A Traction Photo Album, Part 1

Photo 1. A train of Ex-DL&W MUs, which appears to have recently received a fresh coat of Pullman green paint, depart the Hoboken (NJ) Terminal 10-2-82.

Photo 1. A train of Ex-DL&W MUs, which appears to have recently received a fresh coat of Pullman green paint, depart the Hoboken (NJ) Terminal 10-2-82.

Kenneth Gear is no stranger to this blog, as we have featred his photos a few times before.* Starting with this post, he offers a sort of career retrospective of his best work over the last 40 years.

We thank him for sharing these wonderful pictures. Part 1 includes Amtrak, New Jersey Transit GG-1s, and ex-Lackawanna MUs, all electric. As Ken says, it’s an “eclectic group of electric motive power!”

Watch this space for future installments.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

*To see more of Ken’s photos, check out these previous posts:
Night Beat, Jersey Style (June 4, 2016)
Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 10-31-2016
Iowa Traction (December 6, 2016)
An Interurban Legacy (March 4, 2017)
Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt (July 30, 2017)

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A Traction Photo Album


By Kenneth Gear

Recently I’ve been scanning some of the slides I’ve photographed over the years. I’m attempting to catalog them into some logical, easily retrievable order. Not such an easy task considering I have shot well over 70,000 slides since I started in 1977. In the process of scanning the slides I was somewhat surprised to realize that a lot of the equipment I photographed is now retired, scrapped or in museums. Of course the GG-1s are gone as well as the Ex-Lackawanna DC electric MU cars- no surprise there, but Amtrak HHP-8s and NJ Transit ALP-44s! It doesn’t seem like their time should have passed yet. NJT has recently solicited bids for new MUs to replace the Arrow MU car fleet and newer PA-5 cars now take commuters through the “tubes” under the Hudson to and from New York. I’m glad I rode and photographed what I did when I did.

I thought readers of the Trolley Dodger might be interested in seeing some of these images so I put together a bit of a photo album to share. I’ve included photos of the equipment no longer in service as well as some of the locomotives and MUs that are out on the rails at this moment serving the traveling public. I also included some slides I shot of fan trips, shop tours, and equipment displays that I attended over the years. Since my photos of the Iowa Traction steeple cabs and the night shots I took of electric railroad operations have already been featured in past installments of this blog, I did not include any here. The photos are categorized by railroad and equipment type. I hope everyone enjoys the photos.

Amtrak

Photo 1. An Amtrak GG-1 arrives at the Metropark station in Iselin, New Jersey in 1978.

Photo 1. An Amtrak GG-1 arrives at the Metropark station in Iselin, New Jersey in 1978.

Photo 2. I took this photo of an Amtrak train powered by two GG-1s in Edison, New Jersey on December 1, 1980. I was only 17 years old at the time and was using an Electra 135 range finder camera. It was aperture priority so I could not select the shutter speed. I was told that on a sunny day to use an aperture of F5.6 or F8, which I did. I loaded a roll of Kodachrome 64 slide film into the camera and headed trackside to the Edison station. This being one of the fastest pieces of track in the whole country, combined with a camera that automatically picked shutter speeds and, using ASA 64 film, meant the results were going to be predictable. Most of the trains appeared as blurry messes! I was disappointed with this shot and stored it away for many years. I now like the shot very much! It has just the right amount of blur to convey motion but not enough to ruin the shot. Even the newspaper on the platform is being carried along in the wind with just the right amount of motion blur. The word AMTRAK on the side of the second G is blurred just enough to remain legible.

Photo 2. I took this photo of an Amtrak train powered by two GG-1s in Edison, New Jersey on December 1, 1980. I was only 17 years old at the time and was using an Electra 135 range finder camera. It was aperture priority so I could not select the shutter speed. I was told that on a sunny day to use an aperture of F5.6 or F8, which I did. I loaded a roll of Kodachrome 64 slide film into the camera and headed trackside to the Edison station. This being one of the fastest pieces of track in the whole country, combined with a camera that automatically picked shutter speeds and, using ASA 64 film, meant the results were going to be predictable. Most of the trains appeared as blurry messes!
I was disappointed with this shot and stored it away for many years. I now like the shot very much! It has just the right amount of blur to convey motion but not enough to ruin the shot. Even the newspaper on the platform is being carried along in the wind with just the right amount of motion blur. The word AMTRAK on the side of the second G is blurred just enough to remain legible.

Photo 3. Amtrak GG-1 #918 at Lancaster PA October 3, 1978.

Photo 3. Amtrak GG-1 #918 at Lancaster PA October 3, 1978.

Photo 4. In another of my motion blurred action shots, an Amtrak Metroliner MU train speeds through Edison, NJ on December 1, 1979.

Photo 4. In another of my motion blurred action shots, an Amtrak Metroliner MU train speeds through Edison, NJ on December 1, 1979.

Photo 5. Amtrak Metroliner MU #817 leads a westbound train at Edison, NJ in 1978.

Photo 5. Amtrak Metroliner MU #817 leads a westbound train at Edison, NJ in 1978.

Photo 6. Metroliner #823 crossing the DOCK drawbridge and arriving at Penn Station Newark, NJ.

Photo 6. Metroliner #823 crossing the DOCK drawbridge and arriving at Penn Station Newark, NJ.

Photo 7. Amtrak E-60C #972 speeding through Edison, NJ in December of 1979. I couldn't stop the fast motion of the trains with the camera I had, so I decided to try to make the best of it by using the motion blur to convey a sense of speed and power. This is one more of only a few of the "blur" shots that I actually like.

Photo 7. Amtrak E-60C #972 speeding through Edison, NJ in December of 1979. I couldn’t stop the fast motion of the trains with the camera I had, so I decided to try to make the best of it by using the motion blur to convey a sense of speed and power. This is one more of only a few of the “blur” shots that I actually like.

Photo 8. A tour of Amtrak's Sunnyside Yard in Queens, New York City on June 20, 1987 officered a rare opportunity to photograph behind the scenes operations there. This photo shows Amtrak E-60 950 at the engine house awaiting attention.

Photo 8. A tour of Amtrak’s Sunnyside Yard in Queens, New York City on June 20, 1987 officered a rare opportunity to photograph behind the scenes operations there. This photo shows Amtrak E-60 950 at the engine house awaiting attention.

Photo 9. Amtrak E-60 #608 on train #88 the SILVER METEOR passing the Hell Gate Fire train. The fire train is used to fight fires on the elevated approaches and main span of the Hell Gate Bridge where it would be very difficult for the NYFD to reach.

Photo 9. Amtrak E-60 #608 on train #88 the SILVER METEOR passing the Hell Gate Fire train. The fire train is used to fight fires on the elevated approaches and main span of the Hell Gate Bridge where it would be very difficult for the NYFD to reach.

Photo 10. Amtrak E-60 #608 on Train #88 SILVER METEOR is being cleaned and stocked at Sunnyside.

Photo 10. Amtrak E-60 #608 on Train #88 SILVER METEOR is being cleaned and stocked at Sunnyside.

Photo 11. An eclectic group of Amtrak electric motive power at Sunnyside yard, Queens, NY. 6-20-87.

Photo 11. An eclectic group of Amtrak electric motive power at Sunnyside yard, Queens, NY. 6-20-87.

Photo 12. Amtrak E-60 #609 powers Train #91 the SILVER STAR at Holmesburg Junction, PA. 2-9-02.

Photo 12. Amtrak E-60 #609 powers Train #91 the SILVER STAR at Holmesburg Junction, PA. 2-9-02.

Photo 13. Amtrak E-60 MA #608 on Train #91 SILVER STAR at Penn Station Newark, NJ. 9-7-02.

Photo 13. Amtrak E-60 MA #608 on Train #91 SILVER STAR at Penn Station Newark, NJ. 9-7-02.

Photo 14. Amtrak E-60MA #600 on Track A at Newark, NJ Penn Station.

Photo 14. Amtrak E-60MA #600 on Track A at Newark, NJ Penn Station.

Photo 15. Amtrak E-60MA #600 & NJ Transit ALP-44 #4423 at Newark, NJ Penn Station 2-2-02.

Photo 15. Amtrak E-60MA #600 & NJ Transit ALP-44 #4423 at Newark, NJ Penn Station 2-2-02.

Photo 16. Amtrak AEM-7 #943 & E-60s #955 and #953 at New Haven, CT. 3-17-84.

Photo 16. Amtrak AEM-7 #943 & E-60s #955 and #953 at New Haven, CT. 3-17-84.

hoto 17. Amtrak AEM-7 #900 at New Haven, CT in May of 1986. Prior to the extension of electrification from New Haven to Boston in 2000, Amtrak trains switched from electric locomotives to Diesel before continuing to Boston. The reverse was done for New York Bound trains. Number 900 has cut off a train from New York and is heading to the motor storage yard.

hoto 17. Amtrak AEM-7 #900 at New Haven, CT in May of 1986. Prior to the extension of electrification from New Haven to Boston in 2000, Amtrak trains switched from electric locomotives to Diesel before continuing to Boston. The reverse was done for New York Bound trains. Number 900 has cut off a train from New York and is heading to the motor storage yard.

Photo 18. In October of 1997 I made a trip to Rye, New York to photograph Amtrak and Metro-North trains under the New Haven Railroad's unique triangular catenary. The first photo I took was of the train I arrived on, the FAST MAIL powered by Amtrak AEM-7 #932.

Photo 18. In October of 1997 I made a trip to Rye, New York to photograph Amtrak and Metro-North trains under the New Haven Railroad’s unique triangular catenary. The first photo I took was of the train I arrived on, the FAST MAIL powered by Amtrak AEM-7 #932.

Photo 19. Amtrak AEM-7s 908 & 918 under the triangular catenary.

Photo 19. Amtrak AEM-7s 908 & 918 under the triangular catenary.

Photo 20. One more at Rye, Amtrak AEM-7 #904 is New Haven bound. More triangular catenary photos in the Metro-North section.

Photo 20. One more at Rye, Amtrak AEM-7 #904 is New Haven bound. More triangular catenary photos in the Metro-North section.

Photo 21. AEM-7 #909 at HUNTER Tower, Newark, NJ. 2-16-97.

Photo 21. AEM-7 #909 at HUNTER Tower, Newark, NJ. 2-16-97.

Photo 22. Amtrak AEM-7s 926 & 929 meet at speed in the rain at the Jersey Avenue station in New Brunswick, NJ. November 1991.

Photo 22. Amtrak AEM-7s 926 & 929 meet at speed in the rain at the Jersey Avenue station in New Brunswick, NJ. November 1991.

Photo 23. AEM-7 #933 at speed. Linden, NJ. March 1, 1992.

Photo 23. AEM-7 #933 at speed. Linden, NJ. March 1, 1992.

Photo 24. AEM-7 #929 departs Newark, NJ Penn Station 10-29-83.

Photo 24. AEM-7 #929 departs Newark, NJ Penn Station 10-29-83.

Photo 25. Amtrak AEM-7s 924 & 940 power Keystone Train 644 at Harrison NJ in 2002.

Photo 25. Amtrak AEM-7s 924 & 940 power Keystone Train 644 at Harrison NJ in 2002.

Photo 26. Amtrak AEM-7 912 W/B photographed from a boat on the Passaic River at Kearny NJ.

Photo 26. Amtrak AEM-7 912 W/B photographed from a boat on the Passaic River at Kearny NJ.

Photo 27. AEM-7 #928 on Train #170 at Old Saybrook, CT. 4-19-05.

Photo 27. AEM-7 #928 on Train #170 at Old Saybrook, CT. 4-19-05.

Photo 28 Amtrak AEM-7AC #948 on Keystone Train #661 crossing the Delaware River on the Ex-PRR bridge opened in 1903. Morrisville, PA. 1-10-10.

Photo 28 Amtrak AEM-7AC #948 on Keystone Train #661 crossing the Delaware River on the Ex-PRR bridge opened in 1903. Morrisville, PA. 1-10-10.

Photo 29. AEM-7ACs 939 & 919 on Train #162 crossing the Delaware River at Morrisville, PA.

Photo 29. AEM-7ACs 939 & 919 on Train #162 crossing the Delaware River at Morrisville, PA.

Photo 30. Amtrak #AEM-7 932 at Cornwall Heights, PA. January 10, 2010.

Photo 30. Amtrak #AEM-7 932 at Cornwall Heights, PA. January 10, 2010.

Photo 31. HHP-8 #651 on Train #93 at Old Saybrook, CT. High maintenance costs and low reliability doomed these locomotives to barely ten years of service on Amtrak.

Photo 31. HHP-8 #651 on Train #93 at Old Saybrook, CT. High maintenance costs and low reliability doomed these locomotives to barely ten years of service on Amtrak.

Photo 32. Amtrak HHP-8 #650 on Train #173 at Old Saybrook, CT. 4-19-05.

Photo 32. Amtrak HHP-8 #650 on Train #173 at Old Saybrook, CT. 4-19-05.

Photo 33. HHP-8 #660 powers Train #137 at Old Saybrook, CT in this overhead view.

Photo 33. HHP-8 #660 powers Train #137 at Old Saybrook, CT in this overhead view.

Photo 34 Amtrak HHP-8 #658 with Train #163 at Secaucus Junction, NJ. 9-6-03.

Photo 34 Amtrak HHP-8 #658 with Train #163 at Secaucus Junction, NJ. 9-6-03.

Photo 35. Amtrak HHP-8 #655 is passing a PATH train at Harrison, NJ in 2002.

Photo 35. Amtrak HHP-8 #655 is passing a PATH train at Harrison, NJ in 2002.

Photo 36. Amtrak Acela power car #2028 and a PATH train of PA-3 & PA-4 cars at Harrison NJ.

Photo 36. Amtrak Acela power car #2028 and a PATH train of PA-3 & PA-4 cars at Harrison NJ.

Photo 37. Amtrak's leased X-2000 trainset was assigned to Express Metroliner #223 on April 27, 1993. It is shown here flying though Edison, NJ.

Photo 37. Amtrak’s leased X-2000 trainset was assigned to Express Metroliner #223 on April 27, 1993. It is shown here flying though Edison, NJ.

New Jersey Transit GG-1s

Photo 1. NJDOT GG-1 #4882 awaits her next assignment at South Amboy, NJ in 1980.

Photo 1. NJDOT GG-1 #4882 awaits her next assignment at South Amboy, NJ in 1980.

Photo 2. The crossing guard takes a little break from manually operating the gates as NJDOT GG-1 #4882 waits for it's next train at South Amboy, NJ in the summer of 1980.

Photo 2. The crossing guard takes a little break from manually operating the gates as NJDOT GG-1 #4882 waits for it’s next train at South Amboy, NJ in the summer of 1980.

Photo 3 NJDOT GG-1 #4883 retains her yellow stripe that was applied in PRR days. South Amboy, NJ. 7-24-81.

Photo 3 NJDOT GG-1 #4883 retains her yellow stripe that was applied in PRR days. South Amboy, NJ. 7-24-81.

Photo 4. Ex- PRR GG-1 #4883 departs South Amboy, NJ bound for Penn Station New York.

Photo 4. Ex- PRR GG-1 #4883 departs South Amboy, NJ bound for Penn Station New York.

Photo 5. GG-1 #4873 crossing RIVER drawbridge across the Raritan Bay between Perth Amboy and South Amboy, NJ. 5-4-82.

Photo 5. GG-1 #4873 crossing RIVER drawbridge across the Raritan Bay between Perth Amboy and South Amboy, NJ. 5-4-82.

Photo 6. NJDOT GG-1 #4881 crossing RIVER drawbridge into South Amboy, NJ.

Photo 6. NJDOT GG-1 #4881 crossing RIVER drawbridge into South Amboy, NJ.

Photo 7. In 1981 NJ Transit restored GG-1 #4877 and painted her in the classic PRR Tuscan red and gold five stripe scheme. She looked great in the summer sunshine at South Amboy, NJ.

Photo 7. In 1981 NJ Transit restored GG-1 #4877 and painted her in the classic PRR Tuscan red and gold five stripe scheme. She looked great in the summer sunshine at South Amboy, NJ.

Photo 8. NJT restored Pennsylvania GG-1 #4877 and Ex-Southern E-8 #4330 at South Amboy on July 24, 1981. I have never visited Ivy City yard near Washington DC where PRR GG-1s were serviced along with passenger power from connecting Southern railroads, but I imagine this scene is not unlike what it looked like there before the coming of Amtrak.

Photo 8. NJT restored Pennsylvania GG-1 #4877 and Ex-Southern E-8 #4330 at South Amboy on July 24, 1981. I have never visited Ivy City yard near Washington DC where PRR GG-1s were serviced along with passenger power from connecting Southern railroads, but I imagine this scene is not unlike what it looked like there before the coming of Amtrak.

Photo 9. Doubling-up on the Pennsylvania RR heritage, GG-1s 4877 and 4883 show off their PRR lineage in two different paint schemes.

Photo 9. Doubling-up on the Pennsylvania RR heritage, GG-1s 4877 and 4883 show off their PRR lineage in two different paint schemes.

Photo 10. NJT GG-1 #4877 heads light to the station at South Amboy to couple onto a New York bound train from Bay Head that was just brought in by a couple of E-8 diesels.

Photo 10. NJT GG-1 #4877 heads light to the station at South Amboy to couple onto a New York bound train from Bay Head that was just brought in by a couple of E-8 diesels.

Photo 11. Now coupled to the train and with the brake test completed, GG-1 #4877 is about to leave the station.

Photo 11. Now coupled to the train and with the brake test completed, GG-1 #4877 is about to leave the station.

Photo 12. GG-1 #4883, South Amboy NJ at sunset. 5-4-82.

Photo 12. GG-1 #4883, South Amboy NJ at sunset. 5-4-82.

Photo 13. NJT GG-1 #4882 is about to depart South Amboy early on the cold morning of January 13, 1983. I'm sure the passengers were very happy to have that steam heat. Before the end of the year, the Gs will be replaced by Ex-Amtrak E-60s.

Photo 13. NJT GG-1 #4882 is about to depart South Amboy early on the cold morning of January 13, 1983. I’m sure the passengers were very happy to have that steam heat. Before the end of the year, the Gs will be replaced by Ex-Amtrak E-60s.

Photo 14. NJT GG-1 4876 in the weeds at the South Amboy, NJ Engine Terminal. 11-7-81.

Photo 14. NJT GG-1 4876 in the weeds at the South Amboy, NJ Engine Terminal. 11-7-81.

Photo 15. GG-1 #4876 with tip-toe pantographs at the South Amboy Engine Terminal.

Photo 15. GG-1 #4876 with tip-toe pantographs at the South Amboy Engine Terminal.

Photo 16. NJT GG-1s in the fog at South Amboy. 5-25-83.

Photo 16. NJT GG-1s in the fog at South Amboy. 5-25-83.

NJ Transit ex-Lackawanna DC Electric MUs

Photo 1. A train of Ex-DL&W MUs, which appears to have recently received a fresh coat of Pullman green paint, depart the Hoboken (NJ) Terminal 10-2-82.

Photo 1. A train of Ex-DL&W MUs, which appears to have recently received a fresh coat of Pullman green paint, depart the Hoboken (NJ) Terminal 10-2-82.

Photo 2. A train of DC electric MUs under the Bush trainshed of the Hoboken Terminal in 1980.

Photo 2. A train of DC electric MUs under the Bush trainshed of the Hoboken Terminal in 1980.

Photo 3. Ex-DL&W MUs sit in the Hoboken yards looking as gloomy as the weather. At this time Conrail was operating the New Jersey Commuter trains for the state's Department of Transportation.

Photo 3. Ex-DL&W MUs sit in the Hoboken yards looking as gloomy as the weather. At this time Conrail was operating the New Jersey Commuter trains for the state’s Department of Transportation.

Photos 4, 5, & 6. On March 25, 1980 I was treated to a tour of the Hoboken MU shed. This was the shop located near the passenger terminal where the Ex-DL&W cars were maintained. This shop was closed and eventually tore down after the opening of NJ Transit's new Meadows Maintenance Complex in Kearny, NJ.

Photos 4, 5, & 6. On March 25, 1980 I was treated to a tour of the Hoboken MU shed. This was the shop located near the passenger terminal where the Ex-DL&W cars were maintained. This shop was closed and eventually tore down after the opening of NJ Transit’s new Meadows Maintenance Complex in Kearny, NJ.

Photo 7. Stacked pantographs at MU shed in Hoboken, NJ.

Photo 7. Stacked pantographs at MU shed in Hoboken, NJ.

Photo 8. NJ Transit catenary inspection car #3408 on display at Hoboken Terminal during the "Hoboken/Try Transit Festival on October 2, 1982. It was originally a DL&W combine. A dome was installed in the roof of the baggage section and a platform with chairs provided inspectors a great view of the wires.

Photo 8. NJ Transit catenary inspection car #3408 on display at Hoboken Terminal during the “Hoboken/Try Transit Festival on October 2, 1982. It was originally a DL&W combine. A dome was installed in the roof of the baggage section and a platform with chairs provided inspectors a great view of the wires.

Photo 9 NJT Catenary inspection car 3408 again on display at a festival in Hoboken this time on September 27, 1986. It once again wears the Pullman green paint that the DL&W used on the MU fleet.

Photo 9 NJT Catenary inspection car 3408 again on display at a festival in Hoboken this time on September 27, 1986. It once again wears the Pullman green paint that the DL&W used on the MU fleet.

Photo 10. Catenary inspection car #3408 once more. This time in company with other Ex-DL&W MUs facing the afternoon sun at Hoboken, NJ.

Photo 10. Catenary inspection car #3408 once more. This time in company with other Ex-DL&W MUs facing the afternoon sun at Hoboken, NJ.

Photo 11. Looking a little shabby, Ex-DL&W MUs depart Hoboken Terminal. 10-3-81.

Photo 11. Looking a little shabby, Ex-DL&W MUs depart Hoboken Terminal. 10-3-81.

Photo 12. NJ Transit DC MU Motor car at Hoboken, NJ. 1-25-81.

Photo 12. NJ Transit DC MU Motor car at Hoboken, NJ. 1-25-81.

Photo 13. Interior of one of the refurbished Ex-DL&W MU cars.

Photo 13. Interior of one of the refurbished Ex-DL&W MU cars.

Photo 14. Big changes are coming! In 1982, along with the work to convert the 3000 Volt DC current to 25,000 volt 60 hertz AC, NJT was building a new TERMINAL tower. A train of MUs depart Hoboken passing the new tower still under construction.

Photo 14. Big changes are coming! In 1982, along with the work to convert the 3000 Volt DC current to 25,000 volt 60 hertz AC, NJT was building a new TERMINAL tower. A train of MUs depart Hoboken passing the new tower still under construction.

Photo 15. NJDOT/Conrail Ex-DL&W MU on a Gladstone Line train at Summit, NJ in January of 1981. At this time Gladstone Branch trains departed Hoboken coupled to the rear of Morristown trains. At Summit the Gladstone section was uncoupled and departed as a separate train. Today's ARROW MUs are semi-permanently coupled preventing this type of operation. Gladstone passengers must now change trains at Summit, no more one seat ride.

Photo 15. NJDOT/Conrail Ex-DL&W MU on a Gladstone Line train at Summit, NJ in January of 1981. At this time Gladstone Branch trains departed Hoboken coupled to the rear of Morristown trains. At Summit the Gladstone section was uncoupled and departed as a separate train. Today’s ARROW MUs are semi-permanently coupled preventing this type of operation. Gladstone passengers must now change trains at Summit, no more one seat ride.

Photo 16. Another view of the Ex-DL&W MUs on a Gladstone Branch train at Summit, NJ. 1-25-81.

Photo 16. Another view of the Ex-DL&W MUs on a Gladstone Branch train at Summit, NJ. 1-25-81.

Photo 17, 18, & 19. The scenic highlight of the Gladstone branch is the high bridge over the Passaic River at Millington, NJ. Here are three photos of the Ex-DL&W MUs crossing the bridge in August of 1984, just before the DC current was shut off and all of these cars retired.

Photo 17, 18, & 19. The scenic highlight of the Gladstone branch is the high bridge over the Passaic River at Millington, NJ. Here are three photos of the Ex-DL&W MUs crossing the bridge in August of 1984, just before the DC current was shut off and all of these cars retired.

Photo 20. The Pyle-National headlight & Westinghouse Pneuphonic horn of an Ex-DL&W MU.

Photo 20. The Pyle-National headlight & Westinghouse Pneuphonic horn of an Ex-DL&W MU.

Photo 21. A train of Ex-DL&W MUs arrives at Bernardsville, NJ in October of 1982. Work on converting the DC current the MU train is being powered by, to the AC current needed by the Arrow MU replacements, is in evidence. Work equipment on the siding track will spell doom for the venerable DC cars. There is still some time left. The DC MUs will not finally give up the rails they have been polishing since 1930 for almost two more years. The cars will last until August of 1984 but not all is lost, 156 (97 trailers, 59 motors) will be preserved.

Photo 21. A train of Ex-DL&W MUs arrives at Bernardsville, NJ in October of 1982. Work on converting the DC current the MU train is being powered by, to the AC current needed by the Arrow MU replacements, is in evidence. Work equipment on the siding track will spell doom for the venerable DC cars. There is still some time left. The DC MUs will not finally give up the rails they have been polishing since 1930 for almost two more years. The cars will last until August of 1984 but not all is lost, 156 (97 trailers, 59 motors) will be preserved.

Photo 22. NJ Transit DC MUs departs Bernardsville, NJ into the gloom of an October evening and an uncertain future.

Photo 22. NJ Transit DC MUs departs Bernardsville, NJ into the gloom of an October evening and an uncertain future.

Photo 23. After the day's work the commuters on this train likely feel as weary as the train of Ex-DL&W MUs look. Hoboken, NJ. 3-25-80.

Photo 23. After the day’s work the commuters on this train likely feel as weary as the train of Ex-DL&W MUs look. Hoboken, NJ. 3-25-80.

Photo 24. Just before the end of DC operation, the Tri-State chapter of the National Railway Historical Society organized a "farewell" excursion of the Ex-DL&W MUs. Polar car #3454 carried the white EXTRA flags at a photo stop at Bay Street Station, Montclair, NJ on August 19, 1984.

Photo 24. Just before the end of DC operation, the Tri-State chapter of the National Railway Historical Society organized a “farewell” excursion of the Ex-DL&W MUs. Polar car #3454 carried the white EXTRA flags at a photo stop at Bay Street Station, Montclair, NJ on August 19, 1984.

Photo 25. Whatever adhesive was used to apply the LACKAWANNA lettering to the Polar car was certainly not up to the task. "K WANNA" #3454 is shown during a photo stop at Montclair, NJ.

Photo 25. Whatever adhesive was used to apply the LACKAWANNA lettering to the Polar car was certainly not up to the task. “K WANNA” #3454 is shown during a photo stop at Montclair, NJ.

A Recent Find

Color photos from the 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair are not that common, especially ones like this with replica cable grip car 532, which was actually built by the Chicago Surface Lines in 1934. It can be seen today at the Museum of Science and Industry. Here is how it looked on September 25, 1949. (James J. Buckley Photo)

Color photos from the 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair are not that common, especially ones like this with replica cable grip car 532, which was actually built by the Chicago Surface Lines in 1934. It can be seen today at the Museum of Science and Industry. Here is how it looked on September 25, 1949. (James J. Buckley Photo)

We spent two or three hours cleaning up this image in Photoshop. It was full of crud, but it’s practically spotless now.

-David Sadowski

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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One Good Turn

Here, we see one-man CTA 3150(?) and its operator at the east end of route 21 on Cermak and Prairie Avenue in June 1951. Prairie Avenue was also the location of the local Kodak processing plant, which handled Kodachrome until the early 1980s.

Here, we see one-man CTA 3150(?) and its operator at the east end of route 21 on Cermak and Prairie Avenue in June 1951. Prairie Avenue was also the location of the local Kodak processing plant, which handled Kodachrome until the early 1980s.

“One good turn deserves another.” Or at least, that is how the saying goes.

We started this blog on January 21, 2015, so this post (our 173rd) is the last one for our full second year. When we started, we had no clue what the reaction would be. But, we had to believe that some good would come from sharing our transit photos and information with you.

Our experience from the past two years has shown this very much to be the case. As we have shared our information, others have come forward to share theirs with us. We have reached an audience, and our continued growth demonstrates that railfan interest is growing, not shrinking.

Now, we are being contacted by more and more researchers, who are using us as a resource for their own work.

Another word that comes to mind is “sustainability.” I don’t consider this a commercial site, since everything here is free for all to enjoy. But it does take both time and resources to keep providing you with a steady stream of high-quality images.

We are happy to put in the time, but resources are always limited.  As a general rule, for each image you see here, it probably costs us $10 to bring that to you. That is the average cost of a print, negative, or slide, including the shipping. Some images cost more, some less.

When you have as many as 40 or 50 high-quality images in a single post, you can see how that can add up in a real hurry.  Every little bit we can raise helps.

Often there is one and only one opportunity to purchase these images. Collections come to market, often when the original photographer or collector has unfortunately died, and their images are sold off one at a time and scattered to the four winds. If you see something unique, and pass on the opportunity to acquire it, you may never see it again.

Such are opportunities are fleeting.

So there has always been a gap between the images that we get to share with you, and the ones that we could if we only had the resources. Our goal is to make this gap as small as possible.

Luckily, some people have shared images with us, and we appreciate it. But as much as we may try, soliciting donations and offering items for sale in our Online Store, this blog still runs a substantial deficit.

Now, it may come to pass that this will always be so, but it is our goal to make The Trolley Dodger a “sustainable” enterprise, for now and the future. That will give us the best chance to keep it going.

We are encouraged by the response to our last post, where we asked for donations to help pay our domain registration and web site upkeep costs for the coming year. We received more than enough money for the costs that come due on February 3rd. So we will be here for another year, and thank everyone who so generously contributed.

We used the additional funds we received to pay for some of the images you see in today’s post.

Meanwhile, we are quickly coming up on the deadline to finish our new book Chicago Trolleys. This will be our own modest contribution to the slim shelf of books about Chicago’s once-great streetcar system.

Some fantastic images have come up for sale recently, which would make tremendous additions to the book. Once finished, chances are it won’t get revised or updated again for a long time.

We want this book, which will include about 215 classic back-and-white pictures, to be the best that it can be. With the help of your donations and purchases, we can make this dream a reality.

Chicago Trolleys is expected to be published later this year.  We will keep you posted on our progress.

Meanwhile, here is another batch of classic images of Chicago streetcars. And, as always, we hope that this will be “one good turn” that “deserves another,” and not just “another fine mess.”

Thanks.

-David Sadowski

PS- Our next post, the first for our third year, will feature all three great Chicago interurbans. Watch this space.

It's August 17, 1956, and southbound PCC 7192 is about to stop at a safety island at Clark and Armitage. (Joseph M. Canfield Photo)

It’s August 17, 1956, and southbound PCC 7192 is about to stop at a safety island at Clark and Armitage. (Joseph M. Canfield Photo)

On august 21, 1956, PCC 7215 turns from Broadway onto Devon, as a northbound route 36 car with the North Side "L" in the background. (Joseph M. Canfield Photo)

On August 21, 1956, PCC 7215 turns from Broadway onto Devon, as a northbound route 36 car with the North Side “L” in the background. (Joseph M. Canfield Photo)

The "Broadway Downtown" sign on this car, and the appearance of the autos in the background, would probably indicate that this picture was taken circa 1956. The south portion of the route 36 Broadway-State Through Route was bussed on December 3, 1955, and the remaining half on February 16, 1957.

The “Broadway Downtown” sign on this car, and the appearance of the autos in the background, would probably indicate that this picture was taken circa 1956. The south portion of the route 36 Broadway-State Through Route was bussed on December 3, 1955, and the remaining half on February 16, 1957.

Prewar PCC 4012 on Cottage Grove in 1952. Jack Fuller adds, "The Green Hornet view along Route 4, Cottage Grove is actually at 99th Street. This is the only opening under the Illinois Central tracks between 95th Street and 103rd Street." (C. R. Scholes Photo)

Prewar PCC 4012 on Cottage Grove in 1952. Jack Fuller adds, “The Green Hornet view along Route 4, Cottage Grove is actually at 99th Street. This is the only opening under the Illinois Central tracks between 95th Street and 103rd Street.” (C. R. Scholes Photo)

This birds-eye view of CTA 1744 was taken from the Pulaski Road "L" station on the Garfield Park branch in April 1950. However, what we are looking at may actually be a Madison-Fifth car at the west end of its route, ready to loop back via Pulaski and Harrison. Bill Shapotkin adds, "This image is looking E-N/E on Fifth Ave from the Garfield Pk 'L'...no question about it. The intersection behind the streetcar is Harrison."

This birds-eye view of CTA 1744 was taken from the Pulaski Road “L” station on the Garfield Park branch in April 1950. However, what we are looking at may actually be a Madison-Fifth car at the west end of its route, ready to loop back via Pulaski and Harrison. Bill Shapotkin adds, “This image is looking E-N/E on Fifth Ave from the Garfield Pk ‘L’…no question about it. The intersection behind the streetcar is Harrison.”

CTA one-man car 1778 heads west on Lake in May 1954, shorty before route 16 was bussed. Kevin Doerksen adds, "I believe that One-man car 1778 is actually looking East on Lake at Ogden/Loomis. The building on the right hand side is right at the corner of Loomis and Lake. It’s also under threat of demolition, I believe." Daniel Joseph: "I believe this photo is at Lake Street at Randolph at Justine. Ogden did not have car tracks north of Randolph but Randolph went northwest along Union Park with (car tracks) connecting with Lake."

CTA one-man car 1778 heads west on Lake in May 1954, shorty before route 16 was bussed. Kevin Doerksen adds, “I believe that One-man car 1778 is actually looking East on Lake at Ogden/Loomis. The building on the right hand side is right at the corner of Loomis and Lake. It’s also under threat of demolition, I believe.” Daniel Joseph: “I believe this photo is at Lake Street at Randolph at Justine. Ogden did not have car tracks north of Randolph but Randolph went northwest along Union Park with (car tracks) connecting with Lake.”

CTA one-man car 1760 on Cermak at the CB&Q (Burlington) tracks on March 21, 1954.

CTA one-man car 1760 on Cermak at the CB&Q (Burlington) tracks on March 21, 1954.

CTA 6141 at Navy Pier in June 1951. This was the location of the University of Illinois Chicago campus until it moved to its present home about 15 years later.

CTA 6141 at Navy Pier in June 1951. This was the location of the University of Illinois Chicago campus until it moved to its present home about 15 years later.

CTA 6177 at Cermak and Clark in March 1950 on route 21.

CTA 6177 at Cermak and Clark in March 1950 on route 21.

CTA 3178 on Cermak in April 1950. We sometimes get a late snow like this here in Chicago. The billboard advertises "squint-free, strain free" Hoffman TVs.

CTA 3178 on Cermak in April 1950. We sometimes get a late snow like this here in Chicago. The billboard advertises “squint-free, strain free” Hoffman TVs.

CTA 201 at the Lawndale Station (car barn) in May 1951. Later, this became the home for the CTA's collection of historic streetcars, until they were dispersed to museums in the mid-1980s. Jeff Weiner notes, "Ah, the Lawndale barn. It was inactive when I surveyed Ogden, Pulaski, and Cermak for signal modernization in the early 2000’s, and has since been torn down. The City put in sidewalks, curb and gutter, and you’d never know that a carbarn had been there."

CTA 201 at the Lawndale Station (car barn) in May 1951. Later, this became the home for the CTA’s collection of historic streetcars, until they were dispersed to museums in the mid-1980s. Jeff Weiner notes, “Ah, the Lawndale barn. It was inactive when I surveyed Ogden, Pulaski, and Cermak for signal modernization in the early 2000’s, and has since been torn down. The City put in sidewalks, curb and gutter, and you’d never know that a carbarn had been there.”

CTA 4084 at 81st and Wallace on March 24, 1954 on route 22. By this time, Pullman PCCs were fast disappearing as they were scrapped for parts recycling into new rapid transit cars. There is a picture of another car at this location on page 233 of CERA Bulletin 146.

CTA 4084 at 81st and Wallace on March 24, 1954 on route 22. By this time, Pullman PCCs were fast disappearing as they were scrapped for parts recycling into new rapid transit cars. There is a picture of another car at this location on page 233 of CERA Bulletin 146.

CTA 4063 at Cermak and Clark on April 11, 1954. There was a jog on route 22, where cars went between Clark and Wentworth.

CTA 4063 at Cermak and Clark on April 11, 1954. There was a jog on route 22, where cars went between Clark and Wentworth.

CTA 7266 on Clark at around 15th on Apri 11, 1954, about ready to go under the St. Charles Air Line.

CTA 7266 on Clark at around 15th on April 11, 1954, about ready to go under the St. Charles Air Line.

CTA 692 at the Museum Loop in May 1950. This extension of the Roosevelt Road line was built for the 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair (A Century of Progress).

CTA 692 at the Museum Loop in May 1950. This extension of the Roosevelt Road line was built for the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair (A Century of Progress).

One-man car 1722 is on Washington at LaSalle in downtown Chicago, running route 58 (Ogden). George Foelschow: "Red car 1722 is westbound on Washington Street at LaSalle Street. The building on the left with arches and bay windows is genius starchitect Louis Sullivan’s Stock Exchange Building now, sadly, demolished. Photographer Richard Nickel was killed when documenting demolition and the floor above him collapsed. The stock trading room as well as the main entrance were saved and can be visited at the Art Institute." Kevin Doerksen: "One-man car 1722 is on Washington. The Chicago Eye, Ear Nose and Throat Hospital, pictured in the background, was located at 258 W Washington (at Franklin)."

One-man car 1722 is on Washington at LaSalle in downtown Chicago, running route 58 (Ogden). George Foelschow: “Red car 1722 is westbound on Washington Street at LaSalle Street. The building on the left with arches and bay windows is genius starchitect Louis Sullivan’s Stock Exchange Building now, sadly, demolished. Photographer Richard Nickel was killed when documenting demolition and the floor above him collapsed. The stock trading room as well as the main entrance were saved and can be visited at the Art Institute.” Kevin Doerksen: “One-man car 1722 is on Washington. The Chicago Eye, Ear Nose and Throat Hospital, pictured in the background, was located at 258 W Washington (at Franklin).”

CTA 1758, at the east end of route 16, has just turned from Lake onto Dearborn circa 1953, while a train of 6000s roars overhead.

CTA 1758, at the east end of route 16, has just turned from Lake onto Dearborn circa 1953, while a train of 6000s roars overhead.

Circa 1952, a CTA red Pullman passes a Pullman PCC on temporary trackage at Halsted and Congress, during expressway construction.

Circa 1952, a CTA red Pullman passes a Pullman PCC on temporary trackage at Halsted and Congress, during expressway construction.

CTA 225 is on Roosevelt near State in Apri1 1951. This car is now preserved at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine.

CTA 225 is on Roosevelt near State in Apri1 1951. This car is now preserved at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine.

CTA 1760 at Cermak and Kenton, west end of route 21, on March 21, 1954. This was the city limits. When the nearby Douglas Park "L" was cut back to 54th Avenue in 1952, CTA began running an "interurban" bus west of here. Bus route 21 now goes all the way to the North Riverside Mall, just west of Harlem Avenue.

CTA 1760 at Cermak and Kenton, west end of route 21, on March 21, 1954. This was the city limits. When the nearby Douglas Park “L” was cut back to 54th Avenue in 1952, CTA began running an “interurban” bus west of here. Bus route 21 now goes all the way to the North Riverside Mall, just west of Harlem Avenue.

CTA 3153 is turning from Pine onto Lake Street in January 1952, crossing ground-level tracks of the Lake Street "L". These were elevated onto the nearby embankment in 1962.

CTA 3153 is turning from Pine onto Lake Street in January 1952, crossing ground-level tracks of the Lake Street “L”. These were elevated onto the nearby embankment in 1962.

CTA 4317 on State Street near the Loop in March 1952.

CTA 4317 on State Street near the Loop in March 1952.

This is not a very sharp photograph, but CTA 4242, shown here in November 1950, may be on Halsted, having just crossed the Chicago River.

This is not a very sharp photograph, but CTA 4242, shown here in November 1950, may be on Halsted, having just crossed the Chicago River.

CTA 4392 is at the south end of route 36 on March 21, 1954, somewhere in the vicinity of 120th and Morgan. CTA had plans to build a new off-street loop for these cars at 115th and Michigan, which would have eliminated this portion of the route, but such was never built before streetcar service ended.

CTA 4392 is at the south end of route 36 on March 21, 1954, somewhere in the vicinity of 120th and Morgan. CTA had plans to build a new off-street loop for these cars at 115th and Michigan, which would have eliminated this portion of the route, but such was never built before streetcar service ended.

CTA 4067 at 120th and Halsted on March 21, 1954, near the south end of route 36.

CTA 4067 at 120th and Halsted on March 21, 1954, near the south end of route 36.

This was a tough one to figure out, but my best guess is we are on Halsted looking north just south of 119th. The route 36 PCC 7264 is turning east onto 119th on March 21, 1954, making a jog from 120th. Under the gas sign, you can just barely see a small part of the gateman's tower at this location. Route 8 Halsted PCCs ony ran as far south as 79th.

This was a tough one to figure out, but my best guess is we are on Halsted looking north just south of 119th. The route 36 PCC 7264 is turning east onto 119th on March 21, 1954, making a jog from 120th. Under the gas sign, you can just barely see a small part of the gateman’s tower at this location. Route 8 Halsted PCCs ony ran as far south as 79th.

The same location today.

The same location today.

This is the view on 119th looking east at Hasted. This is shown in the top picture on page 292 of CERA Bulletin 146. The building at left is the same as in that earlier picture.

This is the view on 119th looking east at Hasted. This is shown in the top picture on page 292 of CERA Bulletin 146. The building at left is the same as in that earlier picture.

This enlargement from the 1952 CTA supervisor's track map shows how route 36 streetcars turned around at 120th and Morgan and where they crossed various railroad tracks. The track at an angle was the old PRR "Panhandle" route that went between Chicago and Logansport, Indiana. It was abandoned in the Conrail days.

This enlargement from the 1952 CTA supervisor’s track map shows how route 36 streetcars turned around at 120th and Morgan and where they crossed various railroad tracks. The track at an angle was the old PRR “Panhandle” route that went between Chicago and Logansport, Indiana. It was abandoned in the Conrail days.

In the aftermath of the catastrophic collision between PCC 7078 and a gasoline truck on May 25, 1950, in which 33 people tragically lost their lives, we see one of the fortunate survivors, 14-year-old Beverly Clark. She was thrown to the floor by the collision, but managed to escape with relatively minor injuries. News reports indicated that 44 riders survived.

In the aftermath of the catastrophic collision between PCC 7078 and a gasoline truck on May 25, 1950, in which 33 people tragically lost their lives, we see one of the fortunate survivors, 14-year-old Beverly Clark. She was thrown to the floor by the collision, but managed to escape with relatively minor injuries. News reports indicated that 44 riders survived.

CSL 185 on the Roosevelt Road extension in 1946. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

CSL 185 on the Roosevelt Road extension in 1946. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

San Francisco cable car 524, shown here at the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1949, operated over a short section of track where the cable pulled it up an incline over a short distance. This made it the last cable car to operate in Chicago. 524 is back in San Francisco, and still operates there as far as I know.

San Francisco cable car 524, shown here at the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1949, operated over a short section of track where the cable pulled it up an incline over a short distance. This made it the last cable car to operate in Chicago. 524 is back in San Francisco, and still operates there as far as I know.

CTA Pullman 122, signed for route 53 Pulaski, on September 2, 1949.

CTA Pullman 122, signed for route 53 Pulaski, on September 2, 1949.

CTA salt car AA96 in the early 1950s. Formerly CSL 2844, this car had a scrap date of December 27, 1955.

CTA salt car AA96 in the early 1950s. Formerly CSL 2844, this car had a scrap date of December 27, 1955.

Here is an oddity. In this picture, CSL work car 106 has been decorated for Anti-Litter Week as part of a parade.

Here is an oddity. In this picture, CSL work car 106 has been decorated for Anti-Litter Week as part of a parade.

CSL Pullman 127 passes the old North Western Station on Madison on August 18, 1941, while a man in a straw hat wonders why anyone would want to take a picture of a streetcar.

CSL Pullman 127 passes the old North Western Station on Madison on August 18, 1941, while a man in a straw hat wonders why anyone would want to take a picture of a streetcar.

This July 1948 picture of CSL 161 shows it in the weeds at that portion of the Cermak line extended to the lakefront for the Chicago World's Fair.

This July 1948 picture of CSL 161 shows it in the weeds at that portion of the Cermak line extended to the lakefront for the Chicago World’s Fair.

This picture is a bit of a mystery. Although CSL 1899 says it is destined for 63rd and State, that is not this location, since we see the "L" in the background. Sandy Terman: "The photo of flexible 1899 I believe was taken in the lower yard north of west shops just north of Lake street.The trains above I think were actually Lake Street. the 1899 may have been pulled out of service from the State-Lake route according to the destination sign." That's a pretty good theory, and backing it up, you can see trolley poles on some of the "L" cars in the picture. If Mr. Terman is right, those cars are being stored on a third track on the Lake line, which did not have a "proper" yard at the end of the line until after the 1962 elevation.

This picture is a bit of a mystery. Although CSL 1899 says it is destined for 63rd and State, that is not this location, since we see the “L” in the background. Sandy Terman: “The photo of flexible 1899 I believe was taken in the lower yard north of west shops just north of Lake street.The trains above I think were actually Lake Street. the 1899 may have been pulled out of service from the State-Lake route according to the destination sign.” That’s a pretty good theory, and backing it up, you can see trolley poles on some of the “L” cars in the picture. If Mr. Terman is right, those cars are being stored on a third track on the Lake line, which did not have a “proper” yard at the end of the line until after the 1962 elevation.

CTA 3226 at 71st and California in 1950.

CTA 3226 at 71st and California in 1950.

CTA work car W-204, described as a "two-cab flat," in May 1950.

CTA work car W-204, described as a “two-cab flat,” in May 1950.

CSL one-man car 3281 is at Division and Austin, west end of that line. Before there were off-street turnback loops, double-ended streetcars typically stopped right in the middle of the street before going back the other way. Across Austin, that's suburban Oak Park.

CSL one-man car 3281 is at Division and Austin, west end of that line. Before there were off-street turnback loops, double-ended streetcars typically stopped right in the middle of the street before going back the other way. Across Austin, that’s suburban Oak Park.

CSL 1964 is at Chicago and Austin, west end of line, at the city limits.

CSL 1964 is at Chicago and Austin, west end of line, at the city limits.

<img class="size-large wp-image-9206" src="https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/dave661.jpg?w=665" alt="We ran a similar picture as this in our most recent post, This one was taken shortly after that one, and shows CSL 3082 westbound on Randolph in the summer of 1938. Holiday, starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, is playing at one of the many movie palaces the Loop once had.” width=”665″ height=”486″ /> We ran a similar picture as this in our most recent post, This one was taken shortly after that one, and shows CSL 3082 westbound on Randolph in the summer of 1938. Holiday, starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, is playing at one of the many movie palaces the Loop once had.
CTA 3200 heads east on the Roosevelt road extension over the IC tracks, which ran to the Field Museum and Soldier Field. By this time, streetcar service on Roosevelt had been reduced to a shuttle operation between Wabash and the Museum Loop. This picture was taken in May 1952, and the shuttle was discontinued the following year.

CTA 3200 heads east on the Roosevelt road extension over the IC tracks, which ran to the Field Museum and Soldier Field. By this time, streetcar service on Roosevelt had been reduced to a shuttle operation between Wabash and the Museum Loop. This picture was taken in May 1952, and the shuttle was discontinued the following year.

CSL 4024 at the Madison-Austin loop on October 14, 1946. Note the modified trolley shroud on this car.

CSL 4024 at the Madison-Austin loop on October 14, 1946. Note the modified trolley shroud on this car.

CTA 7251 at State and Washington in August 1948. That's one of the iconic Marshall Field's clocks at left.

CTA 7251 at State and Washington in August 1948. That’s one of the iconic Marshall Field’s clocks at left.

Clybourn (left) and Halsted (right) in 1938. There are no streetcars present, but plenty of tracks. In the background, we see part of the Northside "L", generally called the "triple curve." The State Street subway had not yet been built when this picture was taken, but a station at North and Clybourn would eventually replace the one here on the "L". This section of line is still used today by Brown and Purple Line trains, and has not been straightened out.

Clybourn (left) and Halsted (right) in 1938. There are no streetcars present, but plenty of tracks. In the background, we see part of the Northside “L”, generally called the “triple curve.” The State Street subway had not yet been built when this picture was taken, but a station at North and Clybourn would eventually replace the one here on the “L”. This section of line is still used today by Brown and Purple Line trains, and has not been straightened out.

CTA Pullman 996 at the 69th and Ashland Station (car barn).

CTA Pullman 996 at the 69th and Ashland Station (car barn).

CTA 3196 at Wabash and Roosevelt in March 1953.

CTA 3196 at Wabash and Roosevelt in March 1953.

CTA PCC 4100, built by Pullman, is turning from Kinzie onto Clark in November 1953, with Tribune Tower and the Wrigley Building at rear.

CTA PCC 4100, built by Pullman, is turning from Kinzie onto Clark in November 1953, with Tribune Tower and the Wrigley Building at rear.

CSL 5408 is on Roosevelt at Ashland on January 15, 1937. Daniel Joseph: "I believe this photo is at Roosevelt at Ashland with Immanuel Lutheran Church in the background."

CSL 5408 is on Roosevelt at Ashland on January 15, 1937. Daniel Joseph: “I believe this photo is at Roosevelt at Ashland with Immanuel Lutheran Church in the background.”

CTA 7217 at 77th and Vincennes in February 1953. We have run this picture before (in More Chicago PCC Photos – Part Five, October 28, 2015), but now we own the original negative. One of our readers thinks that CTA 7217 is likely eastbound on 78th pulling off of Vincennes Avenue. They continue, "Since the sun is obviously in the east, this appears to be a route 22 pull-in after the AM rush." The date given for that other version of the picture was December 1953, and it was credited to Harold A. Smith.

CTA 7217 at 77th and Vincennes in February 1953. We have run this picture before (in More Chicago PCC Photos – Part Five, October 28, 2015), but now we own the original negative. One of our readers thinks that CTA 7217 is likely eastbound on 78th pulling off of Vincennes Avenue. They continue, “Since the sun is obviously in the east, this appears to be a route 22 pull-in after the AM rush.” The date given for that other version of the picture was December 1953, and it was credited to Harold A. Smith.

You would be forgiven for thinking that this photo of CSL Brill car 5986 was taken on State. In actuality, this is Lake and Austin, with the old Park Theater in the background. This was the west end of the line, at the city limits. This car was on the Lake-State through route 16. The through route was discontinued in 1946, and streetcar service on Lake in 1954. This picture dates to the 1930s.

You would be forgiven for thinking that this photo of CSL Brill car 5986 was taken on State. In actuality, this is Lake and Austin, with the old Park Theater in the background. This was the west end of the line, at the city limits. This car was on the Lake-State through route 16. The through route was discontinued in 1946, and streetcar service on Lake in 1954. This picture dates to the 1930s.

Riders wait to board the rear of CSL 3156 at Lake and Austin in the late 1930s. This car was on Through Route 16 (State-Lake). That is the Park Theater behind the car. It closed sometime around 1952.

Riders wait to board the rear of CSL 3156 at Lake and Austin in the late 1930s. This car was on Through Route 16 (State-Lake). That is the Park Theater behind the car. It closed sometime around 1952.

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Chicago Horsecar Replica For Sale

Although the auction description does not mention it, replica car 10 was also used at the Chicago Railroad Fair.  This picture was taken by Charles Cushman (1896-1972) in 1949.  (Charles W. Cushman Collection, University Archives, at Indiana University, Bloomington.)

Although the auction description does not mention it, replica car 10 was also used at the Chicago Railroad Fair. This picture was taken by Charles Cushman (1896-1972) in 1949. (Charles W. Cushman Collection, University Archives, at Indiana University, Bloomington.)

Bonham’s auction house recently announced that they will be selling some historic railroad items from the collections of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. While we, of course, have no connection with either institution, we thought our readers would enjoy reading about the replica cable car that is being offered. There are links just in case anyone is interested in pursuing this further.

There is an authentic horse car at the Illinois Railway Museum, built in 1859. We have published a couple pictures of this car being used by the Chicago Surface Lines in 1925 and 1936, celebrating streetcar line extensions.

We can also share a bit of the backstory behind how and why this railcar was made. According to a 1938 article in Surface Service magazine, the “house organ” of the Chicago Surface Lines, the heads of CSL and MSI (Julius Rosenwald?) got together around 1929, and CSL agreed to donate a couple of historic items to the museum, which was then just getting started. (The other is cable car 532, still on display at MSI. There is another similar cable car replica at the Illinois Railway Museum.)

Let’s hope that this car, although a replica, stays in the Chicago area. It was actually used at both the Century of Progress 1933-34 World’s Fair and the 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair.

-David Sadowski

What follows is from Bonham’s:

Never to be repeated, early railway locomotives and cars from the Museum of Science and Industry – highly significant to America’s history and heritage – are to be sold in Philadelphia

Bonhams is honored to present five significant pieces of transportation history from the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. These wonderful artifacts have been housed at the museum on full-time display for over 80 years and will now be sold at Bonhams’ “Preserving the Automobile” auction at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia on October 5th.

…Other artifacts from the museum include the exact replica 1859 horse car “Archer Avenue No. 10” that was donated to the museum by the Chicago City Railway Company in 1930. These beautiful, craftsman-built, horse-drawn rail cars were operated in congested urban areas, such as Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, where steam locomotive transportation was impractical. They were the antecedent of the electric streetcar that later dominated urban public transport.

Lot 201
From the collection of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

Built for the 1933-34 Century of Progress Fair in Chicago
c.1929 Chicago City Railway Built ‘1870 Archer Avenue No. 10’ Horsecar
US$ 25,000 – 35,000
£16,000 – 22,000
To be sold without reserve

Auction 22793:
Preserving the Automobile
An Auction at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

5 Oct 2015 14:00 EDT

Philadelphia, Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

Built for the 1933-34 Century of Progress Fair in Chicago
c.1929 Chicago City Railway Built ‘1870 Archer Avenue No. 10’ Horsecar
THE HORSECAR

The horse drawn streetcar, typically contracted as ‘horsecar,’ was a significant early step in the evolution of urban transport. In this context, the term ‘car’ refers specifically to a railway vehicle and does not imply an internal combustion engine automobile (now commonly known as a ‘car’).

As cities in America grew during the first half of the 19th century, the working population began to live ever further from their places of employment, shopping and entertainment. Greater distances and larger numbers of people on the move increased the need for pay as you go urban transport, and so private companies emerged to supply transport using omnibuses on fixed routes and schedules. An omnibus was a compact horse-drawn coach. Chicago’s first commercial omnibus service was operated by Frank Parmelee beginning in 1853. (Parmelee’s business evolved and in later years his name was associated with Parmelee Transfer service that provided over-the-road connections between all of the City’s six primary railroad passenger terminals. By World War I, Parmelee had begun to use motor vehicles).

The horsecar was an important advancement to the omnibus. This innovation allowed a single horse to draw a heavier vehicle while providing a smoother and more comfortable ride. Among the drawbacks of the horsecar operation were that the mode was severely limited where cars encountered ascending grades, while busy lines required many more horses than cars because it was only possible to work horses for a few hours a day. In some instances mules were preferred over horses because of their greater stamina. By one estimate, Chicago street railways employed 8,400 horses in 1893.

The horsecar led to development of the steam-dummy (a small streetcar powered by an on-board steam engine) and later to the cable car, which was drawn by an underground cable. British-born Andrew Smith Hallidie was the San Francisco cable manufacturer credited with melding key cable innovations and establishing the city’s Clay Street Hill Railroad in 1873, the world’s first urban cable hauled street railway. This set important precedents that resulted in an urban transit revolution emulated across San Francisco and in approximately 30 cities across the United States and around the world.

More significant was the development of the electrically powered streetcar, commonly known in America as trolley car or trolley, which describes the wheel at the end of the pole, used to run along the overhead wire to draw electricity for propulsion. While ‘trolley’ is occasionally used as a synonym for a streetcar in the United States, the term should only be correctly applied to electric cars with trolley poles.

Various inventors had dabbled with electric streetcars in the mid-1880s, but it was in 1887-1888 that electrical genius Frank Julian Sprague successfully demonstrated a practical electric street railway in Richmond, Virginia. Electric operation was cheaper and simpler than cable hauled lines, and allowed streetcar lines to practically cover much greater distances than possible with horses. Within a year of Sprague’s demonstration, hundreds of new electric streetcar schemes were being considered and by 1900 most American cities and many small towns were connected by electric railways. Since horsecar street railways they already had an established route structure and track infrastructure, often they upgraded existing lines with electrification.
Often, companies that began as horsecar lines upgraded their operations.

The overwhelming cost and operating advantages of electric operation rapidly displayed horsecars on city streets. By 1900, the horsecar had vanished from most cities. In Chicago, some horsecar and cable car routes survived until 1906 owing to a regulation or law that prohibited the erection of overhead wires in downtown areas. Once this obstacle was overcome the electric streetcar prevailed. Nationally, horsecars disappeared very quickly from the scene and despite their early prevalence very few were preserved for posterity.

THE HORSECAR OFFERED

Chicago Horse Car No. 10 is a replica constructed by the Chicago City Railway at its South Shops for the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry during 1929 and 1930 and is believed to be the second object donated to the museum. Although a replica, the car is an accurate rendition of a period street railway vehicle. At the time of construction, it had been less than 25 years since similar horse cars had worked Chicago streets and thus the cars were still in the living memory of men working for the company.

The replica was intended to represent one of Chicago’s first horse cars built in 1859. This is a comparatively small car, measuring about 9 feet 9 inches tall, 7 feet ½ inches wide,16 feet and 1 ½ inches long. It weighs 4,560 lbs. The car was designed for one-man operation with a single horse drawing it. Average speed would have been between 3-5 mph. It had space for 18 seated passengers.

Passengers are believed to have entered via a door at the back of the car and paid their fare by dropping a coin into a slot that delivered it by gravity to the driver. This clever system was intended to avoid unnecessarily distracting the driver while the car was in motion. The car uses a ‘Bob-tail’ design, so-called because it only has a platform at the drivers’ end. The driver rode on the small exterior platform at the front of the car that was covered by a roof extension. Other than horse reins, his only other control was a hand brake consisting of a metal arm used to slow and stop the car and prevent it from colliding with the horse, or rolling backward when on an upgrade. Other equipment includes a stovepipe exhaust stack from the passenger compartment, although there doesn’t appear to have been a stove installed in this replica.

In its early years the replica was displayed as Archer Avenue No. 10 of the Chicago City Railway Company. It was one of three replica streetcars used as part of a larger exhibit to demonstrate the evolution of urban transport in Chicago. The other two cars were replicas of the cable-hauled grip car and its trailer. (Between 1892 and 1906 Chicago had a cable car system, similar to that still in use in San Francisco, that was the most extensive of its kind in the world). Horsecar No. 10 was among the exhibits at the ‘Wings of a Century’ pageant for the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition held during 1933 and 1934.

As an authentic replica, Chicago Horsecar No. 10 can provide a key element to any urban transport exhibit since it bridges the gap between the horse-drawn omnibus and the electric streetcar. This piece is significant to both Chicago history and to the greater story of urban transportation in North America. It also demonstrates the comparatively primitive expectations of the traveling public at the time of the American Civil War. Comfort levels and travel speeds were much lower than today. Imagine riding to work every morning and home every evening squashed into a vehicle like this one?

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Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry in the 1950s. (Charles W. Cushman Collection, University Archives, at Indiana University, Bloomington.)

Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry in the 1950s. (Charles W. Cushman Collection, University Archives, at Indiana University, Bloomington.)

Cable trailer 209, now in the collection of the Illinois Railway Museum, was most likely built by Chicago Surface Lines in 1934, although it may contain some original parts. The caption on the back of this photos says the car is “old” and probably built around 1892, but this appears to be incorrect. This photo was taken on October 23, 1938, date of a Surface Lines fantrip that included a shops tour. (Alfred Seibel Photo)

Footnotes

As indicated in the special notice above, this lot will require special arrangements for viewing and collection. Please contact Samantha Hamill in the NY Motorcars department (+1 212 461 6514, samantha.hamill@bonhams.com) to arrange a viewing and for further information. Please note that this lot may not come with its original base.

Postscript

FYI, the horsecar replica sold for $38k:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/museums/ct-msi-chicago-trains-sell-for-nearly-500000-at-auction-20151005-column.html

Chicago Cable Cars and Streetcar RPOs

Except for a ceremonial event in 1946, the era of Chicago streetcar RPOs ended on November 21, 1915, less than two years into the CSL era. This photo was taken on October 14, 1938 by Edward Frank Jr., who described the car's colors as tannish yellow gold with gold letters and trimmings. The location is the Lincoln Avenue car barn (aka

Except for a ceremonial event in 1946, the era of Chicago streetcar RPOs ended on November 21, 1915, less than two years into the CSL era. This photo was taken on October 14, 1938 by Edward Frank Jr., who described the car’s colors as tannish yellow gold with gold letters and trimmings. The location is the Lincoln Avenue car barn (aka “station”). According to Don’s Rail Photos, “H2 was built by West Chicago Street Ry in 1895 as 3. It became CRys 3 and renumbered H2 in 1913. It became CSL H2 in 1914.” Presumably it survived at least until 1938 as some sort of work car.

Most people are likely unaware that Chicago once operated an extensive network of cable cars, or that cable cars and streetcars were used as mobile post offices between 1895 and 1915.

Mainline Railway Post Offices were in use in the United States from 1862 to 1978 (with the final year being operated by boat instead of on rails), but for a much briefer era, cable cars and streetcars were also used for mail handling in the following 15 cities*:

Baltimore
Boston
Brooklyn
Chicago
Cincinnati
Cleveland
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New York City
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh
Rochester, New York
St. Louis
San Francisco
Seattle
Washington, D.C.

*As noted by some of our readers, this list does not include interurban RPOs.

Streetcar RPOs represented a real improvement in service in their time, but eventually were replaced by trucks as vehicles and roads improved in the early 20th century. These special trolleys collected, moved, sorted, and cancelled mail along their routes through the city. Many had slots where mail could be deposited on the street.

The Mobile Post Office Society has published several monographs on streetcar RPO operations, including one on Chicago written by John R. Mason and Raymond A. Fleming.

Chicago’s streetcar RPOs survived into the Surface Lines era, but just briefly, last being used on November 21, 1915. However, there was one later ceremonial operation during a 1946 stamp collector’s convention.

Likewise, although the last Chicago cable car ran in 1906, there was also one later operation at the 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair. As we discussed in an earlier post, the success of this fair is widely regarded as having led to the creation of McCormick Place on Chicago’s lakefront.

Although this short cable car demonstration line is long gone, car #524 itself, renumbered to #24, is still in service in San Francisco as of this writing. Here is a history of the car:

Built by the Mahoney Bros., San Francisco, in 1887 for the Ferries & Cliff House Railway (Powell Street Railway). The Mahoney Bros. subcontracted with Burnham-Standeford in Oakland, California, to build its cars. Assigned to the Sacramento-Clay cable car line before the Earthquake and Fire of 1906, the United Railroads transferred it back to the Powell Street cable car lines in 1907. Renumbered from original No. 534 to No. 524 by the Market Street Railway on December 16, 1929.

CSL car #6, a small single truck streetcar RPO from 1891, is preserved at the Fox River Trolley Museum.

As a further example of how times have changed, we offer a couple of rare Chicago transit memos from 1893. Most likely lots of such memos circulated back in the days before e-mail, but few have survived.

The first memo is on Chicago City Railway Co. stationary and is dated November 13, 1893:

Mr. Jos(eph) Gillett.

Please read the following to the men working on the motor cars with you.

The men must work near the door where the light is and stay there, and not stay where it is dark to avoid the use of candles.

By Order of,

Wm. (William) Barthwaite (Master Mechanic)

The second note, on plain paper, is also addressed to the same individual and likely was preserved by him and his heirs:

Joe Gillet (sic?) 23/93

There is a complaint from 39 Barn that many nuts work loose from Scrapers & Sand-boxes. My orders are to prick-punch all nuts.

You will see that this is done.

Respect(fully)

F. Bundy

I had assumed that “prick-punch all nuts” meant to tighten them some more so they don’t come loose, but it turns out I was wrong.  Dan Gornstein says:

Regarding the prick punching, this is a practice of disturbing the bolt threads at the top of a tightened nut, with either a chisel or, as the name suggests, a “prick punch,” with a common name of a Center Punch.

H. Porter adds:

A “prick-punch” is taking a centerpunch and dotting the nut with it after the nut is tightened. This slighly deforms the nut making it less susceptible to vibrating loose. You can buy nuts with this slight deformity already there. Hand tools will still take them on and off.

-David Sadowski

PS- You can read the book Mail By Rail: the Story of the Postal Transportation Service here.  On page 231, the authors cite May 6, 1950 as the date when the “last true trolley car R.P.O.” ran in America on the Pacific electric interurban.

Seth Bramson comments:

I think that interurban electric railways should be included, as they ran under wires, and two that do not appear on the list are Los Angeles (Pacific Electric operated three or four RPO routes) and the one in Maine.

I would have to look it up but there was a trolley RPO route in lower Maine, along the seacoast, I believe and there might have been one in New Hampshire. I can’t think of them right now, but I believe that there were one or two other trolley RPO routes, not shown, perhaps because they were considered interurban.

A couple of other “factoids” regarding electric mail service: Seattle’s RPO was titled “Seattle & Seattle” and operated on a pretty large circuit; Baltimore’s last trolley RPO operated into the early 1930s; Rochester’s street RPOs were titled “Car Collection Service B, C or D”—I don’t think there was an “A;” Buffalo had a horse drawn wagon service with a postmark similar to RPO but I would have to look it up; great interurbans such as the CA&E, CNS & M, CSS & SB, Texas Electric, Illinois Terminal, Sacramento Northern and others did have mail contracts but for closed pouch only, no RPOs.

Because I was working in NY at the time, and had become friendly with the great RPO collector and clerk, Sidney Fingerhood, and went down to Penn Station regularly to see the last RPO trains operate, I was invited, in early July of 1976,  to ride the very last trip of the N Y & Wash RPO, all the way from NY Penn to Washington Union Station, but because I had to be at work the next day, I could only ride to Newark, but at least I can say that I was the only civilian who rode the very last trip of the last rail RPO in America. (And, yes, the comments are correct:  a boat RPO on, I think, Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire did operated until 1978 or thereabouts.)

It was a great and efficient service and the terrible problems with the postal service really began after the destruction of the RPO system, the blame due, in no small part, to Eisenhower, for a good few reasons not necessary to elaborate here.

An example of a

An example of a “duplex” cancellation made on a Chicago streetcar RPO in 1902.

Chicago City Railway cable trailer 209 in October 1938. Supposedly built around 1892, it appears to be a replica fabricated by CSL in 1934 using some original parts. It is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Alfred Seibel Photo)

Chicago City Railway cable trailer 209 in October 1938. Supposedly built around 1892, it appears to be a replica fabricated by CSL in 1934 using some original parts. It is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Alfred Seibel Photo)

San Francisco Municipal Railway #524 in Chicago on August 28, 1948 at the Chicago Railroad Fair. This was the actual last cable car to operate in Chicago, and was done under the sponsorship of the Western Pacific Railroad. #524 has been renumbered #24 and is still in service in San Francisco after being extensively rebuilt by Muni in 1958. On September 2, 1956, car No. 524 also made the last trip on the Washington-Jackson line as the SF cable car network was consolidated.

San Francisco Municipal Railway #524 in Chicago on August 28, 1948 at the Chicago Railroad Fair. This was the actual last cable car to operate in Chicago, and was done under the sponsorship of the Western Pacific Railroad. #524 has been renumbered #24 and is still in service in San Francisco after being extensively rebuilt by Muni in 1958. On September 2, 1956, car No. 524 also made the last trip on the Washington-Jackson line as the SF cable car network was consolidated.

A rare Chicago City Railway Company memo dated November 13, 1893, ordering a reduction in the use of candles.

A rare Chicago City Railway Company memo dated November 13, 1893, ordering a reduction in the use of candles.

An 1893 note regarding a complaint from "39 Barn," which was located at the corner of 39th (Pershing) and Cottage Grove.

An 1893 note regarding a complaint from “39 Barn,” which was located at the corner of 39th (Pershing) and Cottage Grove.

Chicago streetcar RPO cancellation - Wentworth Avenue line, 7-1-1909.

Chicago streetcar RPO cancellation – Wentworth Avenue line, 7-1-1909.

Chicago streetcar RPO cancellation - North Clark St. line, 11-13-1902.

Chicago streetcar RPO cancellation – North Clark St. line, 11-13-1902.

Chicago streetcar RPO cancellation - Milwaukee Avenue line, 2-26-1906.

Chicago streetcar RPO cancellation – Milwaukee Avenue line, 2-26-1906.

The Mobile Post Office Society published a 72 page monograph on the Chicago streetcar RPO service in 1983.

The Mobile Post Office Society published a 72 page monograph on the Chicago streetcar RPO service in 1983.

St. Louis cable cars on Broadway looking north from Chestnut Street, 1894.

St. Louis cable cars on Broadway looking north from Chestnut Street, 1894.

This commemorative mailing gives November 11, 1929 as the last day of streetcar RPO service in the United States (not counting interurbans).

This commemorative mailing gives November 11, 1929 as the last day of streetcar RPO service in the United States (not counting interurbans).


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American Streetcar R.P.O.s: 1893-1929

Mainline Railway Post Offices were in use in the United States from 1862 to 1978 (with the final year being operated by boat instead of on rails), but for a much briefer era, cable cars and streetcars were also used for mail handling in the following 15 cities*:

Baltimore
Boston
Brooklyn
Chicago
Cincinnati
Cleveland
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New York City
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh
Rochester, New York
St. Louis
San Francisco
Seattle
Washington, D.C.


*As noted by some of our readers, this list does not include interurban RPOs.

Our latest E-book American Streetcar R.P.O.s collects 12 books on this subject (over 1000 pages in all) onto a DVD data disc that can be read on any computer using Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is free software. All have been out of print for decades and are hard to find. In addition, there is an introductory essay by David Sadowski.

The rolling stock, routes, operations, and cancellation markings of the various American street railway post office systems are covered in detail. The era of the streetcar R.P.O. was relatively brief, covering 1893 to 1929, but it represented an improvement in mail handling over what came before, and it moved a lot of mail. In many places, it was possible to deposit a letter into a mail slot on a streetcar or cable car and have it delivered across town within a short number of hours.

These operations present a very interesting history, but are not well-known to railfans. We feel they deserve greater scrutiny, and therefore we are donating $1 from each sale of this item to the Mobile Post Office Society, in support of their efforts.
# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.95


A Century of Progress – In Color and In Motion

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Our recent post about transportation to and from the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair (aka A Century of Progress) jogged my memory a bit.  I recall reading a while back about the discovery of early color films from the fair, taken in 1933.

There had been color films of a sort prior to 1933, however most of these were much less successful “two-color” processes, which showed red and green but not blue.  For a list of early two-color Hollywood films prior to 1935, go here.  (The technically minded can also delve into great detail on the early Kodak color processes here.)

During 1933, there were experimental versions of either Technicolor or Kodacolor being tested, but these products were not commercially available until 1935.  A national spectacle, attracting millions of visitors, the fair was an obvious event to try out the new three-color films on.

Chicago’s second World’s Fair was also more colorful than its first one in 1893.  The World’s Columbian Exposition featured a neoclassical “White City,” while the 1933 version had multi-colored buildings and lighting of a more modern style.

Fortunately, some color footage from the 1933 edition of A Century of Progress has survived, and can be seen in some of the video links later in this post.  Without these films, our only evidence of color at the fair would be hand-colored postcards, posters, and such.

By comparison, by 1939-40, the time of the New York World’s Fair, 16mm Kodachrome movie film was available to the amateur market.  Consequently, there is a tremendous amount of color footage showing that fair.

The films include footage of the impressive Sky Ride, an aerial cable car that transported visitors to Northerly Island, which was built on landfill in 1928.  Fairgoers were transported nearly 2,000 feet at an altitude of 215 feet above ground.  The cable tram was suspended between to 628-foot high towers at the ends, with observation decks, the highest such points in the city.

Each streamlined “gondola” gave out wisps of steam from its tail, in a manner not unlike the rocket ships in the contemporary Buck Rogers comic strip, which first appeared in 1929.  (The competing Flash Gordon comic strip by Alex Raymond did not begin until January 7, 1934.  You can read some of those early strips here.  The movie serial versions of these comics did not appear until after the Chicago fair had closed.)

Apparently, each gondola was named after a different character in the extremely popular but controversial Amos ‘n’ Andy radio program, which had its roots in Chicago.  (While I have read that there were 12 such gondola cars, I’ve only seen pictures of three, named “Amos,” “Andy,” and “Brother Crawford.”)

Both my parents visited the Chicago World’s Fair.  My late father described how he had been stuck on one of the aerial cable cars for several hours when it broke down mid-flight.  My mother, who is now 86, still recalls her trips to the fair when she was 5 or 6 years old.  As you can see from the film footage, it was the type of event that many Chicagoans dressed up for in their finest clothes.

There were other novel modes of transportation at A Century of Progress.  Although the Chicago Surface Lines brochure in our earlier post shows a Dirigible or Zeppelin in the air (and one did visit Chicago in 1933) the films show a Goodyear Blimp in frequent use at the fair.

There was also an experimental auto on display, the streamlined three-wheeled “Dymaxion” car designed by Buckminster Fuller.  Unfortunately, interest in this car was quelled after it was involved in a fatal car crash, although the driver of the Dymaxion was not at fault.

The Chicago World’s Fair had an influence on the city that extended far beyond the 1930s.  Many of its scientific exhibits wound up at the Museum of Science and Industry, where they can be seen today.

The fair site was used for the successful 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair, which was also headed up by Lenox Lohr. Among its many exhibits, this fair featured an actual operating San Francisco cable car– the last cable car to be operated in Chicago to date.

While an attempt to continue the railroad fair for a third year was deemed a failure, this did lead to the Chicago Tribune‘s Col. Robert R. McCormick to envision a permanent site for summer exhibitions and fairs on the lakefront.

After years of discussion and planning, this effort resulted in the creation of McCormick Place, which opened in 1960.  Rebuilt after a disastrous 1967 fire, McCormick Place is now the largest convention center in North America.  Since A Century of Progress and the Chicago Railroad Fair successfully brought millions of people to Chicago’s lakefront, it was considered an excellent location for McCormick Place.

As a result, it is perhaps the most important legacy of those earlier fairs.  You can also read more about the genesis of McCormick Place in the book Political Influence by Edward C. Banfield, which we mentioned in an earlier post.

There are still a few traces of the World’s Fair, if you know where to look for them.  Five experimental houses from the fair were moved by barge across Lake Michigan to Beverly Shores, Indiana in 1935, where they remain today, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, comprising the A Century of Progress Architectural District.

Finally, using the final Youtube link below, you can listen to the rousing Chicago Worlds Fair Centennial Celebration March (1933) by composer Carl Mader.

 -David Sadowski

PS- Walt Disney (who was born in Chicago) is known to have visited the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair several times (one of at five such fairs he visited in his lifetime), and after watching some of these videos, it’s not difficult to see how A Century of Progress could have influenced Disneyland.

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