Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 10-31-2016

NJ Transit's Gladstone Branch took on the appearance of an Interurban railroad once it reached the open country side of Somerset County New Jersey. Close head ways, fast running, wooden catenary poles, and 1930's era MU equipment combined to create that Interurban look. This photo shows clearly the wooden catenary poles as a fast running Gladstone bound train of Ex-DL&W DC electric MU cars fly down the track near Bernardsville, NJ on June 2, 1983. (Kenneth Gear Photo)

NJ Transit’s Gladstone Branch took on the appearance of an Interurban railroad once it reached the open country side of Somerset County New Jersey. Close head ways, fast running, wooden catenary poles, and 1930’s era MU equipment combined to create that Interurban look. This photo shows clearly the wooden catenary poles as a fast running Gladstone bound train of Ex-DL&W DC electric MU cars fly down the track near Bernardsville, NJ on June 2, 1983. (Kenneth Gear Photo)

Reader’s Photos

Kenneth Gear writes:

On the subject of the The Guy Wicksall Traction Collection*, I am, as you said (you were referring to me?), looking forward to seeing the Gladstone Branch material on it.

NJ Transit’s Gladstone operation is about as close as I ever got to riding and photographing a true Interurban Railroad. I think it was very close, with it’s DC electric MUs and wooden catenary poles. It sure had the “feel” of an interurban, at least it did to me. I attached two photos to illustrate my point. One of my “railfan regrets” is never getting over to SEPTA’s Norristown line and riding and photographing the Bullet cars. I always meant to, but somehow it never happened. Another regret is that when I made a railfan trip to Chicago back in 1982 I did not ride the CSS&SB’s old MUs. I did however, photograph ONE train of them, I attached the photos as well.

Looking at this CSS&SB photo gave me an idea for the Trolley Dodger. Perhaps you could ask people to send in a few of their traction photographs to use in a “Readers Photos” section. These photos would not necessarily pertain to the subject of the post, just a little gallery of unrelated traction photos. It might come in handy if you need to fill out a Trolley Dodger post that’s a little short. It’s just an idea.

*See our post Guy Wicksall and His Films, October 11, 2016.

Thanks! I will run your pictures. Once people see how it’s done, they will probably be inspired to send others of their own. And yes, I was referring to you.

Does the Gladstone branch retain any of that interurban character today? Interesting that it was so interurban-ish, yet was probably never classified as one. Unfortunately, I never got to ride it before the old cars were replaced.

Ken replied:

I’d say the Gladstone Branch does retain it’s Interurban look, too a lesser degree. It’s still a single track main line with many passing sidings where, during rush hours, a lot of meets are done. The headways are still rather short between trains and the Gladstone end of the line has not changed all that much. It is an affluent area and land owners like their large estates and are not so willing to sell out for strip malls and housing developments.

What mostly made me think of Interurban trains on this line were the original Lackawanna RR DC electric MU cars, With their replacement, a good deal of that “charm” disappeared (daily commuters on those cars would most likely disagree). The wooden catenary poles have also been recently replaced with metal ones.


I’ve attached a recent photo of a NJT train of ARROW MUs departing the Far Hills station to show you how it looks now, still somewhat Interurban if you ask me. The photo was taken in December of 2014.


I forgot to attach a photo of the Lackawanna MUs in traction orange. This scene, too me, has a very strong interurban flavor. It was taken in the last weeks of DC electric service and the lead MU looks a little rough around the edges, but I really like the shot. It was taken at Pond Hill Road near Millington NJ on August 23, 1984.



South Shore coach/baggage car # 108 is the last car of a afternoon rush hour train. Seen from East Balbo Avenue, Chicago on June 23, 1982.


Hoboken sure don’t look like this any more! The Ex-DL&W MUs are gone, the cranes along the long slip are gone, and the World Trade Center Towers are gone. This Kodachrome slide was taken on a gloomy day in March of 1980, just outside of the MU shed.


A nice broadside view of an afternoon rush hour Gladstone Branch train of NJ Transit (Ex-DL&W) DC electric MUs. The train is approaching the station stop at Far Hills, NJ on June 2, 1983. The Interurban RR look of this operation must not have been lost on someone in NJ Transit’s employ. When these cars needed repainting they were not given another coat of olive green paint- NJT painted them in a nice bright paint job of traction orange!

PS- I may be able to shed a little light on the mystery of the Lehigh Valley RR Baldwin switcher under catenary on the DVD.

Mr. Wicksall says in the narration that the scene may have been filmed on the North East Corridor in New Jersey. I think that is correct. It may have very likely been shot between Edison, NJ (at the time it may still have been called Stelton) and Metuchen. In this area was a former military base called Camp Kilmer. It was served by three railroads, the Pennsylvania (off the mainline), Lehigh Valley (off the Perth Amboy Branch), & Reading (off the Port Reading Branch). By the 1960s’ when that film was shot the base was closed and the land was being sold off for business redevelopment. Before this happened some of the base trackage was removed and that may have caused one railroad to use the tracks of another while serving the various industries on the former base property. I know the relationship among the competing RRs was not always friendly there. The Penn Central & Reading ended up in court fighting over who had the right to switch a chemical factory located on the Kilmer land.

Anyway, that is, in my humble opinion, the most likely reason for the LV train having been seen on PC electric trackage.

The only other place I know of that LV trains were regularly seen under PRR catenary was at “NK” tower in Newark, NJ where the “Hunter” connecting track linked the PRR NEC to the LV mainline. This was primarily a track used in the days of LV passenger service (which ended in 1961). Here LV diesels or steam was changed for PRR GG-1s (and reverse) for the trip into or out of Pennsylvania Station, New York. I believe a small amount of freight was interchanged here but the film footage on the DVD does not appear to have been shot here.

Thanks! I will forward this to Guy.

Another Mystery Photo



Tony Zadjura of the Jefferson Township (Pennsylvania) Historical Society writes:

Hi Dave! Help! Need your help again. I don’t know what we have here. Overall view shows “Cobbs Gap” as it was called years ago. Present day PA Rt 435 runs below the cliffs, known as Greenville Cliffs years ago, in the background. The second photo is a cropped enlargement of the same. The car has the Erie logo, and the number 200. Thanks in advance.

Hopefully some of our readers can shed some light on this mystery photo, thanks.

Early CTA Schedules, Fares

Andre Kristopans recently sent us several scans, including a CTA schedule summary for Westchester trains, fare changes over the years, and CRT schedules as of the CTA takeover. Note Sunday only North-South. Other routes ran 24 hours terminal to terminal on Sunday.

Regarding fare changes, Andre adds:

A few items of interest:

On 10/1/47 CTA raised the fare from 8 cents to 10 cents. Chicago Motor Coach had already been 10 cents, so now inter-company transfers were free. CTA kept raising the fares, to 11c 5/11/48, and 13c 6/20/48, while CMC did not follow to 13c until 9/18/48. CTA again upped to 15c 10/15/49, while CMC did not follow until 11/8/51, but then CTA again went up, to 20c 6/1/52, which CMC did not match. So much of the time, CMC fares were LOWER than CTA.

Transfers were free until 7/23/61, then charge 5 cents. Went up to 10 cents 7/8/70.

Supertransfer (Sundays only) started 6/2/74

I replied:

Thanks. So, in 1952 if you transferred from CMC to CTA, you had to pay a nickel?


Yes indeed! Additional amount was, as far as I can tell, paid to the receiving agency, in this case the CTA bus driver. But you can tell that towards the end, passengers were probably not too happy with this, because until 10/1/47 the extra fare was the other way!




































Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. You can always drop us a line at:

-David Sadowski

New From Trolley Dodger Press



The Guy Wicksall Traction Collection (1963-1975)

Our latest release, by special arrangement with Guy Wicksall, features video transfers of rare, high quality 16mm color films of electric railroads taken across the country between 1963 and 1975. These are much better quality than the more typical 8mm films railfans used back then. If you like classic railfan videos, you are sure to enjoy this collection, which features narration by the photographer. Mr. Wicksall receives a royalty on each disc sold.

Disc 1: 38 Chicago and New York Commuter Trains, 1963-1964 (18:24)
Includes Illinois Central Electric, South Shore Line, Chicago Transit Authority “L” trains in the Loop, on Lake Street, Howard, and Evanston lines, Chicago & North Western and Milwaukee Road commuters, Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Central, Long Island Rail Road, New Haven, and New York elevated trains.

Disc 2: 48 Commuter Trains, 1968-1975 (57:22)
Includes San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) PCCs (some double-ended), trolley buses, and cable cars, Philadelphia Suburban (Red Arrow Lines), including Straffords and Bullets), Penn Central, New Haven, Erie Lackawanna, South Shore Line, Illinois Central Electric, and more.

Total time – 75:46

# of Discs – 2
Price: $24.95

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3 thoughts on “Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 10-31-2016

  1. Andre’s CTA memos are interesting; though difficult to digest all in one reading. My suggestion, on Monday afternoon, with the Cubs two games from winning the World Series, how about a feature on rail public transit to World Series venues in Chicago? Both Addison (North Side Main) and 35th Street (South Side Mainline Elevated) have been reconfigured to accommodate crowds attending the games. I particularly remember one George Krambles directing human traffic at 35th Street in 1959, a station with seemingly 12-inch-wide rickety wood side platforms. I was in a passing southbound train, and no, don’t have a photo to document this.

  2. Does anyone know of the intervals of the North Side and South Side service that was run? The schedules show the intervals for the rest of the system, but not this portion. Also, are there any other scans for schedules for the rapid transit system from this publication, or is this the complete work? Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks.

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