Here in Chicago, April showers (and there were many) have finally given way to May flowers. What better time to do some late Spring cleaning, and sort out a bunch of recently acquired material to share with you, our readers.
In spite of the lack of an overall theme, somehow this post grew like Topsy, to the point where it now has more images in it (100+) than any of our previous installments.
Chicago Streetcar R.P.O. (Railway Post Office)
We recently acquired this envelope, and enclosures, that were cancelled in 1946 on an old Chicago streetcar. Streetcars had last been used to sort and transport mail in 1915. The event was a stamp collector’s convention.
Hagerstown & Frederick (Potomac Edison)
We recently purchased a number of rare photos showing the Hagerstown & Frederick, a Maryland interurban. This was a real-lie “Toonerville Trolley,” which, despite not having a lot of ridership, somehow managed to survive into the 1950s.
Here is what Don’s Rail Photos says about the H&F:
It’s hard to describe the H&F since it seems to be more of a country trolley than an interurban line. Yet they did operate freight service and covered some 76 miles of line in western Maryland. It was the last passenger interurban east of Chicago. The H&F was a consolidation of several lines dating back to 1902. They joined together in 1913. Abandonments began in 1932. In 1938 the main line was cut so that there were two separate sections, one at Hagerstown, and the other at Frederick. The Hagerstown line finally quit in 1947, but the Frederick to Thurmont passenger service lasted until February 20, 1954. Freight service was later dieselized but lasted only until 1958. I was fortunate enough to visit Frederick the year after passenger service ended, but some of the freight equipment was still around.
Interestingly, some of these pictures were part of a set produced by the Railroad Record Club. I had no idea that the RRC sold sets of photos, but apparently they did. This is only part of one such set, #12. That would imply there are more RRC photo sets out there waiting to be rediscovered.
There is a Railroad Record Club discs featuring the H&F, but it is disc #6 and not 12. RRC #6 is one of the ones we have already digitized.
Upstate New York
We received these pictures recently as a gift. They are all from upstate New York. Otherwise, we don’t profess to know much about these properties. Perhaps some of our knowledgeable readers can help us fill in the blanks.
We recently acquired 14 more copies of Surface Service, the Chicago Surface Lines employee magazine, with the following dates:
1942 – May, June, August
1943 – December
1944 – January, March, May, June
1945 – January, February, March
1946 – February, August, September
Surface Service was published from the early 1920s until CSL became part of the Chicago Transit Authority on October 1, 1947, a period of about 25 years. These magazines are full of interesting tidbits of information that are invaluable for historical research.
In particular, most of these issues cover the World War II era, and show the various way the CSL helped support the war effort. For example, unless you read one of these magazines, you would have no way of knowing that the War Bond car, shown on the August, 1942 cover, was used on 17 different routes throughout the city, one week at a time. The routes and dates are listed, and this information can be used to date photographs showing the car, a “rolling billboard,” in service.
These 14 issues are each 16 pages, meaning we have added 224 additional pages of information to our E-Book, Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, which is available through our Online Store.
The June 1942 cover is quite interesting, as it features a rare “bird’s eye view” of the loop at Madison and Austin, with no less than five pre-war PCCs on hand. The radio tower was a recent addition. Radio communications back then did not involve streetcar or bus operators, but were used by supervisors.
The radio tower is still there in the middle of the loop, which has since been shortened by lopping off the portion to the west. Now, buses turn north on Austin Boulevard before entering the loop, which is no longer “U” shaped, but more like an “L”.
Adventures in Restoration
We recently purchased an original Ektachrome slide shot in December, 1960 by Earl W. Clark, which has faded badly to red. It turned out that some of the dye layers on early Ektachrome films were very unstable. (A similar problem, interestingly, also happened to some pre-1940 Kodachrome slides.)
The dye layers on today’s slide films have excellent longevity.
The late Bradley Criss was an expert at restoring these types of images. He once gave me some advice on how to best approach this.
Most people would probably scan the slide, then try to color correct it. But since there is such an extreme amount of correction involved, he recommended color correcting in the scanning stage as a first step.
Here are some pictures showing the various steps along the way towards restoring this slide to something like its original appearance. I’m not saying that the results are perfect by any means, but they are a vast improvement.
Before tools like scanners and Photoshop were available, about the best you could do with an image like this was to convert it to black-and-white.
Often, a photographer’s slides don’t come up on the open market until they have passed from the scene. I was hoping this was not the case for Earl W. Clark. I made some inquiries, and it appears that Mr. Clark, the dean of Cincinnati railfans, is still very much on the scene, as this report from last Fall would indicate.
I would imagine Mr. Clark is overjoyed that streetcars have returned to Cincinnati.
Charles L. Tauscher in Memoriam
FYI, sad news to report. Charles L. Tauscher‘s niece Jennifer Fulbrook wrote on Facebook that he passed away on April 21st:
Hello. I am sorry for this somewhat off topic post. I know some of you were friends with my uncle (Chuck Tauscher) I wanted to let you know he passed away today after suffering a massive stroke last week.
We do not have any public memorials planned as of yet. Please share this post as you see fit.
Tauscher had a keen interest in history. He was one of the founders of the Omnibus Society of America and was also an excellent photographer. We used several of his pictures in CERA Bulletin 146.
My upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will also have a number of his pictures in it.
I believe he was about 76 years old.
Greg Ross writes:
I’m a student at the University of Chicago, and I am currently working on a story for our student paper, the Chicago Maroon. The story is about the history of the former Garfield Green Line station, the oldest standing L station in the city. I’m writing to ask if you have any information about either the station of the Green Line (the Alley “L”) that I could use in my story. I’ve browsed your blog and would love to see any pictures you may have of the station as well. Please let me know if you would be available to talk.
Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear back!
I posted a picture of the Garfield station to the blog I did before this one (see CTA Red Line Reroute, July 13, 2013), but that is a picture anybody could take today. I am assuming you have already read the station history on Graham Garfield’s excellent web site www.chicago-l.org?
Perhaps some of our readers might have additional information that can help you.
Bill Downes writes:
This is way off the topic, but anyone have a link to an authoritative source regarding the issue dates of some West Towns transfers I have?? There are rather large numerals “22” and “23” superimposed on the body of transfer which shows direction of travel, month, route etc but no date or day of week!! If I had day of week and date could look at calendar and approximate year. Thanks.
An interesting question. Unfortunately, I do not know the answer. Perhaps one of our readers might be able to help, thanks.
Kenneth Muellner writes:
Just wanted to say how much I am enjoying your website. I’ve always had a soft spot for streetcars, interurbans, trolley buses and the like, and really enjoy your site. You mentioned that you grew up near Grand and Harlem, and I grew up not too far away at Addison and Oak Park. We had lots of family that lived over on Mont Clare Ave., just south of Diversey, and we were in the area a lot. I still remember being with my grandfather, waiting for my mother shopping in High Low on Harlem Avenue, and going over with him over to Caputo’s, which was just a garage at that time, with my grandfather telling him how to run his business!
My dumb question is about streetcars. I have a lot of books about them, but one thing I am unclear on is how did the streetcars turn at switches? Did the motorman have to go out of the car and manually move the switch, or was there some sort of remote control where they could switch the track, and then back again for cars following? I never have really understood how that worked.
There are no dumb questions in my book. Thanks for asking.
Track switches can be hand thrown by the conductor or operator, who would have to stop, get off the streetcar in traffic, and use a long metal rod called a “switch iron.” Eventually, motorized switches were developed for use in places where route changes were frequent.
Here’s an excellent explanation of such switches, written about the Brooklyn system, but I would imagine applicable elsewhere:
ELECTRIC TRACK SWITCHES
To avoid delaying service, electric track switches were installed at busy intersections. These switches were set by the Motorman while the car was in motion. The current in a contactor located on the trolley wire controlled the track switch. A car coasting under the contactor set the switch for the straight route. If the car’s controller was set on the first point when it passed under the contactor, the switch was set for the diverging route. Because the PCCs had high acceleration, their high starting current would have burned up the contactor. To correct this condition, a switch and a resistor was installed on a separate circuit. Therefore, all PCCs coasted when they approached an electric track switch. For the diverging route, the Motorman actuated this special switch on his desk.
-From the ERA Bulletin (Electric Railroader’s Association) , February 2009.
Max Hoffman writes:
Is Iowa Traction 727 serviceable at Mason City? Is it running in 2017? I would love to photograph it. We have a sister car at Illinois Railway Museum.
That’s an excellent question. Hopefully one of our readers may have an answer.
The Iowa Traction Railway, as it is now called, is a subsidiary of Progressive Rail. You might try contacting them directly. To the best of my knowledge, ITR owns North Shore 727, but I do not know who maintains it or handles its use on charters.
Miles Beitler writes:
I attached three photos (originally color slides) of CTA trains. The 1972 Halsted photo shows a 2200 series train at the UIC-Halsted station. Note the Sears Tower under construction in the background. The 1972 Morgan photo shows a 6000 series train eastbound at Morgan siding. The last photo shows a 2000 series train in its original paint scheme at Wabash near Randolph. I took all of these photos so feel free to post them to your blog and you may use my name as well.
Thanks for sharing these with our readers.
One of our readers, who prefers to remain anonymous, writes:
I noticed that you recently posted about the CA&E and the North Shore Line, so I attached some old photos which might interest you.
The first three attached photos are from an old North Shore Line calendar. The first photo (CER-NSL Church St) was taken by Fred Borchert probably in the early 1920s and shows the NSL Evanston terminal with the Evanston L station in the background. The other two photos have self-explanatory captions.
I have no copyright information about these photos, but you know that Fred Borchert died long ago. The calendar was “produced by Joe L. Diaz, editor and publisher of The Street Railway Review, 1414 Elmdale, Chicago 60660”.
The fourth photo is of the Wells Street Bridge and the last photo is a CA&E train running on the old Garfield Park line. I’m not sure of the location but it could be the St Louis Avenue curve. These are from Model Transport magazine, June 1982. I did not find any copyright notice in this railfan publication.
Wells St Bridge — from the Chicago Dept of Public Works archives (so this should be public domain)
CA&E on Garfield Pk elevated circa 1940 — photographer unknown
Unfortunately, Joe L. Diaz is also no longer with us. Thanks for sharing!
Jack Bejna writes:
Hi David, Here are a few images of the CA&E ex WB&A trailers, except for 600 and 702 (I can’t find any images so far). I’ve always wondered why CA&E didn’t use them as motors instead of rebuilding them as trailers. Also, I’ve also sent an image of a CA&E caboose with part of the original dispatcher’s office in the background….still looking for s good shot! Thanks for the excellent Easter post; most enjoyable; another winner!
Many of our readers will recognize Mr. Bejna’s fantastic work from previous posts. We all appreciate seeing these great images that he has made look as if they were shot yesterday, through his hard work and talent.
Kenneth Gear writes:
The post office did a good job today and delivered the package containing the April 1982 issue of Traction & Models. That is two days earlier than expected. This is the issue with William Steventon’s article about recording railroad sounds. I’m sending it to you quickly so you can use it in the next Trolley Dodger post, if that was your intention.
The article does, as I had hoped, contain a photo of him trackside making a recording, three actually. It has a lot of very interesting information in it, some of which is about the Railroad Record Club specifically . Steventon tells of a few things that happened to him out in the field while recording sounds that were used on RRC LPs, how he recorded certain sounds, and why he chose the locations he recorded at. He talks about sounds recorded for records numbers 7, 4, and 18, and a few others.
He also talks about recording the sounds of CSS&SB locomotive number 1013. I think the recording should be on one of the LPs that you were just given.
Two of the photos show him and his group trackside getting ready to record the H&F at Lewistown, MD on January 3, 1954, could you have recently purchased the photos taken this day?
He also writes about recording sounds of the New York City subway, another recording that never made it to vinyl.
It is interesting to read that he felt that sound recordings were a valuable historic record, he was so right. Without his work, I would never had been able to hear the sounds of most of the railroad equipment he captured on tape.
Here is a PDF of the Steventon article mentioned above. Traction and Models magazine is long defunct (I could not find any record of issues after 1984.) As always, we are very grateful to Ken for tracking this down and making it available to our readers.
Kenneth Gear also writes:
I was thinking it might help our RRC info collecting efforts if you were to ask the readers of the blog to contribute any Railroad Record Club materials they may have. Ask if they would scan any newsletters, catalogs, advertisements, or correspondence and Email it to you or as comments to the post. You might also mention that we still need 3 of the records (#22 Buffalo Creek & Gauley, #31 Sound Scrapbook, Steam & #32 New York Central) and all of the samplers. With luck, this may bare some fruit.
As some of you may know, Kenneth Gear, a great friend of this blog, has been very helpful in tracking down many of the Railroad Record Club LPs and ephemera in our joint quest to document, as completely as possible, the RRC’s output and activities. Of the 42 or so different recordings issued by the RRC, we need only the three titles mentioned above to complete our efforts at digitally remastering them for a whole new generation of railfans.
We recently acquired three RRC titles (#19, 33 and 34), fully half the ones we were missing, and two of the three are traction recordings, which are far less numerous than steam. More details on these new CDs appear in the section below.
PS- We are also looking for the Sacramento Northern Electrics LP, and any other important out-of-print, “orphan works” traction recordings that we don’t already have.
Three New CD Collections
FYI, we have three new CD collections available:
Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range
# of Discs – 1
In steam days, the DM&IR was controlled by the U.S. Steel Co., and its main activity was the haulage of iron ore from the Missabe iron mines to the docks at Two Harbors and Duluth, Minnesota. The Iron Range 2-8-8-4 locomotives, simple articulated “Yellowstone” types, were among the largest U.S. locomotive designs. As with the Nickel Plate, the Iron Range used steam power long into the diesel era. The last revenue steam run took place in 1961, and these recordings were made between 1958 and 1960. Includes a very interesting sequence in a dispatcher’s office. Besides RRC #19, this disc includes the EP Sounds of Steam on the Iron Range.
Total time – 49:48
RRC #33 and 34
Chicago, South Shore & South Bend
(South Shore Line) Electric Freight
# of Discs – 1
Railroad Record Club #33 and 34
On September 14, 1962, William A. Steventon recorded South Shore Line electric freight locomotives 1012 and 1013 on a run between Michigan City and South Bend, Indiana. Originally, this was planned as a single LP disc with a switching scene on one side, and a road run on the other. As it turned out, the two locos, although similar, made substantially different sounds, so it was decided to issue two discs instead. Both are now included on a single compact disc, along with the original liner notes for each. Since Diesel replaced electric freight on the South Shore Line in 1981, these are sounds that are impossible to duplicate today.
Total time – 62:04
Steam in the High Country
Fast Freight on the Nickel Plate
# of Discs – 1
Steam in the High Country:
The land of mile high prairies and shining snow-capped mountains formed a dramatic backdrop for the sight and sound of the steam locomotive in action. Here is a tremendous contrast in power, from the giant Union Pacific #4-8-8-4, to the Denver and Rio Grande Western miniature Mikado, in a symphony of steam, steel and cinders. Featuring steam locomotives of the Union Pacific, Colorado & Southern, Great Western, Denver & Rio Grande Western, and the Burlington, recorded between 1957 and 1962.
Fast Freight on the Nickel Plate:
The New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad is perhaps better known by its official nickname, “The Nickel Plate Road.” The road’s main line ran from Buffalo to Chicago, with numerous branches into southern Ohio coal fields and a line to St. Louis. The main line closely paralleled the route of the New York Central, so the Nickel Plate had to offer superior service to attract business from the lines of the neighboring giant. The road lived up to its motto “Nickel Plate for high speed service.” Until early 1958 this line was serviced by a fleet of modern 2-8-4 Berkshire steam locomotives, being one of the last important main line jobs for steam power in the U.S. Anyone who has watched these fine engines in action, as they moved 100 plus cars of freight at a mile a minute or better speed, can attest to the fine job they did. It was only after many refinements and improvements that diesel locomotives became worthy replacements of the famous Berkshires heard here in recordings made in the early part of 1958.
Total time – 75:34
Work continues on our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys, which is now in the layout and proofreading stage. The expected publication date is September 25th of this year. We will keep you advised as things progress.
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