I have been struggling to identify some trolley-related photos which came in mixed auction lots.
One significant score this morning was interurban 302, which I found to be Jamestown Westfield & NW. Others remain a mystery. Do you think you would have time to take a look at them?
Thanks and regards.
Thanks for sharing. We’ll see what our readers think. Likewise, I am sure they would also like to see the pictures that you have identified, including interurban 302.
If you can shed any light on these photos, you can either leave a Comment on this post, or write us directly at:
James B. Holland writes:
The above is clearly San Francisco on Duboce with Market Street behind the photographer and Church Street the first intersection in the distance. Part way up the hill in the distance the tracks cross the right-sidewalk to enter the Sunset Tunnel (the picture is not clear but it does appear to show the tunnel portal outline itself!). The photographer is facing West which is Outbound. The strong cliff on the right supports the San Francisco Mint.
The Trolleys are on top of the current entrance for the “N” and “J” lines into the Market Street Subway. Indeed, the car coming toward us has “N” in the cube on the roof immediately behind the doors.
The “trestle” photo hints at West Penn but could be most any ‘smaller’ interurban line up and over a mainline RR!
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You … for these excellent emails on trolleys. A native of Pittsburgh, I lived a decade in Zion, IL, following my stint in Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club! This is the latter 1960s and early 1970s! After this I did 3.5+decades in San Francisco but am now in upstate NY!
Tony Manthos writes:
I am blown away by the response from your readers. Very many thanks to you and all of them.
I know where to go if I get more of the same.
I had actually already identified the little Jamestown car and have been in correspondence with the guys who are doing the restoration. They kindly sent me a photo similar to mine taken at the same spot and one of the scene today, taken from the same place on the sidewalk. It hasn’t changed much. The loop is paved and the local bus turns on it. They also sent me photos of when they rescued it – it was a fishing shack on a nearby lake and they had to haul it out of thick trees. They found a good space to work on it, in the old depot, and they are doing a first rate job.
Unfortunately a big wrench has been thrown into the works, in the shape of a theatrical company which is going to convert the depot into a theatre venue in honor of Lucille Ball, who was born in Jamestown, and they don’t feel a trolley is compatible. The restoration group is in despair because they have no place to move to and continue the work. I did suggest they spread a rumor that Lucy used to go to school in that trolley but my contact had already tried that and the committee shot it down. I wish I could do something to help them out.
Thanks again and best regards.
Another Mystery Photo
Phil Bergen writes:
The second color Boston photo is indeed the same large building that trolleys loop around at the corner of Beacon Street and Chestnut Hill Avenue.
The only remaining portion of Braves Field that shows on the Sanborn map is the section marked Pavilion A. The stadium has gradually been reduced in size from its baseball configuration. It was the original home field of the AFL Boston (New England) Patriots and later became the property and home field of Boston University. After BU dropped football, it has evolved into a soccer/field hockey/intramural multipurpose field.
We recently came across some interesting photos showing the last days of steam operation on the Brooklyn East District Terminal Railroad, which was a rail-marine terminal that operated until 1983. Small steam engines were used until October 25, 1963. These had been converted from coal to oil in the 1930s. A number of these locos have been preserved.
S. Berliner III writes:
The Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal Railroad was a “pocket” railroad, one with no connection to other railroads by land. It had a main pocket yard on the Brooklyn waterfront at Kent Avenue from North 4th Street (the PRR N. 4th St. yard, immediately north of the Domino Sugar plant and the Williamsburgh Bridge, in an area formerly known as Palmer’s Docks), extending north to North 10th Street and east inland only a few blocks, and a small yard directly across Newtown Creek in Queens, Pidgeon Street Terminal, and a third yard, Navy Terminal, down at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (New York Naval Shipyard), but this latter was strictly for in-yard transfer. It now (Jan 01) appears that there was a second Queens yard. All commerce by rail was via carfloats, barges with rails on them, which were moved by tugboats across or along the East, North (Hudson), and Harlem Rivers to railheads at St. George on Staten Island (B&O) or in the Bronx (EL, NYC, NH) or New Jersey (PRR, CNJ, LV) where connections to the mainland railroads were available. It is also possible that connections with the LIRR via its marine terminals in Bay Ridge or LIC might have given mainland access via the New Haven over the Hell Gate Bridge but I have never seen any indication this was so, nor is the LIRR listed on the BEDT’s Feb 1964 connections list. Historian Tom Flagg advised 19 Jan 01 that there was even a Warren St. Terminal in Jersey City which only lasted from about 1910-1915 until shortly after 1920; its track plan looked much more like a Christmas Tree layout, with a loop, than it did a real railroad. Tom suggests that perhaps that’s why it didn’t last long! Further, he advised that the BEDT became a common carrier in 1940, which certainly changes its status (source: Plowden, April 1961, article on BEDT in Railroad Magazine). Aha, interstate commerce for sure!
Several of these color images were Ektachrome slides that have faded to red over the past 50 or 60 years. Usually, red Ektachromes date to around 1956 or so– the stability of the dyes was eventually improved. The problem is not the red dye layer itself, but the greens and blues that receded, leaving practically nothing but red.
People used to think these were unsalvageable, other than to convert them to black and white. But with today’s digital technology, it is possible to restore many of these classic images to something like their original appearance. To show you what is possible, we are including the “before” versions in addition to the “after.”
You can hear the sounds of steam on the Brooklyn East District Terminal in our CD collection Twilight of Steam, available through our Online Store.
From The New York Times – Oct. 26, 1963:
DIESEL REPLACES LAST IRON HORSE
Buffs Sad, Engineer Happy at Brooklyn Ceremony
By John F. Callahan
The last regularly operating steam locomotive in the East died yesterday.
With a hiss of steam that roared and then faded to a gasping whisper, No. 10 ended a 44-year run in the shuttling yard of the Brooklyn East District Terminal.
Begrimed, and clouded in her own steam from the last of her banked-down boiler fires, the old black, 28-foot six-wheeler looked tired– especially alongside the bright blue, 44-foot diesel electric locomotive that has taken its place.
A few sad facial expressions were noticeable among steam locomotive buffs who were snapping pictures from all angles. But there was an absence of sadness on the part of Joseph Keane, engineer on No. 10.
Too Hot For Comfort
“There’s no use feeling badly,” he remarked. “The diesel is better in every way, and I can’t forget how hot that cab was in the winter, as well as in the sweltering summer. Just step up in there and see for yourself, and mind, the fire is about out.”
Then he was joined in the ventilated cab of the diesel locomotive, where there was an air-cooled supply of drinking water and but three main switch- and engine-throttles, compared with more than 20 knobs, handles, bars and cords, and no drinking water, in old No. 10’s cab.
The terminal is one of three in Brooklyn that transport freight cars on floats between the New Jersey side of the Hudson River and piers along the Brooklyn side of the East River, Brooklyn’s Eastern District’s No. 10 is one of four sister steam locomotives that were replaced yesterday by four diesel electric engines.
Nicholas G. Cutler, a railroad man since 1926 and vice president of operations for the terminal, said he would miss the sound of locomotive steam.
“It was an old-world sound, and it was good to hear on a bitter winter day; it seemed to warm one a bit,” he remarked, looking down into the yard from his second-floor office window at 86 Kent Avenue in the Williamsburgh section of Brooklyn.
“Actually, I think we might have kept at least one of the steam engines if we could replace parts, but no iron works make them anymore,” he said. “That factor, plus the economies of operation offered by the diesel, decided us in burying the steam engine.”
It was the same decision that influenced the major railroads to abandon the old Iron Horse beginning in 1925, when the diesel first edged its way onto the nation’s railroad tracks.
In the mid-20s there were about 65,000 steam locomotives, some with as many as 12 wheels, and many of them making, if not beating, the diesel’s speed. As long ago as 1893, old 999 ran at a top speed of 112.5 miles an hour up near Buffalo. A diesel’s maximum today is about 100 miles an hour.
The last steam engine operated by the New York Central was No. 1977. She finished her run in May, 1957, and since then her counterparts have been nostalgic conversation pieces.
Except for a few steam locomotives working in marble quarries in Vermont and on narrow-gauge tracks in outdoor railroad museums and along spurs in some southern states, the Iron Horse is dead in the eastern half of the country, and her plaintive whoooo, hoooo, whoooo has been replaced by the shrilly efficient blast of the staid diesel.
Kenneth Gear adds:
Hi David, I enjoyed the BEDT story in the latest Trolley Dodger and thought I’d share a little info about, and an few photos of 0-6-0T # 16.
Back in the early 1990’s I paid a few visits to the ex-PRR Greenville car float in Jersey City, NJ to photograph the New York Cross Harbor RR’s Alco switchers in action. The NYCH had taken over the operations of the BEDT and a few other remaining waterfront rail lines in New York, as well as the New Jersey side car float.
In 1992 and 1993 the New York Cross Harbor held “Railfan Days”. The railroad welcomed railfans onto the property for tours of the yard and photo ops of the car floats being loaded/unloaded.
I knew the NYCH used ex-BEDT Alco switcher locomotives but I was very surprised to find that 0-6-0T # 16 was still here on the property at Bush Terminal in Brooklyn. The railroad pulled the steamer out of the engine house and spotted it next to Alco S-1 switchers 22 & 25 for both day and night photos! I’ve attached a few photos of #16 that I took that day.
Happily, BEDT 16 is under going a restoration at the Railroad Museum of Long Island. http://rmli.org/RMLI/Restoration.html
Interestingly, cross ferry car float operations continue in this area today via New York New Jersey Rail, LLC, successor to the New York Cross Harbor and earlier railroads. It is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
I asked Kenneth Gear:
The way #16 was painted in the early 1990s is different than how it looked when it last ran in 1963. That would suggest it was repainted at some later date, but by who?
Did the #16 get abandoned later on, and was it vandalized (stripped for brass) before it was saved? Or was it sent to a museum while still in good shape?
As I remember it, BEDT sold the # 16 shortly after it was replaced with diesels in 1963 but it never left Brooklyn.
Who repainted it and why I’m not sure but there was some talk of restoration on a tourist Railroad. The New York Cross Harbor RR ceased operations very quickly and management was under suspicion of some legal wrong doing and the whole railroad was abandoned and eventually taken over by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. 16 was still on the property at this time and the Port Authority disposed of the locomotive and it ended up on Long Island.
I found a website with just about everything you would want to know about BEDT 16, Here is the link:
Some info from that website:
BEDT documents dated June 24, 1963 request $7,000 asking price of #16.
Non-BEDT documents (5/90 issue of Semaphore) show #16 was sold to a G. Foster, then resold, then (erroneously) state it was scrapped!
In actuality, #16 had been sold to George Foster, for use in conjunction with BEDT #12 & Ron Ziel’s Sag Harbor & Scuttle Hole operation; but was never removed from the Kent Ave. property and was abandoned in place when BEDT ceased operations in 1983.
It remained there until late 1993, at which time #16 was brought to NY Cross Harbor RR for cosmetic restoration.
From the time of move from Kent Avenue and during restoration in NY Cross Harbor shops, Robert Diamond (of BHRA) claims ownership. Mr. Diamond was kind enough to send a copy of receipt from owner of Kent Avenue property authorizing #16 to be moved by Mr. Diamond and transfers ownership of #16 to Mr. Diamond. According to Mr. Diamond, sometime after restoration and “unveiling” in 1993, NYCH donated #16 without his consent.
According to sources at the Trolley Museum of New York in Kingston, they were supposed to acquire it. Unfortunately, the TMNY could not fund the rigging and move from Brooklyn to Kingston, so #16 was offered by NYCH to Friends of Locomotive 35 in Oyster Bay, which accepted it. However, it was allegedly brought to the RR Museum of Long Island in Riverhead in error, but has remained at that location as their project.
New information states #16 was NOT brought to Riverhead in error, but was sent there intentionally with the knowledge of Friends of Loco #35, as a RR Museum of LI banner was hung on 16 during its move.
A Redder Red Arrow
Here is another example of photo restoration. Fittingly, this is from the Red Arrow Lines (Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company) in 1960 at an unidentified location. Even the Red Arrow wasn’t this red!
The photo on Red Arrow is at Drexel Hill jct the car is headed towards 69th st coming from Sharon Hill. The tracks in the foreground are the pocket tracks at the jct where they short turn cars behind the photographer are the tracks to Media. All still remains today although the 80 class car is long gone.
On July 24, a lightning bolt hit the long ramp leading to the Chicago Transit Authority’s Medical Center station on the Blue Line, completely destroying a long section of the original late 1950s canopy. It made for some very compelling video:
Fortunately, no one was hurt. CTA service was fully restored by the next morning, after all the debris was removed from the tracks. This station was originally called Damen-Ogden-Paulina, and it’s the Paulina entrance that remains closed.
On the Philly_Traction Yahoo discussion group, Andre Kristopans remarked:
Basically, if you see the video somebody captured from a car on the expressway, the lightning went up the ramp over about 20 seconds, totally destroying, mostly melting, all the aluminum parts of the walkway, walls, railings, with part of the roof falling onto the tracks and causing a massive arc. I have never seen anything even similar to this!
These three pictures have been added to our previous post Night Beat (June 21, 2016):
This picture has been added to our post Love For Selle (June 8, 2016):
NOW AVAILABLE, DIGITALLY REMASTERED ON COMPACT DISC:
# of Discs – 1
First published in 1959, and long out of print, Steam Echoes captures the unforgettable sound drama of steam engines in action. Like Whistles West, it features the recordings of E. P. Ripley, made in the waning days of steam during the 1950s.
The scenes were selected for listening pleasure as well as to create an historical document. They represent the everyday workings of our old steam friends, selected for the most interest, or the most beauty. The series are purposely kept short to preserve their brilliance. They show the steam engine in all four of the ways it may be heard at work– riding in it, on the train behind it, traveling along beside it, and standing at trackside while it goes by, or stops and takes off again.
Railroads featured include Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, and Canadian National.
Ghost Train, first issued in 1962 and also long unavailable, is a Hi-Fi stereo sound panorama of haunting memories, highlighting the final days of steam railroading. Railroads featured include the Grand Trunk Western, Norfolk & Western, Nickel Plate Road, Union Pacific, and the Reading Company. A particular highlight is a special whistle recording, demonstrating the famous “Doppler Effect” in true stereophonic sound.
Total time – 79:45
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