Roy G. Benedict

Some very sad news via Eric Bronsky:

We rail preservationists and historians have lost an important member of our community. Roy G. Benedict, prolific writer and historian active with several rail organizations over the course of 60+ years, passed away unexpectedly. He was 78.

Among other activities, Roy was long involved with CERA publications and also served a term as editor of First & Fastest, published by the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society. His historic research and writings were meticulous, thorough and accurate. A native of Chicago’s South Side, he was considered a ‘walking encyclopedia’ of Chicago Surface Lines routes and operations.

Roy was a bachelor who lived alone on Chicago’s Northwest Side. He was employed as a schoolteacher. After retiring, he started Roy G Benedict Publisher’s Services as a sole proprietorship. He did not own a car and used public transportation to get wherever he needed to go, traveling frequently to Indiana to observe NICTD board meetings or to distant libraries to research electric railways. When invited to ride with others to railroad museums, model meets, and other events not accessible by bus or train, Roy was always grateful for the opportunity to tag along.

Roy would occasionally join me, Dan Joseph, and others on day trips. The photo below shows Roy enjoying Bob Olson’s South Bend Electric Railway in October of 2016. Dan spoke with Roy only last Wednesday, inviting him to join us Sunday to visit the Illinois Railway Museum. Our pickup point was the CTA Belmont Blue Line station. Roy, normally punctual, was not there when we arrived. We tried calling his home and mobile phone but there was no answer. Growing concerned, we made several phone calls in an attempt to find someone who could check on Roy. Our worst fears were confirmed on Monday.

There will be no funeral service. Roy bequeathed his collection to the Illinois Railway Museum’s Strahorn Library. I have no other information.

— Eric

Jeff Wien notes:

Roy was one of the most intelligent people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Roy G. Benedict started out as a mapmaker as a teenager in the 1950s. An early example of his work, a mimeographed track map of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin, is reproduced below.

He was the co-author, along with James R. MacFarlane, of Not Only Passengers: How the Electric Railways Carried Freight, Express, and Baggage, Bulletin 129 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association (1992).

Roy was very helpful to Carl Bajema, offering helpful advice on the book that became The Street Railways of Grand Rapids (co-author: Tom Maas), Bulletin 148 of Central Electric Railfans’ Association (2017). He was a stickler for getting details correct, and did not suffer fools gladly. If you disagreed with Roy, you had better have the facts at hand to make your case.

Mr. Benedict was interviewed on-camera for the Chicago Streetcar Memories DVD produced by Jeff Wien and the late Bradley Criss for Chicago Transport Memories. He was also a contributor to Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, by Jeffrey L. Wien and myself, (Bradley Criss Photo Editor), published in 2015 by Central Electric Railfans’ Association as Bulletin 146.

In recent years, Roy had also been very active in the yearly Hoosier Traction Meet that takes place in Indianapolis each September.

This is a great loss to the railfan community. He will be missed.

-David Sadowski

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 234th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 527,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

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

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

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

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

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

A Chicago Traction Valentine

This "red border" Kodachrome shows CTA salt car AA-104 at South Shops on January 4, 1956. Don's Rail Photos says, "AA104, salt car, was built by South Chicago City Ry in 1907 as SCCRy 339. It was rebuilt in 1907 and became C&SCRy (Calumet and South Chicago Railway) 838 in 1908. It was renumbered 2853 in 1913 and became CSL 2853 in 1914. It was later converted as a salt car and renumbered AA104 in 1948. It was retired on December 14, 1956." This was one of the few railroad-roof cars on the Chicago system. The main color here is Pullman Green. (James J. Buckley Photo)

This “red border” Kodachrome shows CTA salt car AA-104 at South Shops on January 4, 1956. Don’s Rail Photos says, “AA104, salt car, was built by South Chicago City Ry in 1907 as SCCRy 339. It was rebuilt in 1907 and became C&SCRy (Calumet and South Chicago Railway) 838 in 1908. It was renumbered 2853 in 1913 and became CSL 2853 in 1914. It was later converted as a salt car and renumbered AA104 in 1948. It was retired on December 14, 1956.” This was one of the few railroad-roof cars on the Chicago system. The main color here is Pullman Green. (James J. Buckley Photo)

After our recent forays to the East Coast, part of a series by guest contributor Kenneth Gear, we are back in Sweet Home Chicago for this one. Watch this space for additional posts in Ken’s series.

Although we are a few days late for Valentine’s Day, we nonetheless have many photographic gifts for Chicago-area traction fans in today’s post, that constitute a virtual Valentine to our readers. First, we have some recent finds. Next, a few color slides courtesy of William Shapotkin. Then, a bevy of classic black-and-white images taken by the late Robert Selle, one of the greatest railfan photographers.

We also have a book review, and there are two new audio CD collections in our ongoing efforts to digitize 1950s steam railroad audio for the 21st Century.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

When the CTA opened the five-mile long Skokie Swift branch in April 1964 (over a small portion of the former North Shore Line) ridership far exceeded expectations. So the four articulated 5000-series cars were quickly renovated and adapted for Swift service. These were experimental when built in 1947-48 and became "oddballs" on the CTA system. Here, we see car 51 (renumbered from 5001) in October 1964 at Kostner. These cars continued to run into the 1980s. Two of the four sets were saved, and this set is now at the Fox River Trolley Museum. (Color correction by J. J. Sedelmaier)

When the CTA opened the five-mile long Skokie Swift branch in April 1964 (over a small portion of the former North Shore Line) ridership far exceeded expectations. So the four articulated 5000-series cars were quickly renovated and adapted for Swift service. These were experimental when built in 1947-48 and became “oddballs” on the CTA system. Here, we see car 51 (renumbered from 5001) in October 1964 at Kostner. These cars continued to run into the 1980s. Two of the four sets were saved, and this set is now at the Fox River Trolley Museum. (Color correction by J. J. Sedelmaier)

Three CTA trains of 6000-series "L"/Subway cars are lined up by the old Tower 18 in the early 1950s. As you can see, with the tower in the middle of the junction, not all moves could be made. For example, eastbound trains coming from Lake Street could not go straight east, but had to turn south. At this time, traffic on both the inner and outer Loop tracks went in the same direction (counter-clockwise). This arrangement was changed in 1969 when the CTA wanted to through-route Lake with the new Dan Ryan line. The tower was moved and replaced with a new one, and new eastbound trackage was built where the old tower was. That was also the beginning of bi-directional operations on the Loop, which continue to this day.

Three CTA trains of 6000-series “L”/Subway cars are lined up by the old Tower 18 in the early 1950s. As you can see, with the tower in the middle of the junction, not all moves could be made. For example, eastbound trains coming from Lake Street could not go straight east, but had to turn south. At this time, traffic on both the inner and outer Loop tracks went in the same direction (counter-clockwise). This arrangement was changed in 1969 when the CTA wanted to through-route Lake with the new Dan Ryan line. The tower was moved and replaced with a new one, and new eastbound trackage was built where the old tower was. That was also the beginning of bi-directional operations on the Loop, which continue to this day.

One-man CSL 3117 is eastbound on 18th Street at Carpenter (approx. 1100 West) in the 1940s. Don's Rail Photos: "3117 was built by CSL in 1922. It was scrapped in 1948." This was part of a series known as CSL Safety Cars, aka "Sewing Machines." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

One-man CSL 3117 is eastbound on 18th Street at Carpenter (approx. 1100 West) in the 1940s. Don’s Rail Photos: “3117 was built by CSL in 1922. It was scrapped in 1948.” This was part of a series known as CSL Safety Cars, aka “Sewing Machines.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The same location today.

The same location today.

Two CTA PCCs (4064 and 4115) and red car 368, all Pullmans, at Kedzie Station (Fifth and Kedzie) on August 22, 1953. The main portion of Route 20 - Madison was converted to bus on December 13 of that year, and the Fifth Avenue branch continued for a few more months as a shuttle operation. The PCC at left is in its original colors (Mercury Green, Croydon Cream and Swamp Holly Orange), while the one in the center has been repainted in Everglade Green and Alpine White. (Robert Selle Photo)

Two CTA PCCs (4064 and 4115) and red car 368, all Pullmans, at Kedzie Station (Fifth and Kedzie) on August 22, 1953. The main portion of Route 20 – Madison was converted to bus on December 13 of that year, and the Fifth Avenue branch continued for a few more months as a shuttle operation. The PCC at left is in its original colors (Mercury Green, Croydon Cream and Swamp Holly Orange), while the one in the center has been repainted in Everglade Green and Alpine White. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA Postwar PCC 7200, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, at 81st and Halsted on January 2, 1954. This was the south end of Route 22, Clark-Wentworth. It's been pointed out to me that fans took a lot of pictures at this location, but here we had the opportunity to purchase the original medium-format neg, and not just a print. Notice the dents on the front of 7200. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA Postwar PCC 7200, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, at 81st and Halsted on January 2, 1954. This was the south end of Route 22, Clark-Wentworth. It’s been pointed out to me that fans took a lot of pictures at this location, but here we had the opportunity to purchase the original medium-format neg, and not just a print. Notice the dents on the front of 7200. (Robert Selle Photo)

"One-man PCC 4021, now northbound on the (private right-of-way) portion of the South Cottage Grove line." This was on May 30, 1955. 4021 is now the only preserved prewar PCC, and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert Selle Photo)

“One-man PCC 4021, now northbound on the (private right-of-way) portion of the South Cottage Grove line.” This was on May 30, 1955. 4021 is now the only preserved prewar PCC, and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert Selle Photo)

Color Slides, Courtesy of William Shapotkin:

"Looking westbound on (North) Lake Street toward Austin Boulevard., cars 3153 and 1757, woring CTA Lake Street line, lay over at west end-of-line. In distance (SW corner of Lake and Austin in Oak Park), a bus working the Chicago & West Towns Lake Street line takes its layover. May 15, 1954." (About two weeks before the end of streetcar service on Route 16).

“Looking westbound on (North) Lake Street toward Austin Boulevard., cars 3153 and 1757, woring CTA Lake Street line, lay over at west end-of-line. In distance (SW corner of Lake and Austin in Oak Park), a bus working the Chicago & West Towns Lake Street line takes its layover. May 15, 1954.” (About two weeks before the end of streetcar service on Route 16).

"Chicago, IL. CTA car #3153, working an eastbound trip on Route 16 - Lake, is eastbound in (North) Lake Street, having just crossed over Central Avenue. View looks west/northwest from the Chicago & North Western embankment. May 15, 1954."

“Chicago, IL. CTA car #3153, working an eastbound trip on Route 16 – Lake, is eastbound in (North) Lake Street, having just crossed over Central Avenue. View looks west/northwest from the Chicago & North Western embankment. May 15, 1954.”

CTA 1812 at Lake and Pine in February 1953, heading west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L", which was elevated onto the adjacent embankment in 1962. Pine is where Route 16 streetcars crossed the "L" to go from what was then called South Lake Street to North Lake Street. In 1964, the South Lake Street portion in this area was renamed Corcoran Place, after the death of the local alderman. (Thanks to J. J. Sedelmaier for twerking, er "tweaking" this one to make it look better.)

CTA 1812 at Lake and Pine in February 1953, heading west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”, which was elevated onto the adjacent embankment in 1962. Pine is where Route 16 streetcars crossed the “L” to go from what was then called South Lake Street to North Lake Street. In 1964, the South Lake Street portion in this area was renamed Corcoran Place, after the death of the local alderman. (Thanks to J. J. Sedelmaier for twerking, er “tweaking” this one to make it look better.)

The same location today (Lake and Pine). This is where Lake Street takes a jog to the north side of the former Chicago & North Western embankment, and the CSL/CTA Route 16 streetcar went along with it. Since Lake Street pretty much split in two at this point, the section west of here (behind the photographer) was referred to as either North Lake or South Lake, depending on which side of the embankment you were on. This was a reasonable system, since there were no duplicate street numbers. But in 1964, the south portion between Pine and Austin (a distance of just over half a mile) was renamed Corcoran Place, after the local alderman, an ally of then-Mayor Richard J. Daley's, who died suddenly from a heart attack. The "L" was relocated onto the embankment in 1962 and the street it was in (either Lake Street, South Lake Street aka Corcoan Place, or South Boulevard in Oak Park) made wider, or made into parking lots.

The same location today (Lake and Pine). This is where Lake Street takes a jog to the north side of the former Chicago & North Western embankment, and the CSL/CTA Route 16 streetcar went along with it. Since Lake Street pretty much split in two at this point, the section west of here (behind the photographer) was referred to as either North Lake or South Lake, depending on which side of the embankment you were on. This was a reasonable system, since there were no duplicate street numbers. But in 1964, the south portion between Pine and Austin (a distance of just over half a mile) was renamed Corcoran Place, after the local alderman, an ally of then-Mayor Richard J. Daley’s, who died suddenly from a heart attack. The “L” was relocated onto the embankment in 1962 and the street it was in (either Lake Street, South Lake Street aka Corcoan Place, or South Boulevard in Oak Park) made wider, or made into parking lots.

"Chicago, IL. CTA car #4333 brings up the rear of an eastbound Lake Street "L" train. View looks east from Lake/Laramie station. Note pull-offs for overhead trolley wire, used west from Laramie station. June 23, 1959,"

“Chicago, IL. CTA car #4333 brings up the rear of an eastbound Lake Street “L” train. View looks east from Lake/Laramie station. Note pull-offs for overhead trolley wire, used west from Laramie station. June 23, 1959,”

"Chicago, IL. Looking westbound on CTA's Lake Street "L" at (South) Lake Street (now Corcoran Place), at Menard Avenue. Line car #S200 is seen doing wire work. In distance is the Austin/Lake "L" station. At right (on embankment) is one-time "Boulevard" Chicago & North Western station (located at Austin Boulevard). May 27, 1960." Don Ross: "S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1924."

“Chicago, IL. Looking westbound on CTA’s Lake Street “L” at (South) Lake Street (now Corcoran Place), at Menard Avenue. Line car #S200 is seen doing wire work. In distance is the Austin/Lake “L” station. At right (on embankment) is one-time “Boulevard” Chicago & North Western station (located at Austin Boulevard). May 27, 1960.” Don Ross: “S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1924.”

"Oak Park, IL. A pair of 4000s, working a westbound trip on CTA's Lake Street "L", are on South Boulevard at Kenilworth Avenue. Visible in distance (on embankment) is one-time "Avenue" Chicago & North Western passenger station, located at Oak Park Avenue. View looks east on January 18, 1962."

“Oak Park, IL. A pair of 4000s, working a westbound trip on CTA’s Lake Street “L”, are on South Boulevard at Kenilworth Avenue. Visible in distance (on embankment) is one-time “Avenue” Chicago & North Western passenger station, located at Oak Park Avenue. View looks east on January 18, 1962.”

In the center, we see the portal at the north end of the State Street subway, just south of Armitage. The two middle "L" tracks were moved to the outer edge of the structure when the subway was built. The "L" continued south from this point with four tracks to Chicago Avenue. In recent years, the two outer tracks have been removed, and just a siding remains at this point.

In the center, we see the portal at the north end of the State Street subway, just south of Armitage. The two middle “L” tracks were moved to the outer edge of the structure when the subway was built. The “L” continued south from this point with four tracks to Chicago Avenue. In recent years, the two outer tracks have been removed, and just a siding remains at this point.

Chicago, Burlington & Qunict locomotive 4978 in Mendota, IL on September 2, 2010 with a Metra Electric (ex-Illinois Central "Highliner" at left. Both are at the Union Depot Railroad Museum. (Mike Sosalla Photo)

Chicago, Burlington & Qunict locomotive 4978 in Mendota, IL on September 2, 2010 with a Metra Electric (ex-Illinois Central “Highliner” at left. Both are at the Union Depot Railroad Museum. (Mike Sosalla Photo)

Classic Bob Selle Images

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know that the late Robert Selle (1929-2013) was an excellent photographer who specialized in black-and-white. As with many other railfan photographers, his extensive collection of images got scattered after his death.

Now and again, some of them pop up on eBay, but not always identified as his work in the auction listings. Fortunately, Selle is one of those few photographers whose work can be recognized at a glance, as it is often a cut above the rest.

Over the years, we have purchased a few Bob Selle negatives, which have been featured on this blog (including three in today’s post).

In 2011, Jeff Wien and the late Bradley Criss visited Mr. Selle in Florida, and he generously allowed them to scan some of his negatives. Tragically, Bradley Criss passed away in 2016 (you can read an appreciation of him here). He would have been 55 years old on February 4th.

As a tribute to both Bob Selle and Bradley Criss, here is a selection from the images they scanned, courtesy of Jeff Wien and the Wien-Criss Archive.

CTA Pullman 495 at Limits Station (car barn), so named because it was once at the north end of the city limits when first built. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 495 at Limits Station (car barn), so named because it was once at the north end of the city limits when first built. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 581 at Milwaukee and Clinton, in front of Chicago & North Western steam loco 1564. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 581 at Milwaukee and Clinton, in front of Chicago & North Western steam loco 1564. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4200 northbound on Clark near Montrose. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4200 northbound on Clark near Montrose. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA postwar PCC 4224 (a Pullman) at the Limits car barn. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA postwar PCC 4224 (a Pullman) at the Limits car barn. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The group photo from the last Chicago streetcar fantrip on May 25, 1958. This was less than a month before the end of streetcar service in Chicago. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The group photo from the last Chicago streetcar fantrip on May 25, 1958. This was less than a month before the end of streetcar service in Chicago. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6136 on the Museum Loop in Grant Park, just east of the Illinois Central Electric. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6136 on the Museum Loop in Grant Park, just east of the Illinois Central Electric. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA snow sweeper E223 was saved from destruction by Dick Lukin, and it is shown here in 1958, on its way to the Illinois Electric Railway Museum site in North Chicago. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA snow sweeper E223 was saved from destruction by Dick Lukin, and it is shown here in 1958, on its way to the Illinois Electric Railway Museum site in North Chicago. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A young (and shiirtless) Nick Kallas at the ERHS (Electric Railway Historical Society) site in Downers Grove, where streetcars such as Chicago & West Towns 141, shown here, were stored between 1959 and 1973, when the collection went to the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A young (and shiirtless) Nick Kallas at the ERHS (Electric Railway Historical Society) site in Downers Grove, where streetcars such as Chicago & West Towns 141, shown here, were stored between 1959 and 1973, when the collection went to the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 433, built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927. The tower, just barely visible at rear, was part of Wheaton Yard. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 433, built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927. The tower, just barely visible at rear, was part of Wheaton Yard. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CA&E 453, a 1945 product of St. Louis Car Company, at the Wheaton station. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CA&E 453, a 1945 product of St. Louis Car Company, at the Wheaton station. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A six-car CA&E train westbound at the Halsted curve. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A six-car CA&E train westbound at the Halsted curve. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CA&E 458 heads a three-car train westbound at Western Avenue. The CTA bus on Van Buren indicates that this picture was taken no earlier than August 12, 1951. The Van Buren Street temporary trackage appears to be in place already, but testing has not started yet, as there are barriers in place. "L" service shifted to the temporary trackage in September 1953 and the CA&E cut back service to Forest Park. At left you can see the imposing structure of Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School, otherwise known as Crane Tech. We are looking to the east. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CA&E 458 heads a three-car train westbound at Western Avenue. The CTA bus on Van Buren indicates that this picture was taken no earlier than August 12, 1951. The Van Buren Street temporary trackage appears to be in place already, but testing has not started yet, as there are barriers in place. “L” service shifted to the temporary trackage in September 1953 and the CA&E cut back service to Forest Park. At left you can see the imposing structure of Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School, otherwise known as Crane Tech. We are looking to the east. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Two North Shore Line trains pass at Ravinia on a 1953 Shore Line Route fantrip. This is not the same stop as Ravinia Park, which is some distance away. The area taken up by the NSL tracks is now a parking lot for the Metra station (former Chicago & North Western), whose tracks are at left. We are looking southeast. Presumably the Silverliner at right is the fantrip train as the other train is not flying flags. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Two North Shore Line trains pass at Ravinia on a 1953 Shore Line Route fantrip. This is not the same stop as Ravinia Park, which is some distance away. The area taken up by the NSL tracks is now a parking lot for the Metra station (former Chicago & North Western), whose tracks are at left. We are looking southeast. Presumably the Silverliner at right is the fantrip train as the other train is not flying flags. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The building just visible in the previous picture, located at 514 Roger Williams Avenue in Highland Park.

The building just visible in the previous picture, located at 514 Roger Williams Avenue in Highland Park.

Chicago & North Western loco 505 heads up at train at Kinzie Street. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Chicago & North Western loco 505 heads up at train at Kinzie Street. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

C&NW loco 531 and train at Edison Park. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

C&NW loco 531 and train at Edison Park. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

C&NW 545 and train in Edison Park on Chicago's northwest side. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

C&NW 545 and train in Edison Park on Chicago’s northwest side. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 291 at 63rd and Narragansett, possibly during the period just before Route 63 was converted to bus on May 24, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 291 at 63rd and Narragansett, possibly during the period just before Route 63 was converted to bus on May 24, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 475, running on Route 56 - Milwaukee Avenue, emerges from the east portal of the Washington streetcar tunnel at Franklin Street, having traveled under the Chicago River. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 475, running on Route 56 – Milwaukee Avenue, emerges from the east portal of the Washington streetcar tunnel at Franklin Street, having traveled under the Chicago River. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 384 at Roosevelt and Paulina. Cars on Route 9 - Ashland took a jog here, as streetcars were not allowed to run on boulevards. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 384 at Roosevelt and Paulina. Cars on Route 9 – Ashland took a jog here, as streetcars were not allowed to run on boulevards. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 124 at Division and Wells on Route 6 - Van Buren. The latest this photo could have been taken is 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 124 at Division and Wells on Route 6 – Van Buren. The latest this photo could have been taken is 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 265 is northbound at State and Archer on Route 45 (Ashland-Downtown). At left, we see a Route 44 CTA bus. This helps date the picture to between July 7, 1951 (when 44 converted to bus) and February 14, 1954 (when routes 9 and 45 were converted). (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 265 is northbound at State and Archer on Route 45 (Ashland-Downtown). At left, we see a Route 44 CTA bus. This helps date the picture to between July 7, 1951 (when 44 converted to bus) and February 14, 1954 (when routes 9 and 45 were converted). (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 276 is eastbound at 63rd and Paulina on Route 63, probably in 1953 near the end of streetcar service on this line. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 276 is eastbound at 63rd and Paulina on Route 63, probably in 1953 near the end of streetcar service on this line. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 377, also at 63rd and Paulina. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 377, also at 63rd and Paulina. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 289 is eastbound on Grand near Milwaukee on Route 65. This route was converted to bus on April 1, 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 289 is eastbound on Grand near Milwaukee on Route 65. This route was converted to bus on April 1, 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 452 is on Southport at Clark, the north end of Route 9 - Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 452 is on Southport at Clark, the north end of Route 9 – Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 453 is heading west on diversion trackage on Route 8 - Halsted at Chicago Avenue in 1953. I believe the PCC at the rear is 7228, a product of the St. Louis Car Company. The diversion was between Division and Chicago, and was used when work was being done on the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River. The two streetcars are about to turn from eastbound Chicago Avenue onto southbound Halsted. PCCs were being phased out on Halsted during this period, as CTA had begun shipping the 310 Pullmans to the St. Louis Car Company for scrapping and parts reuse on a like number of 6000-series rapid transit cars. By the time streetcar service ended on Halsted in 1954, service was being provided entirely by the older red cars. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 453 is heading west on diversion trackage on Route 8 – Halsted at Chicago Avenue in 1953. I believe the PCC at the rear is 7228, a product of the St. Louis Car Company. The diversion was between Division and Chicago, and was used when work was being done on the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River. The two streetcars are about to turn from eastbound Chicago Avenue onto southbound Halsted. PCCs were being phased out on Halsted during this period, as CTA had begun shipping the 310 Pullmans to the St. Louis Car Company for scrapping and parts reuse on a like number of 6000-series rapid transit cars. By the time streetcar service ended on Halsted in 1954, service was being provided entirely by the older red cars. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The note that came with this image of CTA Pullman 469 says it is on Kedzie near Chicago Avenue. But the sign on the streetcar says route 66, which is Chicago and not Kedzie. So perhaps we are on Chicago Avenue near Kedzie. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive) Patrick Cunningham adds: "The Pullman 469 photo is on Chicago Ave. looking east from the CNW viaduct towards Sacramento. The building in the far background still exists."

The note that came with this image of CTA Pullman 469 says it is on Kedzie near Chicago Avenue. But the sign on the streetcar says route 66, which is Chicago and not Kedzie. So perhaps we are on Chicago Avenue near Kedzie. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive) Patrick Cunningham adds: “The Pullman 469 photo is on Chicago Ave. looking east from the CNW viaduct towards Sacramento. The building in the far background still exists.”

The view looking east from about 3037 West Chicago Avenue, which is probably just a bit east of where the above photo was taken. You can see that the same building is at rear on Sacramento Boulevard.

The view looking east from about 3037 West Chicago Avenue, which is probably just a bit east of where the above photo was taken. You can see that the same building is at rear on Sacramento Boulevard.

CTA Pullman 381 at 63rd Place and Narragansett, the west end of Route 63. This picture may have been taken early in 1953, after PCCs had been replaced by older cars on this line, shortly before it was converted to bus. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 381 at 63rd Place and Narragansett, the west end of Route 63. This picture may have been taken early in 1953, after PCCs had been replaced by older cars on this line, shortly before it was converted to bus. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 409 is on Southport at Clark, the north end of Route 9 - Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 409 is on Southport at Clark, the north end of Route 9 – Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman n 504 exiting the Washington Street tunnel, operating on Route 56 - Milwaukee Avenue. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman n 504 exiting the Washington Street tunnel, operating on Route 56 – Milwaukee Avenue. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 523 at the same location. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 523 at the same location. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 540 at Southport and Clark, ready to head south on another trip on Route 9 - Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 540 at Southport and Clark, ready to head south on another trip on Route 9 – Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 610, an Ashland car, heads south on Clark at School Street. There is a similar photo on page 104 in my book Chicago Trolleys, showing car 144 at the same location. That picture is dated May 7, 1953 which may be when this picture was taken. That car was a pull-in to the Limits car barn, which may also be the case here. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 610, an Ashland car, heads south on Clark at School Street. There is a similar photo on page 104 in my book Chicago Trolleys, showing car 144 at the same location. That picture is dated May 7, 1953 which may be when this picture was taken. That car was a pull-in to the Limits car barn, which may also be the case here. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 669 at 63rd and Paulina, probably in early 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 669 at 63rd and Paulina, probably in early 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 675 is westbound on Chicago Avenue at Grand Avenue on Route 66. Note the cool Bowman Dairy truck. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 675 is westbound on Chicago Avenue at Grand Avenue on Route 66. Note the cool Bowman Dairy truck. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 839 is on Ashland at Chicago on Route 9. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 839 is on Ashland at Chicago on Route 9. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Ther motorman of CTA Pullman 879 waves at the photographer as he rounds the turn from Wells onto Division, running Through Route 3 - Lincoln-Indiana, which was discontinued on March 11, 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Ther motorman of CTA Pullman 879 waves at the photographer as he rounds the turn from Wells onto Division, running Through Route 3 – Lincoln-Indiana, which was discontinued on March 11, 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today. Things have sure changed a lot!

The same location today. Things have sure changed a lot!

CTA 171 on Ogden at Ashland, operating on Route 58. The white stripe indicates that this is a one-man car. 1721 was part of a series known as "169" or Broadway-State cars. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 171 on Ogden at Ashland, operating on Route 58. The white stripe indicates that this is a one-man car. 1721 was part of a series known as “169” or Broadway-State cars. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 173 is on Chicago Avenue near Ashland, on Route 66. Note the Goldblatt's nearby. Goldblatt's was a local department store chain that operated from 1914 until 2000. In 1946, they had 15 local stores, with annual sales of $62m. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 173 is on Chicago Avenue near Ashland, on Route 66. Note the Goldblatt’s nearby. Goldblatt’s was a local department store chain that operated from 1914 until 2000. In 1946, they had 15 local stores, with annual sales of $62m. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 1765 is at the west end of Route 16 - Lake, at Austin Boulevard, the city limits, in 1952. The old Park Theater is behind the streetcar. It closed around this time, although it may still have been open when this picture was taken. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 1765 is at the west end of Route 16 – Lake, at Austin Boulevard, the city limits, in 1952. The old Park Theater is behind the streetcar. It closed around this time, although it may still have been open when this picture was taken. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Another view, a "roster shot," showing 1765 by the Park Theater. Note the movie theater is not boarded up, which probably means it was still open when this picture was taken in 1952. Chances are, it fell victim to competition from television. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Another view, a “roster shot,” showing 1765 by the Park Theater. Note the movie theater is not boarded up, which probably means it was still open when this picture was taken in 1952. Chances are, it fell victim to competition from television. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 17778 is on Route 66 - Chicago Avenue at Ashland, passing by a Woolworth's dime store. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 17778 is on Route 66 – Chicago Avenue at Ashland, passing by a Woolworth’s dime store. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 1781 at the same location. The white stripe on the front let riders know that this was a one-man car, and therefore they should enter at the front, instead of the rear, as they would on a two-man car. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 1781 at the same location. The white stripe on the front let riders know that this was a one-man car, and therefore they should enter at the front, instead of the rear, as they would on a two-man car. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Book Review: Chicago Streetcar Memories

Chicago Streetcar Memories
By Kenneth C. Springirth
Publisher: ???? (2018)
Softcover, 128 pages

A new Chicago streetcar book is always a welcome addition to one’s library. Someone recently gave me a copy of Chicago Streetcar Memories by Kenneth C. Springirth, which came out last month.

As the author of Chicago Trolleys (see below), and co-author of a Chicago PCC book, I probably have a different perspective on this type of work than many people who will read it. I’ll put in my two cents for what it’s worth, but feel free to make up your own mind on these matters.

Mr. Springirth, who is about 78 years old and lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, has written numerous traction picture books over the years. Looking him up on Amazon, I found at least two dozen titles going back to 1968, although, for whatever reason, I did not see this new one listed there. Another source credits him with 35 books.

This new volume does not have any ISBN information, and no publisher is listed. So, in the absence of knowledge to the contrary, I am going to assume that it is a self-published work. In recent years, Springirth has been prolific, putting out a few such picture books per year.

Usually an author collects a royalty, if he or she is lucky, from a publisher who is willing to take a chance on their work. This generally involves an editor, who works with the author. There is back-and-forth until both parties are satisfied they have done their best, and then the book is published. It is a partnership.

Self-publishing, by my way of looking at it, is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, for those authors with deep enough pockets to finance the production costs, there is the chance to keep a lot more of the profits– as long as you can find a way to sell your books in sufficient quantities to create a profit.

Having absolute creative control over your book can be the ideal situation. On the other hand, an editor is a useful sounding board, and can also elevate the quality of your writing by asking you to revise your work and do better. An editor tries to get your best work out of you. The goal of a publisher should be to take what the author has done and improve it, to make a better book.

Whether by coincidence or otherwise, this book has the same name as a DVD put out some years back by Chicago Transport Memories, LLC. However, titles cannot be copyrighted (although sometimes they may be trademarked), and any way you look at it, this is a good title. The same author also has a recent book out called Baltimore Streetcar Memories, so perhaps he envisions this as part of a series.

It is worth noting that there is no connection between the DVD put out by Chicago Transport Memories, LLC and this new book, even though they have the same exact title.  Complicating matters even further, the Chicago Streetcar Memories DVD was included along with copies of Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, Bulletin 146 from the Central Electric Railfans’ Association, which I co-authored.

All the pictures in this new book, except for the cover, are black-and-white. The overall effect, at 128 pages, is somewhat like an oversized Arcadia book in their Images of Rail series, perhaps not surprising as Mr. Springirth has written a few of those also.

Unfortunately, the larger format was not put to best use, as the images in general are not very sharp and a few are downright fuzzy. I do not know if this is due to the choice of dpi (dots per inch) when the original images were scanned, or whether this somehow relates to the printing process used, or both.  In general, it would be fair to say that the images in Chicago Trolleys are sharper and more detailed than those in the Chicago Streetcar Memories book, even though our book is somewhat smaller in overall dimensions.

I don’t know why this should be the case, but it is true.

Except for a few pictures taken by the author, the bulk of images between the covers come from a single source– the collections of the late Clifford R. Scholes (1927-2018), who died less than a month ago. For that reason, it practically makes Scholes a co-author of the book, although he is not named as such, for the book inevitably reflects Scholes’ viewpoint as much as Springirth’s.

Getting all your images from a single source makes writing such a book a lot more convenient, I am sure, but it is a practice that I do not subscribe to for my own book projects. My philosophy is to leave no stone unturned, making a thorough and exhaustive search for images that will provide the reader with enough variety to make things interesting.

I keep digging into a subject until I feel I have a foundation for a book, and then I keep digging deeper. There is always the chance that if you dig deep enough, you will reach a deeper understanding of your subject than you started with.

There is a danger in using photos from a single source, and that is they reflect a singular point of view. You run the risk of having too many similar-looking types of pictures, and miss out on different perspectives.

Having such a large collection to draw upon may be useful to an author who is trying to put out several books a year. But everyone is different, and as an author, it is not the path I have chosen for myself.

When you stop searching for new material, you run the risk that you also stop learning.  And there is a temptation to stop looking when you say, “I have enough material to make a book,” even though there still might be better information out there.

I notice that in this book, there is not one picture showing the interior of a streetcar. My own book Chicago Trolleys has several such interior shots. I based my own work on the idea that history is the story of people, so I made it a point to show the motormen, conductors and riders in various situations, including paying their fares on a two-man PCC.

Although the title would tell you this is a streetcar book, the final chapter features Chicago trolley buses (although, inexplicably, they are referred to as “trackless trolleys,” a term that may have been popular in other places, but was never commonly used by Chicagoans).

One of the first rules of writing is to write what you know.  I know Chicago, having lived my entire life here.  Therefore, I wouldn’t dream of writing a book about Erie, Pennsylvania or some other city, because that is not what I know the best.  But that is just me.

Perhaps inspired by some recent Dispatches from the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society, this book goes into some detail on various streetcar routes. But since this is mainly a picture book, a single page of text at the start of several chapters is not sufficient space to cover seven routes apiece, as the author tries to do.  The overall effect here is confusing, as the author tries to do too much in the limited amount of space available.

Personally, I found the maps in this book to be somewhat amateurish. They are hand-drawn, and scanned in such a way as to not be very sharp. In fact, you could say they are downright pixilated.

I chose not to use maps in Chicago Trolleys, since there were so many streetcar lines at one time that a Surface Lines map would look like a plate of spaghetti.  My book did not try to be a route history per se. But there are several maps in the book project I am working on now, and I had to look long and hard to find ones that will be easy to read, and convey the information I want the reader to have. It is not easy to do.

In my humble opinion, the text in such books should be more than a mere recitation of facts.  There are numerous sources for transit facts, such as how the Chicago Transit Authority took over operations of the “L” and surface systems on October 1, 1947 or that the last Chicago streetcar ran on June 21, 1958.  It is an author’s responsibility to provide insight as well as facts.  Yes, these things happened, but why did they happen?  What were the circumstances and influences that made this so?

Whether by sheer coincidence, or otherwise, the last two pictures in Chicago Streeetcar Memories are very similar to the ones that conclude Chicago Trolleys, and show a Chicago PCC and a Chicago trolley bus at the Illinois Railway Museum.

All in all, I was somewhat disappointed in the Chicago Streetcar Memories book. But far be it from me to discourage anyone from buying it, since a book about Chicago streetcars is better than no book at all. Reading is always something to be encouraged, and authors applauded for their efforts at preserving history for the benefit of future generations.

If you are looking for detailed Chicago route histories, I would suggest getting a copy of the third edition of the late Alan R. Lind’s Chicago Surface Lines: An Illustrated History, which will probably remain for all time the best-ever Chicago streetcar book, and the standard by which all others are judged. Since it was published four decades ago, important contributions have been made to route histories by some of the Shore Line Dispatches.

If you are interested in Chicago PCC cars, CERA B-146 is the ne plus ultra, and our intention in writing it was to provide, at least for this aspect, a kind of updated color descendant of the Lind book, which is only black-and-white.

Chicago’s streetcar system was once so vast that no single book could do full justice to it, but we authors must continue to try.

That being said, my own recent work Chicago Trolleys provides an overview, which in my case was anything electric that ran in the Chicago area and used overhead wire instead of third rail. I also cover horsecars and cable cars, which preceded electric streetcars. My intention was to introduce the novice to the subject, while at the same time provide enough new material and previously unseen photographs to entertain even the most diehard railfan. We will leave it to our readers to tell us whether we succeeded.

Whatever my own reservations might be about it, the fact remains that you may still enjoy this new book.

While Chicago Streetcar Memories is not available (yet) on Amazon, you can purchase a copy from either Ron’s Books or the Seashore Trolley Museum.  Expect to pay about 50% more for a copy, compared to Chicago Trolleys.

-David Sadowski

New 1950s Steam Train Audio CDs:

HF-123
The Howard Fogg Steam Train Collection
# of Discs- 3
Price: $24.99


The Howard Fogg Steam Train Collection

Howard Fogg (1917-1996) was a renaissance man, the dean of American railroad illustrators. But it is not as well-known that he recorded the sounds of steam trains in their waning mainline days starting in 1954.

These recordings were released on four LPs by the long-defunct Owl Records label between 1959 and 1969. They have since become collector’s items.

They are excellent recordings. Fogg knew everybody in the railroad industry, so he had access to railroad towers and places ordinary folks could not get to. In addition, he did his own narration, and had a great voice for it.

The four Fogg LPs are widely regarded as being classics, and the equal of anything put out by the Railroad Record Club. The titles were Power of the Past!, The Talking Giants, All Steamed Up! and The Big Steam…, Union Pacific.

These “orphan works” have been digitally remastered for the 21st century and are now available on a three-CD set for your listening pleasure. Railroads covered include the Baltimore & Ohio, Grand Trunk Western, Nickel Plate, Detroit Toledo & Ironton, Illinois Central, New York Central, Pennsylvania Railroad, Colorado & Southern, Rio Grande, and Union Pacific.

Total time – 174:59


HD
Highball
Doubleheader
# of Discs- 1
Price: $14.99

Highball, narrated by Jim Ameche (Don Ameche’s brother), was originally issued in 1959 on LP by a long-defunct record label. Railroads featured include Colorado & Southern, Great Western, Santa Maria Valley, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific. Bonus tracks feature the Denver and Rio Grande Western, Canadian Pacific, and Pennsylvania Railroad.

Total time: 77:08

Chicago Trolleys

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

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

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

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

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 209th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 373,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

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

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

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

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

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

Faded Love

CSL/CTA 4021, the only prewar Chicago car that survives, at the Illinois Railway Museum in 2002. (John Marton Photo)

CSL/CTA 4021, the only prewar Chicago car that survives, at the Illinois Railway Museum in 2002. (John Marton Photo)

I was going through my things the other day, and came across some images that were given to me a few years ago by the late John Marton. It’s hard to believe that he’s been gone for two-and-a-half years now.

Anyhow, mostly these are rare color images showing experimental paint schemes tried out by the Chicago Surface Lines on six of their prewar PCCs in late 1945 and early 1946. This helped CSL determine the eventual colors (Mercury Green, Croydon Cream, and Swamp Holly Orange) used on the 600 postwar PPCCs that were put into service starting in September 1946.

Unfortunately, these images were not of sufficient quality to merit inclusion in Central Electric Railfans’ Association Bulletin 146, Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958. There are reasons for that.

The pictures were originally taken by John Marton’s uncle. Somehow, John ended up with color prints that had a textured finish. I assume these were made from color negatives. The prints were later damaged in a basement flood. Eventually, John had slides made from the prints.

Although not of the greatest quality, these photos do have historical importance as possibly the only surviving color still pictures taken of the cars in these experimental colors. Fortunately, the late Bill Hoffman took color films, and these are included in the Chicago Streetcar Memories DVD that comes with each copy of B-146.

Fortunately, the St. Petersburg Tram Collection includes highly detailed, very accurate scale models of nearly all the various paint schemes and door configurations for the Chicago PCCs (I say nearly all, since there was one postwar car (4132) that had a unique roof treatment and has not so far been modeled. We have a color photo of that car in our post More Chicago PCC Photos – Part Three from October 7, 2015.)

Canadian railfan John F. Bromley owns all six models of the experimental PCCs, and generously provided us with pictures for use in B-146.

Here are reference pictures of models showing the various colors that Chicago PCCs, both prewar and postwar, were decorated in. That should provide you with a frame of reference for the Marton photos that follow.

We present those in tribute to John Marton, a good man who is unfortunately gone, but is certainly not forgotten by those who knew him.

-David Sadowski

PS- These faded old color photos remind me of a song by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys:

Faded Love

As I look at the letters that you wrote to me
It’s you that I am thinking of
As I read the lines that to me were so sweet
I remember our faded love

I miss you darling more and more every day
As heaven would miss the stars above
With every heartbeat I still think of you
And remember our faded love

As I think of the past and all the pleasures we had
As I watch the mating of the dove
It was in the springtime when you said goodbye
I remember our faded love

I miss you darling more and more every day
As heaven would miss the stars above
With every heartbeat I still think of you
And remember our faded love


CSL 4021 in the standard prewar paint scheme.

CSL 4021 in the standard prewar paint scheme.

Chicago Surface Lines 1940-41 experimental door configuration.

Chicago Surface Lines 1940-41 experimental door configuration.

Chicago Surface Lines "tiger stripes," 1945.

Chicago Surface Lines “tiger stripes,” 1945.

CSL 4010 in experimental paint, 1945-46.

CSL 4010 in experimental paint, 1945-46.

CSL 4018 in experimental paint, 1945-46.

CSL 4018 in experimental paint, 1945-46.

CSL 4020 in experimental paint, 1945-46.

CSL 4020 in experimental paint, 1945-46.

CSL 4022 in experimental paint, 1945-46.

CSL 4022 in experimental paint, 1945-46.

CSL 4035 in experimental paint, 1945-46.

CSL 4035 in experimental paint, 1945-46.

CSL 4050 in experimental paint, 1945-46.

CSL 4050 in experimental paint, 1945-46.

1952 CTA one-man conversion.

1952 CTA one-man conversion.

1946 Chicago Surface Lines as-delivered with white standee windows.

1946 Chicago Surface Lines as-delivered with white standee windows.

1946 Chicago Surface Lines in Mercury Green, Croydon Cream, and Swamp Holly Orange.

1946 Chicago Surface Lines in Mercury Green, Croydon Cream, and Swamp Holly Orange.

1952 Chicago Transit Authority Everglade Green and Cream.

1952 Chicago Transit Authority Everglade Green and Cream.

A CSL prewar car in standard colors on Madison, somewhere west of the Loop. (John Marton Collection)

A CSL prewar car in standard colors on Madison, somewhere west of the Loop. (John Marton Collection)

A CSL prewar car in standard colors on Madison, near the west end of the line. (John Marton Collection)

A CSL prewar car in standard colors on Madison, near the west end of the line. (John Marton Collection)

CSL 4035 on Madison near the west end of the line. (John Marton Collection)

CSL 4035 on Madison near the west end of the line. (John Marton Collection)

A CSL "tiger stripes" car near the old State Theatre, which was located at 5814 W. Madison. (John Marton Collection)

A CSL “tiger stripes” car near the old State Theatre, which was located at 5814 W. Madison. (John Marton Collection)

"Tiger stripes" on route 20 - Madison, pulling out from the Madison-Austin loop. (John Marton Collection)

“Tiger stripes” on route 20 – Madison, pulling out from the Madison-Austin loop. (John Marton Collection)

A CTA "tiger stripes" car at the east end of the 63rd Street line. (John Marton Collection)

A CTA “tiger stripes” car at the east end of the 63rd Street line. (John Marton Collection)

A CSL prewar car in standard colors neat the west end of the Madison line. (Joh n Marton Collection)

A CSL prewar car in standard colors neat the west end of the Madison line. (Joh n Marton Collection)

CSL 4018 in experimental colors, at the Madison-Austin loop. (John Marton Collection)

CSL 4018 in experimental colors, at the Madison-Austin loop. (John Marton Collection)

There's not much color here, but the shape of the stripe would indicate this is CSL 4018 heading towards is on the west end of Madison, while the yellow color would suggest that's 4050 in the opposite direction. (John Marton Collection)

There’s not much color here, but the shape of the stripe would indicate this is CSL 4018 heading towards is on the west end of Madison, while the yellow color would suggest that’s 4050 in the opposite direction. (John Marton Collection)

A CTA prewar car in "tiger stripes" on 63rd Street. (John Marton Collection) Andre Kristopans: "The shot of the prewar car on 63rd in tiger stripes between shots of 4018 and 4010 is just east of 63rd and Indiana. For some reason, 63rd St is offset to the south about 50 feet from State to Indiana, this is why there appears to be a curve behind the car, as there really is a jog there."

A CTA prewar car in “tiger stripes” on 63rd Street. (John Marton Collection) Andre Kristopans: “The shot of the prewar car on 63rd in tiger stripes between shots of 4018 and 4010 is just east of 63rd and Indiana. For some reason, 63rd St is offset to the south about 50 feet from State to Indiana, this is why there appears to be a curve behind the car, as there really is a jog there.”

CSL 4010 in experimental colors, near the State Theater (5814 W. Madison). (John Marton Collection)

CSL 4010 in experimental colors, near the State Theater (5814 W. Madison). (John Marton Collection)

This picture was taken at Madison and Austin, west end of route 20. Interstingly, two prewar CSL PCCs are posted side by side. That's 4018 in experimental paint at left, next to a car in "tiger stripes." (John Marton Collection)

This picture was taken at Madison and Austin, west end of route 20. Interstingly, two prewar CSL PCCs are posted side by side. That’s 4018 in experimental paint at left, next to a car in “tiger stripes.” (John Marton Collection)

A CSL prewar car in standard colors stops at a safety island near the old State Theatre, which was located at 5814 W. Madison. The State, opened in 1925, could seat 1,900. It was taken over by the Balaban and Katz chain in the 1930s and remained open into the late 1970s. Sadly, it was demolished in 1995. (John Marton Collection)

A CSL prewar car in standard colors stops at a safety island near the old State Theatre, which was located at 5814 W. Madison. The State, opened in 1925, could seat 1,900. It was taken over by the Balaban and Katz chain in the 1930s and remained open into the late 1970s. Sadly, it was demolished in 1995. (John Marton Collection)

CSL 4020 in experimental colors, on route 20 - Madison just west of the Loop. (John Marton Collection)

CSL 4020 in experimental colors, on route 20 – Madison just west of the Loop. (John Marton Collection)

A westbound PCC nearing the west end of route 20 - Madison. You can tell by the radio tower, which is still located at the Madison-Austin loop. (John Marton Collection)

A westbound PCC nearing the west end of route 20 – Madison. You can tell by the radio tower, which is still located at the Madison-Austin loop. (John Marton Collection)

CSL 4020, in experimental paint, at the Madison-Austin loop. (John Marton Collection)

CSL 4020, in experimental paint, at the Madison-Austin loop. (John Marton Collection)

"Tiger stripes" on route 20 - Madison, leaving the Madison-Austin terminal. (John Marton Collection)

“Tiger stripes” on route 20 – Madison, leaving the Madison-Austin terminal. (John Marton Collection)

"Tiger stripes" on route 20 - Madison just west of the Loop. (John Marton Collection)

“Tiger stripes” on route 20 – Madison just west of the Loop. (John Marton Collection)


Recent Correspondence

Andre Kristopans writes:

Sending you two files which were originally researched by George Chaisson in the early 1990’s, one detailing 6000 assignments thru 6/58 and the other 4000 assignments 1949 thru 1958. Put them on your blog.

Thanks very much. I am sure our readers will appreciate having the information.


Island Model Works offers this model of a Chicago 4000-series "L" car (among others). This is the earlier 1913 version with center doors that were not used in service this way. The idea was to speed loading and unloading, but the doors were sealed before these cars were put into service and seats were put there. These cars were built by the Cincinnati Car Company and many were in service for 50 years.

Island Model Works offers this model of a Chicago 4000-series “L” car (among others). This is the earlier 1913 version with center doors that were not used in service this way. The idea was to speed loading and unloading, but the doors were sealed before these cars were put into service and seats were put there. These cars were built by the Cincinnati Car Company and many were in service for 50 years.

CTA Rapid Transit Cars 4067-4455 History 1949-58:

07/49 4001-4455 on NS (North-South)
08/52 4251-4262 move NS to LS (Logan Square)
4299-4328 move NS to RV (Ravenswood)
10/52 4001-4051 move NS to LS
4052-4066 move NS to LK (Lake) (trailers off NS)
4261-4298 move NS to LS
4299-4301 move RV to LS
4302-4328 move RV to LK (1st 4000’s on Lake)
4329-4340 move NS to LK
12/52 4037-4051 move LS to NS
4052-4066 move LK to NS (trailers off LK, return to NS)
4302-4322 move LK to LS
4341-4370 move NS to LK
02/53 4101-4136 move NS to LS, coupled to 4001-4036
4137-4166 coupled to 4037-4066 on NS
04/53 4011/4111, 4044/4144 destroyed in fire at Logan Square (note 4044/4144 were NS cars)
05/53 4371-4455 (NS assigned) used on EV (Evanston) on weekends
03/54 4026-4028 move LS to NS
4099-4100 move NS to LS
4126-4136 move LS to NS
4299-4322 move LS to LK
4355-4370 move LK to NS
04/54 4126-4131 move NS to LS
4293-4298 move LS to LK
4335-4336 move NS to LK
05/54 4026-4028 move NS to LK
4037-4039 move NS to LK
4337-4360 move NS to LK
Status 5/22/54:
4001-4010 LS
4011 retired
4012-4025 LS
4026-4028 LK
4029-4036 LS
4037-4039 LK
4040-4043 NS
4044 retired
4045-4066 NS
4067-4098 NS
4099-4110 LS
4111 retired
4112-4131 LS
4132-4143 NS
4144 retired
4145-4250 NS
4251-4292 LS
4293-4360 LK
4361-4455 NS (also EV Sat-Sun)
07/54 4066 r# 4044 on NS
4040-4047 move NS to LK
4361-4402 move NS to LK
10/54 4048-4057 move NS to LK
4403-4448 move NS to LK
4455 move NS to LK
01/55 4067-4098 move NS to DP (Douglas Park) (1st 4000’s on DP)
05/55 4019-4025 move LS to LK
4029-4036 move LS to LK
4046-4057 move LK to DP
4067-4098 move DP to LS
4125-4131 move LS to DP
4132-4143 move NS to DP
4145-4194 move NS to DP
4283-4292 move LS to LK
4433-4448 move LK to GP (Garfield park) (1st 4000’s on GP)
4455 move LK to GP
Status 05/55:
4001-4010 LS
4011 retired
4012-4018 LS
4019-4045 LK
4046-4057 DP
4058-4065 NS
4066 r# 4044
4067-4110 LS
4111 retired
4112-4124 LS
4125-4143 DP
4144 retired
4145-4194 DP
4195-4250 NS
4251-4282 LS
4283-4432 LK
4433-4448 GP
4449-4454 NS (EV Sat-Sun)
4455 GP
07/55 4058-4065 move NS to GP (trailers off NS)
4195-4250 move NS to GP
4449-4454 move NS to GP (4000’s off NS)
4045 move LK to DP
4121-4124 move LS to DP
08/55 4005 off LS for motorization
09/55 4019 move LK to LS
4045 move DP to LK
4055-4058 move GP to DP
4186-4208 move GP to DP
4433-4455 move GP to DP
11/55 4455 move DP to LS
4005 return to service LS as 4456
4121-4126 move DP to LS
02/57 4046-4047 move DP to LK
4048-4049 move DP to LS
4058 move DP to GP
4127-4143 move DP to RV
4195-4208 move DP to GP
4433-4454 move DP to GP
05/57 4060-4065 move GP to RV
4127-4143 move RV to DP
4179-4194 move DP to RV
4195-4220 move GP to RV
06/57 4067-4088 move LS to RV
4127-4143 move DP to LS
4221-4242 move GP to RV
08/57 4058-4059 move GP to RV
4119-4142 move LS to DP
4172-4178 move DP to RV
4243-4250 move GP to RV
4433-4454 move GP to LS
09/57 4119-4142 move LS to DP
4145-4149 move LS to DP
4251-4282 move LS to EV (1st 4000’s assigned to EV)
12/57 4001-4004 move LS to EV
4006 move LS to EV
4050-4057 move DP to RV
4150-4171 move DP to LS
4172-4178 move RV to LS
4433-4455 move LS to EV
(note 4456 recoupled to 4143)
06/58 4007, 4107 retired off LS (fire)
4003-4004 retired off EV
4028-4029, 4032-4033, 4039 retired off LK
4065 retired off RV
06/22/58 status:
4001-4002 EV
4006 EV
4008-4010 LS to WNW (West-Northwest)
4012-4019 LS to WNW
4020-4027 LK
4030-4031 LK
4034-4038 LK
4040-4047 LK
4048-4049 LS to WNW
4050-4064 RV
4067-4088 RV
4089-4106 LS to WNW
4108-4110 LS to WNW
4112-4143 LS to WNW
4145-4178 LS to WNW
4179-4250 RV
4251-4282 EV
4283-4432 LK
4433-4455 EV
4456 LS to WNW


Chicago Transit Authority 6000-series "L" cars in their 1950 as-delivered colors.

Chicago Transit Authority 6000-series “L” cars in their 1950 as-delivered colors.

CTA Rapid Transit Cars 6000s 1950-1958:

08-12/50 6001-6084 new to LS (Logan Square)
12/50-03/51 6085-6130 new to RV (Ravenswood)
09-12/51 6131-6200 new to RV
6085-6090 move RV to LS
6091-6110 move RV to DP (Douglas Park)
07/52 6047-6048 move LS to RV
6085-6086 move DP to LS
6131-6134, 6141-6142 move RV to DP
08/52 6069-6086 move LS to RV
6087-6128, 6131-6134, 6141-6142 move DP to RV
10/52 6001-6068 move LS to NS (North-South)
6069-6146 move RV to NS (all 6000’s off LS, DP)
3/54 6201-6228 new to GP (Garfield Park) (1st on route)
03-07/54 6229-6350 new to NS
6201-6228 move GP to NS
6111-6146 move NS to GP
6091-6110, 6177-6200 move NS to DP (6000’s return to DP)
12/54-04/55 6351-6450 new to NS
6041-6090 move NS to DP
6177-6200 move DP to RV
05-07/55 6451-6470 new to NS
6041-6110 move DP to NS
6111-6112 move GP to NS
6127-6130 off GP for modifications
6145-6146 move GP to DP
6147-6168 move RV to DP
07/55 6113-6126, 6131-6144 move GP to NS (6000’s off GP)
09/55 6145-6168 move DP to NS (6000’s off DP)
11/55 6127-6130 reinstated on EV (Evanston) as high-speed cars
03/56 6123-6126 move NS to EV, poles installed
06/56 6159-6168 move NS to RV
10/56-04/57 6471-6550 new to NS
6001-6034 move NS to DP (6000’s return to DP)
04-06/57 6551-6600 new to NS
6035-6066 move NS to GP (6000’s return to GP)
07/57-04/58 6601-6670 new to NS
6067-6092 move NS to GP
6093-6122 move NS to DP
6123-6130 move EV to NS
6131-6144 move NS to DP
06/58 6145-6152 move NS to DP
6153-6158 move NS to RV
6511-6522 move NS to GP
6/22/58 6001-6034 DP to WNW (West-Northwest)
6035-6092 GP to WNW
6093-6122 DP to WNW
6123-6130 on NS
6131-6152 DP to WNW
6153-6200 on RV
6201-6510 on NS
6511-6522 GP to WNW
6523-6670 on NS


On the Chicagotransit Yahoo discussion group, Dennis McClendon asked:

Did Chicago Motor Coach—or, for that matter, CSL’s bus operations—ever use conductors or onboard collectors in addition to drivers?

Andre Kristopans:

CMC certainly did, on the open-top double-decks from 1917 until WW2, when the last were retired. There was no reasonable way to convert them to one-man as they were rear-entrance/exit. The 1930’s Double-deckers were one-man, with a front entrance. The rest of the CMC single-level fleet, from the early 20’s onward, were always one-man, as they were relatively small.

CSL never had two-man buses, as before CTA took over, CSL buses were really rather tiny by comparison to a streetcar, and were used strictly on what would be considered minor and feeder routes. However, in 1950 when the CTA ordered the 5000 Twins, there was some question whether two man buses would be needed to convert the remaining streetcar routes, as some were very heavy, and it was thought a one-man bus would suffer from excessive dwell time at stops loading and unloading, resulting in extremely slow schedules. However, as “luck” would have it, riding fell so dramatically in the early to mid 1950’s that by the time the heaviest main lines were being converted, buses were quite able to handle the loads on a reasonable schedule.

I replied:

I have seen a picture, taken in the 1950s, showing a CTA employee standing outside a trolley bus, taking fares and letting people in through the back door.

This was a practice that CTA also seems to have done, at least at first, at certain times and certain points along streetcar routes that had recently been converted to one-man.

Chances are the practice did not last too long, for the reasons you mention– surface ridership was in decline, and as a result, there was less crowding on the buses.

Andre again:

The last remnants of this lasted into the 1980’s. Last place I know of was at Belmont/Kimball L stating in the PM rush, mostly on WB Belmont buses. In the 1960’s there were a lot of loaders at L stations (and also at high schools). From what I gather, many of these guys were “medical cases”, drivers who could no longer drive buses for one reason or another, and they were given part-time work to help out with their work-related disability pensions. Towards the last years, there were also regular drivers doing this as overtime.

There is still a very minimal version of this to this day at one location that I know of – Belmont/Sheffield L station, where in the PM rush they send a guy with a portable Ventra reader to help load up westbounds, but as far as I know it is somebody from the office detailed to do this. On Cubs game days they also use this same portable reader at Cubs Park to help load westbound extras.

robyer2000 adds (on Chicagotransit):

CTA used to have collectors at choke points and major events, like the ball parks, to take fares and admit people using the rear doors. ‎ I saw it many times.


THE RAILROAD RECORD CLUB & THE 60th ANNIVERSARY CD

By Kenneth Gear

I’ve been a fan of the Railroad Record Club albums ever since I played the first one. That was in the late 1970s when my Uncle, a huge PRR fan, loaned me his copy of RRC # 10. That record contained the sounds of Pennsylvania RR steam and I enjoyed it so much, that I wrote to Hawkins, Wisconsin to find out if I could buy my own copy. I could and did. I was in high school then and funds were rather scarce, and I was only able to buy a few more LPs before the Railroad Record Club ceased to exist.

Just a year or so ago, my interest in these recordings was rekindled. I began bidding on the RRC LPs on eBay, then sending them out to a sound lab to be converted to CD. The resulting CDs were disappointing because the sound lab employees had no idea what to do to improve these sounds, they were used to working with music, not the traction motor sounds of a CSS&SB MU car.
Enter Trolley Dodger Records!

When I found out that David Sadowski was releasing CDs of the old RRC albums I couldn’t wait to buy some. Not only was I now able to get many of the albums that I never bought on vinyl, but David made these recordings sound better than they ever had before! I sent him my entire RRC collection (and searched eBay for more) and he converted them to digital, improved the sound quality, and made those great recordings available again!

Now David has taken the next step and has recorded a brand new Railroad Record Club album, RRC # 37, a 60th anniversary tribute to William A. Steventon and his legacy of preserving the sounds of America’s railroading history.

This new CD was recorded at the Illinois Railway Museum, a place that I’m sure the late Mr. Steventon would have been be very fond of. The Railroad Record Club released many recordings of traction sounds over the years and the new CD pays tribute to that legacy. It contains the sounds of a large assortment of Chicago area trolleys and interurban cars including CTA single car units, CA&E wood and steel cars, a PCC (a favorite track of mine since I rode PCCs in revenue service on the Newark, NJ City subway) and many others. There are even a few cameo appearances from Frisco 2-10-0 #1630!

Some of the tracks on the CD contain a brief history of the cars being ridden as told by the conductor on the train. The inclusion of this bit of narration gives the listener a better appreciation of the equipment and puts a historical context to the sounds that follow.

Tracks 4, 5 & 6 on disc one of the CA&E steel cars making a main line run really invokes the “on train” recordings of the RRC interurban records! The sounds of these wonderful cars come through perfectly, so crisp and clear that you can almost feel the bounce and sway of the cars as they hit each rail joint. It’s not hard to imagine how it felt to ride on the “Roarin’ Elgin” albeit at a slower speed.

Another interesting nod to the original RRC recordings is track 7 of Commonwealth Edison electric locomotive # 4. Just as the train was leaving the station, a gusty wind began to blow and the resulting wind noise is plainly audible. This reminded me instantly of a favorite track on RRC # 10, the PRR album. Track 3 is of PRR # 4249 at Paxinos, PA on a windy day in 1954. Here, as on the PRR LP, the wind is as much a part of the “sound picture” as the locomotive on the train.

Track 9 is a great but much too short “on train” speed run of CTA single unit cars # 22 & 41.

Track 3 on disc 2 is a real treat! It’s another trip on the “Roarin’ Elgin”, this time on board the wood cars. Every little moan, creak, bang, & rattle of these 100 year old cars is splendidly recorded in digital audio. Also of note on this track is a “meet” between the train of CA&E “woods” and Frisco 2-10-0 # 1630. Heard here is the sound of a steam locomotive recorded from inside a transit car. Mr. Steventon did a very similar thing in May of 1954 when he recorded a NYC 4-8-2 in Cleveland, OH from a Shaker Heights Rapid Transit car. This track is on RRC # 20 NYC/C&IM.

Track 4 is also reminiscent of RRC recordings of the past. In this case, CSL red Pullman car 144 departs the depot. The gear noise is plainly heard but the best part is when the sound of the departing transit car mixes with the high pitched excited voices of young children, just as they did on RRC # 18. The first track on RRC # 18 has the sound of CNS&M car 754 at Racine, WI leaving the station to a chorus of children’s shouting.

Another fine recording of CSL car 144 is track 6. This is a complete trolley loop circuit and the gear nose couldn’t come through any clearer.

The last track, number 11, contains another mix of traction and steam. On RRC # 7 the last track is also a traction/steam mix but there IC # 2507, a 4-8-2, is at center stage while a IT interurban is heard in the background. On the new CD the roles are reversed and the traction is in the lead role and the steamer reduced to the background.

These CDs are great modern digital recordings of vintage railroad equipment with more than a little inspiration coming from those wonderful old Railroad Record Club recordings!

Another interesting comparison between the new CDs and the old RRC LPs. These new CDs contain as much audio as five of the original RRC LPs and costs $19.95. According to a 1966 Railroad Record Club catalog, 5 LPs would cost $21.00. What else can be bought today at lower than 1966 prices!


RRC37ARRC37B

RRC #37
Railroad Record Club
60th Anniversary Tribute
# of Discs – 2

Railroad Record Club #37:
We celebrate the Railroad Record Club with a 60th anniversary tribute containing all new audio of vintage streetcars, interurbans, trolley buses, and even a bit of steam, recorded in 2016 at the Illinois Railway Museum. Electric equipment featured includes CTA PCC 4391, CSL red Pullman 144, CSL “Matchbox” 1374, CTA “L” single car units 22 and 41, CTA trolley bus 9553, and the interurbans of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, and Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee (North Shore Line). Steam sounds are provided by Frisco 1630. Recorded with the finest quality digital equipment of today, this is a fitting tribute to the late William Steventon and the Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, Wisconsin, with all the bells and whistles, dings, and gear sounds we could fit onto a pair of CDs. The material presented here is equivalent in length to about five of the original RRC LPs.

Total time:
Disc 1- 79:38
Disc 2- 79:55

Editor’s note: This title is no longer available for purchase.


NOW AVAILABLE, DIGITALLY REMASTERED ON COMPACT DISC:

cover025gtcover

SEGT
Steam Echoes
Ghost Train
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.95

Steam Echoes:
First published in 1959, and long out of print, Steam Echoes captures the unforgettable sound drama of steam engines in action. Like Whistles West, it features the recordings of E. P. Ripley, made in the waning days of steam during the 1950s.

The scenes were selected for listening pleasure as well as to create an historical document. They represent the everyday workings of our old steam friends, selected for the most interest, or the most beauty. The series are purposely kept short to preserve their brilliance. They show the steam engine in all four of the ways it may be heard at work– riding in it, on the train behind it, traveling along beside it, and standing at trackside while it goes by, or stops and takes off again.

Railroads featured include Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, and Canadian National.

Ghost Train:
Ghost Train, first issued in 1962 and also long unavailable, is a Hi-Fi stereo sound panorama of haunting memories, highlighting the final days of steam railroading. Railroads featured include the Grand Trunk Western, Norfolk & Western, Nickel Plate Road, Union Pacific, and the Reading Company. A particular highlight is a special whistle recording, demonstrating the famous “Doppler Effect” in true stereophonic sound.

Total time – 79:45


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 148th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 180,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a contribution there as well.

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

We thank you for your support.

Remembering Bradley Criss

Bradley Criss on March 3, 2012 at the end of the St. Charles Car Line at Carrollton and Claiborne Avenues in New Orleans. (Jeff Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Bradley Criss on March 3, 2012 at the end of the St. Charles Car Line at Carrollton and Claiborne Avenues in New Orleans. (Jeff Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

As many of you may know, I was part of the creative team that produced CERA Bulletin 146*, along with Jeff Wien and Bradley Criss. For that book, I wrote a tribute to Jeff, who is 14 years older than I am and has long been a friend and a mentor to me in the railfan field.

Now, just one year after the book’s publication, I find myself unexpectedly penning a tribute to Bradley. Late last night I received the following note from Jeff:

It is with a sense of deep regret that I inform you of the death of BRADLEY CRISS on June 29, 2016 at 2:00am. Bradley died peacefully in hospice care at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital where he had been hospitalized for a month’s time fighting off infections and other problems.

Bradley was a highly talented young man who will be missed by all of us.

Bradley’s passing was a great shock to everyone who knew him.  He was just 53 years old, and as he was the junior member of the B-146 troika, I had just naturally assumed that he would outlive the both of us.

That is just too young an age for someone as smart, funny, opinionated, and talented as Bradley to die. Let me tell you the story of how the book came about, and how crucial a part Bradley played in its creation.

B-146 was, somewhat improbably, the first CERA publication entirely devoted to Chicago streetcars since a roster had been put out in 1941. There were a variety of reasons why this was so, including the publication of Alan R. Lind‘s excellent book Chicago Surface Lines: An Illustrated History in 1974, the controversial demise of Windy City trolleys, and the immensity of the subject.

During my first term on the CERA board in the early 1990s, I suggested something like this, but the time was not yet ripe and nothing came of it.

About 10 years ago, Jeff and Bradley produced the Chicago Streetcar Memories DVD. Jeff provided the content, and Bradley did a terrific and very professional job putting it together. He had fantastic skills in video production, as anyone who has seen the North Shore Line program that Jeff and Bradley did a few years ago will attest.** The videos they made together are definitely the best of their type. If you have not seen them, they are highly recommended and should not be missed.

In particular, their North Shore Line video brings that storied interurban to life in a way that I would not have thought possible.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Jeff and Bradley had originally planned a CERA book to accompany the Chicago Streetcar Memories DVD. Some work was done then, including parts of the text that would later appear in B-146, but somehow it went onto the back burner in favor of other projects.

During my second stint at CERA a few years ago, I brought up the subject of a Chicago book again, and learned not only that there were tremendous resources available, but that a “head start” had already been made by Bradley and Jeff. The time was right this time, and the project received an enthusiastic green light.

Jeff had the knowledge and had collected a lot of information over the years. I rode a Chicago streetcar once in 1958 as a three-year-old, but Jeff was already a very active fan by that time, documenting the waning days of the PCCs with his hand-held 8mm movie camera.

Over the years, his own photographic collection, together with additional material such as the late Bill Hoffman’s movies, became what is now the Wien-Criss archive. This served, along with the PCC photos that were generously shared by Art Peterson from the Krambles-Peterson archive, as the cornerstone for our book.

Jeff knew his subject inside and out, and had lots of material, and it was my job to help him organize it and flesh it out with additional images. I was sort of a “hunter-gatherer” of Chicago PCC material, a habit that has continued to this day here on the Trolley Dodger blog.

Improvements in technology over the years made a book like this possible.  There is no way it could have been made in the 1970s, 80s, or 90s.  And in that regard, Bradley Criss was our computer technology “maven.”

Bradley’s role was much more than just being Photo Editor. The entire design and layout of the book was his work, and I believe it is one of the most attractive railfan books ever published.

It certainly has the best color photo reproduction of any such book I have seen. And again, this was Bradley’s work. He not only had to painstakingly match the colors of the various cars with the other photos, but had to remove thousands and thousands of blemishes from these photographs via Photoshop. Bradley wrote something at the end of the book about this, but in my humble opinion he greatly minimized the actual difficulty.

The ultimate goal, of course, was to make things look as they originally did in real life, to make up for 60 years of fading and hard knocks that our original source materials had in some cases suffered.

In this, Bradley had the highest possible standards for the work. He would not let it be published until it was absolutely perfect.

If you could see the “before” vs. the “after” of some of these pictures, you wouldn’t believe it.  Of course, when you see the book now, you don’t see all the hard work that went into it.  You can appreciate it as the seamless whole that it is.

It did not do him any favors when we decided that there was so much great material, that we ought to make it a double length book. This took an already impossible task, and multiplied it times two.  As a Chicago PCC book, it really is the “Big Enchilada.”

Eventually, under the crushing weight of such a project, he had to ask for additional help with the daunting task of “spot removal.” Some of the images we used had as many as a thousand such imperfections that had to be fixed one at a time in Photoshop, looking at a very small part of each scene under 200% magnification or more.

Along with Jeff, John Nicholson, and Diana Koester, I did some of this work myself. After spending eight hours a day on spot removal, I could barely see straight. But to take nothing away from the contributions made by other people, Bradley did most of it himself.

There were many things that could have gone wrong and derailed this book. The combination of very high standards and the sheer number of images that were used, created a daunting task, and it was only by pulling together as a team and persevering that we scaled this Mt. Everest of a book and planted our flag on the summit. All this work took longer than anyone could have anticipated at the outset.

Bradley not only had to make the pictures look good; he had to make the entire book look good, and it had to “flow” for the reader, and he had to squeeze a tremendous amount of material into a limited number of pages.  But when you read the book, to quote The Wizard of Oz, you “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Even if I had written a tribute such as this to him for the book, there is no way he would have wanted it printed. He was, to use a restaurant analogy, a “back of the house” sort of guy, who jealously guarded his privacy. His work was integral to making the book a reality, and helped shape it in many ways, but he was not the type of person who would stand at the front of the line and accept praise from the people who have the book and appreciate it. It wasn’t easy for me to even persuade him to sign someone’s copy.

However, in the one year since the book came out, it has been warmly and enthusiastically received. It has also sold a lot of copies, and I am sure that it will eventually sell out and join the long list of other collectible CERA publications. If you do not yet have a copy yourself, I urge you to consider it while new copies are still to be had. There will come a time when the situation will be different.

When we were working on the book, I thought of it as Jeff’s legacy to the world, which of course it is. I had no way of knowing then that it would also become, all too soon, an important part of Bradley’s legacy as well.

This is to take nothing away from the many people who contributed to the book in one way or another. I thank all of them, and am also very grateful to CERA for publishing it.

But on this day, as we mourn the passing of Bradley Criss, I am especially appreciative of what he accomplished, in spite of health issues that he had even at that time. Who knows what he could have achieved in the future.

Bradley was someone who did not suffer fools gladly. But I am glad that I could call him a friend, fortunate to have known him, and even more fortunate to have worked with him on the definitive Chicago PCC book, which may very well gain in stature as the years go by.

I will miss him greatly, miss hearing him laugh, and miss his jokes. I regret that we will never be able to share another deep dish pizza at Gulliver’s on the north side of Chicago, as it was his favorite. Now that he is gone, there is a gap in our lives that cannot be filled.  I loved him like a brother.

So I thank him for everything he did, and I apologize to him for making him, for this one moment, a “front of the house” guy.  I am happy that at least he lived to see the fruits of his labor.

My deepest condolences go out to his family and friends, and everyone who knew him.

-David Sadowski

You can read CERA’s tribute here.

Here is Bradley’s Chicago Tribune obituary.

Bradley’s obituary from the Illinois Valley News Tribune is here.

*Full title: Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, available from CERA and their dealers.  Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

**The North Shore Line video is not commercially available at present, but is occasionally shown at January CERA meetings. Chicago Streetcar Memories is included with B-146 and can also be purchased separately here from Chicago Transport Memories (again, not affiliated with us).


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 144th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 173,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

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

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

We thank you for your support.