CA&E 309 at Wheaton on a May 19, 1957 CERA fantrip. About two years later the fledgling Illinois Electric Railway Museum referred to this car as the “jewel of the fleet,” when raising money for its purchase. We reproduced that flyer in our post Railfan Ephemera (August 26, 2015).
We’ve been on a bit of a Chicago, Aurora & Elgin kick lately, so here are some more great photos of that fabled interurban. Several of these were taken on Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrips. There were many such trips in the sunset days of the “Sunset Lines.”
We also have some photos of city streetcars in Elgin in the early 20th century. As you can see from the photos, some of these were lightly built lines that I am sure did not offer up the riding quality generally associated with the CA&E.
We also tracked down a photo of a Commonwealth Edison electric loco in service, to satisfy a request made some time ago by one of our readers.
PS- We have the unique and rare opportunity to buy nearly a dozen 7″ reels of 8mm railfan films shot between 1954 and 1971 at a very reasonable cost. These include Chicago rapid transit, streetcars in New Orleans, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Newark and Philadelphia, the Red Arrow lines (including the Ardmore branch), and several CERA fantrips. This opens up the possibility that at some future date, we may be able to offer DVDs of these films. But a lot of work and expense has to go into making that a reality. Your generous contributions towards that goal are greatly appreciated.
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In our post Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 10-18-2015, Mike Murray asked for pictures of the Commonwealth Edison third rail operation on Chicago’s north side (not far from the former location of Hot Doug’s). Well, we finally found one. Here is electric loco S-4 at California and Addison on January 9, 1949. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “4 was built in November 1911 by Alco, #50284, and General Electric, #3514. It was donated to Illinois (Electric) Railway Museum in 1962.”
“CTA elevated train on loop over Aurora-Elgin track (Garfield Park line, Des Plaines Ave.), August 1955.” (Roy Bruce Photo)
CA&E 454 and 701 at Lakewood on a May 19, 1957 CERA fantrip. This is the same train shown in another picture at Elgin. (Roy Bruce Photo)
CA&E Pullman 405. But is this Aurora or Batavia?
This would appear to be a lineup of rapid transit cars in storage at Roosevelt Road on the Westchester branch, which was owned by CA&E. It was intended to be part of a bypass route that would have gone through what we know today as Oakbrook. Service on this branch ended in December 1951. The only car number I can make out in this photo is 2889. (Dick Rumbolz Photo)
CA&E 421 and 423 street running in Aurora. Since the street running was eliminated in 1939, this photo cannot be later than that date.
A two-car CA&E train, headed up by 434, “at speed.” Not sure of the exact location. (H. L. Younger Photo)
CA&E 314 and CTA 2833 at Laramie on March 12, 1953. I’m not sure whether the 314 is on a storage track. The photographer notes, “this section to be abandoned by CA&E.” The interurban cut back service to Forest Park that September 20th. I believe we are looking east. (Roy Bruce Photo)
CA&E freight locos 2001 and 2002 at Wheaton on March 14, 1957.
CA&E 454 and 701 at Elgin, alongside the Fox River, on a May 19, 1957 CERA fantrip. 701 was a control trailer and had formerly been owned by the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis. As Don’s Rail Photos says, “701 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1913 as WB&A 81. It was sold as CA&E 701 in 1938.” It and its brothers had their ends modified by CA&E to fit Chicago “L” clearances.
CTA 6041-6042 at Western Avenue on the Van Buren temporary trackage, February 22, 1955. This rerouting, caused by Congress expressway construction, had a lot to do with the demise of the CA&E.
CA&E 300 and 318 at Batavia on a July 4, 1956 CERA fantrip.
CA&E Pullmans 419 and 403 are taking a photo stop at Glen Oak on a July 4, 1956 CERA fantrip.
A close-up view.
CA&E 321 and 404 at Wheaton on July 4, 1956.
An Elgin trolley.
Photo caption: “Elgin Illinois 1923. 10 cents from here to Elgin via the “Toonerville Trolley,” trolley clog(?) 5 cents extra.”
Photo caption: “Next stop Trout Park.”
The Trout Park roller coaster. Trolley lines often built amusement parks in order to generate traffic.
An Elgin trolley.
The Elgin Watch factory circa 1910. It closed in the 1960s.
A couple of CA&E woods (including 308) head east, approaching the Des Plaines Avenue terminal in April 1957, a few months before abandonment of passenger service. Another CA&E train is in the terminal, while a train of CTA 4000s, including a “baldy” with the blocked-off center door, turns around on a wooden trestle. This arrangement began when the CA&E stopped running downtown in September 1953.
This undated 1950s photo shows a westbound Chicago, Aurora & Elgin train (cars 406 and 41x) at the Villa Park station. According to the Great Third Rail web site, “The station was rebuilt again in 1929. During this reconstruction, the eastbound platform was moved to the west side of Villa Avenue with the construction of an expansive Tudor Revival station designed by Samuel Insull’s staff architect, Arthur U. Gerber. The westbound platform remained in place and was outfitted with a flat roofed wooden passenger shelter. Villa Park was one of a few stations to survive the demise of the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin. Both it and Ardmore (the next station west) were purchased by the village of Villa Park and refurbished with an official dedication by the Villa Park Bicentennial Commission on July 5, 1976. It is now home to the Villa Park Historical Society which hosts an annual ice cream social on July 3, the anniversary of the day the CA&E ended passenger service.”
I believe this photo shows CA&E freight loco 4006 on the Mt. Carmel branch.
The CA&E station at Spring Road in Elmhurst in the 1950s.
Here is Lackawana & Wyoming Valley 31 as it appeared on August 3, 1952. Passenger service ended on this third-rail line at the end of that year. Some have wondered if the LL rolling stock could have benefited the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, but the general consensus is these cars would have been too long to navigate the tight curves on the Loop “L”, although perhaps they could have been used west of Forest Park. As it was, there were no takers and all were scrapped. Ironically, some thought was later given by a museum of adapting a CA&E curved-side car into an ersatz Laurel Line replica, but this idea was dropped.