Progress

In this April 4, 1959 view, a westbound CTA Congress-Milwaukee "A" train crosses DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park over temporary trackage. I-290 is under construction here, and this portion of highway opened in 1960. The tracks shown here were south of where the line crosses DesPlaines Avenue today. While there was once a grade crossing between the CTA and the B&OCT freight line, the two sets of tracks were grade-separated as part of the highway project, and just east of where this picture was taken, the CTA crosses the highway (and the freight tracks) on a flyover. This was not yet in use in April 1959, and the CTA used temporary tracks that were approximately where the westbound lanes of I-290 are today.

In this April 4, 1959 view, a westbound CTA Congress-Milwaukee “A” train crosses DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park over temporary trackage. I-290 is under construction here, and this portion of highway opened in 1960. The tracks shown here were south of where the line crosses DesPlaines Avenue today. While there was once a grade crossing between the CTA and the B&OCT freight line, the two sets of tracks were grade-separated as part of the highway project, and just east of where this picture was taken, the CTA crosses the highway (and the freight tracks) on a flyover. This was not yet in use in April 1959, and the CTA used temporary tracks that were approximately where the westbound lanes of I-290 are today.

Progress is our most important product, or so the saying goes:

In engineering, in research, in manufacturing skill, in the values that bring a better, more satisfying life, at General Electric, progress is our most important product.

This was G.E.’s postwar slogan, and here, at the start of a new decade, it’s worth considering how much progress we have, or have not made.

Some of our pictures in this post show progress. It was better to eliminate numerous grade crossings on our transit lines, that much is clear. But was it really better to eliminate entire lines, such as the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban? Did that represent progress? Perhaps not, but there are those who think its demise was inevitable.

On the other hand, there are things that have survived in spite of all odds, like Chicago’s Loop “L”, or the former Red Arrow Lines in suburban Philadelphia. The Norristown High Speed Line never offered a one-seat ride to downtown Philly, and yet it continues today, under the auspices of SEPTA, a public agency, while loss of a one-seat ride is widely cited as causing the demise of CA&E. In part, luck and local circumstances are involved in what survives, and what does not.

Do highways represent progress? Some would say no, but it would be difficult to imagine modern life without them. I don’t think we are about to tear up our highways and plant flowers where they once were.

Progress often takes two steps forward, and one step backwards. We may yet see a time when all autos run on electricity, but that does not explain why the Chicago Transit Authority phased out electric trolley buses in 1973.

I’m sure there were those who thought it progress at the time, of a sort. Progress is often in the eye of the beholder.

Here at the Trolley Dodger, we have our own notions of progress. In our case, progress can mean making this blog sustainable, financially and otherwise. It can mean offering something new. It can mean doing a better job of restoring old images.

Understanding the past makes it possible to envision the future. That’s a form of progress we are engaged in.

As we start our sixth year, our motto might as well be, progress is our most important project, for it is something always to strive for, even if it is a project that can never be finished.

In addition to some great recent photo finds, both ours and from the William Shapotkin Collection, we have lots of great new Milwaukee material courtesy of Larry Sakar. As always, many thanks go out to our contributors.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Annual Fundraiser

Our annual fundraiser continues. We are close to reaching our goal. However, we are also very close to our deadline for needing it. We hope to continue this resource for you in 2020.

We have received contributions from several of our readers, for which we are very grateful. Should you consider helping us with a financial contribution of your own, however modest, there are links at the end of this post you can follow.

We will continue to do our best for you. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Recent Finds:

Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 426 heads up a westbound train in September 1946. The location is not identified, other than being in Maywood. My guess is this is 5th Avenue looking east, and you can catch a glimpse of the station at right. This is prior to the installation of high-level platforms.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 426 heads up a westbound train in September 1946. The location is not identified, other than being in Maywood. My guess is this is 5th Avenue looking east, and you can catch a glimpse of the station at right. This is prior to the installation of high-level platforms.

A close-up of the previous picture. Perhaps this tower might help identify the location.

A close-up of the previous picture. Perhaps this tower might help identify the location.

This could be the type of tower.

This could be the type of tower.

Chicago Surface Lines car 5939, presumably at Navy Pier, end of the line for the Stony Island route. The streetcar has an NRA sign, (referring to the National Recovery Act) which would date this picture to circa 1933-35.

Chicago Surface Lines car 5939, presumably at Navy Pier, end of the line for the Stony Island route. The streetcar has an NRA sign, (referring to the National Recovery Act) which would date this picture to circa 1933-35.

CA&E wood car 315 at the Wheaton Shops in August 1960. Don's Rail Photos: "315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962." (Rick Burn Photo)

CA&E wood car 315 at the Wheaton Shops in August 1960. Don’s Rail Photos: “315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962.” (Rick Burn Photo)

On April 4, 1959, a CTA Douglas Park train is on the ramp connecting the old "L" structure with the new Congress Expressway median line (and the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway).

On April 4, 1959, a CTA Douglas Park train is on the ramp connecting the old “L” structure with the new Congress Expressway median line (and the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway).

I presume that this picture, taken on April 13, 1957, shows a CTA Garfield Park "L" train near the east end of the Laramie Yard. (between Laramie 5200 W. and Lavergne 5000 W.) Just east of here, there was a ramp going up to the elevated structure that ran downtown. Just south of here, the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway was under construction. Laramie Yard, or portions of it, continued in use for about a year after the new Congress median line opened in June 1958. At left, it looks like a school building, but as far as I can tell, none of the structures in the picture still exist. Today, this area is occupied by the Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School, built in the early 1970s.

I presume that this picture, taken on April 13, 1957, shows a CTA Garfield Park “L” train near the east end of the Laramie Yard. (between Laramie 5200 W. and Lavergne 5000 W.) Just east of here, there was a ramp going up to the elevated structure that ran downtown. Just south of here, the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway was under construction. Laramie Yard, or portions of it, continued in use for about a year after the new Congress median line opened in June 1958. At left, it looks like a school building, but as far as I can tell, none of the structures in the picture still exist. Today, this area is occupied by the Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School, built in the early 1970s.

On May 26, 1956, a two-car CA&E interurban train is at the DesPlaines Avenue Terminal in Forest Park. Another train is parked nearby on a small storage track. Between September 20, 1953 and July 3, 1957, CA&E trains terminated here, and riders who wanted to go downtown had to transfer across platform to CTA Garfield Park "L" trains. The track connection between the two lines had been severed, and each one turned around using a loop. The CTA's went above the CA&E on a wooden trestle. This view looks generally to the north. As of this time, construction of the nearby Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway was planned, but heavy construction work had not yet started here. As it was, when this picture was taken, the CA&E had still not sold their right-of-way crossing the DesPlaines River, a short distance west (left) of here.

On May 26, 1956, a two-car CA&E interurban train is at the DesPlaines Avenue Terminal in Forest Park. Another train is parked nearby on a small storage track. Between September 20, 1953 and July 3, 1957, CA&E trains terminated here, and riders who wanted to go downtown had to transfer across platform to CTA Garfield Park “L” trains. The track connection between the two lines had been severed, and each one turned around using a loop. The CTA’s went above the CA&E on a wooden trestle. This view looks generally to the north. As of this time, construction of the nearby Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway was planned, but heavy construction work had not yet started here. As it was, when this picture was taken, the CA&E had still not sold their right-of-way crossing the DesPlaines River, a short distance west (left) of here.

On March 14, 1957, photographer Monty Powell captured this view of a CA&E train on the midday storage track at the DesPlaines Avenue terminal in Forest Park. Car 421, built in 1927 by the Cincinnati Car Company, is at the head of a five-car train. In the background, you can see the wooden trestle, used by CTA "L" trains to turn around. We are looking to the west.

On March 14, 1957, photographer Monty Powell captured this view of a CA&E train on the midday storage track at the DesPlaines Avenue terminal in Forest Park. Car 421, built in 1927 by the Cincinnati Car Company, is at the head of a five-car train. In the background, you can see the wooden trestle, used by CTA “L” trains to turn around. We are looking to the west.

From the Collections of William Shapotkin:

CTA 9508 is heading southbound on Route 53 - Pulaski Road on February 4, 1973. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 9508 is heading southbound on Route 53 – Pulaski Road on February 4, 1973. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9532 at 47th and Archer in April 1963. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9532 at 47th and Archer in April 1963. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL trolley bus 198. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL trolley bus 198. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Chicago Surface Lines trolley bus 139. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Chicago Surface Lines trolley bus 139. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 0359 at the North and Cicero garage. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 0359 at the North and Cicero garage. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9349 is southbound on Central Avenue at Lake Street. In the background, we see the Austin Town Hall, which was built decades after the town of Austin was annexed into the City of Chicago. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9349 is southbound on Central Avenue at Lake Street. In the background, we see the Austin Town Hall, which was built decades after the town of Austin was annexed into the City of Chicago. (William Shapotkin Collection)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA 9536 and 1713 at California and Roscoe in 1957. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 9536 and 1713 at California and Roscoe in 1957. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 6141, working a southbound trip on Route 28 - Stony Island, is westbound on grand Avenue approaching Lake Shore Drive, having just departed the north end of the line at Navy Pier, on August 5, 1952. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 6141, working a southbound trip on Route 28 – Stony Island, is westbound on grand Avenue approaching Lake Shore Drive, having just departed the north end of the line at Navy Pier, on August 5, 1952. (William Shapotkin Collection)

In August 1976, a Harlem-bound "L" train crosses the north approach to Union Station. The view looks south. (William Shapotkin Collection)

In August 1976, a Harlem-bound “L” train crosses the north approach to Union Station. The view looks south. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9534 is eastbound on Fullerton Avenue. I'm not sure when this picture was taken, but it does remind me of the aftermath of the Blizzard of '67, worst in the city's history. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9534 is eastbound on Fullerton Avenue. I’m not sure when this picture was taken, but it does remind me of the aftermath of the Blizzard of ’67, worst in the city’s history. (William Shapotkin Collection)

From Larry Sakar:

I was going thru various pocket folders looking for something totally unrelated to traction when I ran across this. It’s a photocopy of the picture Al Buetschle had taken of him, holding on to the trolley rope on the 978 somewhere on the MUNI property in the summer of `983.

If the orange on 978 doesn’t look quite right, it isn’t the photo or my scanner. 978 had been in Appleton, WI for the Festival of Light. I do not recall what that was all about. 978 ran on temporary track along the Fox River with an electric generator on a flat car to provide the electric power to run the streetcar. There was no trolley wire. By the time of the festival the 978 was owned by a group called “Streetcar ’86 Inc.” I know absolutely nothing about them.

They repainted 978 but had, apparently, never seen a color photo of a Milwaukee streetcar. Consequently, they used a much darker shade of orange than what TM used. They also painted on large numbers for the car’s number which were totally wrong. TM never put on such large car numbers.

That classic T-Bird in front of 978 was Al’s car. I believe I told you that it was destroyed in an accident when he was hit by a bunch of teenagers cruising around who failed to stop and broadsided him. And of course, they were uninsured! To 978’s right are a group of Boeing LRVs, the worst streetcars MUNI ever purchased, I don’t think the MBTA in Boston fared too well with theirs either! It’s been said that this was proof that an airplane manufacturer could not build a streetcar. Boeing proved that was true. I do not recall any other properties who mad the mistake of buying these cars.

The MKE Rapid Transit Line

I though it might be interesting to Trolley Dodger readers to take a photographic ride over the Milwaukee Rapid Transit line between the Public Service Building and the Honey Creek Pkwy. overpass.

For those who may not know of its existence, and those who have knowledge of it, here is a little bit of background information about it. The Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line ran between N. 8th and W. Hibernia Sts to West Jct. This is where the line heading west to Waukesha, Oconomowoc, and Watertown (westbound) split off from the lines to Hales Corners, Burlington & East Troy.

The line was constructed in 5 Phases as follows:
Phase 1: The Town of Wauwatosa Rapid Transit Line
Phase 2: The Cut-off for the East Troy and Burlington lines which linked those lines to the Rapid Transit Line eliminating street running on National Ave.
PHASE 3: The Fairview Ave. Grade Separation Project
Phase 4: The Local West Side Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line (8th to 40th Sts.)
Phase 5: The Rapid Transit Subway: 8th & Hibernia Sts. to the Public Service Bldg. (NEVER COMPLETED).

Phase 1 was completed and opened for business on June 26, 1926. The remaining phases followed in order with Phase 4 completed and opened for business on September 22, 1930. Work on Phase 5 the subway continued until the Depression brought a halt to all construction in 1932. No more than half a block was ever built.

In addition to the lines to Burlington, East Troy, and Watertown, which used the Rapid Transit Line, TM also operated a Local West Side Rapid Transit Service between the PSB and West Jct. Interurbans made the 8 1/2 mile journey in 15 minutes or less.

The Rapid Transit was abandoned on June 30, 1951 under the management of The Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail Company. The city of Milwaukee purchased the 4 1/2 miles between 8th St. and Soldiers Home station (start of the Calvary Cemetery cut) in 1952 for $1,000,000,800, supposedly the price paid by TM when the land was acquired in 1925. The line had been in receivership since November, 1950 and was being managed by a Trustee, Bruno V. Bitker.

The 4 1/2 miles purchased by the city were subsequently used for the East-West Freeway I-94. In addition to the over one million dollar purchase price, the city had to pay WEPCO an additional $500,000 to move the electric transmission towers off the right-of-way. According to trustee Bitker, a minimum of $250,000 in new capital was needed to keep the Rapid Transit in business.

Today, very few traces of the Rapid Transit Line exist. The high tension electric transmission lines, seen west of the Red Star Yeast Co. plant at 28th St. to almost N. 40th St., were moved to the section of the r.o.w adjacent to (south), where an additional 2 tracks could have been laid but never were. That is what motorists traveling on the East-West Freeway see today but chances are few if any know their history or that they are traveling over the former Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line.

We begin our journey at the Public Service Building on W. Michigan St. between N. 2nd and N. 3rd St. The building’s first floor housed the train shed (12 tracks) as well as the waiting room (west wing). For anyone wanting a bite to eat there was the Electric Grill, also in the first floor west wing.

After the demise of Speedrail on 6-30-51 Greyhound Buses and buses of Wisconsin Coach lines (formerly Waukesha Transit Lines) continued using the train shed until February, 1965 when Greyhound opened a new station and 20 story office tower. The office tower faces W. Wisconsin Ave from N. 6th to about 1/2 block west of N. 5th St. The one-story bus terminal was on the NE corner of N. 7th & Wisconsin Michigan Sts and had a two-story parking garage on top of it.

In 2006, Greyhound and WCL moved their terminal to the new Milwaukee Intermodal terminal adjacent to the Amtrak station at N. 5th St. and W. St. Paul Ave. A few years later, Badger Bus Company, whose terminal was across N. 7th St. also moved to the Intermodal station. Since November, 2018 “The HOP” Milwaukee’s new streetcar circulator lays over at the corner of N. 4th & W. St. Paul. The line operates between here and Burns Commons at E. Ogden and N. Prospect Aves.

It is only appropriate that we begin our trip at the Public Service Bldg. Trains exited the trainshed onto N. 3rd St. Those headed for Watertown, East Troy, Burlington or West Jct, then turned left (west) at N. 3rd and W. Michigan Sts. In those days there were no stop and go lights. A traffic policeman controlled the intersections of 2nd, 3rd and 6th & Michigan Sts. At 6th & Michigan Sts. trains turned left (south) again in front of the station of the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee RR. Operating on N. 6th St for just one block, trains made a right turn onto W. Clybourn St. and followed it for 1 1/2 blocks west between N. 7th & N. 8th Sts. where they turned south (left) onto the private right-of-way. This was the first stop. The line went slightly downhill toward W. St. Paul Ave., but turned west on a sharp curve before reaching it. From here, many fans have said that it was like riding a roller coaster. Trains made a safety stop, and boarded passengers at N. 8th Sts. which was crossed at grade.

Because the planned subway was never completed, a “temporary ramp” was built over the subway portal beneath 8th St. Trains scooted down the ramp, and almost at once made a climb and a sharp turn. Over to the left stood the Rapid Transit Freight Terminal at 940 W. St. Paul Ave. A deck, even with the second floor of the building, was constructed to facilitate the loading and unloading of interurban freight. Railfans dubbed it “the shelf.” Passing the shelf trains entered the one block long Hibernia St. ‘L’ and rounded a curve to immediately dip back into a cut. Between 12th & 40th Sts. all streets passed over the Rapid Transit Line. In a minute’s time came the first of the three “Valley” (Menomonee River Valley) station stops -16th St.

All 3 valley stops, 16th, 27trh & 35th St. were beneath the viaducts that cross the valley from north to south. As we will see in the photos, getting to and from the stations required being able to navigate several sets of stairs. In 1926, there was no such thing as the Americans with Disabilities Act, meaning anyone wheel chair-bound or on crutches was out of luck when it came to riding the Rapid Transit. The same would hold true for the stations along the Town of Wauwatosa Rapid Transit Line which crossed over all streets. The station stops were on the Rapid Transit Line embankment well above street level by 12 or more feet and also required being able to go up or down stairs.

Continuing west, stops were made at 27th & 35th Sts. At 40th St. the line went around a sharp curve to the southwest and scooted across the Menomonee Valley and Bluemound yards of the Milwaukee Road on a long steel bridge. The bridge would become the subject of a fight between two Milwaukee County agencies after abandonment. The Freeway people wanted the bridge removed because they claimed it was in the way of construction of the Stadium Interchange (I-94 and the never completed Stadium Freeway). But the Parks people who were overseeing the construction and eventual operation of Milwaukee County Stadium (at the site of the Story Quarry near 44th St.) wanted it kept and converted into a pedestrian bridge to provide closer and easier access to the new ball park from areas to the east. The bridge, sans decking, track and trolley wire stood as a silent reminder of what Milwaukee once had and had so foolishly thrown away. It was removed in 1954 and the surplus steel used for making repairs to the Holton St. viaduct over the Milwaukee River.

Next up was the stop for National Soldiers Home at 52nd St. Here, Rt. 10 streetcars coming from West Allis or heading to it joined the Rapid Transit line on two tracks of their own, along the north side of the Rapid Transit r.o.w. The Calvary Cemetery cut, as it was called, started at 62nd St. and ran to the west end of the cemetery just east of S. 60th St. Trains (both Rapid Transit and streetcar) now climbed a very steep grade to cross over 60th St. Streetcars made stops at 60th, 62nd & 65th Sts. before descending to street level at 68th St. 68th St. was the next stop for the Rapid Transit and was the first of two stations where passengers wishing to go to West Allis boarded a streetcar at 68th St. or a bus at 84th St.

At 68th St., the Rapid Transit line swept around a broad northwesterly curve that placed the r.o.w. on an alignment between W. Stevenson and W. Adler Sts. At 70th St. motormen had to shut off, so as not to carry current over the circuit breaker located there. Stops from this point west were 73rd, 76th, 79th, 84th & 92nd Sts. Like 68th St. the 92nd St. station was located on a curve this one going southwest. Stations west and south of 92nd St. were Schlinger Ave. also known as Greenfield Jct. This was the place where the Rapid Transit interchanged freight with the Milwaukee Road’s “Air Line.”

Now heading south, stops were made at Adler St., Greenfield Ave. and finally West Jct. Trains headed west to Watertown went down a ramp that swept them due west to come parallel with the Chicago & Northwestern RR. lines to Madison and Butler, this line going up and over the Watertown line on a bridge. Trains bound for Burlington or East Troy crossed over the C&NW on a high, steel bridge and continued southward. West Jct. trains entered the West Jct. loop for the return trip to Milwaukee.

Now that I’ve described the line in words I will continue with photos of many of these locations. These photos will be a mix of owners from TM to Speedrail.

SR 39-40 loading at the PSB H. Danneman coll.

SR 39-40 loading at the PSB H. Danneman coll.

2 car train of 1100's lvg PSB ca. 1930's. Note traffic cop

2 car train of 1100’s lvg PSB ca. 1930’s. Note traffic cop

SR 60 series wb on ramp over subway 8th St.

SR 60 series wb on ramp over subway 8th St.

Surplus 1100's on the shelf 11th St. yards.

Surplus 1100’s on the shelf 11th St. yards.

SR 35-36 EB at 6th & Michigan Sts. 1950 Lew Martin

SR 35-36 EB at 6th & Michigan Sts. 1950 Lew Martin

Car 66 inbound xing N. 8th St. 1951

Car 66 inbound xing N. 8th St. 1951

16th St. sta. on RT line lkg. west. Note US&S signal at right. City of MKE photo

16th St. sta. on RT line lkg. west. Note US&S signal at right. City of MKE photo

A quick note re: the 16th St. station. That little square bldg. seen perched above the r.o.w. was a new substation built solely to feed the Rapid Transit line and was decommissioned and removed after abandonment.

Storage after aband. 1100's east of gas tanks at 25th st.

Storage after aband. 1100’s east of gas tanks at 25th st.

SR 65 on 25th St. curve before 2-8-50. This is car 65 after someone repainted the front with the imitation LVT design save for the Liberty Bell. The car is curving around the gas tanks at 25th St. Lou Martin was standing on the 25th St, overpass shooting down at the car. The 25th St. bridge is now over the freeway.

SR 65 on 25th St. curve before 2-8-50. This is car 65 after someone repainted the front with the imitation LVT design save for the Liberty Bell. The car is curving around the gas tanks at 25th St. Lou Martin was standing on the 25th St, overpass shooting down at the car. The 25th St. bridge is now over the freeway.

RT r.o.w. lkg east @ 27th St.

RT r.o.w. lkg east @ 27th St.

TM 1100's EB at 35th St. sta. RT Line C.N. Barney coll.

TM 1100’s EB at 35th St. sta. RT Line C.N. Barney coll.

TM 1100 WB on RT Bridge over Men. Valley & Mke. Rd.

TM 1100 WB on RT Bridge over Men. Valley & Mke. Rd.

S. 60th St. curve on RT line lkg SW.

S. 60th St. curve on RT line lkg SW.

RT Line r.o.w. lkg east at 61st St. Rt 10 tracks are at left

RT Line r.o.w. lkg east at 61st St. Rt 10 tracks are at left

RT Line r.o.w. lkg east @ 62nd St. sta(for RT. 10 only)

RT Line r.o.w. lkg east @ 62nd St. sta(for RT. 10 only)

68th St. sta. lkg NE in 1937 City of MKE. Survey

68th St. sta. lkg NE in 1937 City of MKE. Survey

RT Line r.o.w. lkg east at 69th St. Note RT. 10 tracks descending @ left

RT Line r.o.w. lkg east at 69th St. Note RT. 10 tracks descending @ left

RT Line r.o.w. lkg east at S. 70th St.

RT Line r.o.w. lkg east at S. 70th St.

RT Line r.o.w. lkg east at S. 73rd St. sta.

RT Line r.o.w. lkg east at S. 73rd St. sta.

I’m including this color shot by the late Lou Martin (below). This is what the Honey Creek Parkway bridge looked like. I think it was the best looking of all the TM bridges, especially with the stone abutments. Something you might find interesting: post WWII, there was a housing shortage in Milwaukee and its surrounds. Temporary barracks were set up in Honey Creek Parkway to house returning veterans especially those who were newly married and didn’t care to live at what had been home.

Take a close look at the photo of 70th St. You can see the warning flag about the circuit breaker hanging from the wire.

More trivia concerning the Rapid Transit line bridges from 68th St. west. When the Rapid Transit line was completed in 1930 ,TM decided to do what they’d already done on several bridges on the MRK-Milwaukee-Racine-Kenosha line– advertise the “product.” Five bridges were chosen for this purpose, starting with Schlinger Ave. Each bridge had the word “Rapid” in that special font I like to call “Rapid Transit” followed by the number of minutes the Rapid Transit took to reach downtown from that point, and then ending with the word “Transit”. Schlinger was 18 minutes. The last one chosen – 68th St. was 11 Minutes to Downtown. The other 3 bridges were 92nd St., 84th St. and 76th St. Try getting to downtown Milwaukee from 68th St. in 11 minutes on the East-West Freeway (I94). GOOD LUCK!!!

The tanks in the background at 25th St. belonged to the Milwaukee Gas Light Company at 2400 W. St. Paul Ave. They were removed when the expressway was built. Post abandonment, the 1100 series single and duplexes were placed in storage at 25th St. Lightweight cars (the 30 and 40 series articulateds and the 60 series curved side cars) were stored on the tracks that lead into the never completed subway. Cars 300 & 301 were stored on the “shelf”.

Cars were moved to the Waukesha Gravel pit (still owned by Jay Maeder) on 2-29-52. Scrapping began the next day. By mid-October it was all over. The gravel pit was filled in around 1978 and today you’d never know it had been there. Gravel pit substation stood until 11-11-63 when it was torn down to make way for the new County Trunk Highway A bypass around downtown Waukesha. It was a little 2 lane highway when I saw it for the first time in 1967. Today, it is the very busy and very big Highways 59 & 164 bypass. The Waukesha loop and station are both gone.

I also forgot to point out in my commentary that Wisconsin Coach Lines was originally Waukesha Transit Lines, which became a thorn in Speedrail’s side when the PSC and its ever so “honest” chairman John C. Doerfer allowed WTL and Cardinal Bus Lines to continue operating even after the 12 hour service shutdown in February, 1951. Today WCL is part of the big bus conglomerate Coach USA, as is United Limo which operates the line to O’Hare from S. 13th & W. Edgerton almost directly east of me by 42 blocks. (I’m 2 blocks from 55th & Edgerton.) in the Heritage Village Apt. complex.

Rumor has it that when Greyhound pulled out of the PSB for the last time in early February of 1965 WEPCO employees sick of the noise and diesel fumes of the buses repunctuated Greyhound’s famous slogan of “Thank you for going Greyhound” to “Thank you for going, Greyhound!”

-Larry Sakar

60 SERIES AND GREYHOUND SILVER SIDES @ 3RD AND MICHIGAN The Medford Hotel on the NW corner of 3rd & Michigan (long gone) was the perfect place to watch activity at the PSB. Look at this.

60 SERIES AND GREYHOUND SILVER SIDES @ 3RD AND MICHIGAN The Medford Hotel on the NW corner of 3rd & Michigan (long gone) was the perfect place to watch activity at the PSB. Look at this.

RT line r.o.w. lkg west @ Honey Creek Pkwy bridge

RT line r.o.w. lkg west @ Honey Creek Pkwy bridge

SR 300 xing Honey Creek Pkwy bridge 5-7-50

SR 300 xing Honey Creek Pkwy bridge 5-7-50

Now Available On Compact Disc
CDLayout33p85
RRCNSLR
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99

Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14
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Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 3Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 2Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 1Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 2Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 1Tape 2 Mundeline pic 3Tape 2 Mundeline pic 2Tape 2 Mundeline pic 1Tape 1 ElectrolinerTape 1 Electroliner pic 3Tape 1 Electroliner pic 2Notes from tape 4Note from tape 2

RRC-OMTT
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Price: $24.99


Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes

Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include:

Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern
$5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere.
Disc One
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick):
01. 3:45 Box motor #5
02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953
03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954
04. 4:13 Loco #12
Capital Transit:
05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953
06. 1:43
Altoona & Logan Valley:
07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit:
08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953
09. 4:04
10. 1:39
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s:
11. 4:35 August 27, 1954
12. 4:51
Illinois Terminal:
13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955
14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955
Baltimore Transit:
15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954
16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto:
17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954
18. 5:20 #80, October 1954
Total time: 79:30
Disc Two
St. Louis Public Service:
01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953
Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City):
02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954
03. 5:17
Third Avenue El (New York City):
04. 5:07 December 31. 1954
05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954
Southern Iowa Railway:
06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955
07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9
IND Subway (New York City):
08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954
Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick:
09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr.
Total time: 61:31
Disc Three
Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction:
01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953)
Cincinnati Street Railway:
02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951)
Toledo & Eastern:
03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958)
Capital Transit:
04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s)
Total time: 74:02
Total time (3 discs) – 215:03



The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938-- Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 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)

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A Tribute to John F. Bromley

The Bromley holiday card from 2017.

The Bromley holiday card from 2017.

As we once again celebrate the holiday season, we all have many reasons to be thankful, including each other. I regret to inform you, if you have not already heard, of the recent passing of noted Canadian railfan historian and photographer John F. Bromley, who died on December 1st after a short illness. I believe he was about 80.

Mr. Bromley was a giant among Canadian railfans, and it is fair to say he was the preeminent historian of Toronto traction, for perhaps the last 50 years.

He authored TTC ’28: The Electric Railway Services of the Toronto Transportation Commission in 1928, published by Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (1979), and Fifty Years of Progressive Transit – A History of the Toronto Transit Commission, (with Jack May), published by the Electric Railroaders’ Association (1978). While these are both long out of print, you should have no difficulty in finding them on the used market.

In addition to being a friend of this blog, Mr. Bromley contributed to the various railfan books that I have worked on, including Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-58 (CERA Bulletin 146), Chicago Trolleys, and Building Chicago’s Subways. Besides his own photographs, which are excellent, he had an extensive collection of many others, including some rare original 1942 Kodachrome slides of the Chicago Surface Lines. Those would be, as far as I know, among the very earliest color CSL images of any kind. Unfortunately, the name of the photographer is not known.

John Bromley specialized in night photography, as you will see in the tribute below, created by Bill Volkmer. This was oriiginally made as a PDF slideshow, and if you want, you can still view it that way here, but since not everyone would be able to see it, I have separated it out into images. We thank Mr. Volkmer for making this tribute, and for sharing it with our readers.

We follow after that with a selection of images from the John F. Bromley Collection that have previously appeared here.

We also have additional contributions from noted Milwaukee historian Larry Sakar, William Shapotkin, and a few recent finds of our own. We thank all our contributors.

Happy Holidays!

-David Sadowski

PS- You can see more pictures by John F. Bromley, or from his collection, here and here. If you ike his style of night shots, we have more in our previous posts Night Beat and Night Beat, Jersey Style.

CSL 4010 and 4035 in experimental paint at the Madison-Austin loop on November 24, 1945. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL 4010 and 4035 in experimental paint at the Madison-Austin loop on November 24, 1945. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL 7027 is southbound at Dearborn and Monroe, the east end of route 20 Madison, in June 1946. (Ohio Brass Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL 7027 is southbound at Dearborn and Monroe, the east end of route 20 Madison, in June 1946. (Ohio Brass Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 4400 southbound on Clark at Arthur, August 15, 1956. (John F. Bromley Photo, M. D. McCarter Collection)

CTA 4400 southbound on Clark at Arthur, August 15, 1956. (John F. Bromley Photo, M. D. McCarter Collection)

CTA 7208 southbound on Clark at Van Buren, a view from the Loop "L", on August 15, 1956. (John F. Bromley Photo, M. D. McCarter Collection)

CTA 7208 southbound on Clark at Van Buren, a view from the Loop “L”, on August 15, 1956. (John F. Bromley Photo, M. D. McCarter Collection)

CTA 4218 at State and 95th on April 4, 1948 (route 36 - Broadway-State). (John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 4218 at State and 95th on April 4, 1948 (route 36 – Broadway-State). (John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL 4039 at Madison and Austin on June 30, 1946. (Barney Neuburger Collection, Courtesy of John F. Bromley)

CSL 4039 at Madison and Austin on June 30, 1946. (Barney Neuburger Collection, Courtesy of John F. Bromley)

CSL 4051 at the Madison and Austin loop on February 22, 1942. This car had previously been modified with an experimental door arrangement later used on the 600 postwar Chicago PCCs. By the time this picture was taken, it had been partially returned to its original configuration. As John Bromley notes, "The car is not yet fully restored after the rear entrance experiment. It’s missing one front door and is thus in a hybrid state." (James J. Buckley Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 4051 at the Madison and Austin loop on February 22, 1942. This car had previously been modified with an experimental door arrangement later used on the 600 postwar Chicago PCCs. By the time this picture was taken, it had been partially returned to its original configuration. As John Bromley notes, “The car is not yet fully restored after the rear entrance experiment. It’s missing one front door and is thus in a hybrid state.” (James J. Buckley Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CTA 818 by the Park Theatre at Lake and Austin on August 13, 1948. I don't believe the movie theatre stayed open much later than this. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 818 by the Park Theatre at Lake and Austin on August 13, 1948. I don’t believe the movie theatre stayed open much later than this. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 155 on private right-of-way west of the Brookfield Zoo on April 11, 1948, on the CERA "day after abandonment" fantrip. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 155 on private right-of-way west of the Brookfield Zoo on April 11, 1948, on the CERA “day after abandonment” fantrip. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT at 52nd and 36th on February 28, 1938. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT at 52nd and 36th on February 28, 1938. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 119 on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 119 on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 138 at the Brookfield Zoo on July 22, 1938, on the busy LaGrange line. The zoo first opened in 1934. Within a year or two, all West Towns streetcars would be repainted blue. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 138 at the Brookfield Zoo on July 22, 1938, on the busy LaGrange line. The zoo first opened in 1934. Within a year or two, all West Towns streetcars would be repainted blue. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 15 on DesPlaines Avenue on April 11, 1948. The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip, held the day after West Towns streetcar service came to an end. Note one of the distinctive C&WT shelters at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 15 on DesPlaines Avenue on April 11, 1948. The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip, held the day after West Towns streetcar service came to an end. Note one of the distinctive C&WT shelters at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT line car 15 at Harlem and Cermak on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT line car 15 at Harlem and Cermak on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL 1933 at Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive on May 12, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL 1933 at Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive on May 12, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 6034 is at Kedzie and Bryn Mawr, the north end of route 17, on April 16, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 6034 is at Kedzie and Bryn Mawr, the north end of route 17, on April 16, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL 3217 is on route 73 - Armitage on July 1, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection) Andre Kristopans: "EB passing Mozart Park at Armitage and Avers."

CSL 3217 is on route 73 – Armitage on July 1, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection) Andre Kristopans: “EB passing Mozart Park at Armitage and Avers.”

CSL 3212 heads up the line-up at Archer Station (car house) on October 16, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL 3212 heads up the line-up at Archer Station (car house) on October 16, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL 2802 is on Anthony Avenue at Commercial Avenue in this July 13, 1941 photo. Note the Pennsylvania Railroad station at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection) Bob Laich: "The building immediately behind CSL 2802 on Anthony Avenue was PRR’s South Chicago freight station, which was built at street level. The platform for the South Chicago passenger station can be seen on the elevation in the right background." Andre Kristopans adds, "something odd here – note “Special” sign in front window. Appears to be a charter waiting for its party off the PRR." This must be Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip #35, which used this car on that date.

CSL 2802 is on Anthony Avenue at Commercial Avenue in this July 13, 1941 photo. Note the Pennsylvania Railroad station at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection) Bob Laich: “The building immediately behind CSL 2802 on Anthony Avenue was PRR’s South Chicago freight station, which was built at street level. The platform for the South Chicago passenger station can be seen on the elevation in the right background.” Andre Kristopans adds, “something odd here – note “Special” sign in front window. Appears to be a charter waiting for its party off the PRR.” This must be Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip #35, which used this car on that date.

CTA 3266 at 71st and California on the 67-69-71 route on May 29, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 3266 at 71st and California on the 67-69-71 route on May 29, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 6236 at 71st and California on the 67-69-71 route on May 29, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 6236 at 71st and California on the 67-69-71 route on May 29, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 5508 at 79th and Western on May 29, 1949. That looks like a 1948-50 Packard at left, which some have nicknamed the "pregnant elephant" styling. We can catch a glimpse of the nearby CTA turnback loop for route 49 - Western at right. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 5508 at 79th and Western on May 29, 1949. That looks like a 1948-50 Packard at left, which some have nicknamed the “pregnant elephant” styling. We can catch a glimpse of the nearby CTA turnback loop for route 49 – Western at right. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL Pullman 677 on the outer end of Milwaukee Avenue on March 4, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection) Andre Kristopans: "677 – Most likely on Milwaukee north of Central where many cars turned back. Originally turnback point was Gale St, right where Jefferson Park terminal now is, but later was moved to Central."

CSL Pullman 677 on the outer end of Milwaukee Avenue on March 4, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection) Andre Kristopans: “677 – Most likely on Milwaukee north of Central where many cars turned back. Originally turnback point was Gale St, right where Jefferson Park terminal now is, but later was moved to Central.”

CSL Pullman 696 at the Museum Loop in Grant Park in April 1940. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL Pullman 696 at the Museum Loop in Grant Park in April 1940. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL Pullman 431 on Cicero Avenue, February 22, 1940. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CSL Pullman 431 on Cicero Avenue, February 22, 1940. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA Sedan 3377, showing the original door configuration, southbound on Cottage Grove at 95th Street on May 6, 1951. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA Sedan 3377, showing the original door configuration, southbound on Cottage Grove at 95th Street on May 6, 1951. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA Sedans (Peter Witts) 3360 and 3347 are shown here at south Shops in 1952, having been converted to one-man with the removal of some center doors. There were 25 cars so modified, but as far as I know, only one ran in service in this setup. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA Sedans (Peter Witts) 3360 and 3347 are shown here at south Shops in 1952, having been converted to one-man with the removal of some center doors. There were 25 cars so modified, but as far as I know, only one ran in service in this setup. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

Prewar CTA PCC 7020, now converted to one-man operation, is southbound at Western and Maypole in May 1956, about a month before the end of streetcar service on route 49. The prewar cars were used for 364 days on this line. In the back, that is the Lake Street "L", which, oddly enough, does not have a stop on this busy street. (John F. Bromley Collection)

Prewar CTA PCC 7020, now converted to one-man operation, is southbound at Western and Maypole in May 1956, about a month before the end of streetcar service on route 49. The prewar cars were used for 364 days on this line. In the back, that is the Lake Street “L”, which, oddly enough, does not have a stop on this busy street. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 4409 and 4390 at the beautifully landscaped Western-Berwyn loop on May 13, 1950. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 4409 and 4390 at the beautifully landscaped Western-Berwyn loop on May 13, 1950. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

Pullman-built CTA PCC 4148 southbound at Clark and Thome on May 13, 1950. That is a safety island at right, to protect passengers from errant vehicles. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

Pullman-built CTA PCC 4148 southbound at Clark and Thome on May 13, 1950. That is a safety island at right, to protect passengers from errant vehicles. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

Chicago Surface Lines Brill car 6072 at Kedzie Station on January 28, 1942. (John F. Bromley Collection) I believe this car was built in 1914. You can see part of a Sedan in the background. These were used for fill-in service on Madison along with the prewar PCCs.

Chicago Surface Lines Brill car 6072 at Kedzie Station on January 28, 1942. (John F. Bromley Collection) I believe this car was built in 1914. You can see part of a Sedan in the background. These were used for fill-in service on Madison along with the prewar PCCs.

Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947. The sign on the front of the car indicates this was on through route 8. According to www.chicagrailfan.com, "Various Through Route combinations existed throughout the early history of this route. Original Through Route operated between Grace/Halsted and 63rd/Stony Island via Halsted and 63rd St. Beginning in 1912, some Halsted service, mainly route 42 Halsted-Downtown service, began operating south of 79th St. via Vincennes and 111th St. to Sacramento, over what now is the 112 route. While for most of through service continuing north on Halsted, the south terminal remained 79th St. Effective 5/24/31, the through Halsted service generally turned around at 111th/Sacramento, with the downtown service generally turning at 79th St. Through service south of 79th St. discontinued 12/4/49, when segment south of 79th St. was converted to buses." (John F. Bromley Collection) Our resident South Side expert M. E. adds, "The caption begins: "Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947." Not quite. 111th St. approaches Vincennes Ave. only from the east. The car line on 111th St. was not route 8. Instead, route 8 was on Vincennes. Vincennes Ave. continued south of 111th one block to Monterey Ave., whereupon route 8 cars turned right onto Monterey, then about three blocks later, onto 111th St. heading west. (To see all this on a map, use maps.google.com and plug in '60643 post office'.) As for the photo, I'd say this car is on Vincennes, heading south, anywhere between 109th and Monterey. I say 109th because route 8 left its private right-of-way (which started at 89th St.) at 107th St. and ran south from 107th on the street."

Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947. The sign on the front of the car indicates this was on through route 8. According to http://www.chicagrailfan.com, “Various Through Route combinations existed throughout the early history of this route. Original Through Route operated between Grace/Halsted and 63rd/Stony Island via Halsted and 63rd St. Beginning in 1912, some Halsted service, mainly route 42 Halsted-Downtown service, began operating south of 79th St. via Vincennes and 111th St. to Sacramento, over what now is the 112 route. While for most of through service continuing north on Halsted, the south terminal remained 79th St. Effective 5/24/31, the through Halsted service generally turned around at 111th/Sacramento, with the downtown service generally turning at 79th St. Through service south of 79th St. discontinued 12/4/49, when segment south of 79th St. was converted to buses.” (John F. Bromley Collection) Our resident South Side expert M. E. adds, “The caption begins: “Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947.” Not quite. 111th St. approaches Vincennes Ave. only from the east. The car line on 111th St. was not route 8. Instead, route 8 was on Vincennes. Vincennes Ave. continued south of 111th one block to Monterey Ave., whereupon route 8 cars turned right onto Monterey, then about three blocks later, onto 111th St. heading west. (To see all this on a map, use maps.google.com and plug in ‘60643 post office’.) As for the photo, I’d say this car is on Vincennes, heading south, anywhere between 109th and Monterey. I say 109th because route 8 left its private right-of-way (which started at 89th St.) at 107th St. and ran south from 107th on the street.”

The picture above has sparked some controversy over where it was taken. Here is some additional correspondence from John Habermaas:

Merry Christmas… thanks for posting another treasure trove of Surface Lines photos. I am reasonably sure the photo of the Halsted car shown at 111th and Vincennes is on 111th east of Vincennes. Surface Lines parked trippers on 111th to operate to Sacramento to accommodate (the) rush of students from nearby Morgan Park High’s afternoon dismissal. Since the east 111th route was an early abandonment, I suspect the tracks east of that point were no longer used.

Often saw cars parked on this short section laying over until they were needed…often as trippers intended to run westbound to Sacramento. It was a long time ago so I could wrong about this car. The route on 111th between Cottage Grove and Vincennes was discontinued by the Surface Lines in SEP ’45 very likely because much of it was single track and though (it) had light usage, required a two man crew due the many RR grade crossings.

When I was in elementary school I often went to watch the cars climb the 111th street hill. Once in which awhile a HS prankster would reach out the rear window if was opened and pull the trolley rope to de-wire the pole stalling the car on the hill. Most of the Brills apparently could not restart the ascent up the hill, and would have to back down the hill to Longwood Drive for a fresh start, with I suspect the conductor guarding the window.

David took a closer look at picture, this car is definitely parked on the short section of active track between Vincennes and the Rock Island mainline. If you look closely you can see the gates at the crossing for the Rock Island mainline (not to be confused with the Rock Island suburban branch which the route 8 cars cross Hale… looks much different as the line made a jog from Monterey to W 111th).

Most of M. E.’s comments about the Halsted route are correct, except for his guess about the location of the streetcar. It is on 111th Street east of Vincennes. He may not be aware of the Surfaces Line’s practice using portion of the abandoned 111th Street line as layover point. I do remember seeing streetcars positioned there. The line on Vincennes was originally built by the C&IT (Chicago and Interurban Traction) which had (a) carbarn at 88th and Vincennes. That early traction ordinance made them divest their property within the city. The CSL used the 88th street carbarn for dead storage, until streetcar service on Halsted was abandoned south of 79th. The portion of the line west of Vincennes on Monterey and 111th was a branch line built to serve the cemeteries at 111th and Sacranento.

I am impressed with John Bromley’s photos. You can see, from these blow ups, the quality of his photos and how detailed it is. The one photo shows that the car is just standing with no motorman at the controls. The second shoes the stretch behind the car and you can clearly make out the Rock Island RR crossing gates. The location is definitely 111th east of Vincennes as John captioned it.

Thank you for sharing your excellent insights.

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.

John sent me this picture last year, but I didn’t get around to using it until now.

You might be interested in this, pulled off the Internet. Original caption noted this as ”Bronzeville”. CSL April 1941 47th ST looking west.

Cheers
John

Recent Correspondence

Larry Sakar writes:

Here’s a little bit of a mix of things for The Trolley Dodger if you’re interested. First, in keeping with the season here is a picture taken at the corner of N. 4th St. and W. Wisconsin Ave. ca. Xmas 1927. The photographer is facing northeast. The letters “RA” at the bottom of that large sign across the street (NE corner of 4th & Wisconsin) are the last two in the name “Alhambra”. The Alhambra was a movie theater that stood until about 1960 on the northeast corner of 4th & Wisconsin. Directly across the street as you can see was the Boston Store Dept. store. The building is still there but Boston Store went out of business either late last year or earlier this year. For anyone who ever shopped at Carson’s in Chicago, Boston Store was identical. At one time both were owned by P.A. Bergner Co. Note the TM 600 series car westbound on Wisconsin Ave. running on Rt. 12w – 12th St. Brouwer’s next door to the theater was a shoe company one of many shoe stores in downtown like Thom Mc Cann and Packard-Rellin. To the best of my knowledge they, like the movie theaters are now gone.

We know this has to be 1927 or later because of the movie playing at the Alhambra. “Swim Girl Swim” starring Bebe Daniels (1901-1971) was released in 1927. It was a silent movie. Ms.. Daniels was both a star of silent films and talkies. Her biography says she even made a few television appearances. The “Center” destination on the 600 is a bit curious. Rt. 12 streetcars ran all the way to N. Holton & E. Richards Sts. Perhaps it was short turning for some reason. The decorations atop the Boston Store marquee tell us this is Christmas season. Today, the Henry Reuss Federal Plaza occupies the entire north side of Wisconsin Ave. from N. 3rd to N. 4th Sts. Its blue exterior has earned it the nickname “Blue Whale.”

Now for two photographs I call “Foolers.” They’re not where their destination sign says they are. Both of these were real head-scratchers, until I finally determined where they are. The photo of car 651 with TM shorthand of WAU co BLDGS” and a route 10 in the route sign box made me think this was somewhere near the Muirdale Sanitorium (for patients with TB) which was served by Rt. 10 streetcars continuing west from the Harwood Ave. terminal in the heart of the Wauwatosa Village to the Sanitorium in Muirdale. This was out on Watertown Plank Rd. Service west of Harwood Ave. was converted to buses in 1937. WAU CO BLDGS meant Wauwatosa County Buildings. The former Sanitorium still stands today on Research Drive in the Milwaukee County Research Park adjacent to the massive Froedtert Hospital Campus. It is presently used as an office building. Dave Stanley helped me figure out where this really is. The car is laying over at S. 84th & W. Lapham Ave., the west end of RT 19. In all probability the photographer (unknown) talked the motorman into rolling up that sign which hadn’t been used in years. The last 600s ended service in early 1949 except for 607, which was saved by the Railroad Historical Foundation also known as the “607 Gang.” It is often seen in photographs amid the surplus ex TM 1100s stored on the tracks leading into the never completed Rapid Transit subway ca.1949-51 In 1952, The RHF received notice from Hyman-Michaels Scrap Co. that the car had to be removed from the Speedrail property or it would be scrapped. With all of the RHF members save one having been drafted (Korean War) there was nowhere to go with the streetcar, so it was sold to HM for scrap.

When I received the photo of car 943 I couldn’t figure out where the car was on 35th St. Rt 35 was the 35th St route. The 35th St. destination in the sign below the roof route sign made zero sense. If it was a northbound car the destination would say either Burleigh or Fond du lac as the tri-intersection of N. 35th , W. Burleigh St. and W. Fond du lac Ave. was the northern terminus (the west side of Fond du lac car station). If it was southbound the destination would be Mt. Vernon Ave. (the last street before heading across the 35th St. viaduct which streetcars never crossed). Upon closer examination I realized just where this is and what it is. It’s a TM publicity photo. Car 943 is westbound on W. Michigan St. between N. 3rd and N. 4th Sts. The “crowd” waiting to board are TM employees doubtlessly recruited from the Public Service Building out of the picture to the right of 943 . Now take a closer look between the “Front Entrance Safety Car” sign on 943’s right front dash and the “crowd”. This was obviously a time exposure. You see a “ghosted” 1100 series interurban probably headed into the PSB from Sheboygan. or perhaps headed the opposite way. It’s hard to tell.

Recently, I sent you a picture of Al Buetschle, who saved TM 978, holding up pieces from the shattered car 39 . This was at the site of the 9-2-50 fatal head-on collision post abandonment. Here are two more photos. In the first one Al holds up a roof ventilator and another piece of the shattered lightweight duplex. Car 1192 (duplex 1192-93) plowed thru 3/4ths of car 39 before stopping. Duplex 39-40 was so badly damaged that both were shoved off the r.o.w. into the drainage ditch along the east side of the r.o.w. The late Lew Martin, a member of the RHF, snapped this photo of people milling around in the wreckage of car 39. This is followed by a shot of duplex 45-46 enroute Hales Corners at the accident site some time later. I believe Lew Martin also took this photo. In addition to Al with the roof ventilator we see his friend Lee Bremer holding up one of the door panels from car 39. Neither of them owned a car in 1952 so taking the door home with them was not an option. It would have been a bit clumsy to haul on a Transport Co. bus!

I also recently sent a photo of the Port Washington station as it looked in service and in 1983. Here is a much better photo showing KMCL D3 (formerly D23) on the loop with the station at the left. The photo is from the Don Ross collection. In 1983 the QWIK Cement Co. and just about everything else that surrounded the loop was gone replaced by a Wisconsin Telephone Co. bldg. The former station did not appear to be in use.

Unfortunately, it appears that Al Buetschle passed away sometime in 2018. He was probably in his mid-80s.

Larry continues:

Here are two more photos of the 978. The first one is an Ed Wilson photo. I am guessing this is sometime in the 1940s. The location is East Wisconsin Ave near N. Van Buren St. The building with the tall columns rising above 978 is the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. headquarters. The C&NW lakefront depot would be behind the photographer photo left one block east. Unfortunately, Milwaukee could not see fit to save it, just as they couldn’t with the Milwaukee Road Everett St. station and the North Shore station. I believe it was author Jim Scribbins who said in one of his books, “Milwaukee does not practice urban renewal. In Milwaukee it’s urban removal!”

One thing seen in this photo is rather odd. Rt. 13-Clybourn-Michigan never ran 900 series cars. The ex-Racine city cars renumbered into the 750 series and the 800s were the cars that saw service on Rt. 13. Rt. 13 was an early victim of bustitution as I like to call it being converted to trolley bus on 9-14-41. The route was discontinued by MCTS several years ago due to lack of riders.

The second photo of the 978 was taken by the late Ernie Maragos of Racine, WI in the summer of 1957. Among newsworthy events that year the then Milwaukee Braves won the World Series. It would be the last summer for Milwaukee streetcars. In Ernie’s picture 978 has just crossed the Wells St. bridge over the Milwaukee River, and will soon stop for N. Water St. If Ernie had turned to his right you would be seeing the Oneida St. WEPCO power plant and the west end of the famous Pabst Theatre. Oneida St. was the original name of Wells St. and was named for the Native American tribe that lived in the area before Milwaukee became a city in 1850. The Power Plant was decommissioned some time ago and is now a theatre, like the Pabst next door presenting live stage performances. I believe they call it the “Powerhouse Theatre.”

When it comes to colossal mistakes the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Company (which bought out TMER&T in late 1952) decided to move a group of surplus streetcars to the stadium spur in Calvary Cemetery cut in the winter of 1955-56. The cars were surplus, because by this time only two or three streetcar lines remained. Space needed to be created for new incoming GM Diesel buses. This was not a scrap line. The cars were stored here for lack of someplace better The photo of car 925 taken by TM interurban motorman Ed Wilson shows what happened. Vandals took full advantage. Note the holes in 925’s front window made by rocks probably taken from track ballast on the streetcar tracks. The spur had been laid on the abandoned Rapid Transit Line r.o.w. in 1953.

Al Buetschle, who saved car 978, recalled that one day while riding a RT. 10 Wells-West Allis streetcar through the cut he saw Transport Company employees laying ballast and rails where the Rapid Transit tracks had been just a year earlier. As he tells it, he immediately got off at the Hawley Rd. station (seen in back of the 925) and walked down the r.o.w. to where the construction crew was working. He thought that the Rapid Transit might be coming back but no such luck. The crew informed him that this was to be a new storage track for streetcars serving County Stadium about one-half mile east. When streetcar service ended on March 1, 1958 the spur was no longer needed and the tracks were taken up in May.

One other thing of note in Ed Wilson’s picture. The covered stairs leading up to the Hawley Rd. overpass were unique to this stop. The Calvary Cemetery cut was part of Phase 3 of the city of Milwaukee Rapid Transit project. This phase was known as the Fairview Ave. grade separation project, which removed streetcar and interurbans from street running on Fairview Ave. between 60th and 68th Sts. and placed them on a magnificent 4-track private right-of-way parallel to Fairview Ave. Streetcars stopped at Hawley Rd. 60th St., 62nd St., 65th St. and then descended to street level approaching 68th St. Rapid Transit trains stopped only at 68th St. Streetcars continued across 68th and turned south beneath the 68th St. station overpass, which was actually closer to 69th St. Upon going under the bridge they once again turned west for 1-1/2 blocs to S. 70th St. which they paralleled on a private right-of-way next to S. 70th St. The Wells-West Allis branch terminated at the intersection of S. 70th St. and W. Greenfield Ave. adjacent to the Allis Chalmers Co. Today both the streetcars and the Allis Chalmers Co. plant are gone.

TM 978 at N. Van Buren St. & E. Wisconsin Ave. Ed Wilson photo

TM 978 at N. Van Buren St. & E. Wisconsin Ave. Ed Wilson photo

M&STC 978 EB on Wells St. between Milw. River and N. Water St. Summer, '57 Ernie Maragos photo

M&STC 978 EB on Wells St. between Milw. River and N. Water St. Summer, ’57 Ernie Maragos photo

M&STC 933 et al stored on Stadium spur 1-56 Don Ross photo

M&STC 933 et al stored on Stadium spur 1-56 Don Ross photo

M&STC 925 stored at west of Stadium spur Winter 1955-56 Ed Wilson photo

M&STC 925 stored at west of Stadium spur Winter 1955-56 Ed Wilson photo

More from Larry:

Here are a few additional items I think Trolley Dodger readers might enjoy. In one of your recent posts you featured a photo of a TM 1100 near the 68th St. station. 68th was a major stop both westbound and eastbound. For westbound passengers this was the first point where they could transfer to continue to West Allis. In this case, you walked down the station stairs and waited for a RT 10-Wells-West Allis streetcar which stopped beneath the Rapid Transit overpass. It would take you all the way to S. 70th St. & W. Greenfield Ave., adjacent to the Allis Chalmers Co. plant. During State Fair week, streetcars turned west on Greenfield and continued to State Fair Park at S. 82nd St. The other West Allis transfer point was S. 84th St., where you boarded a Transport Co. Rt 67 bus to get to West Allis. West Allis car station was in the heart of West Allis at S. 84th & W. Lapham Ave. All trains stopped at 68th St.

The bridge over Brookdale Dr. on the Hales Corners line seemed to be a favorite spot for fans to take pictures of trains headed for Hales Corners, or in earlier years Burlington (until 1938 and West Troy (until 1939). The inaugural Speedrail fan trip of October 16, 1949 using car 60 was no exception. The car was posed on the Brookdale bridge, and it seems that almost every fan aboard it took almost the same picture. Brookdale siding, which stretched all the way from Brookdale Dr. siding to W. Layton Ave., was the point where the line built to carry workmen who were building the suburb of Greendale left the mainline and followed a single track r.o.w., built solely for that purpose. Once construction of Greendale was completed the tracks and wire came down. It was never intended to be a permanent, passenger carrying line.

In 2016, my colleague Chris Barney took these two photos showing what was left of the abandoned r.o.w. at Brookdale Dr. The r.o.w. was graded down some years ago, but the fancy stone bridge over the nearby culvert remains to this day. Look below the Rapid Transit bridge and to the left to see it in Speedrail’s day. Other bits and pieces of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line can still be found. West of the Red Star Yeast Plant at about N. 28th St. the r.o.w. was built to accommodate four tracks, though only two were ever built. When I-94, the East-West Expressway, was built through here in the mid-to-late 1960’s, it was built over what had been the Rapid Transit line though at a much higher elevation. That was probably done to reduce the length of the on and off ramps. The abandoned r.o.w. was bought by the city of Milwaukee (the initial phase of the East-West Freeway was a city and not Milwaukee County project). In 1953, then WEPCO sold the abandoned r.o.w. between N. 8th St and W. Hibernia St 4-1/2 miles west to Soldiers Home (52nd St.) for $1,000,800, supposedly the price they paid for it in 1925. The high tension electric transmission towers, like the one seen in the background (that’s the 35th St. viaduct in back of it) of my photo, were moved over to the never used portion of the r.o.w., costing the City of Milwaukee and additional $500,000. Consider that according to trustee Bruno V. Bitker, Speedrail needed at least $250,000 to be successfully reorganized. In the 68-1/2 years since abandonment of the Rapid Transit, time has amply demonstrated which of the two was better (hint; it’s not the East-West Freeway.) In February 1951, when Speedrail VP of Operations Ed Tennyson and Metropolitan Transit Committee Chairman Al Kalmbach met with Milwaukee city officials, they were turned down by the aldermen who claimed that the city could not show favoritism to just the two wards through which The Rapid Transit operated. Yet, they didn’t seem one bit concerned about it when the expressway was built on the Rapid Transit line r.o.w. through those same two wards!

The black and white 8×10 photo of the 68th St. station is from a book later placed on microfilm called “Subways Along Milwaukee Rapid Transit Lines.” No, not the never completed subway. In this case “subways” referred to streets over which the Rapid Transit crossed on a bridge. Its purpose was apparently to measure the clearances, so that the info could be placed on the bridge for cars and trucks passing beneath. Every bridge between Hibernia St. and 84th St. was photographed in all four directions. Also checked for clearances was the North Shore Line from Oklahoma Avenue south to Howell and Rawson Aves. in Oak Creek. Today, all traces of the Rapid Transit line west of the west end of Calvary Cemetery cut have vanished. The embankments from S. 70th St. west were all removed in the mid-1960s, and power lines similar to the ones that now occupy the former NSL Skokie Valley Route placed in the middle of the abandoned r.o.w. The recent rebuilding of the Zoo Interchange has obliterated all traces of West Jct. Widening of Highway 100 (S. 108th St. between W. Forest Home Ave. and W. Edgerton Ave. in Hales Corners has eliminated what remained of the abandoned Hales Corners line r.o.w.

Here’s a great “Then and Now” Speedrail photo for you. The small b&w shows car 60 on the Brookdale Dr. bridge. The date is 10-16-49, and this is the inaugural fan trip introducing the 60 series curved side cars. I think just about every fan on that trip snapped a picture of the car sitting on that bridge. Fast forward to 2016. My colleague, Chris Barney took these photos at Brookdale Dr.
(this is on the Hales Corners line by the way). First, look beneath the bridge on the left hand side. You’ll see a stone barrier in front of a culvert that ran alongside the r.o.w. Now look at the bottom photo. In the center of the picture you see that same stone bridge. The abandoned r.o.w. has been completely removed. The “bridge” to which Chris was referring was the one over the Root River built by the Milwaukee Light Heat & Traction Co. in 1905. WEnergies removed it in 2017 because it was deteriorated to the point where it was going to fall into the river. They could access the power lines on either side of the river so the bridge was no longer needed.

I drew an arrow to the stone bridge in the 1949 photo. It can be kind of hard to make out in the 1949 photo. This entire area is part of Root River Parkway and yes, this is the same Root River crossed by the NSL near 4 1/2 Mile Rd. just north of Racine.

Aband Rapid Transit r.o.w. @ 32nd St. lkg west in 2003 by Larry Sakar

Aband Rapid Transit r.o.w. @ 32nd St. lkg west in 2003 by Larry Sakar

SR 60 posed on Brookdale Bridge from Brookdale Dr. 10-16-49

SR 60 posed on Brookdale Bridge from Brookdale Dr. 10-16-49

SR 60 on Brookdale Dr. bridge 10-16-49 inaugural fan trip. Herb Danneman coll.

SR 60 on Brookdale Dr. bridge 10-16-49 inaugural fan trip. Herb Danneman coll.

Brookdale Dr. xing in 2016 by Chris Barney

Brookdale Dr. xing in 2016 by Chris Barney

Showing culvert bridge in 1949 photo

Showing culvert bridge in 1949 photo

Speedrail 60 WB at 68th St. ca. Summer, 1950. L. Sakar coll.

Speedrail 60 WB at 68th St. ca. Summer, 1950. L. Sakar coll.

68th St. sta. lkg NE in 1937 City of MKE. Survey

68th St. sta. lkg NE in 1937 City of MKE. Survey

Charles Kronenwetter comments:

Love the latest set of photos, especially those from Milwaukee. One comment though, I believe that the photo of the 943 shows it Southbound on 3rd St right in front of PSB. (You can see the tracks heading into the building just to the right of the 943.) The park to the left is the one that sat in front of the Milwaukee Road depot. The building to the rear of the car is, I think the Medford Hotel and the white building to the left is the Boston Store. I’ve seen this photo somewhere else and you are correct, it was a staged photo using volunteers from the PSB.

The photo showing the fan holding up the door from the wrecked 39 appears to have been taken after the tracks had been pulled up. I never did hear what became of the ties after that although I do recall seeing a bulldozer with some sort of plow on the front, maybe out around the gravel pit.

I did salvage and still have a seat cushion from one of the last 1100s being scrapped which my dad picked up for me. I don’t know what to do with it but hate to see it tossed after all those years 🙂

Thanks for the great photos, keep up the good work 🙂

From the Collections of William Shapotkin:

CTA trolley bus 9509, heading south on Route 52 - Kedzie, is at Kedzie and 51st . (Charles E. Keevil Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9509, heading south on Route 52 – Kedzie, is at Kedzie and 51st . (Charles E. Keevil Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

This early postcard shows the Chicago "L" at a time, in the 1890s, when steam provided the power. I would presume this view is of Lake Street, with Wolf Point in the distance. (William Shapotkin Collection)

This early postcard shows the Chicago “L” at a time, in the 1890s, when steam provided the power. I would presume this view is of Lake Street, with Wolf Point in the distance. (William Shapotkin Collection)

This picture was taken on November 24, 1955, at Western Avenue and 75th, with a PCC heading north, about to go under the Belt Railway of Chicago. A mid-50s Ford heads south. (William Shapotkin Collection)

This picture was taken on November 24, 1955, at Western Avenue and 75th, with a PCC heading north, about to go under the Belt Railway of Chicago. A mid-50s Ford heads south. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA prewar PCC cars 4041, 4028, and others are on what appears to be the brand new turnaround loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett, which became the west end of Route 63 in 1948. The bus at left offered connecting service west of here. Previously, red streetcars ran to Oak Park Avenue, where they could easily turn back using a crossover, as they were double-ended. There is still a bus loop, although smaller, on this location. The first PCC is wearing "tiger stripes," intended to improve motorist visibility, while its follower has the colors applied by CSL in 1941. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA prewar PCC cars 4041, 4028, and others are on what appears to be the brand new turnaround loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett, which became the west end of Route 63 in 1948. The bus at left offered connecting service west of here. Previously, red streetcars ran to Oak Park Avenue, where they could easily turn back using a crossover, as they were double-ended. There is still a bus loop, although smaller, on this location. The first PCC is wearing “tiger stripes,” intended to improve motorist visibility, while its follower has the colors applied by CSL in 1941. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Chicago Surface Lines "Matchbox" 1423 is heading towards Fulton and Western. The notation on the back of the photograph says Fulton-21st-Canal. (William Shapotkin Collection) Andre Kristopans adds, "The Fulton-21 shot looks to be 21st and Sangamon, crossing the Burlington branch that came off the main at 16th and followed Sangamon down to the Lumber District line at Cermak. Mostly ripped up maybe 10 years ago. Lumber District line itself is barely alive with only one or two customers left."

Chicago Surface Lines “Matchbox” 1423 is heading towards Fulton and Western. The notation on the back of the photograph says Fulton-21st-Canal. (William Shapotkin Collection) Andre Kristopans adds, “The Fulton-21 shot looks to be 21st and Sangamon, crossing the Burlington branch that came off the main at 16th and followed Sangamon down to the Lumber District line at Cermak. Mostly ripped up maybe 10 years ago. Lumber District line itself is barely alive with only one or two customers left.”

I believe we may have run a similar picture before. This shows the North Shore Line station adjacent to the CTA "L" station at Adams and Wabash. (William Shapotkin Collection)

I believe we may have run a similar picture before. This shows the North Shore Line station adjacent to the CTA “L” station at Adams and Wabash. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound CTA Route 58 - Ogden streetcar descends into the Washington Street tunnel circa 1950, about to head under the Chicago River. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound CTA Route 58 – Ogden streetcar descends into the Washington Street tunnel circa 1950, about to head under the Chicago River. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue in the late 1940s. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue in the late 1940s. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Recent Finds

This April 1975 view of Chicago's Loop "L" is notable, for three things in particular that are no longer there. The 2200-series railcars have been retired, the Sun-Times/Daily News building has been replaced by Trump Tower, and even the station where this photo was taken (Randolph and Wabash) is now gone.

This April 1975 view of Chicago’s Loop “L” is notable, for three things in particular that are no longer there. The 2200-series railcars have been retired, the Sun-Times/Daily News building has been replaced by Trump Tower, and even the station where this photo was taken (Randolph and Wabash) is now gone.

According to the notes the late Robert Selle made for this photograph, taken on October 26, 1958, this is the start of a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip. This was more than a year after passenger service had been abandoned on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban. The location is a crossover just east of First Avenue in Maywood, and we are looking mainly to the east. Due to construction of the nearby Eisenhower Expressway, this would have been about as far east as CA&E trains could have gone at this time. Here, the line curved off to the right and headed southeast before crossing the DesPlaines River. Building the highway through that spot meant the CA&E tracks, and bridge, had to be moved slightly north of where they had been. This was all put back in place by 1959, but was never used since the interurban was abandoned. The fantrip train included cars 453 and 430. Mr. Selle did not identify the middle car in his notes, but no doubt it can be determined from other pictures taken on the same trip.

According to the notes the late Robert Selle made for this photograph, taken on October 26, 1958, this is the start of a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. This was more than a year after passenger service had been abandoned on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban. The location is a crossover just east of First Avenue in Maywood, and we are looking mainly to the east. Due to construction of the nearby Eisenhower Expressway, this would have been about as far east as CA&E trains could have gone at this time. Here, the line curved off to the right and headed southeast before crossing the DesPlaines River. Building the highway through that spot meant the CA&E tracks, and bridge, had to be moved slightly north of where they had been. This was all put back in place by 1959, but was never used since the interurban was abandoned. The fantrip train included cars 453 and 430. Mr. Selle did not identify the middle car in his notes, but no doubt it can be determined from other pictures taken on the same trip.

Bob Selle took this picture on August 8, 1954, during a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban, using wood car 310. This was a photo stop on the freight-only Mt. Carmel branch, which ran alongside Mannheim Road. Mr. Selle identified this location as a quarry, but it would be interesting to know just how far south this was. It may be possible to determine this from the location of the houses at right, assuming they are still there. As far as I know, tracks at this time ended just south of Roosevelt Road and had once served the cemetery there.

Bob Selle took this picture on August 8, 1954, during a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban, using wood car 310. This was a photo stop on the freight-only Mt. Carmel branch, which ran alongside Mannheim Road. Mr. Selle identified this location as a quarry, but it would be interesting to know just how far south this was. It may be possible to determine this from the location of the houses at right, assuming they are still there. As far as I know, tracks at this time ended just south of Roosevelt Road and had once served the cemetery there.

Recent Correspondence

Jeff Haertlein wanted to share this video with you that he found on YouTube, showing the extensive model train layout called a Minirama that was on display in the Wisconsin Dells for many years:

Graham Titley writes:

Firstly can I say how much I have enjoyed reading through many of the posts and how informative they are!

I am part of a Facebook group that have been ‘challenged’ to identify a photo of a interurban/streetcar/tram accident.

I have found several images of nearly similar trams (for simplicity I’ll only type this term), some in Chicago and Milwaukee in your posts, as well as early trams in Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia – without finding what I consider an exact match. The main issue is the low placement of the light on the front and the style of the ride board/bumper. The tram is clearly aluminium or steel as the frontage under the windows is a single curve.

There appears to be no identification numbers or names on the front.

It is possible that the image is of a crash in Northern Europe – however, I think the single arm connector makes it more likely that the location is North America.

I would be grateful for any thoughts that you may have.

In my gut I think the locale is North America, possibly Illinois, Connecticut or New England, or perhaps Canada – rather than being Europe.

I have found similarities with cars built by American Car Co, Brill Hicks, Cincinnati Car Co, Jewett and Wason – but nothing I consider an exact match to the configuration of the windows, bumper, horn/light at centre front, and the ‘railroad’ roof with clerestory windows.

I think the car may be more suburban and does not look as if there are any couplings for multi-car use. Due to the perspective it is difficult to estimate the length but the impression given is that it is a short car. I also wondered of it could be a freight trolley.

Unfortunately what I think is the destination board (which has fallen down in the left side window) cannot be enhanced sufficiently to become legible.

I have exhausted the sources, books, images and museum collection rosters that I can think of or find.

If you don’t have any thoughts this image will have to remain unidentified – for now!

Cheers

Graham (in UK).

Perhaps our readers may have some ideas, thanks.

Holiday Greetings

From Bill Volkmer:

From Eric Bronsky:

Eric writes:

This photo was taken in 1936. The USA was deep in the doldrums of the Great Depression. President Roosevelt was elected to a second term, Art Deco and Streamline Moderne were in fashion, the RMS Queen Mary made her maiden voyage, and a loaf of bread cost 8 cents.

On this snowy day, we’re shivering on a windswept ‘L’ platform, watching a Jackson Park-bound 4-car train of Chicago Rapid Transit Co. 4000-series “Baldies” grind out of the University station above 63rd Street. Completed in 1893, this station served South Siders until the mid-1990s, when the line was rebuilt and cut back to Cottage Grove. Express trains used the center track in the old days.

Photographed by Frank Butts, this image is now in the Bruce Moffat Collection. Though it’s spectacular in B&W, I thought that color would truly bring it to life. Bruce graciously provided a high-res scan of the B&W print for this purpose and I colorized it using Adobe Photoshop CS6.

But this scene still looked rather dreary for a Holiday card, so I decided to add a bit of cheer by making a few modifications. Some are fairly obvious but you might need to examine the image more closely to spot others (transit “purists” will note that the brown & orange paint scheme did not appear until 1938).

That’s all for now, folks. We will round out 2019 with one more post next week, featuring all new material.

-David Sadowski

Now Available On Compact Disc
CDLayout33p85
RRCNSLR
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99

Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14
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Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 3Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 2Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 1Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 2Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 1Tape 2 Mundeline pic 3Tape 2 Mundeline pic 2Tape 2 Mundeline pic 1Tape 1 ElectrolinerTape 1 Electroliner pic 3Tape 1 Electroliner pic 2Notes from tape 4Note from tape 2

RRC-OMTT
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Price: $24.99


Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes

Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include:

Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern
$5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere.
Disc One
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick):
01. 3:45 Box motor #5
02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953
03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954
04. 4:13 Loco #12
Capital Transit:
05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953
06. 1:43
Altoona & Logan Valley:
07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit:
08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953
09. 4:04
10. 1:39
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s:
11. 4:35 August 27, 1954
12. 4:51
Illinois Terminal:
13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955
14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955
Baltimore Transit:
15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954
16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto:
17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954
18. 5:20 #80, October 1954
Total time: 79:30
Disc Two
St. Louis Public Service:
01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953
Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City):
02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954
03. 5:17
Third Avenue El (New York City):
04. 5:07 December 31. 1954
05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954
Southern Iowa Railway:
06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955
07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9
IND Subway (New York City):
08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954
Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick:
09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr.
Total time: 61:31
Disc Three
Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction:
01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953)
Cincinnati Street Railway:
02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951)
Toledo & Eastern:
03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958)
Capital Transit:
04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s)
Total time: 74:02
Total time (3 discs) – 215:03



The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938-- Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 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.
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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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The Fruits of Our Labors

We salute the people of Texas, who are recovering from one of the worst floods in American history. Here is a classic Dallas streetscape from July 31, 1950, showing Dallas Railway & Terminal Co. double-end PCC 612. Don’s Rail Photos says, “612 was built by Pullman-Standard in 1945, #W6699. It was sold as MTA 3334 in 1959 and sold to Trolleyville in 1991. It was transferred to Lake Shore Electric Ry in 2006. It was sold to McKinney Avenue Transit Authority and stored at Illinois Railway Museum in 2010.” I probably rode this car in Boston in 1977 on the Ashmont-Mattapan line. (John D. Koschwanez Photo)

Labor Day weekend is just around the corner, and I for one am thankful for all our reader contributions to this site. Today, we are featuring more great historic photos from Jack Bejna and Larry Sakar.

I hope that you will appreciate their efforts.

On a personal note, we received a few “author’s copies” of Chicago Trolleys this week. For the first time, I could hold the book in my hand.

It has been an honor and a privilege to write this new book. As with any such endeavor, there is always a lot of blood, sweat, toil, and tears involved. But in a sense, what had been my book is now your book. Now that it is finished, it belongs to you, the reader, and the people of Chicago.

I would like to thank all the various people who contributed photos to the book. In particular, numerous images came from the collections of George Trapp, who has so generously shared them with this blog in the past.

Being a very modest person, he did not even ask for an individual “by-line” for each picture, just a “thank you” in the Acknowledgements. But I want to give credit where credit is due. Thanks in large part to George Trapp, Chicago Trolleys is a much better book than would otherwise be the case, for which I am most appreciative.

-David Sadowski

PS- You can save $4 by pre-ordering Chicago Trolleys before Tuesday, September 5th. Right now, as part of our special introductory offer, we are providing free shipping within the United States. The shipping rates for books ordered starting on the 5th will be increased by $4 per book, so get your orders in today. Books will be shipped on or about the September 25th release date.

Recent Correspondence

Jack Bejna writes:

The Fifth Avenue Terminal (original name) was built by the West Side elevated Railroad in 1904 to provide a terminal for rush hour L train traffic. In 1905, the terminal also started hosting trains of the CA&E railroad. In the early days over 100 rush hour trains were common. The terminal had four tracks serving two platforms and was the only downtown Chicago terminal ever used by the CA&E. When the CA&E stopped using the terminal in 1953 because of construction of the Congress Street Expressway and the resulting loss of the CTA Garfield Park elevated line, the terminal was closed and later demolished in 1955.

Photos of the terminal and adjacent tracks are few and far between, and for the most part the quality of the photos is less than what I hoped to find. Never the less, here are a number of Photoshopped images of the terminal, tracks, and trains I was able to find. As an aside, the bridge over the Chicago River (2 parallel spans) was the first Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge installed anywhere.

The original Wells Street Terminal facade.

The original Wells Street Terminal facade.

The same facade, revised in the late 1920s.

The same facade, revised in the late 1920s.

The Wells Street Terminal, street side.

The Wells Street Terminal, street side.

The terminal, looking east.

The terminal, looking east.

The north track, looking east.

The north track, looking east.

The south track, looking east.

The south track, looking east.

The four-track terminal, looking east.

The four-track terminal, looking east.

The terminal, looking west. 457 and 458 are seen, which means the picture is from 1945-53.

The terminal, looking west. 457 and 458 are seen, which means the picture is from 1945-53.

The terminal tracks, looking west.

The terminal tracks, looking west.

The terminal tower, looking west.

The terminal tower, looking west.

The terminal tower, looking west.

The terminal tower, looking west.

An eastbound CA&E train enters the terminal.

An eastbound CA&E train enters the terminal.

A westbound train (in the distance) leaves the terminal. The tracks at right connected with the Loop “L” via Van Buren to the south of the terminal.

The Chicago River bridge, which was really two bridges side by side.

The Chicago River bridge, which was really two bridges side by side.

An eastbound train crossing the Chicago River.

An eastbound train crossing the Chicago River.

CA&E 38 heads up a westbound train leaving the terminal.

CA&E 38 heads up a westbound train leaving the terminal.

1950 Speedrail Disaster

The tragic result of a head-on collision between two Speedrail cars on a blind curve on September 2, 1950. Heavyweight cars 1192-1193, at left, ran into lightweight articulated cars 39-40. Ten people were killed and dozens were injured.

The tragic result of a head-on collision between two Speedrail cars on a blind curve on September 2, 1950. Heavyweight cars 1192-1193, at left, ran into lightweight articulated cars 39-40. Ten people were killed and dozens were injured.

Larry Sakar writes:

Saturday, September 2nd marks the 67th anniversary (to the exact day) of the 1950 Speedrail accident during the NMRA convention in Milwaukee. I’ve put together a group of pictures for The Trolley Dodger of and related to that event.

Speedrail founder and president Jay E. Maeder poses with lightweight duplex 39-40 at Hales Corners Hillcrest loop just before starting the return trip to Milwaukee. The NMRA had specifically requested the ex TMER&L 1100 series heavy duplex trains (1180-1199) and that the charter be on the Hales Corners line because both represented a”classic” interurban and interurban line vs. the Waukesha line which was double track and more suburban . Why Maeder would take the tremendous risk of mixing a lightweight train among heavy duplexes was never explained. The car had been repainted by Speedrail employee David Strassman at Maeder’s request the night (9/1/50) before the trip. It featured a striking new application of Speedrail’s orange and maroon colors.

With his train 22 minutes behind schedule , Maeder and his regular motorman assigned to this trip, George Wolter decided to “play it safe” and pull into the Greenwood Jct. siding since they knew the regular southbound run to Hales Corners was on its way. Greenwood Jct. was a siding that had seen almost no use. It was the junction with the 5.5 mile westward extension of the Lakeside Belt Line from Powerton Jct. The Belt line was used to haul coal to the Lakeside power plant in St. Francis, Wi. The connection to the East Troy-Burlington line at Greenwood which was one block south of W. Howard Ave. also made it possible for freight coming from Racine via the M-R-K Milwaukee-Racine-Kenosha Line to the Rapid Transit freight terminal at 10th & St. Paul near the never-completed subway downtown. Here we see car 300 piloted by motorman Tom Burke passing the siding leading to the Belt Line. The photographer was William Wight, a 27 year old employee of the Kalmbach Publishing Co. He did not live to see his photo. He was killed in the crash about 10 minutes later. His camera was recovered from the wreck and the film developed. George Gloff who was a Speedrail employee and was on Maeder’s train gave me this photo. He went on to a very distinguished career as Art Director for Kalmbach Publishing Co.

One question that readers might ask is why, if Maeder and is motorman decided to play it safe by going into a siding, as they were 22 minutes behind schedule, that the fatal crash happened just 10 minutes later?

Larry:

After pulling out of Greenwood Jct. Maeder continued north. He was not planning on stopping at Oklahoma Ave., as he claimed he had been given clearance all the way to West Jct. by the dispatcher. However, Senior motorman John Heberling had the siding lined for Maeder’s train so he had to pull in. Heberling was in charge of training new motorman and had been a long time TMER&L employee. He knew Trip #4 with heavy duplex 1192-93 was due southbound within a few minutes so he thought it best to check with the dispatcher and make sure it was OK for Maeder to proceed. Maeder had a fit, and ordered Heberling to reset the siding and let him out at once! One does not argue with the head of the company if one wants to remain employed there so John did as he was told. No more than 15 seconds after Maeder left he heard the wailing of interurban horns and instantly knew what happened. He looked up at the Nachod signal on the pole across Oklahoma Avenue and saw that it was red. Heberling had no idea that Maeder had received clearance to West Jct. nor did he know that Tennyson had changed Maeder’s orders that all trains call-in from every siding to what he (Tennyson) had set up previous to 9/2 and supposedly had agreed on with Maeder. Those orders called for trains to call-in only if they got into trouble. LeRoy Equitz, motorman of 1192-93 was told this when he stopped at West Jct. But when he stopped at Brookdale siding northbound Tennyson did not tell Maeder he had changed the orders. I think if he had Maeder would have fired him on the spot! So Maeder thought Equitz would wait at West Jct. having been told by the dispatcher that he was on the way north. Unfortunately, Equitz was told only to go by signal indication. Having gotten the white light at West Jct. he headed south. If Maeder had not extended the photo stop at Hillcrest loop in Hales Corners where he arrived behind schedule and despite agreeing that there would be no photo stops northbound then “giving in” when the fans on his train asked for one, he would not have been behind schedule. He didn’t want to disappoint his fellow railfans and model railroaders. So I guess you could say it was a very unfunny comedy of errors that had fatal results. Both Maeder and Tennyson were to blame at least as I see it. Much of this was the “last straw” in the feud that had been going on between them since October of 1949.

This is the wreck site. It was between W. Arthur and W. Cleveland Aves. parallel to S. 100th St. Shrubs, a hill and a curve made it impossible for opposing trains to see each other in time to stop. This is lightweight duplex 45-46. I don't know who took the picture or if this was before or after 9/2/50.

This is the wreck site. It was between W. Arthur and W. Cleveland Aves. parallel to S. 100th St. Shrubs, a hill and a curve made it impossible for opposing trains to see each other in time to stop. This is lightweight duplex 45-46. I don’t know who took the picture or if this was before or after 9/2/50.

Heavy duplex 1192-93 coming southbound completely overrode car 39 the lead car on the northbound train which was being operated by Jay Maeder. The motorman of 1192-93 was LeRoy Equitz. Car 39 was demolished for nearly 3/4 its length. It was so badly damaged that it was pushed off the right-of-way along with the rear car car 40 which was not damaged. The 10 fatalities occurred in car 39.

Heavy duplex 1192-93 coming southbound completely overrode car 39 the lead car on the northbound train which was being operated by Jay Maeder. The motorman of 1192-93 was LeRoy Equitz. Car 39 was demolished for nearly 3/4 its length. It was so badly damaged that it was pushed off the right-of-way along with the rear car car 40 which was not damaged. The 10 fatalities occurred in car 39.

Larry Sakar adds (regarding the picture above):

I’m not sure who those people are rummaging around in the wreck. It’s hard to believe the site wouldn’t have been cordoned off to prevent looting. Perhaps they were police personnel who were rounding up personal belongings. It’s not in any of the pictures I sent you but in some shots of the wreck looking north you see a second heavy duplex behind 1192-93. That is duplex 1184-85 trip #5 from Milwaukee. The passengers aboard that car were told about the accident when they reached West Jct. The train then proceeded slowly toward the wreck site where the able bodied NMRA members got off and walked to the wreck site to lend assistance in the rescue efforts. You know it had to be a horrible sight.

Once all of the trapped injured and dead had been removed from the wreck 1184-85 coupled on to 1193 the rear car on Equitz’s southbound car and tried to pull the wreck apart. It did not succeed. A Wisconsin National Guard tow truck had to pull the wreck apart. 1192-93 was covered with a tarp and hauled down to the Public Service Bldg. in the dark of night. It was initially kept in the back of the building where passengers boarding cars for Waukesha, West Jct. or Hales Corners could not see it. Once all of the investigations were completed it was again transported in the dark of night to the Waukesha Gravel Pit.

1192-93 figured into Speedrail history unwantedly on December 20th, 1950. Two teenaged vandals trespassing at the gravel pit went inside the train. The boys got cold so the geniuses decided they’d warm up by starting a fire in the rear car (1193).. he fire got out of hand and they were lucky to escape the car. The fire gutted 1193. I don’t know if Trustee Bitker pursued criminal charges against them but he certainly should have if he didn’t.

In this Lew Martin photo we see car 40 laying on its side after being pushed off the right-of-way. Lew said he was confronted by a man who identified himself as a “railroad detective” and ordered off the property or he would be arrested.

Two years have passed since the accident and the Speedrail line is being scrapped. Note the ties minus rails. Here we see Lee Brehmer (a friend of former Milwaukee resident Al Buetschle, who saved Milwaukee streetcar 978) at the crash site. holding up one of the doors from car 39. Today, the site has been completely obliterated by the National Ave. on and off ramps of the I-894 freeway.

Two years have passed since the accident and the Speedrail line is being scrapped. Note the ties minus rails. Here we see Lee Brehmer (a friend of former Milwaukee resident Al Buetschle, who saved Milwaukee streetcar 978) at the crash site. holding up one of the doors from car 39. Today, the site has been completely obliterated by the National Ave. on and off ramps of the I-894 freeway.

Traces of Greenwood Jct. still remain. I took the next 4 photos. In this picture I was trying to position myself at the approximate point where the siding and Hales Corners mainline met. In the 66 years since Speedrail was abandoned, a second set of power transmission towers was added on the abandoned r.o.w. and the original towers moved, so trying to find an exact spot can be difficult. To the right you can see where the land comes into the arrow-straight abandoned r.o.w.. So this would have been about where the tracks met. These photos were taken in the 1990's.

Traces of Greenwood Jct. still remain. I took the next 4 photos. In this picture I was trying to position myself at the approximate point where the siding and Hales Corners mainline met. In the 66 years since Speedrail was abandoned, a second set of power transmission towers was added on the abandoned r.o.w. and the original towers moved, so trying to find an exact spot can be difficult. To the right you can see where the land comes into the arrow-straight abandoned r.o.w.. So this would have been about where the tracks met. These photos were taken in the 1990’s.

I've walked across the r.o.w. toward the western most set of power lines. The car seen passing in the center left background is eastbound on W. Howard Ave.

I’ve walked across the r.o.w. toward the western most set of power lines. The car seen passing in the center left background is eastbound on W. Howard Ave.

Looking south toward the junction from W. Howard Ave. The transmission tower in the right center background is at the approximate point where the 2 lines met.

Looking south toward the junction from W. Howard Ave. The transmission tower in the right center background is at the approximate point where the 2 lines met.

I'm now looking north on the abandoned r.o.w. from the south side of W. Howard Ave.

I’m now looking north on the abandoned r.o.w. from the south side of W. Howard Ave.

Other sections of the abandoned Hales Corners line r.o.w. are still very visible. Here you see the crossing of W. Layton Ave. looking south. In the 1930's a line was built southeast from this point for transporting work crews to the abuilding village of Greendale. The line was dismantled upon completion of construction.

Other sections of the abandoned Hales Corners line r.o.w. are still very visible. Here you see the crossing of W. Layton Ave. looking south. In the 1930’s a line was built southeast from this point for transporting work crews to the abuilding village of Greendale. The line was dismantled upon completion of construction.

The black truck pulling the trailer is at the approximate spot where the Hales Corners station used to stand. You are looking south along S. 108th St. aka Hwy 100 and the truck is westbound on W. Janesville Rd. Hwy. 100 was widened after the abandonment of Speedrail and its two right-hand northbound lanes occupy the Hales Corners line r.o.w.

The black truck pulling the trailer is at the approximate spot where the Hales Corners station used to stand. You are looking south along S. 108th St. aka Hwy 100 and the truck is westbound on W. Janesville Rd. Hwy. 100 was widened after the abandonment of Speedrail and its two right-hand northbound lanes occupy the Hales Corners line r.o.w.

One block further south is where interurbans headed for East Troy or Burlington turned onto North Cape Rd. Following the abandonment of the East Troy line in 1939 the line was cut back to a newly constructed loop 1/2 mile west of this point called Hillcrest. No trace of Hillcrest loop exists today. The site is now occupied by a home improvement store.

One block further south is where interurbans headed for East Troy or Burlington turned onto North Cape Rd. Following the abandonment of the East Troy line in 1939 the line was cut back to a newly constructed loop 1/2 mile west of this point called Hillcrest. No trace of Hillcrest loop exists today. The site is now occupied by a home improvement store.

“Beautiful downtown Hales Corners” in the 1920’s.. This photo courtesy of John Schoenknecht of the Waukesha County Historical Society shows hales Corners in the “Roaring ’20’s”. You are looking west from W. Forest Home Ave. across Highway 100 and up North Cape Rd. The line to Burlington and East Troy comes from the left (southbound) and turns west. In later years the track configuration was changed.

Standing at almost that same spot today, Forest Home Ave. has taken over what was North Cape Rd. Although you can't see it in this picture a McDonald's occupies the empty lot seen in the left front of photo 14 and a Culver's (another fast food chain) occupies the same space directly across the street. The gas station seen in the right center of photo 14 and all of the surrounding buildings are long gone. Their space is now occupied by the south end of a used car lot for a local automobile dealer.

Standing at almost that same spot today, Forest Home Ave. has taken over what was North Cape Rd. Although you can’t see it in this picture a McDonald’s occupies the empty lot seen in the left front of photo 14 and a Culver’s (another fast food chain) occupies the same space directly across the street. The gas station seen in the right center of photo 14 and all of the surrounding buildings are long gone. Their space is now occupied by the south end of a used car lot for a local automobile dealer.

Speedrail lightweight car 39 was smashed for 3/4 the length of the car by heavy duplex 1192-93 in the 9-2-50 fatal accident. Car 40, the rear car of this lightweight duplex was not damaged other than at the articulated joint. The only thing that could be done once rescue and recovery efforts were completed was to shove both halves of 39 & 40 off the embankment and dismantle them on the spot.

Speedrail lightweight car 39 was smashed for 3/4 the length of the car by heavy duplex 1192-93 in the 9-2-50 fatal accident. Car 40, the rear car of this lightweight duplex was not damaged other than at the articulated joint. The only thing that could be done once rescue and recovery efforts were completed was to shove both halves of 39 & 40 off the embankment and dismantle them on the spot.

This is a much better shot of the intersection of Highway 100 & Forest Home Ave. in the 1990's. The electric transmission towers are approximately where the TM r.o.w. was but that tower does not match the one in the same spot in the 1920's photo.

This is a much better shot of the intersection of Highway 100 & Forest Home Ave. in the 1990’s. The electric transmission towers are approximately where the TM r.o.w. was but that tower does not match the one in the same spot in the 1920’s photo.

In this photo I've moved just a few feet further west to get in more of the curve and the north side of the street. This is an extremely bust stretch of roadway but I'm sure not one motorist had any ideas of what had once run next to those electric transmission towers.

In this photo I’ve moved just a few feet further west to get in more of the curve and the north side of the street. This is an extremely bust stretch of roadway but I’m sure not one motorist had any ideas of what had once run next to those electric transmission towers.

The late Ernie Maragos of Racine, Wisconsin took this photo of Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. streetcar 978 in 1957. The eastbound car has just crossed the Milwaukee River on the bridge in the background and will stop at N. Water St. about a half block out of the picture at left. The large building seen behind the 978 is the Germania Bldg. on the southwest corner of N. Plankinton Ave. and W. Wells St. The domes with what look like spears were meant to simulate German Pith helmets. Due to anti-German sentiment during WW I the owner, Henry Brumder changed the name of the building to the Brumder Bldg. Brumder was a newspaper publisher who printed German language newspapers for Milwaukee's large German population. The "Germania" name was restored in the 1980's and the building given a complete renovation. The publishing of newspapers had ended many years before and the former printing press area in the basement was converted to a parking garage for the 4 top executives of Security Savings & Loan Assoc. on the northeast corner of 2nd & Wisconsin (adjacent to where the North Shore city carline ended). I worked for Security S&L for almost 20 years, then went to work for the bank that bought out Security in 1997. The 978 was saved by former Milwaukee resident Al Buetschle for the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club. When they changed their mind, ownership reverted to him. When he left Milwaukee in 1961 to pursue a job in Northern California the car went to the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, Wi. The group that formed the East Troy Trolley Museum in 1972 - TWERHS, The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society was formed at Mid-Continent and split off in 1967. Mr. Buetschle now resides in Contra Costa County, Ca. 60 miles northeast of San Francisco.

The late Ernie Maragos of Racine, Wisconsin took this photo of Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. streetcar 978 in 1957. The eastbound car has just crossed the Milwaukee River on the bridge in the background and will stop at N. Water St. about a half block out of the picture at left. The large building seen behind the 978 is the Germania Bldg. on the southwest corner of N. Plankinton Ave. and W. Wells St. The domes with what look like spears were meant to simulate German Pith helmets. Due to anti-German sentiment during WW I the owner, Henry Brumder changed the name of the building to the Brumder Bldg. Brumder was a newspaper publisher who printed German language newspapers for Milwaukee’s large German population. The “Germania” name was restored in the 1980’s and the building given a complete renovation. The publishing of newspapers had ended many years before and the former printing press area in the basement was converted to a parking garage for the 4 top executives of Security Savings & Loan Assoc. on the northeast corner of 2nd & Wisconsin (adjacent to where the North Shore city carline ended). I worked for Security S&L for almost 20 years, then went to work for the bank that bought out Security in 1997. The 978 was saved by former Milwaukee resident Al Buetschle for the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club. When they changed their mind, ownership reverted to him. When he left Milwaukee in 1961 to pursue a job in Northern California the car went to the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, Wi. The group that formed the East Troy Trolley Museum in 1972 – TWERHS, The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society was formed at Mid-Continent and split off in 1967. Mr. Buetschle now resides in Contra Costa County, Ca. 60 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Down Three Dark Streets

I recently watched the 1954 crime drama Down Three Dark Streets, a pretty solid film starring Broderick Crawford, and noticed some interesting shots of the short Pacific Electric subway and the Glendale-Burbank double-end PCCs. This film was released about a year before the line was abandoned.

FBI agents are tailing a gangster’s moll as she tries to shake them on her way to her boyfriend’s hideout. She goes down into the PE subway terminal, gets on one car, switches to another, and then rides out to the end of the line.

In this film, at least, the double-end PCCs have a foghorn, reminding me of the “Blimp” cars. Not sure if this was ture in real life. At one point, an FBI agent refers to the “number three interurban,” although I doubt that the PE called it anything other than the Glendale-Burbank line.

The PCCs are shown really zipping along. Car 5000 is visible. Don’s Rail Photos says: “5000 was built by Pullman-Standard in October 1940, #W6642. It was retired in 1956 and was sold as Ferrocarril Gen Urquiza M.1500 and made modifications in 1959. It was retired in short time.” After having been stored in the samp subway tunnel for three or four years, the PCCs had badly deteriorated even though they were only used in service for about 15 years.

Here are some screen-shots:

Pre-Order Our New Book Chicago Trolleys

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 226 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans Under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping. Introductory Special: Order before September 5, and shipping within the US is included in the price. Shipping to Canada is just $5 additional, or $10 elsewhere.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

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NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

We are pleased to report that selected images from our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will be available on September 25th in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

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Larry Sakar, TM, and Speedrail

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don's Rail Photos: "1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952." It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don’s Rail Photos: “1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952.” It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Today, we are featuring some recent correspondence with Larry Sakar, author of the 1991 book Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?. This has long been a collector’s item– try finding a copy at a reasonable price, and you will see what I mean.

Larry has continued his research in the 26 years since this book came out, and has a new book in the works. Larry is very outspoken, and doesn’t pull any punches. Perhaps that is because he knows his subject so well.

Meanwhile, this Wednesday, I sent off the corrected proofs of our own book Chicago Trolleys to the publisher. That means our part in it is now pretty much done, except perhaps for answering any questions that the proofreaders might have. Then it will go to press and the publication date is September 25.

If any of you have ever written a book, you may know that it is something akin to wrestling an alligator. However, now I believe I’ve got the alligator wrestled to the ground, and am very happy with the finished product. Chances are, you will be too.

-David Sadowski

Larry A. Sakar writes:

I just discovered your site and saw the 3 color photos of LVT 1100 & 1102 loaded onto flat cars for the trip to Milwaukee (Odds and Ends, May 5, 2017). The Feb., 1948 date is not correct. Speedrail did not exist in 1948. It began on 9/2/49 after Jay Maeder bought the Waukesha line from Northland Greyhound for $110!

I know because I’m Larry Sakar, author of “Speedrail Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?” published by Interurban Press in 1991.

Cars 1100 & 1102 were purchased sometime in late October by Jay Maeder who went to Allentown for the purpose of buying additional Cincinnati Curved side lightweight cars to go with the 6 purchased by Ed Tennyson, Speedrail’s VP of operations in Sept. 1949 from Shaker Heights Rapid Transit (cars 60-65). SHRT sold Tennyson the 6 cars for $500 each and he leased them back to Speedrail. The sale was supposed to be contingent on Mr. Maeder putting up the additional $2300 for spare parts. Whether or not he did I have never been able to find out.

Maeder paid $750 each for 1100 & 1102 which were supposedly the best 2 of the 4 cars (1100-1103). You are absolutely correct about the refurbishing of 1102 into MRT car 66 which premiered on 3/31/51 and served only for 3 months before Speedrail ended all operations on 6/30/51. As part of the rehabilitation it exchanged trucks with car 64 which was wrecked in the collision with e-TM 1121 serving as Speedrail’s freight motor. That happened just 3 days after the terrible and fatal accident on the NMRA fan trip of 9/2/50. The 3 man crew on 1121 finished switching the C&NW Ry. interchange just south of West Jct. early that day and were in a hurry to get home so they ignored the proper procedure for entering the mainline from the C&NW interchange and smacked into car 64 bashing in a significant portion of the front platform. They did not have to worry about getting home early after that. All 3 were terminated. But it caused Travelers Insurance to pull the plug on Speedrail’s liability insurance because of 2 serious accidents in 3 days and also because Maeder was 6 months behind in paying the premiums. He had used money set aside for insurance to buy Shaker Heights cars 300 & 301! As President and sole stockholder he could do what he wanted. The money was used to buy equipment and not for any personal purposes thus making it perfectly legal but also perfectly stupid!

To the best of my knowledge Maeder never intended to use car 1100 for spare parts. That only happened because it was dead on arrival in Milwaukee and would not run period. 1102 blew a motor on arrival and had to be sent to TMER&T’s Cold Spring shops for repair. Cold Spring was marking up costs by 100%! The small shops facility in the Public Service building terminal could not do major repairs.

I don’t know if you would be interested but I have just completed a new manuscript entitled, “The Complete History of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line from TMER&L to Speedrail.” There are 146 pages of text plus an additional 160 pages of photos and documents. Of these there are 37 pages of color photos.

The money to pay for refurbishing 1102 into 66 came from the sale of 14 surplus ex-TM 1100 series cars to Afram Brothers Scrap Metal Company in Milwaukee. This all took place several months after Bruno V. Bitker the federal bankruptcy trustee dismissed Jay Maeder. The seats put in what became car 66 came from some of those 1100’s. It also switched trucks with the damaged car 64.

I think if Maeder had remained in charge he would never have sold those surplus 1100’s. He had a sentimental attachment to TM which he first discovered in 1926 when he attended St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin for his senior year of high school. Delafield was a stop on the Milwaukee-Watertown line.

Thanks and continue the great work. You have a fantastic website.

Thanks for writing, and also for all this wonderful information. As you are well aware I am sure, the information people write on slides, prints, negs, etc. is not always 100% accurate. I appreciate your corrections.

Lehigh Valley Transit purchased four Cincinnati curved-side cars second-hand in 1938 for the Easton Limited interurban line. Unfortunately, these cars were underpowered, and not really up to the task of working this hilly route. They were sharp-looking cars as LVT renovated them, but could not maintain the schedules of the cars they replaced. So it is no great surprise that by the time Speedrail got two of them in 1949, they were in bad shape.

Larry replied:

Yes, I do know that incorrect info often turns up in both pics and books. My 1991 Speedrail book has errors but when I wrote it in 1988 it was based on the best information I had at the time. I never dreamed that after it came out I’d be contacted by Jay Maeder’s daughter Jane and would be the recipient of several boxes of documents her father left behind. She and her late brother Jay Jr. decided that I should have them as they would never do anything with them. Neither of them knew much about Speedrail other than that their father once “owned a railroad”.

That reminds me. I saw the discussion as to whether Jay Maeder ever lived in Texas. No he didn’t but his daughter Jane Maeder Walsh lives in Houston. And Jay Sr. is survived by a lot of grandchildren. I didn’t know Jay Jr. drew that cartoon but I’m not surprised. He was an authority on the Dick Tracy comic strip having authored two books on the subject. I only spoke to him one time while he was working for the New York Daily News and was writing a column called “Lounge Lizard” which reviewed NYC lounge acts. I’ve had a lot of contact with Jane.

I wanted to scream when I got the last shipment of documents in 2012. At the bottom of the box was a scrapbook – the kind with the brown pages like many of us had as kids where we glued things in with Muselix glue. That’s what I expected to see when I opened it but instead found blank pages. Then I looked again. What he did, David, was rip out newspaper clippings related to Speedrail. Then he’d rip out the date and using a nail like the ones you get with picture hooks, would attach it to the clipping. But instead of placing the clippings on the pages he literally shoved them into the spines of each page. Well, after 60 years as I’m sure you know the newsprint deteriorated and the dates fell off as the paper deteriorated. Newsprint is notorious for that. Consequently, I ended up with about 25 clippings where the event could have happened anytime in the 22 months Speedrail existed.

You’re 100% right that the 9-2-50 accident is still controversial. I would say that in terms of blame 80% goes to Maeder and 20% to Tennyson. The Maeder/Tennyson working relationship had been deteriorating ever since the fall of 1949 when Maeder bought the Local Rapid Transit line (Milwaukee-West Junction-Hales Corners) without ever bringing the matter before the Speedrail Board (such as it was). Tennyson was opposed. He told me that when he went to Cleveland on 9/12/49 and met with Maeder’s Cleveland Attorney, Frank Taplin, Taplin told him, “Ed, whatever you do do not let Jay buy that Local Rapid Transit line. He will lose his shirt!” Tennyson was there to buy the 6 Shaker Heights curved side cars. Anyway, according to what he told me, when he found out what Maeder had done he went to the third member of the board, Oliver A. Grootemaat Speedrail’s general counsel and secretary. He said Grootemaat told him, “Maeder owns all the stock. He can do whatever he wants.!”

As for 9-2-50 Tennyson told me Maeder had asked him to draw up a schedule and rules for the 5 NMRA fan trips which he did. On the morning of 9/2 he discovered the trains were running late and that’s when he called the so-called dispatcher, Joe Bellon at the Public Service Building to find out what was going on. It was then that he found out that Maeder and one of the senior motormen, Gerald Greer had spent the night before drawing up “anticipatory train orders” that required every train to call from every siding. Also, the rules were that photo stops were to be made southbound to Hales Corners only. And anyone who did not come when time was up for the photo stop would be left behind. When Maeder’s train got to Hillcrest loop in Hales Corners the fans asked for a photostop going back to Milwaukee. Maeder should have said “NO” but he went along with it. So Tennyson called Bellon and told him to go back to the original orders where trains were to operate by schedule and timetable and only call if they ran into trouble. Maeder had called from Hillcrest to report they’d be stopping for a photostop northbound but from that point on he wasn’t heard from again. In order to allow the regularly scheduled southbound Hales Corners pass Maeder pulled in to Greenwood Jct., a siding never used which was the connection to the Lakeside Belt Line. It was seldom if ever used and once the M-R-K (Milwaukee-Racine Kenosha Line) was abandoned in Dec. of 1947 it was useless.

As a result of the reversal of orders Equitz assumed Maeder would hold at Oklahoma Ave. for him to pass. Maeder, still operating under his revised orders expected the dispatcher would tell Equitz he’d cleared Maeder’s train all the way to West Jct. The end result was that 10 people were killed because two guys didn’t get along. I do think Maeder went thru a red signal. And I also feel he had no business running the train especially since it was discovered he was color blind. If he’d been familiar with the Nachod signals that should not have made a difference. The position of the lights would have shown if the signal was red or white. Maeder was too occupied by all of the railfans gathered around him and he didn’t give the signal more than a quick glance, something you could not do with Nachod signals.

Maeder made an idiot of himself at the Coroner’s inquest. When the DA asked him why his train was running late he objected. the DA asked why he objected to his train being labeled as late and he replied, “My train was an extra train. Extra trains cannot be late. They can only be behind schedule.” HUH?? What’s the difference? Isn’t being behind schedule being late? He also testified that he and the regular motorman George Wolter weren’t relying on the signals. “They were a help but we weren’t relying on them”, is what he testified. Yes, Maeder was exonerated in court but only because the law on 4th Degree Manslaughter required it to be a deliberate act. I seriously doubt if he would be as lucky today not to mention that he personally would face a ton of lawsuits. And though he was exonerated in court he could and did not fare as well in the one court he could do nothing about, the court of public opinion. Bitker clearly didn’t want him around anymore. Tennyson said Bitker banned Maeder from the property but I don’t know if that’s true.

The Rapid Transit book I’ve completed contains photos you’ve never seen before. One of my sources is John Schoenknecht the head of the Waukesha County Historical Society and he has supplied me with some really great photos.

I see Bill Shapotkin comments quite regularly. I’ve known Bill since 1986. Great guy!

This is all great stuff. Who is publishing your book? I see that Interurbans Press put out your Speedrail volume.

Larry:

Interurbans Press did put out the Speedrail book. They published one or two books after that and went out of business. Mac Sebree, the owner retired and sold the company to video producer PENTREX. PENTREX had no interest in selling or publishing books. They bought Interurban Press for one thing and one thing only – their videos. And even if they were still around I’d be extremely reluctant to deal with them again! At the time they accepted the book they had purchased PTJ Publications which was in Waukesha. PTJ as you may know was the original publisher of Passenger Train Journal.

 In 1988 home computers and the Internet did not exist. But since they had the office in Waukesha I begged and pleaded for them to do the book there even though the normally did all books in Glendale, CA. Mike Schaefer was part of PTJ Publications and he was the person I wanted to edit and layout the book. I pointed out that it would be much easier for all concerned should any problems arise. I couldn’t hop a plane to Glendale, CA.  just like that. I was working. But driving out to Waukesha would be no problem. What I didn’t know until later was that “bad blood” existed between Mike and this Paul Hammond who ran things in Glendale. Interurban Press interpreted my request as taking sides. I was trying to do what I felt would be best especially since I knew Mike knew the subject which the California people did not. Interurban Press refused.

The book was to have been published in 1989 but a tragedy at the Waukesha office delayed it by two years. A young staff member was engaged to be married. Something happened and the engagement was called off. He become despondent and went out to Butler and killed himself by stepping in front of an on-coming C&NW train. Horrible! Anyway they resumed work on it and things seemed to go well from there. I don’t know how it works today but back then you received 3 final drafts. The first two showed the space where the photos would be and the caption but not the actual photo. The final proof was called the blue line. So the blue line arrives in the mail and I absolutely exploded. What was supposed to be a photo of the 9-2-50 Speedrail wreck was a photo of the 8-24-49 Soldiers Home wreck. I probably didn’t even need long distance I was so angry. Their excuse: “Well, we just assumed that the wrecks were one and the same.” YOU ASSUMED?? So I had to quickly run out to Waukesha. They had the Milwaukee Journals for the day of and days after the 9-2-50 wreck. With the space already dedicated we had to choose that really bad picture that appears in the book. It was the only one that fit.

There were any number of other things that happened over those 2-3 years (1988-1991). I can’t tell you how many times they told me they “expected to take a loss” on the book and discouraging things like that. Loss nothing! It sold out all of the first printing in 18 months. I had thought about pitching it to Kalmbach but didn’t think I’d stand much of a chance being an unknown at the time. I was right. In 1999 a couple of years after the video, “Rapid Transit in Milwaukee From TMER&L to Speedrail” was put out by TMER&THS of which I was Secretary and Treasurer we decided to write a companion book to the video. Jack Gervais was co-authoring it with me. He was handling everything up to Speedrail and I was writing from Speedrail to the end. When we finished it in 2000 I tried pitching it to Kalmbach now that I had a book published. They turned it down. They were full of compliments about it being well written and all but felt it was too limited as a subject and would not sell the way a book on a more popular subject like the Milwaukee Road would. Gervais then contacted Larry Plachno. I did not want to deal with him as I’d heard a great deal of negative things about him from Bill Shapotkin. Well we did end up driving all the way to Polo, Illinois only to have Plachno open the binder, look at a few pages and go, “Tsk, Tsk, Tsk! I have a problem with you people already” HUH? “All this quoting. Don’t you know a good historian never quotes. He paraphrases.” I politely took the binder, shut it, said, “Thank you for your time, Mr. Plachno. That may be your philosophy for writing books but it isn’t mine!” In the intro to the new book I address that. I don’t believe in paraphrasing because that puts my interpretation on what was said. I quote and I let my readers decide how to interpret what was said. 

So in terms of a publisher I don’t have one and I’ve no idea of who I could give it to. I’m not looking to make money from this. The Maeder family designated me “Keeper of the Flame” where Speedrail is concerned. They entrusted what Jay left behind because they feel I would know best how to make use of it. I take that both as a compliment and a responsibility to preserve this history. That is my goal, here. Norm Carlson is a perfect example of someone who understands that. I have worked with him quite a few times and enjoyed it. He’s a professional and “First & Fastest” is the high quality publication it is because of his dedication. Browsing thru your site I see much the same thing, David. You obviously have a real feel for preserving this history and those are the type of people I like to work with. I really enjoy the Trolley Dodger site.

The Speedrail book was written as a way to promote TMER&THS Inc. I quit the group 14 years ago so this book has absolutely no connection to them or any other group. I am a member of Shore Line. Norm has been very gracious in publishing my articles. I’m also writing for “Landmark,” the publication of the Waukesha County Historical Society. My goal is to leave behind a historical record so that someday someone can come along and view this history. 

I saw your comment that maybe if things had been just a little different Speedrail might still be around today. Actually, David, sad to say, Speedrail was dead before it began. The following chapters from my book and  a page from a city of Milwaukee subcommittee in March, 1945 will show you what Milwaukee thought of the Rapid Transit. Once the city caught what I call “expressway fever” and they decided the Rapid Transit line west from downtown was the place for the East-West Freeway they stopped at nothing to get it. Maeder owned the track, overhead wire, cars and bridges but not the land on which those tracks sat. That remained Wisconsin Electric Power Co. property. Shaker Heights did not have that problem. Maeder wrongly assumed that Milwaukee would rally to support his efforts to save the Rapid Transit as happened in Shaker Heights. It was the Waukesha riders who rallied to support it. Milwaukee could’ve card less except for Mayor Zeidler, of course. More to follow soon.

The photo I sent you earlier today which shows a guy up on a stage addressing a crowd of people goes with the chapter”The First Public Pledge Meeting.” The date is 6-27-51. The place was Kuney’s dance hall in the Town of Calhoun. I think the man on stage is Edwin Knappe but am not sure. You’ll read about him and the Calhoun Farms Riders Group in the chapter about them. Kuney’s is still there today if you think I should put in a present day picture. There’s nothing special about it. Calhoun Farms was to the north and west of the Calhoun Road stop on the Waukesha line. There’s a historical marker which explains about it and the area of Calhoun which is east of Waukesha. It even mentions the Rapid Transit. I have pictures of that too.

One of the people you’ll see quoted in the Speedrail section fairly often is former Speedrail motorman Don Leistikow. I’d say that at least 50% of what I learned about Speedrail over the years came from Don. I’m attaching his famous “Skunk” story. I think you” get a laugh out of it. Don was quite a story teller. He passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 85 and is sorely missed.

While I never actually met Don L. Leistikow, I did correspond with him a bit, and I almost met him once.  I went out to East Troy onetime and took some pictures, and after I posted them to the web, someone identified him in one of the pictures.  What a nice man.

Larry:

NSL fans may be interested to know that after being vacant for the last 47 years the site of the North Shore’s Harrison St. shops at S. 5th St. and W. Harrison Ave. (remember NSL called it “street” but Harrison is actually an avenue) is finally being redeveloped. Sadly, not for traction purposes. A private charter school whose name I can’t remember is building on the property all the way to where it dead-ends above the KK River and Cleveland Ave. and extending west on Harrison Ave. to the southeast corner of S. 6th St. It’s a huge, multi-story facility. Back in 2005 when I visited the site of the shops with Norm Carlson of the Shore Line interurban Historical Society and Walter Keevil of CERA I noticed that the city of Milwaukee had paved S. 5th St. from the point where the private right-of-way began on the south side of the street all the way to the fence and concrete barrier that mark where the NSL’s bridge over the river began. Let’s face it. Vacant lots do not generate property tax revenue. The dilapidated shops building stood until about 1970. I remember a Milwaukee Journal editorial cartoon and article in 1968 urging its demolition because it presented a bad image of Milwaukee to drivers coming in (northbound) on I-94 which sits below the east end of the property. The school is supposed to open for the fall 2018-2019 semester next year.

I’m sure most NSL fans don’t know this. After the 6th and Michigan station in downtown Milwaukee was razed in May or June of 1964 somebody came up with the ideas of building a tourist tower on the south end of the property at about the point where NSL trains entered and left the elevated platforms that were attached to the south end of the terminal. Here is an artists rendering of what it was going to look like from the Milwaukee Journal of 11-22-64. Of course it ever happened. What did happen was this. In the summer of 1965 the church whose denomination I have forgotten that was on the north side of Wisconsin Ave. between N. 10th & N. 11th Sts. was being forced to move. The entire block on both sides of the street was disappearing, literally. The I-43 freeway was and does cross beneath the “Avenue” at this point. So the church spent almost $2 million to buy the entire 4 square blocks where the NSL station had stood. That encompassed W. Michigan St. on the north. W. Clybourn St. on the south. N. 5th St. on the east and N. 6th St. on the west. The plan was to build the church and some sort of shopping area around it. I say the “plan” because that too never happened. I remember a wooden sign erected on the station site facing W. Michigan St. that said, “Future home of…” and it named the congregation. For the next 33 years the property sat vacant. Then in 1998 Time Insurance Co. which had been located on the corner of N. 5th St. and W. Wells St. downtown built their new corporate headquarters on the site. A check of the Milwaukee city directory shows the building there as of 1998. The Wells St. building was sold to make way for Milwaukee’s first downtown convention center which was called “MECCA – the Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center and Arena.” It was judged as the boxiest and ugliest building ever built in Milwaukee and it too fell to the wrecking ball when the new, and very underused, downtown convention center was constructed along Wisconsin Ave. between N. 4th & N. 6th Sts. Why the church was never built and how Time Insurance acquired the property (sale, foreclosure??) is something I have been unable to find out. The congregation disappears from the Milwaukee city directory in 1966. Perhaps they moved to one of the suburbs or merged with another congregation. If any of the NSL fans know I’d be very interested in the details. Time Insurance has since been thru all kinds of mergers and the building now says Securant Insurance.

In the summer of 1971 I went to the site of Ryan Tower on the abandoned NSL r.o.w. I didn’t drive back then so it meant to very lengthy bus rides from my home on Milwaukee’s northwest side. and a long walk up Ryan Rd. from the end of the Rt. 66 bus line. I knew I was at the right spot when I got to the crossing with the C&NW’s new line. And that was the only way I knew. The NSL was gone with nary a trace. I had to walk a block or so north before I came across the abandoned NSL r.o.w. As I continued north there much to my surprise was the NSL’s Carrollville substation still standing 8 years after the abandonment. I took this picture of it on 8-17-71 using a Polaroid camera I’d gotten for Christmas the previous year. My ANSCO 8-shot box camera took better pictures than that Polaroid! And then you always had the chore of having to spread this smelly fixer on the photo to keep it from curling up. So please forgive the quality of the pictures.

Larry’s Human Interest Stories

I’ll be glad to write this. There are four of them, all involving people who had they been where they had planned to be might not have lived another day.

What I have found in the 52 years I have been studying and researching the Rapid Transit and Speedrail is that fate and coincidence seem to play a major role. For example, take how I got to know Jane Maeder Walsh, Jay’s daughter. In 1991 when the Speedrail book came out she had a daughter who was a student at Carroll College (now University) in Waukesha. Jane was living in Atlanta at the time but decided to come to Waukesha for a visit. While there she decided to go to the Waukesha Public Library and see what she could find out about “the railroad that my father owned.” At first, all the librarian was able to find was a folder containing a few newspaper clippings from the Waukesha Freeman, Waukesha’s daily newspaper. Then she remembered that the library had just received a new book about Speedrail. She gave it to Jane to browse through there since she obviously would not be able to borrow it.

A short time later, on a Saturday morning my phone rang. The lady on the other end asked if I was the person who wrote the Speedrail book. I said I was. She said, “My name is Jane Walsh. I know that name doesn’t mean anything to you until I tell you my maiden name. It is Maeder and Jay Maeder was my father.” I kind of held my breath for a second thinking the next thing I’d hear was that she didn’t like the things Tennyson said about her father and she was going to sue me. Quite to the contrary she wanted to know where she could go to buy copies of the book. I put her in touch with one of the local hobby shops that I knew was carrying it and she bought half a dozen copies for her family. I didn’t hear from her for quite a while after that until the day she and her brother discovered a box of material relating to Speedrail, long forgotten, left behind by her father. She said that she and her brother had no interest in it and asked if I would want it? Are you kidding? Over the course of the next few years they found other boxes of things. She e-mailed Jay Jr. and asked if he wanted it. He replied, “Are we still in touch with that Sakar guy?” Jane said she had talked to me about it and I’d said I wanted it if her brother didn’t. Jay Jr. then replied, “Let’s face it… neither you nor I will ever make anything out of this stuff. I say, let’s make him keeper of the flame. Larry will know what to do with it.” That was a great honor that they had confidence that I could make use of the material.

We still keep in touch by e-mail from time to time. My friend and colleague Chris Barney and I paid to have copies made of that picture of her father walking alongside car 60 flagging it on the inaugural Speedrail fan trip of 10-16-49. We sent them to her and she was thrilled. It’s the only picture she has of her father with “his railroad.”

You might remember that on the 9-2-50 the motorman of the 1192-93 heavy duplex that collided with Maeder’s train (39-40) was LeRoy Equitz. In the fall of 1971, I got a job as a student library aide at the main library in downtown Milwaukee. One night I was sitting in the lunchroom on break with a brother and sister who also worked there. Terry, the brother struck up a conversation with me. “We hear you like trains.” I said, “Well yes. I do like trains but my main interest is streetcars and interurbans.” They had no clue as to what either of those were. Terry said, “Our uncle was a train engineer.” I said, Oh really, where?” He said, “Right here in Milwaukee.” I asked which railroad he worked for, thinking it had to be either the Milwaukee Road or the C&NW. Terry said neither one sounded like the one their uncle had mentioned. I asked when he worked as an engineer and he said, “In the ’50’s.” Then he continued. “Our uncle was involved in an accident and ended up losing a foot because of it.” Suddenly, my curiosity was on high, so to speak.” So I said, “This accident. Could it have been in 1950 itself?” Terry said, “Come to think of it, yes. He did say 1950.” So I continued, “And this accident, could it possibly have been on Labor Day weekend in 1950?” BINGO! He said that it was. That’s when I said, “Don’t tell me your uncle’s name. Let me guess it. Is it LeRoy Equitz?” The brother and sister sat there for a second in amazement. “Yes. How on earth did you know that?” Of course I explained about Speedrail and told them which newspaper and dates to look at if they wanted more information. As I recall, LeRoy was still living but he had moved away some years earlier. I don’t recall to where so I never had an opportunity to talk to him.

You ask yourself what were the odds that I’d end up working with the niece and nephew of LeRoy Equitz. And I have found that to be the case so often in this hobby. So call it fate, destiny, coincidence. There are times when you can’t help but feel this was meant to be.

Thanks for taking the time to write this and your other reminiscences. I’d like to share these with my readers.

Naturally, I won’t use any of the material you sent me from your upcoming book, but is there anything else that you would not want me to run in my blog?

Larry:

Please feel free to use any of the material I’ve sent you for the Trolley Dodger. Anything and everything I write is for the enjoyment and/or information of others. What’s the point of keeping what I’ve learned over the years to myself? That benefits no one!

I saw the piece in The Trolley Dodger on the late Maury Klebolt. From 1983 to 1987 I went out to SFO every September for the Historic Market Street streetcar festival. I used to see Maury at the Market and Duboce storage facility below the former San Francisco mint. He was very involved with that Market Street Railway group. I seem to recall that he acquired a couple of streetcars for them. I wasn’t acquainted with him but had stories about his fan trips from the late Jack Gervais who apparently knew him. Bill Shapotkin also told me some stories about him.

By the way I kind of chuckle every time I see a Joe L. Diaz photo of a CSL “Sedan”. My good friend Dave Stanley knew Joe very well, along with a number of other well-known Chicago fans like the late Bob Gibson. I met both Dave and Bill Shapotkin in 1986. Both Dave and Bill told me Joe would have a fit when someone called those cars “Sedans.” It would provoke an “Ooh, they weren’t called that” response. I knew him by sight but I didn’t actually know him as such. I remember seeing him at CERA meetings in the back of the room selling books. That was back in the days when CERA met at the old Midland Hotel. I believe that’s now called the Blackhawk Hotel. I was a CERA member in the ’90’s but didn’t keep up my membership. Going to meetings meant having to drive to either Kenosha and take METRA which also meant leaving the meeting early to catch the 9:00pm train back to Kenosha and then an 11:00pm one hour drive back to Milwaukee. I never cared for night driving. Then in 2009 I lost all of the sight in my left eye as a result of diabetic retinopathy, which I didn’t know I had until it was too late. Since then I have been advised not to drive at night or on the highway or expressway. I no longer have the necessary depth perception and bright light, especially headlights coming at me blind me. Amtrak experimented with a late night (first 11:00pm then changed to 10:30pm) train to Milwaukee but they never promoted it so the ridership never materialized. Now the last train to Milwaukee leaves Chicago at 8:45pm.

I knew a lot of really nice guys in Chicago all of whom I have not seen nor spoken with in at least 15 years. Bruce Moffat and Ray DeGroote are two who come to mind. I always called Ray the Rick Steeves of the traction world. In any Ray DeGroote program you could always count on a money lesson, a geography lesson and a culture lesson. When I was the program director for TMER&THS from 1989 to 1995, I used to refer to Ray as “our world traveler”. The last time I saw Bruce was on a CERA fan trip on METRA Electric in the ’90’s. Bill Shapotkin was the trip director. At the first photo stop GK wanted a photo with the other car host and myself. Bruce took the picture but to this day I’ve never seen it.

I haven’t seen all of the issues of The Trolley Dodger but here are some Milwaukee streetcar photos from my collection that I think readers might enjoy.

Every now and then you get a photo that really has you stumped trying to figure out where it was taken. That’s what happened with this photo given to me by Bob Genack. I saw the RT 35 Route sign and stupidly assumed this had to be somewhere on the 35th Street route. But what really threw me a curve was the “35th St.” sign in the destination sign box below the big roof Route sign. If this was a northbound car it should have said “Burleigh,” and if southbound “St. Paul”. After puzzling over it I looked it over with a magnifying glass to see if I could detect any business names. And there in the left background was the solution. This is a time exposure so it’s a “ghosted” image. But if you look closely you will see a TM heavy duplex. OK. Now I see what this was all about. This is a TM posed, company photo. The 943 isn’t on 35th St. It’s on Michigan Street. You can’t see it but the Public Service Building is just out of the right hand side of the picture. The duplex is inbound from Sheboygan on N. 3rd St. It will turn left onto Michigan St. go one block east and then turn right onto N. 2nd St. to enter the PSB terminal. Those aren’t passengers standing waiting for the streetcar. They are TM company employees posing for the picture. The 943 looks brand new so I’m thinking this was taken in about 1928 or 1929. OK TM, you fooled me.

Streetcar advertising was a frequent occurrence on TM. But unlike the buses of today where the advertising is put on mylar sheets and then attached to the bus with a heat gun, and it is simply peeled off when the time is up, in streetcar days the car was actually repainted. Here’s one of the all-time classic examples of a repainted Milwaukee streetcar that is from the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. days. M&STC bought TMER&T at the end of 1952 and took over operation of the system on Jan. 1, 1953. They continued to use “The Transport Company” as their shortened name. M&STC lasted until July, 1975 when Milwaukee finally municipalized its transit system when M&STC was purchased by Milwaukee County. That is when the present-day Milwaukee County Transit System was born. But the “Transport Company” name had become so ingrained in the minds of Milwaukeeans that many continued to call it “The Transport Company” for quite some time after the county took over. Now everyone refers to it as MCTS.

Anyway, in 1955, car 943 was chosen to be repainted with a “safety message” from the Milwaukee Safety Commission. Isn’t it a bit ironic that the car advertising safety was involved in an accident downtown at 4th and Wells Streets in a collision with a city garbage truck? I guess the car didn’t heed its own message! The close-up b&w shot was taken at the Farwell Ave. terminal where Rt. 10 streetcars and Rt. 21-North Ave. trolleybuses laid over. The trolley bus service on Rt. 21 North Ave. lasted until 1961 or 1962 when it was converted to diesel bus operation using the new 1500 series GM new look fishbowl buses M&STC had purchased for that purpose. A portion of Rt. 10 east of Jackson & Wells Sts. downtown was eventually abandoned and most of the route from Jackson & Wells Strees east covered by Rt. 30 Sherman Blvd. buses.

Next up are 2 beautiful color photos of 943 in its “safety commission” paint job taken by Don Ross (Don’s Rail Photos. In the close-up shot, the car is on a fan trip at S. 81st St. and W. Greenfield Ave. which was Route 18-National Ave. That line ended at S. 92nd St. & W. Lapham Ave. Before West Junction was rebuilt Rt. 10 cars ran all the way out there via the private right-of-way which continued all the way out there. Prior to the construction of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line between 1925 & 1930, interurbans also used that r.o.w. Today the r.o.w. is still there going west from 92nd & Lapham and is used by We Energies vehicles to get to West Jct. so that the power lines can be serviced. In the second, more distant photo 943 is crossing W. Wisconsin Ave. on the p.r.o.w. that paralleled N. 52nd St. from Wells to the entrance to the Calvary Cemetery cut, later the stop for Milwaukee County Stadium from 1953 to 1957. Streetcars were gone by the opening of the baseball season in 1958.

The TM 900-series streetcars were an updated version of the 800-series built in 1920. The earliest 900’s were identical to the 800’s in all respects except one. The center motorman’s window on an 800 is narrower than on a 900. Other than that there was little if any difference. But by the time the group of cars from 976 seen here at Cold Spring shops to 985 were built, the interiors now had leather seats vs. rattan for all previous cars, and this group of 10 was unique in that they had that sort of visor/sun shield over the center window. One car in this group survives today. Car 978 was saved by former Milwaukeean Al Buetschle on behalf of the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club. They wanted a streetcar for outdoor display in Hart Park which is just to the east of the Wauwatosa end of the No. 10 line at Harwood Ave. and State Streets. Al loved the cars with the front visor and that is why he chose the 978. The car is now the property of the East Troy Electric RR and is currently undergoing an extensive rehabilitation. There is a very involved history of how the car was acquired and what happened to it over the years which I wrote for a fan publication in 1998. Al now lives in Oakley, Ca. a city in Contra Costa, County 60 miles northeast of San Francisco.

As I mentioned the 800’s had a narrower center window than the 900’s. You can see that in this photo of car 870 at the end of Rt. 40 at Kinnickinnic & St. Francis Aves. in St. Francis. The area doesn’t look much different today save for the absence of the streetcar. St. Francis is a suburb of Milwaukee on the southeast side.

Here’s a second shot of an 800 seen at the end of Rt. 11 at Howell & Howard Aves. probably in the 1950’s. Rt. 11 was converted to bus operation in 1956 and was Milwaukee’s second to last streetcar line.

At the start I mentioned “mystery” photos, and to close out here is one such example. I know where this is and I think this is probably in the 20’s or 30’s. What I can’t figure out is what a 600 series car (at least that’s what it looks like with that roof destination sign in the middle) is doing on Rt. 12 – 12th St. or why the destination sign says Center. Center is Center St. which was home to the Rt. 22 streetcar line. Rts. 21 & 22 were some of the earliest conversions from streetcar to trackless trolley. I question the destination because Rt. 12 cars usually operated all the way to 27th & Hopkins Streets. In the late 1920’s a transfer station was constructed here. It was a smaller version of the one at Farwell & North Aves. When Rt. 12 was converted to diesel bus operation the building was torn down and became a parking lot for the nearby A.O. Smith Corp. At last report the streetcar tracks are still in the pavement.

Thanks so much for this and your other recent messages. You have given me plenty of material to work with here. I am sure our readers, especially those in the Milwaukee area, will love reading this.

Who knows, it might even help you find a publisher!

This excerpt from a 1945 Milwaukee freeway report shows how even then, planners intended to take the Rapid Transit Line right-of-way for highway use.  The bottom photo, of course, was a composite.

This excerpt from a 1945 Milwaukee freeway report shows how even then, planners intended to take the Rapid Transit Line right-of-way for highway use.The bottom photo, of course, was a composite.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified this photo. Here, M&DSTC car 943 is going eastbound on the famous Wells Street trolley viaduct on a 1955 fantrip.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified this photo. Here, M&DSTC car 943 is going eastbound on the famous Wells Street trolley viaduct on a 1955 fantrip.

Book Review:

The Street Railways of Grand Rapids
By Carl Bajema and Tom Maas
Bulletin 148 of Central Electric Railfans’ Association*
Hardcover with dust jacket, 304 pages

The authors present a fascinating and very thorough account of street railway service in Grand Rapids, Michigan, covering the years up to 1935, when the system was abandoned in favor of buses. There was quite a variety of service in the area, including horse cars, cable cars, steam dummies, streetcars of various types, and interurbans connecting to other cities such as Holland. The authors coverall these ably and thoroughly.

This book has just been issued in a very limited edition, and chances are it will not be reprinted once the first edition has sold out, which I am sure it will. CERA Bulletins have a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and this book does not disappoint.

Having had a few discussions about this book with Mr. Bajema myself, when it was in its early stages, I can attest that it presented a considerable challenge. After all, Grand Rapids streetcar service ended in 1935, and anyone old enough to have ridden one, and remember it, would be close to 90 years old by now.

Color photography was still in its infancy in 1935. Fortunately, there are ways to add color to such a book, including color postcards, yellowed newspaper clippings, and maps. All these are present in abundance.

Another challenge is the lack of corporate records for the operator. And then, there is the matter of a roster, which is pretty much de rigueur for a book such as this.

Complicating matters, the Grand Rapids system used names for their cars instead of numbers, which makes it very difficult to put forward a complete roster.

The names of all such cars as of 1927 are given. Interestingly, though, the one Grand Rapids photo we have posted on this blog is not included in the book. It shows the F. W. Wurtzburg, named after a local department store. Since this photo probably dates to the 1930s, perhaps the name was applied after 1927.

This book should interest anyone who likes streetcars in general, or lives in Michigan in particular. It is available from the publisher. At 304 pages, it is also somewhat larger than the typical 224-page CERA length.

The general approach the authors have taken here could also be applied to other subjects of a similar vintage, such as the Chicago, Ottawa and Peoria, an Illinois interurban which quit in 1934.

It is somewhat ironic that Grand Rapids was at the forefront of innovation in the 1920s, but just a decade later, was also among the first cities of its size to completely replace streetcars with buses.  But there is a connection– the need to innovate was born out of necessity.

Read the book, and you’ll find out why.

-David Sadowski

The "F. W. Wurtzburg," built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

The “F. W. Wurtzburg,” built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

*Please note that The Trolley Dodger is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

Product Review

This picture shows the lightbox with the light turned off.

This picture shows the lightbox with the light turned off.

Tracing Light box Dbmier A4S USB Powered Light Pad Artcraft Tracing LED Light Board for Drawing, Tracing, Sketching, Animation Active Area 8.27″ X 12.20″

Here is a new product that should interest anyone who works with photographic negatives or transparencies. It is a modern version of a lightbox, using LED technology. It is powered by a USB cord that can connect to a computer. I expect you can get an adapter that will allow you to use AC power. Otherwise, you would be limited to using it in the vicinity of your computer.

In years past, there have been various lightboxes on the market. Some had conventional light bulbs, and others used florescent lighting. All were somewhat problematic and all were also bulkier than this ultra-thin model, which has three levels of brightness and puts out white light (which many of the older lightboxes did not).

The old type lightboxes also put out a lot of heat, which this one does not.  It’s a 21st century solution to a 20th century problem, but better late than never!

It is available for a very attractive price. I highly recommend it, and gain nothing financially if anyone does buy one. I only wish a product like this had been available 30 years ago.

-David Sadowski

Recent Correspondence

Bruce Fastow writes:

Perhaps you can guide me. I own a Johnson fare box similar to the one attached. Can you tell me how I can take the top off so I can clean out the hopper? My kids put paper in the unit.

 

Chances are, one of our readers knows the answer and can help, thanks.

Pre-Order Our New Book Chicago Trolleys

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 221 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans Under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping. Shipping within the US is included in the price. Shipping to Canada is just $5 additional, or $10 elsewhere.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

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NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

We are pleased to report that selected images from our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will be available on September 25th in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

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