This January 1960 view, looking northeast, shows the temporary Central Avenue side platform station during construction of the Congress expressway. The CTA Congress median line had opened as far west as Cicero Avenue in June 1958, but farther west, used a series of temporary ground level alignments while highway work continue. The temporary station here was in use from October 1959 until October 1960, when the permanent center platform station opened. You can see a stairway for the new platform, built into the concrete wall of the Central Avenue underpass. The side platforms allowed for simultaneous construction of the new station. The expressway originally ended at Laramie Avenue (5200 W.), but was extended to Central (5600 W. ) in early 1960, and finally opened to Oak Park, Forest Park, and Maywood in October 1960. Newly delivered single car unit 22 heads up this westbound Congress-Milwaukee “A” train. East of here, the tracks curve off to go into the Lotus Tunnel, taking the line into the expressway median. Ultimately, this station did not develop much ridership, and closed in 1973, although it is still extant. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
I was thinking about the expression “living on borrowed time” recently. I guess all of us are doing that, in a sense, but it occurred to me that when we look at old photographs, they can transport us back into the past. It’s almost as if by looking at them, we can borrow back some of the past.
Here are lots of photos that do just that. We also have some pictures from our recent trip to the East Troy Railroad Museum in Wisconsin. This was our first chance to see North Shore Line car 761 since it was restored by the museum.
I can’t say enough good things about the museum and its volunteers. We were treated to a tour of the barn where 761 and several other cars are stored. Even better, we ran into the Heinlein family who just happened to be there that day.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. And thanks for lending us some of your time.
Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.
Work on our North Shore Line book is ongoing. Donations are needed in order to bring this to a successful conclusion. You will find donation links at the top and bottom of each post. We thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
New York Central loco 5287, a 4-6-4, heads south at Roosevelt Road on August 24, 1954. (David R. Sweetland Photo)
I recently purchased this “real photo postcard,” and the seller said this was the Harvard station on the Englewood branch of the “L”. However, closer inspection of the photo shows that this is actually the Princeton station, which opened in 1905, and closed in 1949 as part of the CTA’s restructuring of north-south service.
Electroliner 803-804 at Red Arrow’s 69th Street Shops on November 10, 1963, shortly after arriving from Chicago. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
Liberty Liner “Valley Forge,” formerly North Shore Line Electroliner 801-802, being put into service on Red Arrow’s Norristown line on January 26, 1964. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
SEPTA Liberty Liner “Valley Forge” crosses the Schuylkill River in September 1976, near the end of service on the Red Arrow line to Norristown. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
Liberty Liner “Valley Forge,” formerly North Shore Line Electroliner 801-802, just after delivery to the Illinois Railway Museum on May 9, 1982. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
Liberty Liner “Valley Forge,” aka Electroliner 801-802, at the Illinois Railway Museum on October 2, 1982. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
North Shore Line wood car 134 is on a siding, and may be possibly be in New Trier school tripper service on the Shore Line Route, before the late 1930s Winnetka Grade Separation project. Don’s Rail Photos: “134 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1907 as C&ME 134. It was rebuilt in 1914 retired in 1948. In 1936, the CA&E leased 11 surplus cars from the CNS&M. These cars were modified for service by raising the coupler height, installing electric heat instead of the coal-fired hot water heaters, modifying the control, and adding jumper receptacles and other minor fittings to allow them to train with the other CA&E cars. Since these were 50 mile per hour cars, and the CA&E cars were 60 MPH cars, they were soon operated only in trains of their own kind rather than mixed in with other cars. In 1945 they were returned to the North Shore where they operated briefly. They were purchased in 1946 and last ran in regular service in September, 1953.”
CTA gate car 390. Don’s Rail Photos: “390 was built by American Car & Foundry Co in 1905 as SSRT 390. It became CERy 390 in 1913 and became CRT 390 in 1923. It was retired on June 20, 1957.” Andre Kristopans: “390 I think is at North/Halsted. At first thought Sedgwick, but background does not match.”
On March 29, 1943, the first official Chicago Rapid Transit Company train heads into the north portal of the new State Street Subway, then still under construction. Only one track was in service, and the south portal was still being built. Test rides were being given to servicemen and war bond buyers. The official opening was on October 17th.
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit car 302, formerly of the Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric, is inbound at Woodhill Road on September 6, 1951. Don’s Rail Photos: “302 was built by St Louis Car in 1924, #1308. In 1936 it was sold to CI/SHRT as 302 and in 1954 it was sold to Gerald Brookins for the Columbia Park & Southwestern aka Trolleyville.” Sounds like it was scrapped there for parts.
North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at the Illinois Railway Museum in September 1972.
The conventional view of the North Shore Line station in Lake Forest.
A different view of the large North Shore Line station in Lake Forest that served the Shore Line Route. This can’t be later than 1916, as the railroad is identified by its previous name, the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric. The station survived the 1955 Shore Line abandonment, but was torn down around 1970.
I believe we are looking north at the Chicago and North Western commuter train station in Highland Park. If so, the North Shore Line’s tracks for the Shore Line Route would be at right in the adjacent street. Apparently the station footprint here did not allow for sufficient space to locate the NSL tracks on private right-of-way.
Another view of the C&NW Highland Park station, again looking north with the NSL Shore Line tracks in the street at right.
The entrance to Ravinia Park around 1915. It was built by the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric to help generate more ridership.
This shows the wooden “L” ramp under construction for the CTA’s Garfield Park temporary trackage that ran east of here in Van Buren Street during construction of the Congress expressway. You can see where the temporary structure was going to turn and head south, to rejoin the existing Garfield Park “L” near Sacramento Boulevard. The new alignment was used starting in September 1953, so this is some time before then. (Henryk Shafer Photo)
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) cars 77 and 8 in Media, PA on April 25, 1954. Brilliner 8 is still in its original 1941 paint scheme. (Russell E. Jackson Photo)
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) car 83 on the West Chester line in 1954. Buses replaced trolleys on this long route the same year, as part of a highway widening project. Don’s Rail Photos: “83 was built by Brill Car Co in March 1932, #22980. It became SEPTA 83 in 1970 and sold to Middletown & Hummelstown in 1982.” The M&H actually purchased car 86 in 1982, which was found to have some damage. So car 83 was renumbered as 86 by SEPTA and sold to them that way. The original car 86 also went along and was scrapped for parts. M&H is a diesel-powered tourist operation and the Red Arrow car is in storage there.
Laurel Line (Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad) cars 38, 114, and 35. I assume this is in Scranton, PA. Interurban passenger service quit on December 31, 1952.
Laurel Line car 32.
Laurel Line car 32.
Laurel Line car 19 looks like it has seen better days.
Laurel Line car 35.
Laurel Line car 32.
Another view of Laurel Line car 19.
CTA single car units 41 and 42, equipped with trolley poles for use on the Evanston branch, are posed at Sedgwick on the Ravenswood line. The date may be June 26, 1960. Sunday fantrips were popular, when Ravenswood trains only went as far as Armitage, and the fans could have lengthy photo stops without interfering with regular service. North Shore Line trains were routed via the outer tracks at this time. (Richard J. Anderson Photo)
A CTA single car unit heads south just north of South Boulevard in Evanston on May 26, 1963.
A train of 4000s at Armitage.
4000s at Wellington.
6000s at Wellington.
CTA 2041 at Hamlin on the Lake Street “L”, signed as a “B” train, sometime between 1964 and 1969.
6000s at Wellington.
6000s at Wellington.
CTA single car unit #2 at the Skokie Swift terminal at Dempster, some time in the 1960s.
4000s at Wellington.
Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC 1070 is at Park Circle on November 11, 1955, running on the 68-C 1 Ave line.
Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC 1001 is at the Bristol Street loop on line 35 – Church on May 30, 1956. The auto at right is in the “bathtub” style that was briefly popular around 1950.
Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC 1031 in May 30, 1956. This is a Church Avenue car entering the underpass at Ocean Parkway.
Chicago Surface Lines work car S-53 on October 21, 1940. Don’s Rail Photos: “S53, supply car, was built by Chicago Railways in 1909 as 10. It was renumbered S53 in 1913 and became CSL S53 in 1914. It was retired on November 25, 1949.”
Chicago Transit Authority snow plow S-319 (ex-3146) at Skokie Shops in April 1955. Don’s Rail Photos: “3146 was built by St. Louis Car in 1901 as Lake Street Elevated RR 146. It was renumbered 3146 in 1913 and became CRT 3146 in 1923.” Not sure when it was converted into a work car.
North Shore Line city streetcar 357 is in Waukegan in 1946, signed for the Naval Station. Streetcar service ended the following year. Don’s Rail Photos: “357 was built by St Louis Car Co in January 1928, #1453. It was retired in 1948 and scrapped in 1950. The last city cars purchased new by the North Shore were cars 351 thru 360. They came from St. Louis Car in 1927 and 1928 and were designed to operate as one or two man cars. 351 thru 358 went to Milwaukee, and 359 and 360 went to Waukegan. In 1942, 353 thru 358 were sent to Waukegan for wartime service. It is said that 351 and 352 were also sent to Waukegan, but if so, their stay was short. In 1947, with the abandonment of the Waukegan lines, the entire group was sent to Milwaukee to replace the Birneys. They ran until abandonment on August 12, 1951.”
NSL loco 458 at the Pettibone Yard in North Chicago on July 16, 1960. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
A North Shore Line freight train, headed by loco 456, at North Chicago Junction on March 2, 1946. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
The North Shore Line headquarters in Highwood, IL. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
NSL Silverliner756 at Highwood on April 15, 1950. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
A three-car North Shore Line train on the “L”. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
NSL 411 at Highwood on June 12, 1949. Don’s Rail Photos: “411 was built as a trailer observation car by Cincinnati Car in June 1923 #2640. It was out of service in 1932. It was rebuilt on February 25, 1943 as a two motor coach by closing in the open platform and changing the seating, and was sold to Trolley Museum of New York in 1963. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway & Historical Society in 1973 and sold to the Escanaba & Lake Superior in 1989.” (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
A four-car NSL train on Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette on February 11, 1939. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
We have several pictures from this fantrip, which covered the Shore Line Route and then continued north to Milwaukee. I bought this, as I thought it might shed some light on the photo stops. But this “timetable” only gives the starting time of the trip. It does list points of interest, route mileage, safety rules, and has a complete roster of the equipment as of late 1954… including which 15 cars had already been converted to Silverliners by that time. (I think the total had reached 30 by 1963.)
Original 1920s artwork for four North Shore Line posters… in the collection of David A. Myers, who bought them when the railroad was going out of business in 1963.
The North Shore Line Mundelein Terminal in December 1962.
The same location today, looking east. The old terminal was located just to the right of that telephone pole. You can see where the old right-of-way was in that clearing at rear.
A North Shore Line train heads north at North Chicago Junction in June 1961. The tracks at left led to the old Shore Line Route. After the 1955 abandonment, one track was kept in service to connect with the headquarters at Highwood (and also for freight use). (William Shapotkin Collection)
The late William C. Hoffman took this picture of an Electroliner menu on November 12, 1962.
The East Troy Railroad Museum
Milwaukee streetcar 846 at East Troy. Don’s Rail Photos: “846 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1920, #1239. It was one-manned in 1925 and was donated to the Kentucky Railway Museum in 1958. After two floods it went to the Appleton Trolley Museum in 1983. It was found to be severely damaged and was finally restored in 1998. In October 2002, the ATM merged with the East Troy Electric Railroad Museum and 846 was the first car moved.”
South Shore Line car 24. Don’s Rail Photos: “24 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947.” East Troy has turned it into a dining car.
South Shore Line car 33. Don’s Rail Photos: “33 was built by Standard Car in 1929, #P-3340. It was air-conditioned and sold to National Park Service in 1983.”
These stickers were applied to South Shore Line cars in the mid-1970s and became a rallying cry against abandonment.
South Shore Line car 9. Don’s Rail Photos: “9 was built by Pullman in 1926.”
South Shore Line car 13. Don’s Rail Photos: “13 was built by Pullman in 1926 and was rebuilt in 1946.”
CTA 4453. Don’s Rail Photos: “4453 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1924, #2860. It was acquired by Indiana Transportation Museum in 1974 and sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1995.” George Trapp adds: “Enjoyed your latest post, but have a correction on the build dates for CRT/CTA 4420 and 4453 at East Troy. This order #2860 for cars 4356-4455 was placed in December of 1924 but the cars were actually built in 1925, being delivered in late summer, August and September. Car #4422 was photographed on September 4, 1925 by Cincinnati Car. The only cars built in 1924 were 4351-4355, order #2715 ordered in 1923 by Chicago Elevated prior to merger of January, 1924 of Northwestern, Metropolitan and South Side into CRT. Bankrupt Chicago & Oak Park purchased at foreclosure later in January, 1924.”
Sheboygan Light, Power and Railway Company car 26. Don’s Rail Photos: “Sheboygan 26 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1908, #835. It was converted to one man operation. It later was used as a lake cabin for many years and was given full restoration to its original condition.” This car was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company locomotive L-9. Don’s Rail Photos: “L9 was built at Cold Spring in 1944. It became WEPCo L9 in 1963 and was acquired by WERHS in 1979. It became East Troy Electric Ry L9 in 1989.”
South Shore Line car 30. Don’s Rail Photos: “30 was built by Standard Car in 1929, #P-3340. It was air conditioned and sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway Museum in 1984. It was sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1984. It was later rebuilt without the humps and renumbered 1130.”
South Shore Line car 25. Don’s Rail Photos: “25 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947.” East Troy has turned it into a dining car.
North Shore Line car 761 has recently been restored by East Troy and looks beautiful. Don’s Rail Photos: “761 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930. It was modernized in 1949 and rebuilt as a Silverliner in October 11, 1957.” It has had a number of owners since 1963 but came to East Troy from the Michigan Transit Museum in 2001.
Watch your step. The car could board on either high-level or low-level platforms.
761’s cab area.
This would have been the smoking compartment back in the day.
The museum is justifiably proud of their restoration work.
The ticket booth at East Troy.
Bob Heinlein and his brother at East Troy.
CTA 4420 at the Elegant Farmer store in Mukwonago. Don’s Rail Photos: “4420 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1924, #2860. It was acquired by Wisconsin Electric Historical Society on February 11, 1975, and sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1988.” George Trapp adds: “Enjoyed your latest post, but have a correction on the build dates for CRT/CTA 4420 and 4453 at East Troy. This order #2860 for cars 4356-4455 was placed in December of 1924 but the cars were actually built in 1925, being delivered in late summer, August and September. Car #4422 was photographed on September 4, 1925 by Cincinnati Car. The only cars built in 1924 were 4351-4355, order #2715 ordered in 1923 by Chicago Elevated prior to merger of January, 1924 of Northwestern, Metropolitan and South Side into CRT. Bankrupt Chicago & Oak Park purchased at foreclosure later in January, 1924.”
We recently received these two photos from our good friend David Harrison:
CTA 3311 on June 19, 2006 charter, paying tribute to the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox. (Bruce C. Nelson Photo, courtesy of David Harrison)
David Harrison in his CTA uniform, near Loomis, in a photo taken by his mother. I couldn’t quite make the processing date out on the slide– it was either December ’65 or ’66, although this picture was obviously taken at a different time of the year.
North Shore Line Mystery Photo
If anyone knows who took this picture, taken at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal, please let me know. I checked with the Center for Railroad Photography and Art, and it apparently was not taken by the late John E. Gruber, although it does look similar to his work.
Stan Griffith Audio Recordings of the North Shore Line
# of Discs – 1
The late Stanwood C. Griffith (1926-2013) was an interesting character who is probably best known for building the two-foot gauge Rock River Valley Traction, a miniature electric railway that is large enough to ride on. He began building it on private property in a mysterious wooded area somewhere near Rockford, IL around 1950. Work continues on it to this day, and there are several videos of it on YouTube.
We only recently found out that he recorded some North Shore Line audio. Even better, what he did record is different than the other known recordings by William A. Steventon and Brad Miller.
Mr. Griffith made the only known recordings of the Shore Line Route, which quit in 1955. Steventon didn’t record NSL until the following year, and the Miller recordings are circa 1960.
This recording has some occasional narration. At one point, Griffith notes that the trolley bus wires in Kenosha are gone. Trolley buses ran there until 1952, so this dates the recordings to circa 1952-55.
He also recorded North Shore Line street running in Milwaukee, which is also unique as far as I am aware. There are also recordings of Milwaukee streetcars on this CD.
Total time – 52:36
Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation
We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s Images of America Author David Sadowski Edition illustrated Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021 ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007 Length 128 pages
Chapters: 01. The South Side “L” 02. The Lake Street “L” 03. The Metropolitan “L” 04. The Northwestern “L” 05. The Union Loop 06. Lost Equipment 07. Lost Interurbans 08. Lost Terminals 09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
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Cooler weather returned to the Chicago area last Friday, after a string of hot and muggy days. We took this opportunity to take pictures on the Chicago Transit Authority.
We rode the new 7000-series cars for the first time on the Yellow Line (formerly the Skokie Swift), where they were being tested last week. Our luck was good, as our ride from Dempster to Howard turned out to be the last trip of the day for these new cars, which are being tested extensively on the CTA system.
My impression of these new “L” cars was very favorable. While in many respects they are similar to the existing fleet, the 7000s are instantly recognizable, due to their blue end caps. They are smooth and quiet in operation, and offer improved seating, with fewer sideways seats, which did not prove to be very popular on the 5000s. The 7000s will replace the 2600-series cars, some of which are now 40 years old.
We also took some pictures of the Belmont Flyover construction progress, which is part of the RPM (Red and Purple Modernization) project. The flyover will keep Red, Purple, and Brown Line trains from having to cross in front of each other, and will therefore add capacity to these routes once it opens this November.
In addition, we have more classic traction pictures to share, both our own, and from our contributors Larry Sakar, Bob Bresse-Rodenkirk, and Jack Bejna.
Our 7000s train pulls up to the platform at Dempster.
The 7000s interior. There is less sideways seating than on the 5000s, which should prove popular with riders.
Skokie Shops. You can see 6711-6712 and 6101-6102, part of CTA’s Historic Fleet.
There are some 2400s at Howard Yard, for use in work service.
7009-7010 after arriving at Howard. Unfortunately, there was no return trip on these cars.
From the side, you can hardly tell the 7000s from other “L” cars.
The new 7000s have distinctive blue caps on the ends.
A northbound Red Line train at Howard.
CTA 7009-7010 at Howard.
The 7000s were done for the day and about to be put back in the yard.
5519-5520 at Howard.
5519-5520 at Howard.
5519-5520 at Howard.
Flatcars at Skokie Shops.
The CTA’s historic 6000s at Skokie Shops.
Skokie Shops. Note the 7000-series car present.
East Prairie Road.
This portion of platform is a remnant of the old Crawford-East Prairie station on the Niles Center route.
Although the Skokie Swift has been renamed the Yellow Line, the CTA still uses this distinctive logo. I believe it was designed by the late George Krambles.
CTA 5519-5520 at the Dempster terminal.
The bus turnaround area has a shelter that is stylistically in keeping with the Dempster Street Terminal.
This is the back end of the historic Dempster Street Terminal, originally built for the North Shore Line and designed by Arthur U. Gerber. The station was moved a bit from its original location to create a bus turnaround area.
From 1925 to 1948, Dempster was the terminal of the CRT’s Niles Center branch.
The Belmont Flyover is massive and work is proceeding rapidly. It may be put into service as soon as this November.
This welder wanted me to take his picture with his mask on and the flame lit.
The three-story Vautravers Building at 947 West Newport Avenue was recently moved 30 feet to the west by the CTA as part of the flyover project, so a curve could be straightened out.