This remarkable photo, taken circa 1955-57, shows a wooden CTA “L” car on the Stock Yards branch with cattle, and in color to boot. We are looking east from the Exchange station.
It’s been a month since our last post, but it hasn’t been for lack of effort. Lately, it’s been work, work, work around here. We have been hard at work on our next book, which will be about the North Shore Line, doing research, scanning, and collecting images.
We also have many new photo finds of our own, including 24 snapshots that we purchased as a batch. The photographer is not known, but must have been someone who traveled a lot, as there are pictures from Chicago, the Pittsburgh area, Milwaukee, and one other unidentified city.
The Pittsburgh photos are intriguing, as some of them appear to show the Pittsburgh Railways interurban to Washington, PA, which ran PCC cars. There are some mysteries about the Milwaukee pictures as well.
Perhaps some of our readers can help identify the locations.
We received another batch of negatives from John V. Engleman, many of which are 60 years old, and have scanned a few dozen of these, mostly from the North Shore Line. Mr. Engleman is an excellent photographer and like the other photos of his we have shared in previous posts, there are many great shots, both black-and-white and color.
According to Mr. Engleman, he rode the North Shore Line twice– first in the summer of 1961, and then on the last full day of service, January 20, 1963. The extreme difference in weather should make it easy to tell which photos are which.
60-year-old color negatives present many challenges when scanning. The film has a base coat which has itself faded, just as the other colors in the image have, and it took a bit longer than usual to color correct these.
Then, there were the inevitable plethora of scratches and spots that had to be painstakingly removed using Photoshop. Working over each one of those images took me at least an hour, and sometimes longer. I could only do a few of these each day.
The color negs were 127 size, which is about four times as large as 35mm. So while early 1960s color negative film was grainy, the larger film size makes up for this to some extent, and the results are quite acceptable.
Mr. Engleman’s black-and-whites were shot on 120 film, which is even larger than 127, and presented no difficulties. We thank him profusely for generously sharing these previously unseen photos with our readers.
If a picture is worth 1000 words, then I say let these pictures speak for themselves. To me, they speak volumes.
Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.
Remembering Don Ross
It’s come to my attention that R. Donald Ross passed away on January 18th, aged 90. His career as a railfan photographer and historian began in 1946, and stretched out for more than 75 years. He cast a long shadow.
He started out as an avid photographer, and occasionally I will run across one with his name stamped on the back. But he was also an early, and active volunteer at railway museums, and scouted out possible locations for the Illinois Railway Museum when they had to vacate from the Chicago Hardware Foundry site in North Chicago.
He helped identify the former Elgin and Belvedere interurban right-of-way in Union as a potential site for the museum, where it is today. Other potential sites included the Chicago Aurora & Elgin‘s former Batavia branch, and the current sites of both the Fox River Trolley Museum and East Troy Railroad Museum.
In recent years, he worked hard at developing Don’s Rail Photos, a vast resource for information about hundreds of different railroads. This was not his only web site, as his interests ranged far afield.
I have not found an obituary for Mr. Ross. Nowadays, it doesn’t seem like everyone gets one. I don’t know what sort of provisions he made to continue his web site in the future, but it would be a shame if everything he worked so hard to create eventually disappears.
He will definitely be missed.
Our Annual Fundraiser
We are pleased to report we have exceeded our annual fundraising goal, with a total of $1055 received to date. These funds have already been put to good use, paying for our annual hosting fees, WordPress subscriptions, material for our next book, and for this blog.
We are very grateful to everyone who contributed. We could not continue this site without your kind assistance.
We accept donations 365 days a year. If you wish to help, there are links at the top and bottom of this page.
We thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
Photos by John V. Engleman
Silverliners at the Milwaukee terminal. (John V. Engleman Photo)
Silverliners at the Milwaukee terminal. (John V. Engleman Photo)
A great night shot of an Electroliner at Roosevelt Road in Chicago. This was the southern terminus for the North Shore Line for many years, and from 1949 to 1963 the interurban had this CTA station all to themselves. (John V. Engleman Photo)
A rather blurry shot of an Electroliner at Roosevelt Road. (John V. Engleman Photo)
This is North Chicago. (John V. Engleman Photo)
This is North Chicago. (John V. Engleman Photo)
This has been identified as North Chicago. (John V. Engleman Photo)
A stately Electroliner on a snowy day in Milwaukee. (John V. Engleman Photo)
Roosevelt Road with car 255 in the pocket. (John V. Engleman Photo)
CTA trolley bus 9648 heads west, as seen from the Belmont “L” station. (John V. Engleman Photo)
A great shot of an Electroliner at Roosevelt Road on a winter’s day. (John V. Engleman Photo)
Roosevelt Road. (John V. Engleman Photo)
The Milwaukee Terminal. (John V. Engleman Photo)
The Milwaukee Terminal. (John V. Engleman Photo)
Although this image was spoiled by a double exposure, it is still a nice view of the Milwaukee Terminal in winter. (John V. Engleman Photo)
An Electroliner at the Milwaukee Terminal. (John V. Engleman Photo)
Here. we are looking north from the Belmont “L” station, and the platform at left was used only by southbound North Shore trains. As Graham Garfield’s http://www.chicago-l.org website notes, “Beginning in 1919, North Shore Line interurban trains reached downtown Chicago over the North Side “L”. Although the “L” and interurban services were separate and had different fares without free transfers, they shared a number of stops — Belmont being one common stop — with little effort to separate passengers. This was in large part because the North Shore Line and the “L” were both owned by common interests, led by Samuel Insull. This ended in 1947 when the CTA assumed ownership and operation of the “L”, and thereafter the Authority was disinclined to allow free transfer of North Shore Line riders to the “L”. Thus, from 1953 until the end of North Shore Line service in 1963, Belmont actually had three platforms: there was an additional very narrow North Shore Line exit-only platform built along the west side of the “L” structure, extending from the south side of Belmont Avenue to a point somewhat north of the ends of the center platforms. (Traffic-separation arrangements were also adopted at Howard and Wilson, but never at the other stations used by inbound North Shore trains.) Passengers could disembark on this platform only, and were deposited onto the sidewalk on Belmont. If they wanted to transfer to the “L”, they had to reenter the station and pay another fare. Northbound North Shore Line trains continued to share the island platform used by “L” customers, although there was probably more boarding of the interurban northbound than alighting, and the North Shore Line had personnel aboard their trains to collect fares at all times.” (John V. Engleman Photo)
NSL 771 and train are heading east at LaSalle and Van Buren on the Loop “L”, making this a southbound train in the morning. (John V. Engleman Photo)
A Silverliner at the head of a train. Not sure of the location. (John V. Engleman Photo) Zach E. says this is 769 at Lake Bluff.
The Mundelein Terminal. (John V. Engleman Photo)
NSL 743 is northbound on the 6th Street Viaduct. (John V. Engleman Photo)
North Shore Line Silverliners at the Milwaukee Terminal. (John V. Engleman Photo)
A southbound Silverliner at Belmont. (John V. Engleman Photo)
An Electroliner has arrived and its trolley pole hasn’t yet been turned around. (John V. Engleman Photo)
Such a classic view of the Milwaukee Terminal. (John V. Engleman Photo)
An Electroliner at the Milwaukee Terminal. (John V. Engleman Photo)
The Milwaukee Terminal. This picture, at least, could have been taken in 1962, judging by the nearby billboard. (John V. Engleman Photo)
Red Pullman 460 at South Shops, as part of the CTA historical collection, possibly after the end of streetcar service, which ended in 1958. (John V. Engleman Photo)
Prewar PCC 4021 and red Pullman 460 were part of the CTA’s historical collection when this picture was taken at South Shops, possibly around 1959. Both cars are now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (John V. Engleman Photo)
This was scanned from a copy negative of an Electroliner in action. (John V. Engleman Collection)
The CTA Skokie Swift opened in April 1964, and it’s possible this picture was taken not long after that at Dempster Street in Skokie. (John V. Engleman Photo) Spence Ziegler adds, “The Skokie Swift Car at Dempster St was taken after June, 1965 as the former North Shore Line catenary towers north of Dempster St. are gone.”
It’s not entirely clear just when this picture was taken at DesPlaines Avenue on the Congress line, but my guess is 1960-61. There are some CTA single-car units visible, and the first of these were delivered in 1960. But in this and the other shot, I don’t see the shops building, which was completed in 1962. We are looking west, with the old Forest Park gas holder in the distance. (John V. Engleman Photo)
The yard at the DesPlaines Avenue terminal, circa 1960-61. (John V. Engleman Photo)
CTA 5002 at Kimball in Lawrence, most likely in June 1962 (based on the platform signage). (John V. Engleman Photo)
CSL PCC 4050 is at Madison and Austin, and appears to have some front-end damage. The motorman does not look too happy about having his picture taken. (John V. Engleman Collection)
CTA PCC 4110 exits the Washington streetcar tunnel in the early 1950s, with a Chicago Motor Coach bus at left. We are looking west. (John V. Engleman Collection)
The same location today. Note the building on the left matches.
This is a North Shore Line city streetcar in Milwaukee. The caption that came with this one said, “Last day run past North Shore depot.” If so, this would be 1951.
CTA wooden “L” cars 390 and 280 make a fantrip photo stop at Austin Boulevard on the Garfield Park line on April 14, 1957. This was a temporary station due to ongoing construction of the Congress Expressway in this area.
North Shore Line car 154 survived the abandonment, only to succumb to the ravages of neglect many years later. Here, we see it in Anderson, IN on July 16, 1965, where it was pulled around by a locomotive. It eventually went to a museum in Worthington, OH where it was allowed to deteriorate. Considered in too bad shape to restore, it was purchased by another museum in Michigan, stripped of usable parts for the restoration of a different (non-NSL) car in their collection, and its carcass was unceremoniously dumped in a field, where it is now offered to anyone in need of a spare room or chicken coop.
From 1922 to 1938, North Shore Line cars ran to the south side. Here, we see a fantrip train, headed up by Silverliner 409, at 61st Street on one of those latter-day fantrips prior to the 1963 abandonment.
CTA red Pullman streetcar 208 appears to be signed for Route 9 – Ashland, which would make this a car headed east between Paulina and Ashland, where it will turn north. Streetcars were not permitted on boulevards, which meant they could not travel on Ashland between Lake Street and Roosevelt Road. Buses replaced streetcars on the Ashland and Lake routes in 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
CTA PCC 7240, signed for 77th and Vincennes (South Shops). (William C. Hoffman Photo) Mike Franklin: “Car 7240 is e/b on 69th St at Morgan St.” Our resident South Side expert M.E. adds: “This photo needs further explanation. For many years, the 69th and Ashland barn housed Western Avenue PCC cars. After that barn closed in the early 1950s, the only remaining carbarn for PCC cars on the south side was at 77th and Vincennes. The CTA left the trackage alive on 69th St. between Western and Wentworth for the sole purpose of moving Western Avenue PCCs back and forth. (Trackage along Wentworth and Vincennes was still in use by route 22.) The car in this photo is heading home to the 77th and Vincennes barn.”
CTA PCC 7180 is northbound on Dearborn at Congress in the mid-1950s.
The Garfield Park “L” temporary trackage at street level in Van Bure Street at Damen Avenue, some time around 1954 as the Congress Expressway is still under construction nearby (but the old “L” structure has already been removed).
The same location. A Buick heads south on Damen while an eastbound Garfield Park train waits for the lights to change before crossing.
North Shore Line 742 and a Silverliner at the Milwaukee Terminal in the early-to-mid 1950s.
This CTA preliminary study, circa 1954-55, shows plans for the Congress-Douglas-Milwaukee route that went into service in 1958. Planning for the section west of Cicero was somewhat tentative and differed from what was eventually built. At this stage, Laramie Yard was to be retained, and connected to the Congress line via a flyover. Eventually, it was decided to move the yard to DesPlaines Avenue, but at the time the land was not owned by the CTA. A platform area on the map at Laramie was not a station, but intended for use adding and cutting cars. The Austin-Menard station would have been located east of Austin Boulevard. Instead, it was built west of there, with a secondary entrance at Lombard. Once it was decided to add a secondary entrance to the Oak Park Avenue station at East Avenue, it was no longer necessary to have a new station at Ridgeland (as a replacement for Gunderson, which was located on a side street). During construction of the Congress Expressway in Oak Park and Forest Park, there were eventually three different temporary track configurations used.
A northbound NSL two-car train stops at Dempster Street in Skokie on March 26, 1960.
North Shore Line conventional cars and an Electroliner meet at Edison Court in Waukegan on August 31, 1957. (Stephen D. Maguire Photo)
On June 19, 1953, a three-car Chicago Auror and Elgin train approaches the Halsted “L” station in the four-track Met main line. We are looking to the northeast. The cars are 52, 317, and 304. (Robert Selle Photo)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin wood car 139 at Wheaton Yards on May 30, 1952. Don’s Rail Photos: “138 thru 141 were built by American Car in 1910. They were rebuilt for Elevated compatibility in 1919. They were also leased to the CA&E in 1936, returned to the CNS&M in 1945, and sold to the CA&E in 1946.” Once the CA&E stopped running downtown via CTA tracks in September 1953, the former North Shore cars were no longer needed and were scrapped the following year. (Robert Selle Photo)
CA&E car 129 at the Wheaton Yards on May 30, 1952. Don’s Rail Photos: “129 was built by Jewett Car in 1907. It was rebuilt in 1914 and leased to Chicago Aurora & Elgin and modified in 1936. It was returned to CNS&M in 1945 and sold to CA&E in 1946. It was scrapped in 1951.” (Note- the scrapping date is in error.) (Robert Selle Photo)
CA&E wood car 318 is outbound on the Batavia branch on July 14, 1954, about one block from the Batavia station, on its way to Batavia Junction. Parts of the Batavia branch were somewhat similar to the main line at the Illinois Railway Museum, which you can see in this photo by Robert Selle. As with the rest of the CA&E, passenger service continued until the abrupt mid-day abandonment on July 3, 1957.
CA&E cars 406 and 456 meet to pick up and discharge passengers at the Cicero Avenue station on the Garfield Park “L” on August 22, 1953, just less than a month before the interurban cut back service to Forest Park. (Robert Selle Photo)
CA&E car 418 is east of Laramie Avenue on the Garfield Park “L” on February 15, 1953, giving an unusual view of the ramp leading from ground level to the Cicero Avenue station. The middle part of the negative was partially light struck, which could happen with paper-backed roll film. Photographer Robert Selle shot size 616 Kodak Verichrome Pan film. 616 used the same film as 116, resulting in a large negative, but used slightly different spools. Both types were discontinued in 1984, as no cameras had been manufactured using these sizes in decades. Verichrome was designed to give maximum exposure latitude, as it was often used in box cameras that had only one shutter speed. It was discontinued in 2002.
Chicago Surface Lines one-man car 3100. Mike Franklin: “This would be looking north on Leavitt St from just south of Coulter St. Small building above Car 3100 is Chicago Railways Blue Island Ave Sub Station and the larger building further north is their 24th St Car Station.”
A Silverliner departs from the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal, probably in the late 1950s. I can’t quite make out the number, but it is in the 770s.
The North Shore Line shops at Highwood. Loco 456 pulls a freight train, while one of the line cars is at right.
NSL 157 on a June 17, 1962 fantrip.
I recently purchased these three Ektachrome slides, all taken by the same photographer on June 17, 1962. Ektachrome film from the 1950s through the early 1960s has faded to red over the years. The red dye layer remained stable, while the other colors faded badly. Within a year or two of when these pictures were taken, Kodak had fixed the problem. With modern technology, it is often possible to bring the color back in these red Ektachromes, and restore them to look more like normal. The color-corrected versions follow.
Two trains meet near South Upton Junction.
An Electroliner on June 17, 1962.
A northbound train at North Chicago Junction on June 17, 1962.
CTA prewar PCC 4005 at 63rd Place and Narragansett on July 30, 1948.
CSL 4018 kicking up a cloud of dust on 63rd Place west of Central Avenue, some time between 1948 and 1952. (Richard W. Tesch Photo)
CSL red Pullman 93- is running on Route 35, so this appears to be the 35th Street “L” station on the south side, making the cross street State.
The same location today. The Illinois Institute of Technology campus is at left.
Philadelphia Transportation Company Peter Witt 8500 on September 12, 1955. It was built by Brill around 1926. Kenneth Achtert adds, “I am fairly certain that the photo of PTC #8500 (aab516) is SB on 17th St. just south of Market St., having just turned from westbound on Market St.” Mike Franklin concurs: “Car 8500 is s/b on S 17th St, having just crossed Market St, Philadelphia, Pa.” So, the testimony of two is true.
A train of CTA 4000s at Chicago Avenue on a fantrip around April 1974. By then, these cars had been retired from regular service. When Ravenswood service terminated at Belmont Avenue on Sundays, fans had the stations south of there all to themselves for leisurely photo stops, without worrying about getting in the way of regular service trains.
NSL 767 at the Milwaukee Terminal on May 7, 1942.
A North Shore Line ticket envelope.
This is the Pittsburgh area in the summer of 1952, and quite possibly Washington, PA. Interurban service to here ended the following year. Larry Lovejoy: “All of the Pittsburgh photos are taken within a four block area in downtown Washington, Pennsylvania, aka: “Little Washington”, lest anybody be confused with Washington, DC. The local routes quit in May of 1953. The interurban lasted until August. Photo ab534: Southbound on Main Street at Beau Street. This is a Jefferson & Maiden car headed toward the route’s eastern terminal out East Maiden Street.”
Again, Washington, PA. Note there is a sign that says Washington. Larry Lovejoy: “Photo aab535: Northbound on Main at Chestnut. Not clear whether this a Jefferson & Maiden car or an East & West route car. In the far distance, a North Washington car is turning left from Main onto East Beau Street crossing the path of what appears to be an unknown bus. “
The release date of Abbott and Costello’s Lost in Alaska helps date this picture to summer 1952. Larry Lovejoy: “Photo aab536: North Washington car westbound on Chestnut about to turn south onto Main Street.” (In Washington, PA.) The movie theater on the corner was called the Basle (later the Uptown). It is now used by a church.
The same location today.
Washington, PA. Larry Lovejoy: “Photo aab537: Jefferson & Maiden car northbound on Main Street at Wheeling Street.”
Pittsburgh PCCs, mounted with an extra headlight, operated on two interurbans, including to Washington, PA. Larry Lovejoy: “Photo aab538: Looking south on Main, with Chestnut Street behind the photographer. The interurban PCC facing us is heading northbound to Pittsburgh.”
(Map courtesy of Larry Lovejoy)
Our readers have identified PCC 1760 as St. Louis, and not Pittsburgh as I originally thought. (See the Comments section.) Mike Franklin: “Car 1760 is w/b on Olive St in front of the Old Post Office between 8th & 9th Sts, St Louis, Mo.”
This, and the picture that follows, appear to be from the same city. The car at right in this picture has a 1951 Colorado license plate, but I don’t believe there were any cities in Colorado that used PCC cars, and such a car is visible in the next picture. So that would indicate the vehicle was visiting from another state. Dan Cluley writes: “aab539 is definitely Detroit as suggested. Hudson’s department store is straight ahead with the sign & the flagpole and the skyscraper in the middle left is the Book Tower. Looking at a Detroit streetcar map and lining up those buildings suggests that this is Abbott Street looking NE probably around 2nd or 3rd st. Cars on the Baker line used Abbott one way headed downtown for about ¾ of mile. The newest car I can spot is the 1950 Chevy parked at left, the Baker line was converted to bus in 1952 and the Colorado license plate is either 1951 or 1954, so 1951 seems a good date for the photo.”
Dan Cluley: “aab540 is Highland Park MI, which is a separate community surrounded by the city of Detroit. It is the Woodward Ave carhouse looking east. The 5 stacks in the background are the power house for Ford’s Highland Park plant.”
This looks like the end of the line for a local streetcar. The unknown photographer may have taken this picture looking out the front window of a car that has changed ends.
I am not sure of this location, but that doesn’t look like a Pittsburgh car. Based on the comment on the following picture, this is probably Altoona, PA.
Mike Franklin: “Looking SW on 12th Ave between 13th & 14th Sts, Altoona, Pa.”
The Chicago pictures appear to date to the period around March 1953. This is a southbound Clark-Wentworth PCC at the intersection of Clark and Lake.
In 1953, it was still possible for PCCs to meet at an intersection. One of these is a Madison Street car, and the other a Clark-Wentworth car.
Red Pullman 605 is signed to go to Ashland and 71st. It is turning from Dearborn onto Lake Street. I’m not sure what route it is operating on. Myron Cohen appeared at the Selwyn Theater in Farfel Follies in March 1953, which helps date the photo. Our resident South Side expert M.E. adds: “Because the destination sign reads Ashland – 71st, this streetcar is on route 45, Ashland – Downtown. But I’m not certain the destination sign reads 71st St. It may read 70th St., which was at the south end of the carbarn at 69th and Ashland — the end where the cars entered the barn. Also, I believe route 45 actually ran to the south end of Ashland track at 95th St. There were two rush-hour routes from the south side into the Loop: 45, on Ashland, and 42, on Halsted. Both routes used Archer Ave. and State St. to reach the Loop. I believe the northbound cars turned west on Polk St. to Dearborn, then north to Lake St., then east to State St. and south to Archer.”
Clark and Dearborn did not become one-way streets until November 16, 1953, so this picture was taken before then, looking south along Dearborn north of Lake Street.
The corner of State and Lake.
State and Lake, would be my guess.
Southbound PCCs on Clark Street at Lake.
CTA one-man car 1732 has just turned south onto Dearborn, so it can loop around the block before heading back out west on Route 16 – Lake. Again, most likely in March 1953.
CTA PCC 7059 heads south on Clark Street at Lake. Note a “woody” station wagon at right, with a 1953 Illinois license plate.
A remake of the 1927 film the Jazz Singer, starring Danny Thomas, was playing at the Chicago Theater in March 1953. The Chicago Tribune reviewed it on the 9th, and it was still playing there on the 18th. They called it “lugubrious.”
Here’s what Don’s Rail Photos has to say about Milwaukee Electric car 44, although I am not sure this is the same car: “41 thru 44 were built at Cold Spring in 1912 and 45 thru 51 were built in 1913. They were built primarily for Racine and Kenosha. In 1921 they were rebuilt for one-man service. They were retired in 1931 except for 44, which was retired in 1930 to become a safety discussion room at National Station, and 47, which became the training car at Fond du Lac Station in 1930 and was retired in 1932. They were scrapped in 1931 and 1932. 51 was scrapped on October 4, 1932.” Perhaps the car in this picture is up on blocks because it was used as a safety discussion room? I’m not sure where this picture was taken. Also, this picture was taken more like 1951 than 1931. Michael Peters writes, “You’re correct in your guess that #44 isn’t the same car as the one built at TM’s Cold Spring shops in 1912. The confusion comes from this car technically not being a TM car at this point in its life. Per CERA Bulletin 112, the car in the photo was built for TM in 1930 by St. Louis Car Company as part of an order for twenty articulated streetcars (1031 to 1050). Milwaukee practice was to give the lead unit the odd number, trailing unit the even. So in TM service, the car in question was the trailing unit for 1043-1044 and served until after World War II when all cars in the series were withdrawn and stored. In 1949 they were sold to Speedrail and renumbered by the simple expedient of eliminating the first two digits. This is how TM 1043-1044 wound up becoming Speedrail 43-44. It lasted in Speedrail service for about fourteen months until 43-44 was involved in a collision with curved-sider 65 in February 1950. As a result of the collision 43-44 was retired. Judging by the steel columns and “junk” visible in the TM photos, it seems like these were taken at the Milwaukee freight terminal (W. St. Paul Street between 8th and 10th) after Speedrail quit on June 30, 1951. The freight terminal was one of the locations cars were stored before going to Waukesha Gavel Pit for scrapping.” On the other hand, Willie (no last name) writes: “Re: ab555, ab556 and ab557, the stranded Milwaukee Electric cars, I believe these were shot at the Cold Spring shops, at North 38th street and McKinley. The substantial industrial buildings in the background are Harley-Davidson’s main plant, still in use.” Charles Kronenwetter: “Speedrail cars in storage in the 12th St yard prior to scrapping. Nice picture of the 44 up on blocks awaiting repairs that never came. The structure shown at the right is the western end of the Hibernia street elevated track. Notice the pile of what appear to be paving blocks often used between streetcar tracks.”
Milwaukee Electric 1195, part of an articulated “duplex,” possibly after the end of TM interurban service. Don’s Rail Photos: “ In 1923 Cincinnati Car built 12 steel interurban combines for the Indianapolis & Cincinnati Traction Co. In 1928 they were replaced by Cincinnati curved side lightweight cars and became surplus. 4 were sold to the nearby Union Traction of Indiana and the remaining 8 were purchased by the TM in 1929. At Cold Spring Shops they were cut in two just in front of the rear trucks. A new section was built which included an articulated joint which lengthened the cars to 90 feet, seating a total of 84 passengers. The trains were given two numbers per unit. They remained virtually unchanged until they were replaced by lightweight cars in 1950 under Speedrail ownership. 1194-1195 was rebuilt from I&C 612 in 1929 and scrapped in 1952.”
Milwaukee Electric 1195, possibly after the end of TM interurban service.
CRT 1128 heads up a 61st Street Express, heading southbound at Congress and Wabash. As this was just south of the Loop, the train at right is heading northbound. This station closed in 1949, when the CTA revamped north-south service, and was soon removed. This picture dates to before the State Street Subway opened in October 1943, since both wood and steel cars are operating in the same train.
Did Not Win
Much as we try, we just don’t have the resources to purchase all the excellent images that come up for auction. Here are three that we could not get, that are still worth another look:
I did not bid on this negative, as I already had won one one similar to it. This one sold for $141.25, so I am not the only person who sees great value in these old negatives. In this one, you can see Tower 12 in the background, meaning we are south of there, and this station is Congress and Wabash, which closed in 1949. The two buildings at left are still there and the location matches. Photos of this station are quite rare, and like the other image, this one predates the opening of the State Street Subway in October 1943.
This is one I wished I had bid on. Again, it shows the old “L” station at Congress and Wabash. This was the second “L” station on Congress. The first one (later dubbed “Old Congress” was a stub-end terminal just west of here, left on this picture, just out of view. That predated construction of the Loop “L”. This second station was sometimes referred to as “New Congress.”
CSL PCC 4162 running by the Newberry Library and Washington Square Park, aka “Bughouse Square,” where crackpots would jump up on soap boxes and harangue passers by. This car was built by Pullman-Standard. This wasn’t the first postwar PCC, as that was 4062. But it is quite a nice picture.
Jim Schantz writes:
Wonderful selection of photos and congratulations on the Photoshop work! I respect that work as I have done much of it myself.
A couple of guesses: The rear ¾ view of PCC 1760 looks like St. Louis based on the unique-to-St. Louis window layout and the fact that all Pittsburgh 1700’s had roof fans like a Boston car. The shot two photos further down of the carbarn yard with conventional and PCC cars looks to be Detroit based on the livery. It couldn’t be Kansas City as their PCCs didn’t have standee windows, and it appears that these do. The following shot with the single to double track layout could be a Pittsburgh passing siding, such as on route 65, or any other city with passing sidings. It doesn’t look like a terminal to me.
Again thanks for posting these wonderful photos!
You are quite welcome. I hope this will help solve some of the mysteries.
A Guide to the Railroad Record Club E-Book
William A. Steventon recording the sounds of the North Shore Line in April 1956. (Kenneth Gear Collection)
Our good friend Ken Gear has been hard at work on collecting all things related to the late William Steventon’s railroad audio recordings and releases. The result is a new book on disc, A Guide To the Railroad Record Club. This was quite a project and labor of love on Ken’s part!
Kenneth Gear has written and compiled a complete history of William Steventon‘s Railroad Record Club, which issued 42 different LPs of steam, electric, and diesel railroad audio, beginning with its origins in 1953.
This “book on disc” format allows us to present not only a detailed history of the club and an updated account of Kenneth Gear’s purchase of the William Steventon estate, but it also includes audio files, photo scans and movie files. Virtually all the Railroad Record Club archive is gathered in one place!
$10 from the sale of each RRC E-Book will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.
Now Available on Compact Disc:
RRC08D Railroad Record Club #08 Deluxe Edition: Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, Recorded by Elwin Purington The Complete Recording From the Original Master Tapes Price: $15.99
Kenneth Gear‘s doggedness and determination resulted in his tracking down and purchasing the surviving RRC master tapes a few years back, and he has been hard at work having them digitized, at considerable personal expense, so that you and many others can enjoy them with today’s technology. We have already released a few RRC Rarities CDs from Ken’s collection.
When Ken heard the digitized version of RRC LP #08, Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, recorded by the late Elwin Purington, he was surprised to find the original tapes were more than twice the length of the 10″ LP. The resulting LP had been considerably edited down to the limited space available, 15 minutes per side.
The scenes were the same, but each was greatly shortened. Now, on compact disc, it is possible to present the full length recordings of this classic LP, which was one of Steventon’s best sellers and an all-around favorite, for the very first time.
Canadian National. Steaming giants pound high iron on mountain trails, rumble over trestles, hit torpedos and whistle for many road crossings. Mountain railroading with heavy power and lingering whistles! Includes locomotives 3566, 4301, 6013, 3560.
Total time – 72:57
$5 from the sale of RRC08D CD will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.
Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation
We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s Images of America Author David Sadowski Edition illustrated Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021 ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007 Length 128 pages
Chapters: 01. The South Side “L” 02. The Lake Street “L” 03. The Metropolitan “L” 04. The Northwestern “L” 05. The Union Loop 06. Lost Equipment 07. Lost Interurbans 08. Lost Terminals 09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
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A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
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I have been interested in historic preservation for a long time, and it’s not every day that anyone comes across original material such as this. Suddenly, out of nowhere it seems, previously unknown, unissued audio recordings have emerged for some long-vanished steam and electric railroads, along with 16mm motion picture film, and various artifacts related to the Railroad Record Club’s 42 issued LPs, in their various forms. It seems like a miracle that somehow, it all survived to be rescued from oblivion.
Getting this done involved a tremendous financial sacrifice on Ken’s part, as he is of modest means. I hope that he will be able to recoup at least some of his substantial investment in the future. I am sure he will appreciate any contributions you may be able to offer him, towards the cost of transferring some of these reel-to-reel tapes and 16mm movie films to digital.
PS- Our new book Building Chicago’s Subways is now available for immediate shipment. If you already pre-ordered it, your copy is already on its way to you. We are excited to have had the opportunity to tell the story of this exciting chapter in Chicago history. Details on how to order are at the end of this post.
Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt, Part 2
It’s been over a year since I acquired a large portion of the William Steventon estate. The Railroad Record Club items that I purchased last year have enabled David and I to piece together a fairly complete history of the RRC and to more fully appreciate the time and effort Mr. Steventon put into producing these records. The homemade 78rpm records alone proved to be an invaluable resource. Not only did they provide us with some wonderful recordings, most of which hadn’t been heard in over fifty years, they revealed the pre-history of the club and offered a glimpse into the infancy of railroad field recording.
We were able to hear the very first railroad recording Steventon made– B&O trains at Riverdale, Maryland in 1953. We also finally completed our quest to get a copy of every single released RRC record digitized and put on CDs. We are now only in need of two samplers, the 5th and 6th years. More interesting information was garnered from examining original record jacket artwork and paste up boards, as well as the metal print blocks. We were also able to compile a list of records re-issued on 12″ stock and find out what was necessary for it to happen and the cost of doing it.
Photographs from his personal collection were scanned and published in the Trolley Dodger for all to enjoy. I think the effort that went into keeping all this material from ending up in a dumpster was well worth the time and expense and I’m happy to have been involved.
In spite of this, I knew the job was only half finished. There was much more that needed to be saved and time was running out. Those tapes I wrote about under the heading “what I left behind” in the first treasure hunt story needed to be preserved. There were still a big box of photos, reams of correspondence, the metal master discs for the 12″ reissues and lots and lots of sealed records.
The estate dealer was quite adamant that this stuff had to go…and quickly! I purchased all that I could, but I certainly could not afford to buy anything else and asked for some time to raise the money. As I tried to come up with the extra cash needed, months went by and the emails ceased. For a while it seemed that all this great material would be lost. Still, I squirreled away what money I could when I could and slowly, much too slowly, I approached his asking price. With the funds in hand, I emailed the estate dealer putting in the subject line that I HAD the money for the remaining Steventon estate items. Even as I composed that email I couldn’t be sure that the entire lot wasn’t already in some land fill rotting away. He answered me the next day, but it seemed a lot longer then that to me. His first two sentences were a relief:
Ken, good to hear from you. Yes, it is all as we left it a year ago.
There was one complication that needed to be addressed. I could not make the trip up to him in Wisconsin this year as I had done before. All the items would have to be shipped to me in New Jersey.
The estate dealer was agreeable to packing up the items and doing the weighing and making the transportation arrangements, but again there was a complication. This was his busy season and he would be working extensively out of town. He would not be able to devote much time to this effort for the next few weeks. A little progress was made here and there through the rest of June and I purchased boxes and packing material in July. I was a little apprehensive about shipping old open reel tapes and vinyl records during the hottest part of the summer anyway, so I just had to be patient. In early August progress was made and on the 13th I received the long-awaited email:
The last box is packed. You’ll have a pallet coming that’s right around 400 pounds, perhaps a touch over. Nine boxes to be delivered to the YRC terminal.
Several more delays would still be encountered, not the lest of which was the local hardware store’s forklift needing repairs. The hardware store, for a $20 fee, would be used to lift the pallet onto the truck. At last, in early September, with all hurdles cleared, a newly-repaired forklift placed the shipment on to the truck. Finally, the second half of the Steventon estate’s Railroad Record Club items were on their way to me.
A few days later I heading to the local YRC terminal to receive the long-awaited shipment. After some paperwork in the office, I backed a borrowed ¾-ton pick-up truck to the indicated bay. Soon a forklift lowered the last of the Railroad Record Club items from the Steventon estate into the truck bed. I now had a night of treasure hunting to look forward to!
I had sort of “cherry picked” the first half of the estate, so I knew that a great unexpected find was rather doubtful, but I did come across a few surprises.
2 Tapes appear to be in good condition
3 Tape with hand written track listing
4 More unreleased Steventon audio
5 Lots of interesting material on these tapes
6 Still more intersting tapes
7 Unreleased audio this is why I bought the whole lot
8 Steventon tapes
9 More Stevnton tapes
10 Even more tapes
11 Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records
12 Another view of the Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records
13 A box full of the Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records
14 Close up of the 78rpm record master tapes
15 Another Close up of the 78rpm record master tapes
16 78rpm master tapes showing condition of tapes-not too bad
17 close up of 78rpm master tape showing condition
18 BC Electric and Montreal & South Counties tapes with Steventon letter
19 Montreal & South Counties tape with Steventon letter
20 BC Electric tape with Steventon letter
21 Close up of the BC Electric and Montreal & South Counties tapes
22 Railroad Record Club Master tapes
23 Master tape for record 26
24 A stack of 22 Railroad Record Club Master tapes
25 master tape Railroad Record Club number 16
26 master tape Railroad Record Club number 15
27 master tape Railroad Record Club with memo
28 master tape Railroad Record Club number 17
29 master tape Railroad Record Club number 18
30 Note on box containing master tape Railroad Record Club number 18
31 Two master tapes for record number 3
32 Two master tapes for record number 3 showing condition
33 master tape Railroad Record Club number 7
34 master tapes Railroad Record Club number 10
35 master tape Railroad Record Club number 23 with memo
36 master tape Railroad Record Club number 17
The reel to reel tapes that I had left behind last year were the real reason I went to all this trouble and expense to acquire the rest of the estate. I’m sure I did not get any of the tapes that were actually in Steventon’s recorder when he was trackside, but they may no longer exist. Perhaps he transferred these “field tapes” to newer tape stock, in an effort to preserve them and some of these duplicates are what I received. There is at least one recording I know he made that is not among my tapes. In the liner notes of Record Number 20, Steventon writes that the cab ride onboard NYC # 1441 with his father at the throttle was edited down from over two hours of tape. I would have been very happy to find 4 or 5 reels of tape marked “cab ride with Dad” but it was not to be. What I did find, however, is some very good and interesting stuff, most of which has never been released on a Railroad Record Club LP.
One tape that was a bit of a surprise was a 4″ reel of tape marked NYS&W. Of all the railroads in the New York area, why the Susquehanna? If he recorded this tape while in New York to ride and record the Queensboro Bridge trolley, which had to be prior to April 1957 when that line shut down, then why not record PRR K-4s on the New York & Long Branch which lasted until October of that year? Or all those electric locomotives on the NYC and NYNH&H? Perhaps he did record some or all these railroads and I just don’t have the tapes. Anything is possible, but I have found no evidence that he ever did. I’ll just have to wait until I have the NYS&W tape put on CD to find out just what the attraction may have been.
Other interesting finds include three 5″ reels of a fan trip operated by the Northern Pacific Railroad on June 20, 1957. 4-8-4 # 2686 pulled the train from St. Paul, MN to Staples. One tape is labeled “NP 2686-LV MPLS,” the second NP 2686 coal dock stop,” and the last, “NP 2686 LV Staples.” There was also a negative of the NP 2686 at Staples found among the photographs. Other steam and/or diesel tapes are labeled “CPR,” “NKP Ft. Wayne,” “N&W,” and “Soo Line.”
The traction fans among us will be happy to know there is plenty for them. The CNS&M has several tapes devoted to it. One tape is marked “CNS&M switching at Rondout and Mundelein”. There is a cut on Record 26 of locomotive # 459 switching at Rondout, but not at Mundelein. Another North Shore tape is marked “Mundelein Run” and another simply ” Mundelein”. One more CNS&M tape has “Electroliner” written on the box.
There is a tape marked “ITS 202”, apparently Steventon preferred Illinois Traction System to Illinois Terminal. On Record 25 Steventon wrote in the liner notes, “We had just arrived (at Harristown, IL) on interurban No. 202 where we had made an “on train” recording east from Springfield. We alighted and watched the 202 fade into the distance. This was the last sight and sound we had of the Illinois Terminal as an interurban. The “on train” recording of 202 and a streamliner is scheduled for release at a later date.” It never was. I don’t know about the streamliner recording, I may or may not have it, but I will consider it a privilege to be involved with releasing the 202 recording for him.
There are also tapes of the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City (CRANDIC), Charles City Western, Toledo & Eastern, and Capital Transit. Canadian traction fans are not overlooked either. There is a 5″ reel of the Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. There are also two 5″ reels, one each, of the BC Electric and the Montreal & Southern Counties. These two tapes were recorded by Eugene Van Dusen, and the accompanying letter to Steventon, plus a copy of it sent to Elwin Purington, were found among some RRC papers I have. Another reel of tape not recorded by Steventon is “Cincinnati Street Railway Car 187 12/13/51.” Finding this was a nice surprise. I don’t know who did record it, but Steventon did not start making recordings until 1953.
Here is the entire list of the tape reels, excluding 21/2″ reels which I’ll list separately, and the master tapes for the LPs,
REEL TO REEL TAPES
INFORMATION MARKED ON TAPE BOXES
1. CPR-J. Van Brocklin 2. Soo Line 3. T&E NKP Diesel-NKP Ft. Wayne 4. N&W 5. N&W from Salem 6. N&W Billy + Larry on end 7. NP 2686 Lv Mpls-6/20/57 8. NP 2686 coal dock stop 9. NP 2686 Lv Staples 10. B. C. Electric 11. Montreal & Southern Counties 12. Potomac Edison #5 13. Potomac Edison H&F last run radio program 14. CNS&M -switching at Rondout and Mundelein 15. Mundelein Run 16. Capital Transit co 1151 17. ITS car 202 18. Cedar Rapids and Iowa City 5/31/53 19. CCW 5/18/54* 20. CCW CC to Colwell 21. Toledo & Eastern 22. PRR GG-1s
1. Railroading in Spooner Wisconsin 2. CNS&M Electroliner 3. N. St. C & Toronto 4. Johnstown Traction and Altoona & Logan Valley 5. Cincinnati Street Railway car 187 12/13/51
The next bunch of tapes are smaller reels. These 21/2″ reels are in their original manufacture’s boxes and are marked only with a Railroad name and a catalog number. The catalog numbers correspond with the catalog numbers on the 10″ 78rpm acetate records that I acquired with the first half of the estate. As producing these records was a very time-consuming task, Steventon saved time by making a master tape for each record. The master tape would contain his spoken introductions followed by the train sounds. I bought over sixty of these small master tapes, and a large number have never been put on the regular Railroad Record Club releases. They contain sounds of railroads I was completely unaware Steventon ever recorded, such as L&N, Southern, and Virginian. This collection also contains the Queensboro Bridge trolley, the IND subway, and the Third Avenue EL recordings Steventon made in New York City.
This is not a complete set of all the master tapes made for the 78rpm records to be sure, but it’s most of them. I consider it a small miracle that any survive at all! I am not an audio expert, but in my opinion, uninformed as it may be, these tapes appear to be in reasonably good condition. I would think that the tapes would be able to withstand a few more plays, enough to be digitized at least. Neither David nor I have the equipment to attempt this and I think it would be ill advised of us to try anyway. The tapes are old and were not stored in archival conditions. I’m sure the prudent course of action is to entrust any work on them to a professional.
The last batch of tapes are the master tapes made for the released Railroad Record Club LPs. There are different size reels, some tapes are only of one side of the LP while others have both sides on the same reel. Some are in good condition and some are not. Some I have multiple copies of and a few of the LPs I have no tapes for, Rather then make a complete list of every reel I will simply list the few LPs I have NO master tapes for.
Most of these reels are 7″ with only a few smaller or larger. The most interesting master tapes are the reels for RRC 3 EBT/D&RGW. There are two 7″ reels that most likely have the original release version of the record, the one with William Steventon’s narration. There are also two 5″ reels, one marked “sounds only” and the other labeled “Narrative.” Since Steventon removed his voice from the 12″reissue of the record, the “Narrative” tape must contain just the voice of Elwin Purington doing the new narration.
I’m not sure just what to do with these master tapes. Some are in rough shape and all these sounds are on the released Railroad Record Club LPs. It certainly would be a considerable expense to digitize them all and no new sounds would be gained. For now, I’ll store them in the best possible conditions that I can provide and perhaps one day a clear path of action will present itself.
1 Steventon Film that should be all trains
2 Capital Transit B&W Night Film
3 Steventon film
4 Pennsy and B&O film
5 Back of Kodachrome box
6 Front of kodachrome box
I found several rolls of 16mm movie film within the boxes of audio tapes. Fortunately, Steventon was very good at labeling everything. He inserted little slips of paper into the film boxes listing the contents of the films. Unfortunately, the majority are family home movies. Most are of Steventon’s son Seth. His first day of school, Christmases, and birthday parties. There were six 100-foot reels that should be all trains.
1. 100-foot reel but only about 50 feet of film. Labeled “Pennsy Fan Trip and B&O near Riverdale.” 2. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “Canada Term”. I’m not sure what that is supposed to indicate. I unspooled a few feet of film and the first few frames are without a doubt a steeple cab locomotive. 3. 100-foot reel, full, B&W, labeled “Cap Transit Night Film.” 4. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “EBT Reel 1.” 5. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “EBT Reel 2.” 6. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “Negative 1R Freight” Also written on box “bad footage.”
1 Selection of print blocks
2 More print blocks
3 Still more print blocks
4. Print block for very early RRC traction logo
5. Railroad Record Club logo print block
6 Another style Railroad Record Club logo print block
7 Interurban car fron LP Sound Scrapbook-Traction
8 Interurban car fron LP Sound Scrapbook-Traction in two sizes