A Tribute to John F. Bromley

The Bromley holiday card from 2017.

The Bromley holiday card from 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays!

-David Sadowski

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for sharing your excellent insights.

This picture of CTA one-man car 3236, taken on January 14, 1950 shows it crossing Maplewood Avenue on what is obviously an east-west trolley line. John F. Bromley, who sold me this negative, was unsure of the location. Jeff Wien writes, "I would guess that it is at 71st & Maplewood. Bill Hoffman lived all of his life at 6664 S. Maplewood which was a half mile north. Maplewood is a block or two west of Western. Route 67 covered 67th, 69th and 71st as far west as California (2800). Maplewood is around 2600 West. Check out the streets to see if I am correct. The one man cars were used on route 67." Looks like Jeff is correct, as further research shows that the house at left is still standing at 7053 S. Maplewood.

This picture of CTA one-man car 3236, taken on January 14, 1950 shows it crossing Maplewood Avenue on what is obviously an east-west trolley line. John F. Bromley, who sold me this negative, was unsure of the location. Jeff Wien writes, “I would guess that it is at 71st & Maplewood. Bill Hoffman lived all of his life at 6664 S. Maplewood which was a half mile north. Maplewood is a block or two west of Western. Route 67 covered 67th, 69th and 71st as far west as California (2800). Maplewood is around 2600 West. Check out the streets to see if I am correct. The one man cars were used on route 67.” Looks like Jeff is correct, as further research shows that the house at left is still standing at 7053 S. Maplewood.

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

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

Cheers
John

Recent Correspondence

Larry Sakar writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Larry continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More from Larry:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brookdale Dr. xing in 2016 by Chris Barney

Brookdale Dr. xing in 2016 by Chris Barney

Showing culvert bridge in 1949 photo

Showing culvert bridge in 1949 photo

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

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

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

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

Charles Kronenwetter comments:

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

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

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

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

From the Collections of William Shapotkin:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Finds

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Correspondence

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

Graham Titley writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers

Graham (in UK).

Perhaps our readers may have some ideas, thanks.

Holiday Greetings

From Bill Volkmer:

From Eric Bronsky:

Eric writes:

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

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

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

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

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

-David Sadowski

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

Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14
[/caption]


Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 3Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 2Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 1Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 2Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 1Tape 2 Mundeline pic 3Tape 2 Mundeline pic 2Tape 2 Mundeline pic 1Tape 1 ElectrolinerTape 1 Electroliner pic 3Tape 1 Electroliner pic 2Notes from tape 4Note from tape 2

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


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

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

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



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

There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.

While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!

Bibliographic information:
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960
Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo) Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

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The Fairmount Park Trolley

The Fairmount Park trolley, just prior to abandonment in 1946.

The Fairmount Park trolley, just prior to abandonment in 1946.

Many years ago, old-time railfans would compile “dossiers” or scrapbooks about their favorite lines. Eventually, some of these dossiers were used to help write books about those same properties.

Over the last three years or so, I have been collecting information about the Fairmount Park trolley operation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Today’s post is my “dossier” for your enjoyment. Hopefully, it will give you some of the flavor of what it must have been like to ride that long-gone scenic trolley.

There are today, of course, other scenic trolleys with open cars in service, but these are latter-day recreations such as in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Photos of the Fairmount Park trolley are scarce, so it took quite some time to find this many. Pictures in color are even scarcer, as few people were using color film as early as 1946.

There are some books about this line that do not have as many pictures as we have in this post. Most of the images you see here are taken from the original medium-format negatives.

Some of those dark spots that you see in the sky in some of the pictures are actually birds flying around in the park.

Even finding a decent map of the line was not easy. I purchased one of the “broadsides” used for the 1946 auction, and this fortunately had a nice map in it. Apparently the electric cars were used one last time to give prospective bidders a tour of the line, just days before the end of the half-century long franchise agreement.

Reports indicate that many people refused to get off the cars at the end of the line, having enjoyed it so much they went for multiple rides. This created problems on busy days.

Dr. Harold E. Cox, in his 1970 book The Fairmount Park Trolley: A Unique Philadelphia Experiment, told the fascinating story of this self-contained trolley operation that ran in a very large public park for nearly 50 years, from November 1896 until September 1946. He called it an experiment, because a park trolley line was quite unusual. There was one other example that ran in Europe, but for a much shorter period of time.

The Fairmount Park Transportation Company used the same rolling stock, originally built by Brill in 1896-97, for the entire life of the 8-mile long trolley. This was also quite unusual. Nothing seems to have been updated or replaced with anything newer.

J. G. Brill was an obvious choice for a builder as they were located in Philadelphia, and were at that time the industry leader.

By 1946, Fairmount Park was a virtual rolling museum of vintage equipment. The trolley operated year-round, on a reduced schedule during the winter of course. Open cars were used in the summer and closed cars in the winter.

The line mainly ran on the west side of the park, on a long one-way single track loop entirely on private right-of-way. There was a Junction station if you wanted to take a short cut and not have to ride all the way around the loop.

There were some double-tracked sections too, which you can see on the map below.

The east and west halves of the park were connected by a long bridge, built by the trolley company. It was renovated in the 1990s and is still in use today.

The FPTC built Woodside Amusement Park in 1897 and this provided another reason to use the park trolley. Woodside actually outlasted the trolley and closed in 1955.

Through the years, one of the closed cars was converted to a rather bizarre-looking line car. Various models have been made of this car. It sticks in your mind, just as it does the first time you see Frankenstein’s monster cobbled together from parts of various cadavers.

After World War II, the park trolley was badly in need to new equipment and new track, but it had operated at a loss for many years, and there were no funds available. The Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society drafted a proposal to save the line, suggesting that if fares were increased, additional monies could be used for renovations. Unfortunately, this came to naught, and the trolley was allowed to abandon service as of September 1946, about two months before the end of its 50-year franchise.

The trolley assets were sold at auction in November 1946, an event advertised using a large “broadside” printed brochure. All the cars were scrapped, and the rails, ties, wire, and line poles removed.

Eventually, it became difficult to tell just where the trolley had run through the park. In recent years, efforts have been made to turn the old trolley right-of-way into a trail. You can read about the Trolley Trail Demonstration Project here.

Some remnants of the trolley persist-  read about that here.

In spite of the winters in the northeast, there were a few streetcar lines that used open cars in warm weather for longer than practically anywhere else. Open cars were used in service to shuttle people to the Yale Bowl in Connecticut as late as 1948.

We are also featuring a few additional pictures from the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway, which ran open cars on the Jersey shore until 1945. We thank our resident New Jersey expert Kenneth Gear for helping research this obscure trolley line.

In addition, there is some interesting correspondence with Andre Kristopans and more great restored Chicago Aurora & Elgin pictures, courtesy of Jack Bejna.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

PS- The word “broadside,” meaning a large advertisement such as this, took on an additional meaning during the folk song revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s. It brings to mind Broadside magazine, which began publishing in 1962 and continued through the 1970s.

Some of the images in today’s post were taken by the Reverend W. Lupher Hay (1905-1984), who lived in Canton, Ohio. According to author George W. Hilton, W. Lupher Hay purchased an interurban car from the Toledo, Port Clinton and Lakeside in 1934 for use as a summer home; he sold it in 1941.* Interestingly, his wife Fay (nee Siebert) (1910-2010), who survived him, passed away one day short of her 100th birthday.

*From The Toledo, Port Clinton and Lakeside Railway, Bulletin 42 of the Electric Railway Historical Society (1964), page 32.

Our next post will be our 200th, and we have been saving up some great Chicago images for that. Watch this space.

Car 8.

Car 8.

Trailer 55 in the mid-1940s.

Trailer 55 in the mid-1940s.

Car 15.

Car 15.

Car 8. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Car 8. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Car 14.

Car 14.

Car 7.

Car 7.

Car 31 near a tunnel.

Car 31 near a tunnel.

Car 54, a 14-bench open car and two other cars in the same series at the Belmont Avenue car house in July 1934. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 54, a 14-bench open car and two other cars in the same series at the Belmont Avenue car house in July 1934. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 4 leaving the sation, moving away from the photographer in January 1935. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 4 leaving the sation, moving away from the photographer in January 1935. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 1 on October 13, 1935.

Car 1 on October 13, 1935.

Car 8, signed for Dauphin Street, is at 44th and Parkside on October 13, 1935.

Car 8, signed for Dauphin Street, is at 44th and Parkside on October 13, 1935.

Very much the same as the previous shot, same car and location (44th and Parkside) but two weeks later on October 27, 1935. (William Lichtenstern Photo)

Very much the same as the previous shot, same car and location (44th and Parkside) but two weeks later on October 27, 1935. (William Lichtenstern Photo)

The Strawberry Mansion Bridge, which connects the east and west sides of the park.

The Strawberry Mansion Bridge, which connects the east and west sides of the park.

Closed car 5, which was built by Brill in 1896 along with the rest of the fleet.

Closed car 5, which was built by Brill in 1896 along with the rest of the fleet.

Parkside station.

Parkside station.

A stock certificate.

A stock certificate.

A paper transfer.

A paper transfer.

A stock certificate.

A stock certificate.

A 1910 postcard, quite "colorized."

A 1910 postcard, quite “colorized.”

Car 18 at the Junction station. The date is given as December 12, 1935, but the time of the year seems unlikely from the way people are dressed, and the looks of the trees. If the date was 2035, this could possibly be the correct attire, but as of 1935, there hadn't been enough global warming just yet.

Car 18 at the Junction station. The date is given as December 12, 1935, but the time of the year seems unlikely from the way people are dressed, and the looks of the trees. If the date was 2035, this could possibly be the correct attire, but as of 1935, there hadn’t been enough global warming just yet.

Car 3 on January 23, 1937. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 3 on January 23, 1937. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Composite line or utility car 200 was made from closed passenger car 9. Here we see it at the Belmont Avenue car house on June 26, 1936. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Composite line or utility car 200 was made from closed passenger car 9. Here we see it at the Belmont Avenue car house on June 26, 1936. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 16 on April 19, 1937.

Car 16 on April 19, 1937.

Line car 200 on October 16, 1938.

Line car 200 on October 16, 1938.

Car 30 at the car house on September 17, 1939.

Car 30 at the car house on September 17, 1939.

Car 11 in 1939. (Duane Bearse Photo)

Car 11 in 1939. (Duane Bearse Photo)

Car 14 at the terminal near the Philadelphia Transportation Company terminal in 1940. They did not share any tracks.

Car 14 at the terminal near the Philadelphia Transportation Company terminal in 1940. They did not share any tracks.

You can tell this picture was taken at the same time and place as the last one in 1940. That's the same girl in both pictures.

You can tell this picture was taken at the same time and place as the last one in 1940. That’s the same girl in both pictures.

An open car at 44th Street in 1941.

An open car at 44th Street in 1941.

Car 18 in May 1941.

Car 18 in May 1941.

Car 32 "at speed" in May 1941.

Car 32 “at speed” in May 1941.

May 1941.

May 1941.

The interior of an open car in May 1941. This charming photo also appeared in Harold Cox's book, but here we see it scanned from the original negative.

The interior of an open car in May 1941. This charming photo also appeared in Harold Cox’s book, but here we see it scanned from the original negative.

Two open cars in May 1941.

Two open cars in May 1941.

Two open cars in May 1941.

Two open cars in May 1941.

#31 in May 1941, as seen from another car.

#31 in May 1941, as seen from another car.

#46 in May 1941.

#46 in May 1941.

#23, as seen from a passing car in May 1941.

#23, as seen from a passing car in May 1941.

#18 in May 1941.

#18 in May 1941.

#25 in May 1941.

#25 in May 1941.

#25 in May 1941.

#25 in May 1941.

#19 in May 1941.

#19 in May 1941.

#28 in May 1941.

#28 in May 1941.

#46 in May 1941.

#46 in May 1941.

Car #21 in May 1941.

Car #21 in May 1941.

#18 at the car house in September 1941.

#18 at the car house in September 1941.

Car 10, shown here at Woodside in September 1941, is signed for the Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, so perhaps this is a fantrip. Trailer #50 is at the rear out of view.

Car 10, shown here at Woodside in September 1941, is signed for the Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, so perhaps this is a fantrip. Trailer #50 is at the rear out of view.

#49, a trailer, seen here as the rear car of a two-car train at the Park Junction station in 1942.

#49, a trailer, seen here as the rear car of a two-car train at the Park Junction station in 1942.

#26 in the car house in 1944.

#26 in the car house in 1944.

Car 18 at the station in June 1945. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Car 18 at the station in June 1945. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Cars 19 and 36 on the Strawberry Mansion Bridge over the Schuykill River near Woodford Station on July 9, 1944. The bridge, built in 1896-97 for the trolley company, is still in use, but the section used by the streetcars has only recently been repurposed with a "pedestrian promenade."

Cars 19 and 36 on the Strawberry Mansion Bridge over the Schuykill River near Woodford Station on July 9, 1944. The bridge, built in 1896-97 for the trolley company, is still in use, but the section used by the streetcars has only recently been repurposed with a “pedestrian promenade.”

#7 inside the car house in June 1946.

#7 inside the car house in June 1946.

Car 25 at the Junction station on April 13, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 25 at the Junction station on April 13, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 11 at the 44th and Parkside terminal on April 14, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 11 at the 44th and Parkside terminal on April 14, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 3 on April 13, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 3 on April 13, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 20 on April 14, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 20 on April 14, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 5 at the car house.

Car 5 at the car house.

The November 6, 1946 auction.

The November 6, 1946 auction.

Dismantling the line in late 1946 or early 1947.

Dismantling the line in late 1946 or early 1947.

Dismantling the line in late 1946 or early 1947.

Dismantling the line in late 1946 or early 1947.

1946 Color Film by Gerhard Salomon:

Bill Volkmer Writes:

Might be of interest to you. I believe the Strawberry Mansion Bridge photos came in an estate collection I bought from Syd Walker who was a bus driver for Southern Penn. Bought them ca. 1960.

Thanks very much!

Car 15 on July 7, 1946. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 15 on July 7, 1946. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 10 at Woodside in 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 10 at Woodside in 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 31. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 31. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

The Strawberry Mansion Bridge circa 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

The Strawberry Mansion Bridge circa 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 10 circa 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 10 circa 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway

Me, to Kenneth Gear:

I have collected a few photos of the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway in Wildwood, NJ. As a New Jersey-ite, I was wondering if you can tell me anything about it. There hardly seems to be any info about it online.

I get the impression that the trolleys ran until the mid-1940s. It seems the company is still in business, and runs tourist trolleys that are gas powered. They claim to be an “interurban” on their web site but offer no history.

Thanks.

Wow, “New Jersey-ite”! That’s probably the nicest thing we’ve been called in a long time!

As for the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway, I personally know very little but my “go to” reference book on NJ streetcar lines has 6 pages of information. The book is STREETCARS OF NEW JERSEY by Joseph F. Eid, Jr. & Barker Gummere.

I’ve scanned the pages and attached them. Hope this tells you all you want to know.

Hey, thanks very much!

So, what nicknames do people from NJ go by? Here, I guess we have Chicagoans, or Illinoisans.

We prefer “Jerseyian” or for us men, “Jersey Guys”.

OK, thanks… FYI, I organized your scans into a PDF.

So, the trolley quit in 1945 but the bus operation that succeeded it is still going. Apparently, the character of life on the Jersey Shore changed during World War II, as there were German U-Boats preying on shipping just off the coast. They used the lights from the boardwalks to outline ships they were hunting, so a nighttime blackout was instituted.

Incredibly, there are reports that sometimes sailors from the U-Boats would row ashore and buy food locally to take back to their submarines.

Unlike the Fairmount Park trolley, at least one car from Five Mile Beach was saved. Car 36 is now at the Connecticut Trolley Museum. Read more about it here.

In Wildwood. Not sure which car this is.

In Wildwood. Not sure which car this is.

Car 20, signed for "Crest."

Car 20, signed for “Crest.”

Car 36 in Wildwood.

Car 36 in Wildwood.

Car 30 at Anglesea in July 1935.

Car 30 at Anglesea in July 1935.

Car 25 at Wildwood in the mid-1940s.

Car 25 at Wildwood in the mid-1940s.

Five Mile Beach car 26 at Wildwood, NJ in 1944. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach car 26 at Wildwood, NJ in 1944. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood car house on May 30, 1945. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood car house on May 30, 1945. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Car 36 at the Wildwood car house in 1944. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Car 36 at the Wildwood car house in 1944. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Car 36 on its way to the Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1945.

Car 36 on its way to the Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1945.

Five Mile Beach electric Railway car 27 at Atlantic and Oak Avenues in Wildwood, on the Angelsea-Crest line, June 1945. A bus is also visible. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach electric Railway car 27 at Atlantic and Oak Avenues in Wildwood, on the Angelsea-Crest line, June 1945. A bus is also visible. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach electric Railway cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood carhouse on May 30, 1945, shortly before abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach electric Railway cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood carhouse on May 30, 1945, shortly before abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 30 in the car barn, circa the mid-1940s. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 30 in the car barn, circa the mid-1940s. (Walter Broschart Photo)

The Five Mile Beach Electric Railway line truck on May 30, 1945, at the Wildwood car house around the time of abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

The Five Mile Beach Electric Railway line truck on May 30, 1945, at the Wildwood car house around the time of abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

A former Five Mile Beach Electric Railway streetcar at Wildwood, New Jersey in the late 1940s. The sign at left says, "Barbecued chicken our specialty." (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

A former Five Mile Beach Electric Railway streetcar at Wildwood, New Jersey in the late 1940s. The sign at left says, “Barbecued chicken our specialty.” (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 36 at Warehouse Point, Connecticut on August 16, 1952.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 36 at Warehouse Point, Connecticut on August 16, 1952.

Videos

Wildwood: The History of An American Resort

NJN Documentary Our Vanishing Past – Wildwood

Wildwoods by the Sea:

CA&E 1923 Pullman Cars

Here are more great Chicago Aurora & Elgin photo restorations, courtesy of Jack Bejna:

I recently received my copy of “Images of Rail: Chicago Trolleys”, just in time to take with on a flight from Florida to Los Angeles. I read it from cover to cover and enjoyed it immensely!

Glad you like it. Thanks!

In 1923 CA&E ordered 20 new cars (400­419) from Pullman. These cars were all steel and were state of the art when purchased. They were equipped with Tomlinson couplers and were not capable of training with any of the wood cars in the fleet. The new cars were put into limited service initially, but they eventually were used for all types of service.

Of these, the 409 at the Illinois Railway Museum is the lone survivor.

Recent Correspondence

The Last of the Red-Hot Pullmans

CTA 225 on October 12, 1956.

CTA 225 on October 12, 1956.

Me, to Andre Kristopans:

After the last of the red streetcars were taken out of service in May 1954, I read that the CTA planned to keep “about 10 or so” cars for emergency use.

It seems like the figure was actually nine cars. Looks like six were burned in March 1956, an event that was covered in the CTA Transit News. There is some film footage too:

From photos taken at that time, I see that some of the cars burned were 362, 453 (or is it 153), and 542. The three saved cars, of course, are 144, 225, and 460.

Any idea what numbers the other three cars might have been?

Thanks.

Actually, there seem to have been eight. There are 8 cars listed as off the books on 2/23/56:

144,225,288,362,453,460,507,542

They were part of a large group of 55 cars retired on AFR 16455R, comprising all remaining red cars. Rest were scrapped in 1955.

Thanks very much… but that CTA video sure seems to show six cars being torched.

This is somewhat strange, isn’t it? LOOKS like it might be six cars, but the scrap lists (which are contemporary records!) show only 8 cars with a 2/23/56 disposal date. Also, why do 144, 225, 460 show a “scrap date”? In fact 144 didn’t go to IRM until 1959, 460 sat around until 1985!. Only other departure was 225, supposedly in 1956 (but see below!). Apparently these are “removed from the books” dates. Another strange observation: Why are these cars so badly banged up? Especially the one at the north end of the lineup. Looks like it was chewed up by something. Were they pushing them around with forklifts? Even a forklift wouldn’t do THAT much damage. Looks like it was hit by a train!

Another tidbit – 2/1/56 roster on the IRM-CTA website has these same 8 cars listed as authorized for retirement but still around. 3/1/55 roster at same shows 60 cars in storage – scrap lists for 52 all come up April-May 1955. So unless there were some shenanigans – such as the 225 at Seashore isn’t the real 225, but another car sent to Seashore renumbered 225 and stricken off the books in 1955 under it’s real number and the real 225 was actually burned 2/56??? I can’t come up with another explanation. Can you?

I’ve been to Seashore, and that car is largely in original condition, more so than 144. There’s nothing to indicate any changes in numbering.

I think 225 might have left Chicago in 1957.

144 may have belonged to IERM while still being used in fantrip service.

I posted this on the chicagobus.org forum. This is the only thing that makes sense. If there are indeed six being burned in the video, I can’t come up with a better explanation.

Andre

You guys want to hear an interesting conspiracy theory? Well, I have one for you. First, a bit of background: I have in my possession a CTA list, hand-written and added-on to over they years, of scrapping dates for all streetcars. This can be considered a “contemporary record”. I also have in my possession a listing of which streetcars were retired under which Authorization for Retirement. Finally, the IRM-CTA website has on it various CTA rosters, with the pertinent dates being for 3/1/54 and 2/1/56.

According to the 3/1/54 roster, there were still 60 red streetcars sitting in storage. The 2/1/56 roster lists 8 left (144,225,288,362,453,460,507,542). The scrap list gives dates for the other 52 as in April and May of 1955, so this all comes out correct.

Now it gets interesting. CTA Connections has a video showing the burning of what is said to be the last red streetcars at 77th in the winter of 1956. The scrap list shows a 2/23/56 date for all eight cars listed above. HOWEVER — there is a problem. The video shows what appears to be six cars being burned. There should only have been five! Note of the above eight cars listed, three supposedly still exist – 144, 225, and 460. So what gives???

144 went to IRM in 1959. 460 sat at CTA for decades at Lincoln, Lawndale, etc. until it was finally shipped to IRM in 1985. 225 is at Seashore, and has been there since 1956, according to their website. It appears the dates in the scrap lists are actually the date a car was removed from inventory, not necessarily the actual date burned, though that date was probably soon after. So what would the sixth car scrapped in March of 1956 have been?

Here is a thought: Is it possible CTA did a number swap in 1955, and another car was actually shipped off to Seashore, lettered as 225? At this point, 61 years later, it would probably not be possible to determine if this is true, except maybe by a VERY detailed examination of the car at Seashore. However, if this is what happened, then the real 225 was the sixth car burned in 1956. Of the six cars being burned, you can only make out numbers on a couple, and in fact at least one has its number painted out. Maybe this swap was made because the real 225 had a major problem, and somebody at South Shops took it upon themselves to “send a better car?” CTA list does not note anything about 144 or 460 except a date, so if a car shown as off the inventory in 1955 was in fact shipped out, there would not likely be any note attached to it either.

Any better explanations??

Very interesting!

On the other hand, how about this scenario:

  1. The three saved cars 144, 225, and 460 have their original numbers.

2. Five other red cars were burned early in 1956.

3. One other car, not on the list of eight, was also burned at that time. This had been involved in a major wreck at some time previous, and therefore had an earlier retirement date, since there was no intention of fixing it.

This car sat around for some time until they got around to torching it with the others.

CTA was very good at scrapping what the paper said was scrapped. So definitely something marked 225 was burned that day in all likelihood, while whatever car went to Seashore while it might have been marked 225 on the car itself as it sat on the flatcar was written off as it’s “real” number, whatever it might have been. Or alternatively, the 225 burned wasn’t “really” 225 but something else in reality. No way to tell at this point, except that most likely the car at Seashore is most likely not really 225???

On the car at Seashore, I did not notice anything inside the car that would look as though the number got changed. Pretty sure I took some pictures of that too.

OK – this is what we know for sure: There are six cars burning. CTA 3/1/56 roster lists 8 cars. Scrap list corroborates these 8. 1954 roster lists 60. Scrap list corroborates that 52 scrapped 1955. So what conclusion can be drawn? A car that is listed as scrapped in 1955 at least on paper was renumbered 225 and burned 1956. Note we can make out 362, 542, 288, 507, 453 at various points, but not the sixth number. East lineup seems to be 362 (north), 453, unknown. West lineup is unknown, 288, 507?. 542 seems to be at the end of one of the rows. 542 is a smooth-side, the south car on the east row is not, but south car on west row is. Note south car on east row seems to have no visible numbers??? Only thing I can say is some number was retired in 1955 was actually 225 shipped out, while that number off the 1955 scrap list was actually burned in 1956. CTA was known to do number swapping to make reality match paperwork.

Got it, thanks.

225 was still on the property as of October 21, 1956. (It was used on a fantrip that date.)

Only thing I can say is somebody was fudging the paperwork. Were only 51 cars were burned in 1955 and the 52nd (number unknown) was actually burned in 1956? In that case somebody made a paperwork error, in multiple places, or was some other car previously written off as scrapped actually burned in 1956? This might be the case, if there is indeed a car with number painted out sitting in the fire line. Maybe another car was to go to Seashore and had been written off earlier, but then 225 was chosen instead and the original candidate burned? Like I said, it appears the dates are the day car was turned over to Materials Management for disposal, not the day something was actually burned. If somebody could come up with a specific date a specific car was burned, it might be possible to confirm this, but this is what it appears to be.

One car did seem to have the number painted out…

225 and 144 were both used for competing fantrips on February 10, 1957. Of the two, photos show 225’s number looking newer than 144. But of course that just may mean it had received a new paint job more recently than the other car. That does not necessarily indicate a renumbering of 225.

At least, that does confirm a 1957 date for 225 being moved to the Seashore Trolley Museum instead of 1956.

These car numbers only took on any significance when they were practically the only cars left. Before that, there were so many cars, one or two did not have particular importance. The May 16, 1954 “Farewell to the Red Cars” fantrip used 473 and 479, not 144 or 225.

Maybe the late Maury Klebolt was on to something when he “renumbered” the 144 into 225 for a December 1956 fantrip, eh?

Chicago Trolleys

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

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

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

-David Sadowski

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