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.
Here is what the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society says about the North Shore and Western Railway:
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.
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23 thoughts on “The Great Chicago Interurbans – Part Two (CNS&M)”
The Electroliner in the snow was at North Chicago. I have one similar from a different angle and no snow.
Nice early shot – must be 1942 or thereabouts – painted herald and pilot its original pilot without its modified skirting…
Like another fan who has posted to your blog, I would love to see even more pictures of the once great CA&E. I was first exposed to it back in January of 1954 when I would ride it as part of my trip from the south side of Chicago to Elmhurst for high school at York. My trip west would start with a bus ride to the L at 63rd and Cottage , followed by a trip on the Jackson Park L to the Loop where I would board a Garfield Park L for some street running out to Forest Park. Unfortunately for me the CA&E had stopped running into Wells the previous September. At Forest Park I would run across the platform to jump on one of the beautiful red and blue/gray CA&E cars bound for Spring Road Elmhurst. Gold leaf lettering heralded the name. What a great sensation it was to ride this fantastic piece of equipment after the herk and jerk ride on the L. Once at Spring road it was short walk to York. At the end of the day I would then take the trip back to our apartment on the south side. I did this for about 3 months until my Dad’s house in Elmhurst was finished.
We’ll post more CA&E pics as soon as we can, thanks. I can only wish that I could have taken a few rides like you did. Although we didn’t live that far away from the line, I was only about 2 1/2 when passenger service quit.
When it was announced in 1961 that the whole thing was being abandoned, my family took a “Sunday drive” out to Wheaton, where we looked at all the cars in the yard. Very sad.
The one of 2 Electroliners is at North Chicago jct. you can tell by the smoke stack in the background. The smoke stack is gone, but the building below where it once stood is still there.
Thanks. Actually, an Electroliner is passing a train of older cars.
I got to ride the Angel’s Flight in its current location in October, 2000, during its most recent time of operation. The cars were a bit creaky, but survived the trip down. In the eastbound direction, one could get a good view of the iconic Los Angeles City Hall, a building well recorded on film for movies and TV, the latter well represented by its use in the Dragnet TV series of the 1950’s and its 1960’s iteration, and by those of us of a certain age as the Daily Planet Building in the 2nd season (and subsequent seasons) of The Adventures of Superman. (The first season saw a building in Los Angeles along Wilshire Boulevard near La Brea Avenue portrayed as the Daily Planet Building…this building was still extant as of a visit by me to Los Angeles in December, 2016.)
Angel’s Flight also appears in the one (count it) COLOR episode of "Perry Mason", which I think makes it 1965-66.
It almost looks like the 459 is backing to couple onto the two passenger coaches in the Cudahy photo. Perhaps a car problem?
Sure looks that way. Interestingly, freight loco 459 was later used on a CERA fantrip that took place on September 24, 1961.
Early in WWII, CNS&M 300 was sitting at Highwood unused while the usual CERA maintainers went off to war. North Shore was hiring significant numbers of female employees and 300 was converted to accomodate them. Most seats were removed. Privacy walls, toilets, sinks, showers, bunks, etc., were installed. By the end of the war, the floors were rotten, plywood replaced much glass, and the cars had been stripped of usuable parts. CERA wisely refused return of the car. Thus it was scrapped.
Thanks for the information.
The photo of CSS&SB #1 was more likely 1950-52; I have a slide
from the Interurbans Slide set from 1983 showing #1 leaving
Kensington in 1949 (on the rear of a train) still with the destination
sign and train number sign on it’s end, though both were disused.
I certainly hope to see more IC Electric photos from that era as
well, thank you David for your great efforts on this blog.
I’ve updated the caption, thanks!
One of the two Electroliners passes a train of older cars in this wintry scene.
As noted already the Electroliner is at the turnout leading into North Chicago Junction. The building in the middle of this photo housed a bar at the southwest corner of 22d st. & the North Shore tracks now MLK Jr, Dr. and Commonwealth Ave very near The Great Lakes Naval Training Center.
The CSS&SB car 1 at Randolph Street in downtown Chicago photo dated 1946 instead likely was taken between July 1952, when the giant Pabst sign on Randolph was dismantled, and mid-1953, when steel going up for the Prudential Building would have been visible in this view.
Reading the excerpt from the house organ I could not help but notice that 11 of the 12 death notices were for employees who died prior to age 65 with several in their 50s. Was there a mandatory retirement age in effect? Was “motormanning” considered a high risk job? Were there asbestos, carcenogens etc. that were associated with car houses, motors, etc. that might have contributed? These house organs are one of the few ways today that we can get a picture of the human side of the job….are any operators still among the living? I would think few.
BTW, I think that the church pictured on the front page is of the Mary-Martha chapel in Sudbury, MA. Although it appears to be a traditional New England church it was actually built in the 20th century by Henry Ford as a reproduction. It is next to the Colonial Wayside Inn and is still used, primarily as a wedding venue. It is nowhere near any form of public transit.
When this issue of Surface Service came out (December 1946), CSL was in a transition period leading up to the CTA takeover the following October. It was under the control of a joint management board made up of both CSL and CTA. So, in this particular issue, there is very little about actual operations. This was probably intentional, as things were in a state of flux.
Having a fixed retirement age at 65 is something that gradually came about along with Social Security, which started in 1935. Until such time as people could get by with just their Social Security income, they often just kept working as long as they could. I don’t know offhand just when CSL began offering pensions, but it may have been as late as the mid-1930s. Prior to that, I assume people got a pension through their union.
Back in 1973, I joined a fraternity when I started engineering school at IIT. I made the acquaintance of our house mother, a prim and proper British woman named Ness Cooper.
Mrs. Cooper used to teach voice, having a studio in the Loop that she took the L to, but she also taught once a week in Milwaukee, and rode the North Shore Line there and back. She loved “that little train”, and expressed mirth at watching new riders scrambling for a place to hang on when the train went through the big curve at South Upton Junction. She never told me when she had stopped teaching voice, but I suspect she stopped going to Milwaukee when the railroad abandoned operations in 1963. She died in the late 70’s.
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