Most of the pictures in today’s post come from the collection I inherited from my late friend Jeffrey L. Wien and feature the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin interurban in its twilight days.
Some 30 of these images show some late electric freight moves in March 1959, nearly two years after the abandonment of passenger service, and just a few months before the CA&E gave up the ghost. I don’t recall ever seeing any photos of such late operations on the CA&E, much less this many of them.
Once passenger service ended, the bulk of CA&E employees were let go, but some were retained on the basis of seniority. This means only the oldest of the “old timers” remained, and some of them were well past what is now considered retirement age.
There are also views of the former passenger stations at 17th Avenue in Maywood, Bellwood, and Wheaton.
There is one other remarkable photo, showing what is said to be the first train on the newly rebuilt CA&E tracks leading to the DesPlaines Avenue CTA Terminal in March 1959. While this is a diesel train, it does show that at least one train ran on the new tracks, which were relocated during expressway construction.
Apparently, part of the deal that CA&E made when they sold their right of way crossing the DesPlaines River, was that their tracks would be “made whole” so that it could be possible to restore running passenger service. Although the tracks were restored, service never resumed. The assumption has been that “no trains ever ran on them,” but the photo shown above indicates otherwise.
These historic photos, plus some others taken in August and September 1959 (after the final abandonment) at Wheaton were taken by the late Zalman Gaibel (1943-1995). I wasn’t able to find much information about him online, other than that he graduated from MIT in 1963. There is a slide show tribute that you can see here.
We have rounded these CA&E photos with a few others, taken in the latter days of interurban service over the “L”, most by William C. Hoffman, and one by Truman Hefner.
We are also featuring many wonderful photos, both black and white and color, taken by John V. Engleman in the late 1950s and early 1960s, mostly in Boston, but some in Chicago.
We hope that you will enjoy them, and we than Mr. Engleman for his generosity in sharing them with our readers.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
PS- You might also like our Trolley Dodger Facebook auxiliary, a private group that now has 800 members.
Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.
Work on our North Shore Line book is ongoing. Donations are needed in order to bring this to a successful conclusion. You will find donation links at the top and bottom of each post. We thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
CA&E Freight Moves in March 1959
All the photos in this section were taken by Zalman Gaibel.
The CA&E Wheaton Yards in August and September 1959
All the photos in this section were taken by Zalman Gaibel.
Miscellaneous CA&E Photos
Wells Street Terminal Photo
While we are on the subject of the CA&E, I finally got a better quality version of this excellent photo thanks to Rex Butler. It which appeared in the August 1927 issue of the North Shore Bulletin. It shows the newly renovated Wells Street Terminal. While North Shore trains were only occasional visitors there, Insull owned the CA&E, North Shore Line, and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company, so one hand washes the other. The terminal remained in use until the CA&E stopped using it in September 1953.
Photos by John V. Engleman
A Guide to the Railroad Record Club E-Book
Our good friend Ken Gear has been hard at work on collecting all things related to the late William Steventon’s railroad audio recordings and releases. The result is a new book on disc, A Guide To the Railroad Record Club. This was quite a project and labor of love on Ken’s part!
Kenneth Gear has written and compiled a complete history of William Steventon‘s Railroad Record Club, which issued 42 different LPs of steam, electric, and diesel railroad audio, beginning with its origins in 1953.
This “book on disc” format allows us to present not only a detailed history of the club and an updated account of Kenneth Gear’s purchase of the William Steventon estate, but it also includes audio files, photo scans and movie files. Virtually all the Railroad Record Club archive is gathered in one place!
$10 from the sale of each RRC E-Book will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.
Now Available on Compact Disc:
Railroad Record Club #08 Deluxe Edition: Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, Recorded by Elwin Purington
The Complete Recording From the Original Master Tapes
Kenneth Gear‘s doggedness and determination resulted in his tracking down and purchasing the surviving RRC master tapes a few years back, and he has been hard at work having them digitized, at considerable personal expense, so that you and many others can enjoy them with today’s technology. We have already released a few RRC Rarities CDs from Ken’s collection.
When Ken heard the digitized version of RRC LP #08, Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, recorded by the late Elwin Purington, he was surprised to find the original tapes were more than twice the length of the 10″ LP. The resulting LP had been considerably edited down to the limited space available, 15 minutes per side.
The scenes were the same, but each was greatly shortened. Now, on compact disc, it is possible to present the full length recordings of this classic LP, which was one of Steventon’s best sellers and an all-around favorite, for the very first time.
Canadian National. Steaming giants pound high iron on mountain trails, rumble over trestles, hit torpedos and whistle for many road crossings. Mountain railroading with heavy power and lingering whistles! Includes locomotives 3566, 4301, 6013, 3560.
Total time – 72:57
$5 from the sale of RRC08D CD will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.
Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation
We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
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A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
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14 thoughts on “Twilight Time”
The slide of the Prudential Building is scanned backwards. Some great photos in this collection!
Fixed… actually, both skyline shots were reversed. These weren’t slides, but negatives, and sometimes it is difficult to figure out which end is which, thanks.
The two Marmon shots near the end are both at Roosevelt and Kedzie, 9521 is EB on Roosevelt, 9448 is SB on Kedzie. 9510 is SB on California at North.
9521 EB on Roosevelt at Kedzie
9448 SB on Kedzie at Roosevelt
9510 SB on California at North
Re photo aac124, where did eastbound CA&E freight service terminate — at Laramie yard? I doubt that heavy freight trains were run on the Garfield Park L structure, but there had to be somewhere in the city where freights were loaded and unloaded.
I don’t think the CA&E had any freight customers east of DesPlaines Avenue, for the simple reason that, between there and Laramie Avenue, their tracks ran parallel to B&OCT’s. CA&E could serve Commonwealth Edison, just east of First Avenue, but I think that is as far as their freight operations went. Any customers east of there were serviced via B&OCT tracks. The Ferrara Pan Candy Company still receives deliveries that way.
aab787 – I think it’s worth mentioning, though it’s obvious given the address on the building, that it’s at the old Reservoir Carhouse.
aab774 – Also worth mentioning that 396 is currently on display at the Seashore Trolley Museum in restored condition, after having been used for movies twice in the 60s.
aab765 – I am almost certain the picture was taken at Packard’s Corner (Commonwealth @ Brighton), today on the B, and not on the Beacon street (C) line. This is since the streets line up with what they would be for Packard’s, and there’s a junction visible, which I assume would be with the Watertown (A) line. Also, the C is completely straight on its surface section. Additionally, by the time PCCs were in use, the line on had no junctions between Kenmore and Cleveland, and this is visibly neither of them.
Thanks for the info and corrections.
Excellent post, David. It’s always fascinating to see new-discovered CA&E images. As a bonus, my dad was a Buick man for many years, so it was great to see several models we owned when I was a kid – the ’54 Buick Special and the early 60s LeSabre to name just two.
It’s great to see the old stuff, but I am frustrated that it takes so long to get rail even where it has been promised. I will give kudos to Amtrak in Kankakee County, though. I know of at least 2 trains, but I have heard of about five. However, Metra has had the right to send trains down here for about 10 years, but it’s neverbeen funded.
Those circa 1966 photos of trolley buses 9221 and 9510 also contain partial views of two long-gone Humboldt Park neighborhood landmarks: the Spotless Dairy Bar at North and Mozart and the classic three-story Schlitz “tied house” tavern at North and California.
The Schlitz tavern in the trolley 9510 scene was built in 1890 at a time when large breweries were building and operating saloons on choice corner lots all over Chicago. This structure had a tall and elaborate turret with an adjacent Schlitz rooftop globe logo on its North Avenue facade. Half the globe as well as the base of the turret are visible at the top left of this photo. Local landmark or not, this distinctive structure either was demolished or fell victim to fire sometime in the mid-1970s, years before it might have been saved by preservationists.
Meanwhile, the Spotless Dairy Bar shows up in the background of the second photo, just to the right of trolley 9221. The dairy’s two-story building previously had been occupied by a Ford dealer. Spotless opened in the late 1940s to become an important destination for families visiting Humboldt Park, the Crystal movie theater, or any of the doctors’ and dentists’ offices located above Walgreens or the Humboldt Building on the east side of California Avenue. FWIW, the 1969 Chicago phone directory lists Spotless Dairy at a new address: 3149 N. Austin Ave. The dairy’s North Avenue building was demolished sometime in the last 53 years, maybe as early as 1970. A Burger King and giant parking lot now occupy the site.
In any case, these photos are among the many that make this website a tremendous resource for anyone interested in 20th Century Chicago. Many thanks for posting them!
Strongly disagree with the location above for the Boston picture-window PCC. It is at Cleveland Circle, not Packard’s Corner and the cars are preparing to turn into the Reservoir carhouse yard. The buildings in the background are apartments while Packard’s Corner has larger, multistore commercial buildings.