Here is a very rare photo taken at Laramie Yards in 1936. At left we see North Shore Line car 722, heading up a four-car train and signed for Wheaton. CNS&M cars did, of course, operate on parts of the Chicago “L” system, of course, but this is the first picture I have seen showing them at this location, posed next to CA&E cars 421 and 401. 722 was buit by Cincinnati Car Co. in 1926. I wonder what the occasion was that brought four North Shore Line cars to Wheaton? (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
The last Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee interurban train ran in the early hours of a very cold January 21, 1963. George Hilton and John Due, in their classic book The Electric Interurban Railways in America called this the end of the Interurban Era in the United States. The 54th anniversary was just a few days ago.
Since this was also the second anniversary of this blog, we thought this an excellent opportunity to showcase the three great Chicago-area interurbans- the North Shore Line, South Shore Line, and Chicago, Aurora & Elgin.
We have been saving up images of these lines, and now find ourselves with enough for two posts. So today, we will begin with the “Roarin’ Elgin” and its one-time subsidiary, the Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric. The great majority of these images were scanned from the original medium-format negatives.
While we do lament the passing of the Interurban Era and two of the three major Chicago systems, we can celebrate them with these classic pictures. Some of these were made possible thanks to your recent generous donations.
We will round out January in a few days with our second installment of great Chicago interurbans, featuring the North Shore Line and South Shore Line. Watch this space!
A Bird’s Eye View
While visiting a friend at Rush hospital earlier this month, I took a few pictures from out the window. It just so happened his room had a spectacular view of where the Chicago Transit Authority’s Pink Line crosses over the Blue Line. There is a ramp at this location, which is also where the old Marshfied Junction was on the Met “L”. In previous posts, we have run pictures showing how this looked like before expressway construction in the early 1950s.
An inbound Blue Line train passes the point where part of an access ramp at the Damen-Ogden-Paulina station was damaged during a lightning storm. With the addition of chain-link fencing, it has since been reopened.
A southbound Pink Line train about to cross over the Blue Line.
An inbound Blue Line train.
A northbound Pink Line train has just passed the location of the old Marshfield Junction on the Met “L”.
The CA&E and AE&FRE
This is a rare photo, as it shows AE&FRE car 304 sometime prior to the abandonment of passenger service in 1935. Don’s Rail Photos: “304 was built by St Louis Car in 1924. #1306. In 1936 it was sold CI/SHRT (aka Shaker Heights Rapid Transit) as 304 and in 1954 it was sold to CP&SW (Trolleyville USA) as 304. It was sold to Fox River Trolley Museum in 2009.” I have had the pleasure of riding on this fine car at the Fox River Trolley Museum, as it has returned to its home rais after a 75-year absence. You can see pictures I took of it there on the previous blog that I worked on here. Long may it run.
Here is an excellent model that shows AE&FRE 300’s colors. (Bruce Moffat Photo)
CA&E wood car 138 at the Wheaton Yard on July 3, 1949. Don’s Rail Photos says, “138 was built by American Car Co in March 1910, #844, as C&ME 138. It was rebuilt in 1914 and no retired date.” This was one of several cars leased from the North Shore Line in 1936 and purchased from them a decade later. Ironically, this made them the last passenger cars bought by CA&E. They were considered surplus after service was cut back to Forest Park in 1953 and were scrapped shortly thereafter.
Don’s Rail Photos: “301 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in December 1940.”
Don’s Rail Photos: “105 was built by Stephenson in 1903. It was modernized in August 1940 and retired in 1955. “
CA&E 302 at the Wheaton Yard in July 1948. Don’s Rail Photos: “302 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in May 1940.”
Express car 15 at Wheaton on June 18, 1947. Don’s Rail Photos says, “15 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1910. It was scrapped in 1953.”
CA&E 458 at Wheaton on June 18, 1947. This was part of an order of 10 curved-sided cars built in 1945 by St. Louis Car Company. Some consider these the last standard interurban cars built.
Don’s Rail Photos: “11 was built by Brill in 1910, #16483. It was rebuilt to a line car in 1947 and replaced 45. It was acquired by Railway Equipment Leasing & Invenstment Co in 1962 and became Fox River Trolley Museum in 1984. It was lettered as Fox River & Eastern.” Here we see it at Wheaton in July 1948.
In the days before scanners, fans tried to document things as best they could. Here is a not-so-successful attempt to photograph the blueprint for car 451 in August 1949.
Don’s Rai Photos: “9 was built by Niles Car in 1907. It was scrapped in 1959.” This picture was taken at Wheaton in April 1952.
Here is 425 at the Aurora terminal in October 1949. While the CA&E used third rail extensively, the Aurora and Elgin terminals had overhead wire. This terminal replaced street running in downtown Aurora in the late 1930s. The 425 was built by Cincinnati Car Co. in 1927.
Here, we see freight motor 9 at Wheaton in 1947. (Walter Broschart Photo)
CA&E 38 at the CTA Laramie Avenue Yards on May 17, 1948. Trackage west of here was owned by CA&E. Don’s Rail Photos: “38 was built by Stephenson in 1903. It was modernized in September 1939 and retired in 1959.”
CA&E 139 heads up a five-car train of woods in the maroon and cream paint scheme. I don’t know where this was taken. There is a siding with overhead wire, so perhaps that is a clue towards figuring it out. The water tower in the background may indicate that we are somewhere west of Laramie. Randall Hicks: “I believe the picture of 139 and train was taken facing north at Childs St. crossover. The train is pulling south off the west ladder. There was a short team track there under wire. And that is indeed somewhere west of Laramie. 🙂” Yes, Wheaton is indeed west of Laramie, thanks.
CA&E 300 and 453 in Wheaton. Don’s Rail Photos: “300 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in May 1942.” (Anderson Photo)
CA&E 311 at the CTA aramie Avenue Yards on May 17, 1948. This shows a small area in the yards where CA&E could store a few trains in mid-day for use in the afternoon rush hour. I am pretty sure those 1920s Chicago bungalows at left are still there. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “311 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date.”
The approximate location of the previous photo is 5413 W. Flournoy, on Chicago’s west side. The area once occupied by the CA&E’s storage tracks is now part of the Eisenhower expressway footprint.
A two-car train of 300-series woods on a July 8, 1949 fantrip. From the “side of the road” location under wire, I would guess this is the Mt. Carmel branch along Mannheim Road.
Sunset Lines indeed! (Or sunrise, depending on the angle.) Here we see wood car 38 at an unknown location. (Walter Broschart Photo)
CA&E 407, built by Pullman in 1923, at Wheaton Yard. (Walter Broschart Photo)
CA&E 5 at Wheaton Yards in July 1948.
CA&E 141 on single-track private right-of-way at Batavia Junction on August 13, 1952. This was one of several woods that CA&E bought from the North Shore Line in 1946, after the latter decided it no longer wanted to run wood cars in passenger service. CA&E ran wood cars right up until the end of service.
CA&E 34 at the Wheaton Yards in June 1947. Don’s Rail Photos: “34 was built by Stephenson in 1903. It was modernized in February 1940 and retired in 1959.” (Walter Hulseweder Photo)
Here, part of the caption information I received with this negative must be wrong. This is CA&E 431 at the Illinois (Electric) Railway Museum. The date is given as November 17, 1962 but the location is said to be Union. Since the date is so specific, I would venture this is actually North Chicago instead. Cars were not moved to Union until 1964. (Richard S. Short Photo)
CA&E wood car 26 in Aurora. Don’s Rail Photos notes: “26 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was modernized in June 1943 and retired in 1959.”
CA&E 142 at Wheaton in July 1948. Some of these cars were used on the North Shore Line as late as 1946. We wrote about that on the previous blog we worked on. Check out the post A Mystery Solved (August 6, 2013) for more details.
AE&FRE loco 23. The caption gives the location as Aurora, but this may be in error. After passenger service ended in 1935, this line was reduced to three miles of track in the South Elgin area– the current site of the Fox River Trolley Museum. Electric locos ran unti 1947, and the last freight move took place in 1972. Around 1940, there were a couple of fantrips.
AE&FRE electric freight loco 49 in Elgin in November 1939. This was one of two that the railroad had in it latter days.
AE&FRE loco 49. The neg envelope says this is Aurora, but it is much more likely to be Elgin.
You may have seen this picture before, but here we now have it from the original medium format negative. It shows a two-car train of Chicago Rapid Transit Company 4000s on an early CERA fantrip (#6) that took place on February 12, 1939. The CA&E connection is that here we see the cars on the Mt. Carmel branch. These rapid transit cars did get around– during World War II, some were operated on the North Shore Line to move service personnel around. (Anderson Photo)
This is a well-known photo showing the Wells Street Terminal, where CA&E cars ended up in downtown Chicago starting in 1905. CA&E trains did not go around the Loop, although this terminal was adjacent to it. There is some question as to whether all CA&E cars could actually make the Loop’s tight clearances. To the best of my knowledge, some could and perhaps others could not.
CA&E 428 at the Laramie Avenue Yards on November 3, 1940. This was built by the Cincinnati Car Co. in 1927. (Frank Krejcik Photo)
CA&E 426 at the Elgin terminal. Although this was the “Great Third Rail,” overhead wire was used here.
The CA&E’s Aurora terminal, after it was moved here in the late 1930s.
A 6-car train of CA&E woods near Laramie Avenue on May 7, 1937.
A two-car train of CA&E woods at the Bellwood station. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CA&E 134 and 137 under wire at State Road crossing on the Batavia branch, August 30, 1942. The flags would seem to indicate this was CERA fantrip #39. Wire was used here for a short distance instead of third rail, due to the width of the crossing.
A four-car train of the woods that were (at that time) being leased to CA&E by the North Shore Line. We see them at York Road in 1937. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
Jade C. Huguenot writes:
I’d like to ask you a question about some historical research I’ve been doing about my hometown, Mystic, CT. I’ve got a very old postcard (1907) that features two trolleys and a utility pole with several black and white diagonal stripes at its base on our main street, just a few hundred feet away from our bascule drawbridge (it can be seen here on the left utility pole http://www.groton-ct.gov/history/detail.asp?bibid=1079).
At first, I wondered if this signaled a trolley stop, but I know from researching other postcards from my area in that time period that a trolley stop was designated by a thick band of white (several feet thick) painted onto the utility pole, usually several feet up from the ground.
Then I wondered if it could be some sort of safety alert with “black and white stripes” placed several hundred feet before a drawbridge, like the one Boston instituted after a trolley of theirs crashed into the river while the drawbridge was open, killing 47 people (https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/10/29/trolleydisaster/c451CX1qx9SpPo5tJAupFP/story.html). However, the original report from Boston’s Public Safety Commission in 1917 said that the black and white striped alert should be on a mechanized gate.
Do you have any clue if this is related to trolleys at all? I would greatly appreciate your help with this!!
I will put it in my next post, thanks. Got any pictures I can use?
Yes! Here is the picture of the trolleys on our main street. The striped utility pole is shown to the left. Trolleys first began running in Mystic in 1905, and this postcard is dated 1907. I have also included a picture of a woman waiting by a trolley stop- which looks very different from the striped pole seen in the postcard. If you need any more pictures, let me know!
Perhaps one of our readers may know, thanks. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of spending an evening in Mystic, CT and even ate at Mystic Pizza, which was made famous by a film of the same name.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. But better yet, why not write us at:
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