We continue our recent series on the last days of the fabled Chicago, Aurroa & Elgin interurban with some additional pictures from Mark Llanuza, who writes:
On March 6th 1958, the CA&E saw its first passenger train over the line in eight months. It was dubbed The Mass Transit Special, and it was intended to jump-start the resumption of passenger service.
Aboard were railroad officials and politicians from various communities along the line as well as members of the Illinois Mass Transportation Commission. It was a two-car train set made up of the 417 and one of the St. Louis cars. This train stopped at suburban towns with many people coming out to stand by the CA&E and bring it back to service. Some towns (like Glen Ellyn) had marching bands. Attendance was large in many towns but it wasn’t enough to bring back service. These photos were captured by Bob Gibson.
If you would like to read more about why the effort to save the CA&E failed, check out our previous post The CTA, the CA&E, and “Political Influence” (February 18, 2015).
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Here is an interesting piece of CA&E ephemera– a Car Equipment Defect Report from June 1, 1914. Car number 303 has “leaks all over.”
One curious thing about this form is the reference to the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railway. As far as I know, in 1914 it was called the AE&C, before being reorganized into the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad (not Railway) in the early 1920s.
New Beginnings for 320
CA&E wood car 320, the last saved car to leave the property, was also the first to operate again in a new location in 1962. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “320 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Iowa Chapter NRHS in 1962. It was transferred to Midwest Electric Railway Museum in 1968.”
From 1962 to 1968, the 320 ran on the Southern Iowa Railway. Again, according to Don’s Rail Photos:
The railroad became home to the Iowa Chapter, NRHS, in the 1950s. Three interurbans were acquired, plus a CGW caboose. In 1958 1.5 miles of the Mystic branch was abandoned. When the Centerville powerhouse was closed, ISU wanted to abandon or sell the line. It was purchased by a local group and became the Southern Industrial RR. In 1966 the wire was removed on the Moravia line and a CB&Q motor car was acquired. The wire remained at Moravia and box motor 101 was stationed there for switching. Also in 1966 the Chariton River trestle burned and the line was severed. The wire at Centerville was removed and service became occasional. The Moravia operation was abandoned on July 18, 1967, and was the final electric operation.
Since 1968, the 320 has been restored and now provides service during the Midwest Old Thresher’s Reunion every Labor Day weekend in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Here are some pictures of the 320 on the Southern Iowa Railway, taken between 1962 and 1964 by the late James D. Johnson:
Here is another photo from the June 9, 1957 CA&E fantrip we covered in a previous post. We have added the photo there as well:
With so many CA&E cars now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum, it’s fitting to consider IRM’s own interurban origins. The museum’s Main Line was once part of the Elgin & Belvidere Electric, which ran from 1907 to 1930.
For several years after abandonment, the railroad’s cars sat out in the open in Marengo, waiting for buyers that never came.
Again, according to Don Ross:
In 1956, I was checking on ownership of an abandoned C&NW right-of-way for the Illinois Railway Museum, and I stopped in the county clerk’s office in Woodstock. The clerk became curious and then suggested that we might be interested in a piece of property which was on the delinquent tax rolls. It was 50 feet wide and 7 miles long. After paying the taxes for two years, a quit claim was filed and this has become the home of the IRM at Union, IL.
Space, the Final Frontier
Thanks in part to the generous donations from our readers, we have now solved the space problem caused by the growth of this blog. During our first year, we posted 13gb of files, our entire allotment under a WordPress professional account. When space became tight, we had to figure out some workarounds, posting some of our image files elsewhere.
However, this was not entirely satisfactory, because our readers could not magnify those images for closer scrutiny, as they can with all the ones we upload via WordPress. With this additional upgrade, we now have unlimited storage space, and will not need to worry about running out of space as long as we can continue to make the yearly payments.
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