Remembering Bradley Criss

Bradley Criss on March 3, 2012 at the end of the St. Charles Car Line at Carrollton and Claiborne Avenues in New Orleans. (Jeff Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Bradley Criss on March 3, 2012 at the end of the St. Charles Car Line at Carrollton and Claiborne Avenues in New Orleans. (Jeff Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

As many of you may know, I was part of the creative team that produced CERA Bulletin 146*, along with Jeff Wien and Bradley Criss. For that book, I wrote a tribute to Jeff, who is 14 years older than I am and has long been a friend and a mentor to me in the railfan field.

Now, just one year after the book’s publication, I find myself unexpectedly penning a tribute to Bradley. Late last night I received the following note from Jeff:

It is with a sense of deep regret that I inform you of the death of BRADLEY CRISS on June 29, 2016 at 2:00am. Bradley died peacefully in hospice care at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital where he had been hospitalized for a month’s time fighting off infections and other problems.

Bradley was a highly talented young man who will be missed by all of us.

Bradley’s passing was a great shock to everyone who knew him.  He was just 53 years old, and as he was the junior member of the B-146 troika, I had just naturally assumed that he would outlive the both of us.

That is just too young an age for someone as smart, funny, opinionated, and talented as Bradley to die. Let me tell you the story of how the book came about, and how crucial a part Bradley played in its creation.

B-146 was, somewhat improbably, the first CERA publication entirely devoted to Chicago streetcars since a roster had been put out in 1941. There were a variety of reasons why this was so, including the publication of Alan R. Lind‘s excellent book Chicago Surface Lines: An Illustrated History in 1974, the controversial demise of Windy City trolleys, and the immensity of the subject.

During my first term on the CERA board in the early 1990s, I suggested something like this, but the time was not yet ripe and nothing came of it.

About 10 years ago, Jeff and Bradley produced the Chicago Streetcar Memories DVD. Jeff provided the content, and Bradley did a terrific and very professional job putting it together. He had fantastic skills in video production, as anyone who has seen the North Shore Line program that Jeff and Bradley did a few years ago will attest.** The videos they made together are definitely the best of their type. If you have not seen them, they are highly recommended and should not be missed.

In particular, their North Shore Line video brings that storied interurban to life in a way that I would not have thought possible.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Jeff and Bradley had originally planned a CERA book to accompany the Chicago Streetcar Memories DVD. Some work was done then, including parts of the text that would later appear in B-146, but somehow it went onto the back burner in favor of other projects.

During my second stint at CERA a few years ago, I brought up the subject of a Chicago book again, and learned not only that there were tremendous resources available, but that a “head start” had already been made by Bradley and Jeff. The time was right this time, and the project received an enthusiastic green light.

Jeff had the knowledge and had collected a lot of information over the years. I rode a Chicago streetcar once in 1958 as a three-year-old, but Jeff was already a very active fan by that time, documenting the waning days of the PCCs with his hand-held 8mm movie camera.

Over the years, his own photographic collection, together with additional material such as the late Bill Hoffman’s movies, became what is now the Wien-Criss archive. This served, along with the PCC photos that were generously shared by Art Peterson from the Krambles-Peterson archive, as the cornerstone for our book.

Jeff knew his subject inside and out, and had lots of material, and it was my job to help him organize it and flesh it out with additional images. I was sort of a “hunter-gatherer” of Chicago PCC material, a habit that has continued to this day here on the Trolley Dodger blog.

Improvements in technology over the years made a book like this possible.  There is no way it could have been made in the 1970s, 80s, or 90s.  And in that regard, Bradley Criss was our computer technology “maven.”

Bradley’s role was much more than just being Photo Editor. The entire design and layout of the book was his work, and I believe it is one of the most attractive railfan books ever published.

It certainly has the best color photo reproduction of any such book I have seen. And again, this was Bradley’s work. He not only had to painstakingly match the colors of the various cars with the other photos, but had to remove thousands and thousands of blemishes from these photographs via Photoshop. Bradley wrote something at the end of the book about this, but in my humble opinion he greatly minimized the actual difficulty.

The ultimate goal, of course, was to make things look as they originally did in real life, to make up for 60 years of fading and hard knocks that our original source materials had in some cases suffered.

In this, Bradley had the highest possible standards for the work. He would not let it be published until it was absolutely perfect.

If you could see the “before” vs. the “after” of some of these pictures, you wouldn’t believe it.  Of course, when you see the book now, you don’t see all the hard work that went into it.  You can appreciate it as the seamless whole that it is.

It did not do him any favors when we decided that there was so much great material, that we ought to make it a double length book. This took an already impossible task, and multiplied it times two.  As a Chicago PCC book, it really is the “Big Enchilada.”

Eventually, under the crushing weight of such a project, he had to ask for additional help with the daunting task of “spot removal.” Some of the images we used had as many as a thousand such imperfections that had to be fixed one at a time in Photoshop, looking at a very small part of each scene under 200% magnification or more.

Along with Jeff, John Nicholson, and Diana Koester, I did some of this work myself. After spending eight hours a day on spot removal, I could barely see straight. But to take nothing away from the contributions made by other people, Bradley did most of it himself.

There were many things that could have gone wrong and derailed this book. The combination of very high standards and the sheer number of images that were used, created a daunting task, and it was only by pulling together as a team and persevering that we scaled this Mt. Everest of a book and planted our flag on the summit. All this work took longer than anyone could have anticipated at the outset.

Bradley not only had to make the pictures look good; he had to make the entire book look good, and it had to “flow” for the reader, and he had to squeeze a tremendous amount of material into a limited number of pages.  But when you read the book, to quote The Wizard of Oz, you “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Even if I had written a tribute such as this to him for the book, there is no way he would have wanted it printed. He was, to use a restaurant analogy, a “back of the house” sort of guy, who jealously guarded his privacy. His work was integral to making the book a reality, and helped shape it in many ways, but he was not the type of person who would stand at the front of the line and accept praise from the people who have the book and appreciate it. It wasn’t easy for me to even persuade him to sign someone’s copy.

However, in the one year since the book came out, it has been warmly and enthusiastically received. It has also sold a lot of copies, and I am sure that it will eventually sell out and join the long list of other collectible CERA publications. If you do not yet have a copy yourself, I urge you to consider it while new copies are still to be had. There will come a time when the situation will be different.

When we were working on the book, I thought of it as Jeff’s legacy to the world, which of course it is. I had no way of knowing then that it would also become, all too soon, an important part of Bradley’s legacy as well.

This is to take nothing away from the many people who contributed to the book in one way or another. I thank all of them, and am also very grateful to CERA for publishing it.

But on this day, as we mourn the passing of Bradley Criss, I am especially appreciative of what he accomplished, in spite of health issues that he had even at that time. Who knows what he could have achieved in the future.

Bradley was someone who did not suffer fools gladly. But I am glad that I could call him a friend, fortunate to have known him, and even more fortunate to have worked with him on the definitive Chicago PCC book, which may very well gain in stature as the years go by.

I will miss him greatly, miss hearing him laugh, and miss his jokes. I regret that we will never be able to share another deep dish pizza at Gulliver’s on the north side of Chicago, as it was his favorite. Now that he is gone, there is a gap in our lives that cannot be filled.  I loved him like a brother.

So I thank him for everything he did, and I apologize to him for making him, for this one moment, a “front of the house” guy.  I am happy that at least he lived to see the fruits of his labor.

My deepest condolences go out to his family and friends, and everyone who knew him.

-David Sadowski

You can read CERA’s tribute here.

Here is Bradley’s Chicago Tribune obituary.

Bradley’s obituary from the Illinois Valley News Tribune is here.

*Full title: Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, available from CERA and their dealers.  Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

**The North Shore Line video is not commercially available at present, but is occasionally shown at January CERA meetings. Chicago Streetcar Memories is included with B-146 and can also be purchased separately here from Chicago Transport Memories (again, not affiliated with us).


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Night Beat, Jersey Style

NJT Arrow III MU # 1322 is the lead car, the train is awaiting departure time to head east to Hoboken Terminal on December 15, 1991.

NJT Arrow III MU # 1322 is the lead car, the train is awaiting departure time to head east to Hoboken Terminal on December 15, 1991.

Editor’s Note: Today’s post features photographs taken by Kenneth Gear, a longtime friend and supporter of this blog. Ken was inspired by the nocturnal shots in our post Night Beat (June 21, 2016), and has some great ones of his own. The pictures and comments that follow are all Ken’s, and we thank him as always for his generosity in sharing them with our readers. You can see some of Ken’s daytime shots in our post Remembering Newark’s PCCs (December 19, 2015).

First off I want to thank David for giving me the opportunity to share my photographs on the pages of the Trolley Dodger. I enjoy pulling out a few boxes of slides from time to time and reliving some of the experiences I had taking them.

I try to keep my photography, both day and night, as simple as possible. I carry as little as possible and avoid complicated set-ups. If there was any kind of “philosophy” applied to my night photography it was simply this, I wanted the scene I was photographing to look like it was taken at night. That is to say that I didn’t want to pop off ten flashbulbs along the side of a locomotive. I did not want the picture to look as if I photographed a locomotive in full 3/4 sunshine, cut the locomotive out of the picture, and than pasted it to black construction paper.

I always use as much available light as possible, saving any flashes for fill-in light in the dark areas. There are some places where it would be ill-advised to use any type of flash, such as around electrified railroad tracks. A few flashes, I was told, could bring police thinking it was some sort of electrical malfunction. I would instead use a good flashlight to fill in the dark spots providing there were no moving trains around or railroad employees present. I wouldn’t want my flashlight to be mistaken as a hand signal being given to a train crew.

I’ve never given up my day job to pursue photography and I don’t profess to be an expert. I only intend to explain the way I took the photos shown here. All I can say is that it worked for me.

All of these photos were shot on slide film, mostly Kodachrome 64. Perhaps not the best film for night work because of it’s slow speed, but it was what I usually had on hand. When I got trackside at night the first thing I did was to check out how much light was falling on the equipment I wanted to photograph.

If the train was sitting in a nice bright beam from the yard lights, I would use the built in light meter of my Canon Alan 7 to get a base line exposure. Knowing my light meter usually under exposed such a scene I would begin bracketing my exposures toward being lighter. I would also use the exposure the camera picked and then bracket toward being darker. I would increase/decrease exposures in one stop intervals up to four times. This would yield as many as ten slides depending upon how sure I was of the exposures.

Out of the ten, perhaps half were worth keeping, the rest were thrown away. Twenty years ago film was inexpensive enough that I would gladly sacrifice six frames to get four really nice night shots. I kept records of the exposures I used so I would know which ones made for the best photos. When I went back to that same location I could use those same exposures again. At night with the same lights shining on trains in the same location, the exposures never changed and I could significantly reduce the amount of discarded slides.

If there was no or very little light on the train I would use a base line exposure of 30 seconds at F4 (for asa 64). This long exposure would give me plenty of time to “paint” the nose or side of the locomotive with light from my flashlight. I would bracket these shots sometimes as well. when I saw the resulting slides I could, next time, adjust the exposure times accordingly.

Now with digital I can see what I got in the LED screen immediately and adjust exposures on the spot. I go home knowing I got the shots! I do, however, fondly remember the film days when the excitement would build as I opened that little yellow box of slides. Would my expectations be met… exceeded… or would bitter disappointment await!

The photos included here represent the times when I was very happy with the results. In keeping with the Trolley Dodger‘s traction theme, I only included photos of electric railroad equipment.

There was probably a better and more efferent way to do this sort of night railroad photography with film, but this was the way I did it!

-Kenneth Gear

Here is the first bunch of night photos. All of the photos were taken at Dover, New Jersey on NJ Transit’s Morris & Essex Line. The date was December 15, 1991:

An NJ Transit train of Arrow MU cars wait at the Ex-DL&W station. The station now has high level platforms so this shot cannot be repeated today.

An NJ Transit train of Arrow MU cars wait at the Ex-DL&W station. The station now has high level platforms so this shot cannot be repeated today.

The view from the platform shows signal lights and the Catenary wires.

The view from the platform shows signal lights and the Catenary wires.

A train of Arrow MUs about to depart into the night.

A train of Arrow MUs about to depart into the night.

Next bunch. All photos were taken at Gladstone, NJ on September 7, 1996:

NJT MU # 1309 at the Gladstone station

NJT MU # 1309 at the Gladstone station

NJT MU # 1306 in the Gladstone lay-up yard.

NJT MU # 1306 in the Gladstone lay-up yard.

NJT MU 1309 again, from other side.

NJT MU 1309 again, from other side.

NJT MU # 1309 in a wide shot of the station area.

NJT MU # 1309 in a wide shot of the station area.

More Gladstone photos, taken August 31, 1997:

A wide shot of the station area showing both the passenger station and, on the right, the freight house.

A wide shot of the station area showing both the passenger station and, on the right, the freight house.

NJT MU 1310 at the Gladstone station.

NJT MU 1310 at the Gladstone station.

A NJT ALP-44 electric locomotive.

A NJT ALP-44 electric locomotive.

NJT yard line-up showing Comet coaches, Arrow MUs and a ALP-44 locomotive.

NJT yard line-up showing Comet coaches, Arrow MUs and a ALP-44 locomotive.

Still more Gladstone photos:

NJT ALP-44 # 4418 & Arrow III MU # 1313 spend the night in the yard 5/15/98

NJT ALP-44 # 4418 & Arrow III MU # 1313 spend the night in the yard 5/15/98

A NJT train of Arrow MUs about to depart the Gladstone station 5/15/98

A NJT train of Arrow MUs about to depart the Gladstone station 5/15/98

NJT Arrow MU 1331 5/15/98

NJT Arrow MU 1331 5/15/98

A NJT ALP-44 & a ARROW MU in the yard 12/11/98

A NJT ALP-44 & a ARROW MU in the yard 12/11/98

NJT ALP-44 # 4404 12/11/98

NJT ALP-44 # 4404 12/11/98

ALP-44 # 4405 12/11/98

ALP-44 # 4405 12/11/98

The headlight of an approaching train illuminates the sides of a Arrow MU set in the Gladstone yard 12/11/98

The headlight of an approaching train illuminates the sides of a Arrow MU set in the Gladstone yard 12/11/98

More Gladstone photos ( I went there a lot!):

NJT ALP-44 # 4426 3/24/00

NJT ALP-44 # 4426 3/24/00

A NJT ALP-44 electric under "blue flag" protection 3/24/00

A NJT ALP-44 electric under “blue flag” protection 3/24/00

NJT MU # 1520 in the Gladstone yard 3/24/00

NJT MU # 1520 in the Gladstone yard 3/24/00

Brand new NJT ALP-46 # 4605 under the yard lights at Gladstone. This was the first time I saw one of these locomotives. I was very happy to find it in the yard that night and I think the photo came out quite well. Usually when a locomotive has had a lot of reflective tape applied to it's side, it is very difficult to photograph at night. This was not the case here, I actually shined a flashlight along the 4605 to light up the tape. 10/12/02

Brand new NJT ALP-46 # 4605 under the yard lights at Gladstone. This was the first time I saw one of these locomotives. I was very happy to find it in the yard that night and I think the photo came out quite well. Usually when a locomotive has had a lot of reflective tape applied to it’s side, it is very difficult to photograph at night. This was not the case here, I actually shined a flashlight along the 4605 to light up the tape. 10/12/02

Another shot of brand new ALP-46 4605. 10/12/02

Another shot of brand new ALP-46 4605. 10/12/02

NJT ALP-46 # 4605 in broadside. 10/12/02

NJT ALP-46 # 4605 in broadside. 10/12/02

A NJT Gladstone branch train is about to depart and make a night time run to Summit, NJ. 10/12/04

A NJT Gladstone branch train is about to depart and make a night time run to Summit, NJ. 10/12/04

Last bunch of Gladstone photos. These are some of my favorites because I had a full moon along with some fast moving clouds playing across the sky. This made for some very interesting effects above the trains! The photos were all taken on the same night; March 6, 2004:

NJT ALP-44 in the yard and under the moon.

NJT ALP-44 in the yard and under the moon.

NJT Arrow MU # 1512 at the Gladstone station.

NJT Arrow MU # 1512 at the Gladstone station.

NJT MU # 1512 under a cloud cloaked full moon.

NJT MU # 1512 under a cloud cloaked full moon.

NJ Transit Arrow MU cars 1331 & 1308 spend the night in the yard.

NJ Transit Arrow MU cars 1331 & 1308 spend the night in the yard.

NJT MUs 1331 & 1308 in the moonlight.

NJT MUs 1331 & 1308 in the moonlight.

ALP-44 # 4404 with a coach wrapped with an advertisement for Continental Airlines.

ALP-44 # 4404 with a coach wrapped with an advertisement for Continental Airlines.

All the trial and error (mostly error) that goes into night film photography becomes worth every lousy slide tossed in the trash when you get just one that turns out like this! NJ Transit Arrow MU cars # 1331 and 1308 pose under a spectacular sky at Gladstone.

All the trial and error (mostly error) that goes into night film photography becomes worth every lousy slide tossed in the trash when you get just one that turns out like this! NJ Transit Arrow MU cars # 1331 and 1308 pose under a spectacular sky at Gladstone.

NJ Transit Hoboken Terminal 3/30/02

NJ Transit Hoboken Terminal 3/30/02

NJ Transit Hoboken Terminal with the World Trade Center Tribute In Light beaming up from the site of the twin towers. The site, when this photo was taken, was still just a big hole in the ground- no Freedom tower yet. 3/30 02

NJ Transit Hoboken Terminal with the World Trade Center Tribute In Light beaming up from the site of the twin towers. The site, when this photo was taken, was still just a big hole in the ground- no Freedom tower yet. 3/30 02

NJ Transit Hoboken Terminal main entrance 3/30/02

NJ Transit Hoboken Terminal main entrance 3/30/02

A NJ Transit ALP-44 along side the terminal's Bush train shed.3/30/02

A NJ Transit ALP-44 along side the terminal’s Bush train shed.3/30/02

NJT ALP-44 locomotives in the yard at Long Branch NJ 11/7/92

NJT ALP-44 locomotives in the yard at Long Branch NJ 11/7/92

A train of NJT Arrow MU cars at the TRENTON NJ station 2/9/02

A train of NJT Arrow MU cars at the TRENTON NJ station 2/9/02

On February 9, 2002 I was out riding and photographing trains on Amtrak's North East Corridor. After riding all day and as as night approached, I arrived at Trenton NJ on a SEPTA train. My intent was to catch a connecting NJ Transit train to continue east and head for home. As luck would have it, a Conrail train snagged and pulled down the catenary wires somewhere close by and just like that, the trains stopped running. I was stranded for a while so I took advantage of the situation and started taking night photos. I had no tripod so I had to make do with what was available, like taking off my shoe and putting the camera in it! This photo shows Amtrak E-60 # 602 with Train # 40 the THREE RIVERS stopped at Trenton. It is illuminated by the headlight of a NJT train.

On February 9, 2002 I was out riding and photographing trains on Amtrak’s North East Corridor. After riding all day and as as night approached, I arrived at Trenton NJ on a SEPTA train. My intent was to catch a connecting NJ Transit train to continue east and head for home. As luck would have it, a Conrail train snagged and pulled down the catenary wires somewhere close by and just like that, the trains stopped running. I was stranded for a while so I took advantage of the situation and started taking night photos. I had no tripod so I had to make do with what was available, like taking off my shoe and putting the camera in it! This photo shows Amtrak E-60 # 602 with Train # 40 the THREE RIVERS stopped at Trenton. It is illuminated by the headlight of a NJT train.

On February 9, 2002 I was out riding and photographing trains on Amtrak's North East Corridor. After riding all day and as as night approached, I arrived at Trenton NJ on a SEPTA train. My intent was to catch a connecting NJ Transit train to continue east and head for home. As luck would have it, a Conrail train snagged and pulled down the catenary wires somewhere close by and just like that, the trains stopped running. I was stranded for a while so I took advantage of the situation and started taking night photos. I had no tripod so I had to make do with what was available, like taking off my shoe and putting the camera in it! This photo shows Amtrak E-60 # 602 with Train # 40 the THREE RIVERS stopped at Trenton. It is illuminated by the headlight of a NJT train.

On February 9, 2002 I was out riding and photographing trains on Amtrak’s North East Corridor. After riding all day and as as night approached, I arrived at Trenton NJ on a SEPTA train. My intent was to catch a connecting NJ Transit train to continue east and head for home. As luck would have it, a Conrail train snagged and pulled down the catenary wires somewhere close by and just like that, the trains stopped running. I was stranded for a while so I took advantage of the situation and started taking night photos. I had no tripod so I had to make do with what was available, like taking off my shoe and putting the camera in it! This photo shows Amtrak E-60 # 602 with Train # 40 the THREE RIVERS stopped at Trenton. It is illuminated by the headlight of a NJT train.

Amtrak HHP-8 # 650 with Regional Train # 178 sits and waits for catenary repairs at Trenton.

Amtrak HHP-8 # 650 with Regional Train # 178 sits and waits for catenary repairs at Trenton.

This photo shows Amtrak E-60 # 602 with Train # 40 the THREE RIVERS stopped at Trenton. It is illuminated by the headlight of a NJT train.

This photo shows Amtrak E-60 # 602 with Train # 40 the THREE RIVERS stopped at Trenton. It is illuminated by the headlight of a NJT train.

This was shot from the end of the passenger platforms looking west. A train with an ALP-44 is sitting in the yard 3/30/02

This was shot from the end of the passenger platforms looking west. A train with an ALP-44 is sitting in the yard 3/30/02

SEPTA Silverliner # 424 at Trenton, NJ

SEPTA Silverliner # 424 at Trenton, NJ

A train of SEPTA Ex-READING Silverliner MUs waits in the yard at West Trenton NJ. 4/6/01

A train of SEPTA Ex-READING Silverliner MUs waits in the yard at West Trenton NJ. 4/6/01

SEPTA Silverliner MU # 9006 has just led a train into West Trenton and is awaiting it's departure time to return east 4/6/01

SEPTA Silverliner MU # 9006 has just led a train into West Trenton and is awaiting it’s departure time to return east 4/6/01

SEPTA Silverliner MUs under the yard lights at West Trenton, NJ 4/6/01

SEPTA Silverliner MUs under the yard lights at West Trenton, NJ 4/6/01

SEPTA Siverliner IV # 332 sits in the yard at West Trenton over the weekend awaiting Monday Morning. 4/6/01

SEPTA Siverliner IV # 332 sits in the yard at West Trenton over the weekend awaiting Monday Morning. 4/6/01

A train of SEPTA Silverliner IV MU cars is sitting in front of "TRENT" tower and will soon pull east to the passenger station to pick up riders for Philadelphia. 4/6/01

A train of SEPTA Silverliner IV MU cars is sitting in front of “TRENT” tower and will soon pull east to the passenger station to pick up riders for Philadelphia. 4/6/01

This is the same SEPTA train of Silverliners that is seen in the previous photo. I walked around "TRENT" tower and took this photo looking east. The Ex-Reading Company passenger station is just visible past the tower to the right center of the photo. 4/6/01

This is the same SEPTA train of Silverliners that is seen in the previous photo. I walked around “TRENT” tower and took this photo looking east. The Ex-Reading Company passenger station is just visible past the tower to the right center of the photo. 4/6/01

On November 2, 2002 the Wilmington (Delaware) chapter of the NRHS hosted a PCC night photo trip through the streets of Philadelphia. Members of the NRHS chapter used the open flash photography method to light the car, yielding good results. (” open flash” means that the entire scene was illuminated solely with flashes, avoiding as much light from other sources as possible. Also the flashes were not connected to each other or any of the cameras. They were popped with hand held flash guns or battery operated strobes).

While I have shot my share of flashbulbs over the years, my preferred method is to use flashes very sparingly. I like to use bulbs only for fill-in flash to send some light in to the dark spots that the ambient light doesn’t reach. I’ll include a few of the flashed photos but I prefer the shots I took using the available light with perhaps just one or two flashes popped. The photos taken at the Elmwood car house are more to my liking. They were shot either with only the yard lights or with just a flash or two to light the front of the equipment.

-Kenneth Gear

This slide was made using only the available light at the Mount Moriah Loop.

This slide was made using only the available light at the Mount Moriah Loop.

This photo is more to my liking. Just one flash to light the PCC's nose. The photo was taken at 39th Street & Filbert Street, west Philadelphia.

This photo is more to my liking. Just one flash to light the PCC’s nose. The photo was taken at 39th Street & Filbert Street, west Philadelphia.

SEPTA historic PCC # 2732. Enough light was flashed on the car to nicely show-off the classic green & cream paint scheme of the Philadelphia Transit Company. West Philadelphia, PA

SEPTA historic PCC # 2732. Enough light was flashed on the car to nicely show-off the classic green & cream paint scheme of the Philadelphia Transit Company. West Philadelphia, PA

PCC # 2732 is again assaulted by "flashers" as she poses for photos in West Philadelphia.

PCC # 2732 is again assaulted by “flashers” as she poses for photos in West Philadelphia.

A line-up of SEPTA Kawasaki LRVs or "K Cars" are under the yard lights waiting for the next call of duty.

A line-up of SEPTA Kawasaki LRVs or “K Cars” are under the yard lights waiting for the next call of duty.

The fan trip being over, PCC # 2732 returned to the Elmwood Car house in Southwest Philadelphia and was posed with some work equipment. PCC 2732 is shown here next to PCC work car # 2187

The fan trip being over, PCC # 2732 returned to the Elmwood Car house in Southwest Philadelphia and was posed with some work equipment. PCC 2732 is shown here next to PCC work car # 2187

Two SEPTA PCCs street car and work car versions.

Two SEPTA PCCs street car and work car versions.

Close-up of work car # 2187

Close-up of work car # 2187

SEPTA work car # 2187, PCC # 2732 & motor flat # W61

SEPTA work car # 2187, PCC # 2732 & motor flat # W61


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 143rd post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 172,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

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Night Beat

In this classic July 1963 shot, South Shore Line car 25 is parked at the east end of the line in downtown South Bend, across from the Hotel LaSalle. Service was cut back to Bendix at the outskirts of town in 1970, and later extended to the local airport. Don's Rail Photos adds, "25 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947."

In this classic July 1963 shot, South Shore Line car 25 is parked at the east end of the line in downtown South Bend, across from the Hotel LaSalle. Service was cut back to Bendix at the outskirts of town in 1970, and later extended to the local airport. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “25 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947.”

nightbeat

Chicagoans of a certain age might recall Night Beat, a WGN-TV late night news show that aired after the Late Movie between 1958 and 1983. For much of that time, baritone Carl Greyson was the announcer.*

We begin today’s post with our very own Night Beat of sorts, an exhibit of some fine night photography from the early 1960s. We rightly celebrate 3/4 views of streetcars taken on days with bright sunshine and cloudless skies, but there is also something to be said for those few railfan shutterbugs who experimented and documented what some cities call “Owl Service.”

Back in the days of film and manually set cameras, many photographers operated using the “sunny f/16” rule, or some variation thereof, where your shutter speed corresponds to the film speed, and your lens opening is f/16 on a bright sunny day. So, with ISO 64 film, this gives a setting of 1/60th of a second at f/16, and you can extrapolate from there (i.e., this is equivalent to 1/125th at f/11, 1/250th at f/8, etc.).

But this relationship begins to fail when you are talking about longer exposures. It is an effect called “reciprocity failure.” Now, your general idea of reciprocity might be that if I scratch your back, you’ll scratch mine. But for our purposes, this means that photographic materials may not behave in a predictable manner when used outside of the norm.

So, long exposure times of several seconds may not give predictable results. There are other problems with night shots, including the different colors of mixed light sources (incandescent plus fluorescent), and problems with determining the proper exposure when light sources have such a wide range of brightness.

This means you really can’t follow any special rule for available light photography at night; it’s really a matter of trial and error. The best method is to steady your camera on a tripod and experiment with different exposures, in hopes that perhaps one image out of the lot might turn out really well.

What we have here are some excellent shots, taken by an unknown photographer who was good at this sort of thing and was willing to travel the country. Chances are, for every acceptable photo, there were several that ended up in the circular file.

Here’s to those unnamed Night Owls who prowled around in the 1960s and covered the traction Night Beat.

-David Sadowski

*You can hear the classic 1970s Night Beat theme here. A fuller version of the theme, which many associate with Chicago night life, can be heard in a 1977 special that featured actor Bill Bixby. Supposedly, the music was composed by Dave Grusin, although nobody seems to know for sure what the piece was called, or where it originated.

A two-car train of 6000s prepares to head east from the DesPlaines Avenue terminal on the CTA Congress branch in April 1964. This was the station arrangement from 1959 until the early 1980s. As I recall, the entrance at right in front of the train led to a narrow sidewalk where you had to cross the tracks in order to access the platform, hardly an ideal setup. At right there was a parking lot, and a few streaks of light show you where I-290 is located. The tracks today are in pretty much the same exact location, however.

A two-car train of 6000s prepares to head east from the DesPlaines Avenue terminal on the CTA Congress branch in April 1964. This was the station arrangement from 1959 until the early 1980s. As I recall, the entrance at right in front of the train led to a narrow sidewalk where you had to cross the tracks in order to access the platform, hardly an ideal setup. At right there was a parking lot, and a few streaks of light show you where I-290 is located. The tracks today are in pretty much the same exact location, however.

I believe this July 1963 picture shows the South Shore Line station at Roosevelt Road. Frank Hicks writes, "Chicago South Shore & South Bend 504. This interurban freight trailer has a more unusual history than most. It was built for ISC as an interurban combine, and ran on that system's lines in Indiana for five years until ISC became part of the great Indiana Railroad system. IR rebuilt the three cars of the 375-377 series into railway post office cars and put them to use in this unusual capacity. The three RPO's survived on IR until the end of interurban service in 1941, at which time all three were sold to the only other interurban line then operating in Indiana: the South Shore. The South Shore converted 376 into a line car while 375 and 377 became express package trailers. These cars were designed to run in passenger trains and had control lines so that they could be run mid-train; they were often used to transport newspapers. Car 504 was retired in 1975 and acquired by IRM, which has repainted it and put it on display." (Editor's Note: car 377 became 504.)

I believe this July 1963 picture shows the South Shore Line station at Roosevelt Road. Frank Hicks writes, “Chicago South Shore & South Bend 504. This interurban freight trailer has a more unusual history than most. It was built for ISC as an interurban combine, and ran on that system’s lines in Indiana for five years until ISC became part of the great Indiana Railroad system. IR rebuilt the three cars of the 375-377 series into railway post office cars and put them to use in this unusual capacity. The three RPO’s survived on IR until the end of interurban service in 1941, at which time all three were sold to the only other interurban line then operating in Indiana: the South Shore. The South Shore converted 376 into a line car while 375 and 377 became express package trailers. These cars were designed to run in passenger trains and had control lines so that they could be run mid-train; they were often used to transport newspapers. Car 504 was retired in 1975 and acquired by IRM, which has repainted it and put it on display.” (Editor’s Note: car 377 became 504.)

This slide showing one of the North Shore Line Electroliners is dated January 1963, and who knows, it may have been taken on that last frigid night. Jerry Wiatrowski writes, "The unidentified picture of the Electroliner was taken at North Chicago Junction. The train is Southbound coming off of the Waukegan bypass to Edison Court and Milwaukee."

This slide showing one of the North Shore Line Electroliners is dated January 1963, and who knows, it may have been taken on that last frigid night. Jerry Wiatrowski writes, “The unidentified picture of the Electroliner was taken at North Chicago Junction. The train is Southbound coming off of the Waukegan bypass to Edison Court and Milwaukee.”

When this April 1964 picture was taken at the 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, the Red Arrow Lines were still privately held, and the Ardmore trolley was still running. Two and a half years later, it would be replaced by bus service. 1941-era Brilliner #1, a Sharon Hill car, is in the station.

When this April 1964 picture was taken at the 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, the Red Arrow Lines were still privately held, and the Ardmore trolley was still running. Two and a half years later, it would be replaced by bus service. 1941-era Brilliner #1, a Sharon Hill car, is in the station.

It's August 1963 in Boston, and MTA PCC 3243 stands ready for another trip on the Green Line. Phil Bergen writes, "The night view of the Boston PCC that appears in today’s posting was taken at Riverside terminal. Although picture window PCCs were originally used on this line, other PCCs were added to meet the demand. The side roll sign, once enlarged, indicates this is a Riverside car, and the terminal itself is the only place where there were multiple tracks." The Riverside line started running on July 4, 1959 and occupies a right-of-way once used by a steam commuter railroad. It is considered a pioneer in what we today call "light rail."

It’s August 1963 in Boston, and MTA PCC 3243 stands ready for another trip on the Green Line. Phil Bergen writes, “The night view of the Boston PCC that appears in today’s posting was taken at Riverside terminal. Although picture window PCCs were originally used on this line, other PCCs were added to meet the demand. The side roll sign, once enlarged, indicates this is a Riverside car, and the terminal itself is the only place where there were multiple tracks.” The Riverside line started running on July 4, 1959 and occupies a right-of-way once used by a steam commuter railroad. It is considered a pioneer in what we today call “light rail.”

From 1949 until 1963, the North Shore Line had the CTA's Roosevelt Road station all to itself, as this July 1962 picture of car 752 shows. Don's Rail Photos: "752 was built by Standard Steel Car in 1930. It was modernized in 1940."

From 1949 until 1963, the North Shore Line had the CTA’s Roosevelt Road station all to itself, as this July 1962 picture of car 752 shows. Don’s Rail Photos: “752 was built by Standard Steel Car in 1930. It was modernized in 1940.”

The North Shore Line terminal in Milwaukee in January 1963.

The North Shore Line terminal in Milwaukee in January 1963.

A North Shore Line train stops at Edison Court in January 1963.

A North Shore Line train stops at Edison Court in January 1963.

A Toronto subway train in August 1963.

A Toronto subway train in August 1963.

Toronto Peter Witt 2766 at Vincent Loop in November 1964. (R. McMann Photo)

Toronto Peter Witt 2766 at Vincent Loop in November 1964. (R. McMann Photo)

TTC crane C-2 at work at Queen Street and Eastern Avenue in October 1966. (R. McMann Photo)

TTC crane C-2 at work at Queen Street and Eastern Avenue in October 1966. (R. McMann Photo)

A postcard view of C-2 at work in 1967.

A postcard view of C-2 at work in 1967.

Originally, I thought this was early 1960s night shot showed a CTA single-car unit in the 1-50 series, and those cars were used on the Congress-Douglas-Milwaukee line. But as Andre Kristopans has pointed out, the doors on those cars were closer to the ends than this one, which he identifies as being part of the 6511-6720 series. It just looks like there's one car, since the other "married pair" behind it is not illuminated. This picture was most likely taken at the end of the line at DesPlaines Avenue.

Originally, I thought this was early 1960s night shot showed a CTA single-car unit in the 1-50 series, and those cars were used on the Congress-Douglas-Milwaukee line. But as Andre Kristopans has pointed out, the doors on those cars were closer to the ends than this one, which he identifies as being part of the 6511-6720 series. It just looks like there’s one car, since the other “married pair” behind it is not illuminated. This picture was most likely taken at the end of the line at DesPlaines Avenue.

From left to right, we see New Orleans Public Service cars 930, 934, and 900 in the barn. All were built by Perley-Thomas Car Co in 1924, and are signed for the St. Charles line. New Orleans is practically unique in North America, in that it never modernized its fleet with PCCs, yet has maintained uninterrupted service with vintage equipment. (Even the newer cars New Orleans has now are "retro" styled.) The date of this photo is not known.

From left to right, we see New Orleans Public Service cars 930, 934, and 900 in the barn. All were built by Perley-Thomas Car Co in 1924, and are signed for the St. Charles line. New Orleans is practically unique in North America, in that it never modernized its fleet with PCCs, yet has maintained uninterrupted service with vintage equipment. (Even the newer cars New Orleans has now are “retro” styled.) The date of this photo is not known.

A South Shore Line train at the old Gary station in August 1970.

A South Shore Line train at the old Gary station in August 1970.

South Shore Line car 110 laying over at South Bend, Indiana in July 1963. This was the east end of the line until 1970, when service was cut back to the outskirts of town, and South Bend street running was eliminated. In 1992, service was extended to the South Bend International Airport, 3 miles northwest of downtown South Bend.

South Shore Line car 110 laying over at South Bend, Indiana in July 1963. This was the east end of the line until 1970, when service was cut back to the outskirts of town, and South Bend street running was eliminated. In 1992, service was extended to the South Bend International Airport, 3 miles northwest of downtown South Bend.

This remarkable picture was taken at the North Shore Line's Milwaukee terminal in January 1963. for all we know, this may be the last night of operation. If so, the temperature was below zero.

This remarkable picture was taken at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee terminal in January 1963. for all we know, this may be the last night of operation. If so, the temperature was below zero.

A Dayton (Ohio) trolley bus at night in September 1972.

A Dayton (Ohio) trolley bus at night in September 1972.


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The next three photos have been added to our previous post Love For Selle (June 8, 2016):

Caption: "3 cars on North Shore Line northbound at Kenilworth (714 on rear of train), July 13, 1955. This was shortly before the end of service on the Shore Line Route. (Bob Selle Photo) Don's Rail Photos: "714 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It is modernized in 1939 and preserved in 1963 by the Illinois Railway Museum."

Caption: “3 cars on North Shore Line northbound at Kenilworth (714 on rear of train), July 13, 1955. This was shortly before the end of service on the Shore Line Route. (Bob Selle Photo) Don’s Rail Photos: “714 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It is modernized in 1939 and preserved in 1963 by the Illinois Railway Museum.”

This looks like a 1952 Chevrolet 4-door Fleetline fastback to me, which would be a somewhat rare model with only a few thousand produced. The fastback, which had enjoyed a brief vogue starting around 1941, was dropped for the 1953 model year.

This looks like a 1952 Chevrolet 4-door Fleetline fastback to me, which would be a somewhat rare model with only a few thousand produced. The fastback, which had enjoyed a brief vogue starting around 1941, was dropped for the 1953 model year.

It's May 30, 1958 and Chicago Surface Lines car 1467 (former CTA salt car AA72) is at the Electric Railway Historical Society site on Plainfield Road in Downer's Grove. Don's Rail Photos says this "Bowling Alley" car "was built by CUTCo in 1900 as CUT 4516. It was rebuilt as 1467 in 1911 and became CSL 1467 in 1914. It was rebuilt as salt car and renumbered AA72 on April 15, 1948. It was retired on February 28, 1958. It was sold to Electric Railway Historical Society in 1959 and went to Illinois Railway Museum in 1973." Actually it must have been sold earlier, as the negative envelope has written on it "owned now by ERHS!" (Bob Selle Photo)

It’s May 30, 1958 and Chicago Surface Lines car 1467 (former CTA salt car AA72) is at the Electric Railway Historical Society site on Plainfield Road in Downer’s Grove. Don’s Rail Photos says this “Bowling Alley” car “was built by CUTCo in 1900 as CUT 4516. It was rebuilt as 1467 in 1911 and became CSL 1467 in 1914. It was rebuilt as salt car and renumbered AA72 on April 15, 1948. It was retired on February 28, 1958. It was sold to Electric Railway Historical Society in 1959 and went to Illinois Railway Museum in 1973.” Actually it must have been sold earlier, as the negative envelope has written on it “owned now by ERHS!” (Bob Selle Photo)

North Shore Line cars 411 and 715 at an unidentified location. Don's Rail Photos says, "411 was built as a trailer observation car by Cincinnati Car in June 1923 #2640. It was out of service in 1932. 411 got the same treatment on February 25, 1943, and sold to Trolley Museum of New York in 1963. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway & Historical Society in 1973 and sold to Escanaba & Lake Superior in 1989." As for the other car, Don says, "715 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It is modernized in 1939 and purchased by Mid-Continent Railroad Museum in 1963. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway Museum in 1967 and then sold to Fox River Trolley in 1988."

North Shore Line cars 411 and 715 at an unidentified location. Don’s Rail Photos says, “411 was built as a trailer observation car by Cincinnati Car in June 1923 #2640. It was out of service in 1932. 411 got the same treatment on February 25, 1943, and sold to Trolley Museum of New York in 1963. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway & Historical Society in 1973 and sold to Escanaba & Lake Superior in 1989.” As for the other car, Don says, “715 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It is modernized in 1939 and purchased by Mid-Continent Railroad Museum in 1963. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway Museum in 1967 and then sold to Fox River Trolley in 1988.”

North Shore Line car 255 is laying over on middle storage track at the Roosevelt Road station on the Chicago "L". Don's Rail Photos": "255 was built by Jewett in 1917. It had all of the seats removed in the 1920s to provide a full length baggage car which ran in passenger trains. It was used for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to move equipment to Ravinia. On July 2, 1942, the 40 seats were replaced. Then on December 1, 1946, the seats were again removed. In addition to the Symphony, the car was used for sailors' baggage from Great Lakes." (C. Edward Hedstrom, Jr. Photo)

North Shore Line car 255 is laying over on middle storage track at the Roosevelt Road station on the Chicago “L”. Don’s Rail Photos”: “255 was built by Jewett in 1917. It had all of the seats removed in the 1920s to provide a full length baggage car which ran in passenger trains. It was used for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to move equipment to Ravinia. On July 2, 1942, the 40 seats were replaced. Then on December 1, 1946, the seats were again removed. In addition to the Symphony, the car was used for sailors’ baggage from Great Lakes.” (C. Edward Hedstrom, Jr. Photo)

CSL "Little" Pullman 985 at Wabash and Roosevelt in September 1936. It was built in 1910. It appears to be on through route 3 - Lincoln-Indiana, which operated from 1912 to 1951.

CSL “Little” Pullman 985 at Wabash and Roosevelt in September 1936. It was built in 1910. It appears to be on through route 3 – Lincoln-Indiana, which operated from 1912 to 1951.

CSL "Big" Pullman 144 on Cermak Road, September 19, 1934. Don's Rail Photos: "144 was built by Pullman in 1908. It was acquired by Illinois Railway Museum in 1959." It is rare to find pictures of the 144 in actual service as opposed to some 1950s fantrip.

CSL “Big” Pullman 144 on Cermak Road, September 19, 1934. Don’s Rail Photos: “144 was built by Pullman in 1908. It was acquired by Illinois Railway Museum in 1959.” It is rare to find pictures of the 144 in actual service as opposed to some 1950s fantrip.

A close-up of the car in the last photo. It closely resembles two very similar, low-production front wheel drive cars on the market circa 1930, the Cord L-29 and the even rarer Ruxton. However, Dan Cluley seems to have correctly identified this as a 1930 Checker Model M. The auto on the other side of the streetcar looks like an early 1930s Auburn, which was also built by Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg, headquartered in Auburn, Indiana.

A close-up of the car in the last photo. It closely resembles two very similar, low-production front wheel drive cars on the market circa 1930, the Cord L-29 and the even rarer Ruxton. However, Dan Cluley seems to have correctly identified this as a 1930 Checker Model M. The auto on the other side of the streetcar looks like an early 1930s Auburn, which was also built by Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg, headquartered in Auburn, Indiana.

The 1930 Checker Model M.

The 1930 Checker Model M.

This is a 1929 Ruxton Model A Baker-Raulang Roadster.

This is a 1929 Ruxton Model A Baker-Raulang Roadster.

And this is a 1930 Cord L-29 Convertible.

And this is a 1930 Cord L-29 Convertible.

An early 1930s Auburn with fancy hood ornament.

An early 1930s Auburn with fancy hood ornament.

Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947. The sign on the front of the car indicates this was on through route 8. According to www.chicagrailfan.com, "Various Through Route combinations existed throughout the early history of this route. Original Through Route operated between Grace/Halsted and 63rd/Stony Island via Halsted and 63rd St. Beginning in 1912, some Halsted service, mainly route 42 Halsted-Downtown service, began operating south of 79th St. via Vincennes and 111th St. to Sacramento, over what now is the 112 route. While for most of through service continuing north on Halsted, the south terminal remained 79th St. Effective 5/24/31, the through Halsted service generally turned around at 111th/Sacramento, with the downtown service generally turning at 79th St. Through service south of 79th St. discontinued 12/4/49, when segment south of 79th St. was converted to buses." (John F. Bromley Collection)

Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947. The sign on the front of the car indicates this was on through route 8. According to http://www.chicagrailfan.com, “Various Through Route combinations existed throughout the early history of this route. Original Through Route operated between Grace/Halsted and 63rd/Stony Island via Halsted and 63rd St. Beginning in 1912, some Halsted service, mainly route 42 Halsted-Downtown service, began operating south of 79th St. via Vincennes and 111th St. to Sacramento, over what now is the 112 route. While for most of through service continuing north on Halsted, the south terminal remained 79th St. Effective 5/24/31, the through Halsted service generally turned around at 111th/Sacramento, with the downtown service generally turning at 79th St. Through service south of 79th St. discontinued 12/4/49, when segment south of 79th St. was converted to buses.” (John F. Bromley Collection)

This July 1963 view shows the Wabash leg of Chicago's Loop "L" between Van Buren and Jackson. We are looking north, so the buildings behind the train of CTA 4000s are on the west side of the street. As you can see by the sign advertising Baldwin pianos and organs, this was once Chicago's "Music Row." The flagship Rose Records location was near here, as were Carl Fischer, the Guitar Gallery, American Music World and many others. The Chicago Symphony is still nearby, but nearly all the other music-related retailers are now gone from this area. You can just catch a glimpse of the iconic Kodak sign that still graces Central Camera under the "L". The old North Shore Line station, which closed about six months before this picture was taken, would have been up the street on the right just out of view. Until 1969 trains operated counterclockwise around the Loop on both tracks, so we are looking at the back end of this Lake Street "B" train. Adams and Wabash station is at the far right of the picture.

This July 1963 view shows the Wabash leg of Chicago’s Loop “L” between Van Buren and Jackson. We are looking north, so the buildings behind the train of CTA 4000s are on the west side of the street. As you can see by the sign advertising Baldwin pianos and organs, this was once Chicago’s “Music Row.” The flagship Rose Records location was near here, as were Carl Fischer, the Guitar Gallery, American Music World and many others. The Chicago Symphony is still nearby, but nearly all the other music-related retailers are now gone from this area. You can just catch a glimpse of the iconic Kodak sign that still graces Central Camera under the “L”. The old North Shore Line station, which closed about six months before this picture was taken, would have been up the street on the right just out of view. Until 1969 trains operated counterclockwise around the Loop on both tracks, so we are looking at the back end of this Lake Street “B” train. Adams and Wabash station is at the far right of the picture.

Enlarging a small section of the slide shows the Kodak sign in front of Central Camera at 230 S. Wabash.

Enlarging a small section of the slide shows the Kodak sign in front of Central Camera at 230 S. Wabash.

Central Camera today. The Kodak sign is still there.

Central Camera today. The Kodak sign is still there.

The corner of Wabash and Jackson today.

The corner of Wabash and Jackson today.

Two of the buildings in the 1963 photograph were torn down to make a parking lot, while the building to their right is still there.

Two of the buildings in the 1963 photograph were torn down to make a parking lot, while the building to their right is still there.

If you are curious about just what a Birney car is, you can read the definitive account by Dr. Harold E. Cox here.

Fort Collins Municipal Railway Birney car 20 in Colorado. There were three lines, and all three cars met in the town center once an hour so riders could transfer. Service ended in 1951, but a portion of one line was restored to service in the 1980s. Don's Rail Photos says, "20 was built by American Car Co. in April 1919, #1184. It was sold in 1951 and moved to the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Minden, NE. and has been on static display there ever since." (Joseph P. Saitta Photo)

Fort Collins Municipal Railway Birney car 20 in Colorado. There were three lines, and all three cars met in the town center once an hour so riders could transfer. Service ended in 1951, but a portion of one line was restored to service in the 1980s. Don’s Rail Photos says, “20 was built by American Car Co. in April 1919, #1184. It was sold in 1951 and moved to the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Minden, NE. and has been on static display there ever since.” (Joseph P. Saitta Photo)

Feel the Birn(ey)! After service in Fort Collins ended in 1951, car 26 was sold to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. But prior to being put on static display, it operated in a Detroit parade of street railway equipment in August 1953. Don's Rail Photos: "26 was built by American Car Co. in November 1922, #1324 as CERy 7. It was sold as FCM 26 it in 1924. It was sold to Henry Ford Museum and moved to Michigan in 1953 where it is on static display. It was operated several times on the trackage of the Department of Street Railways." (C. Edward Hedstrom Photo) To read more about 26's Michigan sojourn, click here.

Feel the Birn(ey)! After service in Fort Collins ended in 1951, car 26 was sold to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. But prior to being put on static display, it operated in a Detroit parade of street railway equipment in August 1953. Don’s Rail Photos: “26 was built by American Car Co. in November 1922, #1324 as CERy 7. It was sold as FCM 26 it in 1924. It was sold to Henry Ford Museum and moved to Michigan in 1953 where it is on static display. It was operated several times on the trackage of the Department of Street Railways.” (C. Edward Hedstrom Photo) To read more about 26’s Michigan sojourn, click here.

Laurel Line (Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad) car 37 at the G.E. plant on the Minooka branch on May 9, 1948. The occasion was an ERA (Electric Railroader's Association) fantrip. Nearly all this Scranton, Pennsylvania interurban was third-rail operated on private right-of-way, something it had in common with the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin. Some have wondered if the Laurel Line's fleet of steel cars, which ended service at the end of 1952, could have been used on the CA&E. They appear to have been too long to operate on the Chicago "L" system, but I do not know if such clearance issues would have kept them from running west of Forest Park. As it was, all these cars were scrapped, and ironically, some thought was given later to restoring a CA&E curved-side car as an ersatz Laurel Line replica. Wisely, it was decided against this.

Laurel Line (Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad) car 37 at the G.E. plant on the Minooka branch on May 9, 1948. The occasion was an ERA (Electric Railroader’s Association) fantrip. Nearly all this Scranton, Pennsylvania interurban was third-rail operated on private right-of-way, something it had in common with the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin. Some have wondered if the Laurel Line’s fleet of steel cars, which ended service at the end of 1952, could have been used on the CA&E. They appear to have been too long to operate on the Chicago “L” system, but I do not know if such clearance issues would have kept them from running west of Forest Park. As it was, all these cars were scrapped, and ironically, some thought was given later to restoring a CA&E curved-side car as an ersatz Laurel Line replica. Wisely, it was decided against this.

The next three photos have been added to our earlier post Chicago’s Pre-PCCs (May 5, 2015):

Scranton Transit 508, an "Electromobile," was built by Osgood-Bradley Co in 1929. It was another attempt at a modern standardized streetcar in the pre-PCC era.

Scranton Transit 508, an “Electromobile,” was built by Osgood-Bradley Co in 1929. It was another attempt at a modern standardized streetcar in the pre-PCC era.

Baltimore Peter Witt 6146. Don's Rail Photos says it was "built by Brill in 1930 and retired in 1955." Sister car 6119 is at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, while 6144 is at Seashore. These were some of the most modern cars around, prior to the PCCs.

Baltimore Peter Witt 6146. Don’s Rail Photos says it was “built by Brill in 1930 and retired in 1955.” Sister car 6119 is at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, while 6144 is at Seashore. These were some of the most modern cars around, prior to the PCCs.

Indianapolis Railways 146, shown here on a special run in 1949, was a Brill "Master Unit" but appears very similar to the Baltimore Peter Witts. This car was built in 1933, one of the last streetcars built before the PCC era. Brill tried to sell street railways on standardized cars (hence the name "Master Units") but as you might expect, no two orders were identical.

Indianapolis Railways 146, shown here on a special run in 1949, was a Brill “Master Unit” but appears very similar to the Baltimore Peter Witts. This car was built in 1933, one of the last streetcars built before the PCC era. Brill tried to sell street railways on standardized cars (hence the name “Master Units”) but as you might expect, no two orders were identical.

We’ve added this next picture to our post Ringing the Bell (December 7, 2015):

Lehigh Valley Transit's Liberty Bell Limited lightweight high-speed car 1001 (ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie 128) at the 69th Street Terminal on the Philadelphia & Western, September 21, 1949. Soon after this picture was taken, LVT passenger service was cut back to Norristown.

Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell Limited lightweight high-speed car 1001 (ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie 128) at the 69th Street Terminal on the Philadelphia & Western, September 21, 1949. Soon after this picture was taken, LVT passenger service was cut back to Norristown.

PE double-end PCCs 5006 and 5012 at West Hollywood car house on September 8, 1946. These were used on the Glendale-Burbank line, which was "light rail" before the term ever existed. Service was abandoned in 1955 and I'll bet Angelinos wish they had it back today. (Norman Rolfe Photo)

PE double-end PCCs 5006 and 5012 at West Hollywood car house on September 8, 1946. These were used on the Glendale-Burbank line, which was “light rail” before the term ever existed. Service was abandoned in 1955 and I’ll bet Angelinos wish they had it back today. (Norman Rolfe Photo)

Pacific Electric double-end PCC 502x is boarded up for a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Don's Rail Photos says this car was "built by Pullman-Standard in October 1940, #W6642. It was retired in 1956 and was sold as FGU M.1523 and made modifications in 1959. It was retired in short time." You can see some additional pictures of these cars as they appeared in 1959 after being damaged by dripping lime deposits in the damp PE Subway here.

Pacific Electric double-end PCC 502x is boarded up for a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Don’s Rail Photos says this car was “built by Pullman-Standard in October 1940, #W6642. It was retired in 1956 and was sold as FGU M.1523 and made modifications in 1959. It was retired in short time.” You can see some additional pictures of these cars as they appeared in 1959 after being damaged by dripping lime deposits in the damp PE Subway here.

Brilliner 9 on the Red Arrow's Ardmore line in May 1965. About 18 months later, this line was converted to bus.

Brilliner 9 on the Red Arrow’s Ardmore line in May 1965. About 18 months later, this line was converted to bus.

A Septa Bullet car at the Norristown (Pennsylvania) terminal in August 1986.

A Septa Bullet car at the Norristown (Pennsylvania) terminal in August 1986.

Not all Bullets were double-ended, or built for the Philadelphia & Western. Here we see Bamberger Railroad car 125 in Salt Lake City on September 4, 1950. A single-end Bullet car, it originally came from the Fonda Johnstown & Gloversville. Don's Rail Photos says, "125 was built by Brill in 1932, #22961. It was sold as Bamberger RR 125 in 1939 and retired in 1952. The body was sold to Utah Pickle Co." We ran a picture of sister car 129 in our previous post Trolley Dodgers (January 15, 2016).

Not all Bullets were double-ended, or built for the Philadelphia & Western. Here we see Bamberger Railroad car 125 in Salt Lake City on September 4, 1950. A single-end Bullet car, it originally came from the Fonda Johnstown & Gloversville. Don’s Rail Photos says, “125 was built by Brill in 1932, #22961. It was sold as Bamberger RR 125 in 1939 and retired in 1952. The body was sold to Utah Pickle Co.” We ran a picture of sister car 129 in our previous post Trolley Dodgers (January 15, 2016).

Here is another photo of Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 315. Don's Rail Photos says, "315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962."

Here is another photo of Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 315. Don’s Rail Photos says, “315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962.”

D. C. Transit 1484 on route 30. Streetcar service in Washington ended in 1962, but recently started up again.

D. C. Transit 1484 on route 30. Streetcar service in Washington ended in 1962, but recently started up again.

Capital Transit Company PCC 1101 in Washington, D. C., with the U. S. Capitol in the background. From the looks of the car in the background, this picture was probably taken in the mid1950s. Don't ask me why there are two different spellings of capitol/capital.

Capital Transit Company PCC 1101 in Washington, D. C., with the U. S. Capitol in the background. From the looks of the car in the background, this picture was probably taken in the mid1950s. Don’t ask me why there are two different spellings of capitol/capital.


WGN's Late Movie "open," seen above, used a simple title image and not the sophisticated graphics of today. If you heard Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" coming out of your TV set in the 1960s or 70s, that most likely meant you were about to watch the Late Movie. (The afternoon "Early Show" movie on our local CBS station WBBM-TV used Leroy Anderson's "The Syncopated Clock" as their theme.) To see a clip of what the Late Movie open looked and sounded like, click here. Take Five was written by Paul Desmond, alto sax player in Brubeck's combo. If you are wondering who the man in the kaleidoscope image is, that's British actor/comedian Terry-Thomas.

WGN’s Late Movie “open,” seen above, used a simple title image and not the sophisticated graphics of today. If you heard Dave Brubeck‘s “Take Five” coming out of your TV set in the 1960s or 70s, that most likely meant you were about to watch the Late Movie. (The afternoon “Early Show” movie on our local CBS station WBBM-TV used Leroy Anderson‘s “The Syncopated Clock” as their theme.) To see a clip of what the Late Movie open looked and sounded like, click here. Take Five was written by Paul Desmond, alto sax player in Brubeck’s combo. If you are wondering who the man in the kaleidoscope image is, that’s British actor/comedian Terry-Thomas.

In the days before 24 hour a day television, most stations went off the air late at night. Some went completely off the air, leaving nothing but static and white noise, while others broadcast test patterns. This was perhaps the most popular type used and should be familiar to anyone of a certain age.

In the days before 24 hour a day television, most stations went off the air late at night. Some went completely off the air, leaving nothing but static and white noise, while others broadcast test patterns. This was perhaps the most popular type used and should be familiar to anyone of a certain age.


Recent Correspondence

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Barry Shanoff writes:

I was born and raised in Chicago, and left in 1975, at age 32, for the Washington, DC area where I have lived ever since. I recently discovered your website, and I enjoy what you have posted.

I have an extensive collection of Chicago transit memorabilia, including vintage CSL, CA&E and CNS&M items, that I am interested in selling. In particular, I have a CTA Rapid Transit sign roll as pictured and described in the attachments to this message.

Rather than posting the items on eBay or consigning them to an auction firm, I’d like to first offer them to Chicago area enthusiasts.

The price sign roll is $325 plus shipping. My guess is that it weighs about four pounds with the mailing tube. Shipping costs will depend on the destination. Best if a would-be buyer contacts me and we complete the arrangements via e-mail or phone.

As for my CTA and interurban material, I don’t have photos of the timetables and brochures, but I can put together a list with prices. Discounts for multi-item purchases. Anyone interested in this or that item can contact me and I will provide a cover photo.

You can contact Barry at: barry_5678@yahoo.com

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Phil Bergen writes:

Big fan of your site, though I’ve only been to Chicago once (1973) and am fascinated by the multiplicity of transit historically and today in Chicago.

Long-time subscriber to First & Fastest. several years ago I wrote to then-editor Roy Benedict suggesting an article for a fictional one-day fan trip around Chicago in a past year of his choice, for an out-of-towner, one that would show a variety of neighborhoods, equipment, and could be done in a day. I created one myself for Boston that ran in Roll Sign.

Mr. Benedict replied with interest in my proposal, but I never heard more about it. With your knowledge and wealth of photos, it might be something to try.

Thanks for your work. I belong to CERA and have enjoyed your PCC book very much. So full of material that it is sometime hard to hold such a tome!!

Glad you like the site and the PCC book. I’ll give your article proposal some thought.

Sometimes these things come together in unusual ways. There are times when I don’t really know what a post is about until it’s finished. Take this one, for example. On the one hand, it’s mainly about night photography, but the additional pictures, oddly enough seem to include quite a lot of preserved equipment, more so than you would expect. You could make quite a list of them. Then again, there are many things in this post that are “paired.” There is a picture of a North Shore car at Roosevelt Road at night, but also one in the day, and so on.

My general idea is to use pictures to tell a story. Often times, the individual pictures are like pieces of a mosaic or jigsaw puzzle. I fiddle around with them and rearrange them until they seem to fit together, and hopefully have some deeper meaning.

My understanding is that Roy Benedict does not have any current involvement with First & Fastest and has not for some years, although naturally I don’t speak for him. The current person to talk to regarding article ideas for that magazine would be Norm Carlson, who does excellent work. It’s a fine publication and sets a high standard for others to follow.

The Chicago PCC book was a labor of love for everyone who collaborated on it. At first, the idea was just for a standard-length picture book, but after we had collected a lot of material, we realized that quite a lot would have to be left out. So, the book grew in length, and at the same time we gradually decided there were other things that needed to go into the book, in order to tell the whole story.

So, the final product is twice standard length, and includes a lot of the history and background material that helps the reader put Chicago’s PCC era into context. It’s somewhere in between a picture book and a more scholarly text, and it seems a very worthwhile addition to the slim shelf of Chicago streetcar books. In the year since its release, it appears to have found an audience.

-David Sadowski

PS- Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. You can either leave a Comment directly on this post, or contact us at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 142nd post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 171,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

Badger Traction, 2016

The Minneapolis car at East Troy.

The Minneapolis car at East Troy.

Badger Traction is alive and well in Wisconsin, the Badger State. Although the Interurban era ended when the last North Shore Line train crossed the state line into Illinois in 1963, interesting things are happening here, with more to come. The new Milwaukee “starter” streetcar should be up and running in a few years.

Electric trains have run continuously between East Troy and Mukwanago, more or less, since 1907, although it was freight only from 1939 until 1973. Soon after, a museum operation began*, which unfortunately had its problems and got replaced with the current incarnation, the East Troy Electric Railroad. This is the last remaining original remnant of what was once a vast Wisconsin interurban network.

It’s been a few years since I went to East Troy, but I made the trip last weekend and as usual it was very enjoyable. The people are friendly, as they are all over Wisconsin, and the museum is headed in the right direction. Restoration work continues on various cars in their roster, their facilities have recently been improved, and they have a group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers.

Our the way north, we made a short stop for lunch at the historic Franks Diner in Kenosha, where we spotted the Chicago tribute car out on the two-mile long loop. (See the video at the end of this post.)

Service at East Troy is usually two different trains running on an hourly basis, meeting up at a passing siding in the middle of the main line between the power house and the Elegant Farmer. This year, they are operating on an additional two miles of trackage east of the Elegant Farmer to a local park, near a lake. It’s a nice addition and makes for a picturesque ride, and the track is actually in better shape than the regular main line. (I was told they are replacing 250 ties on the main line this year.)

The day we were there, they were running the former Minneapolis car 1583, and a two-car train made up of 4000-series Chicago “L” cars. South Shore Line interurban car 30 was parked at the East Troy depot but did not operate. Still, I took a look inside and marveled at the new bucket seats that were recently installed.

The only trackage that they do not regularly operate now is a spur line to an industrial park in East Troy. I was told that this is operational, and was used last year to shuttle people back and forth when a new plant opened.

This is not a high-speed operation, being limited to 15 miles per hour. As our conductor explained, it’s more about the trip than how fast you get there.

Here’s what Don’s Rail Photos says about Twin Cities Rapid Transit Co. car 1583:

1583 was built at Snelling Shops in May 1913 as Class L-8. It was rebuilt in 1921, one-manned in 1928, and rebuilt in 1948. In 1954 it was retired and sold for use as a cottage in northwest Wisconsin. In 1981 it was acquired and rebuilding began by Paul Averdung as Duluth-Superior Transit 253 which was an almost identical car. It now operates on the East Troy Electric Ry.

One interesting feature of the 1583 is its air horn. This sounded different depending on which direction the car was going, more like a horn one way, and a whistle the other. Yet I was told the same horn is used in both directions, although I did not try to confirm that. I made sure to record several horn blasts on the videos at the end of this post.

While in Wisconsin, we spotted some interesting vintage cars, including a 1929 Ford Model A (a “Fordor,” natch), a 1938 Pontiac Touring Sedan, and a 1953 Studebaker (see pictures below).

After our train rides, we bought an apple pie that was baked in a paper bag at the Elegant Farmer, always a good place to stop by, and then had some great burgers at Fred’s Parkview in Burlington.

However, there was one more bit of railfan serendipity on our way back south, although we did not manage to snap a picture. We drove past a steam excursion train in Fox Lake, Illinois, headed up by Nickel Plate Road 765, with an impressive array of passenger cars, including some dome cars behind it. It was just leaving town as we got there.

Here’s what I found about this steam trip:

CHICAGO, May 4, 2016 – The second weekend in June will mark an historic occasion for rail fans with the return of the Nickel Plate Road’s locomotive No. 765 to the Chicago region.

On Saturday, June 11, this 400-ton historic steam locomotive will make an appearance at Franklin Park’s annual Railroad Daze festival followed by its first public excursion trip in the Chicago region in more than 20 years on Sunday, June 12.

Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive no. 765 will be on live-steam display for visitors to Franklin Park’s Railroad Daze from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 11. On Sunday, June 12, No. 765 will pull “The Varsity” an exclusive roundtrip excursion train between The Glen of North Glenview stop on Metra’s Milwaukee North Line and Janesville, Wis. The train will also stop for passengers at Metra’s Fox Lake Station.

“The Varsity” will feature vintage passenger cars from the 1930s-1950s and will include accommodations in standard coach, deluxe coach, and first class and dome car. Tickets can be ordered online or by calling 888-718-4253. Additional information and frequently asked questions can be read at fortwaynerailroad.org/faq.

“We are thrilled to bring the dramatic sights and sounds of no. 765 to the region,” said Bill Otter, president of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS). “We could not be more fortunate to be working with Metra, the Village of Franklin Park, the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad and the Iowa Pacific to bring this type of experience to thousands of area residents.”

Owned and operated by the FWRHS, no. 765 has operated passenger excursions and public exhibitions throughout the Midwest since 1979. The locomotive and train attract passengers from around the world for numerous sell-out excursions throughout the year. No. 765 was originally built in 1944, restored in 1979 and completely rebuilt in 2005 and is maintained by an all-volunteer crew.

“There is nothing like the sights, sounds and mechanical marvels of a steam locomotive in mainline service! Please join us as we relive a past era of railroading in the Chicago area, and throughout America. Welcome aboard!” stated R.R. Conway, Senior Trainmaster, Metra.

“The Varsity” will operate over the route of its Milwaukee Road namesake train, which originally ran between Chicago and Madison, Wis., until 1971. The No. 765’s excursion June 12 will be the first by a steam locomotive over portions of the route since 1953.

The visit to Railroad Daze and the excursion trip to Janesville are operated in partnership with Metra, the Village of Franklin Park, Wisconsin and Southern Railroad, Iowa Pacific and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS). In addition, the Indiana Harbor Belt and Norfolk Southern Corp are assisting in the logistics and transportation of No. 765 to and from the events.

The operation and ongoing maintenance of No. 765 is supported by donations, ticket sales and a membership base of around 1,000 supporters.

“These types of operations are incredibly complex, involving countless parties, organizations, railroads and individuals. All of them prove crucial to inspiring people with the power of the 765,” added Otter.

Additional excursions for No. 765 will be announced later this season.

Another Chicago-area trip using NKP 765 is planned for June 25 and 26.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t been to East Troy, or haven’t gone in a while, take my advice and make the trip. You’ll be glad you did.

The only thing that could have made our trip even better would have been to ride the Milwaukee car, which I still haven’t done. But as the Brooklyn baseball fans used to say, “wait ’til next year.”

-David Sadowski

PS- All the photographs in this post are mine unless otherwise noted.

*The original operation was called the East Troy Trolley Museum, and was run by the Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society. Upon leaving East Troy, their collection was dispersed and some cars went to the Illinois Railway Museum. I don’t believe there is any overlap with the current roster.

The Minneapolis car at the Elegant Farmer.

The Minneapolis car at the Elegant Farmer.

The Minneapolis car at the Elegant Farmer.

The Minneapolis car at the Elegant Farmer.

The main line runs southwest from Mukwonago to East Troy.

The main line runs southwest from Mukwonago to East Troy.

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The old station in East Troy serves as a museum.

The old station in East Troy serves as a museum.

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South Shore Line 30, which was built in 1926. In museum service, its pantograph has been replaced by a pole.

South Shore Line 30, which was built in 1926. In museum service, its pantograph has been replaced by a pole.

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Car 30 has new seats. I don't recall it ever looking this good on the South Shore Line.

Car 30 has new seats. I don’t recall it ever looking this good on the South Shore Line.

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The proprietor of the local ice cream parlor in East Troy is an avid supporter of the museum.

The proprietor of the local ice cream parlor in East Troy is an avid supporter of the museum.

A nice looking 1953 Studebaker at East Troy.

A nice looking 1953 Studebaker at East Troy.

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The 4000s head into a siding so we can proceed on the single track line.

The 4000s head into a siding so we can proceed on the single track line.

The Beulah stop once led to a popular resort that burned down in 1911.

The Beulah stop once led to a popular resort that burned down in 1911.

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A visitor from Scotland helps change the poles.

A visitor from Scotland helps change the poles.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

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At the Elegant Farmer.

At the Elegant Farmer.

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Chicago Rapid Transit 4420 and 4453 at the Elegant Farmer.

Chicago Rapid Transit 4420 and 4453 at the Elegant Farmer.

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The Elegant Farmer is always a good place to stop for a homemade apple pie, baked in a paper bag.

The Elegant Farmer is always a good place to stop for a homemade apple pie, baked in a paper bag.

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A stunning 1929 Ford Model A at Kopp's Custard in Greenfield, Wisconsin. (Diana Koester Photo)

A stunning 1929 Ford Model A at Kopp’s Custard in Greenfield, Wisconsin. (Diana Koester Photo)

(Diana Koester Photo)

(Diana Koester Photo)

The dog makes this picture. I think the owner said his names is Johnny. (Diana Koester Photo)

The dog makes this picture. I think the owner said his names is Johnny. (Diana Koester Photo)

A 1938 Pontiac Touring Sedan in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

A 1938 Pontiac Touring Sedan in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Fred's Parkview in Burlington, Wisconsin has great hamburgers.

Fred’s Parkview in Burlington, Wisconsin has great hamburgers.

NKP 765 at the Edgebrook Metra station on June 12, 2016. (Melvin Bernero Photo)

NKP 765 at the Edgebrook Metra station on June 12, 2016. (Melvin Bernero Photo)

In this mid-1950s view, Village of East Troy Railway freight motor M-15 is shown here in East Troy, Wisconsin, near the power station which now serves as the waiting room for the East Troy Electric Railroad museum operation. It was built by TMER&L in 1920 and is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Walter Broschart Photo)

In this mid-1950s view, Village of East Troy Railway freight motor M-15 is shown here in East Troy, Wisconsin, near the power station which now serves as the waiting room for the East Troy Electric Railroad museum operation. It was built by TMER&L in 1920 and is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Walter Broschart Photo)


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 141st post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 169,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

Love for Selle

Chicago & North Western loco 608, a 4-6-2, heads an eastbound commuter train at Oak Park Avenue on March 23, 1955. This shows how the wide C&NW embankment made it possible, within a few years, to elevate the outer end of CTA's Lake Street "L". In the process, several close-in C&NW stations were closed. (Bob Selle Photo)

Chicago & North Western loco 608, a 4-6-2, heads an eastbound commuter train at Oak Park Avenue on March 23, 1955. This shows how the wide C&NW embankment made it possible, within a few years, to elevate the outer end of CTA’s Lake Street “L”. In the process, several close-in C&NW stations were closed. (Bob Selle Photo)

The building shown in the previous picture still stands on North Boulevard, just east of Oak Park Avenue, in Oak Park.

The building shown in the previous picture still stands on North Boulevard, just east of Oak Park Avenue, in Oak Park.

The late Robert A. Selle (1929-2013) was a notable railfan photographer who seems to have worked exclusively in black-and-white throughout his career. After his passing, his photo collection was sold, and recently some of his original negatives have hit the open market, where we have been fortunate enough to buy a few of them.

I know there are many people who are only interested in color photography, but personally, I appreciate great black-and-white work every bit as much. If you want to see pictures that date to before the 1940s or 1950s, that pretty much eliminates color. Even then, the early versions of Kodachrome were much more limited in how they could be used– after all, the original film speed was ISO 10.

By comparison, black-and-white films were “high speed” with ratings like 32, 64, or even 100. By the late 1950s, Kodak put out Super-XX which had a film speed of perhaps 200, depending on who you talk to.

We ran a couple of Bob Selle photos in older posts, which we are including here along with the others. We also posted a few some time back on the CERA Members Blog. To find those, just type “Selle” in the search window at the top of the page and the posts that include them will come up.

Anyhow, while I did not know the man personally, all the Bob Selle photos that I have seen have been pretty great, and I hope you think so too. Along with our tribute to Bob Selle, I am including some of our other recent photo finds that you may find interesting.

As always, if you have additional questions, comments, or other information you can add regarding what you see here, don’t hesitate to let us know. You can either leave a Comment on this post, or write us directly at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

In addition to his shutterbug work, Bob Selle was also one of the founding members of the Electric Railway Historical Society, which published 49 important historical publications and preserved several electric railcars that are now at the Illinois Railway Museum. In 2014 I helped put together The Complete ERHS Collection, an E-book that includes all 49 publications. It is available from Central Electric Railfans Assocation.*

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

-David Sadowski

PS- While in a sense it is a shame that when many railfan photographers pass on, their collections get scattered to the four winds, or determined by the highest bidder, that also presents us with an opportunity to try and collect some of these great images and pass them on to you. How many pictures we can save this way, and the quality of the ones we do present, is largely determined by the amount of financial support we can get from our readers.

*Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 140th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 167,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

In the twilight days of steam, C&NW locomotive 532, a 4-6-2, heads a commuter train in February 1956. Although this negative is marked as having been taken at Euclid Avenue in Oak Park, where UP freight and Metra commuter trains now share space with the CTA's Green Line rapid transit, this certainly looks like it was taken somewhere else at ground level. (Bob Selle Photo) Andre Kristopans: "The CNW “Euclid Ave” shot most likely is about where Kilpatrick Av now crosses the tracks. If one blows up the photo, you see a railroad overpass in the background that certainly looks like the BRC bridge at Kenton. Box cars on right would be on one of the tracks at 40th St Yard, while the lower-level track in foreground would be an industrial lead. Train would be EB."

In the twilight days of steam, C&NW locomotive 532, a 4-6-2, heads a commuter train in February 1956. Although this negative is marked as having been taken at Euclid Avenue in Oak Park, where UP freight and Metra commuter trains now share space with the CTA’s Green Line rapid transit, this certainly looks like it was taken somewhere else at ground level. (Bob Selle Photo) Andre Kristopans: “The CNW “Euclid Ave” shot most likely is about where Kilpatrick Av now crosses the tracks. If one blows up the photo, you see a railroad overpass in the background that certainly looks like the BRC bridge at Kenton. Box cars on right would be on one of the tracks at 40th St Yard, while the lower-level track in foreground would be an industrial lead. Train would be EB.”

CTA salt spreader AA98 was former "Interstate" car 2846, shown here being operated for probably the last time ever on May 25, 1958 at CTA's South Shops. The occasion was a CERA fantrip on the last remaining Chicago streetcar line, so everything old that could run was trotted out for pictures. This car was soon purchased by the Electric Railway Historical Society, and eventually made its way to the Illinois Railway Museum, where it is preserved. (Bob Selle Photo)

CTA salt spreader AA98 was former “Interstate” car 2846, shown here being operated for probably the last time ever on May 25, 1958 at CTA’s South Shops. The occasion was a CERA fantrip on the last remaining Chicago streetcar line, so everything old that could run was trotted out for pictures. This car was soon purchased by the Electric Railway Historical Society, and eventually made its way to the Illinois Railway Museum, where it is preserved. (Bob Selle Photo)

There are a lot of pictures like this, showing CTA PCC 7142 and locomotive L-201 at South Shops on May 25, 1958. This was the occasion of one of the final fantrips on Chicago's last remaining streetcar line, organized by the Central Electric Railfans' Association, which was abandoned less than one month later. 7142 was on its way down to the St. Louis Car Company for scrapping so that parts could be reused in Chicago rapid transit cars. (Bob Selle Photo)

There are a lot of pictures like this, showing CTA PCC 7142 and locomotive L-201 at South Shops on May 25, 1958. This was the occasion of one of the final fantrips on Chicago’s last remaining streetcar line, organized by the Central Electric Railfans’ Association, which was abandoned less than one month later. 7142 was on its way down to the St. Louis Car Company for scrapping so that parts could be reused in Chicago rapid transit cars. (Bob Selle Photo)

CTA two-man arch roof 6141 coing off the south end of the Halsted Street bridge over the Milwaukee Road on November 16, 1953. This car was known as one of the "Odd 17" (actually 19), probably because it did not fit into some other series. Don's Rail Photos says, "6141 was built by American Car Co in February 1918, #1079." (Bob Selle Photo)

CTA two-man arch roof 6141 coing off the south end of the Halsted Street bridge over the Milwaukee Road on November 16, 1953. This car was known as one of the “Odd 17” (actually 19), probably because it did not fit into some other series. Don’s Rail Photos says, “6141 was built by American Car Co in February 1918, #1079.” (Bob Selle Photo)

CTA "Big Pullman" 511 at Lake and Paulina Streets on the Ashland Avenue line on August 26, 1953. (Bob Selle Photo)

CTA “Big Pullman” 511 at Lake and Paulina Streets on the Ashland Avenue line on August 26, 1953. (Bob Selle Photo)

It's the evening rush hour on June 3rd, 1959, and North Shore Line car 161 is on the tail end of a northbound train at Chicago Avenue on the "L". (Bob Selle Photo)

It’s the evening rush hour on June 3rd, 1959, and North Shore Line car 161 is on the tail end of a northbound train at Chicago Avenue on the “L”. (Bob Selle Photo)

The experimental pre-PCC car 4001 ended its days on CTA property as a storage shed. It is shown here at South Shops on December 18, 1955. The body shell of 4001 is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Bob Selle Photo)

The experimental pre-PCC car 4001 ended its days on CTA property as a storage shed. It is shown here at South Shops on December 18, 1955. The body shell of 4001 is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Bob Selle Photo)

The late Bob Selle took this great shot of an outbound Milwaukee Road commuter train leaving Union Station in Chicago on August 8, 1958. These were some of the consists I saw as a child, since I lived very close to what is now the Metra Milwaukee District West Line. Ridership was nothing compared to what it is today, and I believe bi-levels were not introduced here until around 1961-62. That's the Merchandise Mart across the Chicago River. This picture was taken from the Lake Street overpass. That looks like a 1957 Oldsmobile convertible at left.

The late Bob Selle took this great shot of an outbound Milwaukee Road commuter train leaving Union Station in Chicago on August 8, 1958. These were some of the consists I saw as a child, since I lived very close to what is now the Metra Milwaukee District West Line. Ridership was nothing compared to what it is today, and I believe bi-levels were not introduced here until around 1961-62. That’s the Merchandise Mart across the Chicago River. This picture was taken from the Lake Street overpass. That looks like a 1957 Oldsmobile convertible at left.

According to Don's Rail Photos, Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 213 "was built by Cincinnati in March 1920, #2445, as a merchandise dispatch car. In 1940 it was rebuilt as a disc harrow ice cutter. It was retired in 1955 and sold to CHF as their 242. It was donated to Illinois Railway Museum in 1964." This photo by the late Bob Selle shows it newly delivered to the Chicago Hardware Foundry in North Chicago on August 7, 1955.

According to Don’s Rail Photos, Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 213 “was built by Cincinnati in March 1920, #2445, as a merchandise dispatch car. In 1940 it was rebuilt as a disc harrow ice cutter. It was retired in 1955 and sold to CHF as their 242. It was donated to Illinois Railway Museum in 1964.” This photo by the late Bob Selle shows it newly delivered to the Chicago Hardware Foundry in North Chicago on August 7, 1955.

Caption: "3 cars on North Shore Line northbound at Kenilworth (714 on rear of train), July 13, 1955. This was shortly before the end of service on the Shore Line Route. (Bob Selle Photo) Don's Rail Photos: "714 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It is modernized in 1939 and preserved in 1963 by the Illinois Railway Museum."

Caption: “3 cars on North Shore Line northbound at Kenilworth (714 on rear of train), July 13, 1955. This was shortly before the end of service on the Shore Line Route. (Bob Selle Photo) Don’s Rail Photos: “714 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It is modernized in 1939 and preserved in 1963 by the Illinois Railway Museum.”

This looks like a 1952 Chevrolet 4-door Fleetline fastback to me, which would be a somewhat rare model with only a few thousand produced. The fastback, which had enjoyed a brief vogue starting around 1941, was dropped for the 1953 model year.

This looks like a 1952 Chevrolet 4-door Fleetline fastback to me, which would be a somewhat rare model with only a few thousand produced. The fastback, which had enjoyed a brief vogue starting around 1941, was dropped for the 1953 model year.

It's May 30, 1958 and Chicago Surface Lines car 1467 (former CTA salt car AA72) is at the Electric Railway Historical Society site on Plainfield Road in Downer's Grove. Don's Rail Photos says this "Bowling Alley" car "was built by CUTCo in 1900 as CUT 4516. It was rebuilt as 1467 in 1911 and became CSL 1467 in 1914. It was rebuilt as salt car and renumbered AA72 on April 15, 1948. It was retired on February 28, 1958. It was sold to Electric Railway Historical Society in 1959 and went to Illinois Railway Museum in 1973." Actually it must have been sold earlier, as the negative envelope has written on it "owned now by ERHS!" (Bob Selle Photo)

It’s May 30, 1958 and Chicago Surface Lines car 1467 (former CTA salt car AA72) is at the Electric Railway Historical Society site on Plainfield Road in Downer’s Grove. Don’s Rail Photos says this “Bowling Alley” car “was built by CUTCo in 1900 as CUT 4516. It was rebuilt as 1467 in 1911 and became CSL 1467 in 1914. It was rebuilt as salt car and renumbered AA72 on April 15, 1948. It was retired on February 28, 1958. It was sold to Electric Railway Historical Society in 1959 and went to Illinois Railway Museum in 1973.” Actually it must have been sold earlier, as the negative envelope has written on it “owned now by ERHS!” (Bob Selle Photo)

CTA 3025 is running inbound on Elston on June 30, 1949. (Bob Selle Photo) Neil Arsenty adds, "Although this is the Elston Avenue line, this is actually taken at Milwaukee and Kinzie going southeast. The building behind the streetcar still stands at the Northwest corner."

CTA 3025 is running inbound on Elston on June 30, 1949. (Bob Selle Photo) Neil Arsenty adds, “Although this is the Elston Avenue line, this is actually taken at Milwaukee and Kinzie going southeast. The building behind the streetcar still stands at the Northwest corner.”

Milwaukee and Kinzie today.

Milwaukee and Kinzie today.

CTA Pullman 144 is heading southwest on Archer approaching Wentworth on June 15, 1958. This was four years after red cars were retired from active service, and less than a week before the end of all Chicago streetcars. The occasion was a fantrip sponsored by the Electric Railway Historical Society (ERHS). (Bob Selle Photo)

CTA Pullman 144 is heading southwest on Archer approaching Wentworth on June 15, 1958. This was four years after red cars were retired from active service, and less than a week before the end of all Chicago streetcars. The occasion was a fantrip sponsored by the Electric Railway Historical Society (ERHS). (Bob Selle Photo)

On Sunday, September 13, 1953, CTA one-man shuttle car 3175 is on Fifth Avenue at Pulaski (Crawford), the west end of the Fifth Avenue line. This had been a branch line from route 20 - Madison. From this point, the cars looped via Pulaski and Harrison before going back NE on Fifth. The photographer was on the Garfield Park "L" at Pulaski. The "L" was heading east and west at this point, just south of where the Eisenhower expressway is today. This "L" station remained in use until June 1958. Streetcar service on Fifth Avenue continued into early 1954. (Bob Selle Photo)

On Sunday, September 13, 1953, CTA one-man shuttle car 3175 is on Fifth Avenue at Pulaski (Crawford), the west end of the Fifth Avenue line. This had been a branch line from route 20 – Madison. From this point, the cars looped via Pulaski and Harrison before going back NE on Fifth. The photographer was on the Garfield Park “L” at Pulaski. The “L” was heading east and west at this point, just south of where the Eisenhower expressway is today. This “L” station remained in use until June 1958. Streetcar service on Fifth Avenue continued into early 1954. (Bob Selle Photo)

An overview of the Fifth-Pulaski-Harrison area as it appears today. When the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway was built, Fifth Avenue was cut off at this point just out of the right of the picture. The Garfield Park "L", which ran east and west at this point, was replaced by the Congress median rapid transit line in 1958.

An overview of the Fifth-Pulaski-Harrison area as it appears today. When the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway was built, Fifth Avenue was cut off at this point just out of the right of the picture. The Garfield Park “L”, which ran east and west at this point, was replaced by the Congress median rapid transit line in 1958.

On August 9, 1955 CTA wooden "L" car 345 is at the front of a northbound Ravenswood "A" train at Chicago Avenue. (Bob Selle Photo)

On August 9, 1955 CTA wooden “L” car 345 is at the front of a northbound Ravenswood “A” train at Chicago Avenue. (Bob Selle Photo)

Here, we see the lineup at 71st and Ashland on May 23, 1953. From left to rigth, we have CTA 572, sprinklers D-210, D-212, D-203 and 504. (Bob Selle Photo)

Here, we see the lineup at 71st and Ashland on May 23, 1953. From left to rigth, we have CTA 572, sprinklers D-210, D-212, D-203 and 504. (Bob Selle Photo)


Recent Photo Finds

CTA 7095 heads south on State Street on route 36 Broadway-State on August 18, 1954. You can see the Mandel Brothers department store in the background. We discussed this retailer in our previous post Lifting the Lid in the Loop (April 12, 2016), which makes Madison the cross street. Mandel Brothers was bought out by Wieboldt's in 1960, and their store occupied this site into the 1980s. This image was taken on size 828 film, which was meant to be Kodak's answer to 35mm starting in the late 1930s. It offered 8 pictures on a roll, with an image area nearly 30% bigger than 35mm, and had notches in the film so that cameras could use an automatic frame counter/spacer, potentially eliminating the troublesome little red window on the back of the camera. Although Kodak promoted this format in the stylish Art Deco Bantam series of cameras, it did not catch on and 828 film was discontinued by Kodak in 1985. However, the technology behind 828 was later used in the very much more successful 126 cartridge format starting in 1963. It is actually still possible to get 828 film today that has been respooled and cut to size from larger formats.

CTA 7095 heads south on State Street on route 36 Broadway-State on August 18, 1954. You can see the Mandel Brothers department store in the background. We discussed this retailer in our previous post Lifting the Lid in the Loop (April 12, 2016), which makes Madison the cross street. Mandel Brothers was bought out by Wieboldt’s in 1960, and their store occupied this site into the 1980s. This image was taken on size 828 film, which was meant to be Kodak’s answer to 35mm starting in the late 1930s. It offered 8 pictures on a roll, with an image area nearly 30% bigger than 35mm, and had notches in the film so that cameras could use an automatic frame counter/spacer, potentially eliminating the troublesome little red window on the back of the camera. Although Kodak promoted this format in the stylish Art Deco Bantam series of cameras, it did not catch on and 828 film was discontinued by Kodak in 1985. However, the technology behind 828 was later used in the very much more successful 126 cartridge format starting in 1963. It is actually still possible to get 828 film today that has been respooled and cut to size from larger formats.

A comparison of a standard 35mm Kodachrome slide with a "superslide" in 828 film format. At 28x40mm as opposed to 24x36mm, the superslide has a nearly 30% larger surface area. Despite the different style of these two slide mounts, these pictures were taken only about one year apart (left 1956, right 1955). There were also 40x40mm superslides using size 127 roll film, taking up nearly the entire area of a standard 2x2" slide mount, but as far as I know Kodachrome was never made in that format, although Ektachrome certainly was. So, the term superslide can refer to either size 828 or 127 transparencies.

A comparison of a standard 35mm Kodachrome slide with a “superslide” in 828 film format. At 28x40mm as opposed to 24x36mm, the superslide has a nearly 30% larger surface area. Despite the different style of these two slide mounts, these pictures were taken only about one year apart (left 1956, right 1955). There were also 40x40mm superslides using size 127 roll film, taking up nearly the entire area of a standard 2×2″ slide mount, but as far as I know Kodachrome was never made in that format, although Ektachrome certainly was. So, the term superslide can refer to either size 828 or 127 transparencies.

CTA postwar PCC 7236 is shown northbound at Clark and Armitage on Sunday, December 18, 1955 in fantrip service. It was preferable in this period to run fantrips on weekends, since regular service on these lines was now being operated by buses, such as the ones shown in the background. We have run three other photos from this same fantrip in previous posts. Red car 225 was used ahead of this car. Since the trip organizers had advertised that car 144 would be used, they put a piece of oilcloth with that number on it over the Pullman's actual number. I also wrote about this same trip in the post The Old Math (144 = 225) March 13, 2013 on the CERA Members Blog. At that time, I thought the date of the trip was 1956, but a variety of sources since then say it was actually 1955. George Foelschow adds, "The tan building directly behind the car is the North Park Hotel, the apex of the Old Town Triangle, site of the Chandelier Room, where I cast my first vote in 1960, since I lived just south of there on Lincoln Avenue. Sadly, the streetcars and trolley wires were gone by then, and only the tracks remained for a time."

CTA postwar PCC 7236 is shown northbound at Clark and Armitage on Sunday, December 18, 1955 in fantrip service. It was preferable in this period to run fantrips on weekends, since regular service on these lines was now being operated by buses, such as the ones shown in the background. We have run three other photos from this same fantrip in previous posts. Red car 225 was used ahead of this car. Since the trip organizers had advertised that car 144 would be used, they put a piece of oilcloth with that number on it over the Pullman’s actual number. I also wrote about this same trip in the post The Old Math (144 = 225) March 13, 2013 on the CERA Members Blog. At that time, I thought the date of the trip was 1956, but a variety of sources since then say it was actually 1955. George Foelschow adds, “The tan building directly behind the car is the North Park Hotel, the apex of the Old Town Triangle, site of the Chandelier Room, where I cast my first vote in 1960, since I lived just south of there on Lincoln Avenue. Sadly, the streetcars and trolley wires were gone by then, and only the tracks remained for a time.”

CTA one-man prewar PCC 4032 is shown southbound on route 4 - Cottage Grove in the early 1950s, where the line ran parallel to the Illinois Central's electric suburban commuter service.

CTA one-man prewar PCC 4032 is shown southbound on route 4 – Cottage Grove in the early 1950s, where the line ran parallel to the Illinois Central’s electric suburban commuter service.

CTA 7012 at the Narragansett Loop on the west end of route 63. Tony Waller adds, "In image 257, the pre-war PCC must have been photographed in December 1951. All pre-war PCCs were removed from 63rd St. in Spring 1952 and rebuilt for one man operations (with elimination of one of the center doors). They were then assigned to Cottage Grove."

CTA 7012 at the Narragansett Loop on the west end of route 63. Tony Waller adds, “In image 257, the pre-war PCC must have been photographed in December 1951. All pre-war PCCs were removed from 63rd St. in Spring 1952 and rebuilt for one man operations (with elimination of one of the center doors). They were then assigned to Cottage Grove.”

Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 318 under wire on a July 4, 1949 fantrip. The index card with this negative reads: Monitor roof double end steel interurban. Builder: Jewett 1909; Weight 100,000 lbs.; Motors 4 GE 66 HP 500; Seats 52; Length 54' Width 8' 8" Height 13' 6". On the same day, the New York-based Electric Railroader's Association held a Chicago fantrip on south side streetcar lines that were soon to be abandoned. You can see a picture from that trip in our post Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part Five.

Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 318 under wire on a July 4, 1949 fantrip. The index card with this negative reads: Monitor roof double end steel interurban. Builder: Jewett 1909; Weight 100,000 lbs.; Motors 4 GE 66 HP 500; Seats 52; Length 54′ Width 8′ 8″ Height 13′ 6″. On the same day, the New York-based Electric Railroader’s Association held a Chicago fantrip on south side streetcar lines that were soon to be abandoned. You can see a picture from that trip in our post Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part Five.

Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 319 heads west, having just left the CTA's Wells Street Terminal, sometime prior to the end of CA&E service downtown in September 1953. This was a stub-end terminal, and the tracks at right curved around to Van Buren and connected to the southwest corner of the Loop "L". In 1955, that connecting track was removed as part of the construction of lower Wacker Drive. A new connection to the Loop was made by extending two tracks through the old Wells Street Terminal, which was by then no longer in use. The CTA's Garfield Park trains continued to use this connection until June 1958, when the Congress median line opened. Parts of the old "L" structure here were not demolished until the early 1960s.

Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 319 heads west, having just left the CTA’s Wells Street Terminal, sometime prior to the end of CA&E service downtown in September 1953. This was a stub-end terminal, and the tracks at right curved around to Van Buren and connected to the southwest corner of the Loop “L”. In 1955, that connecting track was removed as part of the construction of lower Wacker Drive. A new connection to the Loop was made by extending two tracks through the old Wells Street Terminal, which was by then no longer in use. The CTA’s Garfield Park trains continued to use this connection until June 1958, when the Congress median line opened. Parts of the old “L” structure here were not demolished until the early 1960s.

"Congress St. expressway under construction with rapid transit tracks in center strip, October 8, 1955." The Garfield Park "L" tracks, whether temporary or existing, are not visible in this picture. The first tracks in the median line were laid on July 28, 1955 at Pulaski Road, with Mayor Richard J. Daley driving the first spike. Matt Cajda adds, "In the Congress Expressway photo, the elevated Garfield Park tracks look visible to me just above the two bridges over the expressway. This would indicate that the photo could possibly be taken from the Homan Ave. or Kedzie Ave. bridge." Andre Kristopans: "The Congress construction is looking east at Kostner. Remember, Kostner station came later." (Yes, the short-lived Kostner station, built on a curve, opened in 1962 as the result of lobbying by three local aldermen whose wards were nearby. It closed in 1973.)

“Congress St. expressway under construction with rapid transit tracks in center strip, October 8, 1955.” The Garfield Park “L” tracks, whether temporary or existing, are not visible in this picture. The first tracks in the median line were laid on July 28, 1955 at Pulaski Road, with Mayor Richard J. Daley driving the first spike. Matt Cajda adds, “In the Congress Expressway photo, the elevated Garfield Park tracks look visible to me just above the two bridges over the expressway. This would indicate that the photo could possibly be taken from the Homan Ave. or Kedzie Ave. bridge.” Andre Kristopans: “The Congress construction is looking east at Kostner. Remember, Kostner station came later.” (Yes, the short-lived Kostner station, built on a curve, opened in 1962 as the result of lobbying by three local aldermen whose wards were nearby. It closed in 1973.)

This photo was marked as being taken in April 1951. Unfortunately, what the picture shows makes that date impossible. The buildings behind the ground level "L" show that this is Western Avenue at Van Buren, during the 1953-58 rerouting of part of the Garfield Park "L". Red car 473 is on a curve because the tracks are on a shoo-fly while the bridge that would go over the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway was under construction to the left of this view, which looks north. This phase of construction, and the presence of car 473, would imply that this picture actually dates to May 16, 1954, when this car and 479 were used on a CERA "farewell to red cars" fantrip on Chicago's streetcar system. Meanwhile, a two-car train of flat door 6000-series "L" cars (6049-6050), with numbers painted on their roofs, proceeds on the ponderously slow 2.5 mile temporary trackage.

This photo was marked as being taken in April 1951. Unfortunately, what the picture shows makes that date impossible. The buildings behind the ground level “L” show that this is Western Avenue at Van Buren, during the 1953-58 rerouting of part of the Garfield Park “L”. Red car 473 is on a curve because the tracks are on a shoo-fly while the bridge that would go over the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway was under construction to the left of this view, which looks north. This phase of construction, and the presence of car 473, would imply that this picture actually dates to May 16, 1954, when this car and 479 were used on a CERA “farewell to red cars” fantrip on Chicago’s streetcar system. Meanwhile, a two-car train of flat door 6000-series “L” cars (6049-6050), with numbers painted on their roofs, proceeds on the ponderously slow 2.5 mile temporary trackage.

Although CTA postwar PCC 4400 is not front and center in this September 1, 1955 press photograph, taken at Clark and Leland, looking northeast, that is actually part of its charm. This was part of a series showing neighborhood life in Uptown, during a time when streetcars were still a part of everyday life in Chicago. (Ralph Arvidson Photo)

Although CTA postwar PCC 4400 is not front and center in this September 1, 1955 press photograph, taken at Clark and Leland, looking northeast, that is actually part of its charm. This was part of a series showing neighborhood life in Uptown, during a time when streetcars were still a part of everyday life in Chicago. (Ralph Arvidson Photo)

The same location today. Leland is a block south of Lawrence.

The same location today. Leland is a block south of Lawrence.

Chicago Surface Lines "Sedan" (Peter Witt) 6281, southbound on route 22 - Clark-Wentworth, most likely in the late 1930s.

Chicago Surface Lines “Sedan” (Peter Witt) 6281, southbound on route 22 – Clark-Wentworth, most likely in the late 1930s.

CTA 4026 is eastbound on private right-of-way at the west end of route 63.

CTA 4026 is eastbound on private right-of-way at the west end of route 63.

Chicago Surface Lines Brill car 6072 at Kedzie Station on January 28, 1942. (John F. Bromley Collection) I believe this car was built in 1914. You can see part of a Sedan in the background. These were used for fill-in service on Madison along with the prewar PCCs.

Chicago Surface Lines Brill car 6072 at Kedzie Station on January 28, 1942. (John F. Bromley Collection) I believe this car was built in 1914. You can see part of a Sedan in the background. These were used for fill-in service on Madison along with the prewar PCCs.

The interior of CSL Pullman 616 during Surface Lines days. (Joe L. Diaz Collection)

The interior of CSL Pullman 616 during Surface Lines days. (Joe L. Diaz Collection)

CSL 2779 in a wintry scene, probably in the 1940s. The location is unknown, as the roll sign on the car simply reads "Downtown." According to Don's Rail Photos, this car was part of a series known as Robertson Rebuilds, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1903. Don Ross: "These cars were similar to 2501-2625 but were longer and heavier. They were built with McGuire 10-A trucks but were replaced with Brill 51-E-1 trucks in 1918. An additional 20 cars were ordered, 2781-2800, but they were delivered to St Louis & Suburban Ry as 600-619. It replaced most of their cars in a carbarn fire that destroyed most of their equipment." (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Michael Franklin: "Headed south on Damen Ave with Roscoe St. in the distance."

CSL 2779 in a wintry scene, probably in the 1940s. The location is unknown, as the roll sign on the car simply reads “Downtown.” According to Don’s Rail Photos, this car was part of a series known as Robertson Rebuilds, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1903. Don Ross: “These cars were similar to 2501-2625 but were longer and heavier. They were built with McGuire 10-A trucks but were replaced with Brill 51-E-1 trucks in 1918. An additional 20 cars were ordered, 2781-2800, but they were delivered to St Louis & Suburban Ry as 600-619. It replaced most of their cars in a carbarn fire that destroyed most of their equipment.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Michael Franklin: “Headed south on Damen Ave with Roscoe St. in the distance.”

I believe this is CSL car 2811 on the Riverdale line. If so, this car is part of a series (2801-2815) built by St. Louis Car Company in 1901. Don's Rail Photos says, "These cars were built for Chicago City Ry and sold to Calumet & South Chicago Railway in 1908. 2811 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1901 as CCRy 2586. It was sold as C&CS 711 in 1908 and renumbered 2811 in 1913. It became CSL 2811 in 1914." (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Michael Franklin: "Northbound on Indiana Ave turning west on 134th St."

I believe this is CSL car 2811 on the Riverdale line. If so, this car is part of a series (2801-2815) built by St. Louis Car Company in 1901. Don’s Rail Photos says, “These cars were built for Chicago City Ry and sold to Calumet & South Chicago Railway in 1908. 2811 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1901 as CCRy 2586. It was sold as C&CS 711 in 1908 and renumbered 2811 in 1913. It became CSL 2811 in 1914.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Michael Franklin: “Northbound on Indiana Ave turning west on 134th St.”

This photo is supposed to show the traction motor in CTA trolley bus 370. If so, it was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1948. This bus would have been renumbered to 9370 in 1952, to avoid duplication with bus numbers from the Chicago Motor Coach Company, which CTA purchased that year. A while back I asked our readers whether the North Shore Line Electroliner was fitted with trolley bus motors. I don't think I got a definitive answer, although in some sense, a traction motor is a traction motor.

This photo is supposed to show the traction motor in CTA trolley bus 370. If so, it was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1948. This bus would have been renumbered to 9370 in 1952, to avoid duplication with bus numbers from the Chicago Motor Coach Company, which CTA purchased that year. A while back I asked our readers whether the North Shore Line Electroliner was fitted with trolley bus motors. I don’t think I got a definitive answer, although in some sense, a traction motor is a traction motor.

CTA 384, a Pullman, sits at the west end of route 66 at Chicago Avenue and Austin Boulevard. That looks like a West Towns bus across the way in suburban Oak Park in the background.

CTA 384, a Pullman, sits at the west end of route 66 at Chicago Avenue and Austin Boulevard. That looks like a West Towns bus across the way in suburban Oak Park in the background.


Updates

It’s conclusively been shown that the following two “mystery” photos below show the Hammond, Whiting & East Chicago Railway, which operated a through service to Chicago with the Chicago Surface Lines. In its final years, the Indiana half of this operation was under the management of Chicago & Calumet District Transit. Chicago cars ran into Indiana, and Indiana cars ran into Illinois, up until the cessation of streetcar service in 1940. Operators were changed at the state line, and each car had two sets of fare boxes.

According to Don’s Rail Photos:

HW&EC was formed in 1892 in Hammond where 2 miles of track were built. It was then extended through East Chicago and Whiting to the state line and a connection to the South Chicago City Railway. It came under SCCRy control and service was extended to 63rd and Stony Island. In 1901 a fire destroyed the Hammond Packing Co which caused such a financial impact that all but 12 cars were sold. In 1908 the SCCRy merged with the Calumet Electric Street Ry as the Calumet & South Chicago Ry which retained control of the HW&EC. Joint service was maintained using cars of both companies. After World War I the line was plagued by private auto and jitney competition and finally filed for abandonment in 1929. A new company, Calumet Railways was formed, but it failed and was replaced by C&CDT. The Indiana Harbor line was abandoned in 1934 and the remainder of the system on June 9, 1940.

PS- Coincidentally, Frank Hicks has just posted an article called THE INTERSTATE: CSL 2846 and the Streetcar Service to Indiana on the excellent Hicks Car Works blog. It’s well worth reading, and we contributed a couple of pictures as well.

This is a higher-res version of a photo that originally appeared in our post The “Other” Penn Central (May 29, 2016). Bob Lalich writes, "The location of photo csl127 is East Chicago, IN. The road is Indianapolis Blvd and the bridge spans the west leg of the Indiana Harbor Canal. The car is SB."

This is a higher-res version of a photo that originally appeared in our post The “Other” Penn Central (May 29, 2016). Bob Lalich writes, “The location of photo csl127 is East Chicago, IN. The road is Indianapolis Blvd and the bridge spans the west leg of the Indiana Harbor Canal. The car is SB.”

A close-up of the previous photo. This appears to be Chicago and Calumet District car 78, built by American in 1919.

A close-up of the previous photo. This appears to be Chicago and Calumet District car 78, built by American in 1919.

This is a higher-res version of a photo that originally appeared in our post The “Other” Penn Central (May 29, 2016). Bob Lalich writes, "After studying photo csl26 several more times and the HW&EC map in James Buckley’s book I am convinced the location is Schrage Ave near Steiber St in Whiting. The car is SB and the crossing track is the IHB branch which connected to the B&OCT Whiting Branch, seen in the background. Everything fits."

This is a higher-res version of a photo that originally appeared in our post The “Other” Penn Central (May 29, 2016). Bob Lalich writes, “After studying photo csl26 several more times and the HW&EC map in James Buckley’s book I am convinced the location is Schrage Ave near Steiber St in Whiting. The car is SB and the crossing track is the IHB branch which connected to the B&OCT Whiting Branch, seen in the background. Everything fits.”

A close-up of the previous photo. This appears to be Chicago and Calumet District car 78, built by American in 1919.

A close-up of the previous photo. This appears to be Chicago and Calumet District car 78, built by American in 1919.

We previously ran another version of this photograph in our post Chicago Streetcars in Black-and-White, Part 3 (March 29, 2015), although that version was cropped somewhat. There, the caption read as follows: CSL 6200 by Hammond Station (car house), 1939. According to Andre Kristopans, this street is called Gostlin. (M.D. McCarter Collection)

We previously ran another version of this photograph in our post Chicago Streetcars in Black-and-White, Part 3 (March 29, 2015), although that version was cropped somewhat. There, the caption read as follows: CSL 6200 by Hammond Station (car house), 1939. According to Andre Kristopans, this street is called Gostlin. (M.D. McCarter Collection)

This is a higher-res version of a photo that originally appeared in our post The “Other” Penn Central (May 29, 2016). It shows Chicago Surface Lines prewar PCC 4003 at the Madison-Austin Loop.

This is a higher-res version of a photo that originally appeared in our post The “Other” Penn Central (May 29, 2016). It shows Chicago Surface Lines prewar PCC 4003 at the Madison-Austin Loop.

We now have a nearly complete set of hi-res scans of the CTA Transit News, an employee publication, covering the years from 1947 to 1973. That's an amazing 282 issues in all, on average 24 pages per copy. It's a wealth of information, covering several thousand pages of material, added to our E-Book The “New Look” in Chicago Transit: 1938-1973, available through our Online Store.

We now have a nearly complete set of hi-res scans of the CTA Transit News, an employee publication, covering the years from 1947 to 1973. That’s an amazing 282 issues in all, on average 24 pages per copy. It’s a wealth of information, covering several thousand pages of material, added to our E-Book The “New Look” in Chicago Transit: 1938-1973, available through our Online Store.

These issues of the CTA Transit News are full of interesting tidbits of information contained in theses publications, some of which are not to be found anywhere else.

The June 1956 issue, published 60 years ago, is no exception.

On page 20 of the June 1956 issue, we find the following:

On the preceding day, Sunday, June 17, the Western avenue one-man streetcar line was converted to bus operation… The conversion from streetcars to buses on Western was necessary to clear the way for the City of Chicago to proceed with its program of building vehicular traffic grade separations in heavily used intersections.

That was written 60 years ago, and the grade separation project they refer to was the flyover at Western, Belmont and Clybourn, which opened on November 22, 1961. This was mainly built due to traffic congestion from nearby Riverview amusement park, but that closed after the 1967 season. The flyover has long outlived its usefulness and was recently demolished.

On page 3, we find:

GARFIELD PARK TRACKS RELOCATED AGAIN– HERE’S WHY

In order to speed up construction work on the Congress street expressway, the section of CTA tracks on the Garfield Park line of the rapid transit system from east of Central avenue to Austin boulevard that was relocated last year has again been relocated and will be cut into service sometime in June.

This speed-up program will permit the highway building agencies to prepare simultaneously the permanent right-of-way and necessary facilities for CTA and B & O CT and the Chicago Great Western R. R. operations in this area. Originally the highway building agencies had planned to construct these permanent facilities in two stages, one after the other. This would have consumed considerably more time than the revised plan will require, even though this seems to duplicate the temporary work that was done a year ago.

Both of the temporary routings for CTA operations, as well as CTA permanent right-of-way and station facilities, are being paid for by the public agencies that are constructing the Congress street expressway.

The second relocation project involved the laying of two additional tracks approximately 40 feet to the north between Central avenue and Austin boulevard, It also involved the construction of a new station at Central avenue and alterations to the Austin boulevard station.

Work has already been completed on all operating facilities required for this relocation. The actual cutting in of service is contingent upon completion of new water main facilities through Oak Park and Forest Park.

After CTA service has been diverted to the temporary tracks, the existing CTA tracks will be taken over and used by the other two railroads in accomplishing their temporary relocation.

On page 7, some CTA employees were asked about their plans for the summer. Edward T. Mizerocki, a repairman at Wilson shops, replied:

Since I’m a rail fan, I will devote much of my spare time at the Illinois Electrical (sic) Railway Museum in North Chicago taking a lot of pictures. Another of my aims will be to help restore and preserve old streetcars and other electric railway equipment.

Ed Mizerocki is mentioned a couple of times in the June 2013 issue of Rail and Wire, the magazine of the Illinois Railway Museum, which you can read here.

We salute all those who helped to preserve transit history over the years, whether we know their names or not.

-David Sadowski

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Bonus Feature:

The Bantamweight Division

A compendium of Kodak Bantam cameras and the size 828 roll film they used.

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A Window to the World of Streetcars

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Ask Geoffrey: A Look Back at Chicago’s Streetcar Era

Andy Warhol once said that in the future, everyone will be “famous for 15 minutes.” Last night’s “Ask Geoffery” segment on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight news magazine program only lasted about 8 minutes, but I found it pretty memorable nonetheless.

After all, the segment was entirely devoted to Chicago streetcars, and a book I co-authored (Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, published by Central Electric Railfans’ Association as their 146th Bulletin) was prominently featured. At one point WTTW’s Geoffrey Baer held the book aloft and talked about all the great pictures that are in there, not only of Chicago streetcars, but the places they ran through.

If you want to know what Chicago really looked like back in the 1940s and 1950s, this book is a good place to start.

If you’re reading this message, there’s a chance you already have your copy of B-146. But if not, I think it is an excellent book and urge you to purchase one directly from CERA or their dealers.* Of course, as one of the authors, I am a bit prejudiced.

If that was my only connection to last night’s broadcast, I would be chuffed. However, while I played no part in the creation of this segment, my fingerprints were also there on other parts of it.

Some of the other pictures featured were things I posted to The Trolley Dodger, or to the CERA Members’ Blog. In particular, a few pictures were used from our post West Towns Streetcars in Color (February 10, 2015). Also in the West Towns segment of this piece, were several photos that I took in 2014 at the dedication of C&WT car 141 at the Illinois Railway Museum. These originally appeared in the post IRM Dedicates Chicago & West Towns Car 141 (CERA Members Blog, June 2, 2014). Those weren’t the only such photos that were used.

None of this should be too surprising. Whoever researched this piece likely did some Google searches, and this is what came up. When researching things myself, I frequently find my own posts coming up to the top of Internet searches on a variety of subjects. There were, of course, many other sources that WTTW used, including video of the last Chicago streetcar on June 21, 1958, posted by the Chicago Transit Authority.

My favorite picture from last night, that I was not connected with, is reproduced above. It shows Chicago streetcars and buses at Navy Pier, during the time when it was the temporary home of the University of Illinois.

It has always been my intention for create an accessible archive of information about transit history that people will find useful.  Last month, we had more than 12,000 page views on this blog, even though there were only three new posts.  So, a lot of people are actually looking at the older posts, which is quite gratifying.

As a short history lesson, the Chicago Tonight segment was excellent, but I do have a couple of minor caveats. They mentioned how streetcar ridership declined in the 1920s, leading to the development of the PCC car. However, streetcar ridership in Chicago actually went up in the ’20s, leading to use of trailers.

In this episode, the demise of Chicago streetcars was put on the shoulders of Walter J. McCarter, CTA’s first general manager, and dated to 1947. However, some streetcar lines were bussed before this (some as early as 1941) and the beginnings of their demise can be traced back even further than that.

The Surface Lines introduced several new routes on Chicago’s northwest side in 1930 using trolley buses, and within a short period of a few years, CSL had become a leading exponent of this form of transit. While it was stated at the time that eventually, CSL would convert these lines to streetcar as ridership increased, none were so changed.

In 1937, the City of Chicago produced a so-called “Green Book” plan for comprehensive transit improvements.** According to this plan, the City expected to replace half of Chicago’s streetcars with buses, and possibly all of them if bus technology would prove itself.

The leading author of this plan, Philip Harrington, later became the first chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority, and undoubtedly carried over these views to the CTA. While I am sure that Walter J. McCarter was an ardent foe of streetcars, a 1947 Chicago Tribune article indicated he was hired because of his success in “rubberizing” the Cleveland streetcar system.

Of course, there is no way to get into these sorts of nuances of history in an 8 minute segment.

You can read more about last night’s Ask Geoffrey segment here. You can also watch the video of the 8 minute segment there. The entire hour-long program can also be seen here.

Interestingly, last night they used a photo I took of Frank Sirinek piloting Chicago & West Towns car 141.  CERA B-146 also has a photo of Mr. Sirinek in it that I took, this time a picture from the 1980s showing him at the helm of CTA 4391, the last surviving postwar Chicago streetcar.

-David Sadowski

This photo of streetcars and buses at Navy Pier, which dates to the early CTA era, appeared on Chicago Tonight. It was sourced from the Internet. According to Andre Kristopans, the date this photo could have been taken is either April, May, or June 1951 (see Comments section).

This photo of streetcars and buses at Navy Pier, which dates to the early CTA era, appeared on Chicago Tonight. It was sourced from the Internet. According to Andre Kristopans, the date this photo could have been taken is either April, May, or June 1951 (see Comments section).

A CSL trolley coach, from a 1935 brochure.  This image, originally posted here, appeared in the Chicago Tonight segment.

A CSL trolley coach, from a 1935 brochure. This image, originally posted here, appeared in the Chicago Tonight segment.

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*Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

**The Green Book plan is discussed in detail in my E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available from our Online Store.


Recent Correspondence

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Regarding some “mystery” photographs in recent posts, Chuck Bencik from San Diego, life member of San Diego Electric Railway Association, writes:

These cars are definitely from Lucerne Valley, PA, as the caption below, and extract from material about Nanticoke history seem to prove. Also, as a 23 year resident of Chicago, (1938 to 1961), during which streetcars in Chicago operated, I can assure you that Chicago Surface Lines never had letters for their route designations, like “N”, and the colors of their livery following World War II were not the same as the one photograph which is in color says to me. Also, the 13th and 14th photos from the top are not Chicago Surface Lines streetcars.

These rails of the WB Traction Company survived the war and were in use when the last trolley car rolled into Nanticoke in 1950.” [Source: http://www.nanticokehistoryonline.org/site2/stories/2013/March/WWII.html ]

These rails of the WB Traction Company survived the war and were in use when the last trolley car rolled into Nanticoke in 1950.” [Source: http://www.nanticokehistoryonline.org/site2/stories/2013/March/WWII.html ]

“The Wilkes-Barre & Wyoming Valley Traction Company (W-B&WVT) was more fortunate than most properties. The fact that Luzerne County’s population was widely scattered in mine patches and supporting villages meant that there was a regular source of residential and business traffic along most of its lines. The main amusement park was Sans Souci, roughly midway on the line from Wilkes-Barre to Nanticoke.” [Source: http://harveyslake.org/text/story_lakeline_02.html ]

Following photo is from Dave’s New Rail pix, Wilkes Barre Railway:

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Nope; not Chicago’s. Has no numbers, and the railroad crossing sign uses a font style that was never seen on the grade crossing signs of Chicago, during the streetcar era. Similarly for the photo below. Nice Brill cars; but their livery is a dark color for window frames and doors, and something lighter in color for the large areas of flat sheet metal, like the dashers. The next photo after that, the streetcar crossing a street bascule bridge which seems to be only partly closed/opened? Not a Chicago streetcar photo, either.

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Thanks for writing. There were actually several other people who correctly identified the Wilkes-Barre trolleys in our post Spring Cleaning (May 16, 2016), and you can find their thoughts in the Comments section.

The additional two photos from The “Other” Penn Central (May 29, 2016) have already been identified as the Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago. Although this was an Indiana operation, some of these cars actually did operate into Chicago, offering through service to 63rd and Stony Island in conjunction with the South Chicago City Railway. The HW&EC frequently leased streetcars from Chicago.

I apologize for the lo-res images (we will soon have better versions of these) but the cars actually did have numbers on the front, just not very visible here. Not sure if that is due to these pictures possibly having been taken with Orthochromiatic film, or if there simply wasn’t sufficient contrast in black-and-white to make them out.

Apparently for most of their life these cars were painted green, and in fact locals knew it as the “Green Line,” but from 1932-40, their final years, they were painted yellow as they were operated by the Chicago and Calumet District Transit Company.

That these cars would so closely resemble those of the Chicago Surface Lines should not be a surprise, as this operator was jointly owned at one time by one of the CSL constituent companies and there was some shuffling of equipment.

The story of the Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago Railway was told in Electric Railway Historical Society Bulletin #8 by James J. Buckley, published in 1953. This, and the other 48 ERHS publications, are contained in The Complete ERHS Collection, an E-book I edited for Central Electric Railfans’ Association, available through them and their dealers.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

-David Sadowski


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