Robert Heinlein volunteered at the Illinois Railway Museum for many years.
Robert Heinlein, one of the giants in the railfan community, passed away on April 30, 2023, at the age of 84. You can read his obituary here.
Bob Heinlein was very knowledgeable, always cheerful, and continually went out of his way to share what he had learned to help others. He will be sorely missed.
Mr. Heinlein was a contributor to Central Electric Railfans’ Association Bulletin B-146, Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, of which I was a co-author. Unfortunately, he was not properly credited for several of his photographs, which were mistakenly attributed to the late Charles L. Tauscher (who was also an excellent photographer).
My co-author, the late Jeff Wien used twelve duplicate slides he had obtained in 1959 for the book, including the image on the cover. He was under the impression he had gotten these from Tauscher, but they were actually photos taken by Bob Heinlein. After the book was published, Bob informed Jeff of the error and loaned him the original slides, which I scanned. These images appeared in our previous post Loose Ends (February 2, 2021) with proper attribution.
Some of Mr. Heinlein’s images also appeared in my book The North Shore Line, which appeared earlier this year. Fortunately, he did see the book and I am told he enjoyed it.
The last time I met Mr. Heinlein was about a year ago, when I happened to run into him and his family by chance at the East Troy Railroad Museum. He was enjoying a ride on one of their restored trolley cars, and remarked how it would have been even more fun if they were running on the “L” twenty feet off the ground. That is how I would like to remember him.
He was an excellent photographer, going back to the early 1950s. In this post, we are sharing some of his own work, and other pictures from his vast collection, as a way of offering our condolences to his family, and as a tribute to the memory of a life well lived. We thank his son Kevin Heinlein for sharing these pictures with our readers.
I also would like to thank everyone who attended our recent program for my book The North Shore Line at Union Station on May 19th for the Railroad and Shortlines Club of Chicago.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
PS- You might also like our Trolley Dodger Facebook auxiliary, a private group that now has 1,205 members.
Our friend Kenneth Gear 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.
FYI, the Hoosier Traction Facebook Group celebrates electric transit in Indiana and the Midwest. It also supports the activities of the annual Hoosier Traction Meet (although not affiliated with the North American Transit Historical Society, which organizes that event).
On June 21, 1958, the Chicago Transit Authority offered free rides between Halsted Street and Cicero Avenue on its new rapid transit line in the median of the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway. Robert Heinlein, then 20 years old, was working in the Public Information department and helps pass out literature. The new line opened the next day, replacing the Garfield Park “L”. This picture appeared in the July 1958 issue of the CTA Transit News, an employee publication.
CTA 7163 is southbound at Clark, Halsted, and Barry in July 1957. A version of this photo, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 170 of B-146, mistakenly credited to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7162 is southbound on Clark Street at LaSalle Drive in September 1957. A version of this photo, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 177 of B-146, mistakenly credited to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7171 is northbound on Clark Street, passing Wrigley Field. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7138 at Schreiber and Ravenswood, near Devon Station. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7192 at Kinzie and Dearborn in 1957. The yellow car behind the PCC, while commonly considered a Packard, is technically a 1956 Clipper Constellation hardtop, made by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7193 is northbound on Clark, just north of Ridge, at around 5961 N. Clark in July 1957. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, was incorrectly credited to Charles L. Tauscher on page 158 of B-146. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7151 is southbound at Clark Street and Chicago Avenue, passing by what is now the former Cosmopolitan Bank Building, designed by the firm of Schmidt, Garden & Martin and built in 1920. The northern portion of the building was a 1930 addition, and was redone in 1995, in a style matching the original portion. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7180 is southbound on Clark Street, passing by the coal company that was once located next to Wrigley Field. You get a good view of the Milwaukee Road freight tracks, since abandoned, that headed north of here. This was once part of a line that offered commuter rail service on the north side. The portion north of Wilson Avenue was taken over by the “L” in the early 1900s. Originally known as the Evanston Extension, it was gradually elevated as well. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7214 heads south on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. Since the Cubs were in the middle of a home stand, the date may very well have been September 4, 1957. The Cubbies would lose two of their three next games to the Cincinnati Redlegs (“Reds” was apparently too sensitive a name politically then) on their way to finishing the season with a record of 62 wins, 92 losses, and 2 ties. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7191 passing by Wrigley Field. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7189 is southbound on Clark Street just south of Irving Park Road in July 1957. The Wunders Cemetery is at right. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 165 of B-146, where it is incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7190 at Clark and Seminary by Wrigley Field in July 1957. The “coke” advertised here wasn’t Coca-Cola, but coal, used for heating homes and businesses then, but phased out soon afterwards. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 167 of B-146, incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7178 heads south on Clark Street near Wrigley Field in September 1957. The Milwaukee Road railroad tracks running by the ballpark were used for freight and connected with the CTA “L” just north of Irving Park Road. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 166 of B-146, where it is incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7190 heads south on State Street, crossing the Chicago River. Work on the new Chicago Sun-Times building is well underway. It opened in 1958. The following years, Field Enterprises bought the Daily News, and this building became its headquarters as well. It is now the site of the Trump International Hotel and Tower. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7200 is turning south from Devon onto Broadway in 1957. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
In September 1957, CTA PCCs 7220 and 7211 pass each other on Clark Street at Delaware near the Newberry Library and Washington Square Park, also known locally as “Bughouse Square.” A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 181 of B-146, mistakenly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7156 heads south on Broadway at Lawrence in Uptown on February 15, 1957, the last day of streetcar service on Broadway. The film Giant, starring James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor, opened in the US on November 24, 1956, and was playing at the Uptown. You can see the Green Mill lounge a bit south of the Uptown. The Riviera Theater would be just out of view to the left here. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 244 of B-146, mistakenly credited to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7164 is northbound on Clark at Addison in July 1957, crossing the Milwaukee Road tracks near Wrigley Field. A version of this photo, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 166 of B-146, incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7222 by Wrigley Field (Clark and Addison) in July 1957. This picture appears twice in CERA B-146, on the cover and on pages 134 and 167, taken from a duplicate slide. On page 167, it is incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. This is the original Red Border Kodachrome. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7149, signed for Clark and Schreiber (Devon Station). Note that the route number is 22 with a red slash through it. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7211, still in its original paint scheme, heads south at Clark Street and Irving Park Road in September 1957, near the entrance to Graceland Cemetery. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 164 of B-146, where it was incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
In September 1957, CTA 7160 passes by the Rainbo building at left, located in the 4800 block of north Clark Street. A skating rink opened there that year. To the right, you see St. Boniface Catholic Cemetery. We are looking north. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 162 of B-146, where it was incorrectly credited to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
Although signed for the south portion of Route 36, which was replaced by buses in December 1955, PCC 4406 is actually on Clark and 16th Streets. Since 4406 was used (along with red car 225) on a fantrip on October 21, 1956, my guess is this picture was taken on that day. It was common practice to put incorrect signs up on trips, although on most of the pictures I have seen from that trip, it says “Chartered.” (Robert Heinlein Photo)
Wouldn’t you just know it? Without even realizing it I am sure, someone walked right into Bob Heinlein’s shot in this September 1957 view of CTA PCC 4390 (which would end up being one of the last cars used in June 1958). What to do, but wait for another car to come along, and take another picture (see Heinlein008).
Chicago Aurora and Elgin cars 413 and 453 are looping at the DesPlaines Avenue Terminal, sometime between 1953 and 1957. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
We are looking west from the Wells Street Terminal towards the dual bridges over the Chicago River. (Robert Heinlein Collection)
Trackwork near the Met bridge was somewhat complex. Tracks to the right fanned out, leading to the Wells Street Terminal. The tracks at left connected to the Loop “L” via Van Buren Street. (Robert Heinlein Collection)
This is the only photo I have seen that shows the interior of the Met bridge interlocking tower. (Robert Heinlein Collection)
This was scanned from an original North Shore Line 8×10″ nitrate negative, taken circa 1930. Determining the location presented many challenges, yet this has now been determined with the aid of other fans. The car is 714, and it is signed as a Chicago Local on the Shore Line Route. Since the North Shore tracks are not adjacent to the Chicago and North Western, we must be north of North Chicago Junction. We cannot be south of Highland Park, as there is freight present here. A sign on the high-level platform indicates that freight trains have to come to a stop, most likely to make sure part of the platform gets flipped up for the sake of clearances. A similar arrangement existed at high-level stations of the Chicago Aurora and Elgin. As all the Shore Line tracks in Waukegan ran on the street, that pretty much narrows it down to North Chicago. The Thomas J. Killian Plumbing Supply company building at left clinches it, and the location is between 16th and 17th Streets, looking north. The Chicago and North Western’s tracks were a short distance east of here, to the right out of view of this photo. (Robert Heinlein Collection)
This was also scanned from an original North Shore Line 8×10″ nitrate negative, taken at the same time as the previous photo and shows a slightly different view of the same scene. (Robert Heinlein Collection)
The North Shore Line grade crossing at Taylor Avenue in Racine, WI on December 16, 1931. You can see the shadow of the photographer, his view camera, and an assistant. This was scanned from the original 8×10″ negative. (NSL Photo, Robert D. Heinlein Collection)
The view of the North Shore Line tracks, looking south towards 21st Street in Racine, WI on March 11, 1930. Scanned from the original 8×10″ negative. (NSL Photo, Robert D. Heinlein Collection)
A view of the North Shore Line tracks looking north along the Skokie Valley Route near 16th Street in North Chicago on March 22, 1934. Scanned from the original 8×10″ negative. (NSL Photo, Robert D. Heinlein Collection)
The number 4391, in railfan circles, is most widely known as that of the only surviving postwar Chicago PCC streetcar. But this is a different 4391, namely a Chicago Rapid Transit Company “L” car, built circa 1923-24. We see the interior, complete with ads for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Bayer Aspirin, as it looked on May 27, 1937. Scanned from the original 8×10″ negative. (CRT Photo, Robert D. Heinlein Collection)
The view looking northeast along Lawrence Avenue (4800 N.) at Kimball Avenue (3400 W.) on January 28, 1929, in the Albany Park neighborhood. The Chicago Rapid Transit Company’s Ravenswood “L” Terminal is at right. The Terminal Theater, seen in the distance, was located at 3315 W. Lawrence, and had 2,389 seats. Presumably it took its name from the nearby “L” terminal. It was built by the Ascher Brothers chain and opened on January 7, 1926. It eventually became part of the Balaban and Katz chain, and closed on April 18, 1963. It was also known as the New Terminal, as it had replaced a smaller Terminal Theater nearby, built in 1915. Scanned from the original 8×10″ negative. (CRT Photo, Robert D. Heinlein collection)
It’s not clear exactly where this early 1900s photo was taken, but Greenwood, Franklin, Edinburgh, Columbus, and Seymour are all Indiana communities, located south of Indianapolis. Presumably the interurban shown was the Indiana Public Service, a predecessor of the Indiana Railroad, formed by Samuel Insull in 1930, combining five electric railways. (Robert D. Heinlein Collection)
North Shore Line coach 178 at the Highwood Shops in the mid-1950s. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
North Shore Line car 169 is northbound at the Wilmette station in the early-to-mid 1950s. This is now the site of a Panera parking lot. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
North Shore Line cars 154, 190, and 155 are stopped by the Lake Forest station on July 24, 1955. This was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip just prior to the abandonment of the Shore Line Route. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
This, and the following photo, were taken at the Mundelein Terminal in December 1960, showing different views of a two-car Skokie Valley Route train with 701 and 719. (Robert D. Heinlein Collection)
A northbound two-car North Shore Line train at Kenosha, WI in December 1960. (Robert D. Heinlein Collection)
North Shore Line 724 heads up a two-car train at 5th Street and Harrison Avenue in Milwaukee on September 24, 1961. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
North Shore Line 772 is a southbound Chicago Express on June 9, 1955, on a short stretch of street running in Highland Park. Service on the Shore Line Route would end about six weeks later. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
On July 10, 1955, North Shore Line car 409 is at the north end of the Shore Line Route, on the border between North Chicago and Waukegan. This car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Service on the Shore Line Route ended about two weeks after this picture was taken. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Family was very important to Robert Heinlein, and often accompanied him on his railroad excursions. Here, his young daughter Donna poses for him on a North Shore coach at the Mundelein Terminal on December 1, 1962.
Although this photo has motion blur, it does help identify the location of the next picture, taken right after it. North Shore car 163 is at the front of a two-car train in Kenilworth, about a block north of the historic fountain designed by George W. Maher. It is leaving street running and entering private right-of-way where it will run parallel to the Chicago and North Western. (Robert D. Heinlein Photos)
North Shore Line Silverliner 756 is on the Skokie Valley Route, but where? The Kutten Oil Company was located at 3510 Wilmette Avenue in Wilmette, near Glenview. Robert D. Heinlein took this picture on September 1, 1958.
Knollwood was a stop along the Libertyville-Mundelein branch, named for a nearby farm. This is in an unincorporated area of Lake County, just west of Lake Bluff, at the intersection of Waukegan Road and Rockland Road. The train, which includes car 712, is heading east. The popular Silo restaurant is not too far east of here in Lake Bluff. Photographer Robert D. Heinlein captured this view on June 17, 1962.
The same location today.
This slide was taken early in the morning, and had to be lightened considerably. It was dated January 21, 1963 on the mount, but may actually have been taken on the 20th (the film was not processed until the following month). As such it was one of the final opportunities to shoot an Electroliner at the Milwaukee Terminal, which prompted one fan to jump into the inspection pit for his shot. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
This slide, showing a southbound North Shore Line Electroliner at speed, was marked as having been taken January 21, 1963 at Washington Street in Waukegan. That would place it after the abandonment the night before, but it seems likely to have been taken on the last full day prior to the shutdown, January 20th. Research shows the two Electroliners were moved back to the Highwood Shops one last time at night. Since this roll of film was not developed until the following month, the date was stamped on the slide mount some time after the fact. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
North Shore Line 747 is at the head of a train at Lake Bluff, signed as a Skokie Valley Route Chicago Limited. This slide was marked January 21, 1963, but is more likely to have been taken the day before. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Illinois Terminal car 285 is on the last trip at Champaign, IL on June 11, 1955. Don’s Rail Photos (via Archive.org): “285 was built by St Louis Car in 1914. It was rebuilt as a parlor car in 1924 and restored as a coach in December 1928. It was air conditioned in August 1938 and (received) new seating in December 1952. It was sold for scrap to Hyman Michaels Co. on May 16, 1956.” (John F. Humiston Photo, Robert D. Heinlein Collection)
Illinois Terminal 285 is at Cerro Gordo, IL on its last trip prior to abandonment of this interurban route on June 11, 1955. For the occasion, locals dressed up in turn-of-the-century costumes. Some of the riders may have been old enough to remember when interurban service began here. (John F. Humiston Photo, Robert Heinlein Collection)
Illinois Terminal 285 is at Champaign, IL on its last trip on June 11, 1955. (John F. Humiston Photo, Robert Heinlein Collection)
This and the next picture: The Elgin and Belvidere Electric Company interurban operated from 1907 to 1930, connecting those two cities. It was extended to Rockford in 1927 but fell victim to the Great Depression and the rise of the automobile. When the Illinois Railway Museum (originally based in North Chicago) needed a new home in the early 1960s, they based their new main line on this former interurban right-of-way (and were able to purchase most, but not all of it by paying the back taxes). Amazingly, one of the original Elgin and Belvidere motormen lived long enough to operate a trolley at IRM. (Robert D. Heinlein Collection)
Work is underway erecting trolley poles at the Illinois Railway Museum site in Union. The time frame here could date from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Former North Shore Line line car 604 at work one wintry day at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Indiana Railroad high-speed lightweight interurban car 65 at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Two trains running at the Illinois Railway Museum, circa 1971. At left, North Shore Line cars 160 and 714. The steam loco at right is labeled Tuskegee, but I am not sure if this is the Tuskegee Railroad 101 in the museum’s collection. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Bob Heinlein and his brother Don at East Troy in May 2022.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
The North Shore Line
FYI, my new Arcadia Publishing book The North Shore Line is now available for immediate shipment. My publisher decided to expand it to 160 pages, instead of the usual 128. That’s a 25% increase, without any change to the $23.99 price. I am quite pleased with how this turned out.
From the back cover:
As late as 1963, it was possible to board high-speed electric trains on Chicago’s famous Loop “L” that ran 90 miles north to Milwaukee. This was the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad, commonly known as the North Shore Line. It rose from humble origins in the 1890s as a local streetcar line in Waukegan to eventually become America’s fastest interurban under the visionary management of Midwest utilities tycoon Samuel Insull. The North Shore Line, under Insull, became a worthy competitor to the established steam railroads. Hobbled by the Great Depression, the road fought back in 1941 with two streamlined, air-conditioned, articulated trains called Electroliners, which included dining service. It regained its popularity during World War II, when gasoline and tires were rationed, but eventually, it fell victim to highways and the automobile. The North Shore Line had intercity rail, commuter rail, electric freight, city streetcars, and even buses. It has been gone for nearly 60 years, but it will always remain the Road of Service.
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus North Shore Line map. Books will ship by USPS Media Mail.
02. The Milwaukee Division
03. The Shore Line Route
04. The Skokie Valley Route
05. The Mundelein Branch
06. On the “L”
07. City Streetcars
08. Trolley Freight
09. The Long Goodbye
10. The Legacy
Title The North Shore Line
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2023
ISBN 1467108960, 978-1467108966
Length 160 pages
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
New Compact Disc, Now Available:
The Last Chicago Streetcars 1958
# of Discs – 1
Until now, it seemed as though audio recordings of Chicago streetcars were practically non-existent. For whatever reason, the late William A. Steventon does not appear to have made any for his Railroad Record Club, even though he did make other recordings in the Chicago area in 1956.
Now, audio recordings of the last runs of Chicago streetcars have been found, in the collections of the late Jeffrey L. Wien (who was one of the riders on that last car). We do not know who made these recordings, but this must have been done using a portable reel-to-reel machine.
These important recordings will finally fill a gap in transit history. The last Chicago Transit Authority streetcar finished its run in the early hours of June 21, 1958. Now you can experience these events just as Chicagoans did.
As a bonus, we have included Keeping Pace, a 1939 Chicago Surface Lines employee training program. This was digitally transferred from an original 16” transcription disc. These recordings were unheard for 80 years.
Total time – 74:38
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