Independence

North Shore Line car 749 at the 50th Avenue station, Illinois Railway Museum, July 3, 2021.

North Shore Line car 749 at the 50th Avenue station, Illinois Railway Museum, July 3, 2021.

I could not think of a better place to be on July 3rd than at the Illinois Railway Museum, which I had not visited in nearly two years. Here are some pictures from that day.

Unfortunately I did not arrive in time for the annual reenactment of the sudden mid-day July 3, 1957 abandonment of passenger service by the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, which stranded perhaps 3,500 riders. At the museum, museum visitors are taken to the end of the main line via a CA&E train, which then leaves them high and dry (only to be picked up by another train shortly thereafter).

I did not arrive until later in the afternoon. No CA&E cars were running, but I did capture lots of other action.

Every time I visit the museum, things are a little bit nicer, a little bit better, thanks to the dedication of their many volunteers. May it always be so.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

PS- We have already sent out over 100 copies of our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, which is available for immediate shipment. Ordering information can be found at the end of this post, and in our Online Store.

Although the 50th Avenue station was closed for renovations, North Shore Line car 749 was there for a fundraising event, where people could actually pilot the car for a brief period out on the line.

Although the 50th Avenue station was closed for renovations, North Shore Line car 749 was there for a fundraising event, where people could actually pilot the car for a brief period out on the line.

Dayton trolley bus 9809 joined the IRM fleet in 2020.

Dayton trolley bus 9809 joined the IRM fleet in 2020.

A Budd RDC (rail diesel car).

A Budd RDC (rail diesel car).

Metropolitan "L" car 2872 is under restoration. There is a picture of it in service on the Kenwood shuttle in my new book Chicago's Lost "L"s.

Metropolitan “L” car 2872 is under restoration. There is a picture of it in service on the Kenwood shuttle in my new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s.

Chicago Rapid Transit car 4146, a "Baldy," was built by Cincinnati Car Company in 1915 as one of our first all-steel "L" cars. The four separate "L" companies had come under joint operation a few years earlier, and previously just had wood-steel cars that were ordered for an individual line. The center doors on these cars were never used.

Chicago Rapid Transit car 4146, a “Baldy,” was built by Cincinnati Car Company in 1915 as one of our first all-steel “L” cars. The four separate “L” companies had come under joint operation a few years earlier, and previously just had wood-steel cars that were ordered for an individual line. The center doors on these cars were never used.

CTA PCC 4391 was operating on the streetcar loop that day.

CTA PCC 4391 was operating on the streetcar loop that day.

Neils No. 5 was one of two steam engines being used that day.

Neils No. 5 was one of two steam engines being used that day.

CTA single car units 41 and 30 were operating as a pair. The former with trolley poles, and the latter with a Skokie Swift pantograph.

CTA single car units 41 and 30 were operating as a pair. The former with trolley poles, and the latter with a Skokie Swift pantograph.

Car 30 looked resplendent in a new coat of paint.

Car 30 looked resplendent in a new coat of paint.

The singles were set up for one-person operation, where it was possible to have the operator collect fares on the train. They were used at night on the Evanston shuttle in this manner for some years, but it really slowed things down.

The singles were set up for one-person operation, where it was possible to have the operator collect fares on the train. They were used at night on the Evanston shuttle in this manner for some years, but it really slowed things down.

Frisco 1630, a 2-10-0, on the IRM main line.

Frisco 1630, a 2-10-0, on the IRM main line.

The 1630 at the passing siding near the end of the main line.

The 1630 at the passing siding near the end of the main line.

A close-up of CTA 41's third rail shoe.

A close-up of CTA 41’s third rail shoe.

CTA 6655-6656 were also running.

CTA 6655-6656 were also running.

An attractive "retro" sign has already gone up for what will eventually be a model train display (but not a hobby shop, apparently).

An attractive “retro” sign has already gone up for what will eventually be a model train display (but not a hobby shop, apparently).

Recent Finds

I recently acquired this 1893 map, showing the route of the Columbian Intramural Railway at the World's Fair here in Chicago. The Jackson Park "L" connected with the CIR at Chicago Junction (65th Street on this map), a few blocks south of where the "L" ran on 63rd Street.

I recently acquired this 1893 map, showing the route of the Columbian Intramural Railway at the World’s Fair here in Chicago. The Jackson Park “L” connected with the CIR at Chicago Junction (65th Street on this map), a few blocks south of where the “L” ran on 63rd Street.

A CTA Skokie Swift train crosses McCormick Boulevard on September 20, 1966. The tracks going under the Swift are from the Chicago & North Western's Weber Subdivision, which was abandoned in 1982. (James P. Marcus Photo)

A CTA Skokie Swift train crosses McCormick Boulevard on September 20, 1966. The tracks going under the Swift are from the Chicago & North Western’s Weber Subdivision, which was abandoned in 1982. (James P. Marcus Photo)

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) car 16 at the end of the Ardmore line on June 11, 1966, six months before trolleys were replaced by buses. (Allan H. Roberts Photo)

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) car 16 at the end of the Ardmore line on June 11, 1966, six months before trolleys were replaced by buses. (Allan H. Roberts Photo)

This picture of Chicago Surface Lines pre-PCC 7001 was taken in 1935, a year after it was built. Auto parts dealer Warshawsky & Co. was located at around 1900 S. State Street, which may be this location. The streetcar is heading north.

This picture of Chicago Surface Lines pre-PCC 7001 was taken in 1935, a year after it was built. Auto parts dealer Warshawsky & Co. was located at around 1900 S. State Street, which may be this location. The streetcar is heading north.

A three-car train of cable cars on Madison Street in the 1890s. This is a colorized photo.

A three-car train of cable cars on Madison Street in the 1890s. This is a colorized photo.

Cable car 1836 is part of a two-car train on Dearborn Street, circa the 1890s. This is a colorized photo.

Cable car 1836 is part of a two-car train on Dearborn Street, circa the 1890s. This is a colorized photo.

A Pittsburgh Railways employee works on a PCC wheel in August 1957.

A Pittsburgh Railways employee works on a PCC wheel in August 1957.

A 6-car Evanston Express train, made up of wood-steel cars, heads northbound approaching the Wilson Avenue station in August 1957. The Wilson Shops is in the background behind the train. At right, you can see the ramp that went down to Buena Yard.

A 6-car Evanston Express train, made up of wood-steel cars, heads northbound approaching the Wilson Avenue station in August 1957. The Wilson Shops is in the background behind the train. At right, you can see the ramp that went down to Buena Yard.

A westbound Garfield Park "L" train crosses Austin Boulevard in August 1957. That's Columbus Park in the background. This is now the site of I-290.

A westbound Garfield Park “L” train crosses Austin Boulevard in August 1957. That’s Columbus Park in the background. This is now the site of I-290.

In August 1957, an eastbound two-car train of 4000s is on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L", running parallel to South Boulevard in Oak Park. We are looking north. I am not sure of the exact side street here. Dan Cluley writes: "I think the picture of the Lake St L in Oak Park (pic 397) is S Kenilworth Ave. The house at right has been replaced with a parking lot, but the tops of the Post Office & First United Church seen through the trees seem to match up."

In August 1957, an eastbound two-car train of 4000s is on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”, running parallel to South Boulevard in Oak Park. We are looking north. I am not sure of the exact side street here. Dan Cluley writes: “I think the picture of the Lake St. L in Oak Park (pic 397) is S Kenilworth Ave. The house at right has been replaced with a parking lot, but the tops of the Post Office & First United Church seen through the trees seem to match up.”

The same location today.

The same location today.

Michael Franklin writes: "This (aaa397) is looking north on Kenilworth. The twin spires in the background are the church on the NE corner of Kenilworth and Lake. The long gone Oak Leaves Offices are on the right. Building demolished in 1971." Here we see the same building from a different angle, looking to the southeast across the "L" right-of-way.

Michael Franklin writes: “This (aaa397) is looking north on Kenilworth. The twin spires in the background are the church on the NE corner of Kenilworth and Lake. The long gone Oak Leaves Offices are on the right. Building demolished in 1971.” Here we see the same building from a different angle, looking to the southeast across the “L” right-of-way.

A CTA fantrip was held on August 6, 1972, which took a four-car train down into the Lake Street "L"'s Hamlin Yard. Two single-car units flanked a pair of flat-door 6000s, all equipped with trolley poles. Shortly after this picture was taken, car 44, in the foreground, was detached from the rest of the train, and operated across Lake Street to West Shops. We have run other photos from this trip in previous posts. The ramp connecting Hamlin Yard to the Lake Street "L" was removed many years ago.

A CTA fantrip was held on August 6, 1972, which took a four-car train down into the Lake Street “L”‘s Hamlin Yard. Two single-car units flanked a pair of flat-door 6000s, all equipped with trolley poles. Shortly after this picture was taken, car 44, in the foreground, was detached from the rest of the train, and operated across Lake Street to West Shops. We have run other photos from this trip in previous posts. The ramp connecting Hamlin Yard to the Lake Street “L” was removed many years ago.

The same location today.

The same location today.

J. W. Vigrass took this picture in East Chicago, Indiana, on September 15, 1956, shortly before the South Shore Line in this area was relocated to run alongside the Indiana Toll Road. That's car 22 coming at us.

J. W. Vigrass took this picture in East Chicago, Indiana, on September 15, 1956, shortly before the South Shore Line in this area was relocated to run alongside the Indiana Toll Road. That’s car 22 coming at us.

The Last CA&E Train?

There is some question whether this photo does or does not actually show the last CA&E passenger train leaving DesPlaines Avenue without passengers on July 3, 1957, shortly after the interurban was given permission to abandon service by the courts. Some people think the photo was actually taken earlier.

There is some question whether this photo does or does not actually show the last CA&E passenger train leaving DesPlaines Avenue without passengers on July 3, 1957, shortly after the interurban was given permission to abandon service by the courts. Some people think the photo was actually taken earlier.

This is how the photo appeared in the July 4, 1957 issue of the Chicago Tribune.

This is how the photo appeared in the July 4, 1957 issue of the Chicago Tribune.

Recent Correspondence

This photo appeared in our recent post Reflections in a Golden Wye (June 24, 2021):

This photo, showing a mirror at the North Shore Line's Milwaukee terminal, was taken on January 21, 1963 (after abandonment) by Allan Y. Scott for the Milwaukee Journal. You can see the photographer in the picture, apparently using a Leica M2 or M3. This picture came from the collection of the late John Horachek. Rather than being a double exposure, it seems like the ghostly image of an Electroliner was applied to the mirror using a stencil and a product known as Glass Wax.

This photo, showing a mirror at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee terminal, was taken on January 21, 1963 (after abandonment) by Allan Y. Scott for the Milwaukee Journal. You can see the photographer in the picture, apparently using a Leica M2 or M3. This picture came from the collection of the late John Horachek. Rather than being a double exposure, it seems like the ghostly image of an Electroliner was applied to the mirror using a stencil and a product known as Glass Wax.

John Nicholson writes:

Attached is a photo of the mirror in question at the Milwaukee terminal lunch counter on the last day of operation. I ate lunch there on the last day, wondering all the while who was going to grab that mirror once the line closed. Nobody seems to know what happened to it.

So, as you can see, all the photographer had to do was take a photo of the mirror with the waiting room reflected in the background.

(Ernie Maragos Photo, John Nicholson Collection)

(Ernie Maragos Photo, John Nicholson Collection)

Thanks for sharing those. At first, some people who saw that other picture thought it was a double exposure, but it was apparent to me that it wasn’t. I figure it was applied using Glass Wax and a stencil. My mother put some Christmas decorations on our window that way when I was a small child.

John replies:

I remember the Glass Wax stencils from Christmas 1957. Once they were removed after the holiday, at least your windows got a cleaning in the process.

Miles Beitler writes:

Your latest post included discussion of why the Congress line was constructed with room for a third track between the Lotus tunnel and the Forest Park terminal. I have attached a Tribune article from 1954 which gives the “official” reason (which essentially agrees with your post).

Thanks. You can read the article by clicking on the link given above.

The question came up recently, about whether the Congress rapid transit line was planned to have three tracks between Laramie and Forest Park, and what the third track was intended for. This Chicago Tribune article from January 6, 1954 provides the answer.

The third track was added to the plans at the insistence of Governor William Stratton, who wanted to make sure that the Chicago Aurora & Elgin could resume going downtown eventually. This is described as the final issue that needed to be settled in the overall deal whereby the CTA purchased CA&E’s fixed assets in this section for $1m. This process began when the CA&E announced that they could not afford to pay for new tracks in this stretch a few years earlier. State and county officials did not want the highway extension to be the cause of the interurban’s demise. Eventually the CTA came up with the proposal that they would purchase the CA&E’s fixed assets there, which naturally all would need to be replaced anyway. This gave the CTA “skin in the game” to continue offering rail service west of Laramie. CA&E made money from both the sale of the land for the highway and the sale of the tracks and signals to the CTA.

Suburban transit riders were unhappy with the need to transfer to the CTA at Forest Park for a slow ride downtown, starting in September 1953, and Gov. Stratton’s move was partly a response to that. The article says that the third track could be used by the CA&E or express trains (CTA’s), but the CTA did not have any interest in a third track, since they considered the new line an express service in itself. And the area that would have been occupied by this third CA&E track was left vacant. It runs north of the existing two tracks. That’s why there is a third portal in the Lotus Tunnel. The only place where this got fudged was the bridge over DesPlaines Avenue, where a tight curve got eased by using part of the area set aside for this third track.

Peter Korling writes:

I was looking for the layout of street cars and elevated trains in O scale on your website. Can you help? Or if you have other layouts help me use your search machine to find them- let me know.

Another question- do you have a picture of a streetcar in the layover at Oakenwald and 35th st? I’m not sure of the street the CTA used but the cross street was Oakenwald. Near the IC tracks. Circa 1940. the date doesn’t have to be exact. I searched CTA’s website with no success. This is for my interest only I am NOT a policeman solving a case.

I drove the L line for Muni in mid 60s. I have pics. PCC cars.

My father took this B&W photo in the early 40s.

I have original print w/his signature should you know somebody who would want to buy it.

The paintings are mine. peterkorling.com

SONY DSC

(FYI, Peter’s father was Torkel Korling, a famous photographer and inventor.)

Thanks for the photos. I actually met your father a couple of times in the 1980s. We had the chance to chat over a cup of coffee and he told me many interesting things.

I am not a model railroader myself, but perhaps some of my readers can help you with that.

As for a streetcar photo at the east end of the 35th Street line, I don’t recall seeing such a picture, but naturally I will check.

Jeremy Barnard writes:

I noticed you have a page dedicated to Capital Transit trolleys. I’m trying to find someone who may have some fleet roster information for capital-transit-company that might included buses from the early 1940s.

I have a couple photos from that era of White buses and have been trying to figure out exactly which model they were.

I saw David Sadowski’s name mentioned a few times. Do you think there would be a way to ask him as well?

I’d really appreciate any help in pointing me in the right direction.

Unfortunately I don’t have a Capital Transit bus roster, although there have been some books published about this operator. You might check those, in case you have not already done so.

As for David Sadowski, that’s me, so I guess you have killed two birds with one stone there.

Maybe some of our readers can assist you further.

Thanks.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

Our Latest Book, Now Available:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

From the back cover:

Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.

The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages

Chapters:
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found

Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.

The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.

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NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.

Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.

It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time.  The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.

Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.

Total time – 121:22

# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)

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A Century of Progress – In Color and In Motion

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Our recent post about transportation to and from the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair (aka A Century of Progress) jogged my memory a bit.  I recall reading a while back about the discovery of early color films from the fair, taken in 1933.

There had been color films of a sort prior to 1933, however most of these were much less successful “two-color” processes, which showed red and green but not blue.  For a list of early two-color Hollywood films prior to 1935, go here.  (The technically minded can also delve into great detail on the early Kodak color processes here.)

During 1933, there were experimental versions of either Technicolor or Kodacolor being tested, but these products were not commercially available until 1935.  A national spectacle, attracting millions of visitors, the fair was an obvious event to try out the new three-color films on.

Chicago’s second World’s Fair was also more colorful than its first one in 1893.  The World’s Columbian Exposition featured a neoclassical “White City,” while the 1933 version had multi-colored buildings and lighting of a more modern style.

Fortunately, some color footage from the 1933 edition of A Century of Progress has survived, and can be seen in some of the video links later in this post.  Without these films, our only evidence of color at the fair would be hand-colored postcards, posters, and such.

By comparison, by 1939-40, the time of the New York World’s Fair, 16mm Kodachrome movie film was available to the amateur market.  Consequently, there is a tremendous amount of color footage showing that fair.

The films include footage of the impressive Sky Ride, an aerial cable car that transported visitors to Northerly Island, which was built on landfill in 1928.  Fairgoers were transported nearly 2,000 feet at an altitude of 215 feet above ground.  The cable tram was suspended between to 628-foot high towers at the ends, with observation decks, the highest such points in the city.

Each streamlined “gondola” gave out wisps of steam from its tail, in a manner not unlike the rocket ships in the contemporary Buck Rogers comic strip, which first appeared in 1929.  (The competing Flash Gordon comic strip by Alex Raymond did not begin until January 7, 1934.  You can read some of those early strips here.  The movie serial versions of these comics did not appear until after the Chicago fair had closed.)

Apparently, each gondola was named after a different character in the extremely popular but controversial Amos ‘n’ Andy radio program, which had its roots in Chicago.  (While I have read that there were 12 such gondola cars, I’ve only seen pictures of three, named “Amos,” “Andy,” and “Brother Crawford.”)

Both my parents visited the Chicago World’s Fair.  My late father described how he had been stuck on one of the aerial cable cars for several hours when it broke down mid-flight.  My mother, who is now 86, still recalls her trips to the fair when she was 5 or 6 years old.  As you can see from the film footage, it was the type of event that many Chicagoans dressed up for in their finest clothes.

There were other novel modes of transportation at A Century of Progress.  Although the Chicago Surface Lines brochure in our earlier post shows a Dirigible or Zeppelin in the air (and one did visit Chicago in 1933) the films show a Goodyear Blimp in frequent use at the fair.

There was also an experimental auto on display, the streamlined three-wheeled “Dymaxion” car designed by Buckminster Fuller.  Unfortunately, interest in this car was quelled after it was involved in a fatal car crash, although the driver of the Dymaxion was not at fault.

The Chicago World’s Fair had an influence on the city that extended far beyond the 1930s.  Many of its scientific exhibits wound up at the Museum of Science and Industry, where they can be seen today.

The fair site was used for the successful 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair, which was also headed up by Lenox Lohr. Among its many exhibits, this fair featured an actual operating San Francisco cable car– the last cable car to be operated in Chicago to date.

While an attempt to continue the railroad fair for a third year was deemed a failure, this did lead to the Chicago Tribune‘s Col. Robert R. McCormick to envision a permanent site for summer exhibitions and fairs on the lakefront.

After years of discussion and planning, this effort resulted in the creation of McCormick Place, which opened in 1960.  Rebuilt after a disastrous 1967 fire, McCormick Place is now the largest convention center in North America.  Since A Century of Progress and the Chicago Railroad Fair successfully brought millions of people to Chicago’s lakefront, it was considered an excellent location for McCormick Place.

As a result, it is perhaps the most important legacy of those earlier fairs.  You can also read more about the genesis of McCormick Place in the book Political Influence by Edward C. Banfield, which we mentioned in an earlier post.

There are still a few traces of the World’s Fair, if you know where to look for them.  Five experimental houses from the fair were moved by barge across Lake Michigan to Beverly Shores, Indiana in 1935, where they remain today, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, comprising the A Century of Progress Architectural District.

Finally, using the final Youtube link below, you can listen to the rousing Chicago Worlds Fair Centennial Celebration March (1933) by composer Carl Mader.

 -David Sadowski

PS- Walt Disney (who was born in Chicago) is known to have visited the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair several times (one of at five such fairs he visited in his lifetime), and after watching some of these videos, it’s not difficult to see how A Century of Progress could have influenced Disneyland.

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