Chicago Railways Pullman 513. This picture dates to between 1909 and 1920. I was fortunate to purchase this photo postcard recently, and cleaned up many of the imperfections in Photoshop. The caption on back reads, “Uncle Herbert Phipps, Chicago. This was taken during the summer. Your humble is stood with his hand(s) crossed. I look older in the picture than what I do in person. This picture reminds me of my grandfather. He looked a good deal like I do here.” This may be the same person: “Born in New Whittington, Derbyshire, England on 7 May 1876 to George Phipps. Herbert Phipps married Frances Jane Fox and had 5 children. He passed away on 18 Oct 1928 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA.” See the Recent Correspondence section for more discussion about this picture.
October is often full of surprises, especially during an election year. Here are some surprisingly good traction photos for your enjoyment. Some, we were fortunate enough to purchase. We missed out on others, but they are still worth including. We also have some excellent Chicago streetcar pictures from the collections of William Shapotkin, plus some interesting correspondence from our readers. We thank all our contributors.
As always, if you have questions or comments about anything you see here, we are glad to hear from you. It helps to refer to individual photos by their file name, which you can find by hovering your mouse over the image.
PS- We have received more than 100,000 page views this year. This is the sixth straight year we have done this. We are very grateful for our readers. Thank you for stopping by.
Facebook Auxiliary Group
It seems we always have things left over after each new post. So, we thought it would be a good idea to create a Facebook auxiliary group for The Trolley Dodger. You can find it here. People can post pictures, links, have discussions, etc. etc., thanks.
The Merchandise Mart station, looking south, on September 26, 1944. Those tracks at left went to the old North Water Terminal. This version of the image is a composite made up by combining the scans from two different prints, and shows slightly more of the overall scene than either would individually.
Chicago Aurora & Elgin 317 at Wheaton Yards on June 28, 1957. Passenger service ended on July 3rd. (Paul Stringham Photo)
CA&E 430 and 315 at Wheaton Yards on August 7, 1954.
North Shore Line four-truck loco 459 at Pettibone Yards in North Chicago, IL on October 23, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo) Sderailway notes, “North Shore Line freight motor 459, one of two large four truck motors purchased from Oregon Electric, 459 was built in 1941 and sold to the North Shore Line in 1946. The large motors supplemented NSL’s smaller, slower, lower horse powered fleet of steeple cabs. With 459 being only 5 years old when purchased from OE it seems with only 17 years more years in NSL service, it still had a lot of “life” left in it.”
CTA subway wash car S-108 is in front of trailer 1199 at the “L” supply yards at 63rd and South Park on January 9, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)
Robert Selle captured this picture of Milwaukee Road steam locomotive 163 (4-6-2) pulling a commuter train just north of Lake Street in downtown Chicago on August 18, 1953. My family moved to the Mont Clare neighborhood in 1954, and we lived a block from the Milwaukee Road. My mother would hang her wash out to dry behind where we lived, and she told me her clothes were dirtied by the smoke from the steam engines (which were fast disappearing from the scene).
Erie Lackawanna 3357 on the Gladstone branch in New Jersey on October 4, 1970. These cars somewhat resembled the Illinois Central Electric commuter trains built in 1936. The 3357 was built by Pullman in 1920 as a trailer and was retired in 1984. The inly information I could find is that it may be stored inoperable at Steamtown in Scranton, PA. The Gladstone Branch, currently operated by NJ Transit, had many of the attributes of an old-fashioned interurban, and our good friend Kenneth Gear has written about it on this site. (James C. Herold Photo)
The North Shore Line interurban operated city streetcars in Milwaukee and Waukegan. Here’s what Don’s Rail Photos tells us about this car: “313 and 315 were built by St. Louis Car in 1915 as 313 and 315 of the Empire State Ry for service in Oswego, NY. After only two years, they were sold to the North Shore in June 1918. 313 was rebuilt to one man service on March 12, 1919, and retired in 1941. 315 was rebuilt on February 24, 1919, and retired in 1940. Both were scrapped in 1945.” Don Ross adds, “North Shore 313 was taken at Waukegan. I don’t think it never ran in Milwaukee. We had the 2 door Birneys and 2 350s in Milwaukee until Waukegan quit. We got the 250s and the Birneys were dumped. The 500s were for Milwaukee but switched to Waukegan when the Birneys came.”
Chicago Rapid Transit 3048 at Marion Street in Oak Park, part of a Lake Street “L” train in the 1940s. Don’s Rail Photos: “3001 thru 3100 were built by Gilbert in 1893 as Lake Street Elevated RR 1 thru 100. In 1913 they were renumbered 3001 thru 3100 and became Chicago Rapid Transit 3001 thru 3100 in 1923.”
Brill built experimental pre-PCC 7001 in 1934, signed for Broadway-State. The picture can be dated because it ran direct service to A Century of Progress during the second season of this Chicago World’s Fair.
Likewise, this picture of CSL 7001 can be dated to 1936, since it is signed as part of the opening ceremonies for the new Ashland Avenue bridge, which connected both parts of the Ashland car line. As the new PCCs weren’t delivered until later in the year, 7001 was CSL’s newest car and thus was featured along with a parade of historical equipment. As we have shown in other posts, the interior was similar to the pre-PCC cars built in 1935 for Washington, DC. It was retired in 1944 and unfortunately, scrapped in 1959.
More That Got Away
The Trolley Dodger competes with many other people to buy images for this site. Here are some that we noticed recently that slipped through our fingers. As they say, you can’t win ’em all.
North Shore Line observation parlor car 420.
The CRT Laramie Shops, adjacent to the ground-level “L” station. We are looking east.
CRT 4322, signed for Garfield Park and Maywood, is at Mannheim and 22nd Street in Westchester, according to the eagle-eyed Mitch Markovitz.
A Chicago Rapid Transit Company one-car train on the Niles Center (Skokie) line.
The north portal of the State Street Subway, probably in the 1940s.
A train of wooden “L” cars rounds the curve at Sedgwick.
An eastbound two-car train of CTA 4000s on the Lake Street “L” in 1964.
Chicago Surface Lines 563 on Madison Street in 1928, in front of the old Northwestern Station.
Old and new control towers at Logan Square in 1966.
The CTA Canal Street station on the Met main line, probably in the early 1950s. “L” cars and CA&E interurbans are present.
A CA&E maintenance of way vehicle at the Wheaton Shops.
MTA 3323 is a double-ended PCC built by Pullman for the Dallas system in 1945. It was sold to Boston in 1959, as more cars were needed once the new Riverside line opened.
Chicago Surface Lines 5377 was built by Brill-Kuhlman in 1907. This photo postcard was purchased by Jeff Marinoff.
Red Arrow car 19 has just departed the end of the line of the Ardmore line on June 11, 1966, about six months before buses replaced rail here.
This is where the trolley line ended in Ardmore. It has been turned into a pocket park and parking lot.
MBTA 3271 running as part of a multiple unit train on Tremont Street in Newton, MA on May 30, 1982. This may be a fantrip, as regular streetcar service on these tracks ended in 1969. Seeing a car signed for Route A – Watertown is quite rare, as the lettered routes were just being introduced around the time Watertown was bussed. The tracks and overhead remained in place for many years, for access to the Watertown car house, but have since been removed. The Watertown line fell victim to a car shortage in the late 1960s. It also had to cross an expressway and run against one-way traffic, another factor.
The same location today.
Red Arrow car 24 is at Darby and Brookline Roads in Havertown, PA on May 29, 1958, on the Ardmore line.
The same location today.
The interior of New Orleans Public Service 924 on April 19, 1958, as photographed by Bob Selle. Note the ugly signs, evidence of the racial segregation of the time.
On July 15, 1955 C&NW 4-6-2 #511 pulls a commuter train in Chicago. Bi-levels were pulled by steam, but here we see steam right next to some bi-levels.
CTA 45 and 46 are part of a work train in Evanston on May 30, 1994.
CTA 22 and 32 are part of a work train in Evanston on May 30, 1994.
CA&E 34 and many others at the Wheaton yard in 1962, after abandonment of the railroad, but before the equipment was disposed of.
Logan Square yard in 1966.
A North Shore Line train stops at Zion, illinois for a photo stop in June 1961. The religious community here made the interurban put in a much larger station than ridership required, because they believed their community would grow rapidly.
Two “L” trains pass at the Merchandise Mart station circa 1955.
Kodak did not stamp the processing date on slides until around 1958, but this appears to be around 1955 from the autos. The Garfield Park “L” crossing over the Chicago River near Union Station. We are looking to the northwest.
Chicago Aurora & Elgin 309 appears to be on a fantrip. Not sure of the location.
Red Arrow car 22 is at Sheldon and Spring Avenue in September 1965 on the Ardmore line. At the end of 1966, it was converted to buses.
The same location today.
A CTA Garfield Park train heads west on Van Buren at Western. Streetcars crossed here until June 1956. Tracks are still evident, but I don’t see any wire, so this could be after that.
Don’s Rail Photos” “S-347 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1922, #2660, as 4323. It was rebuilt on February 26, 1965, as S-347 and sold to Indiana Transportation in June 1979.” Perhaps this picture was taken in Indiana. The museum has since lost this location.
CTA 7180 is about to depart the terminal loop just south of Howard Street on Clark. Where the PCCs are is now a restaurant patio area.
A westbound Garfield Park train at Sacramento. You can see the beginnings of the temporary ramp at this location, which connected to the ground-level right-of-way used in Van Buren Street from 1953 to 1958. That was north of the old right-of-way. Sacramento was one of two points where the old “L” crossed the right-of-way of the Congress Expressway, then under construction.
CTA 7169 is southbound on Route 22 Clark-Wentworth. Perhaps this is somewhere on the south side, as I don’t recall such a hill on the north side. Andre Kristopans: “PCC on hill is a pullout heading east on 69th at Parnell.” On the other hand, our resident south side expert M.E. writes, “No scenes along Wentworth or Vincennes looked like this. So right away I thought this photo had to be along 81st St. Sure enough — read the street sign at the left: 81st and Parnell.” Robert Lalich: “M.E. is correct on the location of CTA 7169. The street sign plainly shows 81st and Parnell. The WB car is about to duck under the C&WI tracks. Two of the three buildings on the left are still there.”
This is the Isabella station on the Evanston branch (today’s CTA Purple Line) in 1970. That’s a two-car train of 4000s. Note the lack of third rail.
Some fans are shooting a South Shore Line freight in Gary, Indiana. The car looks like about a 1936 Lincoln Zephyr.
Don’s Rail Photos: “South Shore Line 1126 was a work motor built by Niles in 1908 as CLS&SB 73. In 1927 it was rebuilt into work motor 1126. In 1941 it was sold and converted to a house. In 1994 it was purchased for restoration from a buyer who had picked it up the month before for back taxes. He really did not want the car, just the land. Bob Harris began restoration in 2005.” The sign says South Bend Limited.
Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern (Iowa) car 82 in 1947. That car at left is probably from the late 1920s, though.
This Kodachrome slide is from 1943 and shows the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway in Wildwood, NJ, which converted to buses the following year. This is a resort town and business was hurt during the war, as there were nighttime blackouts.
North Shore Line 178 at Harrison Street in Milwaukee in 1955. Don’s Rail Photos: “178 was built by Cincinnati Car in September 1920, #2455.”
A Des Moines, Iowa streetcar in the 1940s.
A westbound Lake Street “A” train, when the outer portion of that line ran at ground level west of Laramie. This is somewhere in Oak Park, perhaps between Home Avenue and Kenilworth.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin:
All the pictures in this section have been graciously shared by our good friend Bill Shapotkin.
CSL 106 in May 1947.
CTA 123 at Kedzie and Van Buren in December 1948.
CSL 204 in December 1946.
CTA 5512 at 79th and Wentworth in January 1948. Correction- Robert Lalich writes, “Photo rbk612 shows car 5512 crossing the B&O Brookdale Branch at 79th and Oglesby.”
CSL 6013 at Kedzie and Bryn Mawr in 1946.
CSL 5087 at State and 13th in June 1939, during construction of the State Street Subway.
CSL 1994 at Division and Lavergne in May 1943.
CSL 1825 at West Shops.
CSL 1398 at 21st and Marshall Boulevard on July 6, 1946.
CTA 225 on Route 9 – Ashland. This car went to the Seashore Trolley Museum in 1957, where it remains today.
CSL 401 at Cicero and Belden in May 1946.
CTA 117 on North Avenue by the Chicago River in April 1949.
CTA 6209 on Route 93 by the Belt Railway, between Kenwood and Harper on August 13, 1948. M.E. notes, “The destination sign begins with “89 Avenue”, so this car is running east. Lind’s book confirms the eastern terminus was at 89th and Avenue O.”
CTA 6050 on Route 55 just south of Lake Street.
CTA 7217 on Route 36 – Broadway-State. (Robert W. Gibson Photo)
CTA 4401 at Skokie Shops in 1972, after retirement.
CSL 2919 at 26th and Halsted in 1946.
CSL 1423 on 26th Street on September 27, 1946. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
CTA 214 on Belmont at Western Avenue, with Riverview amusement park in the background. The tall structure is the parachute jump. I rode that once (the park closed after the 1967 season). This picture was taken on December 31, 1948.
CSL 1007 at Wabash and 8th Street. The 8th Street Theater at right is where the WLS National Barn Dance did their weekly broadcast for several years. (Heier Industrial Photo)
CTA 177 on Halsted on February 22, 1954, running northbound at the intersection of Halsted, Grand, and Milwaukee.
CTA 4405 on Clark Street at Chicago Avenue. Bill Barber writes, “I believe this photo in your Oct 12th email is misdated. The blue station wagon in front of the PCC is a 1956 Plymouth and the yellow and white car immediately behind the PCC is a 1955 Chevy. Considering that new automobile models were introduced, at that time, in September of the year before the actual model year, the earliest that this photo could be is late 1955.”
CTA 1752 at Cottage Grove and Cermak on September 8, 1951.
The South Shore Line in East Chicago, Indiana, when it ran on the street. In 1956, this trackage was relocated to run parallel to the new Indiana Toll Road. Robert Lalich: “Photo 683 was taken at White Oak and Chicago Ave in East Chicago. The train is WB and is about to curve to the north onto private right of way before crossing the B&OCT near Columbia Ave. Notice the unusual placement of flashers on the left to warn westbound motorists.”
Since we posted this picture, two people have identified it as Kedzie and Van Buren.
CTA sprinkler D-203.
CTA Peter Witt 3375 at Wabash and 18th, running on Route 4 in 1948.
The unrestored version of the postcard shown at the top of this post.
This postcard of Pullman streetcar 513 generated some discussion with our friend Jeff Marinoff, and additional comments from some others.
Jeff Marinoff writes:
Here is the info I received from Walter Keevil on Chicago Railway Company car # 513:
It is car 513 at a very early date. The number is readable on the side of the car as well as the front, though the middle digit is washed out on the front. There were three digit car numbers from 101 to 999. 513 was a Large or Old Pullman delivered in 1908-09 to Chicago Railway Co. before CSL took over management. The cars were originally painted a ‘medium’ green with red sash and doors so the photo shows everything black. The numbers were gold which also appears very dark. The well known red and cream didn’t come until 1920. I don’t know when the car numbers on the sides were moved to the center instead of the ends. The car in the photo looks a bit beat up, not the way CSL kept its cars until WW II.
Andre Kristopans adds:
Noticed that too, rather shabby condition. Maybe during WW1? Suppose maintenance went down on account of war and Spanish Flu at the same time.
Sandy Terman adds:
Regarding photo 513. Appears the big Pullmans were manufactured w/o the eight roof ventilators (4 on each side of the top hat) and w/o boarding air doors which were installed on the 500 series in later years. Question is why were the vents not manufactured on the baby Pullmans that were very similar?
We recently received an interesting comment on our previous post The Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster (May 19, 2015). It was directed at Craig Allen Cleve, who authored a book by that title, so we forwarded it to him and he in turn replied.
Bren Sheriff writes:
Mr. Cleve, The NAACP has owned 11 contiguous lots on the east side of State Street between 62nd and 63rd for over 30 years; the lot addresses are 6209-6251 S State. I bet there is a story behind how the donor acquired the lots and why they made the decision to donate them to the NAACP. Unfortunately, no one in the unit knows. In your research did you come across any land ownership info. The public records online only go back to 1988. Perhaps I’ll get down to look at the original entry books.
We are contemplating developing the lots and putting up a memorial plaque. Not that it matters, but how many victims, both the 34 dead and 50 injured, were Black?
I am one of the few folks that I know that can remember this tragic accident. The reason I remember it so well is because my family went through several hours of anguish waiting to hear from my mother; she often rode the State Street Green Hornet home from work.
My mom worked at Spiegel’s on 35th near Morgan, we lived on 69th and Michigan; she often rode home on the State Street line. On the day of the accident she decided to go shopping for a graduation gift for my cousin, she had not told my aunt. When she was not home by 6pm, as usual, it concerned my aunt. However, all of us were put into a panic when the thick dark plumes of smoke rose from the enflamed accident site and filled the sky. One of our neighbors told us that there had been an accident on State between a street car and gasoline truck.
My cousin and a friend got on their bikes and rode over to State Street to try to see the site, unsuccessfully – it had been cordoned off. On their way home they saw my mom walking from Wentworth to Michigan on 69th Street. Seeing her enter the back gate was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen, even to this day.
She is now 95 and aphasic. Over the years, we never discussed that day nor the horrific accident.
Craig Allen Cleve replies:
Hello, Ben. Thanks for your question. I’ll do my best to answer your questions.
1. Regarding the properties along the east side of the 6200 block of S. State St., I never looked into records regarding ownership. In hindsight, it might have been worthwhile, considering reports that about 120 people were left homeless after the fire. There were only five structures that were completely destroyed, including the large tenement adjacent to the entrance to the turnaround loop. I’m guessing absentee landlords and severe overcrowding. I never researched ownership of the land post fire;
2. Thirty-three people died in the blaze, although several papers reported thirty-four. This was most likely due to the frightful condition of the bodies, particularly those who died at the rear of the trolley. Subsequent examinations put the number at thirty-three;
3. Of the 33, to my best recollection, the following victims were African-American: Marietta Catlin Minnnie Banks Dade Clara Dobson Bertha Dowdell George Dowdell Alean Fisher Floreine Foster Marie A. Franklin Tishie Mae Johnson Daisy Palmer Luella Phillips Julia Piercefield Annie Richardson Mamie Robinson Rosa Saunders Earl Sue Sharp Ollie Smith Dorothy Townsend Douglas Turner
That’s about 60%. A good portion of those folks were on their way to Princeton Park, located at about 91st. St. and Wentworth Ave. Princeton Park was a housing development which targeted middle-class blacks in its ad campaigns.
4. I happy to hear that if the land is developed, that the idea of a memorial of some kind is at least being considered. Please let me know if I can help in any way. I hope this info was helpful.
Jon Roma writes:
David, in a recent post to The Trolley Dodger (The End of Summer – September 1, 2020), you have two news photographs of a derailment on the Rapid Transit at Wabash and Van Buren in May 1942. Attached is the article and pictures from the Chicago Daily Tribune from the following day’s newspaper (May 14, 1942).
I’m not certain how a fire a block away from Tower 12 caused this derailment, but my educated guess is that the disruption threw the towerman off his game, leading him to inadvertently throw a switch under a train, jackknifing it into the tower. One CRT employee was killed in this.
Thanks for sharing! The caption on one of the two press photos we posted also mentions that some trains were being rerouted because of the fire. That could also have been a factor in the interlocking switches not getting set correctly.
Wally Weart writes:
As I grew up in Chicago post WW II, many of these pictures bring back lots of memories, I grew up on the North Side but had family on the South Side so I was able to see a lot of Chicago streetcars and “L”s. I rode all the interurbans in the Midwest that were still operating. Please keep up your work, I really enjoy it.
We will do our best, thanks. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
RGTS Rio Grande to Silverton: A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading Price: $14.99
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
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. 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!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages Chapter Titles: 01. The River Tunnels 02. The Freight Tunnels 03. Make No Little Plans 04. The State Street Subway 05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway 06. Displaced 07. Death of an Interurban 08. The Last Street Railway 09. Subways and Superhighways 10. Subways Since 1960 Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author. The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere: Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
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Double-ended Red Arrow 13 at the end of the line in West Chester (Gay and High Streets) circa 1954.
The same location today.
The Red Arrow Lines in Philadelphia’s western suburbs are a real example of perseverance. Privately owned and operated until 1970, and now by SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), Red Arrow (or, as it was known for some time, the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company) can trace its origins back to 1848.
Only two lines (Media and Sharon Hill) remain of its vaunted interurban network. The smaller Ardmore trolley was replaced by bus at the end of 1966, with its private right-of-way portion converted into a dedicated busway.
Today, we celebrate the Red Arrow with some classic pictures, mainly featuring its longest line, between 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby and West Chester. This is a distance of some 19 miles end to end along West Chester Pike.
The West Chester line was to some degree a victim of its own success. It helped stimulate growth in the region to such an extent that West Chester Pike was widened in 1954, displacing the trolley. It was replaced by buses.
The Red Arrow story is made all the more remarkable when you consider that much of this line was single-track, and still does not provide a one-seat ride into downtown Philadelphia. Riders must change trains at 69th Street Terminal and ride the Market-Frankford subway into town.
Lack of a one-seat ride into Chicago’s Loop is widely credited with killing off the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin interurban, which ended passenger service in 1957. But Red Arrow has never had a one-seat ride and its service continues to this day.
Much credit for its survival must go to Merritt H. Taylor, Jr. (1922-2010), who guided it into the modern era, and finally had little choice but to sell out to SEPTA. Red Arrow was one of the very last holdouts against public ownership and set a very high standard for the industry.
From what I have heard, Merritt Taylor was something of a “closet railfan,” who learned to operate the cars as a youth and sometimes took them out for late-night “joy rides” to West Chester.
Until 1956, the Norristown line included a branch to Strafford, which gave name to the famous Strafford cars that ran alongside the more well-known Bullets. Today, SEPTA is working on plans to extend the High-speed Line to King of Prussia.
For the longest time, Red Arrow favored J. G. Brill railcars, which were built in nearby Philadelphia, including Master Units and Brilliners in the 1930s and 40s. But with that firm’s exit from the market in the early 1940s, there was one order of double-ended cars circa 1949, made by St. Louis Car Company.
Although those cars had styling very much like PCC streetcars, they had conventional interurban running gear and are thus not technically considered “true” PCCs. Service on the Media and Sharon Hill lines is handled by 29 modern Kawasaki cars, built in 1981.
We hope that you will enjoy this trip down memory lane in the Keystone State. Meanwhile, back here in Chicago, one can only wonder what fate might have awaited the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin if it had been run by Merritt Taylor, Jr. in the 1950s. For all we know, it might still be with us in some form.
As for West Chester, SEPTA ran commuter rail service there until 1986, when it was cut back due to deteriorating track conditions. There are hopes for restoring service by the year 2040. Meanwhile, the bus service that replaced the West Chester trolley remains popular and convenient.
You can read my 2013 report on the Media trolley centennial fantriphere. (Videos are here.)
PS- You can read an interesting report on the Ardmore line and its busway successor here.
Red Arrow 78 and 80 in 1959. These were Brill-built “Master Units.” Garrett Patterson adds, “It might be pointed out with the second image, that both 78 & 80 operate to this day, #78 at PTM in Washington, PA, and #80 at Steamtown.”
Red Arrow 17. Michael T. Greene writes, “The first picture of Red Arrow 17 was taken in Media, probably at the end of the line, sometime starting in 1956, based on the 1956 Plymouth parked (or passing) by the trolley.” Kenneth Achtert: “The shot of #17 is at the end of the line in Media (Orange St.) as evidenced by the two poles raised as the operator is in the process of changing ends.”
350 W. State Street in Media, the end of the Media light rail line.
Near 69th Street Terminal. This is where the Ardore and West Chester lines (left) converged with Media and Sharon Hill (right). Over the years, the tracks to the left have been cut back to just a few short blocks where cars can be stored.
Brilliner 6 in Ardmore service near 69th Street Terminal circa 1954.
Near 69th Street Terminal.
A Brilliner near 69th Street Terminal.
A West Chester car at 63rd and Market in 1905. (Robert Foley, Jr. Collection)
Car 12 at a passing siding along West Chester Pike circa 1954.
Near 69th Street Terminal circa 1954.
Car 12 at a passing siding along West Chester Pike circa 1954.
Brilliner 3 at the end of the line in West Chester, circa 1954. This car is an Express. There were many photos taken here over the years, by the W. T. Grant dime store. The line was single track going into town.
An outbound car in “side of the road” operation along West Chester Pike, circa 1954. Matt Nawn: “The scene of #22 outbound along West Chester Pike appears to be near Broomall. The homes along this part of West Chester Pike look much the same today. Zooming in on the photo, a former Acme store near the intersection of West Chester Pike and PA Route 320 can be seen in the background. “
The same location today. That certainly appears to be the same house at right. We are looking west on West Chester Pike in Broomall, just east of PA Route 320.
Near 69th Street Terminal.
A Sharon Hill train at 69th Street Terminal, circa 1954. Garrett Patterson: “Sharon Hill Train of Center Doors was most likely a School Tripper servicing Archbishop Pendergast (girls) and Msgr. Bonner (boys) at Lansdowne Ave.” On the other hand, Matt Nawn says, “The two-car train of center door cars is probably a few years too early to be a school tripper to Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High Schools (combined into one school in recent years). These schools did not open until the late 1950s.”
Double-end car 14, a product of St. Louis Car Company, signed for Sharon Hill in the 69th Street Terminal circa 1954. Garrett Patterson: “Where #14 is shown loading at 69th St., the track was paved to street rail condition days before the cessation of West Chester car service for the startup of the W Bus which took its place.”
Caption: 2 car “MU” Train, which operated along with an extra single car behind it on the last rail trip (by MPRA Club) to West Chester, PA., Sunday, June 6, 1954.
Car 12 in August 1952. Garrett Patterson: “Llanerch Car house.” Kenneth Achtert: “That shot of #12 in August 1952 would be at the Llanerch car barn. The street at the top of the hill behind the cars is West Chester Pike, and the car barn structure is to the right out of the frame.” (Arthur B. Johnson Photo)
This postcard, showing the end of the line in West Chester, was mailed in 1907. The view is the opposite of the one shown at the top of this page. Caption: “You might take the early trolley to Atlantic. Think the photo is something worth having, thanks.”
The same view today. That’s the Greentree building at left, built around 1930.
Red Arrow 41 on the West Chester line in 1945.
Cars 14, 20 and 68 at a photo stop along the West Chester line on the June 6, 1954 NRHS fantrip.
Brill “Master Unit” 78, built in 1932, at the West Chester end of the line on August 24, 1941. This car is now preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA.
Car 19 along West Chester Pike. What was once a “side of the road” operation is now part of the road. This long view gives you some idea of the distances involved on this 19-mile line.
Car 17 at a passing siding along West Chester Pike on April 25, 1954.
Car 66 (plus one) at Edgemont Siding on the West Chester line.
Cars 14 and 15 running in multiple unit operation at the West Chester end of the line on June 6, 1954.
Cars 69 and 71 at the West Chester end of the line on June 6, 1954.
Cars 69 and 71 at the West Chester end of the line on June 6, 1954.
Cars 14 and 15 at the West Chester end of the line on June 6, 1954.
Young railfan with a box camera, 62 years ago.
This picture shows Red Arrow Brilliner 8 and an older car at the end of the Ardmore branch on May 15, 1949. It looks like the older car is in fantrip service, while the Brilliner is the regular service car ahead of it. The Ardmore branch was replaced by buses in 1966.
Here, Red Arrow Brill Master Unit 86 is the regular service car at the end of the line in West Chester, with the older fantrip car behind it. Again, the date is May 15, 1949.
Red Arrow 66 and 76 at St. Albans Siding in Newtown Square on June 6, 1954.
Here, we see Red Arrow car 66 heading up a two-car train on May 6, 1962. This is the Clifton-Aldan stop on the Sharon Hill line.
The same location today.
Red Arrow car 21 on the private right-of-way section of the Ardmore line. Since Ardmore was converted to bus at the end of 1966, this area has been paved over to create a dedicated busway.
The photo caption reads, “Two car streamline train arriving at Norristown, looking up from R. R. tracks.” The date is May 12, 1935, meaning these “Bullet” cars were just a few years old.
Although the late Merritt Taylor, Jr. may have been, in some fashion, a “closet railfan,” he was also responsible for the ill-fated Railbus experiment on the Red Arrow Lines in 1967-68. This was an attempt to replace rail with buses that could also run on railroad tracks. Fortunately, the effort proved to be a failure. Taylor had found that he couldn’t simply convert all his rail lines to bus service, without losing much of the rights-of-way in turn due to the terms under which rail service had started many years earlier. It turns out that the requirements of a railcar and a bus are too much different to be combined into a single vehicle. Within a couple years of this experiment, Taylor sold Red Arrow to SEPTA, and the Norristown, Media and Sharon Hill lines remain rail to this day.
Red Arrow “Master Unit” 79 is inbound in 1949 on either the Media or Sharon Hill line, in spite of the sign saying Ardmore (thanks to Kenneth Achtert for that correction). He adds, “It was (still is) standard practice for Red Arrow operators, when changing ends at the outer end of their route, to set the sign on what would be the rear of the car for the inbound trip to read their next outbound destination. Thus, when the car arrived at 69th St. Terminal and went around the loop to the boarding platform the rear destination sign was already set. This was actually the more important sign, as most passengers approached the cars from the rear coming from the main terminal (and from the Market-Frankford Elevated line).” (Mark D. Meyer Photo)
Red Arrow “Master Unit” 82 is at the 69th Street Terminal on August 8, 1948. (Walter Broschart Photo)
On September 12, 1959, Philadelphia Suburban Transportation 3, a 1941 “Brilliner,” is on Lippincott Avenue north of County Line Road, on the short Ardmore line which was bussed in 1966.
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka “Red Arrow”) cars 5 and 14 pose at 69th Street Terminal on June 22, 1963. The car at left is a Brilliner, from the last batch of trolleys built by Brill in 1941. The car at right was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 949. Although it looks much like a PCC, it was not considered such as it had standard interurban trucks and motors. Both types of cars were double-ended.
A SEPTA commuter train, ex-PRR, at West Chester in May 1979. SEPTA rail service to this station ended in 1986, but the West Chester Railroad began running a not-for-profit tourist operation of train service on weekends between West Chester and Glen Mills in 1997. (Photo by Paul Kutta)
PS- Here is a video with many additional pictures of the Red Arrow Railbus:
A Red Arrow PCC!
Kenneth Gear writes:
I really enjoyed the latest Trolley Dodger installment about the Red Arrow Lines.
Although the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company never owned a “true” PCC, one SEPTA PCC car, number 2799, was painted in their red & cream paint scheme! This car is single ended, unlike Red Arrow cars, but it was built by the St. Louis Car Company only a year earlier than the red arrow cars.
On May 7, 1995 I rode a Wilmington (DE) Chapter NRHS fan trip using Red Arrow painted car# 2799. Here are a few pictures.
For the last ten years or so, 2799 has been in the collection of the Baltimore Streetcar Museum.
All photos by Kenneth Gear:
PCC 2799 at Woodland Avenue & 60th Street, Kingsessing, PA.
2799 on Girard Avenue at St. Bernard, West Philadelphia, note cobble stones in road.
2799 on Lancaster Avenue & 41st Street, Barins, PA.
2799 on Girard Avenue at Corinthian, North Philadelphia.
2799 at the Market Frankford Line Girard station, Philadelphia.
The Red Arrow logo as applied to SEPTA PCC car # 2799.
PS- Here is a video tour of the Ardmore busway:
Also, video of West Chester trolleys:
The Chicago, Aurora & Elgin
Chicago, Aurora & Elgin 309 heads up a four-car train of woods circa 1940. This “coffee and cream” paint job is not often seen in color pictures. This one, however, has the appearance of being hand-colored, most likely not digital, either. The original was faded, which would not happen with digital. This is more like an old colorized postcard.
The CA&E Spring Road station in Elmhurst in the mid-1950s.
My guess is this 1950 CA&E scene shows the end of the line in Elgin, If so, the commuter rail coaches on the other side of the river belong to the Milwaukee Road.
A CA&E for-car train of steels, headed up by 460. Some think this may be 25th Avenue in Bellwood.
CA&E wood car 26. (Paul H, Stringham Photo) Don’s Rail Photos: “26 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was modernized in June 1943 and retired in 1959.”
CA&E wood car 314 at an unknown location. Don’s Rail Photos says, “314 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date.” (Paul H. Stringham Photo)
This Chicago “mystery photo” showing two young girls is dated 1943. But where was it taken? The “L” structure in the background has some ornamentation, and we see a gate car as well as a 4000. Since the 4000s were all put onto the State Street subway when it opened in October 1943, this picture probably dates to a late snowfall in spring. So far, our best guess is this may be Independence Boulevard on the Garfield Park “L”.
From Andre Kristopans, following up on some earlier correspondence we had regarding CTA transfer regulations:
A few items –
Half-fare for high school students started 5/10/1943. Before that half fare was strictly for 7 to 11 years old, and I guess grammar school kids, though this I have never seen actually spelled out anywhere. Until 7/23/1961 there were two kinds of student permits, those that allowed reduced rate travel 24/7 and cost $1 per year, and those that allowed travel only to and from school on school days that were issued by the schools free. I remember those – they would be accepted anywhere from about 6 to 8 am, and only within one block of the school after letout.
Transfer regulations remained remarkably constant for all the years that map transfers were in use. Basically good at points of intersection, divergence, convergence, and extension with travel only in the same general direction. Walking transfers were basically within two city blocks, such as between the 92-Foster/NW Highway bus and 151-Sheridan bus at Berwyn.
Transfers were free until 7/23/61, then charged 5 cents. This also caused two minor changes in procedures. ID checks showing that you paid the express fare were now needed on Evanston Express trains south of Loyola, and ID checks of a different sort were issued by ticket agents when they were opening and closing stations. Before, you just got a regular transfer.
The problem with CMC was that CMC fares were HIGHER than CTA’s. CSL went from 7 to 8 cents 4/20/42, while CMC and CRT were already 10. CRT went to 12 cents 5/24/46. CTA went to 10 cents 10/1/47 on surface, CMC was 20 by 10/1/52, while CTA had only hit 20 on 6/1/52. Unfortunately I do not have any better info on changes in this time period. I have a CTA listing somewhere that detailed some of this, maybe I will find it one day… When I was doing much of this research in the 1980’s, I basically just went thru the service bulletins that sometimes had fare stuff, but often not, and I never did dig thru the fares bulletins.
This much I can tell you, though: As of 10/1/47 transfers surface to surface were free, transferring to the L paid 2 cents to agent at station, as L fare was 12 cents. I do not know for sure what CMC was at the time, but coming from CMC to surface was free, to L was 2 cents to the ticket agent, so CMC fare must have been 10c as of 10/1/47. Only thing I can surmise is that CMC must have raised fares more or less as CTA did, to 13 in 1948, 15 in 1949, 17 in 1951 and 20 in 1952.
If you want to see how the transfers worked, look under irm-cta.org – documentation – service pamphlets – 02/60 transfer regulations. In some ways a very complex system, but in other ways very straight-forward and very hard to cheat.
As a note of interest – on 10/1/43 when the subway opened, the schedule for the North-South, which included Ravenswood-Loop, Wilson-Loop, Wilson-Kenwood, and Stock Yards wood car routes, called for 416 steel and 284 wood cars, 840 trainmen, 230 ticket agents, 20 switchmen, 54 towermen, 38 porters, and carried 64% (325,000) of the L system’s passengers.
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In this classic July 1963 shot, South Shore Line car 25 is parked at the east end of the line in downtown South Bend, across from the Hotel LaSalle. Service was cut back to Bendix at the outskirts of town in 1970, and later extended to the local airport. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “25 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947.”
Chicagoans of a certain age might recall Night Beat, a WGN-TV late night news show that aired after the Late Movie between 1958 and 1983. For much of that time, baritone Carl Greyson was the announcer.*
We begin today’s post with our very own Night Beat of sorts, an exhibit of some fine night photography from the early 1960s. We rightly celebrate 3/4 views of streetcars taken on days with bright sunshine and cloudless skies, but there is also something to be said for those few railfan shutterbugs who experimented and documented what some cities call “Owl Service.”
Back in the days of film and manually set cameras, many photographers operated using the “sunny f/16” rule, or some variation thereof, where your shutter speed corresponds to the film speed, and your lens opening is f/16 on a bright sunny day. So, with ISO 64 film, this gives a setting of 1/60th of a second at f/16, and you can extrapolate from there (i.e., this is equivalent to 1/125th at f/11, 1/250th at f/8, etc.).
But this relationship begins to fail when you are talking about longer exposures. It is an effect called “reciprocity failure.” Now, your general idea of reciprocity might be that if I scratch your back, you’ll scratch mine. But for our purposes, this means that photographic materials may not behave in a predictable manner when used outside of the norm.
So, long exposure times of several seconds may not give predictable results. There are other problems with night shots, including the different colors of mixed light sources (incandescent plus fluorescent), and problems with determining the proper exposure when light sources have such a wide range of brightness.
This means you really can’t follow any special rule for available light photography at night; it’s really a matter of trial and error. The best method is to steady your camera on a tripod and experiment with different exposures, in hopes that perhaps one image out of the lot might turn out really well.
What we have here are some excellent shots, taken by an unknown photographer who was good at this sort of thing and was willing to travel the country. Chances are, for every acceptable photo, there were several that ended up in the circular file.
Here’s to those unnamed Night Owls who prowled around in the 1960s and covered the traction Night Beat.
*You can hear the classic 1970s Night Beat theme here. A fuller version of the theme, which many associate with Chicago night life, can be heard in a 1977 special that featured actor Bill Bixby. Supposedly, the music was composed by Dave Grusin, although nobody seems to know for sure what the piece was called, or where it originated.
A two-car train of 6000s prepares to head east from the DesPlaines Avenue terminal on the CTA Congress branch in April 1964. This was the station arrangement from 1959 until the early 1980s. As I recall, the entrance at right in front of the train led to a narrow sidewalk where you had to cross the tracks in order to access the platform, hardly an ideal setup. At right there was a parking lot, and a few streaks of light show you where I-290 is located. The tracks today are in pretty much the same exact location, however.
I believe this July 1963 picture shows the South Shore Line station at Roosevelt Road. Frank Hicks writes, “Chicago South Shore & South Bend 504. This interurban freight trailer has a more unusual history than most. It was built for ISC as an interurban combine, and ran on that system’s lines in Indiana for five years until ISC became part of the great Indiana Railroad system. IR rebuilt the three cars of the 375-377 series into railway post office cars and put them to use in this unusual capacity. The three RPO’s survived on IR until the end of interurban service in 1941, at which time all three were sold to the only other interurban line then operating in Indiana: the South Shore. The South Shore converted 376 into a line car while 375 and 377 became express package trailers. These cars were designed to run in passenger trains and had control lines so that they could be run mid-train; they were often used to transport newspapers. Car 504 was retired in 1975 and acquired by IRM, which has repainted it and put it on display.” (Editor’s Note: car 377 became 504.)
This slide showing one of the North Shore Line Electroliners is dated January 1963, and who knows, it may have been taken on that last frigid night. Jerry Wiatrowski writes, “The unidentified picture of the Electroliner was taken at North Chicago Junction. The train is Southbound coming off of the Waukegan bypass to Edison Court and Milwaukee.”
When this April 1964 picture was taken at the 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, the Red Arrow Lines were still privately held, and the Ardmore trolley was still running. Two and a half years later, it would be replaced by bus service. 1941-era Brilliner #1, a Sharon Hill car, is in the station.
It’s August 1963 in Boston, and MTA PCC 3243 stands ready for another trip on the Green Line. Phil Bergen writes, “The night view of the Boston PCC that appears in today’s posting was taken at Riverside terminal. Although picture window PCCs were originally used on this line, other PCCs were added to meet the demand. The side roll sign, once enlarged, indicates this is a Riverside car, and the terminal itself is the only place where there were multiple tracks.” The Riverside line started running on July 4, 1959 and occupies a right-of-way once used by a steam commuter railroad. It is considered a pioneer in what we today call “light rail.”
From 1949 until 1963, the North Shore Line had the CTA’s Roosevelt Road station all to itself, as this July 1962 picture of car 752 shows. Don’s Rail Photos: “752 was built by Standard Steel Car in 1930. It was modernized in 1940.”
The North Shore Line terminal in Milwaukee in January 1963.
A North Shore Line train stops at Edison Court in January 1963.
A Toronto subway train in August 1963.
Toronto Peter Witt 2766 at Vincent Loop in November 1964. (R. McMann Photo)
TTC crane C-2 at work at Queen Street and Eastern Avenue in October 1966. (R. McMann Photo)
A postcard view of C-2 at work in 1967.
Originally, I thought this was early 1960s night shot showed a CTA single-car unit in the 1-50 series, and those cars were used on the Congress-Douglas-Milwaukee line. But as Andre Kristopans has pointed out, the doors on those cars were closer to the ends than this one, which he identifies as being part of the 6511-6720 series. It just looks like there’s one car, since the other “married pair” behind it is not illuminated. This picture was most likely taken at the end of the line at DesPlaines Avenue.
From left to right, we see New Orleans Public Service cars 930, 934, and 900 in the barn. All were built by Perley-Thomas Car Co in 1924, and are signed for the St. Charles line. New Orleans is practically unique in North America, in that it never modernized its fleet with PCCs, yet has maintained uninterrupted service with vintage equipment. (Even the newer cars New Orleans has now are “retro” styled.) The date of this photo is not known.
A South Shore Line train at the old Gary station in August 1970.
South Shore Line car 110 laying over at South Bend, Indiana in July 1963. This was the east end of the line until 1970, when service was cut back to the outskirts of town, and South Bend street running was eliminated. In 1992, service was extended to the South Bend International Airport, 3 miles northwest of downtown South Bend.
This remarkable picture was taken at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee terminal in January 1963. for all we know, this may be the last night of operation. If so, the temperature was below zero.
A Dayton (Ohio) trolley bus at night in September 1972.
This is another remarkable photograph, showing Monongahela West Penn car 320 at night in June 1946. Such night shots were very difficult to achieve back then, due to the slow film speed of the time (this is Kodachrome 10, as in ASA/ISO 10). About the only way to take such a picture would have been with a very long exposure, with the camera resting on a tripod. (Dr. H. Blackbunn Photo)
Another great night shot, this time it’s Illinois Terminal 473 on the line that ran from St. Louis to Granite City in the 1950s. This was IT’s final passenger line and was abandoned in June 1958, on the same weekend that the last Chicago streetcar ran.
The next three photos have been added to our previous post Love For Selle (June 8, 2016):
Caption: “3 cars on North Shore Line northbound at Kenilworth (714 on rear of train), July 13, 1955. This was shortly before the end of service on the Shore Line Route. (Bob Selle Photo) Don’s Rail Photos: “714 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It is modernized in 1939 and preserved in 1963 by the Illinois Railway Museum.”
This looks like a 1952 Chevrolet 4-door Fleetline fastback to me, which would be a somewhat rare model with only a few thousand produced. The fastback, which had enjoyed a brief vogue starting around 1941, was dropped for the 1953 model year.
It’s May 30, 1958 and Chicago Surface Lines car 1467 (former CTA salt car AA72) is at the Electric Railway Historical Society site on Plainfield Road in Downer’s Grove. Don’s Rail Photos says this “Bowling Alley” car “was built by CUTCo in 1900 as CUT 4516. It was rebuilt as 1467 in 1911 and became CSL 1467 in 1914. It was rebuilt as salt car and renumbered AA72 on April 15, 1948. It was retired on February 28, 1958. It was sold to Electric Railway Historical Society in 1959 and went to Illinois Railway Museum in 1973.” Actually it must have been sold earlier, as the negative envelope has written on it “owned now by ERHS!” (Bob Selle Photo)
North Shore Line cars 411 and 715 at an unidentified location. Don’s Rail Photos says, “411 was built as a trailer observation car by Cincinnati Car in June 1923 #2640. It was out of service in 1932. 411 got the same treatment on February 25, 1943, and sold to Trolley Museum of New York in 1963. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway & Historical Society in 1973 and sold to Escanaba & Lake Superior in 1989.” As for the other car, Don says, “715 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It is modernized in 1939 and purchased by Mid-Continent Railroad Museum in 1963. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway Museum in 1967 and then sold to Fox River Trolley in 1988.”
North Shore Line car 255 is laying over on middle storage track at the Roosevelt Road station on the Chicago “L”. Don’s Rail Photos”: “255 was built by Jewett in 1917. It had all of the seats removed in the 1920s to provide a full length baggage car which ran in passenger trains. It was used for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to move equipment to Ravinia. On July 2, 1942, the 40 seats were replaced. Then on December 1, 1946, the seats were again removed. In addition to the Symphony, the car was used for sailors’ baggage from Great Lakes.” (C. Edward Hedstrom, Jr. Photo)
CSL “Little” Pullman 985 at Wabash and Roosevelt in September 1936. It was built in 1910. It appears to be on through route 3 – Lincoln-Indiana, which operated from 1912 to 1951.
CSL “Big” Pullman 144 on Cermak Road, September 19, 1934. Don’s Rail Photos: “144 was built by Pullman in 1908. It was acquired by Illinois Railway Museum in 1959.” It is rare to find pictures of the 144 in actual service as opposed to some 1950s fantrip.
A close-up of the car in the last photo. It closely resembles two very similar, low-production front wheel drive cars on the market circa 1930, the Cord L-29 and the even rarer Ruxton. However, Dan Cluley seems to have correctly identified this as a 1930 Checker Model M. The auto on the other side of the streetcar looks like an early 1930s Auburn, which was also built by Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg, headquartered in Auburn, Indiana.
The 1930 Checker Model M.
This is a 1929 Ruxton Model A Baker-Raulang Roadster.
And this is a 1930 Cord L-29 Convertible.
An early 1930s Auburn with fancy hood ornament.
Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947. The sign on the front of the car indicates this was on through route 8. According to http://www.chicagrailfan.com, “Various Through Route combinations existed throughout the early history of this route. Original Through Route operated between Grace/Halsted and 63rd/Stony Island via Halsted and 63rd St. Beginning in 1912, some Halsted service, mainly route 42 Halsted-Downtown service, began operating south of 79th St. via Vincennes and 111th St. to Sacramento, over what now is the 112 route. While for most of through service continuing north on Halsted, the south terminal remained 79th St. Effective 5/24/31, the through Halsted service generally turned around at 111th/Sacramento, with the downtown service generally turning at 79th St. Through service south of 79th St. discontinued 12/4/49, when segment south of 79th St. was converted to buses.” (John F. Bromley Collection) Our resident South Side expert M. E. adds, “The caption begins: “Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947.” Not quite. 111th St. approaches Vincennes Ave. only from the east. The car line on 111th St. was not route 8. Instead, route 8 was on Vincennes. Vincennes Ave. continued south of 111th one block to Monterey Ave., whereupon route 8 cars turned right onto Monterey, then about three blocks later, onto 111th St. heading west. (To see all this on a map, use maps.google.com and plug in ‘60643 post office’.) As for the photo, I’d say this car is on Vincennes, heading south, anywhere between 109th and Monterey. I say 109th because route 8 left its private right-of-way (which started at 89th St.) at 107th St. and ran south from 107th on the street.”
This July 1963 view shows the Wabash leg of Chicago’s Loop “L” between Van Buren and Jackson. We are looking north, so the buildings behind the train of CTA 4000s are on the west side of the street. As you can see by the sign advertising Baldwin pianos and organs, this was once Chicago’s “Music Row.” The flagship Rose Records location was near here, as were Carl Fischer, the Guitar Gallery, American Music World and many others. The Chicago Symphony is still nearby, but nearly all the other music-related retailers are now gone from this area. You can just catch a glimpse of the iconic Kodak sign that still graces Central Camera under the “L”. The old North Shore Line station, which closed about six months before this picture was taken, would have been up the street on the right just out of view. Until 1969 trains operated counterclockwise around the Loop on both tracks, so we are looking at the back end of this Lake Street “B” train. Adams and Wabash station is at the far right of the picture.
Enlarging a small section of the slide shows the Kodak sign in front of Central Camera at 230 S. Wabash.
Central Camera today. The Kodak sign is still there.
The corner of Wabash and Jackson today.
Two of the buildings in the 1963 photograph were torn down to make a parking lot, while the building to their right is still there.
If you are curious about just what a Birney car is, you can read the definitive account by Dr. Harold E. Coxhere.
Fort Collins Municipal Railway Birney car 20 in Colorado. There were three lines, and all three cars met in the town center once an hour so riders could transfer. Service ended in 1951, but a portion of one line was restored to service in the 1980s. Don’s Rail Photos says, “20 was built by American Car Co. in April 1919, #1184. It was sold in 1951 and moved to the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Minden, NE. and has been on static display there ever since.” (Joseph P. Saitta Photo)
Feel the Birn(ey)! After service in Fort Collins ended in 1951, car 26 was sold to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. But prior to being put on static display, it operated in a Detroit parade of street railway equipment in August 1953. Don’s Rail Photos: “26 was built by American Car Co. in November 1922, #1324 as CERy 7. It was sold as FCM 26 it in 1924. It was sold to Henry Ford Museum and moved to Michigan in 1953 where it is on static display. It was operated several times on the trackage of the Department of Street Railways.” (C. Edward Hedstrom Photo) To read more about 26’s Michigan sojourn, click here.
Laurel Line (Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad) car 37 at the G.E. plant on the Minooka branch on May 9, 1948. The occasion was an ERA (Electric Railroader’s Association) fantrip. Nearly all this Scranton, Pennsylvania interurban was third-rail operated on private right-of-way, something it had in common with the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin. Some have wondered if the Laurel Line’s fleet of steel cars, which ended service at the end of 1952, could have been used on the CA&E. They appear to have been too long to operate on the Chicago “L” system, but I do not know if such clearance issues would have kept them from running west of Forest Park. As it was, all these cars were scrapped, and ironically, some thought was given later to restoring a CA&E curved-side car as an ersatz Laurel Line replica. Wisely, it was decided against this.
The next three photos have been added to our earlier post Chicago’s Pre-PCCs (May 5, 2015):
Scranton Transit 508, an “Electromobile,” was built by Osgood-Bradley Co in 1929. It was another attempt at a modern standardized streetcar in the pre-PCC era.
Baltimore Peter Witt 6146. Don’s Rail Photos says it was “built by Brill in 1930 and retired in 1955.” Sister car 6119 is at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, while 6144 is at Seashore. These were some of the most modern cars around, prior to the PCCs.
Indianapolis Railways 146, shown here on a special run in 1949, was a Brill “Master Unit” but appears very similar to the Baltimore Peter Witts. This car was built in 1933, one of the last streetcars built before the PCC era. Brill tried to sell street railways on standardized cars (hence the name “Master Units”) but as you might expect, no two orders were identical.
Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell Limited lightweight high-speed car 1001 (ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie 128) at the 69th Street Terminal on the Philadelphia & Western, September 21, 1949. Soon after this picture was taken, LVT passenger service was cut back to Norristown.
PE double-end PCCs 5006 and 5012 at West Hollywood car house on September 8, 1946. These were used on the Glendale-Burbank line, which was “light rail” before the term ever existed. Service was abandoned in 1955 and I’ll bet Angelinos wish they had it back today. (Norman Rolfe Photo)
Pacific Electric double-end PCC 502x is boarded up for a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Don’s Rail Photos says this car was “built by Pullman-Standard in October 1940, #W6642. It was retired in 1956 and was sold as FGU M.1523 and made modifications in 1959. It was retired in short time.” You can see some additional pictures of these cars as they appeared in 1959 after being damaged by dripping lime deposits in the damp PE Subway here.
Brilliner 9 on the Red Arrow’s Ardmore line in May 1965. About 18 months later, this line was converted to bus.
A Septa Bullet car at the Norristown (Pennsylvania) terminal in August 1986.
Not all Bullets were double-ended, or built for the Philadelphia & Western. Here we see Bamberger Railroad car 125 in Salt Lake City on September 4, 1950. A single-end Bullet car, it originally came from the Fonda Johnstown & Gloversville. Don’s Rail Photos says, “125 was built by Brill in 1932, #22961. It was sold as Bamberger RR 125 in 1939 and retired in 1952. The body was sold to Utah Pickle Co.” We ran a picture of sister car 129 in our previous post Trolley Dodgers (January 15, 2016).
Here is another photo of Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 315. Don’s Rail Photos says, “315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962.”
D. C. Transit 1484 on route 30. Streetcar service in Washington ended in 1962, but recently started up again.
Capital Transit Company PCC 1101 in Washington, D. C., with the U. S. Capitol in the background. From the looks of the car in the background, this picture was probably taken in the mid1950s. Don’t ask me why there are two different spellings of capitol/capital.
WGN’s Late Movie “open,” seen above, used a simple title image and not the sophisticated graphics of today. If you heard Dave Brubeck‘s “Take Five” coming out of your TV set in the 1960s or 70s, that most likely meant you were about to watch the Late Movie. (The afternoon “Early Show” movie on our local CBS station WBBM-TV used Leroy Anderson‘s “The Syncopated Clock” as their theme.) To see a clip of what the Late Movie open looked and sounded like, click here. Take Five was written by Paul Desmond, alto sax player in Brubeck’s combo. If you are wondering who the man in the kaleidoscope image is, that’s British actor/comedian Terry-Thomas.
In the days before 24 hour a day television, most stations went off the air late at night. Some went completely off the air, leaving nothing but static and white noise, while others broadcast test patterns. This was perhaps the most popular type used and should be familiar to anyone of a certain age.
Barry Shanoff writes:
I was born and raised in Chicago, and left in 1975, at age 32, for the Washington, DC area where I have lived ever since. I recently discovered your website, and I enjoy what you have posted.
I have an extensive collection of Chicago transit memorabilia, including vintage CSL, CA&E and CNS&M items, that I am interested in selling. In particular, I have a CTA Rapid Transit sign roll as pictured and described in the attachments to this message.
Rather than posting the items on eBay or consigning them to an auction firm, I’d like to first offer them to Chicago area enthusiasts.
The price sign roll is $325 plus shipping. My guess is that it weighs about four pounds with the mailing tube. Shipping costs will depend on the destination. Best if a would-be buyer contacts me and we complete the arrangements via e-mail or phone.
As for my CTA and interurban material, I don’t have photos of the timetables and brochures, but I can put together a list with prices. Discounts for multi-item purchases. Anyone interested in this or that item can contact me and I will provide a cover photo.
You can contact Barry at: email@example.com
Phil Bergen writes:
Big fan of your site, though I’ve only been to Chicago once (1973) and am fascinated by the multiplicity of transit historically and today in Chicago.
Long-time subscriber to First & Fastest. several years ago I wrote to then-editor Roy Benedict suggesting an article for a fictional one-day fan trip around Chicago in a past year of his choice, for an out-of-towner, one that would show a variety of neighborhoods, equipment, and could be done in a day. I created one myself for Boston that ran in Roll Sign.
Mr. Benedict replied with interest in my proposal, but I never heard more about it. With your knowledge and wealth of photos, it might be something to try.
Thanks for your work. I belong to CERA and have enjoyed your PCC book very much. So full of material that it is sometime hard to hold such a tome!!
Glad you like the site and the PCC book. I’ll give your article proposal some thought.
Sometimes these things come together in unusual ways. There are times when I don’t really know what a post is about until it’s finished. Take this one, for example. On the one hand, it’s mainly about night photography, but the additional pictures, oddly enough seem to include quite a lot of preserved equipment, more so than you would expect. You could make quite a list of them. Then again, there are many things in this post that are “paired.” There is a picture of a North Shore car at Roosevelt Road at night, but also one in the day, and so on.
My general idea is to use pictures to tell a story. Often times, the individual pictures are like pieces of a mosaic or jigsaw puzzle. I fiddle around with them and rearrange them until they seem to fit together, and hopefully have some deeper meaning.
My understanding is that Roy Benedict does not have any current involvement with First & Fastest and has not for some years, although naturally I don’t speak for him. The current person to talk to regarding article ideas for that magazine would be Norm Carlson, who does excellent work. It’s a fine publication and sets a high standard for others to follow.
The Chicago PCC book was a labor of love for everyone who collaborated on it. At first, the idea was just for a standard-length picture book, but after we had collected a lot of material, we realized that quite a lot would have to be left out. So, the book grew in length, and at the same time we gradually decided there were other things that needed to go into the book, in order to tell the whole story.
So, the final product is twice standard length, and includes a lot of the history and background material that helps the reader put Chicago’s PCC era into context. It’s somewhere in between a picture book and a more scholarly text, and it seems a very worthwhile addition to the slim shelf of Chicago streetcar books. In the year since its release, it appears to have found an audience.
PS- Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. You can either leave a Comment directly on this post, or contact us at:
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