May Showers

On October 10, 1952, an eastbound five-car Garfield Park "L" train approaches Western Avenue, where photographer William C. Hoffman was standing. The temporary trackage on Van Buren Street, visible at right, was then under construction.

On October 10, 1952, an eastbound five-car Garfield Park “L” train approaches Western Avenue, where photographer William C. Hoffman was standing. The temporary trackage on Van Buren Street, visible at right, was then under construction.

April showers, as they say, bring May flowers. That kind of fits today’s post, since there is always a lot of preliminary work involved in what we do. In fact, you could say we have been working on this one for a month.

It’s finally taken root, and now you can stop and smell the roses! We have about 100 classic traction photos for you to enjoy.  Most are our own, and some are from the collections of our friend William Shapotkin.

We also have two new products available. You can pre-order our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, and also purchase A Tribute to the North Shore Line, a two-hour DVD presentation put together in 2013 by the late Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss.

-David Sadowski

PS- FYI, we have a Facebook auxiliary for the Trolley Dodger here, which currently has 320 members.

Our Latest Book, Now Available for Pre-Order:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

Arcadia Publishing will release our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s on July 12, 2021. Reserve your copy today!

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.

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

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

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

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

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

Total time – 121:22

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

Recent Finds

The LaSalle Street tunnel under the Chicago River, shown prior to when it was rebuilt for use by cable cars in the 1880s. It had opened on July 4, 1871. This is one-half of a stereo photo.

The LaSalle Street tunnel under the Chicago River, shown prior to when it was rebuilt for use by cable cars in the 1880s. It had opened on July 4, 1871. This is one-half of a stereo photo.

A northbound Jackson Park-Howard "B: train descends into the State Street Subway sometime in the 1970s. A Lake-Dan Ryan train, made up of 2000s and 2200s, is on the nearby "L" structure.

A northbound Jackson Park-Howard “B: train descends into the State Street Subway sometime in the 1970s. A Lake-Dan Ryan train, made up of 2000s and 2200s, is on the nearby “L” structure.

An Englewood-Howard "A" train of 6000s in the State Street Subway in the 1970s.

An Englewood-Howard “A” train of 6000s in the State Street Subway in the 1970s.

This photo, showing a South Shore Line train running in the street in East Chicago, Indiana, must have been taken just prior to the relocation of these tracks in 1956. Since then, they have run next to the Indiana Toll Road. The location is on Chicago Street at Magoun Avenue, less than a mile east of the Indiana Toll Road. The train appears to be heading east. That's a 1955 or '56 Buick at left across the street.

This photo, showing a South Shore Line train running in the street in East Chicago, Indiana, must have been taken just prior to the relocation of these tracks in 1956. Since then, they have run next to the Indiana Toll Road. The location is on Chicago Street at Magoun Avenue, less than a mile east of the Indiana Toll Road. The train appears to be heading east. That’s a 1955 or ’56 Buick at left across the street.

The same location today.

The same location today.

J. W. Vigrass took this photo along the Red Arrow's West Chester line on May 29, 1954, just about a week before buses replaced trolleys. This long side-of-the-road interurban fell victim to a project that widened West Chester Pike.

J. W. Vigrass took this photo along the Red Arrow’s West Chester line on May 29, 1954, just about a week before buses replaced trolleys. This long side-of-the-road interurban fell victim to a project that widened West Chester Pike.

This may not be the sharpest picture, but it is an original Ektachrome slide shot by the late George Krambles. It shows North Shore Line 181 approaching Libertyville along the Mundelein branch on February 11, 1962.

This may not be the sharpest picture, but it is an original Ektachrome slide shot by the late George Krambles. It shows North Shore Line 181 approaching Libertyville along the Mundelein branch on February 11, 1962.

A North Shore Line train in North Chicago, sometime in the 1950s. This was an Ektachrome slide that had shifted to red, and I was fortunate to be able to color correct it in Photoshop. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

A North Shore Line train in North Chicago, sometime in the 1950s. This was an Ektachrome slide that had shifted to red, and I was fortunate to be able to color correct it in Photoshop. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

This photo did not come with any information, but it is a fantrip held on the Red Arrow's West Chester trolley line on June 6, 1954, when the line was replaced by buses. We previously posted a color image taken at this photo stop, where the location was given as either Milltown or Mill Farm, the handwriting was difficult to make out. Apparently one of the three cars shown here broke down and had to be towed by one of the others.

This photo did not come with any information, but it is a fantrip held on the Red Arrow’s West Chester trolley line on June 6, 1954, when the line was replaced by buses. We previously posted a color image taken at this photo stop, where the location was given as either Milltown or Mill Farm, the handwriting was difficult to make out. Apparently one of the three cars shown here broke down and had to be towed by one of the others.

Another photo of the South Shore Line in East Chicago in 1956. My guess is, this is the same location as the other photo, just looking the other way.

Another photo of the South Shore Line in East Chicago in 1956. My guess is, this is the same location as the other photo, just looking the other way.

We recently posted a color image, similar to this and taken at the same location, shot in 1955 by William C. Hoffman. This is most likely from the same general time period, as prewar PCC 7003 is running on Western Avenue. The prewar cars ran here from 1955-56 after they had been on the Cottage Grove line, converted to one-man operation. The "L" train is running on the Garfield Park temporary trackage in Van Buren Street, which was used from 1953-58.

We recently posted a color image, similar to this and taken at the same location, shot in 1955 by William C. Hoffman. This is most likely from the same general time period, as prewar PCC 7003 is running on Western Avenue. The prewar cars ran here from 1955-56 after they had been on the Cottage Grove line, converted to one-man operation. The “L” train is running on the Garfield Park temporary trackage in Van Buren Street, which was used from 1953-58.

A view looking west along the Lake Street "L" sometime during the 1950s. The "L" ran in one direction then (counter-clockwise), so both the "L" train and North Shore Line train are heading west, away from the photographer. That's Tower 18 behind the train of 4000s, before it was replaced in 1969.

A view looking west along the Lake Street “L” sometime during the 1950s. The “L” ran in one direction then (counter-clockwise), so both the “L” train and North Shore Line train are heading west, away from the photographer. That’s Tower 18 behind the train of 4000s, before it was replaced in 1969.

Another photo taken at the same location in East Chicago in 1956. Here, we see a westbound train on Chicago Street at Magoun Avenue.

Another photo taken at the same location in East Chicago in 1956. Here, we see a westbound train on Chicago Street at Magoun Avenue.

The view looking west along Lake Street from the front window of a North Shore Line train in July 1960. This was during the period when the Loop "L" ran in one direction, so the train we see near Tower 18 was also heading west. Soon, this North Shore Line train would turn north. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

The view looking west along Lake Street from the front window of a North Shore Line train in July 1960. This was during the period when the Loop “L” ran in one direction, so the train we see near Tower 18 was also heading west. Soon, this North Shore Line train would turn north. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

J. W. Vigrass took this picture looking out the front window of a northbound North Shore Line train approaching Armitage in July 1960, near the north portal to the State Street Subway.

J. W. Vigrass took this picture looking out the front window of a northbound North Shore Line train approaching Armitage in July 1960, near the north portal to the State Street Subway.

J. W. Vigrass shot this photo of the Red Arrow operating along West Chester Pike on May 29, 1954. Much of the line was single track, and here we are at a passing siding.

J. W. Vigrass shot this photo of the Red Arrow operating along West Chester Pike on May 29, 1954. Much of the line was single track, and here we are at a passing siding.

On August 4, 1955, a westbound Garfield Park "L" train of 4000s ascends the ramp up to the "L" near Van Buren and Mozart (just west of California Avenue). East of here, the Garfield Park temporary trackage ran in the south half of Van Buren. Here, you can see the streetcar tracks in Van Buren, last used in 1951. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On August 4, 1955, a westbound Garfield Park “L” train of 4000s ascends the ramp up to the “L” near Van Buren and Mozart (just west of California Avenue). East of here, the Garfield Park temporary trackage ran in the south half of Van Buren. Here, you can see the streetcar tracks in Van Buren, last used in 1951. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The same location today.

The same location today.

This started out as an Anscocolor slide, but there was so little color left in it that I had no choice but to convert it to black-and-white. This is the view looking west from the Racine "L" station, on the Met main line, on February 26, 1954, showing a three-point switch leading to the Throop Street Shops, which would be demolished within a few months. While Garfield Park trains no longer took this path, Douglas Park trains still did, until April 1954, when that line was re-routed downtown via the Lake Street "L". (William C. Hoffman Photo)

This started out as an Anscocolor slide, but there was so little color left in it that I had no choice but to convert it to black-and-white. This is the view looking west from the Racine “L” station, on the Met main line, on February 26, 1954, showing a three-point switch leading to the Throop Street Shops, which would be demolished within a few months. While Garfield Park trains no longer took this path, Douglas Park trains still did, until April 1954, when that line was re-routed downtown via the Lake Street “L”. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

William C. Hoffman took this photo of what was then a new illuminated sign in the State Street Subway on March 6, 1955.

William C. Hoffman took this photo of what was then a new illuminated sign in the State Street Subway on March 6, 1955.

This Clark Frazier photo of San Francisco Muni "Iron Monster" 207 was processed in March 1958, which is about when Kodak started date-stamping slide mounts. This is surely among the last photos of this car in service. 207 has just changed ends in a then-new wye at the end of the M line.

This Clark Frazier photo of San Francisco Muni “Iron Monster” 207 was processed in March 1958, which is about when Kodak started date-stamping slide mounts. This is surely among the last photos of this car in service. 207 has just changed ends in a then-new wye at the end of the M line.

A two-car CTA Garfield Park "L" train stops at Tripp Avenue on March 11, 1956. This was one of the stations that was not in the way of expressway construction, and continued in service until June 21, 1958, when the new Congress rapid transit line opened. These cars were part of the first group of 4000s built by the Cincinnati Car Company circa 1915. The center doors were never used in service and were blocked off. The head car is 4238. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

A two-car CTA Garfield Park “L” train stops at Tripp Avenue on March 11, 1956. This was one of the stations that was not in the way of expressway construction, and continued in service until June 21, 1958, when the new Congress rapid transit line opened. These cars were part of the first group of 4000s built by the Cincinnati Car Company circa 1915. The center doors were never used in service and were blocked off. The head car is 4238. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

A Chicago Surface Lines bus stop sign in Chicago's Loop on July 18, 1951. Interestingly, the late Jeff Wien had just such a sign in his collection. Not sure if it is an original or a copy, though.

A Chicago Surface Lines bus stop sign in Chicago’s Loop on July 18, 1951. Interestingly, the late Jeff Wien had just such a sign in his collection. Not sure if it is an original or a copy, though.

I assume this is Altoona & Logan Valley car 62 in the early 1950s. Not sure what the two former railroad coaches are at left, repurposed after their retirement.

I assume this is Altoona & Logan Valley car 62 in the early 1950s. Not sure what the two former railroad coaches are at left, repurposed after their retirement.

Again, I assume this is Altoona & Logan Valley. Cars 70 and 72 meet, and both are Osgood Bradley "Electromobiles" from 1930. Hardly any of these types of cars have survived.

Again, I assume this is Altoona & Logan Valley. Cars 70 and 72 meet, and both are Osgood Bradley “Electromobiles” from 1930. Hardly any of these types of cars have survived.

Altoona & Logan Valley 72 at an unknown location.

Altoona & Logan Valley 72 at an unknown location.

Here, CTA 4000s are heading west on Van Buren Street temporary trackage on April 14, 1957. We are looking to the northwest, and the photographer was riding in a Douglas Park "L" train along Paulina. Douglas trains ran here from 1954-58, and do so now, as part of the rechristened CTA Pink Line.

Here, CTA 4000s are heading west on Van Buren Street temporary trackage on April 14, 1957. We are looking to the northwest, and the photographer was riding in a Douglas Park “L” train along Paulina. Douglas trains ran here from 1954-58, and do so now, as part of the rechristened CTA Pink Line.

While not the sharpest picture, this does show one of the two Liberty Liners (former North Shore Line Electroliners) on the Norristown line on January 26, 1964, their debut just one year after the demise of the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee. The bridge crosses the Schuylkill River.

While not the sharpest picture, this does show one of the two Liberty Liners (former North Shore Line Electroliners) on the Norristown line on January 26, 1964, their debut just one year after the demise of the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee. The bridge crosses the Schuylkill River.

Another Red Arrow photo along West Chester Pike, taken on May 29, 1954 by J. W. Vigrass.

Another Red Arrow photo along West Chester Pike, taken on May 29, 1954 by J. W. Vigrass.

A southbound Bullet car at Bryn Mawr station in August 1961, on the Norristown line. (G. H. Landau Photo)

A southbound Bullet car at Bryn Mawr station in August 1961, on the Norristown line. (G. H. Landau Photo)

The entrance to the high point of the Angel's Flight Railway, a funicular on the side of a hill in Los Angeles, prior to when this operation was closed in 1969, dismantled, and put into storage for many years. It has since been relocated and reopened. This hill was a victim of a redevelopment project.

The entrance to the high point of the Angel’s Flight Railway, a funicular on the side of a hill in Los Angeles, prior to when this operation was closed in 1969, dismantled, and put into storage for many years. It has since been relocated and reopened. This hill was a victim of a redevelopment project.

This undated photo of North Shore Line train 172 in Waukegan must have been taken prior to this line's abandonment in July 1955.

This undated photo of North Shore Line train 172 in Waukegan must have been taken prior to this line’s abandonment in July 1955.

The view looking west from the Western Avenue "L" station on the Garfield Park "L" on August 19, 1953. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view looking west from the Western Avenue “L” station on the Garfield Park “L” on August 19, 1953. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On August 19, 1953, an eastbound five-car Garfield Park "L" train approaches the Western Avenue station, just out of view to the right. The area had been cleared for construction of the Congress Expressway. The excavated area has filled up with rain. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On August 19, 1953, an eastbound five-car Garfield Park “L” train approaches the Western Avenue station, just out of view to the right. The area had been cleared for construction of the Congress Expressway. The excavated area has filled up with rain. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On July 2, 1950, a westbound single-car Garfield Park "L" train is near California Avenue. Soon this entire area would be cleared out to make way for the Congress Expressway. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On July 2, 1950, a westbound single-car Garfield Park “L” train is near California Avenue. Soon this entire area would be cleared out to make way for the Congress Expressway. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

It's October 20, 1953, and we are looking west from the Marshfield station on the Metropolitan main line. The Garfield Park "L" tracks west of here are out of service and the tracks have already been removed. The platform at right had been used by the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, and the sign advertising that has been covered up. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

It’s October 20, 1953, and we are looking west from the Marshfield station on the Metropolitan main line. The Garfield Park “L” tracks west of here are out of service and the tracks have already been removed. The platform at right had been used by the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, and the sign advertising that has been covered up. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On November 10, 1953, this is the view looking west from Marshfield. The Garfield Park "L" structure has already been removed to some extent west of here, due to construction of the Congress Expressway. The Douglas Park "L" was still using the old structure east of here, and would continue to do so until April 1954, when a new connection to the Lake Street "L" was finished. The Douglas Park "L" tracks here go off to the left. The new connection, going north-south, spans the width of the highway and connects to the "L" structure that had been used by Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains until 1951. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On November 10, 1953, this is the view looking west from Marshfield. The Garfield Park “L” structure has already been removed to some extent west of here, due to construction of the Congress Expressway. The Douglas Park “L” was still using the old structure east of here, and would continue to do so until April 1954, when a new connection to the Lake Street “L” was finished. The Douglas Park “L” tracks here go off to the left. The new connection, going north-south, spans the width of the highway and connects to the “L” structure that had been used by Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains until 1951. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view looking west from the former Western Avenue station on the Garfield Park "L" on October 16, 1953. The "L" tracks have already been removed and demolition of the station would follow shortly. The last train ran on this structure (in one direction) on September 27. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view looking west from the former Western Avenue station on the Garfield Park “L” on October 16, 1953. The “L” tracks have already been removed and demolition of the station would follow shortly. The last train ran on this structure (in one direction) on September 27. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

A North Shore Line fantrip train on February 19, 1961. Not sure of the location, or who the conductor is at left.

A North Shore Line fantrip train on February 19, 1961. Not sure of the location, or who the conductor is at left.

This undated photo by the late Mel Bernero was taken at the old CTA Logan Square terminal, looking east.

This undated photo by the late Mel Bernero was taken at the old CTA Logan Square terminal, looking east.

This shows the Garfield Park "L" station at Oak Park Avenue, before the construction of the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway. The view looks to the northeast. The buildings just to the north are still there.

This shows the Garfield Park “L” station at Oak Park Avenue, before the construction of the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway. The view looks to the northeast. The buildings just to the north are still there.

I found a description of this photo online: "This real photograph postcard was taken on July 4, 1910, near the Methodist Church on Franklin Avenue in Valparaiso, Indiana. This public gathering commemorated the first run of the Valparaiso & Northern Railway interurban on the new line running from Valparaiso northward to Flint Lake. The first interurban left Valparaiso at 9:00 am in charge of Conductor C. C. Metsker. Valparaiso Mayor William F. Spooner, Valparaiso City Clerk Clem Helm, and other local notables were passengers on the inaugural sixteen minute, three mile trip to Flint Lake. An engine operated by Frank Chowdrey, hooked to two flat cars with seats and decked out in flags and bunting, followed the interurban to Flint Lake. A total of 3,500 passengers were transported to Flint Lake that inaugural day for the festivities. Incorporated in August 1908, the Valparaiso & Northern Railway construction was financed by citizens of Valparaiso and outside investors; the railway was to become one of the feeder lines the the Chicago-New York Electric Air Line Railroad. A section between Chesterton and Goodrum, located just north of Woodville, was completed and put into service on February 18, 1911. The section between Flint Lake and Woodville was completed on October 7, 1911; between February and October of 1911, a bus was used to transport passengers between Goodrum and Flint Lake. Complete interurban through service between Chesterton, Valparaiso, and LaPorte was possible after a bridge was constructed over the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on February 17, 1912. Interurban service to Valparaiso ceased on October 23, 1938, largely due to the increasing use of automobiles, an improved highway system, and the financial depression."

I found a description of this photo online: “This real photograph postcard was taken on July 4, 1910, near the Methodist Church on Franklin Avenue in Valparaiso, Indiana. This public gathering commemorated the first run of the Valparaiso & Northern Railway interurban on the new line running from Valparaiso northward to Flint Lake. The first interurban left Valparaiso at 9:00 am in charge of Conductor C. C. Metsker. Valparaiso Mayor William F. Spooner, Valparaiso City Clerk Clem Helm, and other local notables were passengers on the inaugural sixteen minute, three mile trip to Flint Lake. An engine operated by Frank Chowdrey, hooked to two flat cars with seats and decked out in flags and bunting, followed the interurban to Flint Lake. A total of 3,500 passengers were transported to Flint Lake that inaugural day for the festivities. Incorporated in August 1908, the Valparaiso & Northern Railway construction was financed by citizens of Valparaiso and outside investors; the railway was to become one of the feeder lines the the Chicago-New York Electric Air Line Railroad. A section between Chesterton and Goodrum, located just north of Woodville, was completed and put into service on February 18, 1911. The section between Flint Lake and Woodville was completed on October 7, 1911; between February and October of 1911, a bus was used to transport passengers between Goodrum and Flint Lake. Complete interurban through service between Chesterton, Valparaiso, and LaPorte was possible after a bridge was constructed over the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on February 17, 1912. Interurban service to Valparaiso ceased on October 23, 1938, largely due to the increasing use of automobiles, an improved highway system, and the financial depression.”

This is a nice picture of the South Shore illustration that became a rallying cry in the mid-to-late 1970s, when the interurban was threatened with extinction.

This is a nice picture of the South Shore illustration that became a rallying cry in the mid-to-late 1970s, when the interurban was threatened with extinction.

I think this slide, taken in October 1953, is misidentified. It shows car 2851 at the head of a Garfield Park “L” train, but identifies the location as Laramie. There was no such wooden or steel “L” structure there. What seems more likely is, this is an eastbound train going down the ramp just west of California Avenue, approaching the temporary ground-level trackage that Garfield used from 1953-58. There is no expressway at left because it hadn’t been built yet.

CTA 6574-6573 at the DesPlaines Avenue terminal in Forest Park on August 14, 1964. The tracks are in the same location today, but the terminal was replaced in the 1980s and the area around it was dug out. We are looking to the northwest. Those silos at rear are long gone.

CTA 6574-6573 at the DesPlaines Avenue terminal in Forest Park on August 14, 1964. The tracks are in the same location today, but the terminal was replaced in the 1980s and the area around it was dug out. We are looking to the northwest. Those silos at rear are long gone.

SEPTA car 18, signed for Media, is at the 69th Street Terminal on a snowy night in February 1973.

SEPTA car 18, signed for Media, is at the 69th Street Terminal on a snowy night in February 1973.

North Shore Line 712 and train on the Mundelein branch on July 29, 1962, signed for Chicago. That must be 775 behind 712.

North Shore Line 712 and train on the Mundelein branch on July 29, 1962, signed for Chicago. That must be 775 behind 712.

This photo came without any identification, but it shows the CTA off-street loop at Halsted near 79th Street, some time after buses replaced streetcars on Route 8 in 1954. Andre Kristopans: "Bus at 79th Halsted terminal is a 42B South Halsted, arriving from 127th Street. The bus facing other direction is an 8 or a 42 northbound." Route 42 was discontinued in 1993, upon the opening of the new Orange Line rapid transit route.

This photo came without any identification, but it shows the CTA off-street loop at Halsted near 79th Street, some time after buses replaced streetcars on Route 8 in 1954. Andre Kristopans: “Bus at 79th Halsted terminal is a 42B South Halsted, arriving from 127th Street. The bus facing other direction is an 8 or a 42 northbound.” Route 42 was discontinued in 1993, upon the opening of the new Orange Line rapid transit route.

North Shore Line car 732 is northbound at Dempster Street, Skokie (originally called Niles Center) at an apparently early date, considering how few buildings are present. Don's Rail Photos: "732 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It was modernized in 1939."

North Shore Line car 732 is northbound at Dempster Street, Skokie (originally called Niles Center) at an apparently early date, considering how few buildings are present. Don’s Rail Photos: “732 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It was modernized in 1939.”

Toonerville Trolley Celebration in Pelham, NY

There was an actual railfan comic strip in the daily papers during the first half of the 20th Century– Fontaine Fox’s Toonerville Trolley.

It was inspired by an actual trolley in Pelham, NY. Author Blake A. Bell was until recently the Pelham town historian, and has written extensively about the cartoon’s connections to that area in suburban New York City.

The Toonerville Trolley met all the trains, and its inspiration ran to the New Haven Railroad station. It is said that the cartoon “Skipper” was inspired by longtime Pelham trolley operator James Bailey.

On July 31, 1937, Fox staged an event, attended by hundreds of people, to commemorate the end of trolley service in Pelham. The local streetcars did not resemble the cartoon one enough, so a small Birney car was brought over from another property to serve as the “Toonerville Trolley” for this occasion.

We recently acquired several photos from this event. The nattily dressed man in one picture is Fontaine Fox himself.

Cartoonist Fontaine Fox (1884-1964) in 1911.

Cartoonist Fontaine Fox (1884-1964) in 1911.

From the Collections of William Shapotkin

CTA 5532 is southbound on Paulina, running on Route 9 - Ashland. In the background, we see the Marshfield "L" station on the Metropolitan main line. This was where all the Met lines diverged, going to Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, and Douglas Park. There was also a platform for the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, seen at rear. As you can see at right, some clearing has already been done for the Congress Expressway. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 5532 is southbound on Paulina, running on Route 9 – Ashland. In the background, we see the Marshfield “L” station on the Metropolitan main line. This was where all the Met lines diverged, going to Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, and Douglas Park. There was also a platform for the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, seen at rear. As you can see at right, some clearing has already been done for the Congress Expressway. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA work car W-205 at 77th and Vincennes in January 1951. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA work car W-205 at 77th and Vincennes in January 1951. (William Shapotkin Collection)

While the caption on this photo erroneously says it is Gary, Indiana, it is actually East Chicago instead. The date given is October 1953. The location is much the same as in some of the other South Shore black-and-white photos in this post (Chicago Street near Magoun Avenue). Note the same stores across the street. (William Shapotkin Collection)

While the caption on this photo erroneously says it is Gary, Indiana, it is actually East Chicago instead. The date given is October 1953. The location is much the same as in some of the other South Shore black-and-white photos in this post (Chicago Street near Magoun Avenue). Note the same stores across the street. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9588 is southbound on Pulaski at Grand Avenue on March 12, 1973, not long before the end of electric bus service. Jimmy's Red Hots is at left. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9588 is southbound on Pulaski at Grand Avenue on March 12, 1973, not long before the end of electric bus service. Jimmy’s Red Hots is at left. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Brand new CTA 2414 is at Rockville (MD?) on March 19, 1977. It's part of the 2400-series, built by Boeing-Vertol. (R. Anastasio Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Brand new CTA 2414 is at Rockville (MD?) on March 19, 1977. It’s part of the 2400-series, built by Boeing-Vertol. (R. Anastasio Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 6027 is at Kedzie and 33rd in April 1949. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 6027 is at Kedzie and 33rd in April 1949. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Chicago Surface Lines 2821 and 2818 at 111th and Halsted in 1944. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Chicago Surface Lines 2821 and 2818 at 111th and Halsted in 1944. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA one-man streetcar 3220 is at 67th and South Shore Drive in June 1952, running on Route 67. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA one-man streetcar 3220 is at 67th and South Shore Drive in June 1952, running on Route 67. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 3238 at 67th and Lake Shore Drive (also known as South Shore Drive here) in May 1950. Note the same ice cream stand as in shapotkin116. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 3238 at 67th and Lake Shore Drive (also known as South Shore Drive here) in May 1950. Note the same ice cream stand as in shapotkin116. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 6207 is at an unknown location, while a postwar PCC turns in the background. The red car is signed for Route 93. Jon Habermaas says the "location is 95th Street west of State Street showing the west end of the 93/95 route. PCC in background is a Broadway-State car turning north on to State after a short jog on 95th from Michigan Ave route segment from 119th Street." (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 6207 is at an unknown location, while a postwar PCC turns in the background. The red car is signed for Route 93. Jon Habermaas says the “location is 95th Street west of State Street showing the west end of the 93/95 route. PCC in background is a Broadway-State car turning north on to State after a short jog on 95th from Michigan Ave route segment from 119th Street.” (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 6182 at Lawrence and Clark in March 1950. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 6182 at Lawrence and Clark in March 1950. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 653, signed to head south on Route 8 - Halsted. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 653, signed to head south on Route 8 – Halsted. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 6031, with no route sign visible. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 6031, with no route sign visible. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 551. Michael Franklin writes, "This is looking south on State Street from Roosevelt Road. (The) building with round arches is still standing." (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA 551. Michael Franklin writes, “This is looking south on State Street from Roosevelt Road. (The) building with round arches is still standing.” (William Shapotkin Collection)

The info on the slide mount says this is CTA 6153 at 47th and Indiana in June 1949. However, the car is signed for Route 28. Kevin Doerksen says this is "actually 47th and Cottage Grove, NE corner. The old bank building is still there." (William Shapotkin Collection)

The info on the slide mount says this is CTA 6153 at 47th and Indiana in June 1949. However, the car is signed for Route 28. Kevin Doerksen says this is “actually 47th and Cottage Grove, NE corner. The old bank building is still there.” (William Shapotkin Collection)

It's not clear to me just where this picture was taken, but at least I can say that it is Ashland Car Works slide #820. (William Shapotkin Collection)

It’s not clear to me just where this picture was taken, but at least I can say that it is Ashland Car Works slide #820. (William Shapotkin Collection)

This is slide #814 from Ashland Car Works, and shows wooden "L" cars running along Van Buren street downtown. The photographer was most likely standing on the platform at Franklin and Van Buren. The view looks east, and that's Tower 12 at right. The tracks and structure west of Van Buren and Wells were replaced in 1955 by a new connection, running through the former Well Street Terminal, just north of here. The tower, "L" structure, and the Franklin Street station were all removed shortly thereafter. (William Shapotkin Collection)

This is slide #814 from Ashland Car Works, and shows wooden “L” cars running along Van Buren street downtown. The photographer was most likely standing on the platform at Franklin and Van Buren. The view looks east, and that’s Tower 12 at right. The tracks and structure west of Van Buren and Wells were replaced in 1955 by a new connection, running through the former Well Street Terminal, just north of here. The tower, “L” structure, and the Franklin Street station were all removed shortly thereafter. (William Shapotkin Collection)

This is an image we have most likely run before, but it never hurts to see it again. It shows one of the original 5000-series "L" trains, which were numbered 5001-5004, heading west along the Metropolitan main line just west of the Chicago River. The train is passing over the south train platforms at Union Station. This is slide #812 from Ashland Car Works (put out by the late Jack Bailey) if that helps. (William Shapotkin Collection)

This is an image we have most likely run before, but it never hurts to see it again. It shows one of the original 5000-series “L” trains, which were numbered 5001-5004, heading west along the Metropolitan main line just west of the Chicago River. The train is passing over the south train platforms at Union Station. This is slide #812 from Ashland Car Works (put out by the late Jack Bailey) if that helps. (William Shapotkin Collection)

1973 Trolley Bus Fantrip

These images, also from Bill Shapotkin‘s collection, are from a CTA trolley bus fantrip at night, that took place on March 31, 1973.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

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.
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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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Reader Showcase, 12-11-17

Here's a mystery photo, showing a Birney car (#512) being worked on, signed for Fruitridge Avenue. My guess is this may be the Terre Haute Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company in Indiana. If so, Don's Rail Photos says that Birneys 490 thru 514 were "built by American Car Co in December 1919, (order) #1228 as THI&E 490 thru 514." There is a Fruitridge Avenue in Terre Haute. (Kenneth Gear Collection)

Here’s a mystery photo, showing a Birney car (#512) being worked on, signed for Fruitridge Avenue. My guess is this may be the Terre Haute Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company in Indiana. If so, Don’s Rail Photos says that Birneys 490 thru 514 were “built by American Car Co in December 1919, (order) #1228 as THI&E 490 thru 514.” There is a Fruitridge Avenue in Terre Haute. (Kenneth Gear Collection)

Here we are again, just in time for the holiday season, bringing many gifts. Like our last post (Reader Showcase, 11-30-17) we are featuring contributions recently sent in by our readers. These include some rare traction shots.

Again, our thanks go out to Jack Bejna, Kenneth Gear, and Larry Sakar for their great contributions and hard work.

In addition, just to keep a hand in, I have added some of our own recent finds that you may enjoy.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

Kenneth Gear shared some additional photos from the collections of the late William A. Steventon of the Railroad Record Club:

Salt Lake, Garfield and Western 401 was former Salt Lake and Utah 104. It changed hands in 1946, and is seen here in December 1952.

Salt Lake, Garfield and Western 401 was former Salt Lake and Utah 104. It changed hands in 1946, and is seen here in December 1952.

Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway locos 14 and 18.

Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway locos 14 and 18.

Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway 130.

Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway 130.

Altoona & Logan Valley Railway sweeper 50a in Altoona.

Altoona & Logan Valley Railway sweeper 50a in Altoona.

A North Shore Line Electroliner at the Milwaukee terminal.

A North Shore Line Electroliner at the Milwaukee terminal.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin freight locos 2001 and 2002.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin freight locos 2001 and 2002.

Jack Bejna writes:

Hi Dave,

I got back to work on my CA&E project and here are some shots of the final order of steel cars. In many cases I have more than one shot of individual cars so if you need any more images I may be able to help. This group of cars completes my coverage of CA&E’s fleet of passenger cars. I’ll move on to the freight motors and other miscellaneous cars that the railroad owned.

In 1941, CA&E ordered 10 new cars (451-460) from the St. Louis Car Company. This final order was not delivered until October 1945, after World War II ended. The new cars were compatible (and could train) with the Pullman and Cincinnati cars, and were used for all types of service. These cars were lighter and included many improvements.

I know our readers appreciate your fine work, and we will be glad to share any and all images you want to share with us.  Thanks again.

CA&E 451.

CA&E 451.

CA&E 452 as new.

CA&E 452 as new.

CA&E 453 plus one on a CERA inspection trip.

CA&E 453 plus one on a CERA inspection trip.

CA&E 454.

CA&E 454.

CA&E 455.

CA&E 455.

CA&E 456, eastbound at Lombard.

CA&E 456, eastbound at Lombard.

CA&E 457 and three more cars at Wheaton.

CA&E 457 and three more cars at Wheaton.

CA&E 457.

CA&E 457.

(See Comments section) Jack Bejna: "Here's the image that I started with, as found on one of my searches of the internet. As you can see, I just Photoshopped the end of the car so as to present a nice ¾ view. I never noticed the lettering was unusual and didn't do any work on it. In future posts, if I change/modify an image I will clearly label it as such!"

(See Comments section) Jack Bejna: “Here’s the image that I started with, as found on one of my searches of the internet. As you can see, I just Photoshopped the end of the car so as to present a nice ¾ view. I never noticed the lettering was unusual and didn’t do any work on it. In future posts, if I change/modify an image I will clearly label it as such!”

CA&E 458.

CA&E 458.

CA&E 459, eastbound at Wheaton.

CA&E 459, eastbound at Wheaton.

CA&E 460 at Collingbourne.

CA&E 460 at Collingbourne.

Larry Sakar writes:

TM 978 at San Francisco Muni's Geneva Yard in September 1983.

TM 978 at San Francisco Muni’s Geneva Yard in September 1983.

I was going thru my Milwaukee streetcar photos and ran across the one and only shot I got of the 978 in San Francisco. I had to climb on to this concrete wall in front of the yard and hold on to the cyclone fence with one hand and snap the picture with the other. The ledge was quite narrow.

Here is some valuable background for the Los Angeles streetcar and Pacific Electric Railway material. (Editor’s Note: See our previous post Reader Showcase, 11-30-17.

The Los Angeles Railway company operated a large network of streetcar Ines covering every part of Los Angeles. Los Angeles’ streetcar system was a cable railway in its early beginnings, which accounts for the fact that it was narrow gauge for its entire existence. On a number of streets in downtown LA, both the Pacific Electric and LARY operated on the same tracks. In those instances, there were three versus the standard two rails. Both lines shared the outer rail, but LA Railway cars had their own second rail “farther in”.

By the turnoff the 20th Century, the LA system was acquired by the great Henry Huntington. Huntington was the nephew of Collis P. Huntington, one of the big four involved in the creation of the transcontinental railway along with other eventual luminaries like Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, and Theodore Judah. Huntington headed the Central Pacific RR which ultimately became the Southern Pacific RR. The Pacific Electric RR was a wholly owned subsidiary of the SP, as were the Interurban Electric RR and Northwestern Pacific RR in the San Francisco Bay area. Henry Huntington transformed the former cable railway into the magnificent Los Angeles Railways Co. He was also the President and CEO of the Pacific Electric Railway, often referred to as “the interurban that helped build southern California.”

As was the case in so many cities, the rise of the private automobile began to take a toll on the streetcar lines, until the outbreak of WWII on December 7, 1941. Every available car was pressed into service. By the war’s end in 1945, the LA streetcar system was in need of renovation. Although both LARY and PE purchased new PCC cars, they could not overcome the post war turn towards freeways. PE’s right-of-way was beset with numerous additional grade crossings thus making the cars slower than competing automobiles and buses. By 1950 the LA Freeway system was knocking at PE’s door. there was little doubt of the eventual outcome. It remained only a matter of when PE would finally be killed off by the highway interests and one other well known menace, National City Lines.

First to succumb to the rail-destroying conglomerate (NCL) was LARY sold by Henry Huntington’s heirs in 1945. The company was renamed Los Angeles Transit Lines and equipment wore the well-known NCL “fruit salad” colors of yellow, green and white. Remarkably the LA system outlasted both Chicago and Milwaukee, abandoning the final five streetcar lines in March 1963. Some of the older equipment, like the sow bellies and Huntington Standard streetcars, were acquired by museums and one was “preserved” at the Travel Town Museum in LA’s Griffith Park. Several LARY PCCs also went to the Orange Empire Trolley Museum in Perris, CA. The remaining and newest PCCs were sold to Cairo, Egypt in 1963.

PE fared no better. Interurban lines on each of the four operating districts, as PE called them, (designated by direction) were abandoned even before the company was sold to bus operator Metropolitan Coach lines in 1953. Supposedly, MCL owner Jesse Haugh, a former officer with Pacific City lines (an NCL company), nearly had a heart attack when he saw the MCL emblem on the PE Interurban cars.

In 1958, both LATL and PE became part of the newly created Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority. But the MTA was, in reality, nothing more than a continuation of the pro-bus MCL/LATL managements. The two-tone green colors of the MTA were the colors of Metropolitan Coach Lines. The last PE line (to Long Beach) went to its grave in April 1961.

As stated previously, streetcar service under the MTA continued until March of 1963. Some of PE’s older 1200-series interurbans and all 20 of the Pullman built PCCs were sold to the General Urguiza Railway in 1959. Four years of storage in the damp, abandoned Hollywood subway brought an early end to their second lives in Argentina.

But the worst insult to transit came next. In 1963, the LAMTA became the SCRTD, Southern California Rapid Transit District. Never has a bus system been so misnamed. There was absolutely nothing “rapid transit” about it!

But when all hoped for California to wake up and return to its past, a transit revolution took place down the California Coast. A brand new light rail line was opened in San Diego in 1980. Known as the San Diego Trolley, it would start a transit revolution that rocked California. True, BART started up in the San Francisco Bay area in 1972, but San Francisco never lost touch with the streetcar the way LA did.

By 1990, LA was beginning to rise out of the dense smog that blanketed the area on a daily basis. It was then that the newly formed Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Commission opened its first light rail line, the Blue Line running between downtown LA and Long Beach via the right of way once used by the PE red cars. The line begins in a subway that one connects with via the LA METRO Red Line subway from LAUPT, Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (Amtrak and Metrolink Commuter Rail).

Since then, two additional former PE lines to Pasadena and Santa Monica have been rebuilt and placed in service. Diesel commuter rail service, operated by Metrolink, serves other points once served by PE such as Glendale and Burbank. The service extends all the way up the California Coast to San Luis Obispo and south to Oceanside. Here, one can take the frequent trains on Amtrak’s San Diego Surfliner route or the commuter train from Oceanside to San Diego known as the Coaster. The Coaster operates equipment that resembles Toronto’s GO Transit system. Perhaps they are the same type of cars. Somebody familiar with both systems will undoubtedly know.

I went into my timetables and documents collection and found the 1983 San Francisco Historic Streetcar Festival brochure which pictured the cars that were going to operate. You’ll see that TM 978 was one of them. I had to scan it in part and then move it slightly to get the rest of it scanned as it was too long for my screen. I found some interesting things in my timetables and transfers that you are welcome to post if you wish.

Thanks!

San Francisco MUNI Part 3 by Larry Sakar

(Editor’s note: Parts 1 and 2 appeared in our last post, referenced above.)

SAN FRANCISCO MUNICIPAL RAILWAY STREETCAR LINES

The San Francisco Municipal Railway operates 8 streetcar lines. Although that may seem like a substantial number of streetcar lines, it is a fraction of the streetcar lines that once operated in the city by the Golden Gate. The 8 lines serve nearly every part of San Francisco. Within the last few years MUNI was reorganized into the SFMTA –San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency. The Market Street Railway which owns the historic streetcars is not a part of MUNI and receives no transit funding.

The Municipal Railway or MUNI for short uses letters rather than route numbers to identify the streetcar lines. Of course with the exception of the F-Line all of the other routes used modern Light Rail Vehicles with brand new cars now arriving and undergoing testing. The 8 lines are as follows:

E-Embarcadero (south of Market to Cal Train station)
F-Market St. & Wharves
J-Church St.
K-Ingleside
L-Taraval
M-Ocean View
N-Judah
T-Third St.

All trains entering the “downtown” area operate in the Market Street subway (with the exception of the E, F & T lines) to the end of the MUNI subway at Embarcadero station. The Market Street subway is a two-level tube. MUNI streetcars operate on the upper level with BART trains running in the lower tube. The MUNI subway ends at Embarcadero station but BART continues across the bay in a subway laid on the floor of the bay. The tube runs relatively close to the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge.

In the opposite direction BART turns off toward Daly City and eventually Milbrae and the line to San Francisco International Airport. However, they are still in close proximity at the BART Balboa Park station which is near the Curtis Green Light Rail facility. Let’s take a ride on MUNI:

Before the Market St. subway was built, streetcars operated down the center of Market St. from 1st to Duboce, where they turned off and entered the Twin Peaks tunnel. It is one of two streetcar tunnels, the other being the Sunset tunnel.

THE PHOTOS

1-3. I took the first three photos in late December 1973. If it looks like the car is running the wrong way that’s because it is. Long before passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, protestors decided to call attention to their plight by blocking the tracks on Market Street. PCCs put up their rear poles and ran the wrong way back down Market Street. At least two of the cars seen here were the 1006 thru 1015, which were double ended cars. Note the differing paint schemes between the PCCs.

4. We have operated thru the Twin Peaks tunnel and have arrived at West Portal station. This was the point where the various routes diverged and remains so today. The station was completely rebuilt when the LRVs took over from the PCCs and no longer looks like this.

5. This is the interior of one of the double ended PCCs.

6-7: By 1983 when I took these next two pictures the PCCs had been replaced by new Boeing-Vertol LRVs. The Boeing cars had many problems. When the new F-Market surface line opened in 1995, commuters flocked to the surface cars to avoid the delays caused by malfunctioning Boeing cars in the subway.

8. An interior view of one of the Boeing LRVs, which were articulated. Unlike TMER&L, who assigned numbers to each car of their articulated streetcars and interurbans, MUNI LRVs carried the same car number on each end, with one designated as “A” and the other “B”.

9-10: The Boeing LRVs were replaced by new LRVs built by BREDA. I don’t especially like the boxy looking front end of these cars. When I was in San Francisco on August 5th & 6th of this year (2017), MUNI was testing brand new LRVs which will replace the BREDA cars.

11-13: Three interior views of the BREDA LRVs. Like the Boeing cars before them, these cars have a unique but necessary feature. While operating thru the Market Street subway, steps are not needed as the floors are at platform height. As the cars depart West Portal station a warning bell goes off and a red light begins to flash. The floor then descends to reveal the steps needed to enter the cars from the city streets over which they operate. The door in the rear car has permitted fare cheaters to escape paying a fare. I saw school kids at various stops watch for that door to open. One would then jump in, thus blocking it from closing, while his cohorts scrambled aboard without paying a fare. The motorman was probably well aware of it, but knew better than to challenge the cheaters and risk potential assault. It surprises me that MUNI does not assign undercover personnel to catch these brats in the act.

14-17: This is the Curtis Green Light Rail Center near Balboa Park.

18. A BREDA two-car train lays over in front of the old Geneva car house. Look between the UPS truck and the train, and you’ll see that the old car house is fenced off. The building suffered extensive damage in the 1989 earthquake. MUNI plans to restore it when funding permits. The M-Ocean View, K-Ingleside and J-Church light rail lines all meet here.

19-22: Without question is MUNI’s most scenic streetcar line is the J-Church. A portion of the line operates on private right-of-way along the western edge of Mission Dolores park providing a spectacular view of San Francisco.

Recent Finds

Postwar PCC 4300, heading northbound on Route 42 (which was an offshoot of the Halsted line), has just passed under the New York Central on its way towards Clark and Illinois Streets. That's a Rock Island train passing by, with a Railway Express car.

Postwar PCC 4300, heading northbound on Route 42 (which was an offshoot of the Halsted line), has just passed under the New York Central on its way towards Clark and Illinois Streets. That’s a Rock Island train passing by, with a Railway Express car.

Four CTA prewar PCCs, led by 7033, are lined up on Cottage Grove at 115th in the early 1950s.

Four CTA prewar PCCs, led by 7033, are lined up on Cottage Grove at 115th in the early 1950s.

This one is probably late 1960s, as buildings around the funicular have already been cleared away as part of the redevelopment of the Bunker Hill area.

This one is probably late 1960s, as buildings around the funicular have already been cleared away as part of the redevelopment of the Bunker Hill area.

This view of the Angel's Flight Railway looks more like the early 1950s.

This view of the Angel’s Flight Railway looks more like the early 1950s.

Angel's Flight in the mid-1960s.

Angel’s Flight in the mid-1960s.

Don's Rail Photos says, "707 was built by Alco-General Electric in June 1931, #68270, 11193, as NYC 1242, Class R-2. It was renumbered 342 in August 1936. In July 1967 it was rebuilt as CSS&SB 707. It was scrapped in April 1976." Here, we see it prior to the 1967 rebuilding.

Don’s Rail Photos says, “707 was built by Alco-General Electric in June 1931, #68270, 11193, as NYC 1242, Class R-2. It was renumbered 342 in August 1936. In July 1967 it was rebuilt as CSS&SB 707. It was scrapped in April 1976.” Here, we see it prior to the 1967 rebuilding.

South Shore Line 108 in Michigan City.

South Shore Line 108 in Michigan City.

South Shore Line 111 in Michigan City.

South Shore Line 111 in Michigan City.

South Shore Line 211.

South Shore Line 211.

South Shore Line 111 in the mid-1960s. Not sure if this is in Michigan City or South Bend.

South Shore Line 111 in the mid-1960s. Not sure if this is in Michigan City or South Bend.

To me, this looks like the CTA DesPlaines Avenue terminal as it appeared on April 4, 1959. Work was underway to both reconfigure the terminal and build the adjacent Congress expressway. We are looking east.

To me, this looks like the CTA DesPlaines Avenue terminal as it appeared on April 4, 1959. Work was underway to both reconfigure the terminal and build the adjacent Congress expressway. We are looking east.

North Shore Line 714 on January 20, 1963, the last full day of service before abandonment. 714 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum.

North Shore Line 714 on January 20, 1963, the last full day of service before abandonment. 714 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum.

North Shore Line cars 715 and 748 at the Milwaukee terminal on January 20, 1963. 715 is now preserved at the Fox River Trolley Museum.

North Shore Line cars 715 and 748 at the Milwaukee terminal on January 20, 1963. 715 is now preserved at the Fox River Trolley Museum.

CTA PCC 7215 on July 9, 1957. Notice the large dent on the front of the car. In our previous post One Good Turn (January 20, 2017), we ran another picture of this car taken on August 21, 1956 showing the same dent. Chances are, CTA chose not to repair this, as streetcar service was being phased out. This car was retired about two weeks before the Wentworth line was converted to bus on June 21, 1958.

CTA PCC 7215 on July 9, 1957. Notice the large dent on the front of the car. In our previous post One Good Turn (January 20, 2017), we ran another picture of this car taken on August 21, 1956 showing the same dent. Chances are, CTA chose not to repair this, as streetcar service was being phased out. This car was retired about two weeks before the Wentworth line was converted to bus on June 21, 1958.

CTA PCC 7184 is southbound on Clark Street on July 9, 1957. I realize that some people might not like this photo, since it is not perfect and part of the streetcar is blocked by a moving vehicle. But such pictures do give you a sense that these were vehicles in motion.

CTA PCC 7184 is southbound on Clark Street on July 9, 1957. I realize that some people might not like this photo, since it is not perfect and part of the streetcar is blocked by a moving vehicle. But such pictures do give you a sense that these were vehicles in motion.

This view of two Garfield Park "L" trains is somewhere west of the Loop and was taken on April 13, 1957.

This view of two Garfield Park “L” trains is somewhere west of the Loop and was taken on April 13, 1957.

Indiana Railroad 375, probably on a 1938-40 fantrip. Don's Rail Photos: "375 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1926 as Indiana Service Corp 375. It was ass1gned to IRR as 375 in 1932 and rebuilt as a RPO-combine in 1935. It was sold to Chicago South Shore & South Bend in 1941 as 503 and used as a straight baggage car. It was rebuilt in 1952 with windows removed and doors changed."

Indiana Railroad 375, probably on a 1938-40 fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos: “375 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1926 as Indiana Service Corp 375. It was ass1gned to IRR as 375 in 1932 and rebuilt as a RPO-combine in 1935. It was sold to Chicago South Shore & South Bend in 1941 as 503 and used as a straight baggage car. It was rebuilt in 1952 with windows removed and doors changed.”

From the picture, it's hard to tell, but this is either Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed car 35 or 55. If it is 55, that later went to Lehigh Valley Transit and became their car 1030, which is now at the Seashore Trolley Museum. Again, this appears to be a late 1930s fantrip.

From the picture, it’s hard to tell, but this is either Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed car 35 or 55. If it is 55, that later went to Lehigh Valley Transit and became their car 1030, which is now at the Seashore Trolley Museum. Again, this appears to be a late 1930s fantrip.

Indiana Railroad 375. This car has been preserved as South Shore Line baggage car 503 since 1996 in Scottsburg, Indiana.

Indiana Railroad 375. This car has been preserved as South Shore Line baggage car 503 since 1996 in Scottsburg, Indiana.

Chicago Rapid Transit Door Control on 4000s

As late as 1950, the Chicago Transit Authority, which took over the Chicago Rapid Transit Company in 1947, was still using a very old-fashioned and labor-intensive method of door control on its 4000-series “L” cars, which were built between 1913 and 1924.

CRT had been unable to invest in more modern methods, which had been introduced in New York in the early 1920s, due to its lack of capital. Ironically, such an investment in multiple-unit door control (with a starting signal supplied to the motorman) would have saved CRT a great deal in labor costs.

If you’ve ever wondered how the old system worked, here is a detailed explanation from a rare 1950 CTA training brochure.  Conductors rode outside between cars, even on some of the newer post-World War II rapid transit cars, before the conductor’s position was moved to a greater place of comfort and safety inside the new “married pairs” of cars.

This brochure suggests that as of March 1950, all 4000-series rapid transit cars had been made into semi-married pairs.  As built, they were all single-car units.  The last single car units (the 1-50 series) were built for the CTA in 1960.

Knittin’ Pretty

Here is a real curiosity. Reading this 1954 brochure through, you might at first think it is simply encouraging people to ride the CTA in order to save a few pennies.

However, as the text goes on, it becomes an argument in favor of the CTA’s “PCC Conversion Program,” whereby 570 fairly new postwar PCC streetcars were scrapped, and some of their parts were used to build a like number of 6000-series rapid transit cars.

The cost of a rapid transit car with all new parts is quoted as $50-60k, while St. Louis Car Company offered to build them for just $32,332 each. Thus a savings between $17-27k per car is implied.

After doing some research, I eventually found a CTA document that gives the actual costs incurred. The first 250 curved-door 6000s, with some recycled parts, actually cost the CTA $54,727.64 apiece.

From this, two conclusions can be drawn. First, that the contract between CTA and SLCC allowed for price adjustments that increased costs by more than 67% over the bid price.

Second, that the PCC Conversion Program did not actually save the CTA between $17-27k as was implied in this brochure (and similar figures claimed elsewhere). Since the cost of the previous order for one hundred 6000s with all new parts was $40,904.01, somehow the cost per car actually increased by nearly $14k per unit.

The difference can be explained in how the program worked. Over time, CTA sold 570 PCCs to SLCC for $14k each. This figure is confirmed on page 13 of the 1961 CTA Annual Report. Meanwhile, the cost for each new rapid transit car ordered appears to have increased by approximately the same amount, at least for the first 250 cars ordered under this arrangement.

The cost per car for subsequent rapid transit car orders, in general, shows a gradual increase. 120 cars purchased in 1957 had a cost of $59,368.84 per car, or $4,600 higher than the first 250.

Perhaps part of this increase is due to inflation, but it is likely that the age and condition of the parts being recycled was another factor.

In light of this, a case can be made that, from a materials standpoint in constructing 570 rapid transit cars, this program did not save any money at all, compared to what it would have cost to build the same number of vehicles with all new parts. In fact, since the recycled parts were not new, chances are the program was a disadvantage, as old parts cannot last as long, or serve as well, compared to new.

The actual goal, it would seem, of the PCC Conversion Program, was to get rid of the PCC streetcars in such a way as to take them off the books without showing a loss compared to their depreciated value. The 570 cars involved were between five and ten years old when scrapped. As we know, there are PCCs that are still being used in regular service by a few transit systems. The newest of these were built 65 years ago.

The CTA had other reasons for wanting to eliminate even the modern PCC streetcars. Curiously, the costs of maintaining track and wire were not cited in any of the various documents I have seen.

On the other hand, the 1951 DeLeuw, Cather consultant’s report recommended that CTA not buy any additional electric vehicles, streetcar or trolley bus, due to the supposed high cost of electricity purchased from Commonwealth Edison. As it turned out, no additional electric vehicles were purchased for the surface system until the recent experiments with battery powered buses.

CTA saved money by eliminating two-man streetcars, through reduced labor costs, but the CTA Board was told in 1954 not to expect any further savings in this regard (after the elimination of red car service). The reasons may be two-fold: in some cases, on the heaviest lines, it was likely advantageous to use two-man PCCs, and some PCCs had been converted to one-man operation, or could be used either way.

The Chicago Transit Authority had an decade-long flirtation with propane buses during the 1950s. Propane was then quite cheap, but the buses so used were severely under-powered and had difficulty maintaining schedules. The service thus provided on the surface system by such buses was of lower quality than the PCC streetcars and may have contributed to continued ridership losses on the surface system in the late 1950s.

One can argue that it might have actually worked to CTA’s advantage to continue operating the PCCs instead of scrapping them.

-David Sadowski

FYI, the above graph shows the costs for various rapid transit car orders placed between 1947 and 1958. A couple things are worth noting. The first four cars were the experimental articulated 5001-5004 units, which were each approximately equivalent in length to two standard "L" cars. This, and their experimental nature, helps explain the relatively high per-unit cost. The 1958 total includes the 50 single car units (#1-50), but does not break down the cost relative to the final 50 married-pair units it is lumped in with.

FYI, the above graph shows the costs for various rapid transit car orders placed between 1947 and 1958. A couple things are worth noting. The first four cars were the experimental articulated 5001-5004 units, which were each approximately equivalent in length to two standard “L” cars. This, and their experimental nature, helps explain the relatively high per-unit cost. The 1958 total includes the 50 single car units (#1-50), but does not break down the cost relative to the final 50 married-pair units it is lumped in with.

Railroad Record Club News

Additional tracks have been added to two of our Railroad Record Club CD releases, which are available through our Online Store.

An additional 11:24 has been added to this disc, which now has a running time of 75:41. Source: The Silverton Train (Your Sound of Steam Souvenir #2, 1964).

We recently obtained another handmade Railroad Record Club acetate disc with some new material on it, which has been added to our RRC Steam Rarities CD. One more track from the East Broad Top has been added, and the Illinois Central track has been improved. The new running time for this disc is 76:34.

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.)

Check out our new book Chicago Trolleys. Signed copies are available through our Online Store.

HOLIDAY SPECIAL! This book makes an excellent gift. For a limited time only, we have reduced the price to just $17.99 plus shipping. That’s $4.00 off the regular price.

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Back in Boston

This August marks 50 years since my first trip to Boston. This picture of MBTA 3295 was taken on Beacon Street on August 31, 1967, and shows the PCCs just as I remember them from that time. (Frederick F. Marder Photo)

This August marks 50 years since my first trip to Boston. This picture of MBTA 3295 was taken on Beacon Street on August 31, 1967, and shows the PCCs just as I remember them from that time. (Frederick F. Marder Photo)

This summer marks 50 years since my first trip to Boston, which quickly became one of my favorite cities. I came there as a 12-year-old, to attend my uncle Robert’s wedding along with my mother.

I was astonished to find that Boston still had PCC streetcars, of a type very similar to those Chicago had retired nearly a decade earlier. While my relatives were out making merry, I went off to ride all the various lines.

I have returned to Boston numerous times since then. Recently, I spent a few days there to help my uncle celebrate his 87th birthday.

While PCCs are long gone from the MBTA Green Line, a few still soldier on between Ashmont and Mattapan. This “high-speed trolley” has been running in an old railroad right-of-way since the 1920s, on private right-of-way with just a couple of grade crossings. Along with the MBTA’s Riverside line, which began service in 1959, it is considered a forerunner of modern light rail.

Although I did not have time to do as much railfanning as I might have hoped, here are some pictures from that trip.

-David Sadowski

PS- We expect to receive our shipment of Chicago Trolleys books by September 22nd, which should allow us to ship all copies that have been pre-ordered by the release date on the 25th. More information is at the end of this post.

This giant steaming teakettle has been a Boston landmark since 1873.

This giant steaming teakettle has been a Boston landmark since 1873.