Back in the 1930s and 40s, railfans were sometimes referred to as “juice fans,” since they liked electric trains. I suppose this was a derisive term, at first, coined by outsiders to the hobby. But like many such nicknames, it was gradually embraced by the fans, who eventually wore it as a badge of honor. This explains its use in a 1957 flyer advertising a fantrip on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin in its last weeks of passenger operation, reproduced above.
Eventually, the term fell out of favor, and is about as common today as “Oh, you kid” or “23 Skidoo.”
Some months back, William Barber shared with us a picture taken on a 1957 Chicago, Aurora & Elgin fantrip. There was some question about the location, which our readers eventually identified as being on the Batavia branch, in the section between the old power house and the Batavia terminal.
One of the CA&E pictures in our last post Tokens of Our Esteem (January 20th) got Mr. Barber interested in sharing some additional CA&E pictures with us:
Reference this photo from the 01/20/16 Trolley Dodger. Yes, this is Wheaton at the grade crossing immediately east of the depot. Below are several photos that I took around 1959 or 1960. I apologize for the poor quality. The first one was taken from the upper platform of the tower looking east. Note the same building in the background and the the dead end switch leading from the eastbound main just before the next grade crossing. I have also attached some photos that my dad took on a 1957 Illini Railroad Club excursion.
The photos of cars 20 and 459 as well as the other operating equipment were all taken on an Illini Railroad Club fan trip on June 9, 1957. Attached are copies of a portion of the flyer for the trip and our ticket stubs. In the July 2015 issue of the Trolley Dodger, you posted another photo of mine from that same trip showing car no. 20 at a rural grade crossing which I thought was Prince’s Crossing. However, your readers corrected my comment and I think they finally identified it as near the Elgin terminal. (Editor’s note: It was actually identified as being on the Batavia branch, as you will see in the photo captions that follow below.) My other comments with that first post describe the events of that trip fairly well. Here they are again:
“As a 14 year old, I had the pleasure of riding the CA&E with my late father in June 9, 1957 on a Illini Railroad Club fan trip. At that time, the CA&E terminated at the Forest Park loop where our fan trip started. We covered the entire railroad from there to Wheaton, Elgin, Batavia and Aurora. We started with car #459 and would have used it for the entire trip except for a mishap that occurred while we were traveling up the Mt. Carmel Branch along Mannheim.
One of the third rail shoes struck a pile of gravel in the stone quarry and was damaged. We were able to operate to Wheaton with one shoe, but the Railroad decided that we should change cars there. This was a fine turn of events and significantly improved the trip for most of the passengers. Hopefully, someone else will respond who was on the same trip. I would like to hear from them. I am guessing that there were probably 40 people on that trip.”
The other four photos of the railroad at Wheaton after the shut down. Several friends and I drove over to the railroad during 1959 or 1960, from Downers Grove where we lived. At that time, of course, nothing was running, but most of the equipment was still held at the shop.
I just found the ticket stubs and part of the flyer for that trip, copy attached. I have also attached a copy of a flyer from another trip, but I don’t know if it ran or not. If it ran, we did not ride that trip.
Yes, the December 7, 1958 fantrip did take place, and was actually the last passenger train to ever run on the CA&E. Wood cars 319 and 320 were operated that day. We have previously posted a picture taken from that wintry day, and will include it in this post as well.
Interestingly, both cars were saved. 319 is at the Illinois Railway Museum, while 320 is in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. 320 had a notable distinction as, I believe, the last car ever to leave the CA&E property in April 1962, just prior to the complete dismantling of the railroad.
As Larry Plachno has written:
A special note must be made of car 320 which assumed some special importance. The car had been sold to the Iowa Railway Historical Museum in Centerville, Iowa. On Friday, April 6, 1962, Jim and Bob Lewis of the Museum and V. Allan Vaughn of the Iowa Chapter of the NRHS were in Wheaton to prepare 320 for movement to Iowa.
That morning was spent oiling journals and motors, removing motor brushes, and boarding up the car for movement. Arrangements had already been made with Walter Schneider, head of the Commercial Metals scrapping operation, for a special movement of this car. At 1:00 P.M. the Commercial Metals EJ&E switcher 212 came up to the car and was coupled up with an adapter coupler. By 1:30, the diesel and car 320 headed down the Aurora branch. By 2:30 P.M. the diesel and car reached the CB&Q interchange at Aurora. After arriving in Aurora, additional work was done on boarding up the windows for the trip west.
On Sunday, a CB&Q switcher pulled 320 to the Eola Yard where it was placed on a flat car for shipment to Centerville, Iowa. Only days later the Commercial Metals locomotive would return to Aurora to start ripping up rail. However, 320 arrived safely in Centerville and began museum operations on June 9 and 10, 1962. Consequently, 320 was the last car to operate over CA&E mainline rail. It was also the first museum car to operate after the abandonment of the CA&E. In all, 12 wooden passenger cars, seven steel passenger cars, one line car, and one flat car were saved. As far as is known, all but one car (320) left Wheaton through a temporary interchange track installed by the C&NW in Wheaton.
We thank Mr. Barber for sharing these great pictures with us.
I actually enjoy seeing the ones that have motion blur in them. They remind us that the “Roarin’ Elgin” wasn’t a static or slow-moving affair. It was all about SPEED and these pictures demonstrate that quite well, showing things in motion. I assume that several of these photos have not been published before.
CA&E car 20 is preserved in operable condition at the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin.
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Joey Morrow, one of our younger railfans, writes:
It’s the North Shore’s 53/100th anniversary!!!
Happy Birthday NSL, I thank the the world that I learned about the NSL and I think people should take a moment to look a how the railroads shaped America, and how the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad shaped high speed rail operation. 100 years ago the Chicago and Milwaukee electric was renamed into the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad, what it would remain for the last 47 years of service. 53 years ago (in about 2 1/2 hours). The railroad that shaped the awesome interurban era, will be the one to end it. It will ride the rails into heaven right behind her sister, the Chicago Aurora & Elgin, and it will show everyone the power of highways and what they can do to a railroad that shaped an era that could have been the railroads we see today.
Now the NSL shall sadly end what it has started. This railroad tops my list of favorite railroads. I watched the Amtrak HHP-8’s come to an end before I knew about the ACS-64’s. The awful story of Grand Trunk Western 5629 and 5632 scared me, to know the awesome steam power can’t stop a company to get it’s property. They shall join the other lost sister interurban roads that got lost from their southern sister. And the South Shore Line shall carry on the legacy of the interurban. The Iowa electric shall carry on last non-private electric freight operation, with their newest locomotives from 1923, these trains need help, help them. These stories of trains are what shape my life, and the adventure inside my soul to find remains of the NSL. Trains are what fuel me, it pumps steam powered pistons in my heart and turns drive wheels so I can walk. It’s what makes my life as a 13 year old in 7th grade possible. Please everyone, take trains into consideration, if there were no trains, then there will be no America. Trains are big, important, beautiful, behemoths on rails.
Thanks, Joey. Keep up the good work. Also keep in mind that, many times, when one door closes, another opens. While for many years there was one electric railway abandonment after another, now it is generally the reverse, with more and more new lines being built all the time.
Joey also asked if anyone can identify what railroad used to run in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge in New York, on Plymouth Street. He is not sure whether these were freight tracks or streetcar. In the close-up view, you can see an overhead wire support:
So, let’s see if we can help out an aspiring (not expiring) railfan.
Dick Myers replies:
I have a possible answer to the question posed by Joey in your Trolley Dodger blog posting. I posed the question to another email group, and received the following reply:
That’s the Brooklyn Bridge you see in the photos and the tracks may have been those of the B.E.D.T. (Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal) which serviced the piers along the East River Brooklyn waterfront into the 1960s. They had a fleet of 0-4-0T locomotives. Steve Hayes
The Wikipedia article on this railroad indicates they only used steam and diesel locomotives.
Thanks, however further research has shown it was not the B. E. D. T. (PS- The 3-CD collection Twilight of Steam, available via our Online Store, has audio recordings on it of steam locomotives on the Brooklyn East District Terminal not long before they switched to diesel in 1963.)
Looks like both Seth (see comments section below) and Bill Wall have the correct answer:
The section of track you are looking at was formerly operated by the Jay Street Connecting RR, abandoned in 1959. It was never electrified. What you see there sticking out from the warehouse is most likely either an awning or some kind of hoist for unloading. Find attached another photo of the area from 1944:
Daniel Joseph has some additional information to share with us regarding off-street bus loops (mostly regarding Evanston):
The #202 and Saturday #203 short turns used Sherman-Davis as a terminal until those routes were discontinued. My memory fails me as to the location of the terminal for the #204.
If my memory is still working correctly, during Sunday Chicago Bears football games at Soldiers Field in the late 1980s, the left northbound lane of Lake Shore Drive south of Balbo was used by southbound #128 Soldiers Field buses. This will need verification.
The southbound contraflow bus lane in the left northbound lane in Lake Shore Drive from Balbo to Soldiers Field for Sunday Bears football games was confirmed by Robert Bourine and David L. Phillips. Unknown how the buses existed this lane.
Also the bus lane at Linden Purple Line is always used for bus replacement shuttles.
Weekday afternoons CTA operated a bus from Skokie Shops south on Crawford/Pulaski to Foster. In the morning a north bound trip may also have been provided.
Sherman & Davis bus bay was confirmed by Robert Bourine and David L. Philips. it was separated from Sherman by an Island with pillars supporting the parking garage.The city of Evanston has a photo.
Skokie Shops bus boarding in the parking lot was confirmed by Walter Keevil and David L. Phillips. In the afternoon it traveled south on Crawford/Pulaski to Foster. Technically this route would accept regular passengers at the parking lot. We cannot determine if a corresponding morning northbound trip existed.
Andre Kristopans adds:
It did turn into shop property. Routing at least until the 1970’s was Oakton-Dodge/California-Foster-Pulaski, I gather to make more connections. Also Sherman/Davis turn-in was used by all four Evanston routes until the big rearrangement when 202 and 203 went away and 205/206 started.
Model of North Shore Line Milwaukee Terminal
Yesterday, I noticed some interesting photos online in an e-mail distributed by Terrell Colson, posted by Jim Rindt:
There has recently been interest in the Depots by John “Midwest Interurban Terminal” which is, of course,The North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal in HO scale. I built one for a customer a number of years ago but I cannot remember if I ever posted pics of it here or not. So here it is, enjoy!
After seeing the pictures of the model, I contacted Jim Rindt and asked if he would let us post them here.
Thanks for your note. I would be glad to have you to post the pics of it on your blog. Your blog is one I enjoy.
My website is http://www.rindtsrelics.com and I have several other North Shore items available and soon the Insull Spanish depots in N, HO & O scales. By the Summer I am hoping to have HO kits available for the Dempster, Kenosha and Mundelein.
The Terminal kit came from John Dornfeld of Depots by John.
The original North Shore Line terminal in Milwaukee sat vacant for more than a year before it was torn down in the summer of 1964. Another building occupies the site at 6th and Michigan today, with nary a trace of traction heritage to be found. But model-making presents an opportunity to preserve history in another way, one that builds things instead of tearing them down.
That made it especially appealing to me yesterday, the 53rd anniversary of the North Shore Line’s demise. It is no coincidence that this is the same date I picked to launch The Trolley Dodger. I would like January 21st to be associated with new beginnings and not just sad endings.
There is a large North Shore Line sign very much like this one on display at the Illinois Railway Museum, although I do not know for certain whether it actually came from the Milwaukee terminal.