More LVT Photos & Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 12-14-2015

LVT 1006 making a backup move, which these single-ended cars had to do on a regular basis in Allentown. This must be near the end of service in 1951 as evidenced by the premature corrosion on the car (caused by electrolysis between the steel and aluminum plates it was built with).

LVT 1006 making a backup move, which these single-ended cars had to do on a regular basis in Allentown. This must be near the end of service in 1951 as evidenced by the premature corrosion on the car (caused by electrolysis between the steel and aluminum plates it was built with).

Our recent post about the Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell Limited interurban (December 7) prompted us to dig around for some additional photos to share with you. In addition, we have some recent selections from the Trolley Dodger mailbag. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks, either as comments, or to:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

-David Sadowski

LVT 1002 on the Philadelphia & Western in 1940. The straight track heading behind us is the original main line that went to Strafford (and gave the Strafford cars their name). It was eventually eclipsed by the extension to Norristown and was abandoned in 1956.

LVT 1002 on the Philadelphia & Western in 1940. The straight track heading behind us is the original main line that went to Strafford (and gave the Strafford cars their name). It was eventually eclipsed by the extension to Norristown and was abandoned in 1956.

In a 1951 snow scene, LVT 702 meets a 1000-series car.

In a 1951 snow scene, LVT 702 meets a 1000-series car.

LVT 702 and 812 on November 12, 1939.

LVT 702 and 812 on November 12, 1939.

An LVT 1000-series lightweight high-speed car on the Philadelphia & Western in the 1940s. According to Jim Graebner, the siding is "a yard track of the Millbourne Mills shop area. The long straight stretch of double track leads to the first station stop at West Overbrook, which is just over the hill out of sight."

An LVT 1000-series lightweight high-speed car on the Philadelphia & Western in the 1940s. According to Jim Graebner, the siding is “a yard track of the Millbourne Mills shop area.
The long straight stretch of double track leads to the first station stop at West Overbrook, which is just over the hill out of sight.”

LVT's Souderton car barn in 1951.

LVT’s Souderton car barn in 1951.

LVT 702 at Rink Siding in Norristown in 1951.

LVT 702 at Rink Siding in Norristown in 1951.

LVT 1020 and 1002 on Washington Street on an April 1, 1951 fantrip.  If you look closely, you will see lots of fans with their cameras on both cars.

LVT 1020 and 1002 on Washington Street on an April 1, 1951 fantrip. If you look closely, you will see lots of fans with their cameras on both cars.

LVT 704 and 1020 taking their last trip on the way to the Bethlehem Steel scrap line, on New Street near 3rd Street in Bethlehem on January 8, 1952, four months after service ended on the Liberty Bell Limited interurban. Some cars had to be towed, but these at least were still able to move on their own.

LVT 704 and 1020 taking their last trip on the way to the Bethlehem Steel scrap line, on New Street near 3rd Street in Bethlehem on January 8, 1952, four months after service ended on the Liberty Bell Limited interurban. Some cars had to be towed, but these at least were still able to move on their own.

Prior to being put into service on the Liberty Bell Limited in September 1941, LVT 1030 made the rounds throughout the system.  Note the sign advertising this new club car.  This may be Easton, usually the territory of the Easton Limited, LVT's other interurban.  Notice the difference in the shape of the rear end (curved) vs. that of the ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie cars that LVT had (squared off).  That is because 1030 was originally Indiana Railroad car 55, and the IR lightweight high-speeds could be operated in multiple units and hence needed more clearance in back for turns.

Prior to being put into service on the Liberty Bell Limited in September 1941, LVT 1030 made the rounds throughout the system. Note the sign advertising this new club car. This may be Easton, usually the territory of the Easton Limited, LVT’s other interurban. Notice the difference in the shape of the rear end (curved) vs. that of the ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie cars that LVT had (squared off). That is because 1030 was originally Indiana Railroad car 55, and the IR lightweight high-speeds could be operated in multiple units and hence needed more clearance in back for turns.

Lehigh Valley Transit Co. Liberty Bell Route right-of-way at Acorn Siding one year after abandonment, looking north in 1952.

Lehigh Valley Transit Co. Liberty Bell Route right-of-way at Acorn Siding one year after abandonment, looking north in 1952.

The Lehigh Valley Transit Co. Aineyville Viaduct over the Reading Railroad East Penn Junction in Allentown, PA in 1951.

The Lehigh Valley Transit Co. Aineyville Viaduct over the Reading Railroad East Penn Junction in Allentown, PA in 1951.

LVT built the Eighth Street Bridge in Allentown, which charged tolls. This vintage postcard was mailed in 1919.

LVT built the Eighth Street Bridge in Allentown, which charged tolls. This vintage postcard was mailed in 1919.

An LVT local car (yes, the interurban had locals as well as expresses) in Norristown in 1934, on the ramp up to the Philadelphia & Western terminal.

An LVT local car (yes, the interurban had locals as well as expresses) in Norristown in 1934, on the ramp up to the Philadelphia & Western terminal.

A Liberty Bell Limited saucer.

A Liberty Bell Limited saucer.

The LVT crockware was made in Allentown. According to author Ron Ruddell, these were custom-fired in 1914 for use on car 999.

The LVT crockware was made in Allentown. According to author Ron Ruddell, these were custom-fired in 1914 for use on car 999.

This vintage liberty Bell Limited mustard pot recently sold on eBay for $429.99, although not to me (my finances don't cut the mustard for stuff like this).

This vintage liberty Bell Limited mustard pot recently sold on eBay for $429.99, although not to me (my finances don’t cut the mustard for stuff like this).

Jamestown (NY) Street Railway car 82, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1917, was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit in 1938 as part of their modernization program, where it was renumbered into the 400-series.

Jamestown (NY) Street Railway car 82, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1917, was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit in 1938 as part of their modernization program, where it was renumbered into the 400-series.

A vintage uniform patch.

A vintage uniform patch.

A P&W "Bullet" car side by side with the LVT at the 69th Street Terminal in 1948. The following year, Liberty Bell Limited service would be cut back to Norristown.

A P&W “Bullet” car side by side with the LVT at the 69th Street Terminal in 1948. The following year, Liberty Bell Limited service would be cut back to Norristown.

A rear view of two Lehigh Valley Transit ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie "Red Devils" shows how their squared-off ends were not designed for multiple-unit operation. By comparison, car 1030, adapted from Indiana Railroad car 55, had a rounded end and was designed for multiple unit operation. Presumably, this is the Fairview car barn in Allentown. Liberty Bell Limited interurban service ended in 1951.

A rear view of two Lehigh Valley Transit ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie “Red Devils” shows how their squared-off ends were not designed for multiple-unit operation. By comparison, car 1030, adapted from Indiana Railroad car 55, had a rounded end and was designed for multiple unit operation. Presumably, this is the Fairview car barn in Allentown. Liberty Bell Limited interurban service ended in 1951.

The final meet between two Liberty Bell Limited cars (1006 and 702), late in the night on September 6, 1951. The operators are F. Enters and C. Kistler. This was a press photo and appeared in newspapers. (Gerhard Solomon Photo)

The final meet between two Liberty Bell Limited cars (1006 and 702), late in the night on September 6, 1951. The operators are F. Enters and C. Kistler. This was a press photo and appeared in newspapers. (Gerhard Solomon Photo)

Recent Correspondence

Joey Morrow writes:

On this link there are 2 photos that show the northbound (outbound) platform directly north of Elm street east of the (North Shore Line) Winnetka Station which would have been on the modernized section of the Shore Line route. The only thing remaining are the cement blocks that supported the platform structure. The platform is long gone, but the cement supports are still fighting trees and other greenery from taking out the last known platform (that I know of) from America’s fastest interurban era. The strange thing is that this platform was abandoned in 1955.

Obviously it’s either gone (let’s hope not), or it’s so hidden you can’t see it. But it’s pretty clear that those photo’s are not old. I’m pretty sure that one of them is still there, or at least the foundation of the platform.

P.S. Thank you so very much for posting my email on your blog, you totally made my day!

The Shore Line was abandoned in 1955 since it was a lot slower than the Skokie Valley route and presumably had a lot fewer passengers. It also had a lot more direct competition. Of course, their eventual goal was to abandon everything, which did happen in 1963.

Around 1950, the CTA proposed turning over the Evanston/Wilmette service to the North Shore Line, in exchange for having all their trains terminate at Howard. I am sure some people at the CTA regarded the interurban operations on their tracks as an inconvenience that created various operating complications. With the CTA’s attempts to speed up service, at first by using A/B skip-stop service, then later high speed motors, they felt that reasonable times to downtown could still be achieved even if interurban passengers had to change trains at Howard (or Forest Park).

This did not work out so well for the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin in 1953-57 but that was mainly due to the very slow temporary trackage on Van Buren Street (2 1/2 miles). Who knows how things would have worked out if CA&E had survived after the new Congress rapid transit line had opened in June 1958?

Riley O’Connor writes (in reference to our recent post about the Ken Kidder O-scale model of CSL 7001):

Thanks for the reference to the CSL car. It sometimes seems that the best we can do is get “close enough” for colors. And, sometimes an educated guess is closer to reality than the rivet counters want to admit.

I follow a seller on eBay who operates out of Waukesha and he seems to be knowledgeable about the Kidder 0-Scale production. There appear to have been quite a number of these short production run cars in addition to your CSL car. I just haven’t had time to sit down and pick his brain about them. Kidder specialized in this sort of thing, and these cars appear to be at the direction of a buyer or two, with an additional unknown number of “spec” cars. No telling where he got the drawings of the different cars; perhaps Wagner.

From what I’ve seen, Kidder did, among other things, an Electroliner body (four cars, but no floor or mechanism) and a number of interurbans. Also at least one city car in 0-Scale.

By the way, I’ve read your blog on many occasions and I thank you for doing it. It’s very interesting.

One possible source for the 7001 blueprint would be Car Plans of the Chicago Surface Lines (1962), published by the Electric Railway Historical Society as their 38th bulletin. All 49 ERHS bulletins have been reissued by Central Electric Railfans’ Association on a DVD data disc in PDF form, and are available directly from them or their dealers.

I’ve seen Ken Kidder brass Birney cars for sale on eBay, both single and double truck. The double truck Birney would be the same type of car (Johnstown 311) featured on Railroad Record Club LP #23, Pennsylvania Trolleys, available on CD via our Online Store. This car still exists and was the first one acquired by the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Pennsylvania.

birney1

birney2

birney3

Kenneth Gear writes:

I started buying RRC LPs from Mr. Steventon back when I was in high school (Mid-1970s) My uncle had RRC 10 PRR and he loaned it to me and I enjoyed it very much. In spite of the fact that this record was almost fifteen years old, I wanted to find out if the other LPs (I knew there had to be at least nine others) were still available. I wrote a letter to the Railroad Record Club thinking that I’d never get a reply. Could the post office even deliver a letter addressed simply Hawkins, Wisconsin? A few weeks later I got a nice handwritten note from Mr. Steventon (I sure wish I had saved it) explaining that RCA had lost or destroyed his master discs that the LPs were made from. He was in the process of having new masters made using good copies of the 10″ LPs. He would then start selling the remastered records as 12″ discs.

I would end up buying eight LPs over the next couple of years, but for a while my interest faded. By the time I wanted to start buying more, it was all over.

Just one of the reasons I enjoy these records (CDs) so much.

Awhile ago I sent a few Railroad LPs to a company I found online. I spoke to the sound engineer on the phone before I sent any thing to them. He admitted that he had no idea what to do with locomotive sound recordings but he agreed to make simple transfers to CD without attempting any restoration or track dividing. The results were CDs that sounded exactly like playing the LPs. Your work is so much better that there is no comparing them.

So far, I haven’t been able to find anything to indicate that Steventon (1921-1993) had any children. His wife’s name was Mary (née Witt) (1921-2003) and they got married in Washington, D. C. in 1954, when they were in their early 30s.

She outlived him by ten years and it looks like someone else helped clean out their house after she died. His own personal collection of RRC LPs ended up getting sold one-by-one on eBay.

I would like to think that we are continuing to carry out Mr. Steventon’s life mission by making these fine recordings available once again in modern form as compact discs.

Dennis Kern writes:

I wrote you a while back asking if anyone might have photos/plans of interurban stations/depots specifically ones like the ones on Northern Indiana Power. This was the line that ran from Marion, Indiana to Frankfort, Indiana and more specifically like the depot in CERA book bulletin 102, 1958 on pg 55 of Michigantown – Bottom right. The depot in this photo is very like the one we are working on in Russiaville, Indiana. I know you indicated you might ask around however since I have not heard anything more I assume you did not find anything. You will recall we want to restore the Waiting room in the depot. We did find one photo of the Agents office which is attached for you.

!. Can you tell me your opinion of generally what a waiting room would be like. I am thinking a lot of depots had vertical siding about 3 feet up from the floor covering the lower portion of the plaster. This wood was like box car siding I think. Would appreciate any suggestions you might have because if we can not find anything specific we will just make it look like a generic depot interior.

2. Could you look at the photo – Questions; the two men in uniform – one is an agent. The uniforms are different i.e. one has a dark shirt – other has a white shirt also different hats – we have talked about trying to obtain some uniforms like these and putting some “dummies” in the depot agents office. Any idea where we might obtain uniforms like these. Also any idea on the route map on the wall above the desk, Also the telephone. Also would you say what I think is a window – to the left of door in the back – might be a ticket window – what do you think. Also any comments you might have about the other objects in the office.

Thanks for your time in looking at this.

interurban station

Let me ask the readers of my blog and also some of the railroad discussion groups I belong to. I apologize for not following through on your previous request. Chances are some of our readers will offer some excellent ideas.

Thanks.

Andre Kristopans writes:

I have a series of huge sheets from1939 that detail car equipments. Would have to scan in three sections to send, and right now scanner is acting up anyway. However, let me give you some interesting tidbits regarding the Odd 17 (actually 19) cars:

6138-6146, 3090 built 1918

11’8-3/16″ high

6138-6142 Brill 27GE1 trucks, 4’10” wheelbase, 4 GE 226-A 45hp motors weight 46700

6143-6145 MCGMCB A/Brill 27FE1 trucks, 6′ wheelbase, 4 GE 80-A 40hp motors, weight 51600

6146 Brill 39E trucks, 4’10” wheelbase, 2 GE 242-B 65hp motors, weight 40600

3090 Brill 39E-1 trucks, 4’10” wheelbase, 2 GE 242-B 65hp motors, weight 41100

6147-6154, 3091 built 1919

11’9-3/8″ high

6147-6153 Brill 27GE1 trucks, 4’10” wheelbase, 4 GE 226-A 45hp motors, weight 46100

6154 Brill 51-E2 trucks, 4’10” wheelbase, 4 GE 80-A 40hp motors, weight 51150

3091 Brill 39E-1 trucks, 4’10” wheelbase, 2 GE 242-B 65hp motors, weight 41800

27GE1 trucks with 226A motors (12) almost certainly came from 1429-1526 series cars, of which many were sold 1914-1916

MCB 10A trucks (the 6-foot wheelbase ones) with 80A motors would have come from 5001-5200 series, though trucks were apparently rebuilt by Brill as “27FE-1″ as MCB 10A trucks were only 4’10” wheelbase.
There were three cars burned 1916, 5169, 5194,5303.

39Ewith 242-B motors would have come from 5701?

39E1 with 242-B motors on 3090-3091 might have been new purchases as no other cars with 242-B motors were retired by 1918-19

Here is some more info on these 19 cars. Officially, 6138-6142 replaced 2520, 2526, 2584, 2597, 2621, 6147-6150 replaced 2515, 2546, 2565, 2585, 6151 replaced 2777, 6152 replaced 5239, 6153 replaced 5765, and 6154 replaced 2561. However, the reality is a bit different.

2500’s had 4 GE 67 40hp motors and 6′ wheelbase St Louis MCB trucks. Very different from 226-A’s and 27GE-1 trucks.

2777 had again 4 GE 67 40hp motors and Brill 51-E-2 trucks

5239 GE 80A 40hp motors and Brill 27FE trucks

Possibly 2777’s trucks ended up under 6154, with 5239’s motors?

6143-6146 do appear to have the equipments of 5169,5194,5303,5701 which they “replaced”. However, note that 1927 inventory shows 6143-6145 with GE 80 (not 80-A) motors. This might be an error, though.

It would appear that 6138-6142 and 6147-6153 did not have the equipments from the cars they “replaced” at all, but instead had trucks and motors from entirely different cars, the 1409-1505 series Bowling Alleys. One wonders if the 2500’s trucks went with the 1400’s bodies when they were sold off?

In addition 3090-3091 “replaced” 1405 and 1360, Matchboxes. Again, no equipment match. St Louis 47A trucks with GE 80A 40hp motors vs Brill 39E-1 trucks and 242-B motors. In 1927, though, 3090 is shown with GE 80A motors, which were apparently from the Matchbox, but by 1939 has 242-B’s.

Here is an interesting tabulation. One-man conversions over the years.

1994-1999 to convertibles (can be operated one or two man) 1936
2841,2842,2845 to one-man 1926-27
5703-5722 to convertibles 1933
5723-5731 to convertibles 1935
6000-6019 to one-man 1945, back to 2-man 1946
6061-6065 to convertibles 1936
1721-1726,1728-1737,1739-1753,1755-1762,1764-1769,1771-1785, 6155-6158 to one-man 1949-50
3119-3129,3131-3132,3134-3149,3151,3153,3154,3156-3158,3160, 6159-6186 to one-man 1949-50
3161-3169,3171-3175,3177,3178,6187-6196,6198 to one-man 1949-50
3179 to convertible 1935
3200-3201 to convertibles 1936
3202-3231,6199-6218,3232-3261,6219-6238 to one-man 1932
3204-3206,3210-3216,3220,3222-3224,3227,3229,3244,6219-6221,6223-6227,6229,6235 return to 2-man 1948, back again to 1-man 1949
3262-3281,6240-6252 to one-man 1932
3262,3264,3265,3267-3270,3275,3276,3278,3279,6241-6252 return to 2-man 1948, back again to 1-man 1949
3282-3301,6253-6265 to one-man 1932
6253,6255,6257,6258,6261,6264,6265 return to 2-man 1948, back again to 1-man 1949
3302-3321,6266-6279 to one-man 1932
3319,3321 return to 2-man 1948, back again to 1-man 1949
3325,3347-3349,3351,3352,3354,3355,3357,3360,3361-3363,3368,3372,3378,3379,6303,6305,6310,6319 to one-man 1952, never operated as such
4002-4051,7002-7034 to one-man 1952
4052-4061 to one-man 1952, 4059-4061 back to 2-man 1954, then all 4052-4061 to convertibles 1955
7035-7044 to one-man 1952, back to 2-man 1954, to convertibles 1955
7049,7052,7053,7057,7058,7060,7062,7064,7066,7067,7070-7074 to one-man 1952, but back to 2-man same year
7235-7249,7251,7253-7259 to convertibles 1955

Thanks!!

Ron Ruddell writes:

The China shown on your blog embossed with the Liberty Bell was not used in any depot restaurant. It was custom-fired in 1914 for Liberty Bell Car 999. Please see my book “Riding on the Bell” – page 78 for further information. I have a pickle dish of the same pattern.

Thanks for the correction.

Nice to hear from you again. Congratulations on the successful completion of your excellent and very definitive work on the Liberty Bell interurban.


In the News

Upcoming Exhibition at Grohmann Museum in Milwaukee

Jan. 22 – April 24, 2016
Art of the North Shore Line

With its rapid expansion in the 1920s, the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad set the standard for electric interurban transit in America; no railway could compare to the North Shore Line. The North Shore Line also established itself as a leader in marketing with a highly successful print ad and poster campaign featuring the work of designers Willard Frederic Elmes, Oscar Rabe Hanson and Ervine Metzl, among others. Assembled from the collection of the Milwaukee Public Library and a number of private collections, this exhibition features many of these memorable posters along with photographs, prints and ephemera from the height of the North Shore Line’s success. Curated by photographer John Gruber and J.J. Sedelmaier, world-renowned artist, designer and animator of Saturday Night Live’s TV Funhouse.

Gallery Night and Day
Friday, Jan. 22, 5 to 9 p.m. – Free admission
(Presentation by John Gruber and J.J. Sedelmaier, guest curators, at 7 p.m.)
Saturday, Jan. 23, Noon to 6 p.m. – Free admission

Grohmann Museum
1000 N. Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 277-2300
grohmannmuseum@msoe.edu


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Ringing “The Bell”

LVT interurbans 1006 and 702 at Perkasie on February 11, 1951. 702 was in fantrip service.

LVT interurbans 1006 and 702 at Perkasie on February 11, 1951. 702 was in fantrip service.

Lehigh Valley Transit

Today, we review a new book about the Liberty Bell Limited, a classic Pennsylvania interurban line that carried passengers between Philadelphia and Allentown until abandonment in the early hours of September 7, 1951. President George H. W. Bush once mistakenly referred to September 7th as Pearl Harbor Day, but to Keystone Traction enthusiasts, it will always be a day that will live in infamy.

Along with our book review, we offer a generous selection of classic Lehigh Valley Transit photos from our own collections– mostly from the Liberty Bell route, but with a few from the Easton Limited, LVT’s “other” interurban, and even a city car to boot.

P1060347

Riding the Bell: Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell Route by Ron Ruddell
Bulletin 147 of Central Electric Railfans’ Association

There have been many books written about the famed Liberty Bell Limited over the years, including some excellent ones, but Riding the Bell, available now from Central Electric Railfans’ Association* and their dealers, is sure to stand the test of the time as the best and most comprehensive of the lot.

This is not the first time that the “Bell Route” has been covered in a CERA publication, of course. A roster appeared during World War II, and a 1000-series lightweight graced the cover of Trolley Sparks, the organization’s newsletter, when the line was still running.

The late author Ronald DeGraw included much information about LVT in his excellent book Pig & Whistle: The Story of the Philadelphia & Western Railway, published by CERA in 2007 as their 140th bulletin. However, that coverage only pertained to LVT’s use of the P&W line to Norristown, which became the Bell’s main route to Philadelphia in the early 1900s.

Author Ron Ruddell headed up a group of Pennsylvania traction historians, who labored for ten years to create a book equal to their subject. I am glad to say they have succeeded in spades. A tremendous amount of information has been put into Riding the Bell‘s 224 pages, and it would be hard to put anything else into it without needing to take out something just as important.

The 1950s were the twilight years of Keystone Traction, at least outside of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The LVT Liberty Bell Limited was, in some ways, the last great interurban in the eastern United States. It has been gone for 64 years now, meaning you would have to be a few years older than that to have ridden it, even as a youth.

Many Chicago-area railfans made a pilgrimage to ride it, but not all were so lucky. Ray DeGroote, still going strong at 85, did not get there until a few weeks after the interurban quit in 1951. He was able to ride and document the still-extensive LVT city streetcar system, and he saw the interurban cars in dead storage, but could not ride them. It was “one that got away.”

The Bell line is fondly remembered and riding it must have been, in some ways, like riding the world’s largest roller coaster. The area between Allentown and Philadelphia is not flat, with grades that certainly put a strain on LVT’s traction motors. It also included quite a lot of variety, with burst of high speeds, followed by numerous stops in many small towns. Several of the station buildings in these towns still exist.

Luckily for us, Lehigh Valley Transit must be about the most well-documented operation ever, perhaps even more so than the Pacific Electric or the three great Chicago-area interurbans. When it comes to photographs, there is literally an embarrassment of riches, and as a result, the book is full of fine photos, some in color. An attempt has been made not to duplicate ones that were already featured in previous LVT books.

As a subject, LVT operations covered so much ground that this book does not even attempt to document their extensive city lines or the Easton Limited, LVT’s shorter interurban. Those are wisely left to future authors and future books.

Faced with a need to either modernize or abandon rail service in 1938, LVT took the daring step of updating the Liberty Bell fleet. This task was made even more daunting due to a very constrained budget, which meant buying new PCCs or other such equipment was out of the question.

Fortunately, some relatively new (circa 1930) lightweight high-speed interurban cars were available at a relatively low cost, as the Cincinnati & Lake Erie had just been abandoned. 13 cars were purchased for the Bell, along with four Cincinnati curved-side cars for the Easton Limited, and LVT attractively modernized them.

The new cars were a hit with the public, and ridership increased. The facelift was never intended to be permanent, but was hoped to buy the interurban another five years of usefulness before the inevitable switch to bus. It ended up lasting for 12, a testament to the build quality and durability of these cars.

There were many unfortunate problems along the way. The ex-C&LE lightweights could not be coupled together. More passengers meant running additional trains in second and third sections. Inevitably, this led to a horrific accident in 1942, which was not the only such collision.

After one of the C&LE cars was destroyed in a fire, LVT purchased one additional lightweight car, which had been built for the Indiana Railroad. This was rebuilt into club car 1030, which became the standout of the fleet and one of the few Liberty Bell cars that has been preserved.

Wartime rationing of gasoline and tires also increased ridership. The wear and tear of all that hill climbing really did a number on those traction motors. Schedules had to be adjusted in the interest of safety, and running times between Allentown and Philadelphia increased.

What really would have helped LVT would have been some more of those ex-Indiana Railroad cars, which were very similar to the C&LE “Red Devils” but could be coupled together in as many as three cars at a time. More than two dozen of these cars were available circa 1940-41 but ended up being unsold and were scrapped just prior to the outbreak of World War II. They would have been quite useful to LVT.

Only two such Indiana Railroad lightweights were saved– car 55, which became LVT 1030, and car 65, which was sold to CRANDIC (Cedar Rapids and Iowa City) and eventually made its way to the Illinois Railway Museum, its first acquisition. Oddly enough, they were made by two different builders.

The end of the war in 1945 meant a steep drop-off in interurban ridership. By then, the handwriting was really on the wall for the Bell line, but the end did not come for another few years yet.

There was a piecemeal abandonment. For a variety of reasons, well covered in this book and in Pig & Whistle, service was cut back to Norristown. The Liberty Bell Limited never had a direct route to center city Philadelphia throughout its history.

Consideration was given to cutting service back to Lansdale, where the Bell could connect to Reading (now SEPTA) suburban commuter trains to Philadelphia, but this would have necessitated building a turnaround loop for the single-end cars. Since the Bell’s days were numbered anyway, LVT decided to simply let service continue as far as Norristown and the P&W.

By 1951, LVT had really let maintenance slide, to the point where, in September, only a few of the lightweight interurban cars were still operable. As soon as they could get approval for abandonment, the end was swift. Fortunately, the fans caught wind of it and the railroad allowed them to ride one last time. The rails began to come up the very next morning.

In some ways, this abandonment has some parallels in what happened a few years later to the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin. They decided not to continue running trains to Chicago’s downtown over the CTA Garfield Park “L” temporary trackage in 1953, due to expressway construction. In CA&E’s case, however, they kept up the equipment right to the end, as did the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee, which quit in 1963.

When CA&E got a local judge to allow their “temporary” abandonment of passenger service on July 3, 1957, they ceased operations immediately, stranding thousands of riders who had to scramble for a way home.

In LVT’s case, they offered a replacement bus service. Unfortunately, while the interurban could run in a straight line between towns, the bus had to follow a more convoluted path at right angles. As more and more highways were built in Pennsylvania, even the bus ridership evaporated, and the interurban bus quit without any fanfare in 1956.

While electric rail transit is undergoing a renaissance in many places around the world today, the chance that anything like a Liberty Bell service might return to the Lehigh Valley is very slim indeed. The cost would simply be too great, compared to the number of potential passengers.

But until it does, the spirit of this historic interurban is conjured up very well  in this great new volume by Ron Ruddell. Hats off to him, and to the team that worked so long and hard to make this book possible. I would also like to single out John Nicholson, who acted as project coordinator for CERA in bringing this very worthy book over the finish line. Publishing any book like this is a very complicated effort.

The layout, by the veteran team of Jack and Ad Sowchin, is handsome and attractive. CERA merits a lot of credit as well for publishing this wonderful addition to the historical record.

Even if you do not live in Pennsylvania, the book may interest you. The Bell was one of the classic interurbans and, in one way or another, it had many connections to the Midwest.

It is highly recommended, and I urge you to purchase a copy if you have not done so already. Only limited quantities of such books are made, and once they run out, the prospect of them being reprinted is unlikely for a variety of reasons.

Many previous CERA books have become collector’s items and cost more to buy used than they did when new. I will not be surprised when this book sells out and if you don’t purchase your copy today, you may have difficulty picking one up in the future.

In addition to this book, there are also some excellent Liberty Bell videos on the market, and those will really give you an idea of what the line was all about, after you have whetted your appetite by feasting on Riding the Bell.

-David Sadowski

PS- You can also experience some of the twilight of Keystone Traction via one of our recently released audio CDs, featuring 1950s-era Hi-Fi recordings of Johnstown Traction, Altoona & Logan Valley, and Scranton Transit, available from our Online Store.  Just look for the Railroad Record Club disc with LPs 23 and 30 on it.

*Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.


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LVT 812 at 69th Street terminal in Upper Darby on August 12, 1934. Most people refer to this as Philadelphia, but it is just outside the city limits. Don's Rail Photos says, "812 was built by St Louis Car in 1901 as 159. It was rebuilt as 999 in 1914 and rebuilt as 812 in 1921. It was scrapped in November 1951."

LVT 812 at 69th Street terminal in Upper Darby on August 12, 1934. Most people refer to this as Philadelphia, but it is just outside the city limits. Don’s Rail Photos says, “812 was built by St Louis Car in 1901 as 159. It was rebuilt as 999 in 1914 and rebuilt as 812 in 1921. It was scrapped in November 1951.”

LVT 808 in Allentown on April 22, 1934. Don's Rail Photos: "808 was built by Jewett Car in 1913. It was rebuilt as C15 in 1935." The C-series cars were used for interurban freight.

LVT 808 in Allentown on April 22, 1934. Don’s Rail Photos: “808 was built by Jewett Car in 1913. It was rebuilt as C15 in 1935.” The C-series cars were used for interurban freight.

LVT 805 at 69th Street terminal in Upper Darby. This car was built by Jewett circa 1912-13. Apparently this car has been preserved and is privately owned but not operable.

LVT 805 at 69th Street terminal in Upper Darby. This car was built by Jewett circa 1912-13. Apparently this car has been preserved and is privately owned but not operable.

LVT 812 in the Easton town circle on June 30, 1947, making a rare appearance on LVT's "other" interurban, the Easton Limited by way of a fantrip. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 812 in the Easton town circle on June 30, 1947, making a rare appearance on LVT’s “other” interurban, the Easton Limited by way of a fantrip. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 812 on Broad Street in Bethlehem on June 30, 1947. The occasion was a fantrip. Many fans considered it a real shame that the 812 was not saved. Other than the 1030, it was the "jewel of the fleet." (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 812 on Broad Street in Bethlehem on June 30, 1947. The occasion was a fantrip. Many fans considered it a real shame that the 812 was not saved. Other than the 1030, it was the “jewel of the fleet.” (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 1007 at Perkasie on November 12, 1939.

LVT 1007 at Perkasie on November 12, 1939.

LVT 1020 at 69th Street terminal in 1939, shortly after being modernized. Don's Rail Photos: "1020 was built by Cincinnati Car in April 1930, #3055, as C&LE 113. It was renumbered 413 in 1932 and sold to LVT as 1020 in 1938. It was scrapped in 1951."

LVT 1020 at 69th Street terminal in 1939, shortly after being modernized. Don’s Rail Photos: “1020 was built by Cincinnati Car in April 1930, #3055, as C&LE 113. It was renumbered 413 in 1932 and sold to LVT as 1020 in 1938. It was scrapped in 1951.”

Another view of 1020 taken at the same time as the previous photo. Jim Boylan adds, "Location is the wye where the Victory Ave. bus garage is now, across the tracks from the P&W's 72nd St. Shops."

Another view of 1020 taken at the same time as the previous photo. Jim Boylan adds, “Location is the wye where the Victory Ave. bus garage is now, across the tracks from the P&W’s 72nd St. Shops.”

LVT 702, 704, and 710 are southbound on a fantrip at West Point on April 15, 1951. This was the first and only time a matched set of three 700-series cars were operated as a multiple unit. Shortly after this, the 710, looking pretty shabby here, was scrapped.

LVT 702, 704, and 710 are southbound on a fantrip at West Point on April 15, 1951. This was the first and only time a matched set of three 700-series cars were operated as a multiple unit. Shortly after this, the 710, looking pretty shabby here, was scrapped.

LVT 702 at Locust Siding on February 11, 1951.

LVT 702 at Locust Siding on February 11, 1951.

LVT 1009 at Hatfield on May 9,1951. (William D. Slade Photo)

LVT 1009 at Hatfield on May 9,1951. (William D. Slade Photo)

From this scene, it would appear that a Liberty Bell Limited lightweight is backing up to the LVT downtown terminal in Allentown. Meanwhile, LVT city streetcar 900 passes by. Don's Rail Photos says, "900 was built by Brill Car Co in February 1917, (order) #20206. It was (later) rebuilt." Looks like an LVT employee is crossing the street.

From this scene, it would appear that a Liberty Bell Limited lightweight is backing up to the LVT downtown terminal in Allentown. Meanwhile, LVT city streetcar 900 passes by. Don’s Rail Photos says, “900 was built by Brill Car Co in February 1917, (order) #20206. It was (later) rebuilt.” Looks like an LVT employee is crossing the street.

An LVT 1100-series lightweight interurban, still looking shiny, in the Easton town square circa 1939. These Cincinnati curved-side cars were built in 1929 for the Dayton & Troy. They were repossessed in 1932 and remained at the Cincinnati Car Company plant until sold to LVT in 1938. After the Easton Limited was bussed in 1949, two of the four cars were sold to Speedrail in Milwaukee, where one operated briefly as car 66. Unfortunately all four cars were scrapped.

An LVT 1100-series lightweight interurban, still looking shiny, in the Easton town square circa 1939. These Cincinnati curved-side cars were built in 1929 for the Dayton & Troy. They were repossessed in 1932 and remained at the Cincinnati Car Company plant until sold to LVT in 1938. After the Easton Limited was bussed in 1949, two of the four cars were sold to Speedrail in Milwaukee, where one operated briefly as car 66. Unfortunately all four cars were scrapped.

LVT 812 heading towards Allentown on the Liberty Bell Limited.

LVT 812 heading towards Allentown on the Liberty Bell Limited.

An LVT 1000-series car delivers newspapers (probably dailies from Philadelphia) in Allentown.

An LVT 1000-series car delivers newspapers (probably dailies from Philadelphia) in Allentown.

LVT 1030, the so-called "Golden Calf" of the fleet, on a National Railway Historical Society fantrip on September 28, 1941. This club car was just being introduced into regular service at this time, and had been extensively rebuilt from Indiana Railroad car 55. Don's Rail Photos: "1030 was built by American Car & Foundry in 1931, #1203, as Indiana RR 55. It was rebuilt in 1934 (as a club car) and rebuilt as C&LE 1030 in 1941. It was acquired by Seashore Trolley Museum in 1951."

LVT 1030, the so-called “Golden Calf” of the fleet, on a National Railway Historical Society fantrip on September 28, 1941. This club car was just being introduced into regular service at this time, and had been extensively rebuilt from Indiana Railroad car 55. Don’s Rail Photos: “1030 was built by American Car & Foundry in 1931, #1203, as Indiana RR 55. It was rebuilt in 1934 (as a club car) and rebuilt as C&LE 1030 in 1941. It was acquired by Seashore Trolley Museum in 1951.”

LVT 1103 on the Easton Limited interurban. From the looks of the cars, this picture probably dates to around 1939. (Larry Gaillard Photo)

LVT 1103 on the Easton Limited interurban. From the looks of the cars, this picture probably dates to around 1939. (Larry Gaillard Photo)

LVT 1007 making a fantrip photo stop on the Liberty Bell Limited. A fan with a box camera is jumping off.

LVT 1007 making a fantrip photo stop on the Liberty Bell Limited. A fan with a box camera is jumping off.

CRANDIC 111, shown here on June 10, 1953, was another ex-Cinicinnati & Lake Erie lightweight interurban car. While all the ones that went to LVT were scrapped, some of the ones that went to CRANDIC were saved. Don's Rail Photos:"111 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1930, #3055, as C&LE 111. It was sold to Crandic in 1939 and kept the same number. In 1954 it was sold to an individual and stored at Emporia, KS, until 1973. It was then donated to the Bay Area Electric Railway Association at Rio Vista, CA. It has been restored as Crandic 111."

CRANDIC 111, shown here on June 10, 1953, was another ex-Cinicinnati & Lake Erie lightweight interurban car. While all the ones that went to LVT were scrapped, some of the ones that went to CRANDIC were saved. Don’s Rail Photos:”111 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1930, #3055, as C&LE 111. It was sold to Crandic in 1939 and kept the same number. In 1954 it was sold to an individual and stored at Emporia, KS, until 1973. It was then donated to the Bay Area Electric Railway Association at Rio Vista, CA. It has been restored as Crandic 111.”

One other Indiana Railroad high-speed car had a second life, in addition to 55. Car 65 became Cedar Rapids and Iowa City 120, shown here on June 10, 1953. From Don's Rail Photos: "120 was built by Pullman in 1931, #6399, as Indiana Railroad 65. It was sold to the Crandic as 120 in 1941. In 1954 it was purchased as the first car of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum and restored as IRR 65." The last official run of a CRANDIC passenger train occurred on May 30, 1953.

One other Indiana Railroad high-speed car had a second life, in addition to 55. Car 65 became Cedar Rapids and Iowa City 120, shown here on June 10, 1953. From Don’s Rail Photos: “120 was built by Pullman in 1931, #6399, as Indiana Railroad 65. It was sold to the Crandic as 120 in 1941. In 1954 it was purchased as the first car of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum and restored as IRR 65.” The last official run of a CRANDIC passenger train occurred on May 30, 1953.

LVT 1001, 701, 1008 and 702 at Fairview car barn in Allentown on January 6, 1952, shortly before being scrapped.

LVT 1001, 701, 1008 and 702 at Fairview car barn in Allentown on January 6, 1952, shortly before being scrapped.

LVT 1006 in the scrap line at Bethlehem Steel on January 23, 1952.

LVT 1006 in the scrap line at Bethlehem Steel on January 23, 1952.

LVT 1030 loaded on a flat car at Riverside Yard on January 30, 1952, headed to Boston, and, eventually, the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine, where it remains today in operable condition.

LVT 1030 loaded on a flat car at Riverside Yard on January 30, 1952, headed to Boston, and, eventually, the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine, where it remains today in operable condition.

Machine-generated Liberty Bell Limited tickets.

Machine-generated Liberty Bell Limited tickets.

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.

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.