The Bromley holiday card from 2017.
As we once again celebrate the holiday season, we all have many reasons to be thankful, including each other. I regret to inform you, if you have not already heard, of the recent passing of noted Canadian railfan historian and photographer John F. Bromley, who died on December 1st after a short illness. I believe he was about 80.
Mr. Bromley was a giant among Canadian railfans, and it is fair to say he was the preeminent historian of Toronto traction, for perhaps the last 50 years.
He authored TTC ’28: The Electric Railway Services of the Toronto Transportation Commission in 1928, published by Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (1979), and Fifty Years of Progressive Transit – A History of the Toronto Transit Commission, (with Jack May), published by the Electric Railroaders’ Association (1978). While these are both long out of print, you should have no difficulty in finding them on the used market.
In addition to being a friend of this blog, Mr. Bromley contributed to the various railfan books that I have worked on, including Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-58 (CERA Bulletin 146), Chicago Trolleys, and Building Chicago’s Subways. Besides his own photographs, which are excellent, he had an extensive collection of many others, including some rare original 1942 Kodachrome slides of the Chicago Surface Lines. Those would be, as far as I know, among the very earliest color CSL images of any kind. Unfortunately, the name of the photographer is not known.
John Bromley specialized in night photography, as you will see in the tribute below, created by Bill Volkmer. This was oriiginally made as a PDF slideshow, and if you want, you can still view it that way here, but since not everyone would be able to see it, I have separated it out into images. We thank Mr. Volkmer for making this tribute, and for sharing it with our readers.
We follow after that with a selection of images from the John F. Bromley Collection that have previously appeared here.
We also have additional contributions from noted Milwaukee historian Larry Sakar, William Shapotkin, and a few recent finds of our own. We thank all our contributors.
PS- You can see more pictures by John F. Bromley, or from his collection, here and here. If you ike his style of night shots, we have more in our previous posts Night Beat and Night Beat, Jersey Style.
CSL 4010 and 4035 in experimental paint at the Madison-Austin loop on November 24, 1945. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 7027 is southbound at Dearborn and Monroe, the east end of route 20 Madison, in June 1946. (Ohio Brass Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 4400 southbound on Clark at Arthur, August 15, 1956. (John F. Bromley Photo, M. D. McCarter Collection)
CTA 7208 southbound on Clark at Van Buren, a view from the Loop “L”, on August 15, 1956. (John F. Bromley Photo, M. D. McCarter Collection)
CTA 4218 at State and 95th on April 4, 1948 (route 36 – Broadway-State). (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 4039 at Madison and Austin on June 30, 1946. (Barney Neuburger Collection, Courtesy of John F. Bromley)
CSL 4051 at the Madison and Austin loop on February 22, 1942. This car had previously been modified with an experimental door arrangement later used on the 600 postwar Chicago PCCs. By the time this picture was taken, it had been partially returned to its original configuration. As John Bromley notes, “The car is not yet fully restored after the rear entrance experiment. It’s missing one front door and is thus in a hybrid state.” (James J. Buckley Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
CTA 818 by the Park Theatre at Lake and Austin on August 13, 1948. I don’t believe the movie theatre stayed open much later than this. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT 155 on private right-of-way west of the Brookfield Zoo on April 11, 1948, on the CERA “day after abandonment” fantrip. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT at 52nd and 36th on February 28, 1938. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT 119 on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT 138 at the Brookfield Zoo on July 22, 1938, on the busy LaGrange line. The zoo first opened in 1934. Within a year or two, all West Towns streetcars would be repainted blue. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT 15 on DesPlaines Avenue on April 11, 1948. The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip, held the day after West Towns streetcar service came to an end. Note one of the distinctive C&WT shelters at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT line car 15 at Harlem and Cermak on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 1933 at Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive on May 12, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 6034 is at Kedzie and Bryn Mawr, the north end of route 17, on April 16, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 3217 is on route 73 – Armitage on July 1, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection) Andre Kristopans: “EB passing Mozart Park at Armitage and Avers.”
CSL 3212 heads up the line-up at Archer Station (car house) on October 16, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 2802 is on Anthony Avenue at Commercial Avenue in this July 13, 1941 photo. Note the Pennsylvania Railroad station at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection) Bob Laich: “The building immediately behind CSL 2802 on Anthony Avenue was PRR’s South Chicago freight station, which was built at street level. The platform for the South Chicago passenger station can be seen on the elevation in the right background.” Andre Kristopans adds, “something odd here – note “Special” sign in front window. Appears to be a charter waiting for its party off the PRR.” This must be Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip #35, which used this car on that date.
CTA 3266 at 71st and California on the 67-69-71 route on May 29, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 6236 at 71st and California on the 67-69-71 route on May 29, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 5508 at 79th and Western on May 29, 1949. That looks like a 1948-50 Packard at left, which some have nicknamed the “pregnant elephant” styling. We can catch a glimpse of the nearby CTA turnback loop for route 49 – Western at right. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL Pullman 677 on the outer end of Milwaukee Avenue on March 4, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection) Andre Kristopans: “677 – Most likely on Milwaukee north of Central where many cars turned back. Originally turnback point was Gale St, right where Jefferson Park terminal now is, but later was moved to Central.”
CSL Pullman 696 at the Museum Loop in Grant Park in April 1940. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL Pullman 431 on Cicero Avenue, February 22, 1940. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA Sedan 3377, showing the original door configuration, southbound on Cottage Grove at 95th Street on May 6, 1951. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA Sedans (Peter Witts) 3360 and 3347 are shown here at south Shops in 1952, having been converted to one-man with the removal of some center doors. There were 25 cars so modified, but as far as I know, only one ran in service in this setup. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
Prewar CTA PCC 7020, now converted to one-man operation, is southbound at Western and Maypole in May 1956, about a month before the end of streetcar service on route 49. The prewar cars were used for 364 days on this line. In the back, that is the Lake Street “L”, which, oddly enough, does not have a stop on this busy street. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 4409 and 4390 at the beautifully landscaped Western-Berwyn loop on May 13, 1950. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
Pullman-built CTA PCC 4148 southbound at Clark and Thome on May 13, 1950. That is a safety island at right, to protect passengers from errant vehicles. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
Chicago Surface Lines Brill car 6072 at Kedzie Station on January 28, 1942. (John F. Bromley Collection) I believe this car was built in 1914. You can see part of a Sedan in the background. These were used for fill-in service on Madison along with the prewar PCCs.
Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947. The sign on the front of the car indicates this was on through route 8. According to http://www.chicagrailfan.com, “Various Through Route combinations existed throughout the early history of this route. Original Through Route operated between Grace/Halsted and 63rd/Stony Island via Halsted and 63rd St. Beginning in 1912, some Halsted service, mainly route 42 Halsted-Downtown service, began operating south of 79th St. via Vincennes and 111th St. to Sacramento, over what now is the 112 route. While for most of through service continuing north on Halsted, the south terminal remained 79th St. Effective 5/24/31, the through Halsted service generally turned around at 111th/Sacramento, with the downtown service generally turning at 79th St. Through service south of 79th St. discontinued 12/4/49, when segment south of 79th St. was converted to buses.” (John F. Bromley Collection) Our resident South Side expert M. E. adds, “The caption begins: “Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947.” Not quite. 111th St. approaches Vincennes Ave. only from the east. The car line on 111th St. was not route 8. Instead, route 8 was on Vincennes. Vincennes Ave. continued south of 111th one block to Monterey Ave., whereupon route 8 cars turned right onto Monterey, then about three blocks later, onto 111th St. heading west. (To see all this on a map, use maps.google.com and plug in ‘60643 post office’.) As for the photo, I’d say this car is on Vincennes, heading south, anywhere between 109th and Monterey. I say 109th because route 8 left its private right-of-way (which started at 89th St.) at 107th St. and ran south from 107th on the street.”
The picture above has sparked some controversy over where it was taken. Here is some additional correspondence from John Habermaas:
Merry Christmas… thanks for posting another treasure trove of Surface Lines photos. I am reasonably sure the photo of the Halsted car shown at 111th and Vincennes is on 111th east of Vincennes. Surface Lines parked trippers on 111th to operate to Sacramento to accommodate (the) rush of students from nearby Morgan Park High’s afternoon dismissal. Since the east 111th route was an early abandonment, I suspect the tracks east of that point were no longer used.
Often saw cars parked on this short section laying over until they were needed…often as trippers intended to run westbound to Sacramento. It was a long time ago so I could wrong about this car. The route on 111th between Cottage Grove and Vincennes was discontinued by the Surface Lines in SEP ’45 very likely because much of it was single track and though (it) had light usage, required a two man crew due the many RR grade crossings.
When I was in elementary school I often went to watch the cars climb the 111th street hill. Once in which awhile a HS prankster would reach out the rear window if was opened and pull the trolley rope to de-wire the pole stalling the car on the hill. Most of the Brills apparently could not restart the ascent up the hill, and would have to back down the hill to Longwood Drive for a fresh start, with I suspect the conductor guarding the window.
David took a closer look at picture, this car is definitely parked on the short section of active track between Vincennes and the Rock Island mainline. If you look closely you can see the gates at the crossing for the Rock Island mainline (not to be confused with the Rock Island suburban branch which the route 8 cars cross Hale… looks much different as the line made a jog from Monterey to W 111th).
Most of M. E.’s comments about the Halsted route are correct, except for his guess about the location of the streetcar. It is on 111th Street east of Vincennes. He may not be aware of the Surfaces Line’s practice using portion of the abandoned 111th Street line as layover point. I do remember seeing streetcars positioned there. The line on Vincennes was originally built by the C&IT (Chicago and Interurban Traction) which had (a) carbarn at 88th and Vincennes. That early traction ordinance made them divest their property within the city. The CSL used the 88th street carbarn for dead storage, until streetcar service on Halsted was abandoned south of 79th. The portion of the line west of Vincennes on Monterey and 111th was a branch line built to serve the cemeteries at 111th and Sacranento.
I am impressed with John Bromley’s photos. You can see, from these blow ups, the quality of his photos and how detailed it is. The one photo shows that the car is just standing with no motorman at the controls. The second shoes the stretch behind the car and you can clearly make out the Rock Island RR crossing gates. The location is definitely 111th east of Vincennes as John captioned it.
Thank you for sharing your excellent insights.
This picture of CTA one-man car 3236, taken on January 14, 1950 shows it crossing Maplewood Avenue on what is obviously an east-west trolley line. John F. Bromley, who sold me this negative, was unsure of the location. Jeff Wien writes, “I would guess that it is at 71st & Maplewood. Bill Hoffman lived all of his life at 6664 S. Maplewood which was a half mile north. Maplewood is a block or two west of Western. Route 67 covered 67th, 69th and 71st as far west as California (2800). Maplewood is around 2600 West. Check out the streets to see if I am correct. The one man cars were used on route 67.” Looks like Jeff is correct, as further research shows that the house at left is still standing at 7053 S. Maplewood.
John sent me this picture last year, but I didn’t get around to using it until now.
You might be interested in this, pulled off the Internet. Original caption noted this as ”Bronzeville”. CSL April 1941 47th ST looking west.
Larry Sakar writes:
Here’s a little bit of a mix of things for The Trolley Dodger if you’re interested. First, in keeping with the season here is a picture taken at the corner of N. 4th St. and W. Wisconsin Ave. ca. Xmas 1927. The photographer is facing northeast. The letters “RA” at the bottom of that large sign across the street (NE corner of 4th & Wisconsin) are the last two in the name “Alhambra”. The Alhambra was a movie theater that stood until about 1960 on the northeast corner of 4th & Wisconsin. Directly across the street as you can see was the Boston Store Dept. store. The building is still there but Boston Store went out of business either late last year or earlier this year. For anyone who ever shopped at Carson’s in Chicago, Boston Store was identical. At one time both were owned by P.A. Bergner Co. Note the TM 600 series car westbound on Wisconsin Ave. running on Rt. 12w – 12th St. Brouwer’s next door to the theater was a shoe company one of many shoe stores in downtown like Thom Mc Cann and Packard-Rellin. To the best of my knowledge they, like the movie theaters are now gone.
We know this has to be 1927 or later because of the movie playing at the Alhambra. “Swim Girl Swim” starring Bebe Daniels (1901-1971) was released in 1927. It was a silent movie. Ms.. Daniels was both a star of silent films and talkies. Her biography says she even made a few television appearances. The “Center” destination on the 600 is a bit curious. Rt. 12 streetcars ran all the way to N. Holton & E. Richards Sts. Perhaps it was short turning for some reason. The decorations atop the Boston Store marquee tell us this is Christmas season. Today, the Henry Reuss Federal Plaza occupies the entire north side of Wisconsin Ave. from N. 3rd to N. 4th Sts. Its blue exterior has earned it the nickname “Blue Whale.”
Now for two photographs I call “Foolers.” They’re not where their destination sign says they are. Both of these were real head-scratchers, until I finally determined where they are. The photo of car 651 with TM shorthand of WAU co BLDGS” and a route 10 in the route sign box made me think this was somewhere near the Muirdale Sanitorium (for patients with TB) which was served by Rt. 10 streetcars continuing west from the Harwood Ave. terminal in the heart of the Wauwatosa Village to the Sanitorium in Muirdale. This was out on Watertown Plank Rd. Service west of Harwood Ave. was converted to buses in 1937. WAU CO BLDGS meant Wauwatosa County Buildings. The former Sanitorium still stands today on Research Drive in the Milwaukee County Research Park adjacent to the massive Froedtert Hospital Campus. It is presently used as an office building. Dave Stanley helped me figure out where this really is. The car is laying over at S. 84th & W. Lapham Ave., the west end of RT 19. In all probability the photographer (unknown) talked the motorman into rolling up that sign which hadn’t been used in years. The last 600s ended service in early 1949 except for 607, which was saved by the Railroad Historical Foundation also known as the “607 Gang.” It is often seen in photographs amid the surplus ex TM 1100s stored on the tracks leading into the never completed Rapid Transit subway ca.1949-51 In 1952, The RHF received notice from Hyman-Michaels Scrap Co. that the car had to be removed from the Speedrail property or it would be scrapped. With all of the RHF members save one having been drafted (Korean War) there was nowhere to go with the streetcar, so it was sold to HM for scrap.
When I received the photo of car 943 I couldn’t figure out where the car was on 35th St. Rt 35 was the 35th St route. The 35th St. destination in the sign below the roof route sign made zero sense. If it was a northbound car the destination would say either Burleigh or Fond du lac as the tri-intersection of N. 35th , W. Burleigh St. and W. Fond du lac Ave. was the northern terminus (the west side of Fond du lac car station). If it was southbound the destination would be Mt. Vernon Ave. (the last street before heading across the 35th St. viaduct which streetcars never crossed). Upon closer examination I realized just where this is and what it is. It’s a TM publicity photo. Car 943 is westbound on W. Michigan St. between N. 3rd and N. 4th Sts. The “crowd” waiting to board are TM employees doubtlessly recruited from the Public Service Building out of the picture to the right of 943 . Now take a closer look between the “Front Entrance Safety Car” sign on 943’s right front dash and the “crowd”. This was obviously a time exposure. You see a “ghosted” 1100 series interurban probably headed into the PSB from Sheboygan. or perhaps headed the opposite way. It’s hard to tell.
Recently, I sent you a picture of Al Buetschle, who saved TM 978, holding up pieces from the shattered car 39 . This was at the site of the 9-2-50 fatal head-on collision post abandonment. Here are two more photos. In the first one Al holds up a roof ventilator and another piece of the shattered lightweight duplex. Car 1192 (duplex 1192-93) plowed thru 3/4ths of car 39 before stopping. Duplex 39-40 was so badly damaged that both were shoved off the r.o.w. into the drainage ditch along the east side of the r.o.w. The late Lew Martin, a member of the RHF, snapped this photo of people milling around in the wreckage of car 39. This is followed by a shot of duplex 45-46 enroute Hales Corners at the accident site some time later. I believe Lew Martin also took this photo. In addition to Al with the roof ventilator we see his friend Lee Bremer holding up one of the door panels from car 39. Neither of them owned a car in 1952 so taking the door home with them was not an option. It would have been a bit clumsy to haul on a Transport Co. bus!
I also recently sent a photo of the Port Washington station as it looked in service and in 1983. Here is a much better photo showing KMCL D3 (formerly D23) on the loop with the station at the left. The photo is from the Don Ross collection. In 1983 the QWIK Cement Co. and just about everything else that surrounded the loop was gone replaced by a Wisconsin Telephone Co. bldg. The former station did not appear to be in use.
Unfortunately, it appears that Al Buetschle passed away sometime in 2018. He was probably in his mid-80s.
Here are two more photos of the 978. The first one is an Ed Wilson photo. I am guessing this is sometime in the 1940s. The location is East Wisconsin Ave near N. Van Buren St. The building with the tall columns rising above 978 is the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. headquarters. The C&NW lakefront depot would be behind the photographer photo left one block east. Unfortunately, Milwaukee could not see fit to save it, just as they couldn’t with the Milwaukee Road Everett St. station and the North Shore station. I believe it was author Jim Scribbins who said in one of his books, “Milwaukee does not practice urban renewal. In Milwaukee it’s urban removal!”
One thing seen in this photo is rather odd. Rt. 13-Clybourn-Michigan never ran 900 series cars. The ex-Racine city cars renumbered into the 750 series and the 800s were the cars that saw service on Rt. 13. Rt. 13 was an early victim of bustitution as I like to call it being converted to trolley bus on 9-14-41. The route was discontinued by MCTS several years ago due to lack of riders.
The second photo of the 978 was taken by the late Ernie Maragos of Racine, WI in the summer of 1957. Among newsworthy events that year the then Milwaukee Braves won the World Series. It would be the last summer for Milwaukee streetcars. In Ernie’s picture 978 has just crossed the Wells St. bridge over the Milwaukee River, and will soon stop for N. Water St. If Ernie had turned to his right you would be seeing the Oneida St. WEPCO power plant and the west end of the famous Pabst Theatre. Oneida St. was the original name of Wells St. and was named for the Native American tribe that lived in the area before Milwaukee became a city in 1850. The Power Plant was decommissioned some time ago and is now a theatre, like the Pabst next door presenting live stage performances. I believe they call it the “Powerhouse Theatre.”
When it comes to colossal mistakes the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Company (which bought out TMER&T in late 1952) decided to move a group of surplus streetcars to the stadium spur in Calvary Cemetery cut in the winter of 1955-56. The cars were surplus, because by this time only two or three streetcar lines remained. Space needed to be created for new incoming GM Diesel buses. This was not a scrap line. The cars were stored here for lack of someplace better The photo of car 925 taken by TM interurban motorman Ed Wilson shows what happened. Vandals took full advantage. Note the holes in 925’s front window made by rocks probably taken from track ballast on the streetcar tracks. The spur had been laid on the abandoned Rapid Transit Line r.o.w. in 1953.
Al Buetschle, who saved car 978, recalled that one day while riding a RT. 10 Wells-West Allis streetcar through the cut he saw Transport Company employees laying ballast and rails where the Rapid Transit tracks had been just a year earlier. As he tells it, he immediately got off at the Hawley Rd. station (seen in back of the 925) and walked down the r.o.w. to where the construction crew was working. He thought that the Rapid Transit might be coming back but no such luck. The crew informed him that this was to be a new storage track for streetcars serving County Stadium about one-half mile east. When streetcar service ended on March 1, 1958 the spur was no longer needed and the tracks were taken up in May.
One other thing of note in Ed Wilson’s picture. The covered stairs leading up to the Hawley Rd. overpass were unique to this stop. The Calvary Cemetery cut was part of Phase 3 of the city of Milwaukee Rapid Transit project. This phase was known as the Fairview Ave. grade separation project, which removed streetcar and interurbans from street running on Fairview Ave. between 60th and 68th Sts. and placed them on a magnificent 4-track private right-of-way parallel to Fairview Ave. Streetcars stopped at Hawley Rd. 60th St., 62nd St., 65th St. and then descended to street level approaching 68th St. Rapid Transit trains stopped only at 68th St. Streetcars continued across 68th and turned south beneath the 68th St. station overpass, which was actually closer to 69th St. Upon going under the bridge they once again turned west for 1-1/2 blocs to S. 70th St. which they paralleled on a private right-of-way next to S. 70th St. The Wells-West Allis branch terminated at the intersection of S. 70th St. and W. Greenfield Ave. adjacent to the Allis Chalmers Co. Today both the streetcars and the Allis Chalmers Co. plant are gone.
TM 978 at N. Van Buren St. & E. Wisconsin Ave. Ed Wilson photo
M&STC 978 EB on Wells St. between Milw. River and N. Water St. Summer, ’57 Ernie Maragos photo
M&STC 933 et al stored on Stadium spur 1-56 Don Ross photo
M&STC 925 stored at west of Stadium spur Winter 1955-56 Ed Wilson photo
More from Larry:
Here are a few additional items I think Trolley Dodger readers might enjoy. In one of your recent posts you featured a photo of a TM 1100 near the 68th St. station. 68th was a major stop both westbound and eastbound. For westbound passengers this was the first point where they could transfer to continue to West Allis. In this case, you walked down the station stairs and waited for a RT 10-Wells-West Allis streetcar which stopped beneath the Rapid Transit overpass. It would take you all the way to S. 70th St. & W. Greenfield Ave., adjacent to the Allis Chalmers Co. plant. During State Fair week, streetcars turned west on Greenfield and continued to State Fair Park at S. 82nd St. The other West Allis transfer point was S. 84th St., where you boarded a Transport Co. Rt 67 bus to get to West Allis. West Allis car station was in the heart of West Allis at S. 84th & W. Lapham Ave. All trains stopped at 68th St.
The bridge over Brookdale Dr. on the Hales Corners line seemed to be a favorite spot for fans to take pictures of trains headed for Hales Corners, or in earlier years Burlington (until 1938 and West Troy (until 1939). The inaugural Speedrail fan trip of October 16, 1949 using car 60 was no exception. The car was posed on the Brookdale bridge, and it seems that almost every fan aboard it took almost the same picture. Brookdale siding, which stretched all the way from Brookdale Dr. siding to W. Layton Ave., was the point where the line built to carry workmen who were building the suburb of Greendale left the mainline and followed a single track r.o.w., built solely for that purpose. Once construction of Greendale was completed the tracks and wire came down. It was never intended to be a permanent, passenger carrying line.
In 2016, my colleague Chris Barney took these two photos showing what was left of the abandoned r.o.w. at Brookdale Dr. The r.o.w. was graded down some years ago, but the fancy stone bridge over the nearby culvert remains to this day. Look below the Rapid Transit bridge and to the left to see it in Speedrail’s day. Other bits and pieces of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line can still be found. West of the Red Star Yeast Plant at about N. 28th St. the r.o.w. was built to accommodate four tracks, though only two were ever built. When I-94, the East-West Expressway, was built through here in the mid-to-late 1960’s, it was built over what had been the Rapid Transit line though at a much higher elevation. That was probably done to reduce the length of the on and off ramps. The abandoned r.o.w. was bought by the city of Milwaukee (the initial phase of the East-West Freeway was a city and not Milwaukee County project). In 1953, then WEPCO sold the abandoned r.o.w. between N. 8th St and W. Hibernia St 4-1/2 miles west to Soldiers Home (52nd St.) for $1,000,800, supposedly the price they paid for it in 1925. The high tension electric transmission towers, like the one seen in the background (that’s the 35th St. viaduct in back of it) of my photo, were moved over to the never used portion of the r.o.w., costing the City of Milwaukee and additional $500,000. Consider that according to trustee Bruno V. Bitker, Speedrail needed at least $250,000 to be successfully reorganized. In the 68-1/2 years since abandonment of the Rapid Transit, time has amply demonstrated which of the two was better (hint; it’s not the East-West Freeway.) In February 1951, when Speedrail VP of Operations Ed Tennyson and Metropolitan Transit Committee Chairman Al Kalmbach met with Milwaukee city officials, they were turned down by the aldermen who claimed that the city could not show favoritism to just the two wards through which The Rapid Transit operated. Yet, they didn’t seem one bit concerned about it when the expressway was built on the Rapid Transit line r.o.w. through those same two wards!
The black and white 8×10 photo of the 68th St. station is from a book later placed on microfilm called “Subways Along Milwaukee Rapid Transit Lines.” No, not the never completed subway. In this case “subways” referred to streets over which the Rapid Transit crossed on a bridge. Its purpose was apparently to measure the clearances, so that the info could be placed on the bridge for cars and trucks passing beneath. Every bridge between Hibernia St. and 84th St. was photographed in all four directions. Also checked for clearances was the North Shore Line from Oklahoma Avenue south to Howell and Rawson Aves. in Oak Creek. Today, all traces of the Rapid Transit line west of the west end of Calvary Cemetery cut have vanished. The embankments from S. 70th St. west were all removed in the mid-1960s, and power lines similar to the ones that now occupy the former NSL Skokie Valley Route placed in the middle of the abandoned r.o.w. The recent rebuilding of the Zoo Interchange has obliterated all traces of West Jct. Widening of Highway 100 (S. 108th St. between W. Forest Home Ave. and W. Edgerton Ave. in Hales Corners has eliminated what remained of the abandoned Hales Corners line r.o.w.
Here’s a great “Then and Now” Speedrail photo for you. The small b&w shows car 60 on the Brookdale Dr. bridge. The date is 10-16-49, and this is the inaugural fan trip introducing the 60 series curved side cars. I think just about every fan on that trip snapped a picture of the car sitting on that bridge. Fast forward to 2016. My colleague, Chris Barney took these photos at Brookdale Dr.
(this is on the Hales Corners line by the way). First, look beneath the bridge on the left hand side. You’ll see a stone barrier in front of a culvert that ran alongside the r.o.w. Now look at the bottom photo. In the center of the picture you see that same stone bridge. The abandoned r.o.w. has been completely removed. The “bridge” to which Chris was referring was the one over the Root River built by the Milwaukee Light Heat & Traction Co. in 1905. WEnergies removed it in 2017 because it was deteriorated to the point where it was going to fall into the river. They could access the power lines on either side of the river so the bridge was no longer needed.
I drew an arrow to the stone bridge in the 1949 photo. It can be kind of hard to make out in the 1949 photo. This entire area is part of Root River Parkway and yes, this is the same Root River crossed by the NSL near 4 1/2 Mile Rd. just north of Racine.
Aband Rapid Transit r.o.w. @ 32nd St. lkg west in 2003 by Larry Sakar
SR 60 posed on Brookdale Bridge from Brookdale Dr. 10-16-49
SR 60 on Brookdale Dr. bridge 10-16-49 inaugural fan trip. Herb Danneman coll.
Brookdale Dr. xing in 2016 by Chris Barney
Showing culvert bridge in 1949 photo
Speedrail 60 WB at 68th St. ca. Summer, 1950. L. Sakar coll.
68th St. sta. lkg NE in 1937 City of MKE. Survey
Charles Kronenwetter comments:
Love the latest set of photos, especially those from Milwaukee. One comment though, I believe that the photo of the 943 shows it Southbound on 3rd St right in front of PSB. (You can see the tracks heading into the building just to the right of the 943.) The park to the left is the one that sat in front of the Milwaukee Road depot. The building to the rear of the car is, I think the Medford Hotel and the white building to the left is the Boston Store. I’ve seen this photo somewhere else and you are correct, it was a staged photo using volunteers from the PSB.
The photo showing the fan holding up the door from the wrecked 39 appears to have been taken after the tracks had been pulled up. I never did hear what became of the ties after that although I do recall seeing a bulldozer with some sort of plow on the front, maybe out around the gravel pit.
I did salvage and still have a seat cushion from one of the last 1100s being scrapped which my dad picked up for me. I don’t know what to do with it but hate to see it tossed after all those years 🙂
Thanks for the great photos, keep up the good work 🙂
From the Collections of William Shapotkin:
CTA trolley bus 9509, heading south on Route 52 – Kedzie, is at Kedzie and 51st . (Charles E. Keevil Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
This early postcard shows the Chicago “L” at a time, in the 1890s, when steam provided the power. I would presume this view is of Lake Street, with Wolf Point in the distance. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This picture was taken on November 24, 1955, at Western Avenue and 75th, with a PCC heading north, about to go under the Belt Railway of Chicago. A mid-50s Ford heads south. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA prewar PCC cars 4041, 4028, and others are on what appears to be the brand new turnaround loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett, which became the west end of Route 63 in 1948. The bus at left offered connecting service west of here. Previously, red streetcars ran to Oak Park Avenue, where they could easily turn back using a crossover, as they were double-ended. There is still a bus loop, although smaller, on this location. The first PCC is wearing “tiger stripes,” intended to improve motorist visibility, while its follower has the colors applied by CSL in 1941. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Chicago Surface Lines “Matchbox” 1423 is heading towards Fulton and Western. The notation on the back of the photograph says Fulton-21st-Canal. (William Shapotkin Collection) Andre Kristopans adds, “The Fulton-21 shot looks to be 21st and Sangamon, crossing the Burlington branch that came off the main at 16th and followed Sangamon down to the Lumber District line at Cermak. Mostly ripped up maybe 10 years ago. Lumber District line itself is barely alive with only one or two customers left.”
I believe we may have run a similar picture before. This shows the North Shore Line station adjacent to the CTA “L” station at Adams and Wabash. (William Shapotkin Collection)
A westbound CTA Route 58 – Ogden streetcar descends into the Washington Street tunnel circa 1950, about to head under the Chicago River. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue in the late 1940s. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This April 1975 view of Chicago’s Loop “L” is notable, for three things in particular that are no longer there. The 2200-series railcars have been retired, the Sun-Times/Daily News building has been replaced by Trump Tower, and even the station where this photo was taken (Randolph and Wabash) is now gone.
According to the notes the late Robert Selle made for this photograph, taken on October 26, 1958, this is the start of a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. This was more than a year after passenger service had been abandoned on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban. The location is a crossover just east of First Avenue in Maywood, and we are looking mainly to the east. Due to construction of the nearby Eisenhower Expressway, this would have been about as far east as CA&E trains could have gone at this time. Here, the line curved off to the right and headed southeast before crossing the DesPlaines River. Building the highway through that spot meant the CA&E tracks, and bridge, had to be moved slightly north of where they had been. This was all put back in place by 1959, but was never used since the interurban was abandoned. The fantrip train included cars 453 and 430. Mr. Selle did not identify the middle car in his notes, but no doubt it can be determined from other pictures taken on the same trip.
Bob Selle took this picture on August 8, 1954, during a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban, using wood car 310. This was a photo stop on the freight-only Mt. Carmel branch, which ran alongside Mannheim Road. Mr. Selle identified this location as a quarry, but it would be interesting to know just how far south this was. It may be possible to determine this from the location of the houses at right, assuming they are still there. As far as I know, tracks at this time ended just south of Roosevelt Road and had once served the cemetery there.
Jeff Haertlein wanted to share this video with you that he found on YouTube, showing the extensive model train layout called a Minirama that was on display in the Wisconsin Dells for many years:
Graham Titley writes:
Firstly can I say how much I have enjoyed reading through many of the posts and how informative they are!
I am part of a Facebook group that have been ‘challenged’ to identify a photo of a interurban/streetcar/tram accident.
I have found several images of nearly similar trams (for simplicity I’ll only type this term), some in Chicago and Milwaukee in your posts, as well as early trams in Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia – without finding what I consider an exact match. The main issue is the low placement of the light on the front and the style of the ride board/bumper. The tram is clearly aluminium or steel as the frontage under the windows is a single curve.
There appears to be no identification numbers or names on the front.
It is possible that the image is of a crash in Northern Europe – however, I think the single arm connector makes it more likely that the location is North America.
I would be grateful for any thoughts that you may have.
In my gut I think the locale is North America, possibly Illinois, Connecticut or New England, or perhaps Canada – rather than being Europe.
I have found similarities with cars built by American Car Co, Brill Hicks, Cincinnati Car Co, Jewett and Wason – but nothing I consider an exact match to the configuration of the windows, bumper, horn/light at centre front, and the ‘railroad’ roof with clerestory windows.
I think the car may be more suburban and does not look as if there are any couplings for multi-car use. Due to the perspective it is difficult to estimate the length but the impression given is that it is a short car. I also wondered of it could be a freight trolley.
Unfortunately what I think is the destination board (which has fallen down in the left side window) cannot be enhanced sufficiently to become legible.
I have exhausted the sources, books, images and museum collection rosters that I can think of or find.
If you don’t have any thoughts this image will have to remain unidentified – for now!
Graham (in UK).
Perhaps our readers may have some ideas, thanks.
From Bill Volkmer:
From Eric Bronsky:
This photo was taken in 1936. The USA was deep in the doldrums of the Great Depression. President Roosevelt was elected to a second term, Art Deco and Streamline Moderne were in fashion, the RMS Queen Mary made her maiden voyage, and a loaf of bread cost 8 cents.
On this snowy day, we’re shivering on a windswept ‘L’ platform, watching a Jackson Park-bound 4-car train of Chicago Rapid Transit Co. 4000-series “Baldies” grind out of the University station above 63rd Street. Completed in 1893, this station served South Siders until the mid-1990s, when the line was rebuilt and cut back to Cottage Grove. Express trains used the center track in the old days.
Photographed by Frank Butts, this image is now in the Bruce Moffat Collection. Though it’s spectacular in B&W, I thought that color would truly bring it to life. Bruce graciously provided a high-res scan of the B&W print for this purpose and I colorized it using Adobe Photoshop CS6.
But this scene still looked rather dreary for a Holiday card, so I decided to add a bit of cheer by making a few modifications. Some are fairly obvious but you might need to examine the image more closely to spot others (transit “purists” will note that the brown & orange paint scheme did not appear until 1938).
That’s all for now, folks. We will round out 2019 with one more post next week, featuring all new material.
Now Available On Compact Disc
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include:
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern
$5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere.
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick):
01. 3:45 Box motor #5
02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953
03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954
04. 4:13 Loco #12
05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953
Altoona & Logan Valley:
07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit:
08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s:
11. 4:35 August 27, 1954
13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955
14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955
15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954
16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto:
17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954
18. 5:20 #80, October 1954
Total time: 79:30
St. Louis Public Service:
01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953
Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City):
02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954
Third Avenue El (New York City):
04. 5:07 December 31. 1954
05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954
Southern Iowa Railway:
06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955
07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9
IND Subway (New York City):
08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954
Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick:
09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr.
Total time: 61:31
Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction:
01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953)
Cincinnati Street Railway:
02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951)
Toledo & Eastern:
03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958)
04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s)
Total time: 74:02
Total time (3 discs) – 215:03
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways
There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.
While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960
Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
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For Shipping Elsewhere:
Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
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