In the southbound direction, the conductor assigned between the rearmost two cars on Englewood trains would therefore go to Normal Park after the uncoupling.

CSL Work Car Info

Following up on our earlier series about Chicago Surface Lines Work Cars (Part One here, Part Two there), Andre Kristopans writes:

I am sending you eight scans for your viewing (and distributing) pleasure. Four hand-written ones were copied from Jim Buckley’s notes in Roy Benedict’s possession by me years ago. The two lists of trailers were made from CTA records.You notice it goes back to 1914, and includes cars never r# by CSL.

Here is some more stuff:

Salt Cars
AA1 17266 12/27/55 ex 1430
AA2 17266 12/27/55 ex 1431
AA3 13266 08/02/51 ex 1433
AA4 13266 10/26/51 ex 1435
AA5 13266 07/03/51 ex 1437
AA6 13266 12/17/51 ex 1440
AA7 17266 09/08/55 ex 1441
AA8 19141 05/17/58 ex 1443
AA9 18181 09/27/56 ex 1444
AA10 16283 02/18/55 ex 1445
AA11 13266 10/26/51 ex 1446
AA12 16283 09/09/54 ex 1447
AA13 16283 09/09/54 ex 1448
AA14 16283 10/07/54 ex 1459
AA15 13266 01/07/52 ex 1462
AA16 13266 01/25/52 ex 1474
AA17 13266 10/30/51 ex 1475
AA18 13266 11/06/51 ex 1482
AA19 13266 01/07/52 ex 1483
AA20 16283 10/07/54 ex 1488
AA21 16283 05/26/55 ex 1492
AA22 13266 08/02/51 ex 1493
AA23 16283 09/09/54 ex 1496
AA24 16283 09/09/54 ex 1501
AA25 17266 09/08/55 ex 1502
AA26 19141 05/17/58 ex 1107
AA27 19141 05/17/58 ex 1142
AA28 18181 12/14/56 ex 1145
AA29 18181 12/14/56 ex 1166
AA30 17266 12/27/55 ex 1183
AA31 17266 09/08/55 ex 1198
AA32 18181 12/14/56 ex 1205
AA33 17266 12/27/55 ex 1213
AA34 16283 10/07/54 ex 1215
AA35 12603 02/09/51 ex 1219
AA36 19141 05/17/58 ex 1220
AA37 19141 05/17/58 ex 1224
AA38 18181 09/27/56 ex 1231
AA39 16283 09/23/54 ex 1235
AA40 13266 08/10/51 ex 1239
AA41 13266 11/06/51 ex 1240
AA42 13266 11/21/51 ex 1241
AA43 16283 10/07/54 ex 1243
AA44 13266 10/05/51 ex 1248
AA45 12391 08/24/50 ex 1249
AA46 17266 12/27/55 ex 1250
AA47 13266 10/26/51 ex 1252
AA48 13266 07/20/51 ex 1255
AA49 14175 05/27/52 ex 1259
AA50 17266 12/27/55 ex 1260
AA51 17266 12/27/55 ex 1266
AA52 17266 09/08/55 ex 1277
AA53 19141 05/17/58 ex 1302
AA54 18181 12/14/56 ex 1303
AA55 16283 11/10/54 ex 1304
AA56 17266 12/27/55 ex 1305
AA57 18181 12/14/56 ex 1306
AA58 18181 09/27/56 ex 1307
AA59 18181 09/27/56 ex 1308
AA60 17266 12/27/55 ex 1309
AA61 18181 09/27/56 ex 1310
AA62 18181 09/27/56 ex 1311
AA63 10218 03/11/59 ex 1374 to ERHS
AA64 16283 11/10/54 ex 1451
AA65 15451 04/05/54 ex 1453
AA66 19141 05/17/58 ex 1454
AA67 13266 08/17/51 ex 1455
AA68 13266 12/17/51 ex 1457
AA69 18181 12/14/56 ex 1458
AA70 15451 07/17/54 ex 1463
AA71 13266 08/02/51 ex 1465
AA72 19209 02/28/58 ex 1467 to ERHS
AA73 16283 09/27/56 ex 1468
AA74 16283 11/10/54 ex 1471
AA75 18181 09/27/56 ex 1472
AA76 19141 05/17/58 ex 1477
AA77 18181 09/27/56 ex 1478
AA78 17266 12/27/55 ex 1480
AA79 15451 04/05/54 ex 1481
AA80 16283 09/09/51 ex 1484
AA81 18181 12/14/56 ex 1487
AA82 13266 07/20/51 ex 1489
AA83 16283 10/07/54 ex 1494
AA84 15451 02/17/54 ex 1495
AA85 18181 09/27/56 ex 1497
AA86 18181 12/14/56 ex 1498
AA87 13266 01/25/52 ex 1499
AA88 13266 07/03/51 ex 1500
AA89 16283 09/09/54 ex 1503
AA90 18181 09/27/56 ex 1504
AA91 17266 09/08/55 ex 1545 /48 10143
AA92 17266 12/27/55 ex 2826
AA93 19141 05/17/58 ex 2841
AA94 13266 08/17/51 ex 2842
AA95 10218 06/18/59 ex 2843 to ERHS
AA96 17266 12/27/55 ex 2844
AA97 19141 05/17/58 ex 2845
AA98 10218 12/05/58 ex 2846 to ERHS
AA99 none 08/20/48 ex 2847 (replaced with another retired car from AFR 10412)
AA99 2nd 18181 06/06/56 ex 5031
AA100 13266 07/03/51 ex 2848
AA101 18181 12/14/56 ex 2849
AA102 13266 08/10/51 ex 2851
AA103 15451 02/17/54 ex 2852
AA104 18181 12/14/56 ex 2853
AA105 15451 02/17/54 ex 2854
AA106 13266 10/11/51 ex 2855
AA107 13266 01/25/52 ex 2856
1466 13059 03/09/51
2626 13059 /51
4001 T12 /53 to shed; from Pass 1948 S10143
7001 T12 /53 to shed; from Pass 1948 S10143

AA1-AA52 to salt cars 1930-31, AA53-AA62 01/34, AA6306/33; AA1-AA25 r# 10/1/41, AA26-AA90 r# 04/15/48

additional salt car conversions:
1122 scr 04/23/37
1188 scr 04/30/37
1201 return to passenger 3/6/43
1208 return to passenger 3/4/43
1211 destroyed 1/30/39 111th/Sacramento vs GTW, scr 3/8/39
1212 return to passenger 2/20/43
1223 return to passenger 4/11/43
1225 return to passenger 3/4/43
1226 r# 1357 1937, return to passenger 5/15/43
1228 return to passenger 5/29/43
1229 return to passenger 3/27/43
1234 return to passenger 3/5/43
1238 return to passenger 5/15/43
1244 return to passenger 3/12/43
1245 return to passenger 3/8/43
1251 return to passenger 5/9/43
1253 r# 1257 1937, return to passenger 5/11/43
1254 return to passenger 6/11/43
1257 r# 1253 1937, r# 1385 1937, return to passenger 3/11/43
1280 return to passenger 1/13/44
1286 return to passenger 7/3/43
1466 to instruction car 1/13/13
1486 to instruction car 9/30/12, sold 11/12/17 to Tri-City Ry (IA)

Interestingly, Andre’s information shows that CSL Mail Car H2, pictured as being operable and in its original paint scheme in 1938 (see our post Chicago Surface Lines Work Cars – Part 1), was apparently scrapped in 1942. This explains why H2 was not used in the 1943 parade celebrating the opening of the State Street Subway, or in the one day revival of street railway post office service for a convention in 1946.

Andre also wrote:

You have mentioned several times the B&OCT line that runs along the Eisenhower Xway. A couple of items of note: 1) The B&OCT ownership extends to Madison St, where SOO ownership started. CGW’s started at Desplaines Ave Jct. 2) Note I said B&OCT – this is still the legal owner of all CSX track north and west of Clark Jct in Gary. In fact, B&O still has its own employees, train service and others, and in a really odd twist, is the legal owner of a substantial number of CSX’s new GE locomotives!

Finally, for a while in the late 1950’s, B&OCT used the old L tracks from Desplaines to west of Central while their right-of-way was being dug out. Considering that this was light rail to begin with, and well worn at that, it must have been somewhat frightening to run a freight train thru there!

I replied:

Very interesting information. Wasn’t there some steam train type commuter rail service out to Forest Park along these lines?

I still wonder just why CTA paid the CA&E $1m for their fixed assets between Laramie and DesPlaines Avenue in 1953.

They didn’t buy the land, which I think was bought by the state for the highway project. They didn’t buy the Forest Park terminal, either. CA&E still had at least a partial ownership in this when passenger service was suspended in 1957 (I think Cook County had bought some for the highway project).

So, what did CTA buy other than some worn rail, signals, roadbed, stations, etc. that were all going to be replaced within a few years anyway?

Andre wrote:

Basically they bought the right to continue running to Desplaines after the line was rebuilt. Otherwise, if CA&E still owned it, the state would have been dealing with CA&E, and if CA&E just said “screw it”, the Congress L would have ended at Laramie. Remember, we are dealing with accounting stuff here. What was there then wasn’t worth much, though the ROW was probably CA&E owned, which CTA then bought and sold/traded to the state for where the L is today.

Back in the days of the “primordial ooze” there was service on the B&OCT out to Forest Park. This was part of the Randolph St business and the line out 16th St to Harlem. But it was all gone by early 1900’s, especially after the Met L was built.

SOO did run a more-or-less commuter round trip for many years, actually a local from I think Waukesha that ran at the right time.

We thank all our contributors. Keep those cards and letters coming in.

-David Sadowski









4 thoughts on “Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 10-4-2015, Etc.

  1. Dave — regarding SOO (WC) and CGW psgr service betw Chicago and Forest Park:

    The WC (and later SOO) indeed continued offering scheduled passenger service (on local or what would otherwise be considered “thru locals” betw Chicago and Forest Park. These were, as Andris pointed out, the so-called “Waukesha locals.”

    Additionally, thru trains continued (until Oct 1963 (?)), which is when the Soo Line’s LAKER was routed into Central Station (instead of Grand Central station), via the IHC/IC routing thru Broadview. (The Forest Park station was located west of the B&OCT tracks south of Madison St.)

    Likewise, the CGW Chicago-Oelwein local (usually protected by a motor car) continued carrying local passengers betw Grand Central Station and the CGW station (adjacent to the Des Plaines Ave CA&E/CTA station) until Sept 9(?), 1956.

    Wm Shapotkin


  2. Regarding Howard St pre-loop – trains did relay in the yard. The way it was supposed to work was that the crew that was to take the train south (or at least the motorman) got on the south end of the train as it arrived NB. The inbound motorman then pulled the train into the clear into the yard, and the outbound motorman then pulled it back into the station’s southbound side. This by the way is how Jefferson Park and 95th/Dan Ryan turnbacks were done when trains relayed past the platform.

    Yes, they went thru many switches this way, but even after the loop was built, remember that leaving the station a train went up the east yard lead and close to a dozen trailing switches before it made the loop.

    As for thru service, until 1949 there were a few (5 I think) rush trains that continued past Howard to Linden, basically because otherwise you could not turn trains fast enough at Howard. These trains had to be specially marshaled with plushies, as baldies had no poles and thus could not do north of Howard. Owl trains all continued to Linden.


  3. […] George Trapp: “Photo of car 204 with new Twin Coach buses in background, it appears car is in process of being converted to a salt spreader, cars last assignment was on Western after PCC’s bumped it from Clark-Wentworth.” (Railway Negative Exchange Photo) I’m not sure about a salt car, since 204 does not appear on the list of conversions we got from Andre Kristopans, which you can read here: […]


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