Today, we continue our look at the great Chicago interurbans* by featuring the North Shore Line. The Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee last ran on January 21, 1963, just over 54 years ago.
This is widely considered the end of the Interurban Era.
But wait, there’s much more on offer in this, our 175th post. All of today’s black-and-white photos are scanned from the original negatives. This includes an original medium format neg taken by Edward Frank, Jr., which he traded with another collector. I don’t know what became of the rest of his negatives.
See our last post (January 28, 2017) for part one.
North Shore Line<img class="size-large wp-image-9191" src="https://thetrolleydodger.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/dave588.jpg?w=665" alt="On a June 17, 1962 CERA fantrip, we see NSL car 744 posing for pictures on a section of track that was once part of the old Shore Line Route, abandoned in 1955. Don's Rail Photos: "744 was built by Pullman in 1928. It was modernized in 1940." We previously featured another picture taken at this location in our post More Color Restorations (August 9, 2016).” width=”665″ height=”407″ /> On a June 17, 1962 CERA fantrip, we see NSL car 744 posing for pictures on a section of track that was once part of the old Shore Line Route, abandoned in 1955. Don’s Rail Photos: “744 was built by Pullman in 1928. It was modernized in 1940.” We previously featured another picture taken at this location in our post More Color Restorations (August 9, 2016).
South Shore Line
The other great Chicago interurban, of course, is the South Shore Line, which continues to operate between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana. We have just a couple vintage photos to show you today, but are sure to have more soon.
Chicago & West Towns Railways
The Chicago & West Towns Railways operated streetcars in Chicago’s western suburbs. But a 1942 Chicago guidebook referred to it as an “interurban,” probably referring to its longest and busiest line, which ran from Cicero to LaGrange and had sections of private right-of-way. Starting in 1934, it went to the Brookfield Zoo.
The Angel’s Flight Railway is a narrow gauge funicular in the Bunker Hill neighborhood in Los Angeles. A funicular is somewhat like an elevator that goes up the side of a hill; when one car goes up, the other goes down. I’ve been on three of these myself– two in Pittsburgh and one in Dubuque, Iowa.
Most of these have operated for over a century without major incidents, but Angel’s Flight has been plagued by bad luck for a long time. First, starting in the early 1960s, the area around it was slated for redevelopment, and the surrounding buildings were torn down. The hill it was on was partly leveled.
Fortunately, Angel’s Flight was disassembled after it stopped running in 1969, and put into storage. It was moved a half block south and reopened in 1996.
Unfortunately, there were some problems with how the thing was engineered as reconstructed, which led to some accidents. While Angel’s Flight has not run for a few years, these safety concerns have been addressed one by one, and now all that stands in the way of its reopening is the installation of an emergency walkway in case the thing breaks down on its 298-foot journey. Meanwhile, the not-for-profit group that operates it has to pay thousands of dollars each month for insurance.
Still, Angel’s Flight is an LA landmark and we hope that it will operate once again, and safely.
In the meantime, I was surprised to find it featured in a brief scene in the film La La Land. The two leads (Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone) are shown riding and kissing on the funicular.
Although Angel’s Flight is closed to the public, the operators thought it would be OK to use it in a film, and I’m sure they benefit a great deal from the publicity. But while they have been reprimanded (right now, no one is supposed to ride except employees), I am glad it appears in the film.
Angel’s Flight has been appearing in movies for nearly 100 years now. You can read an article about this here.
Jack Bejna writes:
I enjoy the Trolley Dodger immensely, especially anything CA&E! I grew up in Broadview and walked to Proviso High School every day along the CA&E right of way from 9th avenue to 5th Avenue. This month’s CA&E images are some that I haven’t seen before and are great, especially since they’re medium format images. I have a request….I would like to see a good image of the old dispatcher’s office (before it was repainted and the upper windows covered over. I’m sure someone took pictures of the office but I’ve never seen one.
Thanks for all you do; it sure makes my day!
I post these images practically as soon as I can buy them, but I can put this request in my next post, in hopes that someone might be able to help.
Glad you enjoy the blog.
Thanks David, I’ll be looking and hoping for a good shot. Again, thanks for all you do for us CA&E fanatics!
Bill Shapotkin writes:
Dave — in your January 2015 posting, this photo was included:
Your caption read (in part):
“CTA 78 is shown at the east end of the Madison-Fifth shuttle in February, 1954. But wait– wouldn’t car 78 be on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago? In actuality, I think this is car 1781. Perhaps part of the number has fallen off”
Well, I have an explanation (courtesy of Roy Benedict — who seems to recall that he heard this from Glen Anderson). It JUST SO HAPPENED, both car #1781 AND bus #1781 were assigned to Kedzie station at the time. To avoid confusion, the decals for the digit”1″ were removed off the streetcar — thus avoiding any confusion. Roy had ridden car #78 on the Fifth Ave Shuttle on at least two occasions (and noticed the strange two-digit car number) — only to find out years later (again, he recalls that it was via Glen) as to the reason.
That’s great to know, thanks. I recently bought another copy of the Lind book, and while it does mention the renumbering, offers no explanation. (I have owned several copies of Chicago Surface Lines, An Illustrated History over the years, but have given some of them away, and other copies are in storage.)
The only thing that would need to be double-checked is whether there really was a bus 1781 working out of the Kedzie car house. I suppose Andre would know that.
Andre Kristopans writes:
There was a bus 1781 in 1954, but not at Kedzie. 1700’s at the time were at North Av, North Park, and Limits. Best explanation I can give is that when 1781 was last repainted, they didn’t have any “1” decals, and so out it went as “78”, and the problem was never corrected. Note it does appear the side number is 78 also! However, CTA’s streetcar retirements documentation show 1781, both in the AFR and the scrap ledger.
Gina Sammis wrote us a while back, looking for information on Gustav Johnson, a longtime Chicago Surface Lines employee (born June 23, 1855 – died November 23, 1946). He retired around 1925, after having worked on streetcars for 35 years.
As it happens, I recently purchased a copy of the December 1946 Surface Service, the CSL employee magazine. These do not often come up for sale, in comparison with the later CTA Transit News.
Mr. Johnson is mentioned in two places. There is the one you already know about on page 15, in a section titled In Memoriam.
But there are also reports from individual car houses (barns), and on page 8 it says,”Retired Motorman Gus Johnson passed away November 24.”
So, at least that tells you that he was driving the streetcars, and not just the conductor taking fares.
I took the liberty of writing to George Trapp, in order to find out just what streetcar lines would have been operating out of Devon Station (car house) in the early 1900s. Here is his reply:
I would guess the Evanston cars before 1913 or so before the barn on Central Street in Evanston was built and after 1901 when the Devon barn was built. The North Shore & Western dinkey may also have been stored there in the Winter when the golf club was closed. The Devon shuttle and the Lawrence Avenue lines as well and possibly the North Western line before being through routed with Western which also used the barn for part of the service from sometime in the 1930’s and half the service in the PCC era.
His answer needs a bit of further explaining. I did some additional research, From 1901, when the Devon car house opened, until 1913, Evanston streetcars would have used the facility. After that, they had their own barn.
You need to consider that this area was just getting built up around this time. So, there were a lot of changes. In general, the dates of the changes will give you a clue to about when development was happening.
The North Shore & Western Railway Company was formed and owned by the members of the Glen View Club in Golf, Illinois. It comprised two pieces of equipment, one streetcar and a snow plow. There were two employees, a motorman and conductor. The hours of operation were set for the convenience of the members of the golf club.
It operated from the golf club through a portion of Harms Woods crossing the North Branch of the Chicago River in the woods and ran straight east on what is now known as Old Orchard Road to Evanston, where the street becomes Harrison Street. It was nicknamed the Toonerville Trolley and a piece of a rail is on display at the Skokie Historical Society.
The membership tired of the trolley’s ownership and sold the line to the Evanston Railway Company.
George Trapp refers to their sole streetcar as a “dinky,” meaning it was small.
The “Devon Avenue Shuttle” would have run east-west. According to Alan R. Lind on page 254 of Chicago Surface Lines, An Illustrated History (Third Edition):
This short North Side shuttle started operation May 20, 1917 from Clark to Western. One-man cars took over the service March 13, 1921. A west extension opened December 14, 1925 from Western to Kedzie, and an east extension opened from Clark to Magnolia January 30, 1928. When Broadway cars began to run to Devon and Kedzie on July 10, 1932, the Devon shuttle car was discontinued.”
North Western Avenue is covered in the same book on page 312:
This extension of the regular Western route began October 18, 1915 between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr. Extensions brought the line to Devon on December 11, 1915, and to Howard on December 16, 1916. The line was through-routed with Western on May 1, 1923.
The busiest route working out of Devon station would have always been Clark, which started running downtown (from Howard) on October 21, 1906. It was through-routed with the south side Wentworth line on March 17, 1908.
Here is what Lind says about the Broadway route on page 231:
In 1906 this North Side trunk route ran from Clark and Howard at the city limits to a loop in downtown Chicago via Cark, Devon, Broadway, Clark, Randolph, LaSalle, Monroe, Dearborn, and Randolph. At this time streetcars to north suburban Evanston also ran on the Broadway route from the old Limits carbarn at Drummond and Clark to Central and Bennett in Evanston. The route was the same as the Broadway cars to Howard, then via Chicago, Dempster, Sherman, and Central to Bennett.
On July 24, 1907 the Evanston line was extended west from Bennett to Lincolnwood Dr. On the same day a single track extension line known as the North Shore & Western Railway began service via Lincolnwood and Harrison to the Glenview Golf Club west of the Chicago River.
The local Broadway cars and the Evanston service to Lincolnwood Dr. were operated by the Chicago Union Traction Company, a Yerkes property. The track north of Irving Park was owned by the Chicago Consolidated Traction Company. (The North Shore & Western was owned by some men with a stake in the golf club.) On February 25, 1908 CUT was reorganized as Chicago Railways Company. On December 27, 1910 Chicago Railways sold its suburban lines to the County Traction Company. At midnight on that date the track connection between the Broadway line, still under CRYs, and the Evanston line was cut at Clark and Howard. Through passengers had to walk across a 30-foot gap in the track from the Evanston cars, now in local Evanston service only under County Traction, to the Broadway cars, still under Chicago Railways.
Because of a franchise requirement of one of the underlying companies,, free transfers from Evanston to Broadway cars were issued starting December 31, 1910. County Traction was split into two companies on August 5, 1913: Evanston Traction and Chicago & West Towns Railway Co. Evanston Traction became (the Evanston Railways Company and in 1936) Evanston Bus Company.
In sum, if your relative worked at Devon station in the early 1900s, chances are most of his work would have been on the Clark and Broadway lines. On my blog, if you do a search on the words Clark or Broadway, you will turn up lots of photos showing service on those lines.
You have been so helpful and I am very appreciative. Thank you David.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. But better yet, why not write us at:
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
This is our 175th 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 248,000 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 order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.
As we mentioned in a previous post, we also are on a tight deadline to finish our new book Chicago Trolleys. Your financial contributions will help make this book better, and are greatly appreciated.