Our Third Anniversary

One of the two brand-new North Shore Line Electroliners at the Milwaukee terminal in June 1941.

One of the two brand-new North Shore Line Electroliners at the Milwaukee terminal in June 1941.

For the longest time, January 21 has been a dark day in the railfan hobby as this was when the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee ceased operations in 1963. That was 55 years ago today.

We run North Shore Line pictures all the time, all through the year. Every day is a day to celebrate that storied interurban.

But January 21st is also the anniversary of when we started this blog. We have been here now for three whole years, with 206 posts and 362,000 page views to date. We hope to be here for a long time to come. That is another reason to celebrate.

Here are some more great traction photos for your enjoyment. We thank our readers for sharing them.

-David Sadowski

Annual Fundraiser

In about 10 day’s time, our annual bill to fund this site and its web domain comes due.  That comes to $400, or just over $1 per day for the entire year.  So far, we have collected $370 of the required amount. If you have already contributed, we are particularly grateful.

Any additional funds collected over this amount will be used to pay for research materials for our next book, which we are currently hard at work on. We currently have a unique opportunity to purchase some rare images that would be wonderful additions to the book. This opportunity is fleeting, however.

If you make a donation towards research, we will make note of this in the book itself as our way of saying “thank you.” We expect the book will be published later this year.

If you enjoy reading this blog, and want to see it continue, we hope you will consider supporting it via a donation.  You can also purchase items from our Online Store. With your help, we cannot fail.

Recent Finds

"Former North Shore derrick car 607 and car 237, both now owned by Chicago Hardware Foundry Co., at North Chicago, Illinois, November 14, 1953." Don's Rail Photos adds: "237 was built by Cincinnati in May 1924, #2720, as a merchandise dispatch car. It was rebuilt with 2 motors and later as a sleet cutter," and "607 was built by Cincinnati in November 1924, #2730. It was retired in 1949 and sold to Chicago Hardware Foundry in 1950 and renumbered 239." North Chicago was also the original home of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum. (Photo by Robert Selle)

“Former North Shore derrick car 607 and car 237, both now owned by Chicago Hardware Foundry Co., at North Chicago, Illinois, November 14, 1953.” Don’s Rail Photos adds: “237 was built by Cincinnati in May 1924, #2720, as a merchandise dispatch car. It was rebuilt with 2 motors and later as a sleet cutter,” and “607 was built by Cincinnati in November 1924, #2730. It was retired in 1949 and sold to Chicago Hardware Foundry in 1950 and renumbered 239.” North Chicago was also the original home of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum. (Photo by Robert Selle)

"Views of North Shore Line #189 and 150 at Highwood Shops, Saturday noon, August 7, 1955." (Robert Selle Photo)

“Views of North Shore Line #189 and 150 at Highwood Shops, Saturday noon, August 7, 1955.” (Robert Selle Photo)

Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 403 "coming into Aurora from Wheaton (stopped to let off passengers)." This picture was taken on Wednesday afternoon, July 14, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)

Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 403 “coming into Aurora from Wheaton (stopped to let off passengers).” This picture was taken on Wednesday afternoon, July 14, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)

"CA&E freight train headed by loco 2001, to Wheaton from Aurora (taken at Batavia Junction), Saturday noon, April 25, 1953." Notice all the platform extensions here have been turned up to provide the train with enough clearance to pass. They were flipped down for use by passenger trains. (Robert Selle Photo)

“CA&E freight train headed by loco 2001, to Wheaton from Aurora (taken at Batavia Junction), Saturday noon, April 25, 1953.” Notice all the platform extensions here have been turned up to provide the train with enough clearance to pass. They were flipped down for use by passenger trains. (Robert Selle Photo)

"CTA 1-man arched roof 3162 (in green and cream) on Lake Street, just west of Kostner (4400W), Saturday noon, November 28, 1953." This was one of a handful of older streetcars that were repainted into a dark green by the CTA circa 195-54. (Robert Selle Photo)

“CTA 1-man arched roof 3162 (in green and cream) on Lake Street, just west of Kostner (4400W), Saturday noon, November 28, 1953.” This was one of a handful of older streetcars that were repainted into a dark green by the CTA circa 195-54. (Robert Selle Photo)

Chicago Transit Authority PCCs 7229 and 7090 at 77th and Vincennes, along with salt spreader AA46. The date was May 16, 1954, when Central Electric Railfans' Association held a red car fantrip. Don's Rail Photos: "AA46, salt car, was built by St Louis Car Co in 1903 as CUTCo 4779. It was renumbered 1250 in 1913 and became CSL 1250 in 1914. It was rebuilt as salt car in 1931 and renumbered AA46 on April 15, 1948. It was retired on December 27, 1955." (James C. Barrick Photo)

Chicago Transit Authority PCCs 7229 and 7090 at 77th and Vincennes, along with salt spreader AA46. The date was May 16, 1954, when Central Electric Railfans’ Association held a red car fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos: “AA46, salt car, was built by St Louis Car Co in 1903 as CUTCo 4779. It was renumbered 1250 in 1913 and became CSL 1250 in 1914. It was rebuilt as salt car in 1931 and renumbered AA46 on April 15, 1948. It was retired on December 27, 1955.” (James C. Barrick Photo)

CTA 3093 encounters a flock of pigs at the Stock Yards on March 13, 1948. The streetcar is southbound on Throop at Hilleck Street on the Morgan-Racine line, which was abandoned on July 24 of that year. (Malcolm D. McCarter Collection)

CTA 3093 encounters a flock of pigs at the Stock Yards on March 13, 1948. The streetcar is southbound on Throop at Hilleck Street on the Morgan-Racine line, which was abandoned on July 24 of that year. (Malcolm D. McCarter Collection)

"3 CTA Big Pullmans: #400, 295 and 374, in the yards at the end of the Kedzie barn (5th and Kedzie), August 9, 1953." (Robert Selle Photo)

“3 CTA Big Pullmans: #400, 295 and 374, in the yards at the end of the Kedzie barn (5th and Kedzie), August 9, 1953.” (Robert Selle Photo)

"8:05 am, Thursday morning, March 31, 1955: Chicago & North Western loco 654 (4-6-2), with commuter train, coming east toward camera at high speed at Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, Il." (Robert Selle Photo)

“8:05 am, Thursday morning, March 31, 1955: Chicago & North Western loco 654 (4-6-2), with commuter train, coming east toward camera at high speed at Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, Il.” (Robert Selle Photo)

"Saturday afternoon, May 24, 1958: eastbound South Shore Line passenger train #109 at head end; has a silver roof. Michigan City, Ind." The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip, using Illinois Central Electric cars on the South Shore Line. The IC train is just visible behind some poles in the center of the picture. (Robert Selle Photo)

“Saturday afternoon, May 24, 1958: eastbound South Shore Line passenger train #109 at head end; has a silver roof. Michigan City, Ind.” The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip, using Illinois Central Electric cars on the South Shore Line. The IC train is just visible behind some poles in the center of the picture. (Robert Selle Photo)

These photos have been added to our previous post The Fairmount Park Trolley (November 7, 2017), which also featured several images from the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway:

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)

Here are some classic photos from the collections of William Shapotkin. We thank Bill for sharing these:

Chicago Transit Authority bus 9085 on Route 9 - Ashland on August 24, 1979. (Ron Sullivan Photo)

Chicago Transit Authority bus 9085 on Route 9 – Ashland on August 24, 1979. (Ron Sullivan Photo)

CTA car 6186, working a southbound trip on Route 9 - Ashland, has just arrived at the south end of the line at 95th Street in May 1951. The view looks northeast.

CTA car 6186, working a southbound trip on Route 9 – Ashland, has just arrived at the south end of the line at 95th Street in May 1951. The view looks northeast.

South Suburban Safeway Lines bus 458 in May 1971. (Richard R. Kunz Photo)

South Suburban Safeway Lines bus 458 in May 1971. (Richard R. Kunz Photo)

CTA 6213 at 95th and State Streets in 1949.

CTA 6213 at 95th and State Streets in 1949.

Chicago Surface Lines 6212 on 93rd near Blackstone on August 13, 1947.

Chicago Surface Lines 6212 on 93rd near Blackstone on August 13, 1947.

CTA 745 at 4544 W. 26th Street in March 1950. The cross-street, described as Kenton, is not quite accurate as Kenton does not run in this area, which is the border between Chicago and Cicero.

CTA 745 at 4544 W. 26th Street in March 1950. The cross-street, described as Kenton, is not quite accurate as Kenton does not run in this area, which is the border between Chicago and Cicero.

CSL 5250 at 79th and Brandon.

CSL 5250 at 79th and Brandon.

CTA 3219 changing ends at 87th and Commercial.

CTA 3219 changing ends at 87th and Commercial.

CTA trolley bus 9584 at "Six Corners" (Cicero, Milwaukee and Irving Park) in April 1969, heading south on Route 54 - Cicero Avenue. Who would have thought when this picture was taken that this would someday become the very last Sears store in Chicago?

CTA trolley bus 9584 at “Six Corners” (Cicero, Milwaukee and Irving Park) in April 1969, heading south on Route 54 – Cicero Avenue. Who would have thought when this picture was taken that this would someday become the very last Sears store in Chicago?

CTA 214 at Belmont and Western on December 31, 1948. At right is the famous Riverview amusement park, which closed abruptly after the 1967 season. The tall structure is the parachute jump, which I once rode on as a kid. It was a terrifying and exhilarating ride, especially since the harness was not especially tight.

CTA 214 at Belmont and Western on December 31, 1948. At right is the famous Riverview amusement park, which closed abruptly after the 1967 season. The tall structure is the parachute jump, which I once rode on as a kid. It was a terrifying and exhilarating ride, especially since the harness was not especially tight.

CSL 2598 at 138th and Leyden in April 1934.

CSL 2598 at 138th and Leyden in April 1934.

CSL 881 at Lawrence and Austin on Route 81 in March 1939. As you can see, this northwest side area was not very built up yet.

CSL 881 at Lawrence and Austin on Route 81 in March 1939. As you can see, this northwest side area was not very built up yet.

CTA 357 at California and Roscoe in March 1951 on Route 52.

CTA 357 at California and Roscoe in March 1951 on Route 52.

The old Chicago and North Western station in July 1966. (Joe Piersen Photo)

The old Chicago and North Western station in July 1966. (Joe Piersen Photo)

Milwaukee Road loco 93A shoves an eastbound "Scout" under Lake Street. The view looks east-southeast.

Milwaukee Road loco 93A shoves an eastbound “Scout” under Lake Street. The view looks east-southeast.

CTA 4013is at the east end of Route 63 at Stony Island and 63rd on November 29, 1951. This was also the terminus of the Jackson Park branch of the "L", which has since been cut back. I believe this is a Truman Hefner photo.

CTA 4013is at the east end of Route 63 at Stony Island and 63rd on November 29, 1951. This was also the terminus of the Jackson Park branch of the “L”, which has since been cut back. I believe this is a Truman Hefner photo.

CTA 7011 is eastbound at 63rd and Western on June 4, 1950.

CTA 7011 is eastbound at 63rd and Western on June 4, 1950.

CTA 743 at Clinton and Adams on Route 60 in May 1948.

CTA 743 at Clinton and Adams on Route 60 in May 1948.

We previously ran another version of this photo in our post Surface Service (July 11, 2017) where it was credited to Joe L. Diaz. CSL 5094 is at Root and Halsted on Route 44 - Wallace/Racine in 1945. That's the Stock Yards branch of the "L" at back.

We previously ran another version of this photo in our post Surface Service (July 11, 2017) where it was credited to Joe L. Diaz. CSL 5094 is at Root and Halsted on Route 44 – Wallace/Racine in 1945. That’s the Stock Yards branch of the “L” at back.

CSL one-man car 3286 is at Montrose and Broadway on Route 78 in April 1942.

CSL one-man car 3286 is at Montrose and Broadway on Route 78 in April 1942.

CSL one-man car 3116 is at 18th and LaSalle.

CSL one-man car 3116 is at 18th and LaSalle.

CTA 7027 is picking up a crowd of shoppers as it heads eastbound at 63rd and Halsted, sometime between 1948 and 1951.

CTA 7027 is picking up a crowd of shoppers as it heads eastbound at 63rd and Halsted, sometime between 1948 and 1951.

CTA 177 is westbound on 63rd and State in March 1950, having just passed under the viaduct near Englewood Union Station.

CTA 177 is westbound on 63rd and State in March 1950, having just passed under the viaduct near Englewood Union Station.

CTA 478 is westbound on 63rd Street at Harvard in 1952. That's the old Harvard "L" station on the Englewood branch at rear, which closed in 1992.

CTA 478 is westbound on 63rd Street at Harvard in 1952. That’s the old Harvard “L” station on the Englewood branch at rear, which closed in 1992.

309 W. 63rd Street today. Additional steel was placed under the "L" when 63rd was widened.

309 W. 63rd Street today. Additional steel was placed under the “L” when 63rd was widened.

Jeff Marinoff writes:

I’ve been meaning to contact you for a long time, but I never seem to get around to it. I have a huge collection of original 8 x 10 transportation photos and vintage post cards. Many of which are from the Chicago area. Attached is just a ‘very small’ sample of what I have.

Well, we are certainly very appreciative of this. Thank you for sharing these great pictures with our readers.

Wes Moreland’s Chicago in 1/4″ Scale

Eric Bronsky recently posted this video, featuring some incredibly detailed models made by Wes Moreland:

Pacific Electric, Hollywood Freeway

FYI, John Bengston runs a blog called Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more). Streetcars and interurbans appear frequently in his posts.

We recently sent Mr. Bengston a suggestion for an article, covering filming locations for the 1941 W. C. Fields film Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. There are some shots of the Pacific Electric in this film, in particular the Glendale-Burbank line, and also the Hollywood Freeway, which was new at the time.

He does a tremendous job with his research, and he certainly took the ball and ran with it.

Part two has just been published and can be found here. You can find part one here.

Jack Bejna writes:

Congratulations on your third anniversary. I’m happy that I get a chance to enhance your fine posts once in awhile. I hope that there are many more posts to come.

Here’s a few winter shots on the CA&E. You’ll notice on the plow shots that they would put a plow on

just about any motor when they needed to clear the yard, and, probably along the main line if needed.

Ingenuity in action on the “Roarin’ Elgin!”

Don's Rail Photos: ""Carolyn" was built by Niles Car in 1904. It was rebuilt as 209, a trailer coach, in 1924 and rebuilt in May 1939. It was retired in 1959." From Ed Halstead's blog Modeling Insull's Empire in O Scale: "Parlor-buffet service was initiated in 1904. The parlor-buffet car Carolyn, although built after the original series of cars, was built much to the standards of the original cars. The Florence was built in 1906 and was slightly longer then the cars built before it. The Carolyn was a trailer while the Florence was a half-motor." A half-motor car had two motors instead of the usual four. It could run in a train at normal speeds, but reduced the power consumption on the line.

Don’s Rail Photos: “”Carolyn” was built by Niles Car in 1904. It was rebuilt as 209, a trailer coach, in 1924 and rebuilt in May 1939. It was retired in 1959.” From Ed Halstead’s blog Modeling Insull’s Empire in O Scale: “Parlor-buffet service was initiated in 1904. The parlor-buffet car Carolyn, although built after the original series of cars, was built much to the standards of the original cars. The Florence was built in 1906 and was slightly longer then the cars built before it. The Carolyn was a trailer while the Florence was a half-motor.” A half-motor car had two motors instead of the usual four. It could run in a train at normal speeds, but reduced the power consumption on the line.

CA&E car 308, built by Niles in 1906.

CA&E car 308, built by Niles in 1906.

CA&E car 309, built by Hicks in 1908.

CA&E car 309, built by Hicks in 1908.

CA&E cars 315 and 207. Don's Rail Photos: "315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962. 207 was built by Niles Car in 1904. It was rebuilt in September 1940 and retired in 1955."

CA&E cars 315 and 207. Don’s Rail Photos: “315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962. 207 was built by Niles Car in 1904. It was rebuilt in September 1940 and retired in 1955.”

CA&E suburban streetcar 500, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1927.

CA&E suburban streetcar 500, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1927.

CA&E loco 2002 with snow plow attached. It was built by G. E. in 1920.

CA&E loco 2002 with snow plow attached. It was built by G. E. in 1920.

Again, CA&E loco 2002 with snow plow attached. It was built by G. E. in 1920.

Again, CA&E loco 2002 with snow plow attached. It was built by G. E. in 1920.

Don's Rail Photos says CA&E 3 "was built in the company shops in 1909 as a plow."

Don’s Rail Photos says CA&E 3 “was built in the company shops in 1909 as a plow.”

CA&E locos 3003 and 3004 were built by Westinghouse in 1923.

CA&E locos 3003 and 3004 were built by Westinghouse in 1923.

At left CA&E 453, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945, and at right, 413, built by Pullman in 193.

At left CA&E 453, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945, and at right, 413, built by Pullman in 193.

As always, we thank Jack for sharing these wonderful pictures.

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.

This book makes an excellent gift and costs just $17.99 plus shipping. That’s $4.00 off the list price.

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 206th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 362,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

Recent Finds, 1-12-2018

Lehigh Valley Transit express freight car C7. built by Jewett in 1913, is seen here at the Fairview car barn in the 1940s.

Lehigh Valley Transit express freight car C7. built by Jewett in 1913, is seen here at the Fairview car barn in the 1940s.

Here are some of our recent photographic finds, which include some very rare scenes. In addition, we have some interesting correspondence, and great Chicago Aurora & Elgin pictures courtesy of Jack Bejna.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

PS- We note with great regret the passing of Al Reinschmidt, who was an occasional poster on the Chicagotransit Yahoo discussion group (as “Buslist”), and also left a few comments on this blog. We learned of his passing from the Illinois Railway Museum Facebook page:

We are saddened to report the passing of one of our regular volunteers, Al Reinschmidt. Al was a civil engineer known as one of the foremost experts on rail design and performance and worked on high speed rail projects around the world. At IRM he volunteered in our restoration shop and as a streetcar motorman but he was probably best known to visitors as one of the regular announcers at our Day Out With Thomas event and as the reader of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” during Happy Holiday Railway. His kindness, geniality and vast store of knowledge will be missed.

Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Annual Fundraiser

In about 20 day’s time, our annual bill to fund this site and its web domain comes due.  That comes to $400, or just over $1 per day for the entire year.  So far, we have collected $60 of the required amount. If you have already contributed, we are particularly grateful.

If you enjoy reading this blog, and want to see it continue, we hope you will consider supporting it via a donation.  You can also purchase items from our Online Store. With your help, we cannot fail.

Recent Finds

Lehigh Valley Transit cars 701 (left) and 812 (right) on a fantrip, some time prior to the 1951 abandonment of interurban service on the Liberty Bell route.

Lehigh Valley Transit cars 701 (left) and 812 (right) on a fantrip, some time prior to the 1951 abandonment of interurban service on the Liberty Bell route.

CSL 6268 is at the east end of the 43rd - Root line (approximately 1146 E. 43rd Street) in the 1940s. In the background, you can see a pedestrian bridge over the nearby Illinois Central Electric tracks. 6268 was known as a Multiple Unit caar. Don's Rail Photos says, "6268 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was rebuilt as one man service in 1932." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 6268 is at the east end of the 43rd – Root line (approximately 1146 E. 43rd Street) in the 1940s. In the background, you can see a pedestrian bridge over the nearby Illinois Central Electric tracks. 6268 was known as a Multiple Unit caar. Don’s Rail Photos says, “6268 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was rebuilt as one man service in 1932.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The same location today.

The same location today.

John Smatlak writes:

I really enjoyed seeing that photo of CSL 6268 is at the east end of the 43rd – Root line. This location was of course just a block away from the terminus of the Kenwood branch of the L. Here is a photo your readers may enjoy taken 11-12-28 of the L terminal and the Chicago Junction freight tracks that passed under the L at that location. Thanks!

"Though still carrying a faded passenger car paint scheme, and sporting a South Chicago - Sheffield route sign, CSL #2828 has long since entered work service to pull cars around the shops." Don's Rail Photos: "2828 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in July 1904, #242, as CERy 123. It became C&SC Ry 813 in 1908 and renumbered 2828 in 1913. It became CSL 2828 in 1914 and scrapped in 1946." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

“Though still carrying a faded passenger car paint scheme, and sporting a South Chicago – Sheffield route sign, CSL #2828 has long since entered work service to pull cars around the shops.” Don’s Rail Photos: “2828 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in July 1904, #242, as CERy 123. It became C&SC Ry 813 in 1908 and renumbered 2828 in 1913. It became CSL 2828 in 1914 and scrapped in 1946.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CTA prewar PCC 7033 at 115th and Cottage Grove, the south end of Route 4, circa 1952-55. In the background, you can see the adjacent Illinois Central Electric embankment.

CTA prewar PCC 7033 at 115th and Cottage Grove, the south end of Route 4, circa 1952-55. In the background, you can see the adjacent Illinois Central Electric embankment.

CTA prewar PCC 4034, presumably at 71st and Ashland.

CTA prewar PCC 4034, presumably at 71st and Ashland.

The old Larrabee "L" station at North Avenue. This station was also called Larrabee and Ogden, after Ogden was extended north between 1926 and 1930. It was closed by the CTA in 1949 as part of a service revision.

The old Larrabee “L” station at North Avenue. This station was also called Larrabee and Ogden, after Ogden was extended north between 1926 and 1930. It was closed by the CTA in 1949 as part of a service revision.

These old wooden "L" cars may be in storage at Skokie Shops, before the facilities were expanded.

These old wooden “L” cars may be in storage at Skokie Shops, before the facilities were expanded.

This view looks north towards the Wilson "L" yard and shops. You can see the interlocking tower, and at left, part of the ramp down to Buena Yard, which was used for freight. Dan Cluley writes, "Looking at the Wilson Shops photo, am I correct that those are some of the piggyback flat cars in between the grass and the L structure?" I asked an expert. Here’s what J. J. Sedelmaier says: “It’s absolutely the NSL Ferry-Truck equipment! That’s the old Wilson Shops building in the background and that’s the north end of Montrose Yards and transfer station.” Bill Shapotkin says this is Montrose Tower.

This view looks north towards the Wilson “L” yard and shops. You can see the interlocking tower, and at left, part of the ramp down to Buena Yard, which was used for freight. Dan Cluley writes, “Looking at the Wilson Shops photo, am I correct that those are some of the piggyback flat cars in between the grass and the L structure?” I asked an expert. Here’s what J. J. Sedelmaier says: “It’s absolutely the NSL Ferry-Truck equipment! That’s the old Wilson Shops building in the background and that’s the north end of Montrose Yards and transfer station.” Bill Shapotkin says this is Montrose Tower.

Wilson Yard and Shops. Note the North Shore Line freight station at lower left. (J. J. Sedelmaier Collection)

Wilson Yard and Shops. Note the North Shore Line freight station at lower left. (J. J. Sedelmaier Collection)

Although this is not the sharpest picture, it does show the Austin Boulevard station on the Garfield park "L", probably circa 1954. We are looking east. To the left, you can see the southern edge of Columbus Park. At the far left, temporary tracks are already being built, which the "L" would shift to in this area on August 29, 1954. This is the present site of the Eisenhower Expressway.

Although this is not the sharpest picture, it does show the Austin Boulevard station on the Garfield park “L”, probably circa 1954. We are looking east. To the left, you can see the southern edge of Columbus Park. At the far left, temporary tracks are already being built, which the “L” would shift to in this area on August 29, 1954. This is the present site of the Eisenhower Expressway.

Here, we are looking east along Van Buren, just west of Paulina. The tracks in the foreground are the temporary Garfield Park "L" right of way. The Congress (later Eisenhower) expressway is under construction to the right, with the Douglas Park "L" in the background. This photo was probably taken in early 1954. The Garfield Park "L" west of Paulina has already been demolished, but the Marshfield station still appears intact. This could not be removed until the Douglas line was re-reouted over the Lake Street "L".

Here, we are looking east along Van Buren, just west of Paulina. The tracks in the foreground are the temporary Garfield Park “L” right of way. The Congress (later Eisenhower) expressway is under construction to the right, with the Douglas Park “L” in the background. This photo was probably taken in early 1954. The Garfield Park “L” west of Paulina has already been demolished, but the Marshfield station still appears intact. This could not be removed until the Douglas line was re-reouted over the Lake Street “L”.

CTA 6123-6124 on the outer end of the Douglas Park line, probably in the early 1950s.

CTA 6123-6124 on the outer end of the Douglas Park line, probably in the early 1950s.

This is an unusual picture, as it shows the Calvary "L" station in Evanston, which was a flag stop in both directions. Located opposite the entrance to Calvary cemetery, this station closed in 1931 and was replaced by South Boulevard a few blocks north. This view looks north from the southern edge of the cemetery. As you can see, the platforms appear relatively short. They were removed in the 1930s, but the rest of the station was not demolished until 1995. This photo probably dates to around 1930.

This is an unusual picture, as it shows the Calvary “L” station in Evanston, which was a flag stop in both directions. Located opposite the entrance to Calvary cemetery, this station closed in 1931 and was replaced by South Boulevard a few blocks north. This view looks north from the southern edge of the cemetery. As you can see, the platforms appear relatively short. They were removed in the 1930s, but the rest of the station was not demolished until 1995. This photo probably dates to around 1930.

A close-up of the Calvary station.

A close-up of the Calvary station.

J.J. Sedelmaier writes:

Does ANYone have shots of the Calvary stop on the “L” while still in service, prior to the opening of South Boulevard in 1930?

I think we may have something (see above).

J.J. replies:

YES !! I saw this last week ! So exciting ! The best shot so far, and I’ve been searching for decades !! Thanks for the heads-up David !!

The funny thing is, the photographer, whoever it was, doesn’t seem to have been trying to take a picture of the Calvary station at all. Otherwise, they surely would have moved in a lot closer first. It is a picture of a largely empty street, that just happens to show the station in the distance, which at the time was probably considered fairly unimportant.

J.J. continues:

Here are the shots I have here. I took the 1970’s pics. Bruce Moffat took the 1994 pics. The 1931 shot is a company photo that I got from Malcolm D. MacCarter in the mid-90s.

This January 12, 1931 photo shows the South Boulevard station under construction. It was in a better location from the standpoint of patronage, and replaced the Calvary station a few blocks away (which you can see in the distance). (Chicago Rapid Transit Company Photo)

This January 12, 1931 photo shows the South Boulevard station under construction. It was in a better location from the standpoint of patronage, and replaced the Calvary station a few blocks away (which you can see in the distance). (Chicago Rapid Transit Company Photo)

A close-up of the previous image, showing the Calvary station in the distance.

A close-up of the previous image, showing the Calvary station in the distance.

The entrance to the former Calvary station, as it appeared in 1970 when it was being used by a monument company. (J. J. Sedelmaier Photo)

The entrance to the former Calvary station, as it appeared in 1970 when it was being used by a monument company. (J. J. Sedelmaier Photo)

A side view of the former Calvary station in 1970. The platforms were removed in the 1930s and hardly any photos exist showing them in service. (J. J. Sedelmaier Photo)

A side view of the former Calvary station in 1970. The platforms were removed in the 1930s and hardly any photos exist showing them in service. (J. J. Sedelmaier Photo)

Bruce Moffat took this picture on February 15, 1994 just before the station entrance was demolished.

Bruce Moffat took this picture on February 15, 1994 just before the station entrance was demolished.

The interior of the former Calvary "L" station as it appeared on February 15, 1994. (Bruce Moffat Photo)

The interior of the former Calvary “L” station as it appeared on February 15, 1994. (Bruce Moffat Photo)

In addition, here is a classic shot that Mr. Sedelmaier shared with us:

On July 23, 1955, John D. Emery, then president of the Evanston Historical Society, purchased the last Shore Line ticket sold at the Church Street station from agent George Kennedy. The ticket window was closed the following day (Sunday), and the last Shore Line train ran in the early hours of July 25 (Monday). The ticket remains in the Historical Society collection. Emery was later (1962-1970) the mayor of Evanston, during which time he vetoed an anti-discrimination housing ordinance. (Evanston Photographic Service/J.J. Sedelmaier Collection Photo)

On July 23, 1955, John D. Emery, then president of the Evanston Historical Society, purchased the last Shore Line ticket sold at the Church Street station from agent George Kennedy. The ticket window was closed the following day (Sunday), and the last Shore Line train ran in the early hours of July 25 (Monday). The ticket remains in the Historical Society collection. Emery was later (1962-1970) the mayor of Evanston, during which time he vetoed an anti-discrimination housing ordinance. (Evanston Photographic Service/J.J. Sedelmaier Collection Photo)

(J.J. Sedelmaier Collection)

(J.J. Sedelmaier Collection)

Chicago & Calumet District Transit Company (aka Hammond, Whiting & East chicago) car 70 in Hammond. In our post More Hoosier Traction (September 2, 2015), we ran another photo that appears to have been taken at the same time as this. If so, the date is February 1939. There is some damage to this old print, in the area around car 70's headlight. Trolley service here ended in 1940. (Richard J. Anderson Photo)

Chicago & Calumet District Transit Company (aka Hammond, Whiting & East chicago) car 70 in Hammond. In our post More Hoosier Traction (September 2, 2015), we ran another photo that appears to have been taken at the same time as this. If so, the date is February 1939. There is some damage to this old print, in the area around car 70’s headlight. Trolley service here ended in 1940. (Richard J. Anderson Photo)

Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee wood car 300 on a fantrip on the streets of Waukegan circa 1940. From 1939 until 1942, the North Shore Line allowed Central Electric Railfans' Association to use 300 as their "club car." Here, we see it parked in front of Immaculate Conception school.

Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee wood car 300 on a fantrip on the streets of Waukegan circa 1940. From 1939 until 1942, the North Shore Line allowed Central Electric Railfans’ Association to use 300 as their “club car.” Here, we see it parked in front of Immaculate Conception school.

North Shore Line car 731 (and train) at the Wisconsin State Fair, possibly circa 1930. In order to access the fairgrounds, North Shore Line cars had to get there via the Milwaukee Electric. Incompatibilities between the two interurbans' wheel profiles resulted in wheel damage to the NSL.

North Shore Line car 731 (and train) at the Wisconsin State Fair, possibly circa 1930. In order to access the fairgrounds, North Shore Line cars had to get there via the Milwaukee Electric. Incompatibilities between the two interurbans’ wheel profiles resulted in wheel damage to the NSL.

The North Shore Line in Highland Park, circa 1930. Here, we are looking north along the Shore Line Route, which quit in 1955. NSL tracks ran parallel to the nearby Chicago & North Western commuter line, which would be to the left of this view.

The North Shore Line in Highland Park, circa 1930. Here, we are looking north along the Shore Line Route, which quit in 1955. NSL tracks ran parallel to the nearby Chicago & North Western commuter line, which would be to the left of this view.

The information on the back of this picture says we are looking south from Central Avenue in Highland Park. At right, thiee are North Shore Line tracks on the old Shore Line Route. A small shelter is visible at right. This picture is circa 1930. The area the North Shore Line once occupied is now a parking lot.

The information on the back of this picture says we are looking south from Central Avenue in Highland Park. At right, thiee are North Shore Line tracks on the old Shore Line Route. A small shelter is visible at right. This picture is circa 1930. The area the North Shore Line once occupied is now a parking lot.

The same location today.

The same location today.

These photos have been added to our post The Fairmount Park Trolley (November 7, 2017), which included several other photos of the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway in Wildwood, New Jersey:

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)

Recent Correspondence

On June 26, 1960 a pair of CTA single-car units went out on a portion of the Lake Street "L", but apparently did not go on the ground-level portion of the route. Here, we see the train heading westbound at Clinton and Lake. (Charles L. Tauscher Photo)

On June 26, 1960 a pair of CTA single-car units went out on a portion of the Lake Street “L”, but apparently did not go on the ground-level portion of the route. Here, we see the train heading westbound at Clinton and Lake. (Charles L. Tauscher Photo)

Miles Beitler writes:

I was doing some online research recently and followed a link to a photo on your blog. The photo was posted under “Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part 6” and included the following in the caption:

“Here’s an interesting streetscape that could not be duplicated today. According to the back of the picture, it shows the view looking east from South Boulevard and Austin, on the eastern edge of Oak Park. The Lake Street “L”, where it ran on the ground, had a very narrow right-of-way that the 6000s, with their bulging sides, could not fit in.”

I have read similar comments posted by others, i.e., that the reason no 6000s were used on the Lake Street “L” is that the cars were too wide. While it’s true that the curved body 6000s were wider than the 4000s and wood cars, the difference was slight — not more than a foot at their widest point. So I don’t think that would explain why they weren’t used. I think a more logical explanation is that the ground level portion of the Lake Street “L” used trolley wire, and none of the original 6000s had trolley poles. (I believe that the only exception was one experimental high performance trainset (6127-6130) that was used in Evanston Express service.) You will note that the original “baldy” 4000s also were not used in Lake Street service for the same reason. The steel roofs of those 4000s made it very difficult to retrofit them with trolley poles.

By the time the western portion of the line was elevated and converted to third rail in 1962, the high performance 2000s were already ordered. So the CTA probably decided to just keep using the older cars until the 2000s arrived. Cars 1-50 did have trolley poles, but those cars were not received until shortly before the elevation of the Lake Street “L” at which time they would not have been needed anyway, so they were used on the Evanston line instead, and later some were used on the Skokie Swift.

Does this make sense, or am I all wet?

Either way, keep up your fantastic blog!

Thanks for writing. You have made an interesting hypothesis, which deserves consideration.

First of all, I have heard enough stories regarding the tight clearances on the ground-level portion of Lake to believe there was some sort of clearance problem that prevented the use of curved-sided rapid transit cars there. The most logical explanation so far is that this involved the gatemen’s shantys.

Having ridden the Lake Street “L” numerous times prior to the October 28, 1962 relocation of the outer portion of the route onto the C&NW embankment, I can assure you that clearances were very tight, as two tracks and platforms were shoehorned into a side street, which continued to have two-way auto traffic.

There was a fantrip on Lake during 1960 using one of the single-car units in the 1-50 series, and while this train did venture down to the lower level of Hamlin Yard, it apparently made no effort to go west of Laramie. You would think they would have done so had this been possible. (See photo above.)

Similar clearance restrictions have existed on other parts of the system. Skokie Swift cars that had pan trolleys fitted were not allowed to go downtown, and cars with poles cannot go into the Kimball subway. (At the moment, this restriction would only apply to 4271-4272.)

That being said, let us take a step back and review how the Lake Street “L” fit in with the strategic thinking of various planners over the decades.

In 1937, the City of Chicago proposed building an aerial highway on the Lake Street “L” structure, and some other “L”s such as Humboldt Park. In theory this would have been something like the West Side Elevated Highway in New York City, which was built between 1929 and 1951 and which partially collapsed in 1973.

Express bus service would have replaced the rapid transit line, as would have a beefed-up Garfield Park “L” in this plan. We can be glad this was not built.

By 1939, this plan was abandoned in favor of the Congress Parkway Expressway that was built starting a decade later, and opened in stages between 1955 and 1960.

The City was proposing various subways all over town, in addition to the State Street and Dearborn-Milwaukee tubes that were built starting in 1938. One goal was to tear down the Loop “L”, starting with the Lake and Wabash legs.

The Lake Street “L” would have been diverted into a subway connection just west of the Loop that of course was never built. Neither was a connection built to divert the Lake “L” into the Congress line via an elevated connection near Kedzie, or Kostner, although the CTA was still intent on doing these things as of 1948.

There is some question whether the entire Lake Street “L” might have been abandoned early in the CTA era, if not for the innovation of A/B “skip stop” service that was begun in 1948. This was so successful that it was gradually used on other parts of the CTA system.

When and how were curved-side “L” cars developed? It seems likely this idea, like many others, came from New York, where some experimental 1930s BMT railcars such as the so-called “Green Hornet” had mildly curved sides.

In Chicago, curved sides appeared on ten interurbans, #451-460 for the Chicago Aurora & Elgin, designed in 1941 but not built by St. Louis Car Company until 1945, as well as the two North Shore Line Electroliners.

These were followed by four experimental sets of articulated rapid transit cars $5001-5004, delivered in 1947-48. Except for the curved sides, largely patterned after the BMT “Bluebirds: from 1939-40.

Chicago’s Initial System of Subways was designed to allow for longer and wider cars, closer to New York standards. The City may have hoped these standards could gradually be applied to the entire system, but it was not to be.

When the Chicago Transit Authority took over from the Chicago Rapid Transit Company in 1947, one primary goal was to purchase enough new steel railcars to allow the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway to open. Another goal was to get rid of the wooden “L” cars, which were getting very old and were not permitted in the subways.

When the first 6000s were delivered starting in 1950, they were first used on Douglas, but that was for test purposes. After another year or two, CTA switched things around, so the new 6000s were used in the State Street subway, and the 4000s on the more lightly used Dearborn-Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, the last wood cars were used on Lake around 1955. The last wooden :”L” cars were used in service in 1957, by which time there were enough new 6000s on hand to permit their retirements.

But else what was happening on Lake during the 1950s? By 1951-5, CTA appears to have figured out that the “problem” portion of Lake was the outer end, not the parts east of Laramie. The first suggestion was to truncate the line to Laramie, but this did not go over well in Oak Park, so the various parties got together, and the embankment plan was the result.

These plans were finalized around 1958. The relocation took place in 1962, at which time the CTA probably hoped to have taken delivery on what became the 2000-series. But there were so many changes and innovations in these cars that delivery did not occur until 1964.

So yes, it does not appear that it was ever a high priority for the CTA to use 6000s on the ground-level portion of Lake. Wood cars were replaced by 4000s around 1955, which was considered a service improvement, and within three years from that, plans were afoot to relocate service anyway.

However, if the CTA had really wanted to run 6000s on Lake, I expect changes could have been made in the locations of whatever obstacles prevented it, and additional cars could have been equipped with trolley poles, as was done for Evanston.

I doubt these would have been single-car units, though, since those were intended for “off peak” one-man operation on Evanston, something which I don’t think would have been suitable on Lake.

As it was, I don’t recall seeing 6000s on Lake much before 1979. In the wake of that year’s blizzard, which shut down the line west of Laramie for a week, so many of the newer cars had burned-out motors that it became necessary to use the older 6000s.

I hope this answers your questions.

-David Sadowski

Miles Beitler again:

Dave, you obviously know FAR more about Chicago transit than I do. You could probably give Graham Garfield some stiff competition.

I believe you recently wrote a book about trolleys. I grew up not far from the terminal of the Clark Street car line at Howard Street and I remember riding the Green Hornets to the local branch of the Chicago public library. I also remember visiting my cousins who lived a block away from the Devon car barn and seeing all of the streetcars stored there. However, I’m more interested in the “L” and interurban history. I spent my childhood watching the North Shore Line trains, and I was fortunate enough to ride an Electroliner to Racine, Wisconsin about a year before the NSL folded.

Have you given or considered giving presentations about Chicago transit at schools, libraries, etc.? WTTW channel 11 might also like to use you as a resource on Chicago transit history or for the production of programs on the subject, similar to the ones produced by Geoffrey Baer over the past 25 years.

There are a number of people, several in fact, who qualify as experts on Chicago transit. We all tend to know each other to some extent, as we’re interested in many of the same things.

I don’t feel like I am competing with any of the other “experts.” We have each found our own niche, and have different contributions to make. In fact, this blog is only successful because it is based on sharing and cooperation.

Actually, I have given a number of presentations to various groups over the years.

WTTW actually did feature the Chicago PCC book I co-authored once on Chicago Tonight. You can read about it in our post A Window to the World of Streetcars (June 2, 2016).

Our pictures do get around. Several photos that I posted to the Internet ended up being featured in an article called Displaced, which tried to determine what happened to the people who were living in the path of the Congress expressway when it was built. (See our post Some Thoughts on Displaced, August 30, 2016.)

Who knows when or where our stuff will show up in the future. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Thanks.

Ron Smolen adds:

In your last post this comment was posted in the sections about 6000s on Lake street:

“You will note that the original “baldy” 4000s also were not used in Lake Street service for the same reason. The steel roofs of those 4000s made it very difficult to retrofit them with trolley poles.”

TRUE… however, near the end of the Baldies operations, I do recall seeing LIVE and in photos
some single baldies that were placed in trains with 4000 pole equipped cars that DID operate in regular service to Harlem under wire.

Ron adds that, according to www.chicago-l.org, “baldy” 4000s ran on Lake from 1959 to 1964, paired with pole-equipped “plushies.”

Jack Bejna writes:

A Tale of Two Pictures

A short time ago there was a question raised by a reader about changing original photographs with Photoshop, thereby eliminating the original intent of the image. As an example of what I do, refer to the first image of CA&E 209. From my experience of working with CA&E images, I believe that the image was captured at the Laramie Freight House area, but of course that is only a guess. My goal is to try to improve the original image and enhance the background while preserving the original intent of the photographer when the image was captured. With this image I decided to place Car 209 in a typical situation, that is, on one of the storage tracks behind the freight house. Further, I like the look of the Niles wood cars so I added the front of sister car 207 to present an unblocked image of Car 209. I spent the rest of my efforts on improving the photograph itself with Photoshop. The final result is pretty much the way I think it looked at the time and represents a cleaner roster shot of a classic Niles interurban.

 

Moving right along with the CA&E roster, here are some images of the work cars and locomotives that kept the railroad running.
-Jack

CA&E Express Cars – Line Cars – Locomotives – Tool Cars

CA&E rostered a variety of Motors to fit the job at hand. First, the Newspaper Special, obviously a motor that probably spent time doing whatever job was needed in addition to delivering newspapers. I’ve never found a number for this car or any record of when or how it was retired.

Next, express cars 9, 11, & 15 illustrate the differences in length, configuration, etc., in the CA&E roster. Line cars 11 and 45 are next. Car 45 was purchased from the Chicago & Interurban Traction when the line quit in 1927. When Car 45 was retired it was replaced by car 11, rebuilt as a line car.

Locomotive 3 was built as a double ended plow and was used as a work motor by removing the plows.

Next up are the CA&E locomotives, including 2001-2002 built by GE in 1920, 3003-3004 built by BLW-WH in 1923-4, and 4005-4006 built by Oklahoma Railway in 1929.

Finally, Tool Cars 7 and B are shown. Tool Car B was rebuilt from a boxcar.

Here are a few more CA&E freight motors. First is an image of 5-15 in a winter scene. Before the railroad purchased 2001-2002 these two cars were commonly used as locomotives on the freight trains. Second is tool car in an unusual paint scheme. I’m glad they didn’t paint all the motors like this! Finally, here is a scene of Line Car 45 in action on a line relocation in Aurora.

Here’s a real gem that I came across searching the Internet. CA&E had a fire in the early days that destroyed many of their records, photographs, etc., so much of the early days is lost forever. Somehow this image survived somewhere, and we are able to see what express car 4 looked like, albeit with a lot of Photoshop help. I have no idea who built it or when, and how long it lasted.

Enjoy!

Jack

As always, we thank Jack for sharing these wonderful photos.

Fernandes writes:

Hello. I’m doing some reading about bus history. In 1921, Fageol launched Safety Coach and then, Model 20 and 40. Then the Twin Coach style.

I found it very interesting that they always adopted a design style similar to trains and not cars.

Well, we are the product of our time. Back in 1920 when the Fageols designed their first bus, what style reference did they have? Trains, of course.

But it’s interesting because their first “bus”, the Safety Coach, had a vehicle body. Not related to train. Some years later, they created the Twin Coach with a train looking style.

Would you provide me some info about bus/train design inspiration?

I forwarded this to Andre Kristopans, who knows much more than I ever could about bus history. Here is his reply:

At least part of the deal was that early intercity coaches often replaced branch line trains or directly competed with them. So, why not make something sort of train-like? As for the 40s, they sort of mimic what a “modern” streetcar looked like in the 1920s. Why not? Imitation can be a big compliment. By the 930s some elements of streetcar design such as rear door in very rear were replaced by designs more practical for a bus like a rear door 3/4 way back. But then new streetcars like PCCs started mimicking buses!

Kenneth Gear writes:

Another Railroad Record Club mystery solved!

Remember a year or so ago we saw RRC records for sale on eBay that were stamped “This is an audition set record and is the property of the Railroad Record Club?” We speculated that Steventon may have sent records to radio stations in an attempt to get them played on air. Well, that was not the case.

Along with the RRC catalog I received with the RRC #10 record I recently purchased was a two page notice of an “audition set program” the club was offering. The notice explains the whole program so I won’t go into detail about it since you can read it right from the notice. Interesting stuff and another RRC question answered!

The catalog was the same one that you posted in the Trolley Dodger.

This audition thing couldn’t have worked out very well. For every new order that it generated, there were likely problems with people not returning the records or paying for them.

I can see how Steventon wanted to bend over backwards to get people to hear these things, but this seems like a lot of extra work, with probably not enough reward.

Thanks very much for your detective work.

Frank Kennedy writes:

Thank you so much for the trolley book, David. Not only is it a great gift, it is a work of such devotional power. There looks to be years of searching for appropriate photographs in all of this. I really don’t know what to say except thank you for the hours future spent in great reading.

This is probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me. I didn’t respond right away, because it left me speechless.

Work on the book, from the initial proposal to the book being published, was actually less than a year. But if I think about it, I spent much of my life preparing to write such a book.

-David Sadowski

PS- Frank Kennedy is the founder of the Chicagotransit Yahoo discussion group.

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.

This book makes an excellent gift and costs just $17.99 plus shipping. That’s $4.00 off the list price.

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Larry Sakar, TM, and Speedrail

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don's Rail Photos: "1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952." It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don’s Rail Photos: “1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952.” It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Today, we are featuring some recent correspondence with Larry Sakar, author of the 1991 book Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?. This has long been a collector’s item– try finding a copy at a reasonable price, and you will see what I mean.

Larry has continued his research in the 26 years since this book came out, and has a new book in the works. Larry is very outspoken, and doesn’t pull any punches. Perhaps that is because he knows his subject so well.

Meanwhile, this Wednesday, I sent off the corrected proofs of our own book Chicago Trolleys to the publisher. That means our part in it is now pretty much done, except perhaps for answering any questions that the proofreaders might have. Then it will go to press and the publication date is September 25.

If any of you have ever written a book, you may know that it is something akin to wrestling an alligator. However, now I believe I’ve got the alligator wrestled to the ground, and am very happy with the finished product. Chances are, you will be too.

-David Sadowski

Larry A. Sakar writes:

I just discovered your site and saw the 3 color photos of LVT 1100 & 1102 loaded onto flat cars for the trip to Milwaukee (Odds and Ends, May 5, 2017). The Feb., 1948 date is not correct. Speedrail did not exist in 1948. It began on 9/2/49 after Jay Maeder bought the Waukesha line from Northland Greyhound for $110!

I know because I’m Larry Sakar, author of “Speedrail Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?” published by Interurban Press in 1991.

Cars 1100 & 1102 were purchased sometime in late October by Jay Maeder who went to Allentown for the purpose of buying additional Cincinnati Curved side lightweight cars to go with the 6 purchased by Ed Tennyson, Speedrail’s VP of operations in Sept. 1949 from Shaker Heights Rapid Transit (cars 60-65). SHRT sold Tennyson the 6 cars for $500 each and he leased them back to Speedrail. The sale was supposed to be contingent on Mr. Maeder putting up the additional $2300 for spare parts. Whether or not he did I have never been able to find out.

Maeder paid $750 each for 1100 & 1102 which were supposedly the best 2 of the 4 cars (1100-1103). You are absolutely correct about the refurbishing of 1102 into MRT car 66 which premiered on 3/31/51 and served only for 3 months before Speedrail ended all operations on 6/30/51. As part of the rehabilitation it exchanged trucks with car 64 which was wrecked in the collision with e-TM 1121 serving as Speedrail’s freight motor. That happened just 3 days after the terrible and fatal accident on the NMRA fan trip of 9/2/50. The 3 man crew on 1121 finished switching the C&NW Ry. interchange just south of West Jct. early that day and were in a hurry to get home so they ignored the proper procedure for entering the mainline from the C&NW interchange and smacked into car 64 bashing in a significant portion of the front platform. They did not have to worry about getting home early after that. All 3 were terminated. But it caused Travelers Insurance to pull the plug on Speedrail’s liability insurance because of 2 serious accidents in 3 days and also because Maeder was 6 months behind in paying the premiums. He had used money set aside for insurance to buy Shaker Heights cars 300 & 301! As President and sole stockholder he could do what he wanted. The money was used to buy equipment and not for any personal purposes thus making it perfectly legal but also perfectly stupid!

To the best of my knowledge Maeder never intended to use car 1100 for spare parts. That only happened because it was dead on arrival in Milwaukee and would not run period. 1102 blew a motor on arrival and had to be sent to TMER&T’s Cold Spring shops for repair. Cold Spring was marking up costs by 100%! The small shops facility in the Public Service building terminal could not do major repairs.

I don’t know if you would be interested but I have just completed a new manuscript entitled, “The Complete History of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line from TMER&L to Speedrail.” There are 146 pages of text plus an additional 160 pages of photos and documents. Of these there are 37 pages of color photos.

The money to pay for refurbishing 1102 into 66 came from the sale of 14 surplus ex-TM 1100 series cars to Afram Brothers Scrap Metal Company in Milwaukee. This all took place several months after Bruno V. Bitker the federal bankruptcy trustee dismissed Jay Maeder. The seats put in what became car 66 came from some of those 1100’s. It also switched trucks with the damaged car 64.

I think if Maeder had remained in charge he would never have sold those surplus 1100’s. He had a sentimental attachment to TM which he first discovered in 1926 when he attended St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin for his senior year of high school. Delafield was a stop on the Milwaukee-Watertown line.

Thanks and continue the great work. You have a fantastic website.

Thanks for writing, and also for all this wonderful information. As you are well aware I am sure, the information people write on slides, prints, negs, etc. is not always 100% accurate. I appreciate your corrections.

Lehigh Valley Transit purchased four Cincinnati curved-side cars second-hand in 1938 for the Easton Limited interurban line. Unfortunately, these cars were underpowered, and not really up to the task of working this hilly route. They were sharp-looking cars as LVT renovated them, but could not maintain the schedules of the cars they replaced. So it is no great surprise that by the time Speedrail got two of them in 1949, they were in bad shape.

Larry replied:

Yes, I do know that incorrect info often turns up in both pics and books. My 1991 Speedrail book has errors but when I wrote it in 1988 it was based on the best information I had at the time. I never dreamed that after it came out I’d be contacted by Jay Maeder’s daughter Jane and would be the recipient of several boxes of documents her father left behind. She and her late brother Jay Jr. decided that I should have them as they would never do anything with them. Neither of them knew much about Speedrail other than that their father once “owned a railroad”.

That reminds me. I saw the discussion as to whether Jay Maeder ever lived in Texas. No he didn’t but his daughter Jane Maeder Walsh lives in Houston. And Jay Sr. is survived by a lot of grandchildren. I didn’t know Jay Jr. drew that cartoon but I’m not surprised. He was an authority on the Dick Tracy comic strip having authored two books on the subject. I only spoke to him one time while he was working for the New York Daily News and was writing a column called “Lounge Lizard” which reviewed NYC lounge acts. I’ve had a lot of contact with Jane.

I wanted to scream when I got the last shipment of documents in 2012. At the bottom of the box was a scrapbook – the kind with the brown pages like many of us had as kids where we glued things in with Muselix glue. That’s what I expected to see when I opened it but instead found blank pages. Then I looked again. What he did, David, was rip out newspaper clippings related to Speedrail. Then he’d rip out the date and using a nail like the ones you get with picture hooks, would attach it to the clipping. But instead of placing the clippings on the pages he literally shoved them into the spines of each page. Well, after 60 years as I’m sure you know the newsprint deteriorated and the dates fell off as the paper deteriorated. Newsprint is notorious for that. Consequently, I ended up with about 25 clippings where the event could have happened anytime in the 22 months Speedrail existed.

You’re 100% right that the 9-2-50 accident is still controversial. I would say that in terms of blame 80% goes to Maeder and 20% to Tennyson. The Maeder/Tennyson working relationship had been deteriorating ever since the fall of 1949 when Maeder bought the Local Rapid Transit line (Milwaukee-West Junction-Hales Corners) without ever bringing the matter before the Speedrail Board (such as it was). Tennyson was opposed. He told me that when he went to Cleveland on 9/12/49 and met with Maeder’s Cleveland Attorney, Frank Taplin, Taplin told him, “Ed, whatever you do do not let Jay buy that Local Rapid Transit line. He will lose his shirt!” Tennyson was there to buy the 6 Shaker Heights curved side cars. Anyway, according to what he told me, when he found out what Maeder had done he went to the third member of the board, Oliver A. Grootemaat Speedrail’s general counsel and secretary. He said Grootemaat told him, “Maeder owns all the stock. He can do whatever he wants.!”

As for 9-2-50 Tennyson told me Maeder had asked him to draw up a schedule and rules for the 5 NMRA fan trips which he did. On the morning of 9/2 he discovered the trains were running late and that’s when he called the so-called dispatcher, Joe Bellon at the Public Service Building to find out what was going on. It was then that he found out that Maeder and one of the senior motormen, Gerald Greer had spent the night before drawing up “anticipatory train orders” that required every train to call from every siding. Also, the rules were that photo stops were to be made southbound to Hales Corners only. And anyone who did not come when time was up for the photo stop would be left behind. When Maeder’s train got to Hillcrest loop in Hales Corners the fans asked for a photostop going back to Milwaukee. Maeder should have said “NO” but he went along with it. So Tennyson called Bellon and told him to go back to the original orders where trains were to operate by schedule and timetable and only call if they ran into trouble. Maeder had called from Hillcrest to report they’d be stopping for a photostop northbound but from that point on he wasn’t heard from again. In order to allow the regularly scheduled southbound Hales Corners pass Maeder pulled in to Greenwood Jct., a siding never used which was the connection to the Lakeside Belt Line. It was seldom if ever used and once the M-R-K (Milwaukee-Racine Kenosha Line) was abandoned in Dec. of 1947 it was useless.

As a result of the reversal of orders Equitz assumed Maeder would hold at Oklahoma Ave. for him to pass. Maeder, still operating under his revised orders expected the dispatcher would tell Equitz he’d cleared Maeder’s train all the way to West Jct. The end result was that 10 people were killed because two guys didn’t get along. I do think Maeder went thru a red signal. And I also feel he had no business running the train especially since it was discovered he was color blind. If he’d been familiar with the Nachod signals that should not have made a difference. The position of the lights would have shown if the signal was red or white. Maeder was too occupied by all of the railfans gathered around him and he didn’t give the signal more than a quick glance, something you could not do with Nachod signals.

Maeder made an idiot of himself at the Coroner’s inquest. When the DA asked him why his train was running late he objected. the DA asked why he objected to his train being labeled as late and he replied, “My train was an extra train. Extra trains cannot be late. They can only be behind schedule.” HUH?? What’s the difference? Isn’t being behind schedule being late? He also testified that he and the regular motorman George Wolter weren’t relying on the signals. “They were a help but we weren’t relying on them”, is what he testified. Yes, Maeder was exonerated in court but only because the law on 4th Degree Manslaughter required it to be a deliberate act. I seriously doubt if he would be as lucky today not to mention that he personally would face a ton of lawsuits. And though he was exonerated in court he could and did not fare as well in the one court he could do nothing about, the court of public opinion. Bitker clearly didn’t want him around anymore. Tennyson said Bitker banned Maeder from the property but I don’t know if that’s true.

The Rapid Transit book I’ve completed contains photos you’ve never seen before. One of my sources is John Schoenknecht the head of the Waukesha County Historical Society and he has supplied me with some really great photos.

I see Bill Shapotkin comments quite regularly. I’ve known Bill since 1986. Great guy!

This is all great stuff. Who is publishing your book? I see that Interurbans Press put out your Speedrail volume.

Larry:

Interurbans Press did put out the Speedrail book. They published one or two books after that and went out of business. Mac Sebree, the owner retired and sold the company to video producer PENTREX. PENTREX had no interest in selling or publishing books. They bought Interurban Press for one thing and one thing only – their videos. And even if they were still around I’d be extremely reluctant to deal with them again! At the time they accepted the book they had purchased PTJ Publications which was in Waukesha. PTJ as you may know was the original publisher of Passenger Train Journal.

 In 1988 home computers and the Internet did not exist. But since they had the office in Waukesha I begged and pleaded for them to do the book there even though the normally did all books in Glendale, CA. Mike Schaefer was part of PTJ Publications and he was the person I wanted to edit and layout the book. I pointed out that it would be much easier for all concerned should any problems arise. I couldn’t hop a plane to Glendale, CA.  just like that. I was working. But driving out to Waukesha would be no problem. What I didn’t know until later was that “bad blood” existed between Mike and this Paul Hammond who ran things in Glendale. Interurban Press interpreted my request as taking sides. I was trying to do what I felt would be best especially since I knew Mike knew the subject which the California people did not. Interurban Press refused.

The book was to have been published in 1989 but a tragedy at the Waukesha office delayed it by two years. A young staff member was engaged to be married. Something happened and the engagement was called off. He become despondent and went out to Butler and killed himself by stepping in front of an on-coming C&NW train. Horrible! Anyway they resumed work on it and things seemed to go well from there. I don’t know how it works today but back then you received 3 final drafts. The first two showed the space where the photos would be and the caption but not the actual photo. The final proof was called the blue line. So the blue line arrives in the mail and I absolutely exploded. What was supposed to be a photo of the 9-2-50 Speedrail wreck was a photo of the 8-24-49 Soldiers Home wreck. I probably didn’t even need long distance I was so angry. Their excuse: “Well, we just assumed that the wrecks were one and the same.” YOU ASSUMED?? So I had to quickly run out to Waukesha. They had the Milwaukee Journals for the day of and days after the 9-2-50 wreck. With the space already dedicated we had to choose that really bad picture that appears in the book. It was the only one that fit.

There were any number of other things that happened over those 2-3 years (1988-1991). I can’t tell you how many times they told me they “expected to take a loss” on the book and discouraging things like that. Loss nothing! It sold out all of the first printing in 18 months. I had thought about pitching it to Kalmbach but didn’t think I’d stand much of a chance being an unknown at the time. I was right. In 1999 a couple of years after the video, “Rapid Transit in Milwaukee From TMER&L to Speedrail” was put out by TMER&THS of which I was Secretary and Treasurer we decided to write a companion book to the video. Jack Gervais was co-authoring it with me. He was handling everything up to Speedrail and I was writing from Speedrail to the end. When we finished it in 2000 I tried pitching it to Kalmbach now that I had a book published. They turned it down. They were full of compliments about it being well written and all but felt it was too limited as a subject and would not sell the way a book on a more popular subject like the Milwaukee Road would. Gervais then contacted Larry Plachno. I did not want to deal with him as I’d heard a great deal of negative things about him from Bill Shapotkin. Well we did end up driving all the way to Polo, Illinois only to have Plachno open the binder, look at a few pages and go, “Tsk, Tsk, Tsk! I have a problem with you people already” HUH? “All this quoting. Don’t you know a good historian never quotes. He paraphrases.” I politely took the binder, shut it, said, “Thank you for your time, Mr. Plachno. That may be your philosophy for writing books but it isn’t mine!” In the intro to the new book I address that. I don’t believe in paraphrasing because that puts my interpretation on what was said. I quote and I let my readers decide how to interpret what was said. 

So in terms of a publisher I don’t have one and I’ve no idea of who I could give it to. I’m not looking to make money from this. The Maeder family designated me “Keeper of the Flame” where Speedrail is concerned. They entrusted what Jay left behind because they feel I would know best how to make use of it. I take that both as a compliment and a responsibility to preserve this history. That is my goal, here. Norm Carlson is a perfect example of someone who understands that. I have worked with him quite a few times and enjoyed it. He’s a professional and “First & Fastest” is the high quality publication it is because of his dedication. Browsing thru your site I see much the same thing, David. You obviously have a real feel for preserving this history and those are the type of people I like to work with. I really enjoy the Trolley Dodger site.

The Speedrail book was written as a way to promote TMER&THS Inc. I quit the group 14 years ago so this book has absolutely no connection to them or any other group. I am a member of Shore Line. Norm has been very gracious in publishing my articles. I’m also writing for “Landmark,” the publication of the Waukesha County Historical Society. My goal is to leave behind a historical record so that someday someone can come along and view this history. 

I saw your comment that maybe if things had been just a little different Speedrail might still be around today. Actually, David, sad to say, Speedrail was dead before it began. The following chapters from my book and  a page from a city of Milwaukee subcommittee in March, 1945 will show you what Milwaukee thought of the Rapid Transit. Once the city caught what I call “expressway fever” and they decided the Rapid Transit line west from downtown was the place for the East-West Freeway they stopped at nothing to get it. Maeder owned the track, overhead wire, cars and bridges but not the land on which those tracks sat. That remained Wisconsin Electric Power Co. property. Shaker Heights did not have that problem. Maeder wrongly assumed that Milwaukee would rally to support his efforts to save the Rapid Transit as happened in Shaker Heights. It was the Waukesha riders who rallied to support it. Milwaukee could’ve card less except for Mayor Zeidler, of course. More to follow soon.

The photo I sent you earlier today which shows a guy up on a stage addressing a crowd of people goes with the chapter”The First Public Pledge Meeting.” The date is 6-27-51. The place was Kuney’s dance hall in the Town of Calhoun. I think the man on stage is Edwin Knappe but am not sure. You’ll read about him and the Calhoun Farms Riders Group in the chapter about them. Kuney’s is still there today if you think I should put in a present day picture. There’s nothing special about it. Calhoun Farms was to the north and west of the Calhoun Road stop on the Waukesha line. There’s a historical marker which explains about it and the area of Calhoun which is east of Waukesha. It even mentions the Rapid Transit. I have pictures of that too.

One of the people you’ll see quoted in the Speedrail section fairly often is former Speedrail motorman Don Leistikow. I’d say that at least 50% of what I learned about Speedrail over the years came from Don. I’m attaching his famous “Skunk” story. I think you” get a laugh out of it. Don was quite a story teller. He passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 85 and is sorely missed.

While I never actually met Don L. Leistikow, I did correspond with him a bit, and I almost met him once.  I went out to East Troy onetime and took some pictures, and after I posted them to the web, someone identified him in one of the pictures.  What a nice man.

Larry:

NSL fans may be interested to know that after being vacant for the last 47 years the site of the North Shore’s Harrison St. shops at S. 5th St. and W. Harrison Ave. (remember NSL called it “street” but Harrison is actually an avenue) is finally being redeveloped. Sadly, not for traction purposes. A private charter school whose name I can’t remember is building on the property all the way to where it dead-ends above the KK River and Cleveland Ave. and extending west on Harrison Ave. to the southeast corner of S. 6th St. It’s a huge, multi-story facility. Back in 2005 when I visited the site of the shops with Norm Carlson of the Shore Line interurban Historical Society and Walter Keevil of CERA I noticed that the city of Milwaukee had paved S. 5th St. from the point where the private right-of-way began on the south side of the street all the way to the fence and concrete barrier that mark where the NSL’s bridge over the river began. Let’s face it. Vacant lots do not generate property tax revenue. The dilapidated shops building stood until about 1970. I remember a Milwaukee Journal editorial cartoon and article in 1968 urging its demolition because it presented a bad image of Milwaukee to drivers coming in (northbound) on I-94 which sits below the east end of the property. The school is supposed to open for the fall 2018-2019 semester next year.

I’m sure most NSL fans don’t know this. After the 6th and Michigan station in downtown Milwaukee was razed in May or June of 1964 somebody came up with the ideas of building a tourist tower on the south end of the property at about the point where NSL trains entered and left the elevated platforms that were attached to the south end of the terminal. Here is an artists rendering of what it was going to look like from the Milwaukee Journal of 11-22-64. Of course it ever happened. What did happen was this. In the summer of 1965 the church whose denomination I have forgotten that was on the north side of Wisconsin Ave. between N. 10th & N. 11th Sts. was being forced to move. The entire block on both sides of the street was disappearing, literally. The I-43 freeway was and does cross beneath the “Avenue” at this point. So the church spent almost $2 million to buy the entire 4 square blocks where the NSL station had stood. That encompassed W. Michigan St. on the north. W. Clybourn St. on the south. N. 5th St. on the east and N. 6th St. on the west. The plan was to build the church and some sort of shopping area around it. I say the “plan” because that too never happened. I remember a wooden sign erected on the station site facing W. Michigan St. that said, “Future home of…” and it named the congregation. For the next 33 years the property sat vacant. Then in 1998 Time Insurance Co. which had been located on the corner of N. 5th St. and W. Wells St. downtown built their new corporate headquarters on the site. A check of the Milwaukee city directory shows the building there as of 1998. The Wells St. building was sold to make way for Milwaukee’s first downtown convention center which was called “MECCA – the Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center and Arena.” It was judged as the boxiest and ugliest building ever built in Milwaukee and it too fell to the wrecking ball when the new, and very underused, downtown convention center was constructed along Wisconsin Ave. between N. 4th & N. 6th Sts. Why the church was never built and how Time Insurance acquired the property (sale, foreclosure??) is something I have been unable to find out. The congregation disappears from the Milwaukee city directory in 1966. Perhaps they moved to one of the suburbs or merged with another congregation. If any of the NSL fans know I’d be very interested in the details. Time Insurance has since been thru all kinds of mergers and the building now says Securant Insurance.

In the summer of 1971 I went to the site of Ryan Tower on the abandoned NSL r.o.w. I didn’t drive back then so it meant to very lengthy bus rides from my home on Milwaukee’s northwest side. and a long walk up Ryan Rd. from the end of the Rt. 66 bus line. I knew I was at the right spot when I got to the crossing with the C&NW’s new line. And that was the only way I knew. The NSL was gone with nary a trace. I had to walk a block or so north before I came across the abandoned NSL r.o.w. As I continued north there much to my surprise was the NSL’s Carrollville substation still standing 8 years after the abandonment. I took this picture of it on 8-17-71 using a Polaroid camera I’d gotten for Christmas the previous year. My ANSCO 8-shot box camera took better pictures than that Polaroid! And then you always had the chore of having to spread this smelly fixer on the photo to keep it from curling up. So please forgive the quality of the pictures.

Larry’s Human Interest Stories

I’ll be glad to write this. There are four of them, all involving people who had they been where they had planned to be might not have lived another day.

What I have found in the 52 years I have been studying and researching the Rapid Transit and Speedrail is that fate and coincidence seem to play a major role. For example, take how I got to know Jane Maeder Walsh, Jay’s daughter. In 1991 when the Speedrail book came out she had a daughter who was a student at Carroll College (now University) in Waukesha. Jane was living in Atlanta at the time but decided to come to Waukesha for a visit. While there she decided to go to the Waukesha Public Library and see what she could find out about “the railroad that my father owned.” At first, all the librarian was able to find was a folder containing a few newspaper clippings from the Waukesha Freeman, Waukesha’s daily newspaper. Then she remembered that the library had just received a new book about Speedrail. She gave it to Jane to browse through there since she obviously would not be able to borrow it.

A short time later, on a Saturday morning my phone rang. The lady on the other end asked if I was the person who wrote the Speedrail book. I said I was. She said, “My name is Jane Walsh. I know that name doesn’t mean anything to you until I tell you my maiden name. It is Maeder and Jay Maeder was my father.” I kind of held my breath for a second thinking the next thing I’d hear was that she didn’t like the things Tennyson said about her father and she was going to sue me. Quite to the contrary she wanted to know where she could go to buy copies of the book. I put her in touch with one of the local hobby shops that I knew was carrying it and she bought half a dozen copies for her family. I didn’t hear from her for quite a while after that until the day she and her brother discovered a box of material relating to Speedrail, long forgotten, left behind by her father. She said that she and her brother had no interest in it and asked if I would want it? Are you kidding? Over the course of the next few years they found other boxes of things. She e-mailed Jay Jr. and asked if he wanted it. He replied, “Are we still in touch with that Sakar guy?” Jane said she had talked to me about it and I’d said I wanted it if her brother didn’t. Jay Jr. then replied, “Let’s face it… neither you nor I will ever make anything out of this stuff. I say, let’s make him keeper of the flame. Larry will know what to do with it.” That was a great honor that they had confidence that I could make use of the material.

We still keep in touch by e-mail from time to time. My friend and colleague Chris Barney and I paid to have copies made of that picture of her father walking alongside car 60 flagging it on the inaugural Speedrail fan trip of 10-16-49. We sent them to her and she was thrilled. It’s the only picture she has of her father with “his railroad.”

You might remember that on the 9-2-50 the motorman of the 1192-93 heavy duplex that collided with Maeder’s train (39-40) was LeRoy Equitz. In the fall of 1971, I got a job as a student library aide at the main library in downtown Milwaukee. One night I was sitting in the lunchroom on break with a brother and sister who also worked there. Terry, the brother struck up a conversation with me. “We hear you like trains.” I said, “Well yes. I do like trains but my main interest is streetcars and interurbans.” They had no clue as to what either of those were. Terry said, “Our uncle was a train engineer.” I said, Oh really, where?” He said, “Right here in Milwaukee.” I asked which railroad he worked for, thinking it had to be either the Milwaukee Road or the C&NW. Terry said neither one sounded like the one their uncle had mentioned. I asked when he worked as an engineer and he said, “In the ’50’s.” Then he continued. “Our uncle was involved in an accident and ended up losing a foot because of it.” Suddenly, my curiosity was on high, so to speak.” So I said, “This accident. Could it have been in 1950 itself?” Terry said, “Come to think of it, yes. He did say 1950.” So I continued, “And this accident, could it possibly have been on Labor Day weekend in 1950?” BINGO! He said that it was. That’s when I said, “Don’t tell me your uncle’s name. Let me guess it. Is it LeRoy Equitz?” The brother and sister sat there for a second in amazement. “Yes. How on earth did you know that?” Of course I explained about Speedrail and told them which newspaper and dates to look at if they wanted more information. As I recall, LeRoy was still living but he had moved away some years earlier. I don’t recall to where so I never had an opportunity to talk to him.

You ask yourself what were the odds that I’d end up working with the niece and nephew of LeRoy Equitz. And I have found that to be the case so often in this hobby. So call it fate, destiny, coincidence. There are times when you can’t help but feel this was meant to be.

Thanks for taking the time to write this and your other reminiscences. I’d like to share these with my readers.

Naturally, I won’t use any of the material you sent me from your upcoming book, but is there anything else that you would not want me to run in my blog?

Larry:

Please feel free to use any of the material I’ve sent you for the Trolley Dodger. Anything and everything I write is for the enjoyment and/or information of others. What’s the point of keeping what I’ve learned over the years to myself? That benefits no one!

I saw the piece in The Trolley Dodger on the late Maury Klebolt. From 1983 to 1987 I went out to SFO every September for the Historic Market Street streetcar festival. I used to see Maury at the Market and Duboce storage facility below the former San Francisco mint. He was very involved with that Market Street Railway group. I seem to recall that he acquired a couple of streetcars for them. I wasn’t acquainted with him but had stories about his fan trips from the late Jack Gervais who apparently knew him. Bill Shapotkin also told me some stories about him.

By the way I kind of chuckle every time I see a Joe L. Diaz photo of a CSL “Sedan”. My good friend Dave Stanley knew Joe very well, along with a number of other well-known Chicago fans like the late Bob Gibson. I met both Dave and Bill Shapotkin in 1986. Both Dave and Bill told me Joe would have a fit when someone called those cars “Sedans.” It would provoke an “Ooh, they weren’t called that” response. I knew him by sight but I didn’t actually know him as such. I remember seeing him at CERA meetings in the back of the room selling books. That was back in the days when CERA met at the old Midland Hotel. I believe that’s now called the Blackhawk Hotel. I was a CERA member in the ’90’s but didn’t keep up my membership. Going to meetings meant having to drive to either Kenosha and take METRA which also meant leaving the meeting early to catch the 9:00pm train back to Kenosha and then an 11:00pm one hour drive back to Milwaukee. I never cared for night driving. Then in 2009 I lost all of the sight in my left eye as a result of diabetic retinopathy, which I didn’t know I had until it was too late. Since then I have been advised not to drive at night or on the highway or expressway. I no longer have the necessary depth perception and bright light, especially headlights coming at me blind me. Amtrak experimented with a late night (first 11:00pm then changed to 10:30pm) train to Milwaukee but they never promoted it so the ridership never materialized. Now the last train to Milwaukee leaves Chicago at 8:45pm.

I knew a lot of really nice guys in Chicago all of whom I have not seen nor spoken with in at least 15 years. Bruce Moffat and Ray DeGroote are two who come to mind. I always called Ray the Rick Steeves of the traction world. In any Ray DeGroote program you could always count on a money lesson, a geography lesson and a culture lesson. When I was the program director for TMER&THS from 1989 to 1995, I used to refer to Ray as “our world traveler”. The last time I saw Bruce was on a CERA fan trip on METRA Electric in the ’90’s. Bill Shapotkin was the trip director. At the first photo stop GK wanted a photo with the other car host and myself. Bruce took the picture but to this day I’ve never seen it.

I haven’t seen all of the issues of The Trolley Dodger but here are some Milwaukee streetcar photos from my collection that I think readers might enjoy.

Every now and then you get a photo that really has you stumped trying to figure out where it was taken. That’s what happened with this photo given to me by Bob Genack. I saw the RT 35 Route sign and stupidly assumed this had to be somewhere on the 35th Street route. But what really threw me a curve was the “35th St.” sign in the destination sign box below the big roof Route sign. If this was a northbound car it should have said “Burleigh,” and if southbound “St. Paul”. After puzzling over it I looked it over with a magnifying glass to see if I could detect any business names. And there in the left background was the solution. This is a time exposure so it’s a “ghosted” image. But if you look closely you will see a TM heavy duplex. OK. Now I see what this was all about. This is a TM posed, company photo. The 943 isn’t on 35th St. It’s on Michigan Street. You can’t see it but the Public Service Building is just out of the right hand side of the picture. The duplex is inbound from Sheboygan on N. 3rd St. It will turn left onto Michigan St. go one block east and then turn right onto N. 2nd St. to enter the PSB terminal. Those aren’t passengers standing waiting for the streetcar. They are TM company employees posing for the picture. The 943 looks brand new so I’m thinking this was taken in about 1928 or 1929. OK TM, you fooled me.

Streetcar advertising was a frequent occurrence on TM. But unlike the buses of today where the advertising is put on mylar sheets and then attached to the bus with a heat gun, and it is simply peeled off when the time is up, in streetcar days the car was actually repainted. Here’s one of the all-time classic examples of a repainted Milwaukee streetcar that is from the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. days. M&STC bought TMER&T at the end of 1952 and took over operation of the system on Jan. 1, 1953. They continued to use “The Transport Company” as their shortened name. M&STC lasted until July, 1975 when Milwaukee finally municipalized its transit system when M&STC was purchased by Milwaukee County. That is when the present-day Milwaukee County Transit System was born. But the “Transport Company” name had become so ingrained in the minds of Milwaukeeans that many continued to call it “The Transport Company” for quite some time after the county took over. Now everyone refers to it as MCTS.

Anyway, in 1955, car 943 was chosen to be repainted with a “safety message” from the Milwaukee Safety Commission. Isn’t it a bit ironic that the car advertising safety was involved in an accident downtown at 4th and Wells Streets in a collision with a city garbage truck? I guess the car didn’t heed its own message! The close-up b&w shot was taken at the Farwell Ave. terminal where Rt. 10 streetcars and Rt. 21-North Ave. trolleybuses laid over. The trolley bus service on Rt. 21 North Ave. lasted until 1961 or 1962 when it was converted to diesel bus operation using the new 1500 series GM new look fishbowl buses M&STC had purchased for that purpose. A portion of Rt. 10 east of Jackson & Wells Sts. downtown was eventually abandoned and most of the route from Jackson & Wells Strees east covered by Rt. 30 Sherman Blvd. buses.

Next up are 2 beautiful color photos of 943 in its “safety commission” paint job taken by Don Ross (Don’s Rail Photos. In the close-up shot, the car is on a fan trip at S. 81st St. and W. Greenfield Ave. which was Route 18-National Ave. That line ended at S. 92nd St. & W. Lapham Ave. Before West Junction was rebuilt Rt. 10 cars ran all the way out there via the private right-of-way which continued all the way out there. Prior to the construction of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line between 1925 & 1930, interurbans also used that r.o.w. Today the r.o.w. is still there going west from 92nd & Lapham and is used by We Energies vehicles to get to West Jct. so that the power lines can be serviced. In the second, more distant photo 943 is crossing W. Wisconsin Ave. on the p.r.o.w. that paralleled N. 52nd St. from Wells to the entrance to the Calvary Cemetery cut, later the stop for Milwaukee County Stadium from 1953 to 1957. Streetcars were gone by the opening of the baseball season in 1958.

The TM 900-series streetcars were an updated version of the 800-series built in 1920. The earliest 900’s were identical to the 800’s in all respects except one. The center motorman’s window on an 800 is narrower than on a 900. Other than that there was little if any difference. But by the time the group of cars from 976 seen here at Cold Spring shops to 985 were built, the interiors now had leather seats vs. rattan for all previous cars, and this group of 10 was unique in that they had that sort of visor/sun shield over the center window. One car in this group survives today. Car 978 was saved by former Milwaukeean Al Buetschle on behalf of the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club. They wanted a streetcar for outdoor display in Hart Park which is just to the east of the Wauwatosa end of the No. 10 line at Harwood Ave. and State Streets. Al loved the cars with the front visor and that is why he chose the 978. The car is now the property of the East Troy Electric RR and is currently undergoing an extensive rehabilitation. There is a very involved history of how the car was acquired and what happened to it over the years which I wrote for a fan publication in 1998. Al now lives in Oakley, Ca. a city in Contra Costa, County 60 miles northeast of San Francisco.

As I mentioned the 800’s had a narrower center window than the 900’s. You can see that in this photo of car 870 at the end of Rt. 40 at Kinnickinnic & St. Francis Aves. in St. Francis. The area doesn’t look much different today save for the absence of the streetcar. St. Francis is a suburb of Milwaukee on the southeast side.

Here’s a second shot of an 800 seen at the end of Rt. 11 at Howell & Howard Aves. probably in the 1950’s. Rt. 11 was converted to bus operation in 1956 and was Milwaukee’s second to last streetcar line.

At the start I mentioned “mystery” photos, and to close out here is one such example. I know where this is and I think this is probably in the 20’s or 30’s. What I can’t figure out is what a 600 series car (at least that’s what it looks like with that roof destination sign in the middle) is doing on Rt. 12 – 12th St. or why the destination sign says Center. Center is Center St. which was home to the Rt. 22 streetcar line. Rts. 21 & 22 were some of the earliest conversions from streetcar to trackless trolley. I question the destination because Rt. 12 cars usually operated all the way to 27th & Hopkins Streets. In the late 1920’s a transfer station was constructed here. It was a smaller version of the one at Farwell & North Aves. When Rt. 12 was converted to diesel bus operation the building was torn down and became a parking lot for the nearby A.O. Smith Corp. At last report the streetcar tracks are still in the pavement.

Thanks so much for this and your other recent messages. You have given me plenty of material to work with here. I am sure our readers, especially those in the Milwaukee area, will love reading this.

Who knows, it might even help you find a publisher!

This excerpt from a 1945 Milwaukee freeway report shows how even then, planners intended to take the Rapid Transit Line right-of-way for highway use.  The bottom photo, of course, was a composite.

This excerpt from a 1945 Milwaukee freeway report shows how even then, planners intended to take the Rapid Transit Line right-of-way for highway use.The bottom photo, of course, was a composite.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified this photo. Here, M&DSTC car 943 is going eastbound on the famous Wells Street trolley viaduct on a 1955 fantrip.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified this photo. Here, M&DSTC car 943 is going eastbound on the famous Wells Street trolley viaduct on a 1955 fantrip.

Book Review:

The Street Railways of Grand Rapids
By Carl Bajema and Tom Maas
Bulletin 148 of Central Electric Railfans’ Association*
Hardcover with dust jacket, 304 pages

The authors present a fascinating and very thorough account of street railway service in Grand Rapids, Michigan, covering the years up to 1935, when the system was abandoned in favor of buses. There was quite a variety of service in the area, including horse cars, cable cars, steam dummies, streetcars of various types, and interurbans connecting to other cities such as Holland. The authors coverall these ably and thoroughly.

This book has just been issued in a very limited edition, and chances are it will not be reprinted once the first edition has sold out, which I am sure it will. CERA Bulletins have a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and this book does not disappoint.

Having had a few discussions about this book with Mr. Bajema myself, when it was in its early stages, I can attest that it presented a considerable challenge. After all, Grand Rapids streetcar service ended in 1935, and anyone old enough to have ridden one, and remember it, would be close to 90 years old by now.

Color photography was still in its infancy in 1935. Fortunately, there are ways to add color to such a book, including color postcards, yellowed newspaper clippings, and maps. All these are present in abundance.

Another challenge is the lack of corporate records for the operator. And then, there is the matter of a roster, which is pretty much de rigueur for a book such as this.

Complicating matters, the Grand Rapids system used names for their cars instead of numbers, which makes it very difficult to put forward a complete roster.

The names of all such cars as of 1927 are given. Interestingly, though, the one Grand Rapids photo we have posted on this blog is not included in the book. It shows the F. W. Wurtzburg, named after a local department store. Since this photo probably dates to the 1930s, perhaps the name was applied after 1927.

This book should interest anyone who likes streetcars in general, or lives in Michigan in particular. It is available from the publisher. At 304 pages, it is also somewhat larger than the typical 224-page CERA length.

The general approach the authors have taken here could also be applied to other subjects of a similar vintage, such as the Chicago, Ottawa and Peoria, an Illinois interurban which quit in 1934.

It is somewhat ironic that Grand Rapids was at the forefront of innovation in the 1920s, but just a decade later, was also among the first cities of its size to completely replace streetcars with buses.  But there is a connection– the need to innovate was born out of necessity.

Read the book, and you’ll find out why.

-David Sadowski

The "F. W. Wurtzburg," built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

The “F. W. Wurtzburg,” built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

*Please note that The Trolley Dodger is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

Product Review

This picture shows the lightbox with the light turned off.

This picture shows the lightbox with the light turned off.

Tracing Light box Dbmier A4S USB Powered Light Pad Artcraft Tracing LED Light Board for Drawing, Tracing, Sketching, Animation Active Area 8.27″ X 12.20″

Here is a new product that should interest anyone who works with photographic negatives or transparencies. It is a modern version of a lightbox, using LED technology. It is powered by a USB cord that can connect to a computer. I expect you can get an adapter that will allow you to use AC power. Otherwise, you would be limited to using it in the vicinity of your computer.

In years past, there have been various lightboxes on the market. Some had conventional light bulbs, and others used florescent lighting. All were somewhat problematic and all were also bulkier than this ultra-thin model, which has three levels of brightness and puts out white light (which many of the older lightboxes did not).

The old type lightboxes also put out a lot of heat, which this one does not.  It’s a 21st century solution to a 20th century problem, but better late than never!

It is available for a very attractive price. I highly recommend it, and gain nothing financially if anyone does buy one. I only wish a product like this had been available 30 years ago.

-David Sadowski

Recent Correspondence

Bruce Fastow writes:

Perhaps you can guide me. I own a Johnson fare box similar to the one attached. Can you tell me how I can take the top off so I can clean out the hopper? My kids put paper in the unit.

 

Chances are, one of our readers knows the answer and can help, thanks.

Pre-Order Our New Book 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.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 221 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans Under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping. Shipping within the US is included in the price. Shipping to Canada is just $5 additional, or $10 elsewhere.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

We are pleased to report that selected images from our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will be available on September 25th in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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street-railwayreview1895-002

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 189th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 305,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

The Great Chicago Interurbans – Part One (CA&E and AE&FRE)

Here is a very rare photo taken at Laramie Yards in 1936. At left we see North Shore Line car 722, heading up a four-car train and signed for Wheaton. CNS&M cars did, of course, operate on parts of the Chicago "L" system, of course, but this is the first picture I have seen showing them at this location, posed next to CA&E cars 421 and 401. 722 was buit by Cincinnati Car Co. in 1926. I wonder what the occasion was that brought four North Shore Line cars to Wheaton? (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

Here is a very rare photo taken at Laramie Yards in 1936. At left we see North Shore Line car 722, heading up a four-car train and signed for Wheaton. CNS&M cars did, of course, operate on parts of the Chicago “L” system, of course, but this is the first picture I have seen showing them at this location, posed next to CA&E cars 421 and 401. 722 was buit by Cincinnati Car Co. in 1926. I wonder what the occasion was that brought four North Shore Line cars to Wheaton? (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

The last Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee interurban train ran in the early hours of a very cold January 21, 1963. George Hilton and John Due, in their classic book The Electric Interurban Railways in America called this the end of the Interurban Era in the United States. The 54th anniversary was just a few days ago.

Since this was also the second anniversary of this blog, we thought this an excellent opportunity to showcase the three great Chicago-area interurbans- the North Shore Line, South Shore Line, and Chicago, Aurora & Elgin.

We have been saving up images of these lines, and now find ourselves with enough for two posts. So today, we will begin with the “Roarin’ Elgin” and its one-time subsidiary, the Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric. The great majority of these images were scanned from the original medium-format negatives.

While we do lament the passing of the Interurban Era and two of the three major Chicago systems, we can celebrate them with these classic pictures. Some of these were made possible thanks to your recent generous donations.

We will round out January in a few days with our second installment of great Chicago interurbans, featuring the North Shore Line and South Shore Line. Watch this space!

-David Sadowski

A Bird’s Eye View

While visiting a friend at Rush hospital earlier this month, I took a few pictures from out the window. It just so happened his room had a spectacular view of where the Chicago Transit Authority’s Pink Line crosses over the Blue Line. There is a ramp at this location, which is also where the old Marshfied Junction was on the Met “L”. In previous posts, we have run pictures showing how this looked like before expressway construction in the early 1950s.

An inbound Blue Line train passes the point where part of an access ramp at the Damen-Ogden-Paulina station was damaged during a lightning storm. With the addition of chain-link fencing, it has since been reopened.

An inbound Blue Line train passes the point where part of an access ramp at the Damen-Ogden-Paulina station was damaged during a lightning storm. With the addition of chain-link fencing, it has since been reopened.

A southbound Pink Line train about to cross over the Blue Line.

A southbound Pink Line train about to cross over the Blue Line.

An inbound Blue Line train.

An inbound Blue Line train.

A northbound Pink Line train has just passed the location of the old Marshfield Junction on the Met "L".

A northbound Pink Line train has just passed the location of the old Marshfield Junction on the Met “L”.

The CA&E and AE&FRE

This is a rare photo, as it shows AE&FRE car 304 sometime prior to the abandonment of passenger service in 1935. Don's Rail Photos: "304 was built by St Louis Car in 1924. #1306. In 1936 it was sold CI/SHRT (aka Shaker Heights Rapid Transit) as 304 and in 1954 it was sold to CP&SW (Trolleyville USA) as 304. It was sold to Fox River Trolley Museum in 2009." I have had the pleasure of riding on this fine car at the Fox River Trolley Museum, as it has returned to its home rais after a 75-year absence. You can see pictures I took of it there on the previous blog that I worked on here. Long may it run.

This is a rare photo, as it shows AE&FRE car 304 sometime prior to the abandonment of passenger service in 1935. Don’s Rail Photos: “304 was built by St Louis Car in 1924. #1306. In 1936 it was sold CI/SHRT (aka Shaker Heights Rapid Transit) as 304 and in 1954 it was sold to CP&SW (Trolleyville USA) as 304. It was sold to Fox River Trolley Museum in 2009.” I have had the pleasure of riding on this fine car at the Fox River Trolley Museum, as it has returned to its home rais after a 75-year absence. You can see pictures I took of it there on the previous blog that I worked on here. Long may it run.

Here is an excellent model that shows AE&FRE 300's colors. (Bruce Moffat Photo)

Here is an excellent model that shows AE&FRE 300’s colors. (Bruce Moffat Photo)

CA&E wood car 138 at the Wheaton Yard on July 3, 1949. Don's Rail Photos says, "138 was built by American Car Co in March 1910, #844, as C&ME 138. It was rebuilt in 1914 and no retired date." This was one of several cars leased from the North Shore Line in 1936 and purchased from them a decade later. Ironically, this made them the last passenger cars bought by CA&E. They were considered surplus after service was cut back to Forest Park in 1953 and were scrapped shortly thereafter.

CA&E wood car 138 at the Wheaton Yard on July 3, 1949. Don’s Rail Photos says, “138 was built by American Car Co in March 1910, #844, as C&ME 138. It was rebuilt in 1914 and no retired date.” This was one of several cars leased from the North Shore Line in 1936 and purchased from them a decade later. Ironically, this made them the last passenger cars bought by CA&E. They were considered surplus after service was cut back to Forest Park in 1953 and were scrapped shortly thereafter.

Don's Rail Photos: "301 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in December 1940."

Don’s Rail Photos: “301 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in December 1940.”

Don's Rail Photos: "105 was built by Stephenson in 1903. It was modernized in August 1940 and retired in 1955. "

Don’s Rail Photos: “105 was built by Stephenson in 1903. It was modernized in August 1940 and retired in 1955. “

CA&E 302 at the Wheaton Yard in July 1948. Don's Rail Photos: "302 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in May 1940."

CA&E 302 at the Wheaton Yard in July 1948. Don’s Rail Photos: “302 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in May 1940.”

Express car 15 at Wheaton on June 18, 1947. Don's Rail Photos says, "15 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1910. It was scrapped in 1953."

Express car 15 at Wheaton on June 18, 1947. Don’s Rail Photos says, “15 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1910. It was scrapped in 1953.”

CA&E 458 at Wheaton on June 18, 1947. This was part of an order of 10 curved-sided cars built in 1945 by St. Louis Car Company. Some consider these the last standard interurban cars built.

CA&E 458 at Wheaton on June 18, 1947. This was part of an order of 10 curved-sided cars built in 1945 by St. Louis Car Company. Some consider these the last standard interurban cars built.

Don's Rail Photos: "11 was built by Brill in 1910, #16483. It was rebuilt to a line car in 1947 and replaced 45. It was acquired by Railway Equipment Leasing & Invenstment Co in 1962 and became Fox River Trolley Museum in 1984. It was lettered as Fox River & Eastern." Here we see it at Wheaton in July 1948.

Don’s Rail Photos: “11 was built by Brill in 1910, #16483. It was rebuilt to a line car in 1947 and replaced 45. It was acquired by Railway Equipment Leasing & Invenstment Co in 1962 and became Fox River Trolley Museum in 1984. It was lettered as Fox River & Eastern.” Here we see it at Wheaton in July 1948.

In the days before scanners, fans tried to document things as best they could. Here is a not-so-successful attempt to photograph the blueprint for car 451 in August 1949.

In the days before scanners, fans tried to document things as best they could. Here is a not-so-successful attempt to photograph the blueprint for car 451 in August 1949.

Don's Rai Photos: "9 was built by Niles Car in 1907. It was scrapped in 1959." This picture was taken at Wheaton in April 1952.

Don’s Rai Photos: “9 was built by Niles Car in 1907. It was scrapped in 1959.” This picture was taken at Wheaton in April 1952.

Here is 425 at the Aurora terminal in October 1949. While the CA&E used third rail extensively, the Aurora and Elgin terminals had overhead wire. This terminal replaced street running in downtown Aurora in the late 1930s. The 425 was built by Cincinnati Car Co. in 1927.

Here is 425 at the Aurora terminal in October 1949. While the CA&E used third rail extensively, the Aurora and Elgin terminals had overhead wire. This terminal replaced street running in downtown Aurora in the late 1930s. The 425 was built by Cincinnati Car Co. in 1927.

Here, we see freight motor 9 at Wheaton in 1947. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Here, we see freight motor 9 at Wheaton in 1947. (Walter Broschart Photo)

CA&E 38 at the CTA Laramie Avenue Yards on May 17, 1948. Trackage west of here was owned by CA&E. Don's Rail Photos: "38 was built by Stephenson in 1903. It was modernized in September 1939 and retired in 1959."

CA&E 38 at the CTA Laramie Avenue Yards on May 17, 1948. Trackage west of here was owned by CA&E. Don’s Rail Photos: “38 was built by Stephenson in 1903. It was modernized in September 1939 and retired in 1959.”

CA&E 139 heads up a five-car train of woods in the maroon and cream paint scheme. I don't know where this was taken. There is a siding with overhead wire, so perhaps that is a clue towards figuring it out. The water tower in the background may indicate that we are somewhere west of Laramie. Randall Hicks: "I believe the picture of 139 and train was taken facing north at Childs St. crossover. The train is pulling south off the west ladder. There was a short team track there under wire. And that is indeed somewhere west of Laramie. 🙂" Yes, Wheaton is indeed west of Laramie, thanks.

CA&E 139 heads up a five-car train of woods in the maroon and cream paint scheme. I don’t know where this was taken. There is a siding with overhead wire, so perhaps that is a clue towards figuring it out. The water tower in the background may indicate that we are somewhere west of Laramie. Randall Hicks: “I believe the picture of 139 and train was taken facing north at Childs St. crossover. The train is pulling south off the west ladder. There was a short team track there under wire. And that is indeed somewhere west of Laramie. 🙂” Yes, Wheaton is indeed west of Laramie, thanks.

CA&E 300 and 453 in Wheaton. Don's Rail Photos: "300 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in May 1942." (Anderson Photo)

CA&E 300 and 453 in Wheaton. Don’s Rail Photos: “300 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in May 1942.” (Anderson Photo)

CA&E 311 at the CTA aramie Avenue Yards on May 17, 1948. This shows a small area in the yards where CA&E could store a few trains in mid-day for use in the afternoon rush hour. I am pretty sure those 1920s Chicago bungalows at left are still there. Don's Rail Photos adds, "311 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date."

CA&E 311 at the CTA aramie Avenue Yards on May 17, 1948. This shows a small area in the yards where CA&E could store a few trains in mid-day for use in the afternoon rush hour. I am pretty sure those 1920s Chicago bungalows at left are still there. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “311 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date.”

The approximate location of the previous photo is 5413 W. Flournoy, on Chicago's west side. The area once occupied by the CA&E's storage tracks is now part of the Eisenhower expressway footprint.

The approximate location of the previous photo is 5413 W. Flournoy, on Chicago’s west side. The area once occupied by the CA&E’s storage tracks is now part of the Eisenhower expressway footprint.

A two-car train of 300-series woods on a July 8, 1949 fantrip. From the "side of the road" location under wire, I would guess this is the Mt. Carmel branch along Mannheim Road.

A two-car train of 300-series woods on a July 8, 1949 fantrip. From the “side of the road” location under wire, I would guess this is the Mt. Carmel branch along Mannheim Road.

Sunset Lines indeed! (Or sunrise, depending on the angle.) Here we see wood car 38 at an unknown location. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Sunset Lines indeed! (Or sunrise, depending on the angle.) Here we see wood car 38 at an unknown location. (Walter Broschart Photo)

CA&E 407, built by Pullman in 1923, at Wheaton Yard. (Walter Broschart Photo)

CA&E 407, built by Pullman in 1923, at Wheaton Yard. (Walter Broschart Photo)

CA&E 5 at Wheaton Yards in July 1948.

CA&E 5 at Wheaton Yards in July 1948.

CA&E 141 on single-track private right-of-way at Batavia Junction on August 13, 1952. This was one of several woods that CA&E bought from the North Shore Line in 1946, after the latter decided it no longer wanted to run wood cars in passenger service. CA&E ran wood cars right up until the end of service.

CA&E 141 on single-track private right-of-way at Batavia Junction on August 13, 1952. This was one of several woods that CA&E bought from the North Shore Line in 1946, after the latter decided it no longer wanted to run wood cars in passenger service. CA&E ran wood cars right up until the end of service.

CA&E 34 at the Wheaton Yards in June 1947. Don's Rail Photos: "34 was built by Stephenson in 1903. It was modernized in February 1940 and retired in 1959." (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

CA&E 34 at the Wheaton Yards in June 1947. Don’s Rail Photos: “34 was built by Stephenson in 1903. It was modernized in February 1940 and retired in 1959.” (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Here, part of the caption information I received with this negative must be wrong. This is CA&E 431 at the Illinois (Electric) Railway Museum. The date is given as November 17, 1962 but the location is said to be Union. Since the date is so specific, I would venture this is actually North Chicago instead. Cars were not moved to Union until 1964. (Richard S. Short Photo)

Here, part of the caption information I received with this negative must be wrong. This is CA&E 431 at the Illinois (Electric) Railway Museum. The date is given as November 17, 1962 but the location is said to be Union. Since the date is so specific, I would venture this is actually North Chicago instead. Cars were not moved to Union until 1964. (Richard S. Short Photo)

CA&E wood car 26 in Aurora. Don's Rail Photos notes: "26 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was modernized in June 1943 and retired in 1959."

CA&E wood car 26 in Aurora. Don’s Rail Photos notes: “26 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was modernized in June 1943 and retired in 1959.”

CA&E 142 at Wheaton in July 1948. Some of these cars were used on the North Shore Line as late as 1946. We wrote about that on the previous blog we worked on. Check out the post A Mystery Solved (August 6, 2013) for more details.

CA&E 142 at Wheaton in July 1948. Some of these cars were used on the North Shore Line as late as 1946. We wrote about that on the previous blog we worked on. Check out the post A Mystery Solved (August 6, 2013) for more details.

AE&FRE loco 23. The caption gives the location as Aurora, but this may be in error. After passenger service ended in 1935, this line was reduced to three miles of track in the South Elgin area-- the current site of the Fox River Trolley Museum. Electric locos ran unti 1947, and the last freight move took place in 1972. Around 1940, there were a couple of fantrips.

AE&FRE loco 23. The caption gives the location as Aurora, but this may be in error. After passenger service ended in 1935, this line was reduced to three miles of track in the South Elgin area– the current site of the Fox River Trolley Museum. Electric locos ran unti 1947, and the last freight move took place in 1972. Around 1940, there were a couple of fantrips.

AE&FRE electric freight loco 49 in Elgin in November 1939. This was one of two that the railroad had in it latter days.

AE&FRE electric freight loco 49 in Elgin in November 1939. This was one of two that the railroad had in it latter days.

AE&FRE loco 49. The neg envelope says this is Aurora, but it is much more likely to be Elgin.

AE&FRE loco 49. The neg envelope says this is Aurora, but it is much more likely to be Elgin.

You may have seen this picture before, but here we now have it from the original medium format negative. It shows a two-car train of Chicago Rapid Transit Company 4000s on an early CERA fantrip (#6) that took place on February 12, 1939. The CA&E connection is that here we see the cars on the Mt. Carmel branch. These rapid transit cars did get around-- during World War II, some were operated on the North Shore Line to move service personnel around. (Anderson Photo)

You may have seen this picture before, but here we now have it from the original medium format negative. It shows a two-car train of Chicago Rapid Transit Company 4000s on an early CERA fantrip (#6) that took place on February 12, 1939. The CA&E connection is that here we see the cars on the Mt. Carmel branch. These rapid transit cars did get around– during World War II, some were operated on the North Shore Line to move service personnel around. (Anderson Photo)

This is a well-known photo showing the Wells Street Terminal, where CA&E cars ended up in downtown Chicago starting in 1905. CA&E trains did not go around the Loop, although this terminal was adjacent to it. There is some question as to whether all CA&E cars could actually make the Loop's tight clearances. To the best of my knowledge, some could and perhaps others could not.

This is a well-known photo showing the Wells Street Terminal, where CA&E cars ended up in downtown Chicago starting in 1905. CA&E trains did not go around the Loop, although this terminal was adjacent to it. There is some question as to whether all CA&E cars could actually make the Loop’s tight clearances. To the best of my knowledge, some could and perhaps others could not.

CA&E 428 at the Laramie Avenue Yards on November 3, 1940. This was built by the Cincinnati Car Co. in 1927. (Frank Krejcik Photo)

CA&E 428 at the Laramie Avenue Yards on November 3, 1940. This was built by the Cincinnati Car Co. in 1927. (Frank Krejcik Photo)

CA&E 426 at the Elgin terminal. Although this was the "Great Third Rail," overhead wire was used here.

CA&E 426 at the Elgin terminal. Although this was the “Great Third Rail,” overhead wire was used here.

The CA&E's Aurora terminal, after it was moved here in the late 1930s.

The CA&E’s Aurora terminal, after it was moved here in the late 1930s.

A 6-car train of CA&E woods near Laramie Avenue on May 7, 1937.

A 6-car train of CA&E woods near Laramie Avenue on May 7, 1937.

A two-car train of CA&E woods at the Bellwood station. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

A two-car train of CA&E woods at the Bellwood station. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CA&E 134 and 137 under wire at State Road crossing on the Batavia branch, August 30, 1942. The flags would seem to indicate this was CERA fantrip #39. Wire was used here for a short distance instead of third rail, due to the width of the crossing.

CA&E 134 and 137 under wire at State Road crossing on the Batavia branch, August 30, 1942. The flags would seem to indicate this was CERA fantrip #39. Wire was used here for a short distance instead of third rail, due to the width of the crossing.

A four-car train of the woods that were (at that time) being leased to CA&E by the North Shore Line. We see them at York Road in 1937. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

A four-car train of the woods that were (at that time) being leased to CA&E by the North Shore Line. We see them at York Road in 1937. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

Recent Correspondence

Jade C. Huguenot writes:

I’d like to ask you a question about some historical research I’ve been doing about my hometown, Mystic, CT. I’ve got a very old postcard (1907) that features two trolleys and a utility pole with several black and white diagonal stripes at its base on our main street, just a few hundred feet away from our bascule drawbridge (it can be seen here on the left utility pole http://www.groton-ct.gov/history/detail.asp?bibid=1079).

At first, I wondered if this signaled a trolley stop, but I know from researching other postcards from my area in that time period that a trolley stop was designated by a thick band of white (several feet thick) painted onto the utility pole, usually several feet up from the ground.

Then I wondered if it could be some sort of safety alert with “black and white stripes” placed several hundred feet before a drawbridge, like the one Boston instituted after a trolley of theirs crashed into the river while the drawbridge was open, killing 47 people (https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/10/29/trolleydisaster/c451CX1qx9SpPo5tJAupFP/story.html). However, the original report from Boston’s Public Safety Commission in 1917 said that the black and white striped alert should be on a mechanized gate.

Do you have any clue if this is related to trolleys at all? I would greatly appreciate your help with this!!

I will put it in my next post, thanks. Got any pictures I can use?

Yes! Here is the picture of the trolleys on our main street. The striped utility pole is shown to the left. Trolleys first began running in Mystic in 1905, and this postcard is dated 1907. I have also included a picture of a woman waiting by a trolley stop- which looks very different from the striped pole seen in the postcard. If you need any more pictures, let me know!

Perhaps one of our readers may know, thanks. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of spending an evening in Mystic, CT and even ate at Mystic Pizza, which was made famous by a film of the same name.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. But better yet, why not write us at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

Thanks.

-David Sadowski

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1907-trolley-stop

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Lifting the Lid in the Loop

This 44-page brochure, issued by the Chicago Tunnel Co. in 1915, later provided some of the cover art for Bruce Moffat's book Forty Feet Below.

This 44-page brochure, issued by the Chicago Tunnel Co. in 1915, later provided some of the cover art for Bruce Moffat’s book Forty Feet Below.

For more than half a century, the Chicago Tunnel Company operated an extensive network of underground electric freight lines in Chicago’s business district. While their operations were crucial to Chicago’s Loop for much of the 20th century, they are still not widely known or appreciated, since they took place almost entirely out of sight to the average person.

By the 1890s, Chicago’s bustling downtown streets were crowded and congested by horse-drawn carts and wagons, as well as pedestrians, bicyclists, and cable cars. Eventually, much of this traffic was moved to underground tunnels that connected with the sub-basements of many buildings. Some Loop buildings had three levels of basements.

What eventually became 60 miles of tunnels was first authorized as a means of running telephone lines underground in 1899. Tunneling began surreptitiously, with workers digging through Chicago’s blue clay by hand using long knives. Within a few years, the tunnel’s main focus changed to moving freight, including merchandise, coal, and the resulting ashes.

You can read an early description of their operations here.

From photos, we can see that in some respects the tunnel operation was a very dirty affair. Since it hauled a lot of ashes, that should not be too much of a surprise.

One photo shows the sub-basement of the old Mandel Brothers department store, which was part of the rich history of retailing here. Chicago-style department stores eventually spread all over the world, as shown in the British-American television series Mr. Selfridge, starring Jeremy Piven. The real Harry Gordon Selfridge, Sr. (1858-1947) was Marshall Field‘s right-hand man before he went to London and opened a similar store there in 1909.*

According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago:

This retail enterprise, which would become one of Chicago’s leading department stores, was founded in 1855 by Bavarian immigrants Solomon Mandel and his uncle Simon Klein. Their first store was located on Clark Street. In 1865, after Solomon’s brothers Leon and Emanuel joined the firm, its name became Mandel Bros. Purchasing in New York and Paris and selling in Chicago, the enterprise grew. By the 1880s, its new store on the corner of State and Madison Streets employed about 800 people. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the workforce had grown to over 3,000 people. Rebuilt in 1912 and renovated in 1948, the State Street store continued to operate into the 1970s, when the company folded amid State Street’s demise as a major retail center.

This description fails to mention that Mandel Brothers sold out to competitor Weiboldt’s in 1960. Their stores were converted to Wieboldt’s, which continued in operation until 1986.

Mandel Brothers was also notable as one of the very first American retailers to oppose Adolph Hitler in 1934:

Mandel Bros. Joins Boycott of Nazi Goods
CHICAGO (Apr. 4)

Mandel Brothers, largest Jewish-owned department store outside of New York City, has discontinued the buying of German goods owing to “customer resistance,” Leon Mandel, general manager of the store, announced today.

Mandel Brothers store is one of the six largest in the Chicago Loop district and the announcement created a sensation in retail circles.

“Mandel Brothers store announced today that owing to customer resistance to German goods, the firm has discontinued all purchases of German merchandise,” the statement issued by the concern read. “During the past six months Mandel Brothers placed no orders for merchandise in Germany. In line with the Mandel Brothers policy, every effort has been and is being made to develop successfully and feature American sources of supply of such merchandise.”

Decline and Fall

While never very profitable, the tunnel system managed to survive the Great Depression. But soon enough, forces converged that put it into an irreversible decline.

Chicago had been planning rapid transit and streetcar subways from the earliest days of the “L” in the 1890s. The franchises granted to the freight tunnel system allowed the City to displace them if and when such subways were built.

Work on Chicago’s “Initial System of Subways” began on both State and Dearborn in December 1938, and while many of the tunnels in the system were cut off as a result, in the short run, the system probably benefited as it was used to haul out the clay from excavation– some of which was done, like the freight tunnels themselves, by workers armed with long knives.

The final blow to the tunnel company came in the 1950s, when Chicago homes, apartments and businesses shifted away from using coal for heating and replaced it with cleaner oil and natural gas. It’s hard to imagine now, but Chicago’s neighborhoods were once littered with various coal yards, and you can still see coal chutes on some older apartment buildings.

With the demise of coal, the Chicago Tunnel Company’s operations sputtered to a close in the late 1950s, including bankruptcy in 1956 and outright dissolution in 1959.

After the Fall

Chicago’s freight tunnels have largely remained under downtown streets and have had a very interesting and active “afterlife” following their 1959 abandonment. Here’s where the tunnel system has intersected with my own life.

In the late 1970s, I worked at the Field Museum of Natural History in Grant Park. This massive building opened in 1921 and was a customer of the Chicago Tunnel Company, although the connection was made via an elevator, since the depths of the various tunnels were not the same. The Field Museum building itself was built on landfill and rests on top of wooden pilings.

While nearly all the tunnel company’s locomotives and freight cars were scrapped upon abandonment, one train remained marooned in the Field Museum sub-sub-basement, cut off from the rest of the system. Norman P. Radtke, manager of the physical plant, took me down there in the late 1970s to have a look at the locomotive and its ash cars. It seemed at the time that they would remain there forever.

However, here serendipity played a part. In the early 1980s, FMNH president Willard L. (Sandy) Boyd was helping to plan the museum’s participation in a 1992 Chicago World’s Fair. He lamented to me how the Field Museum was separated from the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium by the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive.

I made an offhand suggestion that there was plenty of room on the other side of the museum to relocate the northbound lanes. I left the museum’s employ in 1983, and as we now know there was no Chicago World’s Fair in 1992. However, due in large part to the efforts of Sandy Boyd, the idea of shifting half of LSD took hold.

The northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive were relocated to the east side of Field Museum and the new alignment opened in the late 1990s. As Mr. Boyd has remarked, even though there was no world’s fair, Chicago got its intended legacy anyway, in the form of an unbroken lakefront Museum Campus.

Ironically, work on the relocation project created a unique opportunity to remove the Chicago Tunnel Company locomotive and ash cars from their prison. This involved a tremendous effort put forth by volunteers at the Illinois Railway Museum, which you can read about here. These cars were saved and are now preserved at IRM, where they can be enjoyed by future generations.

Tunnel operations have been well documented by historian Bruce Moffat in two books, Forty Feet Below: The Story of Chicago’s Freight Tunnels (1982) and The Chicago Tunnel Story (2002, Bulletin 135 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association)

In the Spring of 1992, I attended a private slide presentation Bruce gave about the Chicago freight tunnels at a friend’s house. Little did any of us know that less than a week later, the long-forgotten system would suddenly be thrust into the headlines.

On April 13, 1992, what some have called the Great Chicago Flood began, as a contractor inadvertently disturbed the clay surrounding one of the freight tunnels near the Chicago River by the Kinzie Street Bridge. The leak, which was not taken seriously at first, eventually turned into a breach, and eventually hundreds of millions of gallons of water flowed into the tunnel system, and into the sub-basements of many Chicago buildings. Even Chicago’s downtown subways were affected.

Instantly, Bruce Moffat had a well-deserved “15 minutes of fame,” to paraphrase Any Warhol. As the only recognized expert on the tunnel system, Bruce was all over the media in the days following the flood. The great majority of people had no idea such a thing existed, and Bruce was practically the only person who understood it and explain it.

The flood had a negative economic impact on the Chicago area that extended beyond downtown. I was involved in a Lincoln Park photo lab at the time, and our business suffered as a result. Thinking about this period has brought back a flood of memories.

I had an idea for a humorous radio ad to promote our business that would have played off the flood. The press had reported that City inspectors had taken pictures of the area where water was leaking into the tunnel, but instead of sending them to a one hour photo lab, they dropped them off at a store where it took a week to get the film back.

In my radio ad, two city workers would be looking at the tunnel leak, and you would have heard the sound of dripping water. One would have said that he was going to take the film to a place where he would get it back in a week, while the other would have suggested taking it to our lab, where you could get it developed and printed in as little as 30 minutes.

Before they could do so, however, the wall of the tunnel would have burst and both people would have been engulfed by the sound of water rushing in. Then, at the end, the narrator would have used this as a cautionary tale, telling people to bring their film to us “before it’s too late.”

Unfortunately, the radio station refused to make this spot, telling me that the administration of Richard M. Daley would not like it. The Great Chicago Flood, it turns out, was no laughing matter.

Now, Chicago’s old system of freight tunnels continues to benefit the downtown, with various communications cables running through them. On September 1, 2000, Central Electric Railfans’ Association hosted a rare inspection tour of parts of the underground tunnel system. Unfortunately, this is not likely to be repeated any time soon, in the wake of post-9/11 security concerns. The old tunnel system, a vital part of Chicago’s infrastructure even in the 21st century, is now closed off from public access.

-David Sadowski

*There is another Chicago-London connection. The underground freight tunnels here helped inspire the London Post Office Railway, which operated from 1927 to 2003.

PS- This information has been added to one of our E-books, which reproduces a 1928 book put out by the Chicago Tunnel Company:


Now Updated with 46 Pages of New Material:

DVD01Cover

Lifting the Lid in the Loop, 1915
The Chicago Freight Tunnels, 1928
Chicago Elevated Railroads Consolidation of Operations, 1913

The Chicago Tunnel Company (1906-1959) operated an elaborate network of 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge track in 7.5-by-6-foot (2.3 m × 1.8 m) tunnels running under the streets throughout the central business district including and surrounding the Loop, delivering freight, parcels, and coal, and disposed of ash and excavation debris.

Our E-book collection includes two short books issued by the Tunnel Company, detailing their operations. Lifting the Lid in the Loop is 46 pages long, has many great illustrations, and was published in 1915. To this we add a different 32-page illustrated book from 1928.

The third volume in this collection, Chicago Elevated Railroads Consolidation of Operations (60 pages) was published in 1913 to help facilitate the through-routing of the South Side and Northwestern elevated lines. As Britton I. Budd wrote in the introduction, “This book of instructions is issued for the purpose of familiarizing the employees of the South Side Elevated Railroad with the character, service, track arrangement, and general features of the system of the Northwestern Elevated Railroad, and to familiarize the employees of the Northwestern elevated Railroad with the same details of the South Side Elevated Railroad, before through-routed operation of cars is begun.”

Now The Trolley Dodger is making all three of these long-out-of-print works available once again on a single DVD data disc. Includes a Tribute to the late bookseller Owen Davies, who reprinted the “L” book in 1967, a 1966 Chicago Tribune profile of Davies, and reproductions of several Davies flyers. 177 pages in all.

This collection is a tremendous value, since an original copy of Lifting the Lid in the Loop alone recently sold for over $200 on eBay.

# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.95


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 133rd post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 147,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.


This junction of three different freight tunnel lines reminds me a bit of Marshfield on the old Metropolitan "L", where three lines came together.

This junction of three different freight tunnel lines reminds me a bit of Marshfield on the old Metropolitan “L”, where three lines came together.

A 1913 Baldwin builder's photo of locomotive 534, which had 28" wheels, two 25 hp motors, and weighed 14,000 lbs.

A 1913 Baldwin builder’s photo of locomotive 534, which had 28″ wheels, two 25 hp motors, and weighed 14,000 lbs.

Warehouse operations.

Warehouse operations.

In this November 17, 1904 view, we see a four-way intersection with 56 lb. rail, a three-way switch, telephone cable, trolley wire, and a permanent lighting system.

In this November 17, 1904 view, we see a four-way intersection with 56 lb. rail, a three-way switch, telephone cable, trolley wire, and a permanent lighting system.

A train curving around a four-way intersection.

A train curving around a four-way intersection.

A builder's photo of freight loco 207, renumbered to 501 before delivery, built by Baldwin-Westinghouse in 1907. Weight: 5 1/2 tons.

A builder’s photo of freight loco 207, renumbered to 501 before delivery, built by Baldwin-Westinghouse in 1907. Weight: 5 1/2 tons.

Trains at an intersection.

Trains at an intersection.

Cars being shifted on warehouse tracks.

Cars being shifted on warehouse tracks.

Until the 1950s, coal was widely used for heating in Chicago.

Until the 1950s, coal was widely used for heating in Chicago.

Loading and unloading freight in the Murdock Company sub-basement.

Loading and unloading freight in the Murdock Company sub-basement.

A Chicago Tunnel Company steam locomotive and cars at the lakefront, creating landfill.

A Chicago Tunnel Company steam locomotive and cars at the lakefront, creating landfill.

Collecting mail at the Post Office station.

Collecting mail at the Post Office station.

A 1906 Baldwin builder's photo of freight loco 173.

A 1906 Baldwin builder’s photo of freight loco 173.

Merchandise rack car 5000, built by Bettendorf Car Co.

Merchandise rack car 5000, built by Bettendorf Car Co.

An ash car train in the Marshall Field & Co. boiler room on February 16, 1915.

An ash car train in the Marshall Field & Co. boiler room on February 16, 1915.

Coal delivery at the Mandel Brothers department store building.

Coal delivery at the Mandel Brothers department store building.

The entrance to Mandel Brothers department store at State and Madison in downtown Chicago. They were bought out by Wieboldt's in 1960. Wieboldt's went out of business in 1986 but the building is still standing.

The entrance to Mandel Brothers department store at State and Madison in downtown Chicago. They were bought out by Wieboldt’s in 1960. Wieboldt’s went out of business in 1986 but the building is still standing.

Tracks and train cars in Chicago freight tunnel. (Bain News Service photo, George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

Tracks and train cars in Chicago freight tunnel. (Bain News Service photo, George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

A 1915 map of the very extensive Chicago freight tunnel system.

A 1915 map of the very extensive Chicago freight tunnel system.

Not all was sweetness and light in Chicago's freight tunnels, as this press account of a 1937 sit-down strike indicates.

Not all was sweetness and light in Chicago’s freight tunnels, as this press account of a 1937 sit-down strike indicates.

Chicago Tunnel Company locomotive 508 at the Illinois Railway Museum in 2008. (John McCluskey Photo)

Chicago Tunnel Company locomotive 508 at the Illinois Railway Museum in 2008. (John McCluskey Photo)

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