April showers have given way to May flowers, and it is high time here at Trolley Dodger HQ for a little spring cleaning.
A long time ago, railfans would put together dossiers on various subjects. Our own method, we confess, is to do something similar. We collect photographs and artifacts on various subjects, and after we have collected a sufficiency, that provides enough material for a blog post.
Inevitably, however, there are some odds and ends left over. So, this weekend we have cleaned out our closets, so to speak, and have rounded up some interesting classic images that we are adding to previous posts. People do look at our older posts, and when we can improve them, we do so. After all, we want this site to be an online resource for information that people will use as much in the future as they do today.
To this, we have added some recent correspondence and even a few interesting eBay items for your enjoyment. Add a few “mystery photos” to the mix, and you’ll have a complete feast for the eyes to rival anything put on a plate by the old Holloway House cafeteria.
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The eBay Beat
This old metal sign dates to the 1940s or early 50s and was used on Douglas Park “L” trains prior to the introduction of A/B “skip stop” service, which started in December 1951. It’s remarkable that this sign, obsolete for more than 64 years, still exists. It was recently offered for sale on eBay, but the seller was asking about $500 for it and it did not sell.
You can see pictures of similar signs in use in our earlier post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Three (March 23, 2016). In practice, a train that was not an express would simply flip the sign over and become a local, unless it was a “short turn” going to Lawndale only, to be put into storage, which involved a different sign.
The seller says:
The sign is made by the Chicago Veribrite sign company that was very well know in sign making and went out of business in 1965. Sign measures about 19.5 x 11 in size.
I found a list of sign manufacturers online that says the Veribrite Sign Company was in business from 1915 to 1965.
There were other signs used that were not metal. Some paper signs were used to identify Garfield Park trains in the 1950s, and a few of these have also survived.
The three photos below are listed for sale on eBay as being from Chicago, but this is obviously in error. Perhaps some of our keen-eyed readers can tell us where they actually do come from. If we can determine the real locations, we will contact the seller so they can update their listings accordingly. (See the Comments section for the answers.)
Englewood “L” Extension
Prior to the construction of the CTA Orange Line, which opened in 1993, the City of Chicago and CTA seemed more interested in tearing down elevated lines than in building them. However, the 1969 two-block extension of the Englewood branch of the South Side “L” (part of today’s Green Line) was an exception to this. It was even thought there might be further extensions of this branch all the way to Midway airport, but that is now served by the Orange Line. There was only a brief period of time when these construction pictures could have been taken. According to Graham Garfield’s excellent web site, the extension opened on May 6, 1969. At this time the new Ashland station, with more convenient interchange with buses, replaced the old Loomis terminal.
FYI, we posted another photo of the Englewood extension construction in our previous post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Three (March 23, 2016).
Farewell to Red Cars Fantrip
This picture has been added to our post Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part Five (December 11, 2015), which featured another photo taken at the same location, on the same fantrip:
LVT on the P&W
We’ve added another photo showing Lehigh Valley Transit freight operations on the Philadelphia and Western after (passenger service there was abandoned) to our post Alphabet Soup (March 15, 2016), which already had a similar picture:
More CA&E Action
The Chicago, Aurora & Elgin picture at the top of this page, plus these two others, have been added to our previous post More CA&E Jewels (February 9, 2016).
The next photo has been added to our post The Mass Transit Special (February 4, 2016):
North Shore Line Action
These Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee photos have been added to our post A North Shore Line Potpourri, Part Two (August 22, 2015):
More South Shore Line Action
These Chicago, South Shore and South Bend interurban photos have been added to our post Tokens of Our Esteem (January 20, 2016):
On my first trip to Boston in 1967 I rode all the lines, including the Watertown trolley which briefly was designated as the A line (although I don’t recall ever seeing any photos of that designation on roll signs. I’ve read that officially, Watertown was “temporarily” bussed in 1969 due to a shortage of PCCs for the other lines. The tracks and wire were retained until about 1994 for access to Watertown Yard, where some maintenance work was done.
Recently, I found a blog post that offers perhaps the best explanation of why the Watertown trolley was replaced by buses. Starting in 1964, a choke point got added to the Watertown trackage in the form of an on ramp for the Mass Pike highway, which was one way. So, streetcars had not only to fight massive traffic congestion at this one point, but going against the regular traffic flow as well. Therefore, the MBTA decided to replace the Watertown trolley with buses (the 57) that were re-routed around this choke point.
Here are some pictures showing a 1988 fantrip on the Watertown line, which had by then not seen regular revenue service with streetcars in nearly 20 years. How I wish I was on that trip.
Railroad Record Club Audition Records
Kenneth Gear writes:
Hi David. Recently there was an auction on eBay for 4 RRC LPs. Interestingly each of the album jackets have a rubber stamping on them. It reads: THIS IS AN AUDITION SET RECORD AND IS THE PROPERTY OF THE RAILROAD RECORD CLUB HAWKINS, WI 54530.
The person selling these LPs offered no explanation but I can only conclude that these records were (or were planned to be) played on the radio or sent to a railroad or audiophile magazine for review. If they were played on air, wouldn’t it be great to know where and when. Perhaps the broadcast included an interview with Mr. Steventon. Have you ever seen a review of a RRC record in any magazine or newspaper archive?
I saw that too, thanks. One possibility is that these were demonstration records to be played in booths at record stores. Or perhaps they were used to try and drum up orders from people who had no idea what a railroad record was like?
Maybe the radio station idea is best… in any event, these must have been at least at one time owned by Steventon. Perhaps one of our readers might have a better idea what such audition records were used for.
We have written about the Railroad Record Club several times before. Don’t forget that we offer more than 80% of their entire output on CDs, attractively priced and digitally remastered, in our Online Store.
Farnham Third Rail System
Charlie Vlk writes:
Does anyone know the origin/disposition of the experimental interurban car used by Farnham in his demonstration of the Farnham Third Rail System? A section of side track at Hawthorne on the CB&Q was modified with Farnham’s third rail which was an under-running system that was only energized when the car was collecting power in a segment. Variations of this system were used by the NYC and other railroads. The trial took place in 1897 and he car looks similar to, but not identical, to Suburban Railroad (West Towns) equipment but had different trucks and slightly different window spacing.
Let’s hope there is someone out there who will have an answer for you, thanks.
St. Louis PCC Will Run Again
Steve Binning writes:
Hi, just thought that you might like to know about the PCC restoration at Museum of Transportation in St. Louis.
On May 21, 50 years to the day from the last streetcar operation in St. Louis, the Museum will present to the public a restored and operational PCC. We will be giving rides all day long. This car will be added to the other 3 cars operating at the Museum.
Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster
Finally, there was some interesting correspondence regarding the Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster, which we wrote about on May 19, 2015.
Jeff Wilson writes:
The driver of the gasoline truck, Melvin (Mel) Wilson was my paternal grandfather who left behind a wife and four young boys.
It was a horrible tragedy that should never be forgotten.
Craig Cleve, author of The Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster added:
I regret not being able to find more information about your grandfather when I wrote my book about the accident. Obviously, you didn’t know him. But what can you tell us about him?
Jeff Wilson replied:
Like you said, I never met him. My father told me stories and I’ve seen many pictures of Mel. After Pearl Harbor Mel enlisted in the Navy and served during WWII. He died on my father’s 8th grade graduation night. My Dad had asked Mel to stay at home that evening to attend his graduation ceremony. Mel knowing he had 4 boys to support decided that he would drive that evening and earn some extra money to buy his boy’s new shoes. They never saw him alive again.
I am gratified that we are helping to make these personal connections. It is important that the personal stories behind this tragedy be told.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.