Silverliner 773 is northbound at Belmont. At left, you can see part of the platform the CTA added in 1953, used only by southbound NSL trains. This was to prevent such riders, upon exiting their train, from making a free transfer to the CTA. They would need to exit, re-enter the CTA station, and pay another fare. This was implemented after the Chicago Aurora and Elgin stopped running on the CTA. Riders departing CA&E trains in Forest Park also had to pay a full CTA fare to continue inbound. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo) Miles Beitler adds, “If you zoom in on the photo, there appears to be a northbound train of wood cars just north of the station. The absence of trolley poles would indicate this was a Ravenswood train. If this train was in revenue service, it dates the photo to 1957 at the latest, and more likely the mid-1950s.” Frederic Lestina: “The 4000 series cars in the southbound North-South route train did not receive overhead sealed beam light fixtures until 1953 or so. The Ravenwood train in the background consisted of open platform wood cars and such cars were retired in 1955. Also, the last of the 4000 series cars were displaced from the North – South route by the new CTA 6201 class in 1955. So I would set the timeframe in which the photo was taken to be between 1953 and 1955.”
This is our third and last post featuring black-and-white pictures of the North Shore Line, taken by the late Robert D. Heinlein. All seem to have been taken in the mid-1950s.
In the era before color photography more or less took over the railfan hobby, fans would try and document, as much as possible, an entire railroad’s fleet. They would have black-and-white prints made and would often paste them into scrapbooks of roster shots. This practice was so widespread that you could practically call some of these fans “Rosterfarians.”
Mr. Heinlein was no exception, and now, more than 65 years later, we can marvel at the dedication of these fans, in documenting what they considered was a way of life that was fast disappearing from the American scene. We, in turn, thank Kevin Heinlein for sharing these wonderful images with our readers.
We also have some recent photo finds, which include color shots by Mr. Heinlein and black-and-whites by Robert A. Selle, among other things. Both were excellent photographers.
Keep those cards and letters coming in.
PS- You might also like our Trolley Dodger Facebook auxiliary, a private group that now has 1,431 members.
Our friend Kenneth Gear has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.
FYI, the Hoosier Traction Facebook Group celebrates electric transit in Indiana and the Midwest. It also supports the activities of the annual Hoosier Traction Meet (although not affiliated with the North American Transit Historical Society, which organizes that event).
Our Next Book Project
This is a picture of Aurora Elgin and Fox River Electric car 305, signed for Elgin. FYI, we are hard at work researching our next book about the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban. Although we already have thousands of images, we start out on these book projects with some of what we need, and then have to find the rest. Some have generously shared their images with us, and some we have to pay real money for. In case you would like to help contribute to this effort, either by sharing images or making a donation, we would like to hear from you. All contributors will be mentioned in the book, which will be dedicated to the memory of the late Robert D. Heinlein. The most difficult images to find are always the earliest ones. You can contact me via messenger, at email@example.com or via my blog. I thank you for your time and consideration.
North Shore Line Roster Shots by Robert D. Heinlein
The interior of car 721. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
The control cab of NSL 721. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
NSL 724 is northbound at Randolph and Wabash, at the head of a two-car train.
This station, and Madison/Wabash, have since been replaced by a new one at Washington and Wabash. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Silverliner 737. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Silverliner 738 (center) is heading northbound at Howard Street. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
NSL 743. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
NSL 746 at Roosevelt Road. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Silverliner 750 at the Highwood Shops. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Silverliner 756 is stopped, possibly for a photo stop, while the conductor consults his watch. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
NSL 758, at the rear end of an Illini Railroad Club charter. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
NSL 759 at the Milwaukee Terminal. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
NSL 761 at Howard Street. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
NSL 762. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Silverliner 766, at left, is at the head of an Illini Railroad Club fantrip train at the Mundelein Terminal. The regular service train is at right. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Silverliner 766 is part of a fantrip train on Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette, on the Shore Line Route. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Silverliner 771. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Silverliner 773. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
NSL 774 on the “L”, possibly at Roosevelt Road. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Silverliners 776 and 756 at speed. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
A two-car train of standard coaches has just left the Milwaukee Terminal. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
On the Winnetka Grade Separation portion of the Shore Line Route. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Electroliner 801-802 is at speed in Skokie.
(Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Electroliner 801-802 is on 6th Street in Milwaukee. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Electroliner 801-802, possibly departing the Kenosha station. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Electroliner 801-802 at Kenosha (most likely a photo stop on a fantrip). (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Electroliner 801-802 on the 6th Street Viaduct in Milwaukee. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Electroliner 803-804 on the Skokie Valley Route.
(Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
NSL Electroliner 803-804, northbound at Belmont. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
NSL Electroliner 803-804 at speed. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
NSL 803-804 on Lake Street at LaSalle Street downtown. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
The Chicago Aurora and Elgin’s Mt. Carmel Branch (also called the Cook County Branch) used overhead wire instead of thrid rail, and was an important source of freight revenue for the interurban. When I-290 was built in the late 1950s, a new bridge took the tracks over the highway. Although CA&E freight service ended in June 1959, the interurban did apparently use this bridge prior to abandonment, as I have seen a photo. Cars could also drive on this bridge, which remained in use at least until 1986. The overhead wire remained up for several years after this branch was taken over by the Indiana Harbor Belt, which used diesel engines. This slide was processed in November 1962. We are looking north. The bridge itself was removed years ago. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin wood car 315, at the Wheaton Yards in a slide processed in April 1962. Some of the windows on this car were boarded up for shipment to the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Pennsylvania, which happened shortly after this picture was taken by Robert Heinlein. 315 was built by Kuhlman Car Company in 1909.
(This and the next picture) Don’s Rail Photos (via Archive.org): “(Northwestern “L” car) 1796 was built by American Car & Foundry in 1907 as NEWRy 287, #5098, a trailer. It was renumbered 1287 in 1913 and rebuilt as motor 1796. It became CRT 1796 in 1923 and was sold to Gaylord Container in Louisiana (circa 1958), where it was scrapped in 1966.” Some other sources put the scrap date in the 1970s. This paper mill removed one side of the car to make it easier to load and unload the rolls of paper it transported. As a result, by the time it was finally retired, the body of 1796 was not structurally sound. It was scrapped for parts to help keep sister car 1797 running at the Illinois Railway Museum. Here, we see it on May 5, 1960 in Bogalusa, Louisiana. (Robert D. Heinlein Photos)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin 401 at the 11th Avenue station in Maywood on June 29, 1957, just a few days before the abrupt end of passenger service. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
The interior of Chicago Aurora and Elgin 414 at the Wheaton Shops on April 17, 1957. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
While passenger service on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin did end abruptly at mid-day on July 3, 1957, there were various attempts to get service restored after that. On March 6, 1958, a charter trip, using a two-car train, toured the western suburbs as “The Mass Transit Special,” meeting local officials in various towns along the way (and at least one marching band). Here, we see cars 417 and 460 westbound in Wheaton. Although the effort to save the CA&E ultimately failed, there were at least two other charter trips, the last in December 1958. (Robert Heinlein Photo) The former CA&E right-of-way is now the Illinois Prairie Path. The old CA&E Wheaton station would have been behind the photographer. Car 460 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum.
The same location on September 9, 2023.
On May 5, 1963, this is what remained of Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 419 after it was torched during scrapping at the Wheaton Yards. The metal parts that remained would be broken apart and hauled away. 419 was built by Pullman in 1923. Sister car 409, now at the Illinois Railway Museum, is the only Pullman that survives from the fleet. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
The control cab of Chicago Aurora and Elgin 460 on an October 26, 1958 fantrip– the final time it operated on the CA&E. There was one later fantrip, but it used two of the wood cars. The 460 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Here is a view of the back end of the Chicago and West Towns bus garage (and former streetcar barn) at North Boulevard and Cuyler Avenue in Oak Park on March 16, 1957. There are a couple of West Towns “Old Look” buses parked in the distance. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo) Mike Franklin: “Photo was taken from atop (and below) a spur feeding off of the C&NW tracks, which provided deliveries to a coal company on the NE corner of Ridgeland & North Blvd. It was removed sometime in the mid 1970’s.” After West Towns was absorbed into PACE, this garage was replaced by one further west on Lake Street. After the building was torn down in the 1980s, a Dominick’s Finer Foods went up, and this in turn has been replaced by a Pete’s Fresh Market.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin 460 is at the Aurora Terminal on April 17, 1957. Chances are this wasn’t a fantrip, as that was a Wednesday. Back then, the great majority of such trips were held on Sundays. This car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
The body of Roanoke Railway and Electric car 57 near Salem, VA on August 31, 1957. This is a lightweight Brill Master Unit streetcar, built in 1929. Streetcar service in Roanoke ended in 1948. Sister car 51 is at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine. (George Krambles Photo, Robert D. Heinlein Collection)
Aurora Elgin and Chicago city streetcar 256.
In May 1962, workers began tearing up the tracks of the abandoned Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railway. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin 410 heads up a westbound two-car train at the 25th Avenue station in Bellwood on June 29, 1957. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin 421 is at the rear of an eastbound two-car train at the 25th Avenue station in Bellwood on June 29, 1957. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 460 is at the front of a two-car train, heading westbound at the 25th Avenue station in Bellwood on May 18, 1957. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin 421 is westbound at 9th Avenue in Maywood on April 20, 1957. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
Some very creative fantrips were held back in the old days, using unusual equipment. Here, we see a Central Electric Railfans’ Association excursion on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban, probably prior to World War II, using electric freight locomotives and cabooses.
After the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban was abandoned, the railroad put their rolling stock up for sale. The ten curved-sided cars, built in 1945 by the St. Louis Car Company, were the newest and the railroad had hopes of finding buyers for them. Cleveland considered purchasing them for a rapid transit extension to an airport, but that project was delayed, and didn’t open until 1969. Finally, Gerald E. Brookins (pictured here as they were being moved off the property in 1962) purchased four of the cars for his Trolleyville USA, which provided transportation within a trailer park he owned in Ohio. Now, all four are back in Illinois– three at IRM, one at Fox River Trolley Museum. (Robert D. Heinlein Collection)
On April 17, 1957, Chicago Aurora and Elgin wood car 318 is on a fantrip on the Batavia branch, by the Fox River. Robert D. Heinlein took this picture from the second floor of the abandoned powerhouse nearby in Glenwood Park. It has since been demolished, but at one time, provided the electricity for the entire railroad. It was the first major electricity provider in the western suburbs.
Former Aurora Elgin and Fox River Electric car 300 is seen in suburban Cleveland on the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit line. Don’s Rail Photos (via Archive.org): “300 was built by St Louis Car in 1924. #1308. In 1936 it was sold to Cleveland Interurban RR as 300. CI became Shaker Heights Rapid Transit in 1944. It was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail in May 1950 as 300. It was scrapped in 1952.” With that in mind, this picture dates to between 1936 and 1950. Sister cars 303, 304, and 306 have been preserved in various railway museums.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 459 on a siding in downtown Aurora by the Fox River on April 21, 1957. As with the end of the line in Elgin, overhead wire was used instead of third rail. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
North Shore Line electric loco 450 in Milwaukee on February 15, 1938. (T. G. Wurm Photo) Don’s Rail Photos (via Archive.org): “450 was built in 1907 by Alco, (order) #44386, and General Electric, #2696. It was sold to Commonwealth Edison Co. as 6 in February 1948.”
Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 457 at Wesley Street in Wheaton on June 30, 1957, just a few days before the interurban suspended passenger service. This bridge carried the Elgin branch over the Chicago and North Western (now the Union Pacific). (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
This picture, taken by Robert D. Heinlein on June 30, 1957 in Wheaton, shows the differences between Chicago Aurora and Elgin wood car 309, at left, and steel car 454 at right.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin cars 455, 452, and 459, as they were being scrapped in Wheaton on June 16, 1963. Out of a ten-car order, built in 1945 by the St. Louis Car Company, only four were saved– all bought by Gerald E. Brookins for his Trolleyville USA operation at a trailer park in Ohio. Now all four are back in Illinois. These cars only saw 12 years of regular service. (Robert D. Heinlein Photo)
On August 8, 1954, photographer Robert A. Selle took this picture of Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 459 during a fantrip photo stop on the Elgin branch. The event was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association excursion. When the time comes to submit potential cover images for my next book, this could be among them. When we worked on my last book, I had to submit six different images, and then we chose the one that worked best. Although the sign says “St. Charles – Geneva,” that branch of the CA&E had last run in 1937, but as Bob Bresse-Rodenkirk notes, “Elgin branch trains connected at Lakewood after 1937 for CA&E buses to St. Charles and Geneva.” Michael Crist thinks we are “sitting on the Milwaukee Road interchange track just east of Raymond Street, Elgin.”
Here are the bodies of Chicago and West Towns streetcars 164 and 165 on March 22, 1959. After trolley service ended on the line to LaGrange in 1948, they were apparently dumped in the woods along First Avenue, just north of North Avenue in Melrose Park. (Robert A. Selle Photo)
Five Chicago and West Towns streetcar bodies, in the woods along First Avenue just north of North Avenue on March 22, 1959. Car 141, the only survivor of the fleet, was sold as a chicken coop and was retrieved around this time by the ERHS (Electric Railway Historical Society) group. who tried to get a museum going on a farm in Downers Grove, IL. When that effort failed in 1973, the collection went to the Illinois Railway Museum. After a long, international search for parts, IRM eventually got 141 running again about 10 years ago. (Robert A. Selle Photo)
On Saturday, September 26, 1953, CTA “L” car 2899 is looping at the western end of the Garfield Park line at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park, while Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 413 rolls out of the terminal on its way west. This was the new arrangement, starting on September 20th, where the two railroads were no longer connected to each other. Therefore, two loops were necessary that did not directly intersect. There had previously been a loop here for turning CTA trains at ground level, and it was located just behind where the new loop is seen here. This new system remained in place until the CA&E suspended passenger service in 1957, and the CTA reconfigured the entire area in 1959 as work continued nearby on the new expressway. (Robert A. Selle Photo)
On Sunday afternoon, March 21, 1954, a westbound CTA Douglas Park “L” train is at the Racine station on the Metropolitan Main Line. This was shortly before the station closed and was demolished as part of the construction project that built the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway. This was a four-track “L”, but by this time, Garfield Park trains had been rerouted onto temporary ground-level trackage on Van Buren Street. Logan Square trains had stopped using this part of the “L” in 1951. Starting in April 1954, Douglas Park trains went downtown via a new connection to the Lake Street “L”– the same routing that the Pink Line uses today. (Robert A. Selle Photo)
On December 9, 1951, the CTA, as part of their efforts to speed things up on the “L”, brought A/B “skip stop” service to the Douglas Park branch. Several lightly used stations were closed, but Wood Street (1800 W, 2100 S) was one of three that were given “partial” service. There was no agent on duty, and riders had to put a token into a turnstyle to enter. Soon the other two such stations were closed, but Wood continued as a partial service station from May 3, 1952 until May 19, 1957, when it was closed. Certain “B” trains that stopped at Wood had a special sign, which you see here, in this photo taken by Robert A. Selle on March 21, 1954. (Station info from http://www.chicago-l.org)
This is the interior of CTA wooden “L” car 3141, taken on December 12, 1953 at the Indiana Avenue station. It was operating on the Stock Yards branch and was laying over on a stub end track. (Robert A. Selle Photo)
A CTA 1700-series “L” car leaves the pocket track at Indiana Avenue on Saturday afternoon, November 28, 1953, for its trip east to 42nd and Oakenwald. Between 1949 and 1957, Kenwood operated as a shuttle, after which it was discontinued. (Robert A. Selle Photo)
This is apparently the only Birney car that ran on the Aurora streetcar system. Here’s what the Hicks Car Works blog has to say about it: “In 1920, in order to improve service, the company (Aurora Plainfield and Joliet Railway) ordered a new four-wheel Birney streetcar to operate the local line in Joliet… On July 21, 1924, the company was authorized to abandon its line. All service was stopped on August 31, 1924, being one of the first interurban systems in Illinois to be abandoned… The Birney streetcar was shipped to the Aurora streetcar system, with delivery being made via the Chicago & Illinois Valley Railway to Morris, the Fox & Illinois Union Railway to Yorkville, and then over the abandoned (but not yet dismantled) Yorkville division of the Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric Company to Aurora. (Aurora Plainfield and Joliet) 101 – AR (arch roof) ST (single truck) DE (double end) Birney streetcar – St. Louis (Car Company)1920 (ord#1249) – K63 control, St Louis 7 truck – sold in 1924 to Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric as number 48.”
Another view of Aurora Elgin and Fox River Electric Birney car 48. Birney cars were briefly popular in the 1920s for use on smaller streetcar systems, since they could be operated by one person. Because they are single truck cars, riding qualities weren’t the best, but they are certainly popular among the fans. “Downer” is a street in Aurora.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
The North Shore Line
FYI, my new Arcadia Publishing book The North Shore Line is now available for immediate shipment. My publisher decided to expand it to 160 pages, instead of the usual 128. That’s a 25% increase, without any change to the $23.99 price. I am quite pleased with how this turned out.
From the back cover:
As late as 1963, it was possible to board high-speed electric trains on Chicago’s famous Loop “L” that ran 90 miles north to Milwaukee. This was the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad, commonly known as the North Shore Line. It rose from humble origins in the 1890s as a local streetcar line in Waukegan to eventually become America’s fastest interurban under the visionary management of Midwest utilities tycoon Samuel Insull. The North Shore Line, under Insull, became a worthy competitor to the established steam railroads. Hobbled by the Great Depression, the road fought back in 1941 with two streamlined, air-conditioned, articulated trains called Electroliners, which included dining service. It regained its popularity during World War II, when gasoline and tires were rationed, but eventually, it fell victim to highways and the automobile. The North Shore Line had intercity rail, commuter rail, electric freight, city streetcars, and even buses. It has been gone for nearly 60 years, but it will always remain the Road of Service.
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus North Shore Line map. Books will ship by USPS Media Mail.
02. The Milwaukee Division
03. The Shore Line Route
04. The Skokie Valley Route
05. The Mundelein Branch
06. On the “L”
07. City Streetcars
08. Trolley Freight
09. The Long Goodbye
10. The Legacy
Title The North Shore Line
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2023
ISBN 1467108960, 978-1467108966
Length 160 pages
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
New Compact Disc, Now Available:
The Last Chicago Streetcars 1958
# of Discs – 1
Until now, it seemed as though audio recordings of Chicago streetcars were practically non-existent. For whatever reason, the late William A. Steventon does not appear to have made any for his Railroad Record Club, even though he did make other recordings in the Chicago area in 1956.
Now, audio recordings of the last runs of Chicago streetcars have been found, in the collections of the late Jeffrey L. Wien (who was one of the riders on that last car). We do not know who made these recordings, but this must have been done using a portable reel-to-reel machine.
These important recordings will finally fill a gap in transit history. The last Chicago Transit Authority streetcar finished its run in the early hours of June 21, 1958. Now you can experience these events just as Chicagoans did.
As a bonus, we have included Keeping Pace, a 1939 Chicago Surface Lines employee training program. This was digitally transferred from an original 16” transcription disc. These recordings were unheard for 80 years.
Total time – 74:38
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