Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt, Part 2

1 Selection of Steventon tapes mostly unreleased

1 Selection of Steventon tapes mostly unreleased

Following up on our recent post William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club (September 24, 2018), guest author Kenneth Gear continues with a detailed rundown on his latest discoveries.

I have been interested in historic preservation for a long time, and it’s not every day that anyone comes across original material such as this. Suddenly, out of nowhere it seems, previously unknown, unissued audio recordings have emerged for some long-vanished steam and electric railroads, along with 16mm motion picture film, and various artifacts related to the Railroad Record Club’s 42 issued LPs, in their various forms. It seems like a miracle that somehow, it all survived to be rescued from oblivion.

Getting this done involved a tremendous financial sacrifice on Ken’s part, as he is of modest means. I hope that he will be able to recoup at least some of his substantial investment in the future. I am sure he will appreciate any contributions you may be able to offer him, towards the cost of transferring some of these reel-to-reel tapes and 16mm movie films to digital.

You can find Part 1 here: Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt (July 30, 2017)

-David Sadowski

PS- Our new book Building Chicago’s Subways is now available for immediate shipment.  If you already pre-ordered it, your copy is already on its way to you.  We are excited to have had the opportunity to tell the story of this exciting chapter in Chicago history.  Details on how to order are at the end of this post.

Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt, Part 2

It’s been over a year since I acquired a large portion of the William Steventon estate. The Railroad Record Club items that I purchased last year have enabled David and I to piece together a fairly complete history of the RRC and to more fully appreciate the time and effort Mr. Steventon put into producing these records. The homemade 78rpm records alone proved to be an invaluable resource. Not only did they provide us with some wonderful recordings, most of which hadn’t been heard in over fifty years, they revealed the pre-history of the club and offered a glimpse into the infancy of railroad field recording.

We were able to hear the very first railroad recording Steventon made– B&O trains at Riverdale, Maryland in 1953. We also finally completed our quest to get a copy of every single released RRC record digitized and put on CDs. We are now only in need of two samplers, the 5th and 6th years. More interesting information was garnered from examining original record jacket artwork and paste up boards, as well as the metal print blocks. We were also able to compile a list of records re-issued on 12″ stock and find out what was necessary for it to happen and the cost of doing it.

Photographs from his personal collection were scanned and published in the Trolley Dodger for all to enjoy. I think the effort that went into keeping all this material from ending up in a dumpster was well worth the time and expense and I’m happy to have been involved.

In spite of this, I knew the job was only half finished. There was much more that needed to be saved and time was running out. Those tapes I wrote about under the heading “what I left behind” in the first treasure hunt story needed to be preserved. There were still a big box of photos, reams of correspondence, the metal master discs for the 12″ reissues and lots and lots of sealed records.

The estate dealer was quite adamant that this stuff had to go…and quickly! I purchased all that I could, but I certainly could not afford to buy anything else and asked for some time to raise the money. As I tried to come up with the extra cash needed, months went by and the emails ceased. For a while it seemed that all this great material would be lost. Still, I squirreled away what money I could when I could and slowly, much too slowly, I approached his asking price. With the funds in hand, I emailed the estate dealer putting in the subject line that I HAD the money for the remaining Steventon estate items. Even as I composed that email I couldn’t be sure that the entire lot wasn’t already in some land fill rotting away. He answered me the next day, but it seemed a lot longer then that to me. His first two sentences were a relief:  

Ken, good to hear from you.  Yes, it is all as we left it a year ago.

There was one complication that needed to be addressed. I could not make the trip up to him in Wisconsin this year as I had done before. All the items would have to be shipped to me in New Jersey.

The estate dealer was agreeable to packing up the items and doing the weighing and making the transportation arrangements, but again there was a complication. This was his busy season and he would be working extensively out of town.  He would not be able to devote much time to this effort for the next few weeks. A little progress was made here and there through the rest of June and I purchased boxes and packing material in July. I was a little apprehensive about shipping old open reel tapes and vinyl records during the hottest part of the summer anyway, so I just had to be patient. In early August progress was made and on the 13th I received the long-awaited email:

The last box is packed.  You’ll have a pallet coming that’s right around 400 pounds, perhaps a touch over.  Nine boxes to be delivered to the YRC terminal. 

Several more delays would still be encountered, not the lest of which was the local hardware store’s forklift needing repairs. The hardware store, for a $20 fee, would be used to lift the pallet onto the truck. At last, in early September, with all hurdles cleared, a newly-repaired forklift placed the shipment on to the truck. Finally, the second half of the Steventon estate’s Railroad Record Club items were on their way to me.

A few days later I heading to the local YRC terminal to receive the long-awaited shipment. After some paperwork in the office, I backed a borrowed ¾-ton pick-up truck to the indicated bay. Soon a forklift lowered the last of the Railroad Record Club items from the Steventon estate into the truck bed. I now had a night of treasure hunting to look forward to!

I had sort of “cherry picked” the first half of the estate, so I knew that a great unexpected find was rather doubtful, but I did come across a few surprises.

THE TAPES

2 Tapes appear to be in good condition

2 Tapes appear to be in good condition

3 Tape with hand written track listing

3 Tape with hand written track listing

4 More unreleased Steventon audio

4 More unreleased Steventon audio

5 Lots of interesting material on these tapes

5 Lots of interesting material on these tapes

6 Still more intersting tapes

6 Still more intersting tapes

7 Unreleased audio this is why I bought the whole lot

7 Unreleased audio this is why I bought the whole lot

8 Steventon tapes

8 Steventon tapes

9 More Stevnton tapes

9 More Stevnton tapes

10 Even more tapes

10 Even more tapes

11 Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records

11 Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records

12 Another view of the Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records

12 Another view of the Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records

13 A box full of the Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records

13 A box full of the Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records

14 Close up of the 78rpm record master tapes

14 Close up of the 78rpm record master tapes

15 Another Close up of the 78rpm record master tapes

15 Another Close up of the 78rpm record master tapes

16 78rpm master tapes showing condition of tapes-not too bad

16 78rpm master tapes showing condition of tapes-not too bad

17 close up of 78rpm master tape showing condition

17 close up of 78rpm master tape showing condition

18 BC Electric and Montreal & South Counties tapes with Steventon letter

18 BC Electric and Montreal & South Counties tapes with Steventon letter

19 Montreal & South Counties tape with Steventon letter

19 Montreal & South Counties tape with Steventon letter

20 BC Electric tape with Steventon letter

20 BC Electric tape with Steventon letter

21 Close up of the BC Electric and Montreal & South Counties tapes

21 Close up of the BC Electric and Montreal & South Counties tapes

22 Railroad Record Club Master tapes

22 Railroad Record Club Master tapes

23 Master tape for record 26

23 Master tape for record 26

24 A stack of 22 Railroad Record Club Master tapes

24 A stack of 22 Railroad Record Club Master tapes

25 master tape Railroad Record Club number 16

25 master tape Railroad Record Club number 16

26 master tape Railroad Record Club number 15

26 master tape Railroad Record Club number 15

27 master tape Railroad Record Club with memo

27 master tape Railroad Record Club with memo

28 master tape Railroad Record Club number 17

28 master tape Railroad Record Club number 17

29 master tape Railroad Record Club number 18

29 master tape Railroad Record Club number 18

30 Note on box containing master tape Railroad Record Club number 18

30 Note on box containing master tape Railroad Record Club number 18

31 Two master tapes for record number 3

31 Two master tapes for record number 3

32 Two master tapes for record number 3 showing condition

32 Two master tapes for record number 3 showing condition

33 master tape Railroad Record Club number 7

33 master tape Railroad Record Club number 7

34 master tapes Railroad Record Club number 10

34 master tapes Railroad Record Club number 10

35 master tape Railroad Record Club number 23 with memo

35 master tape Railroad Record Club number 23 with memo

36 master tape Railroad Record Club number 17

36 master tape Railroad Record Club number 17

The reel to reel tapes that I had left behind last year were the real reason I went to all this trouble and expense to acquire the rest of the estate. I’m sure I did not get any of the tapes that were actually in Steventon’s recorder when he was trackside, but they may no longer exist. Perhaps he transferred these “field tapes” to newer tape stock, in an effort to preserve them and some of these duplicates are what I received. There is at least one recording I know he made that is not among my tapes. In the liner notes of Record Number 20, Steventon writes that the cab ride onboard NYC # 1441 with his father at the throttle was edited down from over two hours of tape. I would have been very happy to find 4 or 5 reels of tape marked “cab ride with Dad” but it was not to be. What I did find, however, is some very good and interesting stuff, most of which has never been released on a Railroad Record Club LP.

One tape that was a bit of a surprise was a 4″ reel of tape marked NYS&W. Of all the railroads in the New York area, why the Susquehanna? If he recorded this tape while in New York to ride and record the Queensboro Bridge trolley, which had to be prior to April 1957 when that line shut down, then why not record PRR K-4s on the New York & Long Branch which lasted until October of that year? Or all those electric locomotives on the NYC and NYNH&H? Perhaps he did record some or all these railroads and I just don’t have the tapes. Anything is possible, but I have found no evidence that he ever did. I’ll just have to wait until I have the NYS&W tape put on CD to find out just what the attraction may have been.

Other interesting finds include three 5″ reels of a fan trip operated by the Northern Pacific Railroad on June 20, 1957. 4-8-4 # 2686 pulled the train from St. Paul, MN to Staples. One tape is labeled “NP 2686-LV MPLS,” the second NP 2686 coal dock stop,” and the last, “NP 2686 LV Staples.” There was also a negative of the NP 2686 at Staples found among the photographs. Other steam and/or diesel tapes are labeled “CPR,” “NKP Ft. Wayne,” “N&W,” and “Soo Line.”

The traction fans among us will be happy to know there is plenty for them. The CNS&M has several tapes devoted to it. One tape is marked “CNS&M switching at Rondout and Mundelein”. There is a cut on Record 26 of locomotive # 459 switching at Rondout, but not at Mundelein. Another North Shore tape is marked “Mundelein Run” and another simply ” Mundelein”. One more CNS&M tape has “Electroliner” written on the box.

There is a tape marked “ITS 202”, apparently Steventon preferred Illinois Traction System to Illinois Terminal. On Record 25 Steventon wrote in the liner notes, “We had just arrived (at Harristown, IL) on interurban No. 202 where we had made an “on train” recording east from Springfield. We alighted and watched the 202 fade into the distance. This was the last sight and sound we had of the Illinois Terminal as an interurban. The “on train” recording of 202 and a streamliner is scheduled for release at a later date.” It never was. I don’t know about the streamliner recording, I may or may not have it, but I will consider it a privilege to be involved with releasing the 202 recording for him.

There are also tapes of the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City (CRANDIC), Charles City Western, Toledo & Eastern, and Capital Transit. Canadian traction fans are not overlooked either. There is a 5″ reel of the Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. There are also two 5″ reels, one each, of the BC Electric and the Montreal & Southern Counties. These two tapes were recorded by Eugene Van Dusen, and the accompanying letter to Steventon, plus a copy of it sent to Elwin Purington, were found among some RRC papers I have. Another reel of tape not recorded by Steventon is “Cincinnati Street Railway Car 187 12/13/51.” Finding this was a nice surprise. I don’t know who did record it, but Steventon did not start making recordings until 1953.

Here is the entire list of the tape reels, excluding 21/2″ reels which I’ll list separately, and the master tapes for the LPs,

REEL TO REEL TAPES

INFORMATION MARKED ON TAPE BOXES

4″ reels:

1. NYS&W

5″ reels:

1. CPR-J. Van Brocklin
2. Soo Line
3. T&E NKP Diesel-NKP Ft. Wayne
4. N&W
5. N&W from Salem
6. N&W Billy + Larry on end
7. NP 2686 Lv Mpls-6/20/57
8. NP 2686 coal dock stop
9. NP 2686 Lv Staples
10. B. C. Electric
11. Montreal & Southern Counties
12. Potomac Edison #5
13. Potomac Edison H&F last run radio program
14. CNS&M -switching at Rondout and Mundelein
15. Mundelein Run
16. Capital Transit co 1151
17. ITS car 202
18. Cedar Rapids and Iowa City 5/31/53
19. CCW 5/18/54*
20. CCW CC to Colwell
21. Toledo & Eastern
22. PRR GG-1s

7″ reels:

1. Railroading in Spooner Wisconsin
2. CNS&M Electroliner
3. N. St. C & Toronto
4. Johnstown Traction and Altoona & Logan Valley
5. Cincinnati Street Railway car 187 12/13/51

The next bunch of tapes are smaller reels. These 21/2″ reels are in their original manufacture’s boxes and are marked only with a Railroad name and a catalog number. The catalog numbers correspond with the catalog numbers on the 10″ 78rpm acetate records that I acquired with the first half of the estate. As producing these records was a very time-consuming task, Steventon saved time by making a master tape for each record. The master tape would contain his spoken introductions followed by the train sounds. I bought over sixty of these small master tapes, and a large number have never been put on the regular Railroad Record Club releases. They contain sounds of railroads I was completely unaware Steventon ever recorded, such as L&N, Southern, and Virginian. This collection also contains the Queensboro Bridge trolley, the IND subway, and the Third Avenue EL recordings Steventon made in New York City.

21/2″ reels:

1. Potomac Edison, 4 reels
2. Shenandoah Central, 2 reels
3. Capital Transit, 3 reels
4. Altoona & Logan Valley, 2 reels
5. B&O, 9 reels
6. Shaker Heights RT, 3 reels
7. PRR, 5 reels
8. NKP, 1 reel
9. St. Louis PS, 1 reel
10. Illinois Terminal, 2 reels
11. ICRR 3 reels
12. N&W, 1 reel
13. WM Rwy, 1 reel
14. Baltimore Transit, 2 reels
15. Senate Subway, 1 reel
16. Scranton Transit, 1 reel
17. Rochester Subway, 1 reel
18. CB&Q, 2 reels
19. Niagara, St. C & T, 2 reels
20. Virginian, 2 reels
21. Southern, 2 reels
22. Queensboro Bridge, 2 reels
23. Wabash, 1 reel
24. Third Ave. EL, 2 reels
25. Soo Line, 5 reels
26. L&N, 2 reels
27. St. Elizabeth Hospital, 1 reel (used steam switcher to move coal hoppers)
28. Omaha Road, 1 reel
29. NYC IND Subway, 1 reel
30. Unidentified, 4 reels

This is not a complete set of all the master tapes made for the 78rpm records to be sure, but it’s most of them. I consider it a small miracle that any survive at all! I am not an audio expert, but in my opinion, uninformed as it may be, these tapes appear to be in reasonably good condition. I would think that the tapes would be able to withstand a few more plays, enough to be digitized at least. Neither David nor I have the equipment to attempt this and I think it would be ill advised of us to try anyway. The tapes are old and were not stored in archival conditions. I’m sure the prudent course of action is to entrust any work on them to a professional.

The last batch of tapes are the master tapes made for the released Railroad Record Club LPs. There are different size reels, some tapes are only of one side of the LP while others have both sides on the same reel. Some are in good condition and some are not. Some I have multiple copies of and a few of the LPs I have no tapes for, Rather then make a complete list of every reel I will simply list the few LPs I have NO master tapes for.

No master tapes:

RRC 21
RRC 24
RRC 29
RRC 31
RRC SP-2
RRC SP-4
RRC SP-6

Most of these reels are 7″ with only a few smaller or larger. The most interesting master tapes are the reels for RRC 3 EBT/D&RGW. There are two 7″ reels that most likely have the original release version of the record, the one with William Steventon’s narration. There are also two 5″ reels, one marked “sounds only” and the other labeled “Narrative.” Since Steventon removed his voice from the 12″reissue of the record, the “Narrative” tape must contain just the voice of Elwin Purington doing the new narration.

I’m not sure just what to do with these master tapes. Some are in rough shape and all these sounds are on the released Railroad Record Club LPs. It certainly would be a considerable expense to digitize them all and no new sounds would be gained. For now, I’ll store them in the best possible conditions that I can provide and perhaps one day a clear path of action will present itself.

MOVIE FILMS

1 Steventon Film that should be all trains

1 Steventon Film that should be all trains

2 Capital Transit B&W Night Film

2 Capital Transit B&W Night Film

3 Steventon film

3 Steventon film

4 Pennsy and B&O film

4 Pennsy and B&O film

5 Back of Kodachrome box

5 Back of Kodachrome box

6 Front of kodachrome box

6 Front of kodachrome box

I found several rolls of 16mm movie film within the boxes of audio tapes. Fortunately, Steventon was very good at labeling everything. He inserted little slips of paper into the film boxes listing the contents of the films. Unfortunately, the majority are family home movies. Most are of Steventon’s son Seth. His first day of school, Christmases, and birthday parties. There were six 100-foot reels that should be all trains.

16mm movies;

1. 100-foot reel but only about 50 feet of film. Labeled “Pennsy Fan Trip and B&O near Riverdale.”
2. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “Canada Term”. I’m not sure what that is supposed to indicate. I unspooled a few feet of film and the first few frames are without a doubt a steeple cab locomotive.
3. 100-foot reel, full, B&W, labeled “Cap Transit Night Film.”
4. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “EBT Reel 1.”
5. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “EBT Reel 2.”
6. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “Negative 1R Freight” Also written on box “bad footage.”

PRINT BLOCKS

1 Selection of print blocks

1 Selection of print blocks

2 More print blocks

2 More print blocks

3 Still more print blocks

3 Still more print blocks

4. Print block for very early RRC traction logo

4. Print block for very early RRC traction logo

5. Railroad Record Club logo print block

5. Railroad Record Club logo print block

6 Another style Railroad Record Club logo print block

6 Another style Railroad Record Club logo print block

7 Interurban car fron LP Sound Scrapbook-Traction

7 Interurban car fron LP Sound Scrapbook-Traction

8 Interurban car fron LP Sound Scrapbook-Traction in two sizes

8 Interurban car fron LP Sound Scrapbook-Traction in two sizes

9 PRR steamer from 1st edition of RRC 10 in two sizes

9 PRR steamer from 1st edition of RRC 10 in two sizes

10 D&RGW locomotive from the 1st edition of the LP the Siverton Train

10 D&RGW locomotive from the 1st edition of the LP the Siverton Train

11A Print block for NKP LP

11A Print block for NKP LP

12 Ad for RRC 25

12 Ad for RRC 25

13 Ad for RRC 25 reversed

13 Ad for RRC 25 reversed

14 Print block for large ad

14 Print block for large ad

15 Print block for large ad reversed

15 Print block for large ad reversed

16 Ad for traction watch fobs

16 Ad for traction watch fobs

17 Ad for steam LPs

17 Ad for steam LPs

18 Ad for steam LPs reversed

18 Ad for steam LPs reversed

19 Strange RRC ad

19 Strange RRC ad

20 Strange RRC ad printed version

20 Strange RRC ad printed version

I also acquired a good number of print blocks, which are mostly quite small and were used in the RRC advertisements.  I have a bunch of print blocks of the LP covers, all about the size of a postage stamp. They were used in ads and in the catalogs. There are a few complete ads that mostly feature a single record release. One large ad of interest is a very 1960’s, almost psychedelic illustration of a steam locomotive looming over a record player. Smoke is shooting from it’s stack and entwined within the billows of smoke are such things as a whistle blowing, a box cab electric locomotive, and a steam train. LPs are seen flying through the air and the words “steam and electric recordings” in twisted snake-like lettering fills the upper portion. Wild and unexpected. I would certainly like to know if this ad ever appeared anywhere in print.

I did not make a list of these small print blocks, there are just too many. I did photograph a representative selection of them. These photos will give a good idea of what is in the collection.

RECORDS

1 41 copies of RRC 3

1 41 copies of RRC 3

2 18 copies of RRC 5

2 18 copies of RRC 5

3 RCA test pressing for Sound Scrapbook Steam showing notation on upper left of sleeve

3 RCA test pressing for Sound Scrapbook Steam showing notation on upper left of sleeve

4 RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal one of only 3 good discs

4 RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal one of only 3 good discs

5 Back of RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal

5 Back of RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal

6 Close up of RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal

6 Close up of RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal

7 Close up of RCA test pressing for NKP

7 Close up of RCA test pressing for NKP

8 RCA test pressing for CN showing damage

8 RCA test pressing for CN showing damage

9 Metal press stamp

9 Metal press stamp

10 Metal press stamp with cardboard sleeve

10 Metal press stamp with cardboard sleeve

11 RRC Nashville Metal press stamp

11 RRC Nashville Metal press stamp

12 Metal press stamps in cardboard sleeves for RRC4 B&O

12 Metal press stamps in cardboard sleeves for RRC4 B&O

13 3 RRC Nashville Metal press stamps

13 3 RRC Nashville Metal press stamps

14 Metal press stamp for RRC LP

14 Metal press stamp for RRC LP

15 Railroad Record Club SP-4 boxes and sleeves

15 Railroad Record Club SP-4 boxes and sleeves

16 Record jackets for each of the 3 records in the SP-4 set

16 Record jackets for each of the 3 records in the SP-4 set

17 Label for 1st edition of record 1 side 1 of RRC-SP4

17 Label for 1st edition of record 1 side 1 of RRC-SP4

18 Label for 2nd edition of record 1 side 1 of RRC-SP4

18 Label for 2nd edition of record 1 side 1 of RRC-SP4

19 Label for 3rd edition of record 1 side 1 of RRC-SP4

19 Label for 3rd edition of record 1 side 1 of RRC-SP4

Since the estate dealer would only sell me the tapes unless I bought the entire lot, including the remainder of the RRC LP stock, I had no choice but to buy them. I’ll admit I would not have wanted to see all these mint condition, still sealed LPs go in the trash, but what am I going to do with them and where am I going to store them? These questions I’m still contemplating. However, these concerns are secondary to preserving and digitizing the tapes. I have a few options, I can rent a table at a few railroadiania swap meets, contact a few local hobby stores and see if they are willing to sell some, and David and I have been thinking of making them available through the blog.

I’ll have to carefully consider my options. It would be nice to make a little of my money back and put it towards digitizing tapes. For the record, here is a list of the 12″ remasters. They are all still sealed and, for the most part, in mint condition. A few may have a bend or crease in the jackets and a few copies of RRC 20 have brown water stains in the lower right corner.

12″ remaster LPs:

41 copies of RRC 3, EBT/D&RGW
18 copies of RRC 5, D7rgw
36 copies of RRC 8 CN
29 copies of RRC 3 15, CB&Q
34 copies of RRC 16, Westside Lumber
25 copies of RRC 20, NYC/C&IM (6 copies have water damage)
15 copies of RRC 26, CNS&M Freight
22 copies of RRC 29, NKP 779

Included with the unsold record stock were several mint copies of the original 10″ LPs:

10″ LPs:
1 copy RRC 2, WCF&N
1 copy RRC 4, B&O
2 copies of RRC 5, D&RGW
1 copy RRC 7, N&W
1 copy RRC 8, CN
1 copy RRC 10, PRR
1 copy RRC 16, Westside Lumber
1 copy RRC 17, Soo Line
1 copy RRC 19, DM&IR
1 copy RRC 20, NYC/C&IM
8 copies of RRC 28, Charles City Western
1 copy RRC 29, NKP 779
1 copy RRC SP-2 NP 2626

Twenty-four RCA test pressing were included in the sale, ten 12″ pressings and fourteen 10″. All these pressings are stamped on one side only and on the paper sleeve of two of the 12″ pressings there is a hand-written note: “Masters will be 12 inch”. This is the one rather disheartening part of the story. All but three of these test pressings are in very poor condition. The accrete has flaked off in large chips. When I removed the disc from the paper sleeve to determine its condition, a black snowfall often resulted. I’m not sure what to do with these, they are really just trash now. I will photograph the label of each one for my archive but after that, I just don’t know. The three good discs are two 12″ pressings for both sides of RRC 15, CB&Q. It’s lucky that the only undamaged 12″ RCA test pressings are for the two sides of the same record. The one good 10″ disc is for side 2 of RRC 25, Illinois Terminal.

The metal stamping plates vary in condition. I was able to inspect these plates while at the dealer’s property last July, so I knew what to expect. I turned them down last year to save my money for what I considered the good stuff, the artwork and 78rpm records. All the original RCA stamp plates were lost in 1973, necessitating the 12″ remaster program. These plates are the Nashville-made stamps made in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. As I remember it, all 17 master plates were in the dealer’s warehouse. I only looked at them briefly but the top few were scratched and dented. Now, if I wanted the tapes, I had to buy them. Here I did a little dealing. Since these plates were a bit heavier than the records and I was paying for shipment by the pound, I convinced the dealer to choose a few of the stamps that were in the best condition. Those in poor condition he would not charge me for and he could discard them. The archivist in me wanted to save them all, but compromises must occasionally be made.

In all I got twelve of these stamps, five are 14″ and 7 are 12″.

I ended up with a bunch of returned records as well. Numbering somewhere around fifteen or twenty, these records were returned by buyers dissatisfied with them.  Most of them have a note attached with the buyer’s name and his complaint. Things such as scratches, surface noise, and various clicks and pops were the most often cited reasons for the return.

An interesting find was various copies of the records that comprise the three-record set of SP-4. I was able to put together a set of each of the three pressings this set had. A surprise was a set of these records not in the display box that they came in, but in three separate record jackets. Each jacket had the same drawing of CSS&SB MU #108 that appeared on the box lid. Perhaps this was some sort of test printing or the original idea for the jackets. I may never know but I’m sure it is a unique set.

PHOTOGRAPHS

NP 4-8-4 2686

NP 4-8-4 2686

CA&E Elgin train on street in Aurora IL 1931

CA&E Elgin train on street in Aurora IL 1931

Capital Transit PCC and bus Catholic University

Capital Transit PCC and bus Catholic University

D&RGW 476 locomotive featured on SP-1

D&RGW 476 locomotive featured on SP-1

D&RGW 481

D&RGW 481

Des Moines & Central Iowa car 1710

Des Moines & Central Iowa car 1710

EBT 15 on a rainy day very likely while record 3 was being recorded

EBT 15 on a rainy day very likely while record 3 was being recorded

Evansville & Ohio Valley car 134

Evansville & Ohio Valley car 134

Ill Terminal car 285

Ill Terminal car 285

Ill Terminal local on Caldwell Hill East Pearia about 1936

Ill Terminal local on Caldwell Hill East Pearia about 1936

Indiana box car 550

Indiana box car 550

Indiana RR 752 waiting for loads at mine scale

Indiana RR 752 waiting for loads at mine scale

Indiana RR car 64

Indiana RR car 64

Indiana RR car 93 at Anderson IN September 4 1938

Indiana RR car 93 at Anderson IN September 4 1938

Indiana RR Vigo with rails ripped out.

Indiana RR Vigo with rails ripped out.

Interstate car 711 ex-IPSC 427 September 3 1939

Interstate car 711 ex-IPSC 427 September 3 1939

Interstate car 711 on shop siding west of Greencastle June 3 1939

Interstate car 711 on shop siding west of Greencastle June 3 1939

Interurban car 44 and REA truck Rosslyn VA

Interurban car 44 and REA truck Rosslyn VA

MC&CL RR car 34

MC&CL RR car 34

MC&CL Steeple cab 52

MC&CL Steeple cab 52

Nice right of way photo but no info other than date March 31 1936

Nice right of way photo but no info other than date March 31 1936

S T F Co RR 54 Farmington MO

S T F Co RR 54 Farmington MO

Unidentified car and person

Unidentified car and person

Unidentified steeple cab locomotive

Unidentified steeple cab locomotive

Unidentified steeple cab locomotive photo 2

Unidentified steeple cab locomotive photo 2

Waterloo Cedar Falls & Northern car 100 this car is featured on RRC 2

Waterloo Cedar Falls & Northern car 100 this car is featured on RRC 2

Here again I had to do a little dealing. I went quickly through the box of Steventon photos last year, choosing about 20 photos to purchase. The box contained a mix of railroad photos and family snap shots. The family photos outnumbered the trains. Again, I did not want to pay for, or have the added weight of photos that were just going to be tossed away. Steventon’s son was the one who sold all this family history in the first place, so I saw no reason to try and get it back to him. The dealer agreed to sort the photos and sell and ship only railroad photos. He would discard the unwanted photos.

In all there are 135 photos of railroad equipment, mostly traction subjects. Some have complete caption information, and some have nothing. There are 23 photos of active traction right-of-ways but no caption information. 24 photos of abandoned traction right-of-ways have no captions. I cannot be sure if it is a “before” and “after” series of 27 photos. I also received 11 steam negatives, the aforementioned NP 4-8-4 # 2686 (two almost identical shots at Staples, MN) and several D&RGW narrow gauge roster photos. There is one EBT negative and a shot of a steam tractor.  I haven’t had time to scan all of these photos yet, but they will appear in the Trolley Dodger as I do. For now, here are a few scans to whet your appetite.

DOCUMENTS

Stack of prints of Soo 2715

Stack of prints of Soo 2715

VHS VIDEO TAPES 

There was one last surprise waiting for me. There are eight VHS video tapes in the estate lot, seven of which were professionally produced programs of traction subjects, several of which Steventon provided audio for. One tape on a store-bought blank was labeled simply “Railroad Programs”. I thought it was most likely a tape of TV shows about trains, but I popped it in the player just to see. It turned out to be a recording of a presentation that Steventon made to a local historical society. The video quality is bad, but you can hear everything he says perfectly.

It’s all really basic stuff, what you would expect him to present to a general audience. Such things as the appeal of a steam locomotive, the nicknames of various railroad job positions like “Hogger” for engineer etc.  He then gets into the “sound portion” of his talk. He has a reel to reel tape player with him, and he explains the use of whistle signals and then plays a cut of a B&O EM-1 from Record number 4, noting the “two longs-a short-and another long” signal for a road crossing. He then goes into how a steam locomotive gains traction. Here he plays the sequence of SOO Line 2718 backing off the wye track from the intro record. He stops the tape at places to note the change in the locomotive’s sound and what that indicates to the engineer. Next, he talks about the use of torpedoes as a signaling device and plays a cut from Record number 8. He never says that these sounds are from his records. In fact, he never mentions that he ever sold records and the Railroad Record Club is not once referenced.

He eventually brings out a chart of steam locomotive wheel arrangements.  He walks out of frame with it, but you can still hear what he is saying. At some point someone thinks to pan the camera around, but the view is only the back of the chart!

By the time he finishes with the chart, the program has gone on for about 40 minutes. Now he introduces “Whistle ‘Round the Bend” and plays the entire record, all 30 minutes. While the camera never moves during this, and Steventon just sits there listening, it’s a bit of a poignant moment. The video quality, as I said, is poor, and he is in the center of a wide shot, but it’s still possible to see that he is moved by the words and sounds he his hearing.

While little information is given about how, where, or when the sounds he played were recorded a little more personal stuff is revealed. He tells of the day in 1936 that his mother died. His father was at work and needed to get home. The NYC put every opposing train on the siding and he had green signals the whole way. He also tells us that he was a sickly child and his father took him onboard the locomotive with him, even against the rules, because he wanted to spend time with him, and make William happy, as the doctors said he may not survive into adulthood.  With this video I was able to “know” William Steventon just a little bit better.

As I have these tapes put on to CD, they will be offered for sale in the online store. I bought these tapes not to just save them from destruction, but to have them made available to everyone who may be interested. I think that is perhaps the best way to ensure these historic sounds are preserved. Not just as a tribute to the people who recorded them who are now gone, but to ensure these sounds will endure to instruct and entertain future railfans long after we are gone too.

-Kenneth Gear

New Steam Audio CD:

FTS
Farewell To Steam
Mister D’s Machine
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.99

Farewell To Steam
On February 6, 1955 the Santa Fe Railway ran a railfan train from Los Angeles to Barstow and back for the Railway Club of Southern California. This was Santa Fe’s last run powered by a steam locomotive over this route. The engine was a 4-8-4, #3759. We have used the original, rare 1955 mono version of this recording, and not the later 1958 reissue that had a bunch of echo added to create a fake stereo effect.

Mister D’s Machine
When diesel locomotives replaced steam in the 1950s, they offered a multitude of different sounds. This original 1963 stereo recording showcases the many sounds of diesels on the San Joaquin and Los Angeles Divisions of the Southern Pacific, including the Tahachappi Loop, an engineering feat that made modern railroading famous.

As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.

Total time – 72:56

Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There are three subway anniversaries this year 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!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages

Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
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)

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

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William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club

William Steventon

William Steventon

Today’s post is the first of two by Kenneth Gear, long a friend of this blog. We have great news to report– Ken has finally been able to purchase all the remaining Railroad Record Club items from the dealer that purchased them many years ago from the estate of William A. Steventon, who died 25 years ago.

Ken details all that in another post, Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt, Part 2. These new discoveries have enabled him to offer what is, to my knowledge, the first-ever comprehensive and factual history of William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club.

Thanks in great part to Ken’s dedication and persistence, you can find practically all the RRC’s 10″ and 12″ output, now digitized on compact discs for the 21st century, in our Online Store. We thank him for these efforts, and hope you will too.

-David Sadowski

INTRODUCTION

As regular readers of this blog know, David and I have been gathering bits and pieces of information about the Railroad Record Club and its founder, William A. Steventon. We wanted to get a better understanding of what went into making these records, and to put together a history of the club. David started the ball rolling in April 2015 when he wrote the first Trolley Dodger post about it. As soon as I read that post I jumped aboard having been interested in the subject for some time. Together we finally managed to accumulate enough separate fragments of the story so that when we put it all together, it formed an accurate outline of the events leading up to the formation of the club and offered some insight into its operation. We were also able to build a brief biological sketch of Mr. Steventon.

Separately David and I looked for any resource that might reveal some small bit of new information. We read liner notes, club newsletters, and we looked through back issues of magazines in search of RRC ads. We collected order blanks, and I purchased copies of records I already owned because they had club inserts tucked away in the jackets. I researched the meaning of the matrix codes engraved in the lead out grooves of the LPs to more accurately date them. We studied artwork and found some of Steventon’s personal correspondences.  Everything came together when I purchased a large collection of Railroad Record Club items from Steventon’s estate. Combing through this material finally gave us enough information so that David and I could piece together the Railroad Record Club story you are about to read.

There are still unanswered questions to be sure and there are also missing recordings. We haven’t been able to secure copies of the 5th and 6th year sampler records. We also can only speculate on how, to whom, and at what cost these sampler records were distributed.

If any readers have any RRC material, please contact David. We only ask for a scan of any paper work or leads you may be able to offer as to who might be able to help. Thank you.

I have recently been able to purchase the last of the Steventon estate items I left behind last year (more on that in A Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt, Part 2) and with luck David and I will be able to put together a few more pieces of the Railroad Record Club puzzle.

WILLIAM STEVENTON & THE RAILROAD RECORD CLUB 

William A. Steventon was born in 1921 in Mount Carmel, Illinois, son of a locomotive engineer on the Big Four Railroad (New York Central). As a child he spent much of his time around the red brick passenger station and wooden freight house across from Main Street. The family eventually moved to Cairo, Illinois and there he would often ride in the locomotive cab with his father. In the liner notes to Record number 20- NYC/C&IM while describing an in-cab recording made with his father at the throttle, Steventon reminisces about his boyhood days spent there:

“It is strange that this recording should remind me of something that I had almost forgotten. If I hadn’t heard my father pull a whistle cord in 50 years, and in the distance I should hear a certain whistle, I would know that it was him. This recording also reminds me of the many times I had waited as a youngster for him to whistle near Cherry switch to let us know he was coming home from a north-end run. It reminds me of the many times I have walked down Washington Street in Cairo and heard him whistling in the yards.”

After serving in World War II Steventon married and took a government job. He and his wife settled in the Washington DC area and it is here that the Railroad Record Club story begins.

It all began when Steventon’s wife gave him a record of Railroad sound effects as a Christmas gift, most likely in 1952. While he was interested in the concept of recorded train sounds, he was very dissatisfied with this record. He was convinced that the sounds were not those of actual trains, that they were train “effects” created in a recording studio.  He wanted sound recordings of REAL trains. He purchased one of the new reel to reel tape recorders that had recently become available and in March 1953, set out to make his first railroad sound recordings.

First recording

First recording

The first recording he made was along the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at the Riverdale, Maryland passenger station (MP 32.4 on the Washington Branch). As best as can be determined, the first train he recorded was # 523 the “MARYLANDER” powered by an EMD diesel (he did not make note of the locomotive number). His second train was powered by steam but in his haste to hear the recording immediately after making it, he accidently partially erased it! He wrote about his frustration in an article for TRACTION & MODELS Magazine:

“When we made our very first recording in 1953 we took the equipment to Riverdale, Maryland and recorded a steamer thundering past the B&O station. When it was gone we stopped the recorder, rewound the tape and played it back. Nothing happened-the tape was silent. we waited thinking that the steamer wasn’t within “hearing distance” as yet, but when it became evident that we should be hearing the sound, we investigated.  In our enthusiasm to “get recording” we had failed to become familiar with our equipment. Instead of pushing the playback key, we had pushed the record key and were erasing the sound we had just recorded.”

That partially erased recording, as well as the others he made that night, were discovered on a 78rpm acetate record in his estate. It is included on the Trolley Dodger Railroad Record Club Rarities Steam & Diesel CD.

During the next few years, Steventon made numerous railroad sound recordings, both in and around Washington DC and on trips to visit family in Illinois. Near Washington DC he recorded the streetcars of the Capital Transit Company, steam & diesels on the B&O, and Pennsy GG-1s. He even recorded the sounds of the Senate Subway. He made trips to Maryland to record the Western Maryland, the Hagerstown & Frederick interurban cars and freight box motors, and he rode and recorded the Baltimore streetcars. In Pennsylvania he recorded mainline steam on the PRR, revenue steam on the East Broad Top, and made extensive recordings of the Johnstown Traction Company and the Altoona & Logan Valley. In Illinois he captured the sounds of the New York Central, Chicago & Illinois Midland, Nickel Plate, Illinois Central, and Chicago Burlington & Quincy among others. He did recordings of the passenger and freight operations of the Midwestern electric railways including the Illinois Terminal, Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee, Chicago Aurora & Elgin and even recorded an entire run of Chicago South Shore & South Bend M.U. car # 108 from Chicago to South Bend. In Iowa he added the Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern, Southern Iowa, Cedar Rapids & Iowa City and Charles City Western. In his travels he made recordings of the Pacific Electric, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Wabash, Soo Line, Denver & Rio Grande Western narrow gauge, and Norfolk & Western. In a 1958 newspaper interview he stated he had traveled to fifteen states to record train sounds. It is quite an extensive output and not all of it has been pressed into vinyl or released on tape or CD.

All this recording did not come easily. Dragging the equipment from home to car and from car to trackside required the help of at least one other person. Steventon wrote about the difficulty of using this bulky equipment in the field:

“We had a 12-volt auto battery for the primary power source, a 12 v.d.c. to 110 v.a.c. rotary converter, a reel to reel recorder plus a satchel of extra equipment, tapes, and assorted material. Two men could struggle with all this equipment, but it required three men to carry everything with any degree of ease and mobility. In addition, we normally carried a battery charger for use with keeping the battery up to par during the night. This could be left in the auto during the day but was a very necessary part of our total equipment requirement.”

It is a wonder anyone was able to record anything, considering the burden it must have been to get all this stuff trackside. It makes one grateful for the ability to record high quality sound and high definition video with just a tiny cell phone as we can do today.

Steventon eventually took a job as manager of the Cream Valley Telephone Company and he and his wife moved to Hawkins, Wisconsin. There he would continue to make railroad sound recordings, start a family. and create the Railroad Record Club.

Doing all this traveling and making these recordings invariably put him in contact with like-minded people. It is safe to assume that they would want to trade and share the recordings they made with each other. In the mid-1950s this was no easy task. Modern home audio systems, as we think of them now, simply did not exist. The problem was made even worse if recordings were to be shared or sold to someone who did not make recordings themselves and therefore did not own a reel to reel tape player/recorder. While most people at the time did not own a tape player, a phonograph could be found in most homes.

Steventon pre-RRC 78rpm records

Steventon pre-RRC 78rpm records

If Steventon wanted to give or sell his recordings to many other people, they would have to be put onto phonograph records. This too, wouldn’t be easy. The solution was to procure a portable disc cutter. These machines became available for home use starting in about 1929 and were most often used to record things off the radio. The standard record format of the time was a disc ten inches in diameter and made of aluminum covered with acetate. The 78rpm playing speed yielded no more than five minutes of content per side. These records had to be made in real time and the record blanks were quite heavy compared to a modern vinyl record. To distill more and varied content on these homemade records, he spliced together all sorts of bits and pieces and recorded brief introductions to tell listeners what they were about to hear. He conceived a catalog numbering system and had rubber stamps made for the most popular titles, the rest having hand-written labels. Steventon produced an extraordinary amount of records this way. Finding a sizable collection of these acetate records in the Steventon estate reveled just how extensive the output was. Although a complete catalog listing of these records can not presently be made, the following partial list is still very impressive.

01. Potomac Edison (aka Hagerstown & Frederick)
02. Shenandoah Central
03. Capital Transit
04. Johnstown Traction
05. Altoona & Logan Valley
06. Baltimore & Ohio
07. Shaker Heights Rapid Transit
08. Claude Mahoney Radio Program about NRHS fantrip (1953)
09. Pennsylvania Railroad
10. Nickel Plate Road
11. St. Louis Public Service
12. Illinois Terminal
13. Illinois Central
16. Norfolk & Western
17. Western Maryland Railway
18. Baltimore Transit
19. Senate Subway (Washington, DC)
21. Rochester Subway
22. East Broad Top
23. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy
24. Chicago & Illinois Midland
25. Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto
26. Virginian
28. Queensboro Bridge
29. Wabash
30. 3rd Avenue Elevated
31. Minneapolis, St Paul & Sault Ste Marie
32. Louisville & Nashville
34. St Elizabeth’s Hospital (hospital in Washington DC that used a 0-4-0T to move coal from the B&O.)
37. Independent Subway

It is worth noting that this numbering sequence is totally different from the later one adopted for the 10” records issued later.

Things were apparently going well for Steventon’s railroad record enterprise for a while but things were about to change. Long playing 33 1/3 rpm records made of lighter materials and with improved sound were beginning to gain in popularity. Record blanks and parts for the disc cutter would undoubtedly become harder to get. Steventon needed to have his records made by a professional record pressing company to continue selling them. Steventon would have to make new master tapes for each release because the new records, although still 10”, could hold fifteen minutes of sound on each side-a full half-hour altogether. This would be the equivalent of more then five of the old acetates. He would forgo, for the most part, his spoken introductions and provide printed notes on the cardboard record jackets. These notes could be pretty sparse at first, containing little more than the railroad and locomotive number.

RRC intro record

RRC intro record

RRC INTRO old SP5

RRC INTRO old SP5

Bill Steventon recording compressor noise on CNS&M interurban

Bill Steventon recording compressor noise on CNS&M interurban

Eventually he began to write extensive notes on separate sheets of paper that were inserted into the record jackets. In time, the first completed master tape was sent off to the RCA Custom Record facility in Indianapolis, Indiana and soon afterward the first official Railroad Record Club LP came into being. The record was titled simply INTRODUCTORY RECORD and carried no catalog number. Side one contained the sounds of Soo Line 4-6-2 # 2718 powering an August, 1955 fan trip between Minneapolis, Minnesota and Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Illinois Central 0-8-0 # 3509 switching at Centralia, Illinois was featured on the flip side. A look at the first four characters in the matrix code engraved into the lead-out grooves of a first edition of this record, G8OL, gives the following information: First is the date code-G indicates the record was manufactured in 1956, then the label code-8 showing it was a custom job that was re-recorded from the client’s source material. Next is the category code-O meaning it is a phonograph record, and the fourth character-L denoted the size, speed & groove, 10”, mono, & 331/3 rpm. The final numbers 0479 for side one and 0480 on side two were simply sequence numbers. The Introductory Record was therefore available for sale sometime in 1956 or perhaps 1957.

He made the decision to sell these new records not as a regular mail order business, but as a club. The club membership idea may have been the direct result of the expense associated with this new endeavor. He had to have the records pressed by RCA which required metal master plates to be made. Cardboard record jackets had to be purchased and be printed with photographs or drawings. Tape stock had to be bought for the making of the new master tapes. All in all, this must have been a considerable expense. Selling the records through a club meant that the members were required to purchase a set number of records and paying for them in advance, thereby guaranteeing he would get some return on all this investment. The club worked like this: Four records would be offered per year. Members could buy the records at the discounted price of $4 each providing they maintained membership by purchasing at least three of the selections. Membership expired upon the purchase of one year’s group. There were no membership dues, but records were paid for in advance to provide the necessary money to have the metal masters made.  Special pressings could be purchased at club prices but were not counted toward the three-record minimum. Non-members could buy individual LPs at $5.25 each. $4.00 for a LP record sounds like a bargain but remember those $4 in 1958 had the same buying power as $34.72 in 2018! These Records weren’t cheap. According to a 1958 interview he gave to the Milwaukee Sentinel, the club started off very well. The article stated that there were some 200 club members through out the United States and several foreign countries including New Zealand, Australia, England and Canada. It goes on to state he has already sold 1,000 records.

Steventon continued to sell his records through the yearly club membership plan until October 1965 when the club membership requirement was withdrawn. The records would now be sold separately and at the same price to everyone.

From 1957 with the release of the Introductory record until October 1965 when the last regularly scheduled production of a Railroad Record Club release (Record number 32-New York Central) was offered, Steventon produced thirty-two regular club releases and three special pressings. One more release, SP-4-CSS&SB would be released later that year. Afterwards, Steventon released Records Numbers 33-36 and special pressings numbers SP-5 (a reissue of the introductory record) and the last all new Railroad Record Club record in 1983, number SP-6 Milwaukee Road box cab electrics. Each record was simply numbered in the order it was produced.

RAILROAD RECORD CLUB TITLES
0 Soo Line, Illinois Central (Introductory Record)
1 Wabash Railroad, Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha
2 Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern, Southern Iowa Railway
3 Denver, Rio Grande & Western, East Broad Top
4 Baltimore and Ohio
5 Denver & Rio Grande Western
6 Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick)
7 Norfolk & Western, Illinois Central (Also includes a bit of Illinois Terminal Railroad)
8 Canadian National (aka Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam)
9 Winston-Salem Southbound
10 Pennsylvania Railroad
11 Shaker Heights Rapid Transit
12 Duluth Missabe & Iron Range
13 Nickel Plate Road
14 Pacific Electric
15 Chicago, Burlington & Quincy
16 Westside Lumber Company
17 Minneapolis & St Paul, Sault Ste Marie Railway
18 Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee
19 Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range
20 Chicago & Illinois Midland – New York Central
21 Duluth & Northeastern
22 Buffalo Creek & Gauley
23 Pennsylvania Trolleys
24 Canadian Pacific
25 Illinois Terminal Railroad
26 Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee (freight)
27 Capital Transit Company
28 Charles City Western – Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern
29 Nickel Plate Road
30 Sound Scrapbook, Traction
31 Sound Scrapbook, Steam
32 New York Central
33 Chicago, South Shore & South Bend (freight)
34 Chicago, South Shore & South Bend (freight)
35 Milwaukee & Suburban Transport, Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee
36 Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, Chicago Transit Authority

Special Pressings
SP1 The Silverton Train
SP2 Northern Pacific 2626 Memorial Album
SP3 Whistle ‘Round the Bend
SP4 Chicago, South Shore & South Bend Railroad (passenger)
SP5 Soo Line, Illinois Central
SP6 The Milwaukee Road (electric freight)

He also produced several “sampler” records which contain short snippets of tracks from the LP records.

THE RAILROAD RECORD CLUB SAMPLERS

1st & 2nd Year Sampler:  (short excerpts from records 1 to 4 on side one & records 5 to 8 on side two)
3rd & 4th Year Sampler: (short excerpts from records 9 to 12 on side one & records 13 to 16 on side two)
5th Year Sampler: (short excerpts from records 17 to 20 recorded on one side only)
6th Year Sampler: (short excerpts from records 21 to 24 recorded on one side only)
7th & 8th Year Sampler: (short excerpts from records 25 to 28 on side one & records 29 to 32 on side two)

Among these forty-two LPs there are some real gems. He certainly started off strong with Record Number one. On side two there is one of his best “sound picture” type recordings. It features Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha 2-8-0 # 219 switching in the yards at Spooner, Wisconsin on a dark misty night in October of 1955. This was one of his favorite audio sequences and he described it like this in the record’s reissue liner notes:

“Close your eyes and imagine you are in a Pullman berth. Your passenger train has stopped at the station and you are sleepily listening to this nearby switching movement.” And from the notes to the original release: “That night in October of 1955 was very dark, moonless and misting heavily. The sulfuric, yet nostalgic odor of coal smoke drifted sluggishly over the Spooner, Wisconsin yards as the sound of exhausts and squealing brakes seeped through the murky atmosphere. A dim yellow light at the south end of the station platform rocked in the wind, flicking shadows to and fro over the moving cars.” 

If you don’t feel the dampness, smell the coal smoke, or find that you need to shake off a chill while listening to this, you’re just not trying.

There are so many remarkable sound sequences on these LPs that it would be impossible to list them all, Some of the most interesting ones include:  a D&RGW narrow gauge train with a mid-train helper on Cumbres Pass on Record number 3, the B&O EM-1 stopping and starting sequences on Record Number 4, a PRR 4-8-2 on slick rail on Record number 10, the cab rides in CSS&SB freight motors on Record numbers 33 and 34, the list goes on and on.

William Steventon did not exclusively use his own recordings on the Railroad Record Club LPs. In the second year of the club he began to utilize the talents of his friends, and the most notable of the group was Elwin D. Purington. Mr. Purington’s considerable recording talents added greatly to the quality of Steventon’s releases. Three records were entirely comprised of his recordings and they are three of the best. Record number 8-Canadian National (re-released as “Canadian Railroading in The Days Of Steam”) is one of Steventon’s favorites, and SP-2 the Northern Pacific 2626 memorial album Steventon called “a masterpiece.”  He provided the sounds for side one of Record number 12-DM&IR and his recordings of the CMSt.P&P electric freight locomotives are featured on Record SP-6.  He also did the narration on Number 3-East Broad Top and SP-3-Whistle ‘Round the Bend. Thomas A. Hosick recorded the train sounds for Record number 9-Winston-Salem Southbound, and John L. Wise contributed to Record number 10-PRR. Harold O. Lewis did some fine recording work that was used on three LPs, Record number 16-Westside Lumber, number 24-Canadian Pacific, and number 31-Sound Scrapbook-Steam. Eugene Van Dusen made all but the final three cuts for Record Number 32-NYC, and finally A. L. Shade, another top-notch sound recorder of trains, added his talents to Record numbers 13-Nickel Plate, 29-NKP 779 and 22-Buffalo Creek & Gauley.

Excellent HM Pech cover RRC 5

Excellent HM Pech cover RRC 5

Marginal HM Pech cover 1st edition of Record number 8

Marginal HM Pech cover 1st edition of Record number 8

RRC 19

RRC 19

The sounds on these LPs were great right from the start, but it took awhile for the record jackets to evolve into something interesting and appealing. At first the record jackets had little in the way of cover art, nothing more than a small photo or two plus a few paragraphs of text. Eventually sketches of the featured locomotive pulling a train were added, usually draw by an artist who signed his work HM Pech. These drawings could range from excellent (Record number 5) to marginal (1st edition of Record number 8). All mediocrity was removed for good when the cover art for Record number 19 was revealed. The cover of this record is a very nice accomplishment. The drawing of DM&IR 2-8-8-4 # 222 is perfect in every way. This great drawing combined with an appealing layout makes for a wonderful cover. A new visual benchmark for the Railroad Record Club had been reached and there was no going back. The drawing was done by Marshall P. (Pat) McMahon. He worked for the Minneapolis Star Tribune as an illustrator. His drawings of railroad equipment are flawless. The detail is meticulously rendered and drawn with precision and skill. Mr. McMahon would from here on out, be the main artist used by Steventon to illustrate the record jackets. When second editions of previously released records were pressed, McMahon would be called upon to create a new cover drawing. Every one is a vast improvement over what had come before. He also got the call to do new drawings when the records began to be reissued on 12″ discs, and he even did at least one drawing that Steventon sold prints of (Soo Line steamer # 2715). He would go on to do cover illustrations for thirty record jackets for the club! Rounding out the list of artists employed by the Railroad Record Club: Ernie Towler did a fine pencil sketch of a Shay locomotive for the 12″ reissue of Record Number 16-Westside Lumber and he did the cover of the reissue of number 15-CB&Q. Herb Mott did a painting of a boy watching a steam train passing for the cover of SP-3-Whistle ‘Round the Bend. This record has the distinction of being the only one with a full color cover.

RRC 17 Steventon enjoyed being here Hawkins WI Soo station

RRC 17 Steventon enjoyed being here Hawkins WI Soo station

RRC 17 1st edition drawing Hawkins WI Soo station

RRC 17 1st edition drawing Hawkins WI Soo station

RRC 20

RRC 20

Advertising had to be done, and ads were placed in several railroad and modeling magazines including Trains and Model Railroad Craftsman. Such tag lines as “Authentic steam and electric railway recordings,” “Sounds you like to hear steam-traction,” and “Out of the past and into your home” were used. A mailing list was maintained, and announcements and sales information mailed directly to those on it. Records were sold in hobby stores, and Steventon sent LPs  to railroad historical societies that coincided with the group’s interests. He even devised a unique “Audition Set Program”. To audition a set of records a request form had to be filled out. A choice could be made as to which records were wanted but a choice of pre-selected LPs could be made by choosing ” all steam” or “all traction” or both. A “random” selection could be made giving the customer the choice of titles and number of records. A deposit in the following amounts had to be sent: “all steam” consisting of 25 10″ records-$100.00, “all traction” consisting of 15 10″ records-$60.00 and “random” $4.00 each. After listening, the records were to be returned with (hopefully) a purchase order. The money for the purchased records would be deducted from the deposit and the remainder returned with the record order.

Eventually Steventon branched out and began to sell all types of things. His biggest sideline was selling photographs. The photo catalog alone was 40 pages! He sold 16mm, 8mm and super 8 traction movies, books, records from other producers, he even had a line of railroad logo watch fobs! In one sales flyer he was trying to unload his old adding machine, a Sears model No. 871.58251 (he wanted $40 for it postpaid).

After 1965, when The Railroad Record Club stopped functioning as a club, not much else changed. Steventon continued to release records and in fact had plans to release many more. In a 1966 newsletter Steventon makes mention of future planned releases, unfortunately not all of them were produced. He writes: “Future releases will be made on the basis of availability of time and material. At this writing an “on train” recording of the old 1000 series Chicago South Shore & South Bend locomotives is in production. No release date has been set.” (Records number 33 & 34). He continues: “Other material for future work includes many steam and electric lines including the Shenandoah Central (never produced), Baltimore & Ohio (never produced) Chicago Aurora & Elgin (Record Number 36), Chicago Transit Authority (record number 36) Queensboro Bridge (never produced) and others.”

This newsletter also announces the first Railroad Record Club selection ever to be released on 12” discs-Special Pressing number 4.  “On December 21, 1965 a new milestone was established with the release of a set of three 12-inch 33 1/3 rpm recordings of the complete run of interurban No. 108 from Chicago to South Bend. Approximately two hours playing time and conveniently arranged for automatic playing sequence. Prepared and recommended for the devoted traction enthusiast.”

Through the rest of the 1960s and into the 1970s Steventon successfully sold his records. Some of the most popular selections had second and even third editions pressed, and the covers and liner notes continued to evolve, The liner notes were becoming more extensive and contained more information, not just about the equipment recorded, but somewhat personal stuff as well. For example, on record number 17, the entirety of side one contains the sounds of the activities going on inside the Hawkins, Wisconsin Soo Line station. Although Steventon writes in the third person he conveys his pleasure at being there. The sound of the telegraph, talking with the agent, the rumble of trains going past, the whole “atmosphere” he loved. “Plant your feet on the desk” he writes, “lean back in your chair and you’re the agent at this small village station.” He wrote fond boyhood memories in the notes to Record number 20 and revealed in those same notes just how he felt about diesel locomotives. He wrote that while recording a C&IM 0-8-0 switcher going about her chores, he was “dismayed” and “disgusted” when a GM&O RS-1 came onto the scene.  He included the diesel on the record however, noting that the steamer and the diesel sharing the stage made for an interesting recording. As he puts it: “Actually this could be considered as the tug-of-war between two types of motive power as to which will dominate the railroad scene”. At this point, he had to be dismayed to know steam would be the loser. Eventually his negative view of diesels must have softened a bit because in 1988, when he revised the notes to Record number 20, he removed the word “disgusted” although he continued to be “dismayed”. Steventon never released an LP that was entirely diesel sounds. He recorded diesels with some degree of regularity, as his first recording was of one. In his estate there was an open reel tape labeled “Nickel Plate Diesels” and on those acetate records there are plenty of B&O diesels. Perhaps he thought his record buying customers wouldn’t want to spend money to hear those “disgusting” machines. Rarely is the sound of a diesel included on any of the records.

The Railroad Record Club continued steadily along until early in 1973. A situation then developed that could not be easily overcome, in fact, it never would be completely. Early in that year RCA informed Steventon that they would no longer press his records. In club announcements concerning this situation Steventon wrote “In February of 1973 they (RCA) notified us that all of their custom work was being discontinued.” If RCA would not press his records, he would just have to find another company that would. That plan quickly died when another, more devastating difficulty was discovered. RCA had lost or destroyed all the Club’s metal master discs at its Indianapolis plant. Without those master discs new records could not be pressed by anyone. Steventon was stopped cold.  If he wanted to continue selling his previously released records, new master discs would have to be made. By the early 1970s 7” singles and 12” albums were the standards and the old 10” format was on the way out. New master discs would have to be made and they would have to be 12”.  Steventon managed to surmount these obstacles. He found a new company to work with, Nashville Record Productions of Nashville, Tennessee.

Even as the process of remastering and pressing new records progressed, Steventon was cautious with his expectations. He wrote carefully in a flyer about the remastering: “Due to a shortage of raw material record pressings may become difficult to obtain. Consequently we have no guarantee that our complete line can be produced, but will re-issue each record as conditions permit.”  Interested parties were mailed a “Railroad Record Club Advance Notice Mailing Card.” On this card selections were to be made as to which records the recipient wanted to be notified of when the 12” reissue was being readied. The recipient could then purchase the record at a pre-production discounted price.  Progress was made, albeit very slowly. The RCA masters were lost in the winter of 1973 but by summer 1976, only two records had been reissued. The first two being number 10-PRR and the second Number 8-CN now titled “Canadian Railroading in The Days Of Steam.” Steventon could not simply reissue the records numerically starting at number one and progressing from there. This was a very expensive undertaking and he needed to release the most popular titles first. At first, he considered having all the records remastered at once and getting a press run of each. This idea was dropped when the cost turned out to be more then $30,000! He decided to go back to his original club plan where he required a set amount of those pre-production advance payments to come in. Once there was sufficient interest shown for a certain record, as calculated from the advance mailing cards, he would announce that it was being readied for remastering. He would only send an order to Nashville when enough of the pre-production money came in to justify it.

In a telling reply to an inquiry from a customer wanting to know why a certain record, number 36, was still unavailable, Steventon spelled it out clearly:

“The program of re-mastering was started in ’73 after RCA lost our metal masters. The pre-production offer is used to generate funds to pay for the re-mastering process. As a rule of thumb it takes about 125 pre-payments to cover these costs. Experience has shown that roughly only 50% of those who ask to be notified on a new selection actually follow through with an order. Thus we need 250 requests to start the program. As of this date (March 29, 1989) only 99 have shown an interest in record 36, CA&E. The pressing firm in TN has just notified us of another increase in production costs. Dollar wise we are now talking $1100 to $1200 to re-master and get the first press run. The RR club is not a profit venture – we only ask to break even. In 1987 we operated at a loss of $444.10. 1988 was better with a modest net income of $119.75. We need EVERY bit of interest shown to keep the program rolling – it is a tough job!”

It was a tough job to be certain and it was also a very slow one. An order blank from November 1984 shows only eight remastered records, Number 4-B&O, 7-N&W/IC, 8-CN, 10-PRR, 19-DM&IR, 29-NKP 779 and SP-5-SOO/IC the ex-intro record. Also for sale at that time was a second pressing of SP-4 the CSS&SB three record set. Also listed on this order blank was a brand new record. Even with the remastering difficulties going on the Railroad Record Club managed to release one last all-new record. This last hurrah was special pressing number 6-The Milwaukee Road- Box Cab Electric Locomotives on the Coast Division, recorded by Elwin Purington in stereo. On the jacket SP-6 is touted as the “30th Anniversary Issue 1953-1983.” Another fine McMahon drawing graced the cover.

As each 12” reissue was produced, Steventon would revise and update the liner notes. If the record had an existing McMahon illustration it was transferred to the new jacket in the same size it appeared on the 10” jacket, but with a wide white border. If a reissue did not have a previously drawn McMahon picture, one would be commissioned. These black and white record jackets were distinctive and attractive. On the reissues the audio content was always identical to the 10” version, since the same master tapes were used. There was one exception, however. Although the railroad sounds were exactly the same, on the original release of Record number 3-EBT/D&RGW, Steventon had recorded spoken introductions to each of the EBT tracks, just as he had done for the old 78 acetate records in fact, they are exactly the same.  Steventon wanted these introductions removed to correct a mistake and instead of simply taking them off and writing the information into the liner notes, he had Elwin Purington re-record them.

The long and expensive remastering project continued into 1990. A test pressing for Record number 16-Westside Lumber had a memo attached that read: “Record No. 16, Westside Lumber Co. Record pressing approved if “blips” at approximately 3 min, 36 seconds into side one and continuing for about 6 or 7 seconds were corrected. Card returned 1/10/90.”  Not all of the surviving test pressings have dates on the jackets, but it is obvious that this one had to be among the last. By the early 1990s’ compact discs were already poised to topple vinyl records as the standard audio format. Steventon simply choose not to upgrade to yet another new format. Record number 16 being reissued in 1990, proves that Steventon worked at remastering the records almost to the end of his life. He died in 1993, just three years after the test pressing date for Record number 16. The long, expensive, and difficult remastering program started in 1973 and continued into at least 1990. In all only 17 of the 40 10” records were reissued on 12″ discs.

RAILROAD RECORD CLUB RECORDS REISSUED IN 12″ FORMAT
#1-WABASH (10″ 3rd Edition Cover Art)
#3-D&RGW/EBT (New Cover Art)
#4-B&O (New Cover Art)
#5-D&RGW
#7-N&W/IC (New Cover Art)
#8-CN (New Cover Art) Title changed to “Canadian Railroading In The Days Of Steam”
#10-PRR (10″ 2nd Edition Cover Art)
#15-CB&Q (New Cover Art)
#16-Westside Lumber (New Cover Art) Cover changed from a photograph to a pencil sketch
#17-Soo (New Cover Art)
#18-CNS&M (10″ 2nd Edition Cover Art)
#19-DM&IR
#20-C&IM/NYC
#26-CNS&M (Freight)
#29-NKP 779
#SP-2-NP 2626 (Same photo used on both 10″ & 12″ record covers but reproduced smaller on the reissue)
#SP-4-CSS&SB (passenger) 3 record set was only released on 12″ stock in display box
#SP-5-Soo/IC Formally the introductory record (New Cover Art)
#SP-6-MILW Box Cabs (Only released in 12″ format)
17 records reissued from 10″ to 12″
2 records only released on 12″

The Railroad Record Club didn’t completely die with William Steventon. His son Seth revived the club some years after his father’s death by putting the entire line of records on cassette tapes. By this time, however, CDs were the favored format and the effort was shelved.

Because of William A. Steventon’s commitment to recording the vanishing sounds of a passing era on American railroads, and just as importantly, making those recordings available to all who were interested, we can today hear the sounds of a Hagerstown & Frederick interurban car speeding past a lonely country crossing. We can experience the sonic thunder of a New York Central 4-6-4 blasting out of Mount Carmel, Illinois with a whistle full of water. We can ride along in the cab of a CSS&SB freight motor on its trip out of Michigan city, and we can enjoy the work of the other talented railroad recordists whose work Steventon put on his records. We can even listen to that whining rotary converter in Harristown, Illinois.

-Kenneth Gear

New Steam Audio CD:

FTS
Farewell To Steam
Mister D’s Machine
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.99

Farewell To Steam
On February 6, 1955 the Santa Fe Railway ran a railfan train from Los Angeles to Barstow and back for the Railway Club of Southern California. This was Santa Fe’s last run powered by a steam locomotive over this route. The engine was a 4-8-4, #3759. We have used the original, rare 1955 mono version of this recording, and not the later 1958 reissue that had a bunch of echo added to create a fake stereo effect.

Mister D’s Machine
When diesel locomotives replaced steam in the 1950s, they offered a multitude of different sounds. This original 1963 stereo recording showcases the many sounds of diesels on the San Joaquin and Los Angeles Divisions of the Southern Pacific, including the Tahachappi Loop, an engineering feat that made modern railroading famous.

As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.

Total time – 72:56

Pre-Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There are three subway anniversaries this year 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!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages

Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960

Building Chicago’s Subways will be published on October 1, 2018. Order your copy today, and it will be shipped on or about that date. 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:

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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)

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)

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Reader Showcase, 9-9-2018

This photo purports to show the actual last run on Milwaukee's ill-fated Speedrail interurban on June 30, 1951. However, according to Larry Sakar, author of Speedrail: Milwaukee's Last Rapid Transit?, "The last run to Waukesha which left Milwaukee at a little after 8:00 pm and returned to Milwaukee at 10:08 pm, 2 minutes ahead of schedule, was handled by duplex 37-38. The final round trip to Hales Corners was handled by curved side car 63, not 66. 66 did run on the last day, but it was by no means the final run." Chances are this photo was at least taken on the last day. The line could not survive the repercussions of a terrible head-on collision in 1950, and Milwaukee area officials wanted to use the interurban's right-of-way, which it did not own, for a new highway. Don's Rail Photos: "66 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 203. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit as 1102. In 1949 it was sold to Speedrail, but was not rehabilitated until March 1951. But it only ran for 3 months before the line was abandoned and then scrapped in 1952." (Photo by George Harris)

This photo purports to show the actual last run on Milwaukee’s ill-fated Speedrail interurban on June 30, 1951. However, according to Larry Sakar, author of Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?, “The last run to Waukesha which left Milwaukee at a little after 8:00 pm and returned to Milwaukee at 10:08 pm, 2 minutes ahead of schedule, was handled by duplex 37-38. The final round trip to Hales Corners was handled by curved side car 63, not 66. 66 did run on the last day, but it was by no means the final run.” Chances are this photo was at least taken on the last day. The line could not survive the repercussions of a terrible head-on collision in 1950, and Milwaukee area officials wanted to use the interurban’s right-of-way, which it did not own, for a new highway. Don’s Rail Photos: “66 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 203. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit as 1102. In 1949 it was sold to Speedrail, but was not rehabilitated until March 1951. But it only ran for 3 months before the line was abandoned and then scrapped in 1952.” (Photo by George Harris)

This post features many great contributions from our readers that we hope you will enjoy. Our sincere thanks go out to Larry Sakar, Miles Beitler, Jack Bejna, Jeffrey Haertlein, Kathryn Boyer, and Mitch Markovitz.

-David Sadowski

PS- Happy 88th birthday to two of my uncles, Raymond and Robert Wakefield, fraternal twins born September 10, 1930. They are my late mother’s younger brothers.

I hope they each have a wonderful day.

According to my mother’s memoirs, they were both first day riders on the new Chicago subway, which opened on October 17, 1943, nearly 75 years ago. My new book Building Chicago’s Subways, which will be released on October 1st, tells the story of how this came to be.

Larry Sakar writes:

Hi Dave,

Recently you asked if car 66 was the used for the last run to Hales Corners and back on MRT’s (Speedrail) last day, 6-30-51. As I said, the 66 did make at least one round trip to Hales Corners that day. The first photo I am attaching shows it westbound at 85th St. The water tower in the background is at N. 84th St. The 84th St. stop on the Rapid Transit Line was adjacent to it. The tower is still there today. No trace of the station or the right of way exists. Car 66 would be adjacent to the present day Honey Creek business park which would be at right.

As I also mentioned car 63 made the last round trip to Hales Corners and back shortly before midnight. Here we see it earlier in the evening of 6-30-51. In the second photo the motorman has just called for orders at the call in booth you see at right It was adjacent to the West Jct. stop just beyond the platform on the single track .

In the last photo car 63 has turned on Hillcrest loop and is laying over before returning to Milwaukee. Note some of photographer Robert Townley’s equipment sitting on the platform. The poor motorman looks rather forlorn. As of tomorrow 7-1-51 he will be unemployed.

The Hales Corners station was located on the southeast corner of Highway 100 (S.108th St.) and W. Janesville Rd. (Hwy. 24). The northbound curb lane of Highway 100 now occupies the former r.o.w. Except for the power lines, no traces of the line can be found today. The Hales Corners loop which was located about a half mile or so southwest of the station is now the site of a Menards store. For anyone unfamiliar with Menards, it’s a home improvement chain like Home Depot.

These photos and others including the last round trip to Waukesha were taken by Robert Townley. His capture of Speedrail’s last day were somewhat of an unplanned event. Remember this was during the height of the Korean War and guys were being drafted or were enlisting. Bob had enlisted in the Navy in order to avoid being drafted into the Army. His enlistment point was somewhere south of Chicago but definitely not Great Lakes Naval Training Station. I have forgotten where he said it was located.

Anyway, Bob was in Council Bluffs, Iowa taking pictures of whatever traction system they had in that city. He happened to overhear a couple of railfans mention that the next day 6-30-51 was Speedrail’s last. He had planned to visit Milwaukee later on, but now that Speedrail was about to shut down it became a priority. The next day he boarded a bus for Peoria, Illinois where he caught the Rock Island’s Peoria Rocket for Chicago. Upon arriving in Chicago in the afternoon he made his way to the Adams & Wabash “L” station where he took the next North Shore train to Milwaukee. He arrived in the late afternoon and headed from the NSL station at 6th & Michigan to the Public Service Building. He rode the trip to Hales Corners you see photographed. I’m sure he took either a Hales Corners local or a West Jct. train and got off at 84th St. which is how he was able to capture car 66 bound for Hales Corners.

One other interesting coincidence. Bob, who is from Columbia, CA. (that’s in Gold Rush country east of Sacramento) met up with another Milwaukee traction fan/photographer – Don Ross! It was while both men were serving in Korea. Small world!

I mentioned the Hales Corners station site at Highway 100 & Janesville Rd. I took the attached photo around 1995 but it really doesn’t look much different today. You are looking north along Highway 100. The curb lane is where the TM r.o.w. would have been.

The station stood right in front of the traffic light you see center right. Janesville Rd. was only a two lane highway in the days of TM and Speedrail. Where you see the car on the right edge of the photo there was only grass. Where you see the two cars across from it was the extent of Janesville Rd. back then. None of the buildings behind those two cars were there then either. The grassy median you see dividing the north and south lanes of Highway 100 was also not there back then. The highway consisted of the lane where you see the dark colored car passing the second light pole on the left, and the lanes on the other side of that median.

Today there is no transit service to this area. At one time MCTS Rt 28-Highway 100 did go all the way to Hales Corners. Subsequent budget cuts saw it cut back to the MCTS Hales Corners Park ‘n’ Ride lot which ironically is not in Hales Corners!

For anyone confused, highway 100 goes by three different names, depending what part of it you’re traveling on. It is S. 108th St. to the point that south streets end and north streets begin. Then, it’s technically N. 108th St. It is Highway 100 from Franklin which is south of Hales Corners to Wauwatosa and Brown Deer. At that point, Highway 100 becomes an east-west and it is also known as Brown Deer Rd. On the far south side, it also turns to running east-west and it is Ryan Rd., the same Ryan Rd. crossed by the North Shore Line (but way, way east in the suburb of Oak Creek). The idea was to make it a sort of belt line highway around Milwaukee. Want more confusion? Through parts of Wauwatosa, it is also known as Lovers Lane Rd.

Larry

PS- Here are three additional pictures of the TM Watertown line abandoned r.o.w. from the point where street running in Oconomowoc ended and the p.r.o.w. heading for Watertown began. The one looking east to where eastbound trains entered the street on Oconomowoc’s west side was taken to try and match the picture of the same spot on p.261 of the TM book. I took these in the summer of 1976.

Abandoned TM r.o.w. heading toward Watertown from Oconomowoc in 1976.

Abandoned TM r.o.w. heading toward Watertown from Oconomowoc in 1976.

Abandoned TM r.o.w. heading west from end of street running in Oconomowoc in 1976.

Abandoned TM r.o.w. heading west from end of street running in Oconomowoc in 1976.

TM r.o.w. entering street on west side of Oconomoc, looking east in 1976.

TM r.o.w. entering street on west side of Oconomoc, looking east in 1976.

Miles Beitler writes:

Here are a couple of Chicago and North Western photos that I took in the late 1970s or early 1980s at the old Dee Road station in Park Ridge. The old station was torn down and moved one block west some time in the 1990s. (Editor’s note: Bill Wulfert says the new station was dedicated in 2006- see his Comment below.)

I located a few more photos but unfortunately only one has a locomotive in view. The rest only show tracks or stations. I’ll keep looking — maybe I can find more.

The two Metra photos show the Amtrak/Milwaukee District tracks approaching Union Station. The photo of the Lake Street L was taken near Lake and Des Plaines on the near west side. All of these photos were taken circa March 2001.

The shots of the downtown Des Plaines C&NW station are late 1970s (pre-Metra) and although no trains are shown, the photos show the tracks running through the station as well as two buses (one Nortran and the second RTA) across the street. Both bus operators later were merged into the PACE suburban bus system.

Jack Bejna writes:

In my continuing search for CA&E photos and information I came across this interesting item from the John Stephenson Company describing quite a ride with brand new CA&E Car 32.

Here is another batch of Michigan photos. I believe these photos were taken circa 1921 as they were in the notebooks containing DUR photographs used for an audit for an upcoming fare increase request.

These photos don’t include the location where they were taken, and again, since I’m not familiar with Michigan towns and cities, I don’t have any idea where the pictures were taken, with some exceptions. It is interesting that many non-DUR photos were in the notebooks; perhaps the photographer was a railfan!

As far as I know the DUR triple car 5000 was unique, and it was used to accommodate large numbers of Ford employees at shift change.

The Benton Harbor & St Joseph photos are not the best but I’ve included several shots taken in winter. As you can see, the BH&StJ served the Graham & Morton Steamship Lines, but the steamship business was not enough to maintain the line and it quit in the mid-thirties.

I hope that readers of your fine blog may help to identify locations of some of the photographs.

Detroit United Railway

Benton Harbor & St Joseph Railway

Jeffrey Haertlein writes:

The Wisconsin Dells MINIRAMA was an O scale layout in operation as a tourist attraction from 1960 thru 1969. It was a great train layout, one in which I marveled at for decades, even after it closed.

Long story short, after many years I was able to purchase quite a bit of it starting in 2005. It was sold to a guy in Milwaukee (130 mi.), and now a good amount of it is only 15 miles away from where it started.

I’ll attach a few pictures of the attraction. Sure wish I could find more of it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kathryn Boyer writes:

I am an art historian, and I am trying to find someone who knows enough about trains of the 1930s to help with some specific information related to the Edward Hopper painting Compartment C, Car 193, painted in 1938. (See above.)

After looking at some websites and a YouTube clip with John Smatlak, it seems as though the painting rather accurately presents many of the features of a McKeever Pullman Sleeper. The lamp in the corner does not seem to correspond to any of the images I’ve seen, but the other elements are fairly similar.

I was wondering if someone is able to pinpoint more specifically
– the train(s)/cars that this image most closely represents
– when it was first made
– how long it was out in circulation
-and what do you notice in the painting that deviates from actuality?
That is, basic information about the train/car.

But I’m also wondering if you know if there is a place to seek out information about facts such as
– how much would a ticket on this train/in this car cost (including the sleeping berth)?

Also, are you aware of any information put together or research done on the profiles of passengers of this era, for example, the number of men and women and their socio-economic status.

I appreciate any leads or directions as well as photos and documents that you can provide.

I am no expert on Pullman sleepers, but let’s hope some of our readers can help you out, thanks.

I posted this picture to Facebook, and this led to some discussion with Mitch Markovitz. He is an accomplished artist who has been researching both Edward Hopper and the Pullman Company for the last 60 years.  Here is what Mitch has to say:

As a railroad historian, and with Edward Hopper’s work having a great influence on my own i can say this. Hopper would never fly anywhere. His wife, Josephine, complained that on trips he spent much time in railroad yards painting engines. He has several great works that include Pullman equipment including “Pennsylvania Morning.” In most of his works his model was his wife. This is just your standard Pullman section sleeper of the time. Once during one of his only TV interviews he was on a Sunday morning program on Boston Public Television being interviewed by Brian O’Dougherity. Brian asked Hopper, “We noticed you came up to Boston by train today (instead of flying.) Isn’t that a bit old fashioned?” Hopper looked down for a moment, thought, and then replied, “No. It isn’t. I just didn’t feel like dying this morning.”

The art historian wants to know what the factual basis is for the painting, whether the artist made any changes… how much a train ticket would have cost, and the socio-economic status of train travelers in the 1930s.

The factual basis would be one of Hopper’s many trips by rail in a standard sleeping car. This accommodation, the section, was the least expensive one available. Used by people of middle income. This type of car would have had one or two “drawing rooms” at one end. More expensive priced accommodations for people that expected more privacy. A traveler in a section sleeper would have to use a general washroom at each end of the car for both shaving and brushing of teeth in the morning, and for the other prerequisites. Traveling salesmen used sections a lot. A traveler would pay the first class railroad fare, and then the appropriate Pullman accommodation fare in a separate ticket between the two stations. If one were to travel on a premiere train and desired a shower and the services of a barber they were available in the club car, front of the train. Please keep asking questions, I’m happy to answer.

Is this something that the average person could afford back then?

In general yes. But during the depression it would depend on the definition of “average.” In this era we saw the rise of the “All coach train.” The section sleeper was the bottom of services. If one were to travel on say the “Twentieth Century Limited,” with a premium schedule, a premium dining car, and a barber shop with a shower one would pay the rail fare, the Pullman accommodation fare, and then, on top an “extra fare,” which in today’s dollars would be an additional $100 or so. A successful artist who lived in a 4th floor walk-up apartment, and had a small cottage on Martha’s Vineyard could afford this accommodation. (Hopper was cheap by the way.)

“Pennsylvania Hotel,” 20″x30″ Pastel on sand paper, 1989. One of my works that people compare to those of Hopper.

The car depicted would be of heavyweight construction before streamliners. Into the late 1930s all private rooms began to rise in popularity aboard streamlined (modern) trains. Pictured below is a standard Pullman sleeper. There were the Pullman Manufacturing Company, who built many types of railroad cars, and “The PULLMAN Company,” who owned, operated, and maintained sleeping, parlor, lounge, and restaurant cars. Both companies were part of Pullman Inc.

Thanks… did Hopper, in this painting, change anything in the interior of the sleeping car for artistic license?

Everything seen is correct. Including the interior color. The only thing I could mention is the lamp. The shade would have had a golden yellow-orange color to it on a brass or bronze colored fixture.

From www.edwardhopper.net:

Hopper also took an interest in cars and trains. It is a pity he didn’t live long into the jet age, though we sense his shadow in many contemporary works. The artist was drawn to the introspective mood that travelling seems to put us into. He captured the atmosphere in half-empty carriages making their way across a landscape: the silence that reigns inside while the wheels beat in rhythm against the rails outside, the dreaminess fostered by the noise and the view from the windows – a dreaminess in which we seem to stand outside our normal selves and have access to thoughts and memories that may not emerge in more settled circumstances. The woman in Hopper’s Compartment C Car 1938 seems in such a frame of mind, reading her book and shifting her gaze between the carriage and the view.

Hopper’s people give the impression of being people attempting to escape something. They are involved in themselves and cannot seem to get their lives straight. They escape the society of others, and would like to escape themselves. They are not really at home anywhere, neither in a room nor outside, neither at work nor at play, neither alone nor with others. That is why they are on the move. Their home is a train station, a highway restaurant, a gas station, a hotel or motel, a train compartment, a snack bar, a theater foyer, a movie house.

They are going somewhere without being able to arrive. They have personality traits that seem mutually exclusive. They are mobile and restless, yet statically tied to some location from which they will probably never escape.

Our thanks to everyone else who contributed to this post. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski
Recent Finds

Here are a few pictures we have recently acquired.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 419 is eastbound in June 1952, just east of First Avenue in Maywood.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 419 is eastbound in June 1952, just east of First Avenue in Maywood.

In this original red border Kodachrome slide, we see a two-car train of CTA wooden "L" cars, possibly on a fantrip, on the ground-level section of the Garfield Park "L" (possibly Central or Austin?). The date is April 14, 1957. In the foreground, we see a new temporary track alignment under construction.

In this original red border Kodachrome slide, we see a two-car train of CTA wooden “L” cars, possibly on a fantrip, on the ground-level section of the Garfield Park “L” (possibly Central or Austin?). The date is April 14, 1957. In the foreground, we see a new temporary track alignment under construction.

CTA PCC 4168, a Pullman, heads west on diversion trackage along Chicago Avenue. This is a southbound Halsted car, probably circa 1952. This routing was used when the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River was out of service. The building in the background is the historic Montgomery Wards headquarters, a local landmark, at 618 W. Chicago Avenue.

CTA PCC 4168, a Pullman, heads west on diversion trackage along Chicago Avenue. This is a southbound Halsted car, probably circa 1952. This routing was used when the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River was out of service. The building in the background is the historic Montgomery Wards headquarters, a local landmark, at 618 W. Chicago Avenue.

On January 1, 1947, Chicago Surface Lines 789 heads south on Damen Avenue at the intersection of Lincoln and Irving Park Road. I lived about a block away from here in the 1980s and this neighborhood is known as North Center.

On January 1, 1947, Chicago Surface Lines 789 heads south on Damen Avenue at the intersection of Lincoln and Irving Park Road. I lived about a block away from here in the 1980s and this neighborhood is known as North Center.

This photo, taken at the CTA's South Shops in the second half of 1956, shows various prewar PCCs (including 4006) that were out of service following the bustitution of Route 49 - Western. Trolley poles have already been removed, and it appears that seat frames are stacked nearby. From an original medium format transparency.

This photo, taken at the CTA’s South Shops in the second half of 1956, shows various prewar PCCs (including 4006) that were out of service following the bustitution of Route 49 – Western. Trolley poles have already been removed, and it appears that seat frames are stacked nearby. From an original medium format transparency.

CTA 6573 is shown in Pekin, Illinois, on its way from the St. Louis Car Company to Chicago in the mid-1950s. Once on CTA property, it will be coupled with 6574 as a permanently married pair.

CTA 6573 is shown in Pekin, Illinois, on its way from the St. Louis Car Company to Chicago in the mid-1950s. Once on CTA property, it will be coupled with 6574 as a permanently married pair.

Queensboro Bridge trolleys 601 and 611 at Queens Plaza on April 19, 1949. This bridge line was abandoned in 1957 and was the last trolley operation in the state of New York. These cars were called "Electromobiles," and were built by Osgood Bradley in the late 1920s.

Queensboro Bridge trolleys 601 and 611 at Queens Plaza on April 19, 1949. This bridge line was abandoned in 1957 and was the last trolley operation in the state of New York. These cars were called “Electromobiles,” and were built by Osgood Bradley in the late 1920s.

CTA PCC 4396, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is southbound on Clark Street, having just crossed the Chicago River, on July 9, 1957. This is from an original 35mm Kodachrome slide, processed by Technicolor.

CTA PCC 4396, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is southbound on Clark Street, having just crossed the Chicago River, on July 9, 1957. This is from an original 35mm Kodachrome slide, processed by Technicolor.

The Chicago Aurora & Elgin's Wheaton Yards on April 13, 1957. From an original red border Kodachrome.

The Chicago Aurora & Elgin’s Wheaton Yards on April 13, 1957. From an original red border Kodachrome.

Various North Shore Line cars are seen in Waukegan in June 1961, including 159. (F. R. Burke Photo)

Various North Shore Line cars are seen in Waukegan in June 1961, including 159. (F. R. Burke Photo)

New Steam Audio CD:

FTS
Farewell To Steam
Mister D’s Machine
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.99

Farewell To Steam
On February 6, 1955 the Santa Fe Railway ran a railfan train from Los Angeles to Barstow and back for the Railway Club of Southern California. This was Santa Fe’s last run powered by a steam locomotive over this route. The engine was a 4-8-4, #3759. We have used the original, rare 1955 mono version of this recording, and not the later 1958 reissue that had a bunch of echo added to create a fake stereo effect.

Mister D’s Machine
When diesel locomotives replaced steam in the 1950s, they offered a multitude of different sounds. This original 1963 stereo recording showcases the many sounds of diesels on the San Joaquin and Los Angeles Divisions of the Southern Pacific, including the Tahachappi Loop, an engineering feat that made modern railroading famous.

As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.

Total time – 72:56

Pre-Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There are three subway anniversaries this year 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!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages

Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960

Building Chicago’s Subways will be published on October 1, 2018. Order your copy today, and it will be shipped on or about that date. 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)

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)

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A Long Time Gone

Chicago postwar PCC 7216 is shown heading south on Clark at Harrison on March 11, 1958. I was attracted to this shot since the woman and child who are about to board could just as well be me and my mother at that time. (Photo by A. Goddard)

Chicago postwar PCC 7216 is shown heading south on Clark at Harrison on March 11, 1958. I was attracted to this shot since the woman and child who are about to board could just as well be me and my mother at that time. (Photo by A. Goddard)

June 21st marks 60 years since the last Chicago streetcar ran. If you consider that 80 years is, perhaps, about an average lifespan, that means 3/4ths of such a time has now passed since that historic event.

The number of people still living who rode Chicago streetcars is dwindling, and is certainly only a small fraction of the current population. At age 63, I must be among the youngest people who can say they rode a Chicago streetcar on the streets of Chicago, much less remember it.

But the number of people who have taken a ride on a Chicago streetcar does increase, since there are a number of them that are operable at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. The Seashore Trolley Museum (Kennebunkport, ME) has another car (225) that is operated infrequently.

The experience of riding at a railway museum is, of necessity, somewhat different than what people experienced 60+ years ago on the streets of Chicago. However, as a “streetcar renaissance” is underway across the country in various cities, the number of track miles in city streets has been increasing. In those places, it is possible to experience something more like what Chicago once had.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin will soon join that list, just 90 miles north of Chicago. After a similar 60-year gap in streetcar service, their first new line, aka “The Hop,” is expected to begin service mid-November. (You can read our recent update here. Since our article appeared, the new cars have begun testing out on the streets.)

Interestingly, a heritage trolley recently began service in Rockford, Illinois, which is also about 90 miles from Chicago.

For the past 18 years, Kenosha, Wisconsin (about 65 miles from Chicago) has operated a tourist trolley, which you can even reach using Metra‘s Union Pacific North Line.

Perhaps the streetcar line that would offer a ride closest to what Chicagoans could once experience, however, is the SEPTA #15 Girard Avenue line in Philadelphia, which is operated with modernized PCC cars.

I can also recommend the Muni F-Market and Wharves line in San Francisco, which operates using a variety of historic equipment.

Anyway you look at it, this anniversary is a good excuse to feature some classic Chicago traction photos, which we hope you will enjoy.

But wait– there’s more!

June 22, 1958 is another important date in Chicago transit history. 60 years ago, a new CTA rapid transit line opened in the median of the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway. This line, also known as the “West Side Subway,” replaced the Garfield Park “L” and was the culmination of plans made 20 years before.

Another important anniversary is approaching on October 17th– the 75th anniversary of the opening of Chicago’s first subway. In December, it will be 80 years since subway construction began.

For these reasons, and more, we have written a new book called Building Chicago’s Subways, to be released by Arcadia Publishing this October 1st. Information about how to pre-order this book appears further down in this post.

The idea for Building Chicago’s Subways first came to me a few years ago, when I realized these important anniversaries were approaching. A few months after the publication of Chicago Trolleys last fall, I pitched the idea to Arcadia, and that is when the real work began.

Much additional research had to be done. I read everything I could find on the subject. Photos came from my own collections and those of other collectors, who have graciously permitted their use in this project.

Here is a short description of the book:

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!

The story goes back much further than that… before there were rapid transit tunnels, there were tunnels under the Chicago River, used by cable cars and streetcars. In the early 1900s, private enterprise built an extensive system of freight tunnels under the downtown area. And there was about 40 years of wrangling over what kind of subway to build, where to build it, and who should pay for it.

I found it a fascinating tale, and am gratified that I have been able to complete this new book in time for the anniversary, and within the living memory of Chicagoans who were here to witness these events 75 long years ago. The State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee and West Side Subways have changed life for everyday Chicagoans forever.

-David Sadowski

PS- The Chicago Transit Authority posted this excellent video showing the last run of car 7213 in the early morning hours of June 21, 1958 (the June 22 date in the video is not correct):

Jeffrey L. Wien and I, along with the late Bradley Criss, collaborated on the book Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, published in 2015 as Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

For this anniversary, I asked Mr. Wien, who rode on the last Chicago streetcar, to reminisce for our readers:

Today, June 21, 2018, marks the 60th anniversary of my ride on the Last Chicago Streetcar with my high school friend Greer Nielsen. Thinking back 60 years I recall that it was a very melancholy event, one that remained in my mind for the rest of my life.

Thinking back 60 years can be a challenging task, but I do remember that it was a warm and muggy night on that last ride. CTA PCC 7213 was the last car on the shortened route 22 Wentworth line. The last run south from Clark and Kinzie began around 4am. There were probably at least 100 people crammed into that car so that they could say that they rode the Last Chicago Streetcar. As the car headed south through the Loop headed to 81st and Halsted, the group was quite loud and raucous, but as we went farther and farther south, the crowd quieted down, perhaps because we wanted to hear the sound of the streetcar in the streets of Chicago for the very last time.

When we arrived at 81st and Halsted, everyone got off the car for photos, private and official, and then reboarded the car for the last time for the short trip to Vincennes and 78th where the car pulled off of the street. It was about 6:15am by that point in time, and the Sun was just rising.

As the 7213 pulled away from Vincennes Avenue heading into the Rising Sun, we knew that we had witnessed an historic event in the history of Chicago. 99 years of traction history in Chicago ended at that moment. For me, it was a very sad moment for it was like losing a very good friend.

Jeff Wien

Chicago Area Recent Finds

Chicago's PCCs did not operate in multiple units, but you would be forgiven for thinking so from this photo. Car 4172 and a very close follower are heading south at Clark and Division circa 1950. Note there are not yet any advertising brackets on the sides of the PCCs. At right, there is an entrance to a CTA subway station, which is today part of the Red Line.

Chicago’s PCCs did not operate in multiple units, but you would be forgiven for thinking so from this photo. Car 4172 and a very close follower are heading south at Clark and Division circa 1950. Note there are not yet any advertising brackets on the sides of the PCCs. At right, there is an entrance to a CTA subway station, which is today part of the Red Line.

CTA PCC 4366, a Pullman, heads north on diversion trackage on Halsted at Congress in 1950. This was necessitated by construction of the bridge that would go over the Congress expressway (now the Eisenhower, I290). Bridges that crossed the highway were the first things built, since traffic could be routed around them. Once a bridge was finished, the area around it could be dug out.

CTA PCC 4366, a Pullman, heads north on diversion trackage on Halsted at Congress in 1950. This was necessitated by construction of the bridge that would go over the Congress expressway (now the Eisenhower, I290). Bridges that crossed the highway were the first things built, since traffic could be routed around them. Once a bridge was finished, the area around it could be dug out.

CTA PCC 7148, running northbound on Route 36 - Broadway, turns from Broadway onto westbound Devon in 1955, with the Howard line "L" in the background. The date written on this slide mount was 8-14-56, but the turning car has a 1955 Illinois license plate on it, so perhaps the correct date is 8-14-55. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7148, running northbound on Route 36 – Broadway, turns from Broadway onto westbound Devon in 1955, with the Howard line “L” in the background. The date written on this slide mount is 8-14-56, but the turning car has a 1955 Illinois license plate on it, so perhaps the correct date is 8-14-55. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4124 is eastbound on Route 20 - Madison at Cicero Avenue in 1953. The PCC is signed for Kedzie, so it is most likely a tripper, heading back to the barn. Streetcar service on the main portion of Madison ended on December 13, 1953.

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4124 is eastbound on Route 20 – Madison at Cicero Avenue in 1953. The PCC is signed for Kedzie, so it is most likely a tripper, heading back to the barn. Streetcar service on the main portion of Madison ended on December 13, 1953.

The same building as in the previous picture.

The same building as in the previous picture.

Rust never sleeps, as the saying goes, and that is evident in this picture of a Chicago Surface Lines (now CTA, but still sporting a CSL logo) electric loco as it looked in the 1950s. Behind it is one of the CSL trailers that were used during the 1920s, pulled along behind other streetcars. Once ridership dropped during the Great Depression, these were used for storage at various CSL yards.

Rust never sleeps, as the saying goes, and that is evident in this picture of a Chicago Surface Lines (now CTA, but still sporting a CSL logo) electric loco as it looked in the 1950s. Behind it is one of the CSL trailers that were used during the 1920s, pulled along behind other streetcars. Once ridership dropped during the Great Depression, these were used for storage at various CSL yards.

In August 1960, a four-car train of CTA 4000-series cars heads west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L". Since it appears there are passengers waiting for a Chicago & North Western commuter train on the adjacent embankment, I would say it's possible the location is near Marion Street in suburban Oak Park. The outer 2.5 miles of the Lake route were relocated onto the embankment in October 1962.

In August 1960, a four-car train of CTA 4000-series cars heads west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”. Since it appears there are passengers waiting for a Chicago & North Western commuter train on the adjacent embankment, I would say it’s possible the location is near Marion Street in suburban Oak Park. The outer 2.5 miles of the Lake route were relocated onto the embankment in October 1962.

CTA 4295 heads up a train in Oak Park on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L" on August 7, 1954. (Photo by Mark D. Meyer)

CTA 4295 heads up a train in Oak Park on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L” on August 7, 1954. (Photo by Mark D. Meyer)

Two CTA 4000s go up the ramp on Lake Street, just west of Laramie, to rejoin the steel "L" structure east of here on November 30, 1952. (Robert Selle Photo)

Two CTA 4000s go up the ramp on Lake Street, just west of Laramie, to rejoin the steel “L” structure east of here on November 30, 1952. (Robert Selle Photo)

In September 1959, we see a two-car train of CTA 4000s, preparing to head east. I believe the location is Marion Street in Oak Park and not Marengo Avenue in Forest Park as written on the slide mount. Marengo is a short distance west of Harlem, and although Lake Street trains did go there, the buildings in this picture match Marion. We have another picture in this post showing what the area west of Harlem actually looked like. (William Shapotkin Collection)

In September 1959, we see a two-car train of CTA 4000s, preparing to head east. I believe the location is Marion Street in Oak Park and not Marengo Avenue in Forest Park as written on the slide mount. Marengo is a short distance west of Harlem, and although Lake Street trains did go there, the buildings in this picture match Marion. We have another picture in this post showing what the area west of Harlem actually looked like. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Photographer Bob Selle notes: Two-car "L" train (4420 at right) on Lake Street line just west of Harlem Avenue." In the distance, you can see the actual terminal. Not that many people boarded there, compared to the Marion Street station just east of Harlem Avenue. This picture was taken on May 1, 1955.

Photographer Bob Selle notes: Two-car “L” train (4420 at right) on Lake Street line just west of Harlem Avenue.” In the distance, you can see the actual terminal. Not that many people boarded there, compared to the Marion Street station just east of Harlem Avenue. This picture was taken on May 1, 1955.

A close-up of the previous picture, showing some wavy track and the actual station and bumper post (or is it turned-up rail?) at the west end of the Lake Street "L" prior to 1962. Riders could board trains at the station, which was located about two blocks west of Harlem Avenue.

A close-up of the previous picture, showing some wavy track and the actual station and bumper post (or is it turned-up rail?) at the west end of the Lake Street “L” prior to 1962. Riders could board trains at the station, which was located about two blocks west of Harlem Avenue.

CTA one-man car 3125, heading west on Route 16, is turning north from Lake Street onto Pine Street, where Lake takes a jog. In the process, it crosses the ground-level Lake Street "L". This picture was taken on September 26, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA one-man car 3125, heading west on Route 16, is turning north from Lake Street onto Pine Street, where Lake takes a jog. In the process, it crosses the ground-level Lake Street “L”. This picture was taken on September 26, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo)

A two-car train of 4000s is on the Lake Street "L" during construction of the Northwest (now Kennedy) expressway on February 25, 1958. The new highway opened in 1960. Further south, the Garfield Park "L" also crossed the highway footprint and had to be shored up around the same time this photo was taken. But once the new Congress rapid transit line opened on June 22, 1958 the Garfield line was no longer needed and the structure was removed where it crossed the highway, cutting the line off from the rest of the system. The remaining portions of structure west of there were removed in 1959; east of there, parts remained until 1964. The Lake Street "L", on the other hand, rechristened the Green Line, is still here.

A two-car train of 4000s is on the Lake Street “L” during construction of the Northwest (now Kennedy) expressway on February 25, 1958. The new highway opened in 1960. Further south, the Garfield Park “L” also crossed the highway footprint and had to be shored up around the same time this photo was taken. But once the new Congress rapid transit line opened on June 22, 1958 the Garfield line was no longer needed and the structure was removed where it crossed the highway, cutting the line off from the rest of the system. The remaining portions of structure west of there were removed in 1959; east of there, parts remained until 1964. The Lake Street “L”, on the other hand, rechristened the Green Line, is still here.

In this picture, taken in April 1964, we see the back end of a CTA two-car train of 4000s as they head east at Halsted on the Lake Street "L". By this time, the western portion of the line had been relocated onto the C&NW embankment, and therefore there was no further need to use overhead wire. But the new 2000-series "L" cars had not yet replaced the 4000s in this line, which they would do shortly. This station, built in 1892-93, was closed in 1994 for the Green Line rehabilitation project, but never reopened. It was demolished in 1996 and the new Morgan station, two blocks to the west, more or less replaced it when it opened in 2012.

In this picture, taken in April 1964, we see the back end of a CTA two-car train of 4000s as they head east at Halsted on the Lake Street “L”. By this time, the western portion of the line had been relocated onto the C&NW embankment, and therefore there was no further need to use overhead wire. But the new 2000-series “L” cars had not yet replaced the 4000s in this line, which they would do shortly. This station, built in 1892-93, was closed in 1994 for the Green Line rehabilitation project, but never reopened. It was demolished in 1996 and the new Morgan station, two blocks to the west, more or less replaced it when it opened in 2012.

On August 13, 1964 CTA single-car unit 45 prepares to stop at Isabella station on the Evanston line. The car is signed as an Evanston Express, but I do not think it would have operated downtown as a single car. Therefore, it must be in Evanston shuttle service. (August 13, 1964 was a Thursday, so the Evanston Express was running that day, though.) (Photo by Douglas N. Grotjahn)

On August 13, 1964 CTA single-car unit 45 prepares to stop at Isabella station on the Evanston line. The car is signed as an Evanston Express, but I do not think it would have operated downtown as a single car. Therefore, it must be in Evanston shuttle service. (August 13, 1964 was a Thursday, so the Evanston Express was running that day, though.) (Photo by Douglas N. Grotjahn)

CTA red Pullmans 521 (on Ashland) and 640 (on 63rd Street) meet on May 14, 1953. This was near the end of streetcar service on 63rd. By then, PCC cars had been transferred from 63rd to Cottage Grove. The Curtis restaurant, located in this vicinity but behind the photographer, was a favorite of my parents. It is perhaps no coincidence that I have a brother named Curtis. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA red Pullmans 521 (on Ashland) and 640 (on 63rd Street) meet on May 14, 1953. This was near the end of streetcar service on 63rd. By then, PCC cars had been transferred from 63rd to Cottage Grove. The Curtis restaurant, located in this vicinity but behind the photographer, was a favorite of my parents. It is perhaps no coincidence that I have a brother named Curtis. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA PCC 4095, built by Pullman, has just left the Madison-Austin loop on the west end of Route 20 on June 1, 1953. Buses continue to use this loop today, although it has been somewhat reconfigured. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA PCC 4095, built by Pullman, has just left the Madison-Austin loop on the west end of Route 20 on June 1, 1953. Buses continue to use this loop today, although it has been somewhat reconfigured. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA 4271-4272 head up a northbound Evanston Express train passing through the Chicago Avenue station on June 26, 1958. These two cars, which were originally independent but were converted to semi-permanent "married pairs" in the 1950s, are still on CTA property and within a few years will celebrate their centennial. When the last of the 4000-series "L" cars were retired in 1973, these were chosen for preservation as historic cars. They are occasionally used for special events. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA 4271-4272 head up a northbound Evanston Express train passing through the Chicago Avenue station on June 26, 1958. These two cars, which were originally independent but were converted to semi-permanent “married pairs” in the 1950s, are still on CTA property and within a few years will celebrate their centennial. When the last of the 4000-series “L” cars were retired in 1973, these were chosen for preservation as historic cars. They are occasionally used for special events. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA red Pullman 270 is on Cicero at North Avenue, where Cicero took a bit of a jog which has since been somewhat straightened out. The date is July 19, 1948. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA red Pullman 270 is on Cicero at North Avenue, where Cicero took a bit of a jog which has since been somewhat straightened out. The date is July 19, 1948. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolleybus 9219 on Route 77 - Belmont, running eastbound at approximately 952 W. Belmont (near Sheffield). The photographer was up on the north-south "L" platform. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolleybus 9219 on Route 77 – Belmont, running eastbound at approximately 952 W. Belmont (near Sheffield). The photographer was up on the north-south “L” platform. (William Shapotkin Collection)

The building in the previous picture is still there. For several years, there was a club on the second floor, first called the Quiet Knight, later on Tut's. I attended many great concerts there in the 1970s and 80s.

The building in the previous picture is still there. For several years, there was a club on the second floor, first called the Quiet Knight, later on Tut’s. I attended many great concerts there in the 1970s and 80s.

Chicago Surface Lines 1775 crosses the Chicago River at Wabash Avenue on May 30, 1945, promoting the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). The nearby State Street bridge was out of service from 1939 to 1949 due to subway construction and wartime materials shortages.

Chicago Surface Lines 1775 crosses the Chicago River at Wabash Avenue on May 30, 1945, promoting the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). The nearby State Street bridge was out of service from 1939 to 1949 due to subway construction and wartime materials shortages.

CSL 1775, decorated to promote the SPARS*, is on 119th one block west of Halsted in August 1943. Car 1775 was chosen for patriotic duty because that was the year the Revolutionary War broke out, with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. *The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Women's Reserve, better known as the SPARS, was the World War II women's branch of the USCG Reserve. It was established by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 23 November 1942.

CSL 1775, decorated to promote the SPARS*, is on 119th one block west of Halsted in August 1943. Car 1775 was chosen for patriotic duty because that was the year the Revolutionary War broke out, with the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
*The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Women’s Reserve, better known as the SPARS, was the World War II women’s branch of the USCG Reserve. It was established by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 23 November 1942.

On August 25, 1946 CSL one-man car 3093 is running outbound on private right-of-way between Morgan and Throop on Route 23, Morgan-Racine-Sangamon.

On August 25, 1946 CSL one-man car 3093 is running outbound on private right-of-way between Morgan and Throop on Route 23, Morgan-Racine-Sangamon.

On May 25, 1958 we see CTA two-man PCCs 7206 and 4390 at 78th and Wentworth (South Shops). Both were products of St. Louis Car Company, as all 310 postwar Pullman PCCs had been scrapped by then for the "PCC conversion program" that used some of their parts in new 6000-series rapid transit cars. In spite of the roll signs shown here, Chicago streetcars were limited to running on a single route between downtown and the south side. The last northside car ran in 1957. (Robert Selle Photo)

On May 25, 1958 we see CTA two-man PCCs 7206 and 4390 at 78th and Wentworth (South Shops). Both were products of St. Louis Car Company, as all 310 postwar Pullman PCCs had been scrapped by then for the “PCC conversion program” that used some of their parts in new 6000-series rapid transit cars. In spite of the roll signs shown here, Chicago streetcars were limited to running on a single route between downtown and the south side. The last northside car ran in 1957. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA PCC 7151, a product of St. Louis Car Company, heads south on Route 49 - Western at North Avenue in 1953. The "L" station behind it was part of the Humboldt Park branch, which was abandoned in 1952. Once the station was closed, signs advertising "L" service were removed although I don't believe this portion of the structure was removed until the early 1960s. Note that riders at this safety island are boarding at the rear, as this is a two-man car.

CTA PCC 7151, a product of St. Louis Car Company, heads south on Route 49 – Western at North Avenue in 1953. The “L” station behind it was part of the Humboldt Park branch, which was abandoned in 1952. Once the station was closed, signs advertising “L” service were removed although I don’t believe this portion of the structure was removed until the early 1960s. Note that riders at this safety island are boarding at the rear, as this is a two-man car.

CTA 4393 is at the 79th and Western loop, south end of Route 49, on July 19, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA 4393 is at the 79th and Western loop, south end of Route 49, on July 19, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA PCC 4376 is turning into the loop at 79th and Western, south end of Route 49, on July 19, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA PCC 4376 is turning into the loop at 79th and Western, south end of Route 49, on July 19, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)

On May 1, 1955 CERA held a fantrip using 2800-series wooden "L" cars. Here, the train makes a photo stop at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park, then the western end of the Garfield Park "L". The terminal had been reconfigured in 1953 when CA&E trains stopped running downtown. It would be reconfigured again in 1959. By 1960, the Congress expressway was extended through this area. (Robert Selle Photo)

On May 1, 1955 CERA held a fantrip using 2800-series wooden “L” cars. Here, the train makes a photo stop at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park, then the western end of the Garfield Park “L”. The terminal had been reconfigured in 1953 when CA&E trains stopped running downtown. It would be reconfigured again in 1959. By 1960, the Congress expressway was extended through this area. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA two-man arch roof car 3189 is southbound on Halsted Street near the Garfield Park "L" overpass, south of Van Buren Street on September 17, 1953. As had previously happened with 63rd Street, PCCs had been taken off this route and replaced by older red cars for the final few months of service. 3189 is on the bridge that would eventually go over the Congress expressway, which was then under construction. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA two-man arch roof car 3189 is southbound on Halsted Street near the Garfield Park “L” overpass, south of Van Buren Street on September 17, 1953. As had previously happened with 63rd Street, PCCs had been taken off this route and replaced by older red cars for the final few months of service. 3189 is on the bridge that would eventually go over the Congress expressway, which was then under construction. (Robert Selle Photo)

Here's what photographer Bob Selle wrote on this negative envelope: ""L" cars fresh from the paint shops, MU-coupled, for trip to South side "L" lines: deck roofer 2912 and steel car 4224 at Quincy and Wells platform. June 14th, 1955."

Here’s what photographer Bob Selle wrote on this negative envelope: “”L” cars fresh from the paint shops, MU-coupled, for trip to South side “L” lines: deck roofer 2912 and steel car 4224 at Quincy and Wells platform. June 14th, 1955.”

CSL 4062 was the first postwar PCC put into service. It was built by Pullman. Here, we see it as delivered at 78th and Vincennes on September 30, 1946. Note the different paint scheme the first cars had in the "standee" windows area.

CSL 4062 was the first postwar PCC put into service. It was built by Pullman. Here, we see it as delivered at 78th and Vincennes on September 30, 1946. Note the different paint scheme the first cars had in the “standee” windows area.

CSL 298 is on Wabash at Cermak on September 14, 1934.

CSL 298 is on Wabash at Cermak on September 14, 1934.

This picture of CTA one-man car 3236, taken on January 14, 1950 shows it crossing Maplewood Avenue on what is obviously an east-west trolley line. John F. Bromley, who sold me this negative, was unsure of the location. Jeff Wien writes, "I would guess that it is at 71st & Maplewood. Bill Hoffman lived all of his life at 6664 S. Maplewood which was a half mile north. Maplewood is a block or two west of Western. Route 67 covered 67th, 69th and 71st as far west as California (2800). Maplewood is around 2600 West. Check out the streets to see if I am correct. The one man cars were used on route 67." Looks like Jeff is correct, as further research shows that the house at left is still standing at 7053 S. Maplewood.

This picture of CTA one-man car 3236, taken on January 14, 1950 shows it crossing Maplewood Avenue on what is obviously an east-west trolley line. John F. Bromley, who sold me this negative, was unsure of the location. Jeff Wien writes, “I would guess that it is at 71st & Maplewood. Bill Hoffman lived all of his life at 6664 S. Maplewood which was a half mile north. Maplewood is a block or two west of Western. Route 67 covered 67th, 69th and 71st as far west as California (2800). Maplewood is around 2600 West. Check out the streets to see if I am correct. The one man cars were used on route 67.” Looks like Jeff is correct, as further research shows that the house at left is still standing at 7053 S. Maplewood.

Photographer Bob Selle writes, "CTA one-man car 6174 eastbound as it crosses Halsted Street on Root Street (43rd Street line), leaving west end of line. August 1, 1953."

Photographer Bob Selle writes, “CTA one-man car 6174 eastbound as it crosses Halsted Street on Root Street (43rd Street line), leaving west end of line. August 1, 1953.”

Photographer Bob Selle writes, "Car 6177 leaving south end of Kedzie barn for Cermak Road, February 14, 1953."

Photographer Bob Selle writes, “Car 6177 leaving south end of Kedzie barn for Cermak Road, February 14, 1953.”

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4084 leaving the Kedzie Station (car barn) on September 13, 1950. The car at right appears to be either a 1949 or 1950 Ford. My father had a 1949 model, and as cars were very much in demand after the end of World War II, the dealer put him on a waiting list. After being on the list for six months, he found that he had actually gone further down the list than he was at the start! So he wrote a letter complaining about this to Henry Ford II, and the next thing you know, they sold him a car. Presumably the PCC is heading out on Route 20 - Madison. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4084 leaving the Kedzie Station (car barn) on September 13, 1950. The car at right appears to be either a 1949 or 1950 Ford. My father had a 1949 model, and as cars were very much in demand after the end of World War II, the dealer put him on a waiting list. After being on the list for six months, he found that he had actually gone further down the list than he was at the start! So he wrote a letter complaining about this to Henry Ford II, and the next thing you know, they sold him a car. Presumably the PCC is heading out on Route 20 – Madison. (Robert Selle Photo)

This negative did not come with any identifying information, but it is obviously from a February 12, 1939 fantrip where the fledgling Central Electric Railfans' Association chartered Chicago Rapid Transit Company "L" cars 4317 and 4401 and took them out on parts of the CA&E including the Mount Carmel branch. However, since that line used overhead wire, that's not where this picture was taken. Instead, it appears to be out near the end of the line at Mannheim and 22nd Street on the CRT's lightly used Westchester line, which was built in anticipation of housing being built in this area (which did not come about until the 1950s). South of Roosevelt Road, the line was single-track, which appears to be the case here. If not for the Great Depression, more housing would have been built here. We have previously run two other pictures from the same fantrip, both taken on the Mt. Carmel branch. The CTA substituted bus service for "L" on the Westchester line in 1951 as it did not want to continue paying rent to the CA&E, which had already announced its intentions to truncate passenger service to Forest Park, which meant similar rent payments to the CTA were about to cease.

This negative did not come with any identifying information, but it is obviously from a February 12, 1939 fantrip where the fledgling Central Electric Railfans’ Association chartered Chicago Rapid Transit Company “L” cars 4317 and 4401 and took them out on parts of the CA&E including the Mount Carmel branch. However, since that line used overhead wire, that’s not where this picture was taken. Instead, it appears to be out near the end of the line at Mannheim and 22nd Street on the CRT’s lightly used Westchester line, which was built in anticipation of housing being built in this area (which did not come about until the 1950s). South of Roosevelt Road, the line was single-track, which appears to be the case here. If not for the Great Depression, more housing would have been built here. We have previously run two other pictures from the same fantrip, both taken on the Mt. Carmel branch. The CTA substituted bus service for “L” on the Westchester line in 1951 as it did not want to continue paying rent to the CA&E, which had already announced its intentions to truncate passenger service to Forest Park, which meant similar rent payments to the CTA were about to cease.

CTA PCC 4087 leaves the Kedzie car barn during the morning rush on July 1, 1953 and is signed for the Madison-Fifth branch line. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA PCC 4087 leaves the Kedzie car barn during the morning rush on July 1, 1953 and is signed for the Madison-Fifth branch line. (Robert Selle Photo)

The end is near for CTA 4402 and the other couple dozen or so PCC cars that remained at the end of service. Ultimately, only car 4391, now at the Illinois Railway Museum, was saved. This picture was taken at 77th Street yards on June 15, 1958. (Robert Selle Photo)

The end is near for CTA 4402 and the other couple dozen or so PCC cars that remained at the end of service. Ultimately, only car 4391, now at the Illinois Railway Museum, was saved. This picture was taken at 77th Street yards on June 15, 1958. (Robert Selle Photo)

CSL 5387 is westbound at 63rd and Dorchester, having just gone under the Illinois Central viaduct on June 13, 1947. Even though this neg was lightstruck on the top edge (almost all of which I cropped out), I thought it was an interesting streetscape with the diner and what appears to be some sort of pawn shop or resale shop. The Jackson Park branch of the "L" went over the IC at this point, and has since been cut back.

CSL 5387 is westbound at 63rd and Dorchester, having just gone under the Illinois Central viaduct on June 13, 1947. Even though this neg was lightstruck on the top edge (almost all of which I cropped out), I thought it was an interesting streetscape with the diner and what appears to be some sort of pawn shop or resale shop. The Jackson Park branch of the “L” went over the IC at this point, and has since been cut back.

On August 28, 1955 Illinois Central Electric suburban 1161 and its trailer are crossing Halsted Street at 121st on their way to Blue Island. There was a fantrip that day (hence the fans,), but this was not the fantrip train apparently. (Robert Selle Photo)

On August 28, 1955 Illinois Central Electric suburban 1161 and its trailer are crossing Halsted Street at 121st on their way to Blue Island. There was a fantrip that day (hence the fans,), but this was not the fantrip train apparently. (Robert Selle Photo)

CSL 1872 is on Franklin at Jackson on June 13, 1947.

CSL 1872 is on Franklin at Jackson on June 13, 1947.

CSL red Pullman 293 is at Roosevelt and Wabash on June 13, 1947.

CSL red Pullman 293 is at Roosevelt and Wabash on June 13, 1947.

This Chicago, Aurora & Elgin image is from an original 1950s Kodachrome slide that was not processed by Kodak. I am not quite able to make out the car number, but it looks like it is one of the 420s. The location is downtown Elgin, along the Fox River. The Rialto Theater burned down in 1956.

This Chicago, Aurora & Elgin image is from an original 1950s Kodachrome slide that was not processed by Kodak. I am not quite able to make out the car number, but it looks like it is one of the 420s. The location is downtown Elgin, along the Fox River. The Rialto Theater burned down in 1956.

This picture is somewhat blurred, which makes one wonder why the late Edward Frank, Jr. printed it and sold it. But it does show CSL 1819 and a passing Chicago, Aurora & Elgin train. The curved section of track suggests this may have been taken near the Sacramento curve. That's probably Ed Frank's bicycle in the lower right hand corner.

This picture is somewhat blurred, which makes one wonder why the late Edward Frank, Jr. printed it and sold it. But it does show CSL 1819 and a passing Chicago, Aurora & Elgin train. The curved section of track suggests this may have been taken near the Sacramento curve. That’s probably Ed Frank’s bicycle in the lower right hand corner.

It is not often that individual employees can be identified in an old photo such as this, which shows CA&E express freight car #5 (presumably, the second #5, built by Cincinnati Car Company). But the man at left is Clyde Goodrich, a longtime engineer on the interurban. As far as I know, he was still employed there up to the final 1959 abandonment of service.

It is not often that individual employees can be identified in an old photo such as this, which shows CA&E express freight car #5 (presumably, the second #5, built by Cincinnati Car Company). But the man at left is Clyde Goodrich, a longtime engineer on the interurban. As far as I know, he was still employed there up to the final 1959 abandonment of service.

Clyde B. Goodrich, the man in the left, was born in DeKalb, Illinois on May 17, 1887 and died in Florida on September 1, 1970. His wife's name was Winifred (1882-1955). In 1920, Clyde lived in Aurora and was employed by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. In the 1940 census, he was living in Wheaton and worked as an engineer on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin. Clyde B. Goodrich and his wife are buried in Wheaton Cemetery.

Clyde B. Goodrich, the man in the left, was born in DeKalb, Illinois on May 17, 1887 and died in Florida on September 1, 1970. His wife’s name was Winifred (1882-1955). In 1920, Clyde lived in Aurora and was employed by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. In the 1940 census, he was living in Wheaton and worked as an engineer on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin. Clyde B. Goodrich and his wife are buried in Wheaton Cemetery.

The caption here reads, "North Western and electric lines stations, Wheaton." The CA&E is in the foreground. The photo is not dated, but it must be quite early.

The caption here reads, “North Western and electric lines stations, Wheaton.” The CA&E is in the foreground. The photo is not dated, but it must be quite early.

This photo, dated May 1966, shows the CA&E's Wheaton station being torn down.

This photo, dated May 1966, shows the CA&E’s Wheaton station being torn down.

Demolition is nearly complete in this photo, also dated May 1966.

Demolition is nearly complete in this photo, also dated May 1966.

CA&E wooden interurban car 54. Don's Rail Photos: "54 was built by Stephonsin in 1903. It was modernized in July 1946 and retired in 1959."

CA&E wooden interurban car 54. Don’s Rail Photos: “54 was built by Stephonsin in 1903. It was modernized in July 1946 and retired in 1959.”

CA&E wooden freight motor 9. Don's Rail Photos: "9 was built by Niles Car in 1907. It was scrapped in 1959."

CA&E wooden freight motor 9. Don’s Rail Photos: “9 was built by Niles Car in 1907. It was scrapped in 1959.”

A crane on a CA&E flat car. This appears to be Wheaton Yard.

A crane on a CA&E flat car. This appears to be Wheaton Yard.

North Shore Line car 182 is southbound on the Shore Line Route in North Chicago, Illinois on June 12, 1954. Don's Rail Photos: "182 was built by Cincinnati Car in September 1920, #2455." (Robert Selle Photo)

North Shore Line car 182 is southbound on the Shore Line Route in North Chicago, Illinois on June 12, 1954. Don’s Rail Photos: “182 was built by Cincinnati Car in September 1920, #2455.” (Robert Selle Photo)

While Chicago's Congress expressway (now the Eisenhower) is rightly considered its first, Lake Shore Drive preceded it as an "almost" expressway. Here. we see construction taking place on December 13, 1940. Until the early 1970s, LSD had lanes that could be reversed in rush hour by raising and lowering these short barriers. Unfortunately, this resulted in a number of head-on collisions, and these were eventually deactivated. The photo caption reads, "Workmen install line of elevating curbs in new express highway on Chicago's lake front. The curbs, placed two lanes apart on the eight lane roadway, give extra lanes to rush hour traffic to ease traffic flow. The elevating jacks shown raise the curb to height of nine inches, exert pressure of 12 tons. The retracting springs, having a 10-ton pressure, pull the curbs down when the hydraulic jacks are released. The entire curb system is operated from one central control station." (Photo by Acme)

While Chicago’s Congress expressway (now the Eisenhower) is rightly considered its first, Lake Shore Drive preceded it as an “almost” expressway. Here. we see construction taking place on December 13, 1940. Until the early 1970s, LSD had lanes that could be reversed in rush hour by raising and lowering these short barriers. Unfortunately, this resulted in a number of head-on collisions, and these were eventually deactivated. The photo caption reads, “Workmen install line of elevating curbs in new express highway on Chicago’s lake front. The curbs, placed two lanes apart on the eight lane roadway, give extra lanes to rush hour traffic to ease traffic flow. The elevating jacks shown raise the curb to height of nine inches, exert pressure of 12 tons. The retracting springs, having a 10-ton pressure, pull the curbs down when the hydraulic jacks are released. The entire curb system is operated from one central control station.” (Photo by Acme)

Chicago’s Loop in 1959

The following ten images are part of a larger batch we recently purchased. Several of the others show various downtown movie theaters (including the Clark and Garrick) and will be posted in the near future on our “sister” Clark Theater blog. By studying the various films that were playing, I have determined these pictures were taken during the summer of 1959.

Here's a rather unique view showing the front of the old Wells Street Terminal, or what was left of it anyway, as it appeared in 1959. This terminal was last used by the CA&E in 1953. Two years later, the upper portion of the attractive facade was removed and a new track connection was built so that Garfield Park trains could connect to the Loop "L". A new connection was needed, since the old one had to give way to construction on Wacker Drive. The remainder of the terminal, and the track connection, were no longer needed after the Congress rapid transit line replaced the Garfield Park "L" in 1958, and they were removed in 1964. Note there is a barber shop occupying part of the building.

Here’s a rather unique view showing the front of the old Wells Street Terminal, or what was left of it anyway, as it appeared in 1959. This terminal was last used by the CA&E in 1953. Two years later, the upper portion of the attractive facade was removed and a new track connection was built so that Garfield Park trains could connect to the Loop “L”. A new connection was needed, since the old one had to give way to construction on Wacker Drive. The remainder of the terminal, and the track connection, were no longer needed after the Congress rapid transit line replaced the Garfield Park “L” in 1958, and they were removed in 1964. Note there is a barber shop occupying part of the building.

A two-car train of CTA 4000s, running on the Lake Street "L", are at Wabash and Van Buren on the Loop. In the background, you can see the Auditorium Theater building.

A two-car train of CTA 4000s, running on the Lake Street “L”, are at Wabash and Van Buren on the Loop. In the background, you can see the Auditorium Theater building.

The old Epicurean restaurant, at left, was located at 316 S. Wabash and served Hugarian cuisine. A CTA Lake Street train rumbles by above.

The old Epicurean restaurant, at left, was located at 316 S. Wabash and served Hugarian cuisine. A CTA Lake Street train rumbles by above.

A street sign is just barely visible in this photo taken under the Loop "L", identifying the cross street as Dearborn. Since that is one way southbound downtown, and the arrow is pointing to the right, that implies we are in Lake Street and are looking to the east.

A street sign is just barely visible in this photo taken under the Loop “L”, identifying the cross street as Dearborn. Since that is one way southbound downtown, and the arrow is pointing to the right, that implies we are in Lake Street and are looking to the east.

The old Metropolitan "L" crossed the Chicago River just south of Union Station (just visible at left) and had four tracks, necessitating two bridges. After these tracks were taken out of service in June 1958, the bridges were permanently raised, and razed in 1964.

The old Metropolitan “L” crossed the Chicago River just south of Union Station (just visible at left) and had four tracks, necessitating two bridges. After these tracks were taken out of service in June 1958, the bridges were permanently raised, and razed in 1964.

Another view of the same two Met "L" bridges in 1959.

Another view of the same two Met “L” bridges in 1959.

Another photo of the two Met "L" bridges.

Another photo of the two Met “L” bridges.

It's not clear where this picture was taken. The two wires that cross the trolley bus wires are, I am told, "feeder span hangers." The last Chicago trolley bus ran in 1973. The CTA currently has two electric buses that run on batteries, and has just placed an order for 20 more.

It’s not clear where this picture was taken. The two wires that cross the trolley bus wires are, I am told, “feeder span hangers.” The last Chicago trolley bus ran in 1973. The CTA currently has two electric buses that run on batteries, and has just placed an order for 20 more.

Another view of the Loop "L" on south Wabash, probably taken near the locations if the other similar photos showing Lake Street trains.

Another view of the Loop “L” on south Wabash, probably taken near the locations if the other similar photos showing Lake Street trains.

This photo shows what State Street, that great street, looked like during the summer of 1959. We are looking north from about 400 S. State. The Goldblatt's department store is at right, and that's a CTA #36 bus heading south. Streetcar tracks on State have either been removed, or paved over. Note the "grasshopper" style street lights that were installed in 1959.

This photo shows what State Street, that great street, looked like during the summer of 1959. We are looking north from about 400 S. State. The Goldblatt’s department store is at right, and that’s a CTA #36 bus heading south. Streetcar tracks on State have either been removed, or paved over. Note the “grasshopper” style street lights that were installed in 1959.

FYI, here is another view from the same location, taken after streetcar tracks were removed, but before the 1959 installation of those unique street lights:

(See attribution information for this photo via the link provided above.)

Miscellaneous New Finds

This photo purports to show the actual last run on Milwaukee's ill-fated Speedrail interurban on June 30, 1951. However, according to Larry Sakar, author of Speedrail: Milwaukee's Last Rapid Transit?, "The last run to Waukesha which left Milwaukee at a little after 8:00 pm and returned to Milwaukee at 10:08 pm, 2 minutes ahead of schedule, was handled by duplex 37-38. The final round trip to Hales Corners was handled by curved side car 63, not 66. 66 did run on the last day, but it was by no means the final run." Chances are this photo was at least taken on the last day. The line could not survive the repercussions of a terrible head-on collision in 1950, and Milwaukee area officials wanted to use the interurban's right-of-way, which it did not own, for a new highway. Don's Rail Photos: "66 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 203. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit as 1102. In 1949 it was sold to Speedrail, but was not rehabilitated until March 1951. But it only ran for 3 months before the line was abandoned and then scrapped in 1952." (Photo by George Harris)

This photo purports to show the actual last run on Milwaukee’s ill-fated Speedrail interurban on June 30, 1951. However, according to Larry Sakar, author of Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?, “The last run to Waukesha which left Milwaukee at a little after 8:00 pm and returned to Milwaukee at 10:08 pm, 2 minutes ahead of schedule, was handled by duplex 37-38. The final round trip to Hales Corners was handled by curved side car 63, not 66. 66 did run on the last day, but it was by no means the final run.” Chances are this photo was at least taken on the last day. The line could not survive the repercussions of a terrible head-on collision in 1950, and Milwaukee area officials wanted to use the interurban’s right-of-way, which it did not own, for a new highway. Don’s Rail Photos: “66 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 203. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit as 1102. In 1949 it was sold to Speedrail, but was not rehabilitated until March 1951. But it only ran for 3 months before the line was abandoned and then scrapped in 1952.” (Photo by George Harris)

Early Kodachrome images such as this are rare. Here, we see a San Francisco cable car (signed for Powell and Mason) in operation during the summer of 1945. When this picture was taken, the war in Europe had ended, but the US was still fighting Japan. According to the Cable Car Museum web site, this car is currently in service as #3: "Built by the Carter Bros. of Newark, California during 1893-1894 for the Market Street Railway's Sacramento-Clay cable car line. The United Railroads transferred it to the Powell Street cable car lines in 1907, after the Earthquake and Fire of 1906. Until 1973, numbered as No. 503. No. 3 is painted in Muni's green and cream paint scheme, which is based on the green and white scheme of the Muni's former rival between 1921-1944, the Market Street Railway. This was the basic paint scheme for Powell Street cable cars from 1947 to 1982. Extensive rebuilding, by Muni 1955."

Early Kodachrome images such as this are rare. Here, we see a San Francisco cable car (signed for Powell and Mason) in operation during the summer of 1945. When this picture was taken, the war in Europe had ended, but the US was still fighting Japan. According to the Cable Car Museum web site, this car is currently in service as #3: “Built by the Carter Bros. of Newark, California during 1893-1894 for the Market Street Railway’s Sacramento-Clay cable car line. The United Railroads transferred it to the Powell Street cable car lines in 1907, after the Earthquake and Fire of 1906. Until 1973, numbered as No. 503. No. 3 is painted in Muni’s green and cream paint scheme, which is based on the green and white scheme of the Muni’s former rival between 1921-1944, the Market Street Railway. This was the basic paint scheme for Powell Street cable cars from 1947 to 1982. Extensive rebuilding, by Muni 1955.”

PTC "Peter Witt" 8057 was built by Brill in 1923. Here it is seen on Route 34 in the 1950s. Michael T. Greene writes: "The picture of the Route 34 Peter Witt was taken at 38th and Locust Streets, on what’s now the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. (An alum now resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, in Washington, but enough of that!). The trolley is using detour trackage onto Locust Street EB, as part of the subway-surface extension of the 1950’s…westbound trackage continued on Locust to 40th Street, where it hung a left turn. Today, 38th Street has been widened to a 2-way street, but still with a trolley track, used as a diversion route for subway-surface Routes 11, 13, 34, and 36. Locust Street was been turned into a pedestrian walkway, and a pedestrian bridge goes over 38th Street these days."

PTC “Peter Witt” 8057 was built by Brill in 1923. Here it is seen on Route 34 in the 1950s. Michael T. Greene writes: “The picture of the Route 34 Peter Witt was taken at 38th and Locust Streets, on what’s now the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. (An alum now resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, in Washington, but enough of that!). The trolley is using detour trackage onto Locust Street EB, as part of the subway-surface extension of the 1950’s…westbound trackage continued on Locust to 40th Street, where it hung a left turn. Today, 38th Street has been widened to a 2-way street, but still with a trolley track, used as a diversion route for subway-surface Routes 11, 13, 34, and 36. Locust Street was been turned into a pedestrian walkway, and a pedestrian bridge goes over 38th Street these days.”

Philadelphia Transportation Company 7266 is on Route 9, sometime in the 1950s during street construction. Micheal T. Greene writes: "The Route 9 car is on 5th Street south of Market Street. At this time, 5th Street was being widened as part of Independence Mall. Independence Hall is out of this picture to the right."

Philadelphia Transportation Company 7266 is on Route 9, sometime in the 1950s during street construction. Micheal T. Greene writes: “The Route 9 car is on 5th Street south of Market Street. At this time, 5th Street was being widened as part of Independence Mall. Independence Hall is out of this picture to the right.”

Indianapolis Railways "Peter Witt" car 181, also known as a "Master Unit," a Brill trademark, is signed for College-Broad Ripple on April 16, 1952. This car was built in March 1934 and was one of the last streetcar orders filled before the PCC era. (Robert Selle Photo)

Indianapolis Railways “Peter Witt” car 181, also known as a “Master Unit,” a Brill trademark, is signed for College-Broad Ripple on April 16, 1952. This car was built in March 1934 and was one of the last streetcar orders filled before the PCC era. (Robert Selle Photo)

Indianapolis Railways 155 was built by Brill in September 1933. On May 21, 1950 it is at the east end of the Washington Street line on a fantrip.

Indianapolis Railways 155 was built by Brill in September 1933. On May 21, 1950 it is at the east end of the Washington Street line on a fantrip.

On August23, 1946, photographer Walter Hulseweder snapped this picture of Indianapolis Railways 131 on Washington Street at Illinois Avenue on the Washington-Sheridan line.

On August23, 1946, photographer Walter Hulseweder snapped this picture of Indianapolis Railways 131 on Washington Street at Illinois Avenue on the Washington-Sheridan line.

By strange coincidence, this photo showing a Rock Island Motor Transit Company bus was taken in June 21, 1958. Bill shapotkin adds, "The photo was taken at the joint CGW/Greyhound/Jefferson bus station in Rochester, MN. This bus provided connections from/to ROCK trains at Owatonna, MN." (William Shapotkin Collection)

By strange coincidence, this photo showing a Rock Island Motor Transit Company bus was taken in June 21, 1958. Bill shapotkin adds, “The photo was taken at the joint CGW/Greyhound/Jefferson bus station in Rochester, MN. This bus provided connections from/to ROCK trains at Owatonna, MN.” (William Shapotkin Collection)

Mystery Photo

This picture, which could be as old as the 1930s, was listed by the seller as being Chicago. However, I have my doubts, as I am unable to think of a location this could be around here, or what the construction project might be. The sign says "Detour to temporary bridge." Jeff Wien thinks this might be Philadelphia.

This picture, which could be as old as the 1930s, was listed by the seller as being Chicago. However, I have my doubts, as I am unable to think of a location this could be around here, or what the construction project might be. The sign says “Detour to temporary bridge.” Jeff Wien thinks this might be Philadelphia.

Updates

We’ve added another image to our previous post The Fairmount Park Trolley (November 7. 2017), which includes an extensive section about the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway in Wildwood, New Jersey:

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 36 at Warehouse Point, Connecticut on August 16, 1952.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 36 at Warehouse Point, Connecticut on August 16, 1952.

These photos were added to our previous post Red Arrow in West Chester (September 13, 2016):

A SEPTA commuter train, ex-PRR, at West Chester in May 1979. SEPTA rail service to this station ended in 1986, but the West Chester Railroad began running a not-for-profit tourist operation of train service on weekends between West Chester and Glen Mills in 1997. (Photo by Paul Kutta)

A SEPTA commuter train, ex-PRR, at West Chester in May 1979. SEPTA rail service to this station ended in 1986, but the West Chester Railroad began running a not-for-profit tourist operation of train service on weekends between West Chester and Glen Mills in 1997. (Photo by Paul Kutta)

Red Arrow "Master Unit" 79 is inbound in 1949 on either the Media or Sharon Hill line, in spite of the sign saying Ardmore (thanks to Kenneth Achtert for that correction). He adds, "It was (still is) standard practice for Red Arrow operators, when changing ends at the outer end of their route, to set the sign on what would be the rear of the car for the inbound trip to read their next outbound destination. Thus, when the car arrived at 69th St. Terminal and went around the loop to the boarding platform the rear destination sign was already set. This was actually the more important sign, as most passengers approached the cars from the rear coming from the main terminal (and from the Market-Frankford Elevated line)." (Mark D. Meyer Photo)

Red Arrow “Master Unit” 79 is inbound in 1949 on either the Media or Sharon Hill line, in spite of the sign saying Ardmore (thanks to Kenneth Achtert for that correction). He adds, “It was (still is) standard practice for Red Arrow operators, when changing ends at the outer end of their route, to set the sign on what would be the rear of the car for the inbound trip to read their next outbound destination. Thus, when the car arrived at 69th St. Terminal and went around the loop to the boarding platform the rear destination sign was already set. This was actually the more important sign, as most passengers approached the cars from the rear coming from the main terminal (and from the Market-Frankford Elevated line).” (Mark D. Meyer Photo)

Red Arrow "Master Unit" 82 is at the 69th Street Terminal on August 8, 1948. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Red Arrow “Master Unit” 82 is at the 69th Street Terminal on August 8, 1948. (Walter Broschart Photo)

On September 12, 1959, Philadelphia Suburban Transportation 3, a 1941 "Brilliner," is on Lippincott Avenue north of County Line Road, on the short Ardmore line which was bussed in 1966.

On September 12, 1959, Philadelphia Suburban Transportation 3, a 1941 “Brilliner,” is on Lippincott Avenue north of County Line Road, on the short Ardmore line which was bussed in 1966.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka "Red Arrow") cars 5 and 14 pose at 69th Street Terminal on June 22, 1963. The car at left is a Brilliner, from the last batch of trolleys built by Brill in 1941. The car at right was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 949. Although it looks much like a PCC, it was not considered such as it had standard interurban trucks and motors. Both types of cars were double-ended.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka “Red Arrow”) cars 5 and 14 pose at 69th Street Terminal on June 22, 1963. The car at left is a Brilliner, from the last batch of trolleys built by Brill in 1941. The car at right was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 949. Although it looks much like a PCC, it was not considered such as it had standard interurban trucks and motors. Both types of cars were double-ended.

We’ve added this image to our extensive section about the Fort Collins (Colorado) Birney car operation in Our 150th Post (August 6, 2016):

Fort Collins Municipal Railway Birney car 22 in the city park on April 30, 1947.

Fort Collins Municipal Railway Birney car 22 in the city park on April 30, 1947.

Recent Correspondence

Our resident South Side expert M. E. writes:

Your latest post has a bunch of good stuff.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/proofs116.jpg
Interesting that you think this picture might be of your mother and you. In the book “In Search of Steam” by Joe Collias (which I do not have), there is a picture taken at Englewood Union Station of a young boy, bundled in winter clothing, watching a New York Central steam engine come into the station. I’d swear that young boy is me.

The movie of the last PCC streetcar almost made me cry. My last ride on a Chicago streetcar occurred in early June when my high-school best friend and I rode one car from 81st and Halsted to 63rd and Wentworth, then another car ack to 81st and Halsted. Also: Probably less than a week after the last streetcar ran, I graduated high school. So this time frame is especially meaningful to me. (Please don’t publish this, it’s just for your information.)

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In this photo, did you notice the swell “woodie” station wagon?

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Your text beneath this picture fascinates me. You say your parents frequented the Curtis restaurant at 63rd and Ashland. Does that mean you grew up around there? I grew up a mile east of this junction.

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The text under this picture says the South Shops was at 78th and Wentworth. Not so. South Shops was at 77th and Vincennes on the east side of Vincennes. And the land it occupied was huge — from 77th and Vincennes east to about Perry (a block west of State St.) and south to 79th. I haven’t been there in a long time, but maybe the CTA still has all that land.

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I’d have to agree that this car is on 71st St. west of Western. Because you say 7053 S. Maplewood is at the left, I contend the streetcar is heading west to 71st and California. One small nit: The caption says “Bill Hoffmann lived all of his life at 6664 S. Maplewood.” Unless there was an extra-long block between 66th and
67th (Marquette Blvd.) on Maplewood, the address would have to be 6654. Normally there are 60 addresses to a block, from 00 to 59.

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This is an interesting picture. As the caption indicates, the car had just left the west end of its line. That west end was west of Halsted between two buildings. It was a dead end, providing only a switch from westbound to eastbound track. Also: You previously published a photo taken here, on Halsted St. south of Root, looking north. In that photo was a 44 Wallace-Racine car turning from west on Root to south on Halsted. (In this current photo you can see the trackage for this turn.) Also in that previous photo was the Halsted St. station of the Stock Yards L.

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This is your mystery photo. I agree that this can’t be a Chicago
scene, for the reason that I know of no elevated trackage in Chicago that was so low to the ground. Also, the elevated train does not look like any Chicago L train I remember.

M E

Thanks very much for your interesting observations!

I don’t think that the woman and boy actually are me, but they certainly resemble us in 1958. My mother dressed like that all the time, and the kid is about my age.

We lived on the west side, in Mont Clare. My mother’s parents lived in Englewood and that’s where she was living when my parents met. So naturally, they frequented restaurants in the neighborhood.

63rd and Ashland was bustling back then.

The June 18, 1958 Southtown Economist gives Dorothy Hoffman’s address as 6622 S. Maplewood.  I believe Bill Hoffman lived with his sister, so perhaps that is the correct address.

If you think 63rd and Ashland was busy, you should have seen 63rd and Halsted, which was the heart of Englewood. Somewhere I once read that 63rd and Halsted was the busiest commercial district in Chicago outside the Loop. It was a great place to grow up because there were three streetcar lines (8, 42, 63), the Englewood L (which I could see from our building), and railroad stations east on 63rd at Wallace and La Salle.

Good point! People tend to forget these things, as certain areas of the city became depopulated to some extent, and urban renewal leveled entire blocks.

We’ll let Jeff Wien have the last word:

Streetcars, streetcars, streetcars. They seem to be popping up all over the country. And who would have thought 60 years ago that there would be such a renaissance! I was called a trolley jolly because I favored streetcars. The Millenials like them.

Pre-Order Building Chicago’s Subways

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages

Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960

Building Chicago’s Subways will be published on October 1, 2018. Order your copy today, and it will be shipped on or about that date. All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.

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At the Hop

It has been 60 years now since Milwaukee had a streetcar line, but that will soon change as its new line, christened The Hop, is expected to begin operating this November. Milwaukee officials held an open house on June 8th at the new maintenance facility, where two new streetcars, built by Brookville Equipment Corporation were on display– and your roving reporter was there.

Ultimately, there will be five vehicles to start, and they are being delivered at the rate of about one per month. From the looks of things, it may be another month or so before testing begins along the line.

The day after the open house, we drove around, taking numerous pictures that we hope will gave you an idea of how track work is progressing. Not all portions of the route will use overhead wire, as modern streetcars have batteries too.

Finally, on Sunday the 10th, we journeyed to the East Troy Electric Railroad, where we were fortunate to ride Milwaukee streetcar #846 for the first time. While 60 years may separate the running of the old and the new, there’s nearly a century between lightweight “safety” car 846, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1920, and its modern equivalent.

That just goes to show how much our expectations of what a streetcar should be have changed and grown over the last 100 years. We expect better safety, performance, comfort, and accessibility than our grandparents and great-grandparents did.

When the new Milwaukee streetcar was first proposed, there were plenty of nay-sayers who thought it was a useless idea, didn’t go anywhere, was pointless, and that no one would ride it. But as the time draws near to actual operations, many of these same people have changed their tune. While modern streetcar lines may not work for all cities, or even some cities that have started them, I feel confidant that Milwaukee’s will be successful.

We hope these photos will give you the “flavor of the event.”

-David Sadowski

PS- Our congratulations go out to Russ Schultz, who has for some years been driving a bus for the Milwaukee public transit system. He will now cap off his career as one of The Hop’s new streetcar operators.

The East Troy Electric Railroad had a table at the open house.

The East Troy Electric Railroad had a table at the open house.

Part of the East Troy Electric Railroad display.

Part of the East Troy Electric Railroad display.

Part of the East Troy Electric Railroad display.

Part of the East Troy Electric Railroad display.

The idea behind Milwaukee's approximately two-mile-long first streetcar line is park your car, then hop on and off the streetcar as you make your way around the center city. Thanks to a generous donation from a local casino, fares will be free for the first year, and probably $1 after.

The idea behind Milwaukee’s approximately two-mile-long first streetcar line is park your car, then hop on and off the streetcar as you make your way around the center city. Thanks to a generous donation from a local casino, fares will be free for the first year, and probably $1 after.

The inspection pit.

The inspection pit.

It's not often you can get a close-up look at the pantograph on a streetcar. There were no wires in the maintenance facility, so in all likelihood, the cars will enter and leave by either using battery power, or being towed.

It’s not often you can get a close-up look at the pantograph on a streetcar. There were no wires in the maintenance facility, so in all likelihood, the cars will enter and leave by either using battery power, or being towed.

The new streetcar maintenance facility makes use of space underneath a highway.

The new streetcar maintenance facility makes use of space underneath a highway.

Local news reporters interviewing Alderman Bob Bauman, a strong streetcar supporter.

Local news reporters interviewing Alderman Bob Bauman, a strong streetcar supporter.

Free “hop corn.”

We shook Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman's hand and he graciously agreed to pose for pictures for us in front of one of the new streetcars.

We shook Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman’s hand and he graciously agreed to pose for pictures for us in front of one of the new streetcars.

The streetcar line makes a rather tight turn at this intersection.

The streetcar line makes a rather tight turn at this intersection.

This is the northern end of the line.

This is the northern end of the line.

There are various obstacles blocking parts of the line, enough to make me think that it could be a month or so before the streetcars are tested out on the streets.

There are various obstacles blocking parts of the line, enough to make me think that it could be a month or so before the streetcars are tested out on the streets.

Brick surrounds the tracks at this intersection.

Brick surrounds the tracks at this intersection.

Some work still needs to be done on the various safety islands along the line.

Some work still needs to be done on the various safety islands along the line.

This late 1950s Buick was new around the time streetcars last ran in Milwaukee.

This late 1950s Buick was new around the time streetcars last ran in Milwaukee.

Only eastbound car and truck traffic was allowed on this bridge over the Milwaukee River.

Only eastbound car and truck traffic was allowed on this bridge over the Milwaukee River.

The streetcar will serve Milwaukee's busy Public Market in the historic Third Ward.

The streetcar will serve Milwaukee’s busy Public Market in the historic Third Ward.

Cement work was still being done on the bridge approach.

Cement work was still being done on the bridge approach.

TMER&T 846 approaches the Elegant Farmer.

TMER&T 846 approaches the Elegant Farmer.

At the Elegant Farmer.

At the Elegant Farmer.

At the Elegant Farmer.

At the Elegant Farmer.