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.
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.
The Last CA&E Train?
This photo appeared in our recent post Reflections in a Golden Wye (June 24, 2021):
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.
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.
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
(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.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
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A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
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