Milwaukee Rapid Transit

SR 60 laying over @ Waukesha loop Spring, 1950

SR 60 laying over @ Waukesha loop Spring, 1950

With construction well underway on the new Milwaukee streetcar, and Milwaukee Transit Day (October 7th) fast approaching at the Illinois Railway Museum, this seems like an opportune time for guest contributor Larry Sakar to share more of his research with us.

Larry is the author of Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit? We thank him for his generosity in sharing these pictures and information with our readers.

-David Sadowski

PS- FYI, all copies of Chicago Trolleys that were purchased during the pre-order have been mailed. Yesterday was the official release date for the book, and it is now in stock and autographed copies are available for immediate shipment. We hope that you will enjoy this new work (more information at the end of this post).

Larry Sakar writes:

The Trolley Dodger is getting a lot of notice. A friend of mine who does not have a computer has heard about it, most likely from Bill Shapotkin or Andre Kristopans. When something is well done, people notice, so I’m not surprised.

I promised you some pictures of the former TM station in Kenosha at 8th Ave. & 55th St. These 2 photos were taken by Ray DeGroote in September 1963 probably just days before the building was torn down. The passageway beneath the portico was where TM interurbans pulled in. They then curved to the right in the photo, on their way back to Milwaukee crossed Sheridan Rd. on the long elevated trestle, and then came parallel to the C&NW RR’s mainline between Chicago & Milwaukee. From around 1952 or ’53 to the end in Sept.’63 the former waiting room was a pizza restaurant – Vena’s Pizzeria.

Former TM Kenosha station 9-63 Ray DeGroote

Former TM Kenosha station 9-63 Ray DeGroote

Former TM Kenosha Station 9-63 Ray DeGroote note freight tracks.

Former TM Kenosha Station 9-63 Ray DeGroote note freight tracks.

When Speedrail acquired the 6-60 series curved side lightweight cars from Shaker Heights Rapid Transit in October 1949, they were shipped to Milwaukee via the Nickel Plate Road (CMSTP&STL) to Chicago, where the NKP flat cars were interchanged with the Milwaukee Road. The MILW brought them to The Transport Co.’s. Cold Spring shops where they were unloaded and given a thorough inspection. First to arrive was car 65 on 10-6-49. Shaker Heights had painted it in an experimental green and yellow paint scheme to improve visibility at grade crossings. Sometime between 10-7-49 and 10-23-49 someone repainted the front end of car 65 in an obvious effort to emulate the “Liberty Bell Limited” design on the LVT 1000 series high speed cars. No one knows who did it or when. First we see 65 coming down the Michigan St. hill eastbound on the shakedown runs over both the Waukesha & Hales Corners lines on 10-7-49. In the second shot, note that the front has been repainted white with the quasi-LVT design and air horns placed where they are on an LVT 1000 series car. The second shot is in the 25th St. curve next to the tanks of the Milwaukee Gas Light Co. Today I-94 the East-West Freeway occupies the r.o.w.

SHRT60 arriving from Cleveland 10-49 Lew Martin

SHRT60 arriving from Cleveland 10-49 Lew Martin

SR 65 @ 6th & Michigan on 10-7-49 shakedown trip.

SR 65 @ 6th & Michigan on 10-7-49 shakedown trip.

SR 65 @ 25th St, curve 10-23-49

SR 65 @ 25th St, curve 10-23-49

Harper SR fan trip 10-49 schedule

Harper SR fan trip 10-49 schedule

I believe car 60 was the last to arrive from Shaker Heights. First we see it on the Milwaukee Division ERA fan trip of 10-16-49 crossing Brookdale Dr. In 2016 my friend and colleague Chris Barney took these 2 photos of Brookdale Dr. as it looks today.

SR 60 inaugural fan trip Brookdale 10-16-49

SR 60 inaugural fan trip Brookdale 10-16-49

Brookdale Dr xing on H.C. line in 2016 C.N.Barney

Brookdale Dr xing on H.C. line in 2016 C.N.Barney

Lots of absolutely fantastic material in this collection I just inherited. Look at these 2 documents. Without saying a word, there’s a very clear picture of the way things were being run at Speedrail in April of 1950! Owing $8000+ to TMER&T was definitely not the way to go!

Collection Letter from TMER&T attys against MRT&S 4-5-50

Collection Letter from TMER&T attys against MRT&S 4-5-50

Dunning letter to MRT&S from TMER&T re: overdue payments 3-8-50

Dunning letter to MRT&S from TMER&T re: overdue payments 3-8-50

Talk about valuable information, in this collection I just inherited was a list, no actually there were 2 lists. A railfan but not too likely the friend who gave me the collection walked down the scrap line out at the Waukesha gravel pit on March 1, 1952 and again two weeks later March 16, 1952. He wrote down the number of every car in the scrap line. This info is valuable because a year earlier the trustee sold 13 of the TM 1100 series heavy interurban cars to Afram Brothers Scrap Metal Co. in Milwaukee. Obviously, Speedrail was desperate for money so why not sell off what was no longer being used? $2,000 (approximate figure) went to pay for the transformation of LVT 1102 into Milwaukee Rapid Transit 66, the so-called, “last hope car.”

Notice, I did not say Speedrail 66. Legally, it was still The Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail Company but when Bruno V. Bitker took over as the court-appointed trustee, he ordered the Speedrail name painted out on the curved-side lightweight (60 series) car as well as removed from all timetables and tickets. He made it very clear that the Speedrail name immediately brought to mind the 9-2-50 fatal accident. That is also one of the reasons Jay Maeder was dismissed. From then on everything just said “Rapid Transit 234 W. Everett St.”

You may notice, by the way, that when I write the Speedrail corporate name I always capitalize “THE.” Maeder insisted on it because “The” in TMER&L was always capitalized and anything TM did was what he wanted to do as well. There is no better evidence of that than the first Speedrail timetable dated `10-16-49 which said “TM Speedrail”. Here are the covers of Speedrail’s very first and very last timetables, and for the Waukesha Transit Lines bus which replaced it, a fact you’ll notice they made sure to put on their timetable. Waukesha Transit Lines eventually became Wisconsin Coach Lines. They are still in business but are now part of the Coach USA system.

TM SR Timetable 10-16-49

TM SR Timetable 10-16-49

Rapid Transit TT West Jct. 6-4-51

Rapid Transit TT West Jct. 6-4-51

WTL Replacing the SR 7-1-51

WTL Replacing the SR 7-1-51

WTL Bus schedule 7-1-51

WTL Bus schedule 7-1-51

Here are the pictures I took at both the TM and North Shore stations on 4-5-72. I mentioned in a previous post that for many years after the TM M-R-K – Milwaukee-Racine-Kenosha was abandoned in 1947 the freight tracks used by Motor Transport Co. were still embedded in pavement. Here they are on 4-5-72.

TM Kenosha Station looking north 4-5-72

TM Kenosha Station looking north 4-5-72

Motor Transport Co. tracks TM Kenosha Sta. 4-5-72

Motor Transport Co. tracks TM Kenosha Sta. 4-5-72

The next 2 photos at the TM Kenosha station site show the point where the long elevated bridge over Sheridan Rd. began. The large building to the left was the Barr Furniture Co. which has since been torn down. The very last photo I just scanned shows the sign created by Kenosha radio broadcaster Lou Rugani to commemorate where TM’s Kenosha station used to stand at 8th Ave. & 55th St. Just one problem with the sign. The Don Ross photo on the sign shows the Racine, not the Kenosha station.

TM Kenosha Station next to Barr Furniture 4-5-72

TM Kenosha Station next to Barr Furniture 4-5-72

Sign commemorating TM Kenosha station

Sign commemorating TM Kenosha station

From the TM station I walked out to the North Shore Line’s Kenosha station which is on 22nd Ave & 63rd St. if I recall correctly. I knew it was still standing but I didn’t expect it to be behind a stockade fence. I do not know why it was fenced off on 3 sides.

The first photo shows the northbound platform looking northeast. You can see the fence. The track area had been paved with asphalt but other than that the station appeared unchanged in the 9 years since abandonment.

NSL Kenosha Station 4-5-72 northbound platform

NSL Kenosha Station 4-5-72 northbound platform

I then snapped a series of 3 pictures of the southbound platform starting at it’s north end, then the middle of it and last the south end of that southbound platform. All of that changed some years later when the station became a restaurant. They added a banquet room to the north end of the station which ruined its historic Arthur U. Gerber appearance. Then they extended the restaurant over the track area and removed the southbound platform entirely.

NSL Kenosha Station south end southbound platform 4-5-72

NSL Kenosha Station south end southbound platform 4-5-72

NSL Kenosha Station Southbound platform 4-5-72

NSL Kenosha Station Southbound platform 4-5-72

NSL Kenosha Station 4-5-72 Southbound platform

NSL Kenosha Station 4-5-72 Southbound platform

The last NSL picture shows the abandoned NSL r.o.w. just north of Ryan Rd. I had just taken the picture when I noticed a large building in the distance. It turned out to be the Carrollville substation.

Abandoned NSL r.o.w. north of Ryan Road Carrollville substation distant 1971

Abandoned NSL r.o.w. north of Ryan Road Carrollville substation distant 1971

Here is something I think you will enjoy. This picture appeared in a much smaller version in the Speedrail book. This is a much larger, more detailed print. These seats were installed by Shaker Heights when they acquired the curved side cars from Inter City Rapid Transit in 1940. They had purchased some of the very first Cincinnati curved side lightweights built from Kentucky Traction & Terminal but never placed them in service because their small motors made them unable to maintain the speed necessary for the 2 SHRT lines. They were kept on a storage track at Shaker’s Kingsbury Run shops and used for spare parts when the ICT cars arrived. That included these seats.

Interior SR 63

Interior SR 63

But there was one exception. Car 64 had green plush seats according to several people I spoke to who rode these cars on Speedrail. The Speedrail riders did not like these cars. They were glad Jay Maeder had saved the Waukesha line from the impending abandonment being sought by Northland-Greyhound but they wanted the TM 1100’s to remain in service.

Maeder became quite angry when he found out the Waukesha riders were complaining about the 60 series cars and he ran this ad in the Waukesha Freeman. Somebody should have told him you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. You never start off a communication with, “We all know…” Yes, he knew, and the railfans knew, but the average everyday rider thought these were new cars when they first saw them. One look at the interiors told them otherwise.

Maeder response to 60 series cars complaints

Maeder response to 60 series cars complaints

To give you an example of just how much the 60’s were disliked, the late Len Garver told me that one day he and his friend Jerry Fisher were riding a 60-series car to Waukesha. A lady getting off the car near Waukesha East Limits turned to the motorman and said, “Do all of these cars ride this way? I feel like I’ve just ridden over Niagara Falls in a barrel!”

Much of it had to do with car weight and height of the car above the rail. This photo from the collection of Herb Danneman illustrated the problem. Note the height of car 1138 at left with car 60 at right. This photo was taken on the Milwaukee Division ERA fan trip of 10-16-49 and is at 46th St.

TM 1138 & SR 60 meet @ 46thSt. 10-16-49. Herb Danneman coll.

TM 1138 & SR 60 meet @ 46thSt. 10-16-49. Herb Danneman coll.

Two of these pictures are ones I sent previously, but they were not the best quality. Two are ones you might never have seen before. One is pretty dramatic. Lew Martin took a picture as car 39 was rolling down the embankment of the r.o.w. after the 9-2-50 wreck. The other is of 1192 as it looked after the accident. Note how badly the front end was caved in. The photo was taken at the Waukesha Gravel pit. The car was towed out there once the investigation of the crash had been completed.

SR39 rolling off embankment 9-2-50 Lew Martin

SR39 rolling off embankment 9-2-50 Lew Martin

SR 40 after push off embankment 9-2-50

SR 40 after push off embankment 9-2-50

SR 1192 at Wauk. Grvl pit after 9-50 wreck

SR 1192 at Wauk. Grvl pit after 9-50 wreck

Remains of SR 39 dumped off r.o.w. 9-2-50 (color)

Remains of SR 39 dumped off r.o.w. 9-2-50 (color)

The one picture of the Speedrail crash that I did have showed the wreck before the cars were rolled off the right-of-way. How long was it before the tracks were cleared? A few hours, perhaps?

I don’t recall any of the newspapers giving specifics as to how long it took to clear the wreck, much less to cut apart what was left of car 39 and all of car 40. I believe one account did say the tracks had been cleared by late afternoon which to me means about 4:00 or 5:00 pm. The biggest problem they had was trying to get the cars separated. Trip #5, the last one of the day with duplex 1184-85 hooked up to 1193, the rear car of the heavy duplex, attempted to pull them apart but couldn’t. A heavy duty National Guard wrecker was then brought in and it was able to do it. Ironic, isn’t it that when Hyman-Michaels was scrapping the cars at the gravel pit in 1952 they used 1184-85 as their office car. It’s the one with the sign saying attached to its front that said “No Trespassing. Property of Milwaukee Rapid Transit and Speed Rail Co.”  Someone recently asked me why they separated the Speedrail name into two words. I guess only Hyman-Michaels Co. would have known.

Firemen trying to pry wrecked SR cars apart on 9-2-50 from MJ 9-3-50

Firemen trying to pry wrecked SR cars apart on 9-2-50 from MJ 9-3-50

I know they were serious about prosecuting anyone caught trespassing on the property. Al Buetschle, whom I mentioned in a recent post as the person who saved Milwaukee streetcar 978 went out to the gravel pit soon after scrapping began. He tried to get close enough to where the scrappers were working so he could get some good pictures. He tried hiding in the brush and weeds close to the tracks and they caught him. He was warned that if they ever caught him again he would be turned over to the Waukesha County Sheriff. After that, he discovered that walking up the C&NW RR tracks west from Springdale Rd. which were adjacent to the gravel pit was the “safe” way to gain entry without detection. The other was by going out there on Sundays. The scrappers did not work on Sundays and the place was pretty much deserted. It was on one of these “hunts” that he “saved” the roll sign from Car 66 as well as an Ohio Brass trolley retriever. The problem with the retriever was that it was rather cumbersome. He did not drive a car in 1952 so he had to take the replacement for Speedrail “Waukesha Transit Lines” bus to and from. He was afraid if the bus driver saw it he would report him so he hid the retriever under a log. Regrettably, it wasn’t there the next time he came back. When he moved to California in 1961 the roll sign found its way to someone else and from him to the person who owns it today. I have a color slide of it taken at a train show where it was on display back in the ’80’s or ’90’s.

Springdale Road. on Waukesha Line looking east in TM days Ed Wilson

Springdale Road. on Waukesha Line looking east in TM days Ed Wilson

Abandoned TM ROW Looking east to Springdale Rd. 4-14-71 LAS

Abandoned TM ROW Looking east to Springdale Rd. 4-14-71 LAS

We have a new TM/Speedrail mystery on our hands. This is a photo of a TM or Speedrail 1100 series car eastbound on the Waukesha line at Sunny Slope Rd. The date of the photo is unknown as is the photographer. My friend and colleague Chris Barney obtained this from the Waukesha Freeman newspaper. The car is headed east on the eastbound track but look at the car. It’s running backwards!

The "mystery photo." A TM or Speedrail 1100 poss. 1142 is running backwards EB on the eastbound track at Sunny Slope Rd. J.G. Van Holten plant at right. Collection of C.N. Barney.

#1 – The “mystery photo.” A TM or Speedrail 1100 poss. 1142 is running backwards EB on the eastbound track at Sunny Slope Rd. J.G. Van Holten plant at right. Collection of C.N. Barney.

The streamlined modern type building to the right was the J.G. Van Holten Vinegar works along the westbound track. TM had a siding into the plant and delivered a brine car at least once a month. That continued into the Speedrail era. There were 2 crossover tracks both west of the crossing which the grainy quality of the photo makes impossible to see. That was where the Speedrail accident of 2-8-50 took place.

I’d like to ask my fellow TM fans for any information as to why a car would be running backwards. The switch into the plant was from the westbound track so even if the car had been switching a car in or out there would be no reason for it to be running backwards on the eastbound track.

Chris’ and my friend, Herb Danneman came up with what may be the explanation. On 2-29-52 Hyman-Michaels, the scrapper who dismantled Speedrail moved all of the cars in storage in Milwaukee to the Waukesha gravel pit for scrapping. We know for a fact that the cars operated in trains of 2 or 3 cars. TM 1142 which had been Speedrail’s freight motor from 12/50 to the end of service hauled a number of out of service 1100’s to the gravel pit. The “scrap trains” were operated westbound on the eastbound track as demonstrated in this photo by George Gloff. This is car 66 being towed by car 63. 1100’s could not couple onto curved side cars because of the difference in floor heights. That might be what’s going on here. It might have been easier just to run backwards to Milwaukee than wyeing at the gravel pit if they still could. We tried enlarging the photo to 8x`10 to see if the person standing on the rear platform is wearing a uniform which he would if this was some sort of unusual TM or Speedrail move but it only made him a shadow. We can’t tell.

The photo of 66 being towed is at Calhoun Rd. Some present-day photos at Sunny Slope and one I took there in 1971 are also included. J.G. Van Holten moved to Waterloo, Wisconsin in 1956 after a dispute with the then Town of New Berlin (now city). Seems the Van Holten company was disposing of its waste (they made both pickles and sauerkraut) in a retention pond west of the plant. That must have been a smell you’d never forget!

#2 - The Sunny Slope Rd. xing lkg. west in 5/71. Former J.G. Van Holten plant @ right. Note: power lines not in same place as #1.

#2 – The Sunny Slope Rd. xing lkg. west in 5/71. Former J.G. Van Holten plant @ right. Note: power lines not in same place as #1.

#3 - Speedrail 1142 arr. @ Wauk. Gravel pit poss. 2-29-52. C. N. Barney collection.

#3 – Speedrail 1142 arr. @ Wauk. Gravel pit poss. 2-29-52. C. N. Barney collection.

#4 - SR 66 being towed to Wauk. Gravel Pit passing Kuney's at Calhoun Rd. 2-29-52 George Gloff photo.

#4 – SR 66 being towed to Wauk. Gravel Pit passing Kuney’s at Calhoun Rd. 2-29-52 George Gloff photo.

#5 - Calhoun Rd. xing lkg west. Part of Kuney's bldg. at left. 2013 photo by C.N. Barney

#5 – Calhoun Rd. xing lkg west. Part of Kuney’s bldg. at left. 2013 photo by C.N. Barney

#6 - Sunny Slope Rd. xing lkg west 2013. That's me in the photo. C.N. Barney photo

#6 – Sunny Slope Rd. xing lkg west 2013. That’s me in the photo. C.N. Barney photo

#7 - Lkg. east from west of Sunny Slope Rd. xing 2013. C;N. Barney

#7 – Lkg. east from west of Sunny Slope Rd. xing 2013. C;N. Barney

#8 - Ex J.G. Van Holten plant hidden in the brush as seen from the U.P. RR (ex C&NW) r.o.w. 2013 C. N. Barney photo

#8 – Ex J.G. Van Holten plant hidden in the brush as seen from the U.P. RR (ex C&NW) r.o.w. 2013 C. N. Barney photo

#9 - Literal end of track on Lincoln Ave. (Waukesha East Limits), 9-26-52. Note track has been cut. John Schoenknecht collection.

#9 – Literal end of track on Lincoln Ave. (Waukesha East Limits), 9-26-52. Note track has been cut. John Schoenknecht collection.

#10 - Newspaper clipping showing 2-8-50 Speedrail accident at Sunny Slope Rd. Larry Sakar collection.

#10 – Newspaper clipping showing 2-8-50 Speedrail accident at Sunny Slope Rd. Larry Sakar collection.

Have you ever studied a picture and not noticed something obvious? I was thinking of the “mystery” photo I just sent you and that’s when it hit me. This can’t be any kind of normal passenger run. Because the car is running backwards on the eastbound track the entry door is on the wrong side. How would they board or discharge passengers? The left side of the 1100’s didn’t have any doors!

If this car was heading back to 25th St. to pick up more 1100’s for transport to the Waukesha Gravel pit, you’d want it to be backwards so you could couple to another set of cars. Then you’d be position correctly for the reverse trip to Waukesha. Running backwards like that there was absolutely no place to turn the car around except West Junction loop. They’d have run backwards to the switch that took cars from the Waukesha to the Hales Corners line which was a short distance north of the West Jct. station, then switched to the Hales Corners line where they’d now be facing south, gone around the loop and then you’d be facing north frontwards). They could not have gone all the way to the Public Service Building. First, there was no way to turn a car around there and second by Feb. 29 of 1952 the rails had tar put over them and the trolley wire had been removed from the trainshed.

I think Herb Danneman was right. This is 2-29-52 and that is car 1142.

-Larry Sakar

Postscript

Scott Greig (see Comments section below) was wondering if there was any sort of listing of which Speedrail cars went to the Waukesha Gravel Pit for scrapping. He is in luck. Among the many great documents I found in that collection Herb Danneman so generously gave me were 2 lists of cars that were in the scrap line and elsewhere on the Speedrail property on March 1, 1952 and March 16, 1952. The list was written in pencil and hard to read so I typed it up and scanned in both lists

Thanks Scott, Charles and Robert for the great comments and superb information.

-Larry

Recent Finds

CTA PCC 7199, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is eastbound on 120th near Halsted circa 1952-55. This was the south end of Route 36 - Broadway-State. (Eugene Van Dusen Photo)

CTA PCC 7199, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is eastbound on 120th near Halsted circa 1952-55. This was the south end of Route 36 – Broadway-State. (Eugene Van Dusen Photo)

CTA 6148, and "Odd 17" car, was built by the Surface Lines in 1919. Here we see it southbound, turning from Clark onto Halsted.

CTA 6148, and “Odd 17” car, was built by the Surface Lines in 1919. Here we see it southbound, turning from Clark onto Halsted.

CTA 1750 heads west on Randolph Street, signed for Route 16 - Lake Street, circa 1952-54. In the background, we see the Sherman House Hotel, the old Greyhound Bus Terminal, and the Garrick Television Center.

CTA 1750 heads west on Randolph Street, signed for Route 16 – Lake Street, circa 1952-54. In the background, we see the Sherman House Hotel, the old Greyhound Bus Terminal, and the Garrick Television Center.

CTA 1775 heads west on Cermak Road at Kostner circa 1952-54. This photo gives you a good view of a Chicago safety island.

CTA 1775 heads west on Cermak Road at Kostner circa 1952-54. This photo gives you a good view of a Chicago safety island.

CTA 1728 and 3127 on Route 21 - Cermak, just east of Kenton, circa 1952-54.

CTA 1728 and 3127 on Route 21 – Cermak, just east of Kenton, circa 1952-54.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 310 and follower (309?) are on the west side of Mannheim road near Roosevelt Road on a 1950s fantrip.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 310 and follower (309?) are on the west side of Mannheim road near Roosevelt Road on a 1950s fantrip.

CA&E 310 on a 1955 fantrip on the Mt. Carmel branch.

CA&E 310 on a 1955 fantrip on the Mt. Carmel branch.

Marion (Indiana) Railways Birney car 8. It was probably built by St. Louis Car Company circa 1922-23, and scrapped in 1947.

Marion (Indiana) Railways Birney car 8. It was probably built by St. Louis Car Company circa 1922-23, and scrapped in 1947.

Marion Railways 8 circa World War II.

Marion Railways 8 circa World War II.

New Washington and Wabash “L” Station

The new Chicago Transit Authority “L” station at Washington and Wabash recently opened. It replaces two stations, at Madison and Randolph. Having one station instead of two speeds up service on the Loop. The Madison station was closed at the beginning of the project, while Randolph remained open until the new one was ready.

This new station is very attractive and seems designed well to handle large crowds. The old Randolph station was already being cut up for scrap when I took these pictures. Not sure what happened to the large CTA logo that was added when that station was renovated in 1954.

Washington and Wabash is conveniently located near Millennium Park, and also provides easy transfer to CTA buses heading east and west.

-David Sadowski

Charlie On the M.T.A.

A period illustration for the M.T.A. song (aka Charlie on the M.T.A.).

A period illustration for the M.T.A. song (aka Charlie on the M.T.A.).

After purchasing a “Charlie Ticket” on our recent trip to Boston (see Back in Boston, September 15, 2017), that got us to thinking about the song that inspired it, generally known as Charlie On the M.T.A. We spent some time recently looking into the origins of this iconic song.

It all started in 1949, when the late Walter O’Brien ran for Mayor of Boston on the Progressive Party ticket. He had no money for advertising, but he did have some folksinging friends, who recorded several songs for his campaign, including The People’s Choice, The O’Brien Train, We Want Walter A. O’Brien, and The M.T.A. Song.

These had new lyrics set to old melodies that the folksingers, who included Bess Lomax Hawes, Al Katz, Sam Berman, Al Berman, and Jackie Steiner, were already familiar with. The M.T.A. song was set to the tune of The Ship That Never Returned, written in 1865 by Henry Clay Work.

The same song also inspired The Wreck of the Old 97.

Fare hikes were a reason to protest the newly formed M.T.A. The Massachusetts legislature had allowed the Boston Elevated Railway Company to absorb its competitors in 1922, creating a monopoly. When the company went bankrupt in 1947, the legislature bought the company, bailing out the shareholders, and formed the Massachusetts Transportation Authority (now called the MBTA).

As a result, a five cent surcharge was added to the existing ten cent fare. Since it was not easy to adapt existing fare collection equipment, riders had to pay an extra nickel when getting off the train– hence the theme of the song.

Bess Lomax Hawes, who had been in the Almanac Singers, picked the tune, while most of the new lyrics were written by Jackie Steiner. It was Hawes, however, who wrote the memorable verse about how Charlie’s wife brought him a sandwich every day and handed it to him through the window of the train as it rumbled by.

The newly recorded song made its debut on October 24, 1949. O’Brien hired a truck with a PA system and had it drive around the city, playing his campaign songs. Of these, M.T.A. was by far the most popular and enduring.

O’Brien got very few votes, but Charlie gained Boston immortality in the process.

Cut to 1955. Folksinger Richard “Specs” Simmons taught the song to Will Holt, who recorded his own version in 1957. This was on its way toward being a hit when his record company began getting complaints from the Boston area, accusing Holt of promoting a radical.

Not knowing the true origin of the song, Holt had no idea that Walter A. O’Brien was a real person.

An edited version was issued, but the damage was done. It was left to the Kingston Trio to record the best and by far most famous version of the song in 1959. They avoided controversy by changing the name of the mayoral candidate to the fictional George O’Brien.

Reportedly, when Will Holt recorded his version, he cut in Richard “Specs” Simmons for one-third of the publishing, which eventually provided him the cash to purchase a bar in San Francisco’s North Beach area, now known as Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Cafe. He died at age 86 in October 2016.

Most other people involved with the song are no longer with us. Walter O’Brien has died. Bess Lomax Hawes, sister of Alan Lomax and daughter of John Lomax, passed away in 2009. However, Sam Berman, who sang lead on the original 1949 version, lives in Lexington and is in his early 90s. His brother Arnold, also in his 90s, may still be alive. Lyricist Jackie Steiner is also still with us.

You can listen to several versions of the song, including the 1949 original and Will Holt’s, here.

-David Sadowski

Recent Correspondence

A model of GM&O 1900.

A model of GM&O 1900.

Charles Harris of New Zealand writes:

In 1946 Ingalls Iron Works manufactured the one and only Ingalls 4-S diesel loco, tested on several railroads and then sold to GM&O. Used until 1966 and then scrapped. Used a Superior marine engine, with apparently a distinctive sound.

Do any of your recordings feature the Ingalls 4-S? and or film etc.


Kenneth Gear
replies:

I am unaware of any sound recordings of the Ingalls 4-S diesel locomotive. Since it was a one of a kind loco and surely sought out by fans, and considering it lasted to the mid-sixties, the possibility exists that someone recorded it. I’ll keep an eye (and ear) out for it, I would watch for DVDs of vintage GM&O Diesels, perhaps it was filmed at some point with a sound movie camera. If so, the footage and sound track may have ended up on a DVD release.

You might also contact the Meridian Railroad Museum in Meridian, Mississippi: 1805 Front Street, Meridian, MS 39301, phone: (601) 485-7245.

GM&O was one of the local railroads here and the staff there my know of something.

By the way, on the Yahoo Group RAILROAD RECORD FANCLUB I’ve conversed with a person named Doug Harris who also lives in New Zealand. Any relation?

Our New Book Chicago Trolleys— Now In Stock!

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys was released on September 25, 2017 by Arcadia Publishing. You can order an autographed copy through us (see below). Chicago Trolleys is also available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 230 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans Under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping.

We appreciate your business!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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Praise for Chicago Trolleys

Kenneth Gear writes:

I just finished reading your book and I enjoyed it very much. Good, clear, concise, and informative writing.

I must compliment you on the choice and presentation of the photographs. It is obvious that you spent much time and effort to present these wonderful photos as perfectly restored as possible.

So many times the authors of books that are primarily “picture books” seem to have a complete disregard for the condition of the photos reproduced. I’ve often seen photos that are yellowed with age, water stained, ripped, folded, and scratched. Other times a book might contain photos that are not properly exposed, are crooked, out of focus, or the composition could have been easily corrected with a little cropping.

The photos in your book are absolutely fantastic! They are pristine, sharp, and have absolutely no blemishes at all. You also packed a lot of information into the captions as well. It’s a fine book and you should be proud, as I’m sure you are, to have your name on the cover.

NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

Selected images from Chicago Trolleys are now available in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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For Shipping Elsewhere:

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A Shoebox Full of Dreams

A two-car train of PCCs near North Station in Boston August 31, 1976. The nearby Boston Garden has since been torn down and rebuilt.

A two-car train of PCCs near North Station in Boston August 31, 1976. The nearby Boston Garden has since been torn down and rebuilt.

One of my brothers called me recently from a garage sale, and asked if I had any interest in a shoebox full of train pictures. The cost was just $10. I figured it would have to be worth at least that much, so I said sure.

I went through the box when I got it, and discovered most of the pictures were faded color snapshots from the 1970s, probably taken with a Kodak Instamatic camera on size 126 film. Worse yet, nearly all the pictures have a textured surface.

However, it sure seems the photographer got around. He visited train museums all over the country. He went on steam train excursions. He took pictures of streetcars.

Eventually, I figured out who he was– Marvin C. Kruse.

Although, in looking up information on Mr. Kruse, I somehow got the mistaken idea he was deceased, his son wrote to me (see the Comments section below) and informs us that he is alive and well, aged 96! In fact, he has seen this post and enjoyed it. Nothing could make me happier.

When someone dies, or has to downsize, it is often up to their loved ones to go through their things and decide what to do with them. This can be a very traumatic process, for you feel as if you are dismantling someone’s life, piece by piece. And yet that is the way of the world, for life goes on. People’s belongings are often scattered to the four winds.

I decided to give an extra special effort to restore some of Mr. Kruse’s photos for the railfan community, to honor his efforts, and the sacrifices he made. I hope you like the results. They are mementos of someone’s life, from someone who should not be so easily forgotten.

-David Sadowski

PS- By the time you read this, we will have received a substantial shipment of our new book Chicago Trolleys (see below). It should only take us a short time to mail out books to all who have pre-ordered them, plus complementary copies for important contributors. We thank you all for your support. The book was completed on time and is now available for immediate shipment.

Picture caption: "1947 snow (2 ft.). This taken off Monongahela tracks just below our house. B&O yards across river."

Picture caption: “1947 snow (2 ft.). This taken off Monongahela tracks just below our house. B&O yards across river.”

Winter 1947-48. "Same as other, only vertical. Big building, left foreground, is Interstate Construction & Engineers... build coal tipples."

Winter 1947-48. “Same as other, only vertical. Big building, left foreground, is Interstate Construction & Engineers… build coal tipples.”

Photo caption: "New Have R. R. diesel passing Providence, RI engine house 12/21/47 with New York-bound train."

Photo caption: “New Have R. R. diesel passing Providence, RI engine house 12/21/47 with New York-bound train.”

A photo stop on a steam excursion, May 1961.

A photo stop on a steam excursion, May 1961.

South Shore Line "Little Joe" 801 in October 1960.

South Shore Line “Little Joe” 801 in October 1960.

South Shore Line electric locos 703 and 704 in October 1960.

South Shore Line electric locos 703 and 704 in October 1960.

This looks like Chicago Surface Lines red Pullman 144 at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum (North Chicago) in June 1961.

This looks like Chicago Surface Lines red Pullman 144 at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum (North Chicago) in June 1961.

Another scene from IERM in July 1961. At left is Milwaukee streetcar 966, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1927. At right is ex-CTA/CSL sweeper E223, which was purchased for the museum by Dick Lukin in 1956.

Another scene from IERM in July 1961. At left is Milwaukee streetcar 966, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1927. At right is ex-CTA/CSL sweeper E223, which was purchased for the museum by Dick Lukin in 1956.

Two 900-series South Shore Line freight locos in October 1960.

Two 900-series South Shore Line freight locos in October 1960.

Always remember...never step on any rails. Right? (Photo stop bedlam, September 1958.)

Always remember…never step on any rails. Right? (Photo stop bedlam, September 1958.)

If you've ever tried taking a picture at a photo stop on a fantrip, this is what happens. Invariably, someone runs right in front of you, oblivious to the fact you are trying to take a picture.

If you’ve ever tried taking a picture at a photo stop on a fantrip, this is what happens. Invariably, someone runs right in front of you, oblivious to the fact you are trying to take a picture.

People used to climb on just about anything, in their quest to take a picture.

People used to climb on just about anything, in their quest to take a picture.

This is the view from an engine cab... which makes sense, if you think about it, as the engine in front of you is massive.

This is the view from an engine cab… which makes sense, if you think about it, as the engine in front of you is massive.

I think what we are seeing here is new commuter rail bi-levels on display, probably the Milwaukee Road, in July 1961. The sign at left says, "Entrance," implying that they wanted you to walk through the cars in one direction only. At right are some vehicles from the Railway Express Agency (REA), which delivered small packages via the railway system between 1917 and the late 1960s. It was a national monopoly formed by the federal government during the First World War.

I think what we are seeing here is new commuter rail bi-levels on display, probably the Milwaukee Road, in July 1961. The sign at left says, “Entrance,” implying that they wanted you to walk through the cars in one direction only. At right are some vehicles from the Railway Express Agency (REA), which delivered small packages via the railway system between 1917 and the late 1960s. It was a national monopoly formed by the federal government during the First World War.

A Milwaukee Road commuter train in July 1961. This is about the time the railroad began introducing bi-levels, which the Chicago & North Western had been using for some years. I'd bet this is the same scene as in the previous picture, but from the other end. The train is on display at a station.

A Milwaukee Road commuter train in July 1961. This is about the time the railroad began introducing bi-levels, which the Chicago & North Western had been using for some years. I’d bet this is the same scene as in the previous picture, but from the other end. The train is on display at a station.

There wasn't much I could do about the scratches on this picture, but how often have you witnessed a steam locomotive on a turntable? (November 1958)

There wasn’t much I could do about the scratches on this picture, but how often have you witnessed a steam locomotive on a turntable? (November 1958)

Not sure of the location, but it's June 1958, and steam is still active here.

Not sure of the location, but it’s June 1958, and steam is still active here.

Several steam locos are on this property in June 1958, wherever it was.

Several steam locos are on this property in June 1958, wherever it was.

One thing about steam... as the song goes, smoke gets in your eyes. Note the small twin-lens reflex camera this shutterbug is holding. Perhaps a grey "Baby" Rolleiflex, which took size 127 film? (On the other hand, Carl Lantz thinks thinks he's holding a movie camera.)

One thing about steam… as the song goes, smoke gets in your eyes. Note the small twin-lens reflex camera this shutterbug is holding. Perhaps a grey “Baby” Rolleiflex, which took size 127 film? (On the other hand, Carl Lantz thinks thinks he’s holding a movie camera.)

More steam fantrip action.

More steam fantrip action.

There were many such excursions in the waning days of steam (late 1950s to early 1960s).

There were many such excursions in the waning days of steam (late 1950s to early 1960s).

Evidence of a Toronto trip in June 1959. This may be part of a PCC car.

Evidence of a Toronto trip in June 1959. This may be part of a PCC car.

The Mt. Washington Cog Railway still operates.

The Mt. Washington Cog Railway still operates.

CTA 6000s in Forest Park , December 22, 1976.

CTA 6000s in Forest Park , December 22, 1976.

The CTA DesPlaines Avenue yard in Forest Park, December 22, 1976. This was the 1959 configuration that was in use until the station was rebuilt circa 1980.

The CTA DesPlaines Avenue yard in Forest Park, December 22, 1976. This was the 1959 configuration that was in use until the station was rebuilt circa 1980.

CTA 6000s interior, December 22, 1976.

CTA 6000s interior, December 22, 1976.

Central City, Colorado, August 15, 1977.

Central City, Colorado, August 15, 1977.

What was a PCC doing in Golden, Colorado on July 8, 1976.

What was a PCC doing in Golden, Colorado on July 8, 1976.

My previous post did not mention the ill-fated Boston LRVs. But here is one of their SF Muni counterparts, being tested by the DOT at Pueblo on July 7, 1976.

My previous post did not mention the ill-fated Boston LRVs. But here is one of their SF Muni counterparts, being tested by the DOT at Pueblo on July 7, 1976.

North Shore Line car 160 at the Illinois Railway Museum in the mid-1970s.

North Shore Line car 160 at the Illinois Railway Museum in the mid-1970s.

Chicago red Pullman 144 at IRM, 1970s.

Chicago red Pullman 144 at IRM, 1970s.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 431 at IRM, August 8, 1976.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 431 at IRM, August 8, 1976.

Chicago postwar PCC 4391 at IRM in September 1975.

Chicago postwar PCC 4391 at IRM in September 1975.

Chicago postwar PCC 4391 at IRM in September 1975.

Chicago postwar PCC 4391 at IRM in September 1975.

San Francisco cable car 16(?) on May 27, 1974.

San Francisco cable car 16(?) on May 27, 1974.

Los Angeles streetcar 665 at Perris, California.

Los Angeles streetcar 665 at Perris, California.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM in September 1975.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM in September 1975.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM in September 1975.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM in September 1975.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM on August 8, 1976.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM on August 8, 1976.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM on August 8, 1976.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM on August 8, 1976.

SF cable car 4 on May 27, 1974.

SF cable car 4 on May 27, 1974.

SF cable car 4 on May 27, 1974.

SF cable car 4 on May 27, 1974.

BART on May 27, 1974.

BART on May 27, 1974.

When did they stop letting the passengers turn cable cars around in San Francisco? They were still doing it on May 27, 1974.

When did they stop letting the passengers turn cable cars around in San Francisco? They were still doing it on May 27, 1974.

BART at Balboa Park on May 27, 1974.

BART at Balboa Park on May 27, 1974.

BART at Balboa Park on May 27, 1974.

BART at Balboa Park on May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni trolley bus on Market Street, May 27, 1974. Looks like construction may already have been underway on the Muni Metro subway.

An SF Muni trolley bus on Market Street, May 27, 1974. Looks like construction may already have been underway on the Muni Metro subway.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

Don's Rail Photos: "717 was built by Brill Co in 1925. It was rebuilt in 1939 and rebuilt in 1951 as 5167. It became LAMTA 1815 in 1958, It was retired and restored as717 at OERM in March 1960." Here, we see it at Orange Empire on May 31, 1974. Was it ever used in service with this color scheme?

Don’s Rail Photos: “717 was built by Brill Co in 1925. It was rebuilt in 1939 and rebuilt in 1951 as 5167. It became LAMTA 1815 in 1958, It was retired and restored as717 at OERM in March 1960.” Here, we see it at Orange Empire on May 31, 1974. Was it ever used in service with this color scheme?

I'm wondering if the streetcar at right is Key System 987. The steam loco is Western Pacific 334, a 2-8-2 built in 1929 by American Locomotive. We see both at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1972.

I’m wondering if the streetcar at right is Key System 987. The steam loco is Western Pacific 334, a 2-8-2 built in 1929 by American Locomotive. We see both at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1972.

A Toronto Peter Witt at Trolleyville USA, Olmstead Falls, Ohio, on August 23, 1975.

A Toronto Peter Witt at Trolleyville USA, Olmstead Falls, Ohio, on August 23, 1975.

A Toronto Peter Witt at Trolleyville USA, Olmstead Falls, Ohio, on August 23, 1975.

A Toronto Peter Witt at Trolleyville USA, Olmstead Falls, Ohio, on August 23, 1975.

I assume this is probably an ex-PE car at the Orange Empire Railway Museum on May 31, 1974.

I assume this is probably an ex-PE car at the Orange Empire Railway Museum on May 31, 1974.

A Los Angeles streetcar at OERM, Perris, California on July 6, 1976.

A Los Angeles streetcar at OERM, Perris, California on July 6, 1976.

Here, we see Brooklyn car 4573 at the Branford Trolley Museum. It was built by the Laconia Car Company in 1906 and was acquired by the museum on 1947. Here is how it looked on August 31, 1976.

Here, we see Brooklyn car 4573 at the Branford Trolley Museum. It was built by the Laconia Car Company in 1906 and was acquired by the museum on 1947. Here is how it looked on August 31, 1976.

Marvin C. Kruse on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California on May 24, 1974.

Marvin C. Kruse on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California on May 24, 1974.

Marvin C. Kruse at the Andrews Raiders Memorial in the Chattanooga Military Cemetery on October 23, 1907. According to Find-a-Grave: :"Memorial erected by the State of Ohio to the Andrews Raiders. In early April, 1862, a band of Union soldiers lead by civilian James Andrews infiltrated south from the Union lines near Shelbyville, Tennessee and met at Big Shanty, Georgia (near Marietta). On the morning of April 12, 1862, 20 of them (2 raiders never arrived and 2 others overslept and missed the adventure) stole the passenger train "The General" during its morning breakfast stop. With the farms and factories of Georgia supplying the Confederate Army fighting further west, the Raiders' mission was to burn the railroad bridges between Atlanta and Chattanooga, thus isolating the Confederate Armies from their supply sources and enabling the Union Army to seize Chattanooga. Due primarily to the persistency of William Fuller, conductor of the stolen train, and, secondarily to the rainy weather and unlucky miscoordination with the Union Army to the west, the Raiders failed. All 22 at Big Shanty that morning were captured. Eight, including James Andrews, were tried and hanged by the Confederate Army in Atlanta. In 1866, after the war, they were reburied in a semi-circle at the Chattanooga National Cemetery. On the imposing granite monument, erected in 1891, are the names of 22 of the raiders. The memorial is topped by a bronze likeness of the "General"." This story inspired the classic 1927 Buster Keaton film The General.

Marvin C. Kruse at the Andrews Raiders Memorial in the Chattanooga Military Cemetery on October 23, 1907. According to Find-a-Grave: :”Memorial erected by the State of Ohio to the Andrews Raiders. In early April, 1862, a band of Union soldiers lead by civilian James Andrews infiltrated south from the Union lines near Shelbyville, Tennessee and met at Big Shanty, Georgia (near Marietta). On the morning of April 12, 1862, 20 of them (2 raiders never arrived and 2 others overslept and missed the adventure) stole the passenger train “The General” during its morning breakfast stop. With the farms and factories of Georgia supplying the Confederate Army fighting further west, the Raiders’ mission was to burn the railroad bridges between Atlanta and Chattanooga, thus isolating the Confederate Armies from their supply sources and enabling the Union Army to seize Chattanooga. Due primarily to the persistency of William Fuller, conductor of the stolen train, and, secondarily to the rainy weather and unlucky miscoordination with the Union Army to the west, the Raiders failed. All 22 at Big Shanty that morning were captured. Eight, including James Andrews, were tried and hanged by the Confederate Army in Atlanta. In 1866, after the war, they were reburied in a semi-circle at the Chattanooga National Cemetery. On the imposing granite monument, erected in 1891, are the names of 22 of the raiders. The memorial is topped by a bronze likeness of the “General”.” This story inspired the classic 1927 Buster Keaton film The General.

Philadelphia PCC 2278, in bicentennial garb, on Route 53, September 2, 1976.

Philadelphia PCC 2278, in bicentennial garb, on Route 53, September 2, 1976.

SEPTA Red Arrow cars at 69th Street Terminal on September 2, 1976.

SEPTA Red Arrow cars at 69th Street Terminal on September 2, 1976.

An Amtrak GG-1 in Baltimore on August 31, 1977.

An Amtrak GG-1 in Baltimore on August 31, 1977.

This is not a very good picture, but it does show a Liberty Liner (ex-North Shore Line Electroliner) on September 2, 1976.

This is not a very good picture, but it does show a Liberty Liner (ex-North Shore Line Electroliner) on September 2, 1976.

SEPTA Red Arrow car 13, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1949, as it looked on September 2, 1976.

SEPTA Red Arrow car 13, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1949, as it looked on September 2, 1976.

Red Arrow car 18, also built in 1949. These double-ended interurban cars closely resembled PCCs but did not use PCC trucks.

Red Arrow car 18, also built in 1949. These double-ended interurban cars closely resembled PCCs but did not use PCC trucks.

A Washington, D.C. subway car at the Rhode Island Avenue station on September 1, 1977.

A Washington, D.C. subway car at the Rhode Island Avenue station on September 1, 1977.

A PCC car at the Roanoke, Virginia Transportation Museum on August 27, 1975.

A PCC car at the Roanoke, Virginia Transportation Museum on August 27, 1975.

A PCC car at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke on August 27, 1975. This is DC Transit 1470, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945.

A PCC car at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke on August 27, 1975. This is DC Transit 1470, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945.

J. G. Brill built car 249 for Oporto, Portugal in 1904 and features maximum traction trucks. It was retired in 1972 and is shown at the Rockhill Trolley Museum on August 24, 1975.

J. G. Brill built car 249 for Oporto, Portugal in 1904 and features maximum traction trucks. It was retired in 1972 and is shown at the Rockhill Trolley Museum on August 24, 1975.

A Washington, D.C. subway car at the Rhode Island Avenue station on September 1, 1977.

A Washington, D.C. subway car at the Rhode Island Avenue station on September 1, 1977.

A Washington, D.C. subway car at the Rhode Island Avenue station on September 1, 1977.

A Washington, D.C. subway car at the Rhode Island Avenue station on September 1, 1977.

A PCC car at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke on August 27, 1975. This is DC Transit 1470, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945.

A PCC car at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke on August 27, 1975. This is DC Transit 1470, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945.

This is Sacramento Northern 62, a Birney car built in 1920 by American Car Company. We see it here at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974.

This is Sacramento Northern 62, a Birney car built in 1920 by American Car Company. We see it here at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974.

San Francisco Municipal Railway "Magic Carpet" carr 1003 was one of five experimental double-end cars built in 1939 by the St. Louis Car Company. This lone survivor is seen at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974.

San Francisco Municipal Railway “Magic Carpet” carr 1003 was one of five experimental double-end cars built in 1939 by the St. Louis Car Company. This lone survivor is seen at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974.

At left, we see Muni car 178, and next to it is "Magic Carpet" car 1003, at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974.

At left, we see Muni car 178, and next to it is “Magic Carpet” car 1003, at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974.

This open car was built by Brill in 1912 and was used in Rio De Janeiro. It's shown at the Rockhill Trolley Museum on August 24, 1975.

This open car was built by Brill in 1912 and was used in Rio De Janeiro. It’s shown at the Rockhill Trolley Museum on August 24, 1975.

This looks like a Sacramento Northern electric freight loco (Western Railway Museum, May 26, 1974).

This looks like a Sacramento Northern electric freight loco (Western Railway Museum, May 26, 1974).

This San Francisco cable car was on display at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds on May 26, 1973. Many children played on this car over the years. It was originally a California Street car using a side grip and was not updated when Muni took over the line. I read that in 2005 it was in storage, listed as being in poor condition with a broken frame. I am not sure if it still exists.

This San Francisco cable car was on display at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds on May 26, 1973. Many children played on this car over the years. It was originally a California Street car using a side grip and was not updated when Muni took over the line. I read that in 2005 it was in storage, listed as being in poor condition with a broken frame. I am not sure if it still exists.

This equipment is at the Travel Town Museum at Griffith Park in Los Angeles on August 26, 1977.

This equipment is at the Travel Town Museum at Griffith Park in Los Angeles on August 26, 1977.

A Los Angeles streetcar and a Pacific electric "Blimp" interurban at Griffith Park on July 5, 1977.

A Los Angeles streetcar and a Pacific electric “Blimp” interurban at Griffith Park on July 5, 1977.

In the distance, we see a pair of Key System bridge units at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974. These ran in Oakland over the bay Bridge, and were retired in 1958.

In the distance, we see a pair of Key System bridge units at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974. These ran in Oakland over the bay Bridge, and were retired in 1958.

Toronto PCC 4394 on October 25, 1973.

Toronto PCC 4394 on October 25, 1973.

North Shore Line car 757 at East Troy, Wisconsin on June 23, 1974. This car has since gone to the Illinois Railway Museum.

North Shore Line car 757 at East Troy, Wisconsin on June 23, 1974. This car has since gone to the Illinois Railway Museum.

The East Troy Trolley Museum, June 23, 1974.

The East Troy Trolley Museum, June 23, 1974.

A Chicago Transit Authority 4000-series "L" car in Louisville, Kentucky on June 3, 1974.

A Chicago Transit Authority 4000-series “L” car in Louisville, Kentucky on June 3, 1974.

A pair of 700-series South Shore Line freight locos at the Gary, Indiana station in 1974.

A pair of 700-series South Shore Line freight locos at the Gary, Indiana station in 1974.

Chattanooga, Tennessee on June 2, 1974.

Chattanooga, Tennessee on June 2, 1974.

A New Orleans streetcar at Union Station in Chattanooga, June 2, 1974.

A New Orleans streetcar at Union Station in Chattanooga, June 2, 1974.

A New Orleans streetcar at Union Station in Chattanooga, June 2, 1974.

A New Orleans streetcar at Union Station in Chattanooga, June 2, 1974.

A pair of 700-series South Shore Line freight locos at the Gary, Indiana station in 1974.

A pair of 700-series South Shore Line freight locos at the Gary, Indiana station in 1974.

Steam at Union, Illinois, August 8, 1976.

Steam at Union, Illinois, August 8, 1976.

The Burlington Zephyr at IRM, 1976.

The Burlington Zephyr at IRM, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

South Shore Line cars in storage at Michigan City, Indiana on July 17, 1977.

South Shore Line cars in storage at Michigan City, Indiana on July 17, 1977.

A "Little Joe" in Michigan City, July 17, 1977.

A “Little Joe” in Michigan City, July 17, 1977.

Illinois Terminal cars at IRM, July 1977.

Illinois Terminal cars at IRM, July 1977.

IRM, June 23, 1974.

IRM, June 23, 1974.

IRM, June 23, 1974.

IRM, June 23, 1974.

Illinois Terminal cars at IRM, June 23, 1974.

Illinois Terminal cars at IRM, June 23, 1974.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, September 1975.

IRM, September 1975.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, September 1975.

IRM, September 1975.

Recent Finds

Boston MTA 3292, signed for Braves Field, is on a double-track loop with the ball park at the right. The Boston Braves played there last game here on September 21, 1952 (exactly 65 years ago today), after which the team was moved to Milwaukee. Following the 1965 season, they became the Atlanta Braves. A portion of Braves Field still exists as part of Boston College's Nickerson Field. We discussed streetcar service to Braves Field in our previous post More Mystery Photos (July 29, 2016).

Boston MTA 3292, signed for Braves Field, is on a double-track loop with the ball park at the right. The Boston Braves played there last game here on September 21, 1952 (exactly 65 years ago today), after which the team was moved to Milwaukee. Following the 1965 season, they became the Atlanta Braves. A portion of Braves Field still exists as part of Boston College’s Nickerson Field. We discussed streetcar service to Braves Field in our previous post More Mystery Photos (July 29, 2016).

Hammond, Whiting & East Chicago car 67 was built by American Car in 1917 and was converted to one-man operation in 1932. Streetcar service ended in 1940. Notice how similar this car is to some operated by the Chicago Surface Lines. For much of its history, the HW&EC was run by the Calumet & South Chicago Railway, which became part of CSL in 1914.

Hammond, Whiting & East Chicago car 67 was built by American Car in 1917 and was converted to one-man operation in 1932. Streetcar service ended in 1940. Notice how similar this car is to some operated by the Chicago Surface Lines. For much of its history, the HW&EC was run by the Calumet & South Chicago Railway, which became part of CSL in 1914.

Chicago Surface Lines crane X-3 at Dearborn and Washington in 1942. Tracks were being put back in the street after construction of the Dearborn Subway, which was 80% completed when work stopped due to wartime materials shortages. The subway did not open until 1951.

Chicago Surface Lines crane X-3 at Dearborn and Washington in 1942. Tracks were being put back in the street after construction of the Dearborn Subway, which was 80% completed when work stopped due to wartime materials shortages. The subway did not open until 1951.

New Castle (Pennsylvania) Electric Street Railway "Birney" car 363 at Cascade Park loop on August 24, 1941. Streetcar service was abandoned on December 11th of that year. This car was formerly Penn-Ohio Power & Light 363 and was painted orange. (John A. Clark Photo)

New Castle (Pennsylvania) Electric Street Railway “Birney” car 363 at Cascade Park loop on August 24, 1941. Streetcar service was abandoned on December 11th of that year. This car was formerly Penn-Ohio Power & Light 363 and was painted orange. (John A. Clark Photo)

New Castle (Pennsylvania) Electric Street Railway "Birney" car 359 at Cascade Park loop on August 24, 1941. This car was ex=Penn-Ohio Power and Light 359, and was painted orange and cream. (John A. Clark Photo)

New Castle (Pennsylvania) Electric Street Railway “Birney” car 359 at Cascade Park loop on August 24, 1941. This car was ex=Penn-Ohio Power and Light 359, and was painted orange and cream. (John A. Clark Photo)

This odd, boxy streetcar is Black River Traction car #1 in Watertown, New York. This was a 1906 product of the Barber Car Co. Some consider this an ugly design, but apparently these cars were well-built. Apparently this line abandoned streetcar service on August 17, 1937, but this negative is dated June 20, 1938. The sign on the side of the car doesn't really solve this mystery-- there were two championship heavyweight bouts between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, and these took place on June 19, 1936 and June 22, 1938. For more information on the Barber Car Company, click here.

This odd, boxy streetcar is Black River Traction car #1 in Watertown, New York. This was a 1906 product of the Barber Car Co. Some consider this an ugly design, but apparently these cars were well-built. Apparently this line abandoned streetcar service on August 17, 1937, but this negative is dated June 20, 1938. The sign on the side of the car doesn’t really solve this mystery– there were two championship heavyweight bouts between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, and these took place on June 19, 1936 and June 22, 1938. For more information on the Barber Car Company, click here.

Black River Traction car 5, with a date given of June 20, 1938. Not sure whether this car was also built by the Barber Car Company.

Black River Traction car 5, with a date given of June 20, 1938. Not sure whether this car was also built by the Barber Car Company.

Recent Correspondence

Jack Bejna writes:

I recently came across this photo, and, after looking at it awhile I realized that this is an image of the CA&E crossing the Chicago River. It appears to have been taken from Franklin Street looking generally northeast. The train appears to be an eastbound train just entering the Wells Street Terminal. Look at the two cars and you’ll see Car 436 leading trailer 603. In addition, below the El structure there is the substation that provided the power for the terminal area. The picture was taken in 1939.

Jack continues:

I enjoyed your latest post about Boston’s great trolleys. Keep up the great work.

Here is the latest stuff, the CA&E and the CNS&M woodies. As usual, some of the images aren’t the best, but it’s all I could find in my continuing search for the best of the CA&E!

Increasing suburban traffic found the CA&E short of cars. In 1936, the CNS&M came to the rescue by making some of their older wooden cars available for lease.

In 1936, cars 129, 130, 133, 134, 137 (Jewett 1907), cars 138, 139, 140, 141, 144 (American 1910) and cars 142 and 143 (Jewett 1907) were leased for suburban service and returned to the CNS&M after World War II. These cars were later purchased in 1946 and finished their long careers in suburban work on the CA&E.

I know our readers appreciate your efforts in restoring and sharing these rare pictures with us. Thanks to you, they are looking better than ever.

After CA&E service was cut back to Forest Park in 1953, these cars were no longer needed and were soon scrapped. Interestingly, these old woods were the last passenger cars bought by the Aurora & Elgin.

CA&E 129.

CA&E 129.

CA&E 130.

CA&E 130.

CA&E 133.

CA&E 133.

CA&E 134.

CA&E 134.

CA&E 137.

CA&E 137.

CA&E 138.

CA&E 138.

CA&E 139.

CA&E 139.

CA&E 140.

CA&E 140.

CA&E 141 at Batavia Junction.

CA&E 141 at Batavia Junction.

CA&E 142 at the Wheaton Shops.

CA&E 142 at the Wheaton Shops.

CA&E 143.

CA&E 143.

CA&E 144.

CA&E 144.

Our New Book Chicago Trolleys— Now In Stock!

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 226 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans Under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

We are pleased to report that selected images from our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will be available on September 25th in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

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Back in Boston

This August marks 50 years since my first trip to Boston. This picture of MBTA 3295 was taken on Beacon Street on August 31, 1967, and shows the PCCs just as I remember them from that time. (Frederick F. Marder Photo)

This August marks 50 years since my first trip to Boston. This picture of MBTA 3295 was taken on Beacon Street on August 31, 1967, and shows the PCCs just as I remember them from that time. (Frederick F. Marder Photo)

This summer marks 50 years since my first trip to Boston, which quickly became one of my favorite cities. I came there as a 12-year-old, to attend my uncle Robert’s wedding along with my mother.

I was astonished to find that Boston still had PCC streetcars, of a type very similar to those Chicago had retired nearly a decade earlier. While my relatives were out making merry, I went off to ride all the various lines.

I have returned to Boston numerous times since then. Recently, I spent a few days there to help my uncle celebrate his 87th birthday.

While PCCs are long gone from the MBTA Green Line, a few still soldier on between Ashmont and Mattapan. This “high-speed trolley” has been running in an old railroad right-of-way since the 1920s, on private right-of-way with just a couple of grade crossings. Along with the MBTA’s Riverside line, which began service in 1959, it is considered a forerunner of modern light rail.

Although I did not have time to do as much railfanning as I might have hoped, here are some pictures from that trip.

-David Sadowski

PS- We expect to receive our shipment of Chicago Trolleys books by September 22nd, which should allow us to ship all copies that have been pre-ordered by the release date on the 25th. More information is at the end of this post.

This giant steaming teakettle has been a Boston landmark since 1873.

This giant steaming teakettle has been a Boston landmark since 1873.

The subway station at Government Center was closed for renovations when I last visited Boston three years ago, but has since reopened.

The subway station at Government Center was closed for renovations when I last visited Boston three years ago, but has since reopened.

The Green Line subway, oldest in the United States, first opened in 1897. I believe this is Government Center.

The Green Line subway, oldest in the United States, first opened in 1897. I believe this is Government Center.

The Red Line subway.

The Red Line subway.

It's incredible that this PCC is still in service. According to Don's Rail Photos, "3087 was built by Pullman-Standard in 1945, #W6710A. It was rebuilt in 2000 for service." Here, we see it pulling in to the Ashmont Terminal, where riders can switch to the Red Line subway. Unlike the other light rail lines, the Ashmont-Mattapan line is considered part of the Red Line. When we were there, it was operating as a free shuttle, although the trains had fare boxes.

It’s incredible that this PCC is still in service. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “3087 was built by Pullman-Standard in 1945, #W6710A. It was rebuilt in 2000 for service.” Here, we see it pulling in to the Ashmont Terminal, where riders can switch to the Red Line subway. Unlike the other light rail lines, the Ashmont-Mattapan line is considered part of the Red Line. When we were there, it was operating as a free shuttle, although the trains had fare boxes.

3087 at Mattapan.

3087 at Mattapan.

The turnaround loop at Mattapan.

The turnaround loop at Mattapan.

The PCCs are not air conditioned, but have forced-air ventilation and sealed windows.

The PCCs are not air conditioned, but have forced-air ventilation and sealed windows.

3087 at Ashmont.

3087 at Ashmont.

The Red Line at Ashmont.

The Red Line at Ashmont.

Out of Town News, which occupies the famed former Harvard Square subway kiosk built in 1928, may eventually be forced out as part of a redevelopment scheme.

Out of Town News, which occupies the famed former Harvard Square subway kiosk built in 1928, may eventually be forced out as part of a redevelopment scheme.

A trip to Harvard Square would not be complete without visiting Leavitt & Peirce, which has been there since 1884.

A trip to Harvard Square would not be complete without visiting Leavitt & Peirce, which has been there since 1884.

This "cigar store Indian" princess graces the store's entry way.

This “cigar store Indian” princess graces the store’s entry way.

Besides cigars, they sell chess sets at Leavitt and Peirce.

Besides cigars, they sell chess sets at Leavitt and Peirce.

The Green Line at Park Street, where you can switch between the B, C, D, and E branches or change to the Red Line.

The Green Line at Park Street, where you can switch between the B, C, D, and E branches or change to the Red Line.

Currently, the Green Line's northern end is at Lechmere, although there are plans to extend it another 4.7 miles to Somerville and Medford.

Currently, the Green Line’s northern end is at Lechmere, although there are plans to extend it another 4.7 miles to Somerville and Medford.

These "Type 7" LRVs were built between 1986 and 1997, and have been rehabbed since I was last in Boston three years ago. Now they are all paired in service with the newer Type 8s, which are handicapped accessible.

These “Type 7” LRVs were built between 1986 and 1997, and have been rehabbed since I was last in Boston three years ago. Now they are all paired in service with the newer Type 8s, which are handicapped accessible.

On our way to Logan airport, I had time to take a few shots at the west end of Green Line route "B," which goes to Boston College.

On our way to Logan airport, I had time to take a few shots at the west end of Green Line route “B,” which goes to Boston College.

My final MBTA shots were taken near the west end of Green Line route "C", which is Beacon Street. It is a bit confusing that the B line runs on Commonwealth Avenue, while the C line is on Beacon. But the lines were assigned letters due to their position on maps. Watertown was assigned "A" as it was furthest north, but rail service there was abandoned in 1969, before the letters were used on any roll signs. The best explanation for why Watertown got bussed is that streetcars had to go against traffic on a one-way expressway feeder ramp that became a real bottleneck. It was easier to re-route buses around this, although the tracks and wire remained for many years for access to Watertown Yard.

My final MBTA shots were taken near the west end of Green Line route “C”, which is Beacon Street. It is a bit confusing that the B line runs on Commonwealth Avenue, while the C line is on Beacon. But the lines were assigned letters due to their position on maps. Watertown was assigned “A” as it was furthest north, but rail service there was abandoned in 1969, before the letters were used on any roll signs. The best explanation for why Watertown got bussed is that streetcars had to go against traffic on a one-way expressway feeder ramp that became a real bottleneck. It was easier to re-route buses around this, although the tracks and wire remained for many years for access to Watertown Yard.

There is a station called Fenway on Boston's Green Line, but that's not where you want to go to see a ballgame. Kenmore Square is closer, and three of the four Green Line branches stop there.

There is a station called Fenway on Boston’s Green Line, but that’s not where you want to go to see a ballgame. Kenmore Square is closer, and three of the four Green Line branches stop there.

It's been 40 years since I first visited Fenway Park. On this night, the Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-3.

It’s been 40 years since I first visited Fenway Park. On this night, the Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-3.

Fenway is one of the most beloved ballparks in Major League Baseball, in part because of its 40-foot "Green Monster" wall in left field.

Fenway is one of the most beloved ballparks in Major League Baseball, in part because of its 40-foot “Green Monster” wall in left field.

Boston double-end PCC 3327, signed for Heath on the MBTA Green Line "E" branch (formerly called Arborway), is heading up the Northeastern Incline from the Huntington Avenue Subway in this March 1974 view.

Boston double-end PCC 3327, signed for Heath on the MBTA Green Line “E” branch (formerly called Arborway), is heading up the Northeastern Incline from the Huntington Avenue Subway in this March 1974 view.

A period illustration for the M.T.A. song (aka Charlie on the M.T.A.), see Comments below.

A period illustration for the M.T.A. song (aka Charlie on the M.T.A.), see Comments below.

Horsecars in Roxbury

While visting the Simon Willard House and Clock Museum, I was intrigued by this early photograph, which shows a horse car near the First Church of Roxbury. The picture was dated as "circa 1910," but must have been taken many years before that.

While visting the Simon Willard House and Clock Museum, I was intrigued by this early photograph, which shows a horse car near the First Church of Roxbury. The picture was dated as “circa 1910,” but must have been taken many years before that.

A close-up of the photo, showing a horse car on the line to Norfolk House, operated between Boston and Roxbury by the Metropolitan Railroad Co., which operated between 1856 and 1886.

A close-up of the photo, showing a horse car on the line to Norfolk House, operated between Boston and Roxbury by the Metropolitan Railroad Co., which operated between 1856 and 1886.

While researching when the above photograph could have been taken, I learned quite a bit about the early history of public transit in Boston. Roxbury was once its own municipality, but was annexed into Boston in 1868.

Before horse-drawn streetcars, there was the “Omnibus.” This was a large passenger coach, similar to a stagecoach, that ran on a fixed route between Boston and Roxbury, and offered frequent service (hourly, in some places). This ran from 1832 until 1856.

Streetcars offered some advantages, as they ran on tracks laid in city streets, which were frequently unpaved in this era and could be turned to a muddy mess when it rained. Often pedestrians would walk along the middle of the tracks.

One source says horse cars “began at Boylston Market to Norfolk House in Eliot Square, (and a) second line met at Tremont House, traveled over the neck to Norfolk House and then via Center Street over Hogs Bridge to West Roxbury.”

The Metropolitan Railroad Co. continued to operate horsecars until 1886, when it was bought out by the West End Street Railway Co. Thus, the dates when this photo could have been taken are probably between 1856 and 1886.

West End sought to improve service and reduce costs. After looking into the feasibility of building cable car lines, the railroad became aware of a new invention, electric streetcars. After examining Frank J. Sprague’s pioneering operation in Richmond, Virginia, the West End introduced electric streetcars to Boston in 1889.

I was unable to find a definitive date when horsecars stopped running in Boston. The various dates I did find were 1891, 1895, and 1900. But the latter seems unlikely.

During construction of the open-cut MBTA Orange Line in the 1980s, which replaced an elevated, the former site of a Metropolitan R. R. horsecar barn was excavated, and thousands of artifacts recovered. You can read a full report here, in someone’s masters thesis.

Interestingly, the First Church of Roxbury building, which dates to about 1804, is still there, although the steeple had to be replaced after it was damaged by rough weather in 1954.

Norfolk House was built in 1853 and is also still standing. The four-and-a-half story building has now been converted to condos.

-David Sadowski

The Right Here in Roxbury Wiki says: "The Norfolk House has served as a hotel and public house when Roxbury was a prominent stop on the road out of Boston. Later it was converted to a settlement house with a branch of the Boston Public library. Currently the first floor is retail space and the upper floors are condominiums."

The Right Here in Roxbury Wiki says: “The Norfolk House has served as a hotel and public house when Roxbury was a prominent stop on the road out of Boston. Later it was converted to a settlement house with a branch of the Boston Public library. Currently the first floor is retail space and the upper floors are condominiums.”

This early 19th century gallery clock is the original from the First Church of Roxbury, and is on loan to the Willard House. Meanwhile, an exact replica was made and hangs in the church.

This early 19th century gallery clock is the original from the First Church of Roxbury, and is on loan to the Willard House. Meanwhile, an exact replica was made and hangs in the church.

Recent Finds

This January 1962 image shows DC Transit pre-PCC car 1053, just prior to the end of streetcar service in our nation's capitol. Unfortunately, this historically important streetcar was later destroyed in a fire at the National Capital Trolley Museum in 2003.

This January 1962 image shows DC Transit pre-PCC car 1053, just prior to the end of streetcar service in our nation’s capitol. Unfortunately, this historically important streetcar was later destroyed in a fire at the National Capital Trolley Museum in 2003.

You might be mistaken for thinking this funicular was in a rural location, but this picture (and the next) shows the Angel's Flight Railway in Los Angeles in August 1968. By then, much of the surrounding area in the Bunker Hill neighborhood had been cleared for redevelopment. Angel's Flight itself was dismantled in 1969, as part of the hill was leveled. After being in storage for many years, it was finally relocated and has now once again resumed operations, with important new safety features after a series of accidents.

You might be mistaken for thinking this funicular was in a rural location, but this picture (and the next) shows the Angel’s Flight Railway in Los Angeles in August 1968. By then, much of the surrounding area in the Bunker Hill neighborhood had been cleared for redevelopment. Angel’s Flight itself was dismantled in 1969, as part of the hill was leveled. After being in storage for many years, it was finally relocated and has now once again resumed operations, with important new safety features after a series of accidents.

Sacramento Northern MW-302 on an early 1960s fantrip. Don's Rail Photos: "1020 was built by Hall-Scott Motor Car Co in 1913, as OA&E 1020. It became SF-S 1020 in 1920 and SN 1020 in 1928. It was renumbered as MW302 in 1941 and went to Western Railway Museum in 1962."

Sacramento Northern MW-302 on an early 1960s fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos: “1020 was built by Hall-Scott Motor Car Co in 1913, as OA&E 1020. It became SF-S 1020 in 1920 and SN 1020 in 1928. It was renumbered as MW302 in 1941 and went to Western Railway Museum in 1962.”

A postwar Pullman-built PCC prepares to cross the Chicago River on Madison Street, probably in the early 1950s. That's the old Chicago Daily News building in the background.

A postwar Pullman-built PCC prepares to cross the Chicago River on Madison Street, probably in the early 1950s. That’s the old Chicago Daily News building in the background.

Postwar Pullman PCC 4112, signed to go west on the Madison-Fifth branch of Route 20, turns onto Franklin Street, probably in the early 1950s.

Postwar Pullman PCC 4112, signed to go west on the Madison-Fifth branch of Route 20, turns onto Franklin Street, probably in the early 1950s.

This picture shows a CTA crane in operation on the old Metropolitan or Garfield Park "L" in the early 1950s. You can see how many nearby buildings have already been cleared away in order to build the Congress Expressway.

This picture shows a CTA crane in operation on the old Metropolitan or Garfield Park “L” in the early 1950s. You can see how many nearby buildings have already been cleared away in order to build the Congress Expressway.

A wooden Met car on the CTA's Kenwood shuttle in August 1957, just a few short moths before this branch line was abandoned. The CTA (and CRT before it) was a tenant and this complicated operation of the line. In addition, the CTA during this period closed several branch lines, in their efforts to consolidate and streamline service.

A wooden Met car on the CTA’s Kenwood shuttle in August 1957, just a few short moths before this branch line was abandoned. The CTA (and CRT before it) was a tenant and this complicated operation of the line. In addition, the CTA during this period closed several branch lines, in their efforts to consolidate and streamline service.

This picture of CTA postwar PCC (built by St. Louis Car Company) at South Shops was probably taken at around the same time (and by the same unknown photographer) as the Kenwood picture, i.e. August 1957. The nearby bus is 3625. If the date is correct, all the postwar Pullmans had been gone from the property for more than two years already.

This picture of CTA postwar PCC (built by St. Louis Car Company) at South Shops was probably taken at around the same time (and by the same unknown photographer) as the Kenwood picture, i.e. August 1957. The nearby bus is 3625. If the date is correct, all the postwar Pullmans had been gone from the property for more than two years already.

Quincy Station Landmarking Recommendation Approved by Commission on Chicago Landmarks

Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) is very pleased to announce that the final recommendation for landmarking the Quincy Elevated Station at 220 S. Wells Street was recently approved at the September 7, 2017 meeting of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

Opened for service on October 3, 1897, the Quincy Elevated Station has served generations of Chicagoans and visitors to the City, and remains the best example of an original Loop “‘L’ Station.

More information here.

Pre-Order Our New Book Chicago Trolleys

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 226 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans Under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

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NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

We are pleased to report that selected images from our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will be available on September 25th in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

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