Mystery Photo Answers
Interesting mystery photo. It is CA&E #500 acquired in 1927 to replace standard cars on the Batavia Branch. As you can see from the photo does not appear to have been a success. It was loaned to the North Shore to help alleviate equipment needs during the war. It operated in city service as CN # 361…a brief history of this car can be found in Don Ross rail pictures of North Shore Line city cars. Due to the differences in mechanical equipment it was not popular during use on the North Shore. Another mystery surrounding this car is how it was moved from the CA&E to the North Shore…since it was 3rd rail equipped it could have traveled on the L but as far as I know this has never been confirmed.
As Ed Halstead has noted (see comment below):
The August 2013 issue of “First & Fastest” had a great article “A Secornd Hand Rose” regarding the CA&E 500/NSL 361. Included in the article is a photo of the CA&E 500 loaded on a flat car on its way to the NSL.
The article answers any questions you may have regarding the CA&E 500.
According to Don’s Rail Photos:
There was one additional car which almost fits into this series. Car 361 was built by St. Louis Car in 1927, just like the 350s, but it had different motors, control, and braking equipment. It was built as 500 for the Chicago Aurora & Elgin. It was used to replace standard interurban cars on the Batavia branch, but it quickly proved to be unsatisfactory. It was retired and placed in storage until June 1942, when it was leased to the North Shore. It was repainted and renumbered and put into Waukegan service. After the war, it was purchased by the North Shore in March 1947. It was quickly retired and scrapped in 1948.
So, the photo showing the car out in Wheaton lettered for CA&E must date to around 1941, probably just prior to it being leased to the North Shore Line. Thanks to everyone who contributed.
If you use the above link to Don Ross’ web site you can see a couple other pictures of car 500/561.
Mike Murray writes:
First off, I want to thank you for your continuing efforts to bring transit history to the web on your blog. I love seeing every new posting.
I hate to be the guy that suggests things but doesn’t do them himself, but I’d love to see a post about the 3rd rail-powered Com Ed line that ran on the city’s north side. John Smatlak has a website dedicated to it, but I’ve never seen much in the way of photos of the line in operation:
I asked George Kanary and Bruce Moffat, but neither had knowledge of any such photos. You seem to have a knack for finding things, or perhaps have a wider circle of friends that are railfans, and thought you might be able to track down more photos than those on the website.
John’s website is pretty thorough, so maybe there isn’t much more to be known about this line, but if there is, I’d love to see more about it.
Thanks again for all that you’re doing.
While I don’t have any such photos myself, perhaps some of our readers might have more information, thanks.
In our post Railfan Ephemera (August 26th), we show a flyer from the early days of the Illinois Railway Museum circa 1959, seeking funds to purchase Chicago, Aurora & Elgin car 309, referred to as the “jewel of the fleet.” We asked Frank Hicks, of the excellent Hicks Car Works blog, why this car in particular was so highly regarded out of all the ones that could have been saved (and it was eventually purchased by IRM, where it remains today).
Here is his reply:
By 1957 the 309 was one of the least-modernized cars in the CA&E fleet. Right up until the end of service it retained its stained-and-varnished mahogany trim, long after most of the cars had seen the entirety of their interiors painted over with some shade of green or tan. Remember too that only cars 309-321 had interior stained glass windows at this time (earlier cars didn’t have double-sash stained glass windows), and most of the Kuhlmans and Jewetts (as well as the 310) had their stained glass windows painted over on the inside.
There were a couple of other Kuhlmans and Jewetts that still had unpainted stained glass windows and trim (318 comes to mind) but the 309 was an older car that hewed more closely to the lines of the original fleet. It was also from a local, and unusual, builder and it had the same electrical equipment as the 1902 fleet, unlike the Kuhlmans and Jewetts which were built with newer equipment. The CA&E didn’t have anything particularly more opulent – no office cars or parlor cars by that time – so why not refer to the 309 as the jewel of the fleet?
More Railfan Ephemera
We recently acquired some items from the early days of Central Electric Railfans’ Association. The seller indicated that some of these were once part of the CERA office files, which were apparently sold off in three different batches during the 1940s and 50s. This story is probably true since one item is a voided out sample fantrip ticket, numbered 0000, and previously unknown. The envelope mailed to a soldier came from a different source. (Please note that Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.)
These documents shed additional light on the history of that venerable organization and its members. We hope that you will enjoy them. Chances are there are still more additional early documents out there remaining to be discovered.
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