Thanks to the generosity of George Trapp, here is another generous helping of classic Chicago Surface Lines streetcar photos from his collection. (To see additional photos he has already shared with us, just type “George Trapp” into the search window at the top of this page. Several other posts should come up.)
These pictures date to the “red car” era in Chicago, which began in the early 1920s and ended in 1954. A particular highlight is a half-dozen shots of CSL streetcar 1415 shown in various places along the same route, in pictures taken by the late Joe L. Diaz.
George Trapp notes, “Car #2908 and all of the shots of #1415 were taken on the Webster-Racine line before it’s abandonment on August 30, 1947. Elevated station is the Webster Station closed in 1949 used by Wilson Avenue locals. Webster-Racine was single track with a passing siding under the “L”.” (Bill Shapotkin also identified this as the Webster station.)
My guess is Joe Diaz set out to document this line just prior to the end of streetcar service, judging by the age of the various autos shown in the pictures. The date of abandonment predated the official takeover of CSL by the Chicago Transit Authority by one month.
Bill Shapotkin writes:
Webster/Racine was not widely photographed. As I understand it (from conversation with Roy Benedict), the line operated with one car — two in the “rush.” The two cars would pass under the ‘L’ at Sheffield (only passing track on the otherwise single-track line).
The 1415 was part of the same series as car 1374, the “Matchbox,” which as been restored to operating condition at the Illinois Railway Museum. Earlier this year, the body of car 1137, also part of this series, was unearthed in Wisconsin, although we do not know its ultimate fate.
According to Don’s Rail Photos:
Small St. Louis Cars 1101-1425
These cars were built by St. Louis Car in 1903 and 1906 for Chicago Union Traction Co. They are similar to the Robertson design without the small windows. Cars of this series were converted to one man operation in later years and have a wide horizontal stripe on the front to denote this. A number of these cars were converted to sand and salt service and as flangers.
We also have some interesting street scenes from around 1928 showing various “L” lines in the city. These have a fascination in their own right, especially comparing the “then and now.”
One photo in particular shows the Lindy Theatre, which somehow seems to have escaped the notice of the otherwise very thorough Cinema Treasures web site. Photos posted here would seem to indicate the Lindy was in operation on Madison at Paulina from around 1928 to at least 1937. Cinema Treasures has a different location for this movie theater.
As always, if you can help identify locations, or have interesting facts or reminiscences to add, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. You can leave comments on this post, or write us directly at:
FYI there will be several additional posts in this series coming up in the near future, so watch this space.
George Trapp notes:
Notice that in the two photos of Sedans, cars 3340 and 3332 that neither car is going to the South end of the line. Car 3340 is only going as far as Wentworth-Cermak looping via Clark, Cermak, Wentworth and Archer back to Clark Northbound. Car 3332 is a Clark local only going as far as Downtown (Van Buren?). It is followed by a small St. Louis car in salt service. Only cars 1398-1423 were one manned in the early 1920’s; the rest remained two man until stored in the Depression with approximately 85 being scrapped along with Brill built 1424-1428 after arrival of 1936 PCC’s in 1937.
Some thought on the Franklin and Elm trackage, looking at the photo of curve, it may have been impossible for double truck cars to pass on that curve, it may have never been upgraded for double truck cars in the 1908-1914 period.
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Two New CD Collections of Vintage Steam Train Audio Are Now Available
Here are two new additions to our catalog of vintage train sounds on Compact Disc available in our Online Store. Additional titles, including some rare traction audio CDs, are in the pipeline and will be available soon. We are well on the way towards fulfilling our goal of making the entire Railroad Record Club collection available once again to the public, after being out of print for so many years.
We thank Kenneth Gear for lending us these and many other original LPs from his collection. Thanks to his generosity, you too can now hear these public domain “orphan works” put out by long-gone obscure record labels 40 or 50 years ago.
There is a lot of hard work involved in digitizing these classic recordings, but with the use of modern technology and a lot of plain old hard work, these recordings are sounding better than ever.
Twilight of Steam
# of Discs – 2
The long out-of-print, thrilling audio counterpart to the exciting and controversial 1963 book The Twilight of Steam Locomotives by Ron Ziel. (Book not included.)
Railroads covered include the Reader, Virginia Blue Ridge, Southern Pacific, Bevier & Southern, Mobile & Gulf, Kentucky & Tennessee, Magma Arizona, the Mississippian, Graham County Railroad, Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal, Denver & Rio Grande, East Broad Top, Reading, Canadian Northern, the Strasburg, the Burlington, Buffalo Creek & Gauley, Grand Trunk Western, Alabama Central, Valle de Mexico, Rockton & Rion, Duluth Missabe & Iron Range, and Great Western. These were among the last steam locos in regular service on North American railroads, in recordings made between 1958 and 1966.
Total time – 130:51
Fast Freight Rolling
# of Discs – 1
This album represents the ultimate audio documentation of the grand age of the iron horse on the Western Maryland Railway, in recordings made circa 1952-53.
These are the only known audio recordings of the Western Maryland Railway. Every major class of steam motive power operated by the Western Maryland is included. It also includes Western Maryland #6, the last and most modern Shay-type locomotive ever built.
From the Wikipedia:
The Western Maryland Railway (reporting mark WM) was an American Class I railroad which operated in Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. It was primarily a coal hauling and freight railroad, with a small passenger train operation. The WM became part of the Chessie System in 1973, although it continued independent operations until May 1975 after which time many of its lines were abandoned in favor of parallel Baltimore and Ohio Railroad lines. In 1983 it was fully merged into the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, which later was also merged into the Chessie System with the former Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, which is now CSX Transportation.
Total time – 67:38