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 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:
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.
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.
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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)
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 “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)
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.
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.”
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)
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.
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)
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)
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.
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 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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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)
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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)
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.
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.
We strive to improve our E-books whenever we can, with the addition of new material. If you have already purchased a copy, and want to obtain the latest version, we would be happy to send you a new disc for just $5.00 within the United States. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
The Bantamweight Division
A compendium of Kodak Bantam cameras and the size 828 roll film they used.