This is our 250th Trolley Dodger post, and we figured on making it something special. This time, we have a bevy of historical traction photos for your enjoyment.
If you have been along for the ride with us since this blog started, we salute you, but if you have just recently discovered us, we hope you will find much here to appreciate.
When we first started, one of our critics said this was a “good idea, but lacking in execution.” We hope to have gotten better at this, but freely admit to not knowing everything about anything. We have learned as much from our readers as they have probably learned from us, and the more we have shared with you, the more you have shared with us in turn. It’s very much a two-way street.
If we get something wrong, we can count on our readers to help set us right, so the Trolley Dodger becomes a “self-correcting mechanism” by which we all learn things together, creating an archive of information, and a resource for the future.
It seems that a lot of photos that interest me do not fit into the classic railfan photo mode. By which I mean a 3/4 Kodachrome view of the front of a railcar, taken only in bright sunlight, without a person anywhere in sight. I know photographers who won’t take anything other than this sort of picture.
I mean, I am interested in those types of photos too, and I certainly have taken some myself. But there are other things that interest me, and these include scenes of everyday life, pictures that have historical details, black-and-white photos, photos that are not technically perfect but still grab me somehow. Pictures that have people in them, that show how we lived at a moment in time.
Today’s post has all those kinds of photos. Some of the 35mm black-and-white images were obviously taken by a press photographer. I acquired the original negatives, but have no clue who took them. But there are unique photos of a former Chicago mayor, and various derailments. It might even be possible to determine the date when some of these pictures were taken, based on what you see in the picture.
It might surprise you to know that ‘L’ trains have actually fallen off the structure from time to time. Yes, there was the fateful 1977 accident at Wabash and Lake. But there were other such incidents, one of which is covered here.
There are also several color images taken around 1970, showing people riding an ‘L’ train, standing on subway platforms, and such. These offer a ‘slice of life,’ and if you want to know what the experience was of riding the trains half a century ago, this is a pretty good place to start. The great majority of fans did not take such pictures, but we can be glad that someone did.
We are currently working on a new book that we hope to complete in the near future. As you might expect, some of our research materials cost money. a lot has already been spent on this effort.
More details about that will be forthcoming, but if you would like to contribute financially, there is a link at the end of this post so that you may do so. If your contributions, in any amount, are intended to help with this book project, we will thank you by name in the book.
This is an offer we made for our last book Building Chicago’s Subways, and a number of our readers did help out, and were so thanked.
Jon Roma writes:
David, here are photos about the two towers associated with the CRT State Street subway. The negatives 95-C-223 and 95-C-224 are of the south tower, which appears to have been on the west side of the track according to the model board in the picture. Negatives 95-C-243 and 95-C-244 are of the north tower (Armitage).
The images were taken by the equipment manufacturer and are in a private collection. I have the collection owner’s permission to share, provided that there’s a credit such as “Union Switch & Signal (Zachary C. Gillihan collection)”.
These are fascinating, rare glimpses into Chicago history, and I am sure our readers are just as appreciative of you sharing them as I am.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
Now Available On Compact Disc
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include:
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern
$5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere.
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick):
01. 3:45 Box motor #5
02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953
03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954
04. 4:13 Loco #12
05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953
Altoona & Logan Valley:
07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit:
08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s:
11. 4:35 August 27, 1954
13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955
14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955
15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954
16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto:
17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954
18. 5:20 #80, October 1954
Total time: 79:30
St. Louis Public Service:
01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953
Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City):
02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954
Third Avenue El (New York City):
04. 5:07 December 31. 1954
05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954
Southern Iowa Railway:
06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955
07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9
IND Subway (New York City):
08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954
Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick:
09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr.
Total time: 61:31
Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction:
01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953)
Cincinnati Street Railway:
02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951)
Toledo & Eastern:
03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958)
04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s)
Total time: 74:02
Total time (3 discs) – 215:03
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways
There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.
While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960
Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
For Shipping to Canada:
For Shipping Elsewhere:
Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
This is our 250th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 624,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.
You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.
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11 thoughts on “Our 250th Post”
Thank you for all the wonderful posts!
Is Muni PCC 1030 still at Fox River? I thought I remember reading somewhere it was moved or scrapped?
I don’t know, it’s still listed on their roster (on their website).
It was still there when I visited a couple of years ago. Though it was heavily rusted and is in need of some serious work.
I particularly enjoy the color photo looking east toward Wells St. Terminal from the tower controlling the junction where the Metropolitan main split into the line into the terminal and the line that joined the Loop “L” at Wells and Van Buren.
I am pretty sure that the “0” maker affixed to the tower tells motormen what setting to use for their train heat based on the ambient temperature.
Zero meaning no heat neccessary? Thanks.
Rule 64 of the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railway Company’s rule book dated January 1, 1912 states that
“Motormen must observe the indicators at terminals and towers regarding speed and heat, and when changes ae made call the Conductor’s attention to the same.”
I don’t know how many positions of heat the “L” cars had, but I imagine perhaps four or five. Zero would be the right amount of heat needed in a typical Chicago July! 🙂
Can you put some information captions on those pictures of the train that fell off the elevated? I wasn’t aware that had ever happened other than the 1977 crash. Would like to know more details, at least the date. Thanks!
If I had more details, I would include them. All I got were the negatives. I am hoping that someone who sees this may be able to help.
In addition to the famous 1977 Loop collision, Graham Garfield’s website lists the following incidents of trains falling over or falling off of the elevated structure in the CTA era:
Late 1950s: An accident occurred at 59th Junction when a train came off the Englewood branch at a higher than normal rate of speed and the first car went sailing into the upper floor of an adjacent apartment building. The car was rebuilt following that accident.
December 7, 1966: Two persons were killed and 25 injured when two cars of a CTA train derailed and fell to the ground near 40th Street and Indiana Avenue. One of the cars, 6309, was retired as a result of its damages.
September 18, 1969: Three hundred persons were injured when a Jackson Park “B” train rammed an Englewood “A” train on a curve on the elevated line near 40th Street and Calumet Avenue. The lead car of the Jackson Park train tipped over on its side, shorting out the 3rd rail and cutting off power for a 20 block distance.
April 16, 1971: Car 6167-6178 was involved in a collision at Howard Street severe enough to result in the retirement of car 6167 due to the damage involved. (I was at the Howard station at the time and I actually witnessed this collision. Had I arrived at the station a couple of minutes earlier, I could have been on the train that was wrecked.)
April 6. 1972: Forty-six persons were injured on a Thursday when the last two rapid transit cars of a four-car train derailed and plunged from the elevated structure at 40th Street and Wabash Avenue, just missing an apartment building. (Note: Date is given as April 7, 1972 in some sources.)
April 11, 1974: A two-car Ravenswood train (cars 6047-6048) fails to make a turn and derails on the Loop at Lake and Wells near Tower 18. Twenty-four passengers were injured in the accident which jammed rush hour traffic on the Loop. The first car of the Ravenswood All-Stop hung over the edge of the structure.