CTA Historic cars 4271-4272, built in 1923, ran special trips around Chicago’s Loop “L” on October 1, 2022, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Chicago Transit Authority.
By 1932, with the onset of the Great Depression, it was no longer possible for private companies to make a reasonable profit operating public transit in Chicago. Revenues were insufficient to cover the expenses of offering convenient and frequent service to the public, especially when fares were kept artificially low through government regulation.
That the Chicago Surface Lines and Chicago Rapid Transit Company competed with each other, to some extent, only made the situation worse. Unifying the two companies became a civic priority, but several attempts to create a privately owned Chicago Transit Company failed in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Meanwhile, the City of Chicago built our first rapid transit subway between 1938 and 1943, with 45% funded by the Federal Government as a jobs program. With the end of World War II looming, Illinois politicians created the Chicago Transit Authority in 1945 as a semi-independent governmental body to operate local transit in nearly all of Cook County. This was approved by voters in a referendum.
The fledgling CTA started out as an offshoot of the City’s Department of Subways and Superhighways. The transition period between 1945 and 1947 saw the City, via the CTA, stage-manage transit matters while CSL and CRT continued to operate under the supervision of the bankruptcy courts.
The CTA was charged with streamlining and modernizing local transit, which was long overdue. While given no taxing authority, it could sell bonds backed by future transit revenues.
October 1, 2022 marks 75 years since the CTA took over the operations of CSL and CRT. By any standard, it has done a remarkable job and continues to do so. To celebrate this anniversary, the CTA brought several pieces of historic equipment to the Loop to give the public a taste of how transit ran in the past.
We were there to record these events in pictures and videos for your enjoyment. Cars 4271-4272 were built in 1923 and have been on the property for nearly a century now. They were last used in regular service in 1973 on the Evanston Express. Cars 6711-6712 date to 1959 and were used in regular service until 1992. They spent several years at a musdeum in St. Louis before returning to the CTA a few years ago.
New Book Update
FYI we recently turned in a second draft of our upcoming book The North Shore Line to Arcadia Publishing. I am pleased to report that the book has been expanded to 160 pages (from 128), a 25% increase. A publication date of February 20, 2023 has been announced, and we will begin our pre-sale on November 20 of this year.
Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.
CTA at 75 Celebration
Tickets and posters were given out in Daley Plaza, home of the famous Picasso (1967).
CTA Historic bus 3706 on display at Daley Plaza.
CTA Historic bus 8499 on Washington Boulevard at Daley Plaza.
The CTA had several historical buses and “L” cars downtown for the 75th anniversary celebration.
The booth where tickets and posters were handed out in Daley Plaza.
Tickets were available for the first three rides of the day on cars 4271-4272 and 6711-6712.
Three different free posters were available.
4271-4272 at Clark and Lake.
Inside CTA 4272.
Inside CTA 4272.
Clearances are tight, and these warning labels are a necessity on “L” cars without air conditioning, where the windows can open.
Inside CTA 4272.
The interior of 4272.
The interior of 4272.
CTA 6711-6712 arriving at Clark and Lake.
CTA 6711-6712 at Clark and Lake.
The interior of CTA 6711.
Some CTA employees have gone to great lengths to put together historically accurate period uniforms.
The interior of CTA 6711.
The interior of CTA 6711.
CTA at 75 Posters
New Compact Disc, Now Available:
The Last Chicago Streetcars 1958
# of Discs – 1
Until now, it seemed as though audio recordings of Chicago streetcars were practically non-existent. For whatever reason, the late William A. Steventon does not appear to have made any for his Railroad Record Club, even though he did make other recordings in the Chicago area in 1956.
Now, audio recordings of the last runs of Chicago streetcars have been found, in the collections of the late Jeffrey L. Wien (who was one of the riders on that last car). We do not know who made these recordings, but this must have been done using a portable reel-to-reel machine.
These important recordings will finally fill a gap in transit history. The last Chicago Transit Authority streetcar finished its run in the early hours of June 21, 1958. Now you can experience these events just as Chicagoans did.
As a bonus, we have included Keeping Pace, a 1939 Chicago Surface Lines employee training program. This was digitally transferred from an original 16” transcription disc. These recordings were unheard for 80 years.
Total time – 74:38
Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation
We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s Images of America Author David Sadowski Edition illustrated Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021 ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007 Length 128 pages
Chapters: 01. The South Side “L” 02. The Lake Street “L” 03. The Metropolitan “L” 04. The Northwestern “L” 05. The Union Loop 06. Lost Equipment 07. Lost Interurbans 08. Lost Terminals 09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
For Shipping to Canada:
For Shipping Elsewhere:
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
This is our 293rd 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 915,000 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.
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.
This famous photo shows Tower 18 at Lake and Wells in 1917, a very busy intersection indeed. We are looking north along Wells. In 1969, the tower was torn down and replaced in a slightly different location, so that Lake Street trains could continue directly east instead of having to turn south on Wells. This was done to facilitate pairing the Lake line with the new Dan Ryan service. (George Trapp collection)
I apologize for the 16-day gap since our last post, but I recently worked 15 straight days as an election judge. It usually takes me a while to recover when I do this. On the other hand, I have friends who say it will take them the next four years to recover from this election, so I should consider myself fortunate.
Today we have another generous selection of Chicago rapid transit photos from the collections of George Trapp. We thank him again for sharing these with our readers.
Today, we are mainly featuring the South Side “L”, used by today’s CTA Green Line, plus Howard Street on the North side, and the Niles Center/Skokie branch, today’s Yellow Line.
As always, if you have anything interesting to add to the discussion, you can either leave a comment here on this post, or contact us directly at:
PS- To find earlier posts in our series, just type “Chicago rapid transit” in the search window at the top of the page.
CTA hi-speed 6129 at Chicago Avenue on the Ravenswood (today’s Brown Line) in 1961. (Pete Busack Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CTA high-speeds 32 and 4 at Kimball on the Ravenswood in 1961. (Pete Busack Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CTA high-speed 3 at Kimball in 1961. (Pete Busack Photo, George Trapp Collection)
This look like the Linden Yard in Wilmette to me. The date is 1957-58. George Trapp: “Linden Yard but looking North toward Linden Station.” (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection) This and the other photos taken at the same time are “Kodachrome prints” (see the next picture).
The phrase “Kodachrome print” has gone by the wayside. But back in the old days, there were two different ways to make color prints– a Type C print from a negative, and a Type R print from a slide. You could also have a C print made from a slide by way of an internegative, which somewhat reduced the inevitable buildup in contrast printing direct, but also sacrificed some sharpness. Scanning and modern color printing has replaced much of this.
A pair of flat-door 6000s at Howard Yard circa 1957-58. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Howard Yard, 1957-58. This was taken at the same time as the previous photo. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
THe view looking north from the transfer bridge at Howard in 1957-58. The tracks going to the north are Evanston; at left, the North Shore Line’s Skokie Valley Route, site of today’s Yellow Line. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
In response to demands that the struggling Chicago Rapid Transit Company replace their aging fleet of wooden cars with modern ones, the company had a mock-up built for a proposed 5000-series car at Skokie Shops. This shows some influence from New York City cars. The 5001-5004 articulated cars that were eventually built in 1947-48 were patterned after the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit “Bluebirds,” but styling from this mock-up does seem to be reflected in the 6000s that followed in 1950. (George Trapp Collection)
CRT gate car 2509, shown here coupled to 4395, is signed for Westchester, so this may be Laramie Yard on the Garfield Park “L”. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
A Niles Center car at Main Street in Skokie. (George Trapp Collection)
When the Niles Center branch ran (1925-1948), Chicago’s rapid transit lines depended on a lot of walk-in riders from the neighborhoods. Unfortunately, large parts of Skokie were not built up until after World War II. (George Trapp Collection)
CRT 1804, shown here at Crawford, has just changed over from overhead wire to third rail on its inbound journey. George Trapp: “This car, built by A. C. F., was originally a trailer as were all the cars from 1789-1815. These cars are quite similar to the 1769-1788 built by Pullman in 1909.” (George Trapp Collection)
CRT 1807 in the pocket track at Dempster, northern end of the Niles Center branch. (George Trapp Collection)
A train of CRT 4000s on the North Shore Line. (George Trapp Collection)
The north end of Howard Yard in CRT days. (George Trapp Collection)
The north end of Howard Yard in CRT days. George Trapp: “Note cars 1776 and 1779, which head up the two trains at right. Built by Pullman in 1909, these were the last wooden cars built new in Chicago.” (George Trapp Collection)
Construction at Skokie Shops. By comparing this photo to a similar one on Graham Garfield’s web site, we can date this to about 1930. George Trapp: “Construction at Skokie (Niles Center at time of photo) is late 1920’s or early 1930’s. Wood cars at right are in CRT Green and Orange scheme.” (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
The view looking north from Howard Street. George Trapp dates this to the “late 1920’s – 1930’s.” (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
The Ravenswood terminal at Lawrence and Kimball in CRT days. (George Trapp Collection)
CTA high-speed car 4, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1960, at Skokie Shops in December 1962. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA 29 outbound from Howard on the new Skokie Swift in 1964. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA high-speed car 2 at Skokie Shops in June 1962. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA car 4 near Howard in 1964. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA car 2 near Howard in 1964. (George Trapp Photo)
CRT 4320 at Skokie Shops, freshly repainted. George Trapp: “CRT 4320 not CTA, car is freshly painted in CRT Green and Orange and is a Met assigned car note position of safety springs and Van Dorn coupler.” Comparison with a similar photograph dates this one to 1937. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Gate cars at Howard. (George Trapp Collection)
A CTA single car unit (28) at Howard on the Evanston shuttle. (Lou Gerard Photo, George Trapp Collection)
George Trapp: “Car 2788 is probably at 54th Avenue yard on Douglas Park branch as that is what rear side sign says.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
An old postcard view of the Wells Street bridge over the Chicago River. I assume we are looking north. The clock tower is part of the old Chicago & North Western station. It would be nice to see this one in color. (George Trapp Collection)
Metropolitan Elevated Railway car 800 heads up a train in the early 1900s at the old Glenwood amusement park in Batavia on the Aurora, Elgin & Chicago (later the CA&E). That’s the branch’s large powerhouse in the background. Circa 1960, this was considered (but rejected) as the new home for the fledgling Illinois Electric Railway Museum. (George Trapp Collection)
Unlike this one, most 4000-series “L” cars did not have giant thumbprints on them. So, either the Cardiff Giant has paid a visit, or someone put their thumb onto a wet print or negative. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
This photo of two gate cars on the Loop “L” is a bit scratchy, but I think I recognize the Insurance Exchange Building at right, which would make this the Wells leg of the Loop, looking north. (George Trapp Collection)
The South Side “L” crossing Garfield Boulevard (55th), circa the 1920s. (George Trapp Collection)
CRT gate car 50. Don’s Rail Photos says, “50 was built by Jackson & Sharpe in 1892 as SSRT 50. It became CERy 50 in 1913 and CRT 50 in 1923. It was rebuilt as S2 in 1939.” (George Trapp Collection)
CRT 4265 heads up a northbound train going into the State Street subway not far south of Roosevelt Road. It is signed as going to both Howard and Skokie. This picture must have been taken between 1943 and 1948. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
61st Street on the South Side “L”. (George Trapp Collection)
M. E. says this is “the view facing west at Indiana, again while the Kenwood line was a through line.” George Trapp: “The center-door steel car is a loop-bound Kenwood train, shown at the junction with the main South Side “L”. The 4-car train is a north-south through train. The wood train about to cross in front of the Kenwood train is probably a Loop-bound Englewood train.” The tracks at right were used for freight. This photo was taken from the roof of the building shown on the left of the next picture that follows. Contrast this with a photo taken circa 1955-57 at much the same spot in our previous post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Three (March 23, 2016). (George Trapp Collection)
I thought perhaps this was a Stock Yards train, but close examination of the sign seems to indicate it’s a Kenwood instead. If you zoom in, you can also see freight tracks at left, which paralleled the Kenwood line on an embankment. If so, we are looking east from where the Kenwood branch met the South Side main line near Indiana Avenue. (George Trapp Collection)
An enlargement of the previous photo, showing the Kenwood right-of-way adjacent to freight tracks on an embankment. I am not sure which movie theater that is in the background– the only Park Theater I know of was located at Lake and Austin. This picture was probably taken in Kenwood shuttle days on the CTA (1949-1957), since there is only the one track connecting it with the main line. Two tracks were visible in the earlier picture taken from the roof of a nearby building. Chris Cole adds, “The Park Theater is listed in Cinema Treasures at 3955 S King Dr. That matches the location in the picture.”
The facade of the old Park Theater, located at 3955 S. Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. Drive, is still there, next to the abandoned embankment that once housed the Kenwood “L”.
M. E. writes: “The sign says Kenwood to Indiana Ave., which was the shuttle service.”
We are looking east from the Indiana Avenue station. Off in the distance, more or less straight ahead, is the Kenwood branch of the “L”. The north-south main line heads off to the right (south) at this point, and Stock Yards service would go behind us to the west. M. E. adds: “The caption also says Stock Yards service is behind the photographer. It would be more accurate to say the Stock Yards L used the south side of the south platform, which is visible in the picture. From there the Stock Yards L headed west (behind the photographer) to Halsted, then into the stock yards. This picture was taken while the Kenwood line was still a through line into the Loop (and possibly north to Wilson). The same view after the Kenwood line was cut back to a shuttle is in photo dave408.” George Trapp adds: “straight ahead with jog is the Kenwood Branch, which shared embankment with Chicago Junction Ry.” (George Trapp Collection)
David Vartanoff noticed that this Chicago Blues LP features a cover shot of the “L”, taken where Kenwood branched off from the main line.
61st Street on the South side “L”. (George Trapp Collection)
George Trapp: “The pair of South Side gate cars are at Lake between State and Wabash on a Wilson Ave. Local, probably originating on the Kenwood Branch.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
This old photo shows South Side Rapid Transit car 131 at 63rd Street in 1899. (George Trapp Collection)
South Side Rapid Transit car 139 rounding the curve at Harrison and State, probably in the late 1890s. George Foelschow: “The photo of South Side car 139 on the Harrison curve April 16, 1898 appears on page 35 of CERA B-131, authored by Bruce Moffat. Multiple-unit inventor Frank Sprague may be at the controls, since he is pictured on the following page the next day on an M-U test at 61st Street yard. These tests presaged the steam to electric conversion on the South Side “L”.” (George Trapp Collection)
It is not widely known, but during its first few years, the South side “L” was powered by steam. This picture was taken at Indiana Avenue in the 1890s. (George Trapp Collection)
Finally, here are a few more pictures from a 4000s fantrip on the Skokie Swift in the late 1970s or early 1980s:
(George Trapp Photo)
(George Trapp Photo)
(George Trapp Photo)
(George Trapp Photo)
(George Trapp Photo)
(George Trapp Photo)
Adam Platt from Minneapolis writes:
Hello David… very much enjoy the blog and look forward to your posts.
A couple of notes regarding the current post.
—Re Kenwood shuttle–The Park theater at 40th and Grand Blvd opened as the Grand Oak, a vaudeville house, but became the Park during the period 1937-1958.
—The single unit at Howard NB on Evanston shuttle is car 28. Throughout the late 1960s and 70s, the car assignments on Evanston (still hard to think of it as the Purple Line) were single units 27, 28, 39-50. I practically lived on these cars growing up in east Wilmette. Later the CTA moved single units 5-22 and 31-38 from the Ravenswood to Linden and they operated in rush hour Evanston Express service, but I believe lacking fireboxes, they did not run in shuttle service.
1-4 were retired early, though I remember riding 4 on Skokie in the 1970s, in normal green/white CTA paint, though service there was held down mostly by cars 23-26, 29-30, which had pan trolleys, with doodlebugs 51-54 running in rush hour. Ultimately all 5-50 finished their lives on Evanston, I believe, though perhaps the Skokie cars migrated straight to the scrapper.
The Evanston shuttle operation was really one of the most interesting in the system because it ran one-man with the motorman collecting fares from many of the low volume Evanston stations until approx 1980. And notably, these motormen managed to collect fares, operate the doors, and run the line faster than most current CTA one-man operators. And Evanston ran one-man all but roughly 35 hours a week, which is amazing when you consider today’s volumes, though I think there are half as many off peak runs on Evanston than there were back in single unit days. I recall 4 cars typically active at once (but don’t hold me to it). Of course, some stations had agents in rush hours, some in middays. I do believe around 1980 CTA went to mostly two-car trains on Evanston shuttle and this unique operation was history.
And of course after I sent this I discovered that all the 5-50 cars ended their life running infrequently on weekends on the Blue Line, as the CTA could not retire them due to the constraints of a federally funded rehab.
Stephen M. Scalzo, In Memoriam
We are shocked by the news that long-time railfan historian Stephen M. Scalzo has died at the age of 73. His family has graciously shared the notice they have prepared with us. You can read it here.
Steve was a long-time member of the Chicagotransit Yahoo discussion group, and had a background as a railfan journalist and historian going back more than 50 years. He will be sorely missed by all of us.
In the first few days of November, we passed last year’s total of 107,460 page views, even though there have been fewer posts (57 vs. 108). This year’s posts, on the other hand, are longer and contain more pictures. Our current total of 218,332 page views in less than two years now exceeds that of the previous blog we worked on, and we have done this in a shorter period of time.
We must be doing something right, eh?
New Book Project
We are now working on a new paperback book Chicago Trolleys, that we expect will be published in 2017. Original research does cost money, so please consider making a donation to cover our costs. We will keep you updated as we progress, and thank you in advance for your help.
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
This is our 165th 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 218,000 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 are pleased to present a previously unknown two-color version of a 1936 Chicago Surface Lines brochure about the new streamlined PCC streetcars. This material has been added to our E-book Chicago’ PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available from our Online Store.
Milwaukee Electric Railway (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co.) car 1137, westbound on the Rapid Transit Line, 68th Street Bridge, July 22, 1949.
FYI, we now have an improved version of the TMER&T photo reproduced above, since we have been fortunate enough to acquire the original 1949 4″ x 5″ negative. This has been added to our recent post Traction In Milwaukee.
Three more photos have been added to our post West Towns Streetcars In Black-and-White. One of them shows a West Towns streetcar making the connection with its Chicago Surface Lines counterpart at Lake and Austin.
I was looking at the letters in The Trolley Dodger about the construction of the reversing loop in the Howard Yard in 1949. The letter from the man at CTA public affairs indicated that before skip stop service trains that terminated at Howard were usually yard put-ins. That seems unlikely, at least since the opening of the State Street Subway in 1943, after which most Jackson Park trains terminated at Howard, other than during owl hours.
My question is this: before they built the reversing loop, just how did they reverse trains at Howard that weren’t put-ins? In rush hours, they were 8 car trains. Where did they switch ends?
There is some circa 1975 correspondence between Tom Buck, then Manager of the CTA’s Public Affairs department, and an individual who had asked about a 1949 photo showing the construction of a turnaround loop in the Howard Yard.
The photo is reproduced, along with a brochure detailing the changes brought about by the adoption of A/B “skip-stop” service on the North-South L in 1949.
Previously, there were many trains that terminated at other places such as Wilson.
North Side “L” service used to be more commonly through-routed into Evanston, with Evanston trains running through to Jackson Park on what’s now the Green Line, from 1913 to 1949. In 1949, the CTA instituted a North-South service revision, at which time the suburban portion was divorced into its own line, running as a shuttle to meet the new North-South trunk line at Howard. Thus was the modern Evanston Route, with the shuttle service at all times and downtown rush hour express service, born.
Starting in 1949, there were a lot more trains terminating at Howard, both from the north and the south. Meanwhile, North Shore Line trains continued to pass through via the Skokie Valley and Shore Line Routes.
Around this time, CTA proposed turning over the Evanston/Wilmette service to the North Shore Line, in exchange for having all NSL service terminate at Howard. As CNS&M already wanted to abandon the Shore Line Route, this proposal went nowhere.
I don’t ever like to doubt Graham, but at least after the State Street Subway opened in 1943, few, if any, day time subway trains went past Howard and fewer still terminated at Wilson unless they were putting in there. Consider there were only 455 steel cars that could operate in the subway and alternate daytime trains ran to Kimball, and assume 10 pct. of the cars were needed for spares, 410 steel cars were available for schedules of which 205 would have been in Howard service. That would be enough for 25 Howard – Jackson Park trains. If the route took 125 minutes round trip with lay over (remember in one direction it had to make all stops from Indiana to Congress), that would have been a steel train to Howard every 5 minutes, or a total of only 24 trains an hour through the subway. Even if I am wrong with my assumptions or my arithmetic, how wrong can I be?
I have seen many pictures of Howard Street Express Via Subway t:rains over the years, but never one signed Evanston Express via Subway, although I know it was an available route on the sign curtain because I have one.
Additionally, that red brochure the CTA issued on the opening of the subway indicated Jackson Park trains would terminate at Howard, except after midnight.
I know too that after 1943 there were Evanston Express via “L” Loop trains that circled the Loop at least many of which ran express south of Loyola and which presumably had wooden consists.
So the question remains, what was the operation for reversing trains at Howard before the reversing loop was built?
I know that what became the loop track at Howard Yard terminated in a bumping post at the landfill to Evanston before the loop was built by tunneling across the landfill. If they used that track to reverse ends, the trains must have had to go through the yard switches to that track, reverse ends and then return through the yard switches.
Hopefully, someone here will know the answer.
If they did in fact use the yard track to change ends, they either would have needed personnel at both ends of the train, ready to reverse course, or the motorman would have had to walk through the train to do so, making it more difficult to maintain tight schedules.
The City realized that operating the subway with the 455 steel cars (there was actually a 456th but it was an older, experimental one, not part of the 4000s fleet) was not the optimal situation, but it was enough to get service going in the State Street subway in 1943.
Of course, they still had the “L” route to the Loop, so there were many additional wood car trains going that way besides.
M. E. answered:
I’m averse to posting in threads, but I want to chime in about the L turnaround at Howard St.
I grew up on Green St. south of 63rd. Between our residence and the L, the city tore down all the houses to make a parking lot for businesses on 63rd St. So I had a bird’s-eye view of the L.
Plus I rode the L a lot, by myself, when I was young. These days that’s a no-no, but back then it was safe.
The timing for all this was the late 1940s, after the State St. subway opened. I don’t remember seeing wooden cars on the Englewood L.
I rode the Englewood/Ravenswood L a lot, all the way to Lawrence and Kimball and back. I don’t think I ever changed to the Jackson Park L to go north past Belmont.
As an aside, I also remember wooden cars on the Kenwood L sharing the track with south side steel cars between Indiana and 18th St.
I distinctly remember that the Jackson Park L went north only to Howard. Not into Evanston.
Also, I remember being surprised one day by seeing that the CTA built a loop north of Howard to reverse direction. I don’t exactly remember when that was, just that I was surprised by it.
Given that the Jackson Park L terminated at Howard, and there was no reversing loop yet, there are several possibilities:
(1) The Rapid Transit system put two crewmen on every Jackson Park train — one at the south end, the other at the north end. This would have made it simple to reverse at Howard (as well as at 63rd and Stony Island). But very expensive to operate. This would also have had to be true of any other stub-ending L line with long trains.
(2) At Howard, trains pulled in from the south, changed crew at the station, and took off again heading south, all within a very short time. This seems not too feasible because it would probably delay Evanston and CNS&M trains from using the station.
(3) Suppose the trains proceeded north of Howard into the yard. Perhaps a new crew boarded the south end of the northbound train (which I want to call Train 1) at the Howard station. Then Train 1 pulled straight into the yard. The new crew at the south end took over and brought Train 1 back into Howard station heading south. Then at Howard the northbound crew got off.
(4) Train 1 arrived from the south at Howard. Its crew got off, and walked to the south end of the platform. Two other crews, assigned only to work at Howard, boarded Train 1 — one crew at the north end of the train, the other crew at the south end. These two crews took the train into the yard, reversed direction, and brought Train 1 south to the Howard station. There, the “road” crew, which had previously walked to the south end of the platform, re-boarded Train 1 and took it south from Howard. After that, the two Howard-only crews repeated to handle subsequently arriving trains from the south.
The more I look at these possibilities, I like #4 the best.
When I use the term “crew”, I mean motorman. That’s because on L trains back then, there were conductors between every car. Yes, really. Apparently there was no central control for opening and closing doors, so one conductor could control only his car’s doors. Also, every conductor from rear to front had to ring a bell twice to indicate all was clear to proceed. Those bells rang in each car, one at a time, from rear to front.
Furthermore, to my recollection, the longest trains through the subway had six cars. Not eight. For six cars there were five conductors. Another reason I say six cars is that station platforms were lengthened to accommodate eight cars. Those longer sections were narrower (not as deep) as the original platforms. In fact, the northmost track at the 63rd and Loomis terminal was extended over Loomis to accommodate eight-car trains. By that time there were no more double-deck buses on Loomis to preclude extending the L structure over the street.
Also, there were no married pairs of steel cars at that time. I remember seeing one-car trains on Sunday mornings. Consider also the Normal Park branch. Before it became a shuttle from 69th to Harvard, the Normal Park car coupled onto the back of an Englewood train. West of Harvard, people on the tracks coupled or uncoupled the Normal Park car, which had its own motorman and conductor. With a maximum of six cars, this means an Englewood train west of Harvard would have had only five cars max, so that the Normal Park car became the sixth car.
I have seen pictures of two-car Normal Park trains, but I never saw that personally.
I concede it’s possible that there were six cars on Englewood trains, plus one Normal Park car, total seven cars. I’m just not sure.
Everything I say here is based on 65-year-old memories. I may have some facts wrong, but I simply don’t know.
Then, robyer2000 wrote:
Thank you for your post. It is fascinating to me to hear your memories.
They in fact used 8 car trains, but due to the door control issues you mentioned, the furthest front and back doors were not used so an 8 car train could berth at a platform which would be a 6 car platform today.
I believe that trains of all 4000 series car only needed what they called a “gateman” every other car because the far doors of a car could be separately controlled at the opposite end of the car. One of the gateman was the conductor, I’m not sure where he stood in a long train. Logically, he would have been at the rear as he had to ascertain the train was properly berthed before opening the doors, but he may have been near the middle if at that time they already had lines drawn on the platform edge to assist the conductor.
Train door control wasn’t instituted until 1952-1954.
Your alternative 2 doesn’t sound possible because of the necessity of moving the train to the Southbound platform at Howard.
And then, M. E. wrote:
Some things I thought of after sending my last note:
Exit doors on 4000-series steel cars were at the ends of the cars. So at any coupled cars, there were exit doors at the rear of the first car and exit doors at the front of the second car. The conductor assigned to that location stood outside, over the coupling, and operated controls for the exit doors immediately to either side of him. The conductor could see the unloading and loading activity at each of the two exit doors, so he knew when all that activity was finished. He then rang the bell twice to indicate that his station was clear. As anyone can imagine, during winter the conductor had a very cold job.
The rearmost conductor was the first to ring the bells twice, then the second rearmost conductor, and so on to the frontmost conductor, who was stationed between cars one and two.
Because there was no conductor at the rear of the train, nor one at the front, passengers could not use the exit doors at the very rear and the very front. At the front, the motorman’s cabin occupied the right-side exit door area. And the motorman did not operate the left-side front exit door.
There was no public address system on those cars. Each conductor had to enter each of the two cars at his station to announce the next stop.
At that time it was permissible to walk between cars. Every car had doors at the ends of the cars that passengers could open to change cars. For safety, over the coupling area there were extended metal plates to walk on, and there were chains at each side of the walkway. (In effect, cars were connected not only with couplers but with chains too.) There were three chains vertically on each side of the walkway, from about knee height up to below chest height.
Unlike in the 6000-series cars, there was no railfan seat at the front opposite the motorman. As I recall, in 4000-series cars the seats closest to the exit doors were side-facing, and there was a solid partition between the seats and the exit door area. The only way to watch the track ahead was to stand at the front, next to the motorman’s cabin, and look through the glass in the end-facing door. Yes, there was a front-facing window in the exit door area, but that window was blocked by the route sign on the front of the train. The sign itself was wooden and was hung onto grillwork that spanned the window.
Earlier I mentioned another cold winter job: Coupling and uncoupling Normal Park cars to the rear of Englewood trains. Not only was it cold, it was also dangerous, because it was close to third rails. I cannot imagine the Environmental Protection Agency ever permitting such work today.
What became of the Normal Park car’s motorman and conductor? After a northbound run from 69th to the Englewood line west of Harvard, the Normal Park motorman likely detrained at Harvard, walked downstairs, across to the other side, and up to the south platform. Then he waited for the next southbound Englewood train, boarded it, and took his position in the last car, the one destined for Normal Park. Meanwhile, the northbound Normal Park conductor would have to stay with the Englewood train to be assigned to the newly coupled cars. In the southbound direction, the conductor assigned between the rearmost two cars on Englewood trains would therefore go to Normal Park after the uncoupling.
CSL Work Car Info
Following up on our earlier series about Chicago Surface Lines Work Cars (Part One here, Part Two there), Andre Kristopans writes:
I am sending you eight scans for your viewing (and distributing) pleasure. Four hand-written ones were copied from Jim Buckley’s notes in Roy Benedict’s possession by me years ago. The two lists of trailers were made from CTA records.You notice it goes back to 1914, and includes cars never r# by CSL.
Here is some more stuff:
Salt Cars AA1 17266 12/27/55 ex 1430 AA2 17266 12/27/55 ex 1431 AA3 13266 08/02/51 ex 1433 AA4 13266 10/26/51 ex 1435 AA5 13266 07/03/51 ex 1437 AA6 13266 12/17/51 ex 1440 AA7 17266 09/08/55 ex 1441 AA8 19141 05/17/58 ex 1443 AA9 18181 09/27/56 ex 1444 AA10 16283 02/18/55 ex 1445 AA11 13266 10/26/51 ex 1446 AA12 16283 09/09/54 ex 1447 AA13 16283 09/09/54 ex 1448 AA14 16283 10/07/54 ex 1459 AA15 13266 01/07/52 ex 1462 AA16 13266 01/25/52 ex 1474 AA17 13266 10/30/51 ex 1475 AA18 13266 11/06/51 ex 1482 AA19 13266 01/07/52 ex 1483 AA20 16283 10/07/54 ex 1488 AA21 16283 05/26/55 ex 1492 AA22 13266 08/02/51 ex 1493 AA23 16283 09/09/54 ex 1496 AA24 16283 09/09/54 ex 1501 AA25 17266 09/08/55 ex 1502 AA26 19141 05/17/58 ex 1107 AA27 19141 05/17/58 ex 1142 AA28 18181 12/14/56 ex 1145 AA29 18181 12/14/56 ex 1166 AA30 17266 12/27/55 ex 1183 AA31 17266 09/08/55 ex 1198 AA32 18181 12/14/56 ex 1205 AA33 17266 12/27/55 ex 1213 AA34 16283 10/07/54 ex 1215 AA35 12603 02/09/51 ex 1219 AA36 19141 05/17/58 ex 1220 AA37 19141 05/17/58 ex 1224 AA38 18181 09/27/56 ex 1231 AA39 16283 09/23/54 ex 1235 AA40 13266 08/10/51 ex 1239 AA41 13266 11/06/51 ex 1240 AA42 13266 11/21/51 ex 1241 AA43 16283 10/07/54 ex 1243 AA44 13266 10/05/51 ex 1248 AA45 12391 08/24/50 ex 1249 AA46 17266 12/27/55 ex 1250 AA47 13266 10/26/51 ex 1252 AA48 13266 07/20/51 ex 1255 AA49 14175 05/27/52 ex 1259 AA50 17266 12/27/55 ex 1260 AA51 17266 12/27/55 ex 1266 AA52 17266 09/08/55 ex 1277 AA53 19141 05/17/58 ex 1302 AA54 18181 12/14/56 ex 1303 AA55 16283 11/10/54 ex 1304 AA56 17266 12/27/55 ex 1305 AA57 18181 12/14/56 ex 1306 AA58 18181 09/27/56 ex 1307 AA59 18181 09/27/56 ex 1308 AA60 17266 12/27/55 ex 1309 AA61 18181 09/27/56 ex 1310 AA62 18181 09/27/56 ex 1311 AA63 10218 03/11/59 ex 1374 to ERHS AA64 16283 11/10/54 ex 1451 AA65 15451 04/05/54 ex 1453 AA66 19141 05/17/58 ex 1454 AA67 13266 08/17/51 ex 1455 AA68 13266 12/17/51 ex 1457 AA69 18181 12/14/56 ex 1458 AA70 15451 07/17/54 ex 1463 AA71 13266 08/02/51 ex 1465 AA72 19209 02/28/58 ex 1467 to ERHS AA73 16283 09/27/56 ex 1468 AA74 16283 11/10/54 ex 1471 AA75 18181 09/27/56 ex 1472 AA76 19141 05/17/58 ex 1477 AA77 18181 09/27/56 ex 1478 AA78 17266 12/27/55 ex 1480 AA79 15451 04/05/54 ex 1481 AA80 16283 09/09/51 ex 1484 AA81 18181 12/14/56 ex 1487 AA82 13266 07/20/51 ex 1489 AA83 16283 10/07/54 ex 1494 AA84 15451 02/17/54 ex 1495 AA85 18181 09/27/56 ex 1497 AA86 18181 12/14/56 ex 1498 AA87 13266 01/25/52 ex 1499 AA88 13266 07/03/51 ex 1500 AA89 16283 09/09/54 ex 1503 AA90 18181 09/27/56 ex 1504 AA91 17266 09/08/55 ex 1545 /48 10143 AA92 17266 12/27/55 ex 2826 AA93 19141 05/17/58 ex 2841 AA94 13266 08/17/51 ex 2842 AA95 10218 06/18/59 ex 2843 to ERHS AA96 17266 12/27/55 ex 2844 AA97 19141 05/17/58 ex 2845 AA98 10218 12/05/58 ex 2846 to ERHS AA99 none 08/20/48 ex 2847 (replaced with another retired car from AFR 10412) AA99 2nd 18181 06/06/56 ex 5031 AA100 13266 07/03/51 ex 2848 AA101 18181 12/14/56 ex 2849 AA102 13266 08/10/51 ex 2851 AA103 15451 02/17/54 ex 2852 AA104 18181 12/14/56 ex 2853 AA105 15451 02/17/54 ex 2854 AA106 13266 10/11/51 ex 2855 AA107 13266 01/25/52 ex 2856 1466 13059 03/09/51 2626 13059 /51 4001 T12 /53 to shed; from Pass 1948 S10143 7001 T12 /53 to shed; from Pass 1948 S10143
AA1-AA52 to salt cars 1930-31, AA53-AA62 01/34, AA6306/33; AA1-AA25 r# 10/1/41, AA26-AA90 r# 04/15/48
additional salt car conversions: 1122 scr 04/23/37 1188 scr 04/30/37 1201 return to passenger 3/6/43 1208 return to passenger 3/4/43 1211 destroyed 1/30/39 111th/Sacramento vs GTW, scr 3/8/39 1212 return to passenger 2/20/43 1223 return to passenger 4/11/43 1225 return to passenger 3/4/43 1226 r# 1357 1937, return to passenger 5/15/43 1228 return to passenger 5/29/43 1229 return to passenger 3/27/43 1234 return to passenger 3/5/43 1238 return to passenger 5/15/43 1244 return to passenger 3/12/43 1245 return to passenger 3/8/43 1251 return to passenger 5/9/43 1253 r# 1257 1937, return to passenger 5/11/43 1254 return to passenger 6/11/43 1257 r# 1253 1937, r# 1385 1937, return to passenger 3/11/43 1280 return to passenger 1/13/44 1286 return to passenger 7/3/43 1466 to instruction car 1/13/13 1486 to instruction car 9/30/12, sold 11/12/17 to Tri-City Ry (IA)
Interestingly, Andre’s information shows that CSL Mail Car H2, pictured as being operable and in its original paint scheme in 1938 (see our post Chicago Surface Lines Work Cars – Part 1), was apparently scrapped in 1942. This explains why H2 was not used in the 1943 parade celebrating the opening of the State Street Subway, or in the one day revival of street railway post office service for a convention in 1946.
Andre also wrote:
You have mentioned several times the B&OCT line that runs along the Eisenhower Xway. A couple of items of note: 1) The B&OCT ownership extends to Madison St, where SOO ownership started. CGW’s started at Desplaines Ave Jct. 2) Note I said B&OCT – this is still the legal owner of all CSX track north and west of Clark Jct in Gary. In fact, B&O still has its own employees, train service and others, and in a really odd twist, is the legal owner of a substantial number of CSX’s new GE locomotives!
Finally, for a while in the late 1950’s, B&OCT used the old L tracks from Desplaines to west of Central while their right-of-way was being dug out. Considering that this was light rail to begin with, and well worn at that, it must have been somewhat frightening to run a freight train thru there!
Very interesting information. Wasn’t there some steam train type commuter rail service out to Forest Park along these lines?
I still wonder just why CTA paid the CA&E $1m for their fixed assets between Laramie and DesPlaines Avenue in 1953.
They didn’t buy the land, which I think was bought by the state for the highway project. They didn’t buy the Forest Park terminal, either. CA&E still had at least a partial ownership in this when passenger service was suspended in 1957 (I think Cook County had bought some for the highway project).
So, what did CTA buy other than some worn rail, signals, roadbed, stations, etc. that were all going to be replaced within a few years anyway?
Basically they bought the right to continue running to Desplaines after the line was rebuilt. Otherwise, if CA&E still owned it, the state would have been dealing with CA&E, and if CA&E just said “screw it”, the Congress L would have ended at Laramie. Remember, we are dealing with accounting stuff here. What was there then wasn’t worth much, though the ROW was probably CA&E owned, which CTA then bought and sold/traded to the state for where the L is today.
Back in the days of the “primordial ooze” there was service on the B&OCT out to Forest Park. This was part of the Randolph St business and the line out 16th St to Harlem. But it was all gone by early 1900’s, especially after the Met L was built.
SOO did run a more-or-less commuter round trip for many years, actually a local from I think Waukesha that ran at the right time.
We thank all our contributors. Keep those cards and letters coming in.