North Shore Line cars 155, 190, and 154 are stopped by the historic Kenilworth fountain on July 24, 1955. The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip just prior to the abandonment of the Shore Line Route. A similar picture, taken by Ray DeGroote, is in my book The North Shore Line.
While this is our first new post in nearly three months, we have been hard at work this entire time. Since January 21st we took delivery on our new book The North Shore Line (see below), and shipped out over 200 copies to our purchasers and contributors. The book has been very well received by our readers.
We also gave a presentation on March 8th at the Schaumburg Township Public Library for our 2021 book Chicago’s Lost “L”s. This was a “hybrid” (in-person and on Zoom) program, but it was not recorded.
FYI, I will be giving a presentation on Monday, April 17th at the Libertyville Historical Society for my new book The North Shore Line. This is a “hybrid” program (both in person and on Zoom). More information here.
Three days later, on April 20th, I have another presentation scheduled (in Lake Forest) at the History Center Lake Forest-Lake Bluff. This one is in-person only. More information here.
Meanwhile, we have already begun doing research on our next book, which will be about the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban. This is a process that we expect will take the rest of this year. More than $2500 has been spent collecting materials for possible use.
Research does take both time and money, and the expenses are ongoing. If you support our efforts, we hope that you will consider making a donation. There are links to do just that in this post. Any and all contributions are very much appreciated, and we are very thankful for all the help we get from our readers. We can’t do it without you.
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.
FYI, the Hoosier Traction Facebook Group celebrates electric transit in Indiana and the Midwest. It also supports the activities of the annual Hoosier Traction Meet (although not affiliated with the North American Transit Historical Society, which organizes that event).
The Lake Street “L” in Transition
We recently scanned several original slides taken by the late William C. Hoffman, documenting the transition made by the Lake Street “L”. For more than 60 years, the line ran at ground level west of Laramie Avenue (5200 West). On October 28, 1962, it switched to a new alignment on the adjacent Chicago and North Western embankment, where it has remained for more than 60 years.
We previously ran some other pictures showing this transition in our post Elevation (December 5, 2022).
This September 1959 view looks west along South Boulevard in Oak Park, and shows the Marion Street station on the Lake Street “L”, when it still ran at ground level west of Laramie Avenue. The “L” was relocated to the adjacent Chicago and North Western embankment in October 1962, and the buildings to the left are gone. The side street (Maple Avenue) shown in the picture has been truncated, and a large high-rise residential building occupies this space now.
The same location today.
William C. Hoffman took this picture from the back end of an “L” train on June 28, 1962 just west of the Laramie station. This offers a good view of the construction work underway at left, preparing the new embankment line which opened on October 28th. He referred to this as the “Laramie Avenue interchange.”
Here, we are looking east toward the Laramie Avenue station on the Lake Street “L” on June 28, 1962. According to photographer William C. Hoffman, the westbound track to the new embankment alignment was tied in on this date, and the first cars ran there.
A CTA diesel crane and work gondola are on the new connecting track leading to the Chicago and North Western embankment on August 22, 1962. At this time, there was a connection between the “L” and the new alignment via the westbound track, but not the eastbound one. For a time, it was necessary to have connections leading to both the ground-level trackage as well as the embankment, until service was switched over on October 28th. I am not sure when the new connection was made with the eastbound track. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This photo by the late William C. Hoffman was taken on October 28, 1962 at the Central Avenue station on the Lake Street “L”, and shows how the transition was made from the ground level operation to the new alignment on the C&NW embankment. Unlike the situation in 1958, when the new Congress rapid transit line and the old Garfield Park “L” both ran on the same day, that was not possible here, due to the tight clearances at the station entrances. The new entrances could not be finished until the old line was torn out. So on October 28, 1962, which was a Sunday, the ceremonies dedicating the new 2.5 mile “L” realignment were held in the morning, and then, until 6 pm, trains only ran as far as Laramie Avenue, where the steel “L” structure ended. While workers put wooden platforms over the old tracks, riders west of Laramie had to take shuttle buses on Lake Street, as the signs here indicate. Passengers still had to enter via the old station entrances for a time.
A 6-car eastbound Lake Street “L” test train is on the new embankment on October 28, 1962, shortly before the new service began at 6 pm. Although the photographer did not indicate which station this was, I believe it is Ridgeland Avenue in Oak Park. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking east along the new Lake Street “L” embankment alignment at Marion Street on October 28, 1962, shortly before service began. A work train heads east. Photographer William C. Hoffman accessed this area via the Chicago and North Western Oak Park commuter train station, as the “L” station wasn’t yet open until 6 pm.
A 6-car train of CTA 4000-series “L” cars is heading eastbound near Ridgeland Avenue on the new embankment trackage on October 28, 1962, as the ground-level operation has finally been replaced. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A westbound train of 4000s is on the new Lake Street “L” embankment alignment on November 11, 1962. A track welder’s car is on the eastbound track. The photographer notes, “Bub Lindgren on “L” train.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking east along the old ground-level Lake Street “L” right-of-way at Menard Avenue on November 11, 1962. An eastbound two-car “L” train is on the new alignment on the embankment. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A 4000-series “L” train is stopped at the Harlem and Lake station on November 11, 1962. Note how there are some transparent portions of the station canopy, to let more light in. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking west/northwest at Lake and Central on November 11, 1962. Riders still entered the station via a temporary connection to the old ground-level station. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A westbound Lake Street “L” train has just left the Laramie Avenue station on November 11, 1962. This photo gives a good view of how the tracks were shifted over to connect with the nearby embankment. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking east/northeast along Lake Street (now Corcoran Place) at Austin Boulevard on August 12, 1963. The new station entrance has been finished. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view east along Mansfield Avenue at Lake Street on August 12, 1963. The old ground level tracks and ties have been removed, while a two-car train of 4000s is on the new embankment alignment. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view east at Lake and Parkside, showing the auxiliary entrance to the new Central Avenue “L” station on August 12, 1963. By now, the old ground-level tracks have been removed, except at street crossings. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An eastbound two-car Lake Street “L” train heads east on November 24, 1963, after having left the terminal at Harlem Avenue. South Boulevard has been resurfaced, and parking spaces (with meters) added where the tracks used to be. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A southbound Western Avenue PCC car prepares to cross the Garfield Park “L” temporary trackage on September 24, 1953. The view looks west. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Several Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban cars are visible at the entrance to the Wells Street “L” Terminal on April 6, 1953. The substation under the “L” is still there today and powers the Loop “L”. This was the very first color slide my friend Ray DeGroote took (with an Argus C3 camera) on April 6, 1953. He was standing on the platform of the old Franklin Street “L” station.
This is how the northwest corner of 21st Street and 3rd Avenue looked in Manhattan on August 5, 1937. The Third Avenue El was abandoned in 1955 without replacement subway service. In the 68 years since, only a small portion of the Second Avenue Subway has been built.
Photographer Arthur H. Peterson captured this image of a southbound Evanston Express “L” train, including car 4409, near the Berwyn Avenue station on November 25, 1973. The 4000s were ending their more than 50 years of passenger service on the “L”. Miles Beitler writes: “There is a third rail in photo aae109a, so why would the trolley pole be raised? The only reason I can think of is that it’s a fantrip, and the train might be on the gauntlet track (to access Buena Yard), but that is not apparent in the photo. Also, 4000s in Evanston Express service were usually at least four cars long.” November 25, 1973 was a Sunday, and since the Evanston Express only runs on weekdays (then and now), this must be a fantrip. But there were two-car Evanston Express trains in mid-day service, when the EE ran until almost noon (which it no longer does). I rode on one myself. As for the overhead wire, they may have simply preferred operating the fantrip train using the overhead, as it was about to be eliminated in Evanston, and would no longer be needed south of Howard (as the last CTA freight train had operated several months prior). It’s not entirely clear to me exactly when there was third rail available on the entire length of track 1, but the overhead was officially taken out of service in 1975. This left the Skokie Swift as the only CTA that continued to use any overhead wire, and even that was eliminated in the early 2000s.
Although partially double exposed, this rare image shows Hammond Whiting and East Chicago car 79 in service and in color. These streetcars were nearly identical to the Chicago Pullmans. Chicago Surface Lines streetcars shared trackage with these cars, which also went into Chicago as far as 63rd Street until 1940. That is the latest date when this Kodachrome slide could have been taken. Andre Kristopans: “Calumet 79 is NB on Ewing at 95th.”
Chicago Aurora and Elgin cars 455 ad 460 are looping at the DesPlaines Avenue Terminal in Forest Park on July 23, 1955. This view looks east.
Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed car 58 is at Eaton on October 20, 1940 on a fantrip.
Indiana Railroad car 50 is in Fort Wayne on April 16, 1939.
Indiana Railroad car 71 is in New Castle. (Charles Able Photo)
Milwaukee Electric interurban car 1116, a West Junction car, is southbound on 6th Street in Milwaukee on October 10, 1948, passing by the North Shore Line Terminal.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin cars 413 and 453 are looping at the DesPlaines Avenue Terminal, sometime between 1953 and 1957. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
An Electroliner leaves the North Shore Line’s Edison Court station in Waukegan, probably in the late 1950s. (A. C. Kalmbach Photo)
Here is how the abandoned Chicago Aurora and Elgin Terminal looked like in Aurora in March 1974, fifteen years after the interurban was abandoned. It has since been removed.
North Shore Line line car 606 is at Orchard and 5th in Milwaukee on October 20, 1951.
The Metropolitan West Side Elevated’s Logan Square Terminal, as it appeared in the early 1900s. This station was open from 1895 until 1970, when it was replaced by a subway station. From a C. R. Childs real photo postcard.
Capital Transit (Washington D.C.) ordered 25 pre-PCC cars in 1935. Here is how cars 1002, 1010, 1006, 1009, and 1004 looked on May 13, 1958. By then, they were presumably in dead storage. Only car 1053 from this series was still in service by the time buses replaced streetcars in 1962. This image was shot on type 828 film, with an image size slightly larger than 35mm.
The view looking east from Narragansett Avenue along 63rd Place on May 19, 1953. This was around the time that buses replaced streetcars on the CTA 63rd Street route, which ran here. The buses ran on 63rd Street west of Central Avenue. 63rd Place became a street after streetcars were abandoned, and there is now a fully developed residential neighborhood (known as Clearing) here. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
CTA streetcar 6209 crosses the Nickel Plate railroad at 94th and Dorchester on July 2, 1949, operating on the 93-95 line. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Our resident South Side expert M.E. writes: “Your caption says the streetcar is crossing the Nickel Plate railroad. I had always thought these railroad tracks belonged to the Chicago and Western Indiana, which was basically a commuter line to towns near the Illinois / Indiana border. Fortunately I have a copy of the 1975 issue of “Train Watchers Guide to Chicago”, by John Szwajkart. That book came with a terrific map of Chicago-area railroads and their owners. Right near the junction in your picture, the map lists the track thus: “C&WI (NKP)”. So the C&WI owned it and the NKP used it. Also: Note in the picture there are two crewmen. Before the streetcar could cross the railroad track, the conductor had to get off the streetcar, walk to the railroad track, look both ways, and only then signal the streetcar to proceed across the tracks. So the motorman picked up the conductor right next to the track, and the conductor kept the motorman company for this short segment. Several streetcar lines that ran east/west on the far south side required two crewmen because those streetcars crossed railroad tracks at grade. Also: Note all the arms in the side windows. This route was busy because the eastern terminal was near the big steel mills in South Chicago. All those arms tell me it was time for a shift change.”
The view looking east along 63rd Street from Prairie Avenue on June 18, 1953. This is where the Jackson Park branch of the “L” turned east. The tracks at right ramped down to ground level and the 63rd Street Lower Yard. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Northbound CTA pre-war PCC streetcar 4015 crosses the Garfield Park “L” temporary tracks at Western And Van Buren on August 4, 1955. Streetcars last ran on Western Avenue in June 1956. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Photographer William C. Hoffman described this as a segment of old Chicago Surface Lines track in Exchange Avenue and Indianapolis Boulevard in East Chicago, Indiana on May 30, 1956. Streetcars last ran here in 1940. Andre Kristopans: “Indianapolis & Exchange “y” was (at the) south end of Whiting line.”
The late William C. Hoffman took pictures that no one else bothered to take. Here, he captured a danger sign at the northwest corner of Madison and Dearborn on June 6, 1954, warning motorists not to park where their cars would not clear turning Madison and Milwaukee streetcars.
On November 11, 1956, CTA red Pullman car 225 is in 81st Street at Emerald Avenue, on an Illini Railroad Club fantrip. This car was soon purchased by the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine, where it remains today in much the same condition as when it last ran in Chicago. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
CTA “L” cars 4375 and 4376 are in the State Street Subway at Jackson Boulevard on an October 26, 1969 fantrip. (Ray DeGroote Photo)
One of the original CTA entrances to the Dearborn Street Subway at Quincy on May 28, 1961. I assume the building at left is the old post office. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Chris Cole writes: “The Dearborn Subway entrance was on the west side of Dearborn between Adams and Jackson. The building on the left is the old federal courthouse. The Fair Store was at the NE Corner of Adams and Dearborn. They were later replaced by Montgomery Wards who re-skinned the building to make it look “modern”.”
This appears to be Post Street in San Francisco, circa 1915. Taken from a real photo postcard.
A southbound Lake-Dan Ryan “L” train negotiate the curve at Wabash and Harrison in November 1969. The new Dan Ryan line had only recently opened in September, and was joined up with the Lake Street “L”. It was eventually linked with the Howard line, which was a better match for ridership than Lake. The view looks north.
The new Kimball Subway opened on February 1, 1970, as an extension of the Logan Square “L”, and connected to tracks in the Kennedy Expressway median. This picture was taken at the Logan Square station on January 29, one day prior to the dedication ceremony.
West Penn Railways car 739 is on a fantrip at an unknown time. Interestingly, the car survives. After being used as a residence, after retirement in 1952, it ended up at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, where it is being restored. Larry Lovejoy adds: “The photo of West Penn Railways 739 is northbound at Mt. Pleasant, on Center Avenue, just about to cross West Main Street, the latter which is now Pennsylvania Route 31 but back then had a different highway number. The date is August 10, 1952 and this is an “after the last day” fantrip charter by the Pittsburgh Electric Railway Club. PERC was the direct corporate predecessor of Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. The car behind 739 is the 733. Sorry I can’t identify any of the recognizable faces.”
Milwaukee and Suburban Transport car 943 received a unique paint job as a “safety car,” and is shown on February 20, 1955 at the National Avenue station. Ironically, this car was later damaged in an accident.
North Shore Line loco 459 is northbound at Edison Court in Waukegan in May 1962. Also visible are a late 1950s Plymouth (left) and two Chevys. (E. R. Burke Photo) Fred Hilgenberg adds, “For dating verification purposes (and the photo caption appears accurate), the license plates on the cars are white lettering on red. Illinois used that scheme starting in 1961 (and I think 1962) as a nod to North Central College. It was changed to John Deere colors in 1963. The Plymouth appears to be a 1959 (possibly 1958). The two-tone Chevy is a 1956 Bel Air, the other Chevy is a 1961 Impala.”
North Shore Line Silverliner 776 was the final conventional coach ordered by the interurban in 1930. Merchandise Despatch car 232 is at right in this November 19, 1960 view at the Harrison Street Shops.
This picture, taken on January 2, 1961, gives an excellent overview of the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal. The view looks south.
North Shore Line combine 250 has just left the Milwaukee Terminal in June 1962.
CTA “L” car number 1 in May 1963. Don’s rail Photos: “1 was built by Jackson & Sharpe in 1892 as South Side Rapid Transit Co 1 as a steam trailer. It was rebuilt as a MU motor car in 1898. It became Chicago Elevated Railway 1 in 1913 and became CRT 1 in 1924. It was preserved by CTA in 1947 and donated to Chicago History Museum in 2005.”
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company double-ended car 13 has just left the 69th Street Terminal and is signed for Westchester in this early 1950s view. The long Westchester line was replaced by buses in June 1954.
Three old Metropolitan “L” cars are at Indiana Avenue on September 2, 1955, and appear to be operating on the Stock Yards branch. Our resident South Side expert M.E. notes: “This time your caption is absolutely correct — this is the Stock Yards line’s terminal at Indiana Ave. on the southernmost platform. The other side of the platform was for southbound mainline trains to Jackson Park and Englewood.”
This picture was taken on a North Shore Line fantrip using the Electroliner, but the time and place are not evident. Nick Jenkins: “Photo of Electroliner (aae053) is on the interchange track with the Milwaukee Road at Racine.”
North Shore Line car 719 is part of a westbound two-car train on the Mundelein branch in November 1962. The Perpetual Adoration stop was an obvious fan favorite, as it expressed their thoughts about the legendary interurban.
North Shore Line caboose 1003 is part of a freight train at an unknown location.
North Shore Line caboose 1003 is at the back end of a freight train on the Skokie Valley Route in June 1962.
A two-car train of North Shore Line Silverliners is in North Chicago in January 1963.
Although there was never a chance that Chicago would be subjected to a Blitz during World War II, part of our war preparedness involved a practice blackout on August 12, 1942. Both “L” and interurban service was suspended for 30 minutes.
This rare poster (framed) recently sold for $338.34 on eBay. This was the CTA’s attempt to help riders get around after the North Shore Line abandonment. But there wasn’t much they really could do, since the NSL served many communities far beyond the reach of the CTA. In 1963, the CTA served Skokie with the #97 bus, but starting in April 1964, offered “L” service to Dempster Street via the new Skokie Swift (on the former NSL right-of-way).
This is the North Shore Line on February 6, 1949, and the photographer was Charles A. Brown. The Briergate station was built in 1926 on the new Skokie Valley Route, in a style generally referred to as “Insull Spanish.” There were nine such stations on the SVR and Briergate is the only one that still exists. There is a more recent picture of it in my new book The North Shore Line. Briergate station is in west Highland Park, IL and the car number is 157. (Courtesy of Larry Miller III)
North Shore Line electric loco 459 is an eastbound freight in Kenosha, Wisconsin on June 29, 1962.
The North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal as it appeared on June 29, 1962.
North Shore Line wooden coach 302. Don’s Rail Photos: “300 thru 302 were built by Jewett in 1909 as mainline coaches. As the steel cars arrived, they were downgraded to local and school tripper service. In 1936 they became sleet cutters. In 1939 300 was turned over to the Central Electric Railfans Association as a private car. The ownership remained with the CNS&M, but the maintenance was taken over by CERA. During the war, with many members in service, CERA relinquished control, and the car was scrapped in 1947. 301 and 302 were retired in 1939 and scrapped in 1940.”
North Shore Line wooden coach 140. Don’s Rail Photos: “138 thru 141 were built by American Car in 1910. They were rebuilt for Elevated compatibility in 1919. They were also leased to the CA&E in 1936, returned to the CNS&M in 1945, and sold to the CA&E in 1946.”
North Shore Line wooden coach 303. Don’s Rail Photos: “303 thru 305 were built by American Car in 1910 and were almost identical. In 1939 they became sleet cutters and were retired and scrapped in 1940.”
North Shore Line car 162. Don’s Rail Photos: “162 was built by Brill in 1915, (job) #19605. It was acquired by American Museum of Electricity in 1963 and resold to Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1971.” Car 162 is now at the East Troy Railroad Museum, where it is undergoing restoration. It is now the oldest surviving car in the fleet.
North Shore Line car 748 is part of a two-car train heading northbound at Adams and Wabash on September 4, 1961. The view looks south, and you can see CTA Tower 12 in the distance.
A North Shore Line Electroliner is at the Adams and Wabash station on the Loop “L” on September 4, 1961. The interurban had a station here that was connected directly to the “L”.
Here is North Shore Line Merchandise Despatch car 228 as it appeared on Sunday afternoon, August 9, 1953, at the Highwood Shops. It is now undergoing restoration at the East Troy Railroad Museum in Wisconsin. (Bob Selle Photo on Ansco 616 film)
North Shore Line car 730 at Edison Court in Waukegan. This must be right before the end, as this Kodachrome slide (by Walter Schopp) wasn’t processed until March 1963, two months after the abandonment. Looks like someone has already swiped the destination sign.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
The North Shore Line
Publication Date: February 20, 2023
FYI, my new Arcadia Publishing book The North Shore Line is now available. My publisher decided to expand it to 160 pages, instead of the usual 128. That’s a 25% increase, without any change to the $23.99 price. I am quite pleased with how this turned out.
From the back cover:
As late as 1963, it was possible to board high-speed electric trains on Chicago’s famous Loop “L” that ran 90 miles north to Milwaukee. This was the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad, commonly known as the North Shore Line. It rose from humble origins in the 1890s as a local streetcar line in Waukegan to eventually become America’s fastest interurban under the visionary management of Midwest utilities tycoon Samuel Insull. The North Shore Line, under Insull, became a worthy competitor to the established steam railroads. Hobbled by the Great Depression, the road fought back in 1941 with two streamlined, air-conditioned, articulated trains called Electroliners, which included dining service. It regained its popularity during World War II, when gasoline and tires were rationed, but eventually, it fell victim to highways and the automobile. The North Shore Line had intercity rail, commuter rail, electric freight, city streetcars, and even buses. It has been gone for nearly 60 years, but it will always remain the Road of Service.
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus North Shore Line map. Books will ship by USPS Media Mail.
Chapters: 01. Beginnings 02. The Milwaukee Division 03. The Shore Line Route 04. The Skokie Valley Route 05. The Mundelein Branch 06. On the “L” 07. City Streetcars 08. Trolley Freight 09. The Long Goodbye 10. The Legacy
Title The North Shore Line
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2023
ISBN 1467108960, 978-1467108966
Length 160 pages
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
New Compact Disc, Now Available:
The Last Chicago Streetcars 1958
# of Discs – 1
Until now, it seemed as though audio recordings of Chicago streetcars were practically non-existent. For whatever reason, the late William A. Steventon does not appear to have made any for his Railroad Record Club, even though he did make other recordings in the Chicago area in 1956.
Now, audio recordings of the last runs of Chicago streetcars have been found, in the collections of the late Jeffrey L. Wien (who was one of the riders on that last car). We do not know who made these recordings, but this must have been done using a portable reel-to-reel machine.
These important recordings will finally fill a gap in transit history. The last Chicago Transit Authority streetcar finished its run in the early hours of June 21, 1958. Now you can experience these events just as Chicagoans did.
As a bonus, we have included Keeping Pace, a 1939 Chicago Surface Lines employee training program. This was digitally transferred from an original 16” transcription disc. These recordings were unheard for 80 years.
Total time – 74:38
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An early (turn of the century) view of passengers boarding an Illinois Central Suburban train before the line was converted from steam to electric in 1926. I am not certain of the location, but it may be in Hyde Park.
Today, we are ringing in 2023 with a bevy of classic traction images from many far-flung places for your enjoyment.
Later this month, the Trolley Dodger blog will begin its ninth year. This year, we expect to make our 300th post, and will reach one million page views. When we began this journey, these things hardly seemed possible, but here we are, in large part thanks to you, our readers.
January is traditionally the month when we ask our readers for donations to keep this site going. If you enjoy what you see here, we hope you will consider making a contribution via the link at the end of this post. The expenses we incur, in order to bring you the finest and most interesting traction pictures, are considerable and ongoing. Our research costs a lot, but you see the results here and in our four Arcadia Publishing books, which we hope make a modest contribution to society. If you have contributed to our efforts, we are most appreciative, and if you have not, we hope you will consider it.
We are pleased to report that our latest book The North Shore Line is now 100% complete and has gone to press. The publication date is February 20, 2023, and we are now taking pre-orders. You will find more information about that at the end of this post (and our Online Store). To date, we have received orders for 102 copies.
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.
FYI, the Hoosier Traction Facebook Group celebrates electric transit in Indiana and the Midwest. It also supports the activities of the annual Hoosier Traction Meet in Dayton, OH (although not affiliated with the North American Transit Historical Society, which organizes that event).
Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed car 71 is at the Indianapolis Terminal on August 11, 1940.
Indiana Railroad high-speed car 58 (described as a “parlor car”) is at the Indianapolis Terminal yards on August 11, 1940.
Philadelphia streetcar 8026 is at Church Road in Glenside, PA on February 22, 1941, operating on Route 6.
CTA/CSL 7001 and 4001 at South Shops, circa 1958. This was scanned from a red border Kodachrome slide, and by early 1958, those mounts were replaced by more modern ones. In the last days of Chicago streetcars, there were some PCCs in dead storage due to accidents or mechanical issues. The red car at right is a trailer in the 8000-series. The body of 4001 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum, but 7001 was scrapped in 1959.
North shore Line 721 is at the back end of a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip that is making a photo stop at the Zion station.
North Shore Line freight loco 451. Don’s Rail Photos notes, “451 was built in 1907 by Alco, #44387, and General Electric, #2697. It was retired in February 1948 and sold for scrap in March 1949.”
Ravinia Park was built by the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric, predecessor of the North Shore Line. Here is a view of the original music pavilion.
There was once an A branch on the MBTA Green Line in Boston– the Watertown line, which shared some trackage with the B branch to Boston College. PCC streetcars were replaced by buses on June 20, 1969, and this photo by Robert A. Newbegin was taken that same month. Various reasons have been cited for the change, including an equipment shortage. But this view in the Newton Corner neighborhood shows another issue– the inbound PCC, shown crossing over a highway, is going against the flow of one way traffic. Still, this trackage remained in place until 1994, for non-revenue streetcar access to Watertown Yard.
Kansas City Public Service PCC 535 on the Dodson line. The type of slide mount for this red border Kodachrome dates it to circa 1955-57. Car 535 was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1947, and Kansas City abandoned streetcars in 1957. They have since opened modern streetcar lines.
Illinois Terminal car 415 at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago on February 21, 1960.
The view looking west along Van Bure Street under the Loop “L” on July 24, 1957. The “L” went further west from here until 1955, when a new connection was built through the old Wells Street Terminal a short distance north of here. The Insurance Exchange building is at right.
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) car 63 has turned north at Llanerch Junction on May 30, 1964. It was most likely operating on the Ardmore line, which was converted to bus on December 30, 1966. Kenneth Achtert adds, “PSTC #63 is indeed on the Ardmore Division (having just turned off of West Chester Pike) probably on a fantrip, as May 30, 1964, was a Saturday (and Memorial Day weekend).”
SEPTA (Red Arrow) double-ended car 19 at the 69th Street Terminal storage yard on August 9, 1971. It was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1949, and although it looks like a PCC car, it is not considered one, as it has standard motor components.
A North Shore Line Electroliner heads southbound at North Chicago Junction on January 12, 1963, just over a week prior to abandonment.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin freight loco 2002 at Wheaton on August 6, 1939. Scanned from the original negative. (LaMar M. Kelley Photo)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 130 (ex-North shore Line) on April 13, 1943. (Malcolm D. McCarter Photo)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin 600 (ex-Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis) and line car 5, on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip.
This time card for the Batavia branch of the Aurora, Eglin and Chicago (predecessor of the CA&E) dates to 1905, when the interurban began running trains to downtown Chicago over the Metropolitan West side “L”.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin steel cars 412 and 416 are at the DesPlaines Avenue Terminal in Forest Park on July 23, 1955. After CA&E cut back service to here in 1953, riders could make a cross-platform change to ride the CTA Garfield Park “L” downtown, after paying another fare.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin 416 at the DesPlaines Avenue Terminal in Forest Park on July 23, 1955. This is the view from the opposite direction as the last photo. There were two sets of platforms. The CA&E dropped off passengers at one platform, then traveled a short distance to pick others up at the other platform. CTA trains looped via a wooden trestle that went over the CA&E just west of here. This arrangement continued until the CA&E abruptly abandoned passenger service in the middle of the day on July 3, 1957. The CTA reconfigured the terminal and yard area in 1959, in conjunction with construction of the nearby expressway.
Lehigh Valley Transit
During the first half of the 20th century, Lehigh Valley Transit operated an interurban line known as teh Liberty Bell route between Allentown, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. 42 miles of the route were on LVT trackage, with the remaining 13 miles going into Philadelphia via shared trackage on the Philadelphia and Western.
The line ran through a lot of farmland and open areas, with numerous stops in small towns along the way. Several of the station buildings still exist.
The Liberty Bell line is considered one of the classic American interurbans, and had somewhat of a Midwestern character despite being located in Pennsylvania. Like many other interurbans, it fell into a decline due to the Great Depression and the rise of the automobile, but rather than pack it in, LVT decided to modernize in 1938. Several lightweight high speed cars were purchased second hand and helped keep the line going for more than a dozen additional years.
Traffic was good during World War II, but went into an irreversible decline after the war. With new highways siphoning off traffic, the interurban had no future and was abandoned in 1951. Even the replacement bus service did not last.
Here are some classic views of LVT interurbans and city streetcars. Nearly all were scanned from original negatives or slides.
A Lehigh Valley Transit lightweight high-speed car is southbound on the Philadelphia and Western, crossing over Matson Ford Road, approaching Conshohocken Road station in January 1947. (David H. Cope Photo)
A Liberty Bell Limited train leaving Allentown, PA. The interurban ran to Philadelphia until 1949, partially via the Philadelphia and Western. For the last two years, service was cut back to Norristown until the 1951 abandonment.
Some Lehigh Valley Transit freight motors are at the Philadelphia and Western’s Norristown Terminal on a foggy day. The P&W connected with the Liberty Bell interurban route that continued to Allentown until 1951.
LVT 1023 (at left) has just passed another car on the streets of Norristown. The Pennsylvania license plate on the auto would indicate we are in an odd-numbered year (1947, 1949, or 1951). Kenneth Achtert: “#1023 is on Marshall siding with the Reading Railroad Elm Street yard to the right.”
LVT 1030 at the Allentown depot.
LVT 1023 at the Allentown depot.
Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell interurban was abandoned in September 1951, but the company still had various streetcar lines in the Allentown and Bethlehem area that continued. Here, we see LVT 357, operating on a stretch of Gillmore Street line private right of way known as the “Race Track.” This picture was taken on October 26, 1952, the last day of streetcar service on the South Bethlehem Division (and there is a notice of the service change on the telephone pole at right). The last LVT streetcar ran in 1953.
LVT 963 passes a Liberty Bell car at the Allentown depot, while passengers board for the trip to Philadelphia.
An LVT Liberty Bell car is on a passing siding in Norristown, adjacent to a Reading Railroad yard for its electrified commuter rail service to Philadelphia. While the Liberty Bell line is long gone, commuter rail service to Norristown continues under SEPTA. Kenneth Achtert adds, “on Marshall siding NB with (Reading Railroad) Elm Street yard to the right.”
LVT city streetcar 908, signed for Fullerton. Don’s Rail Photos: “908 was built by Brill Car Co in February 1917, #20206. It was rebuilt.”
LVT 917, signed for the South Bethlehem route. Don’s Rail Photos: “917 was built by Brill Car Co in February 1917, #20206. It was rebuilt.”
A southbound LVT Liberty Bell car on 8th Street crosses Walnut Street in Allentown.
LVT Liberty Bell car 1005. Don’s Rail Photos: “1005 was built by Cincinnati Car in June 1930, #3050, as C&LE 123. It was sold to LVT as 1005 in 1938 and scrapped in 1952.”
LVT city streetcar 924. It was built by Brill, around the time 1917-1919.
LVT city streetcar 927, signed for Albright. Don’s Rail Photos: “927 was built by Brill Car Co in February 1919, #20706. It was rebuilt.”
LVT city streetcars 908 (at right), and possibly 413 at left.
LVT city streetcar 908, signed for Albright.
This is an amazing photograph. LVT 1001 is northbound in Norristown, passing the Rambo House Hotel. I assume this was a short distance from where the Liberty Bell met the Philadelphia and Western line. There is a circa 1950-51 Ford parked at right. The car sign just says Express instead of Philadelphia Express, as LVT cut back passenger service to Norristown in 1949. Their fleet of second-hand high speed cars was wearing out, in part due to having to climb hills in Pennsylvania, instead of the flat Midwest prairies they were designed to traverse. The car at left may have a 1951 Pennsylvania license plate, indicating this picture may have been taken shortly before the abandonment of rail service.
This picture was taken at the same location, and same time, as the previous image. We are in Norristown on Swede St. with Airy St. in the background, not far from the point where the LVT Liberty Bell line met the Philadelphia and Western. LVT 1002 is an outbound Allentown Limited. Kenneth Achtert: “#1002 is not yet headed to Allentown, but is backing up on Swede St. about to turn onto Airy St. (note that the front-end pole is up). These single-ended cars would unload at the Norristown Terminal (after through operation was halted) then would back up the 3-4 blocks on Swede and Airy Streets to Rink Loop, back around the loop, then back to the Terminal (now facing north) for the trip to Allentown.”
LVT 1021 is operating as a northbound Allentown Limited. Most of the Liberty Bell route was single tracked, with passing sidings. This is Acorn Siding, located by Normandy Farms in Blue Bell, PA.
The photographer took this picture while riding in a southbound Liberty Bell train on Markley Street in Norristown. Most of this was single track and we are on a passing siding. The northbound car approaching us could be 1021, and the picture probably dates to 1949-51, as the sign on the approaching car does not say Philadelphia. The Reading Company’s Elm Street commuter train station is off to the right.
This LVT Philadelphia Limited car is at Nace Siding, which Wikipedia says was “in open country just north of Souderton and the Souderton carbarn.”
Another picture at Nace Siding. The car is LVT 1008.
This LVT car is signed as a Norristown Local, which dates the picture to circa 1949-51. Not sure of the exact house number location on Airy Street in Norristown, but it has just crossed Cherry Street.
A rear end view of LVT 1030 on Airy Street in Norristown, about to turn onto Swede Street towards the Philadelphia and Western station. As this car originally came from the Indiana Railroad, it was slightly different than the other lightweight high-speed cars, which started out as Cincinnati and Lake Erie “Red Devils.” The IR cars were designed for multiple-unit operation, while the C&LE cars were not. Therefore, car 1030 had a more squared off back end. The C&LE cars were more rounded.
Another shot of LVT 908, signed for Fullerton.
Original Slides For Sale
My friend Jeff Wien passed away nearly two years ago, and I inherited his extensive slide collection, which takes up a lot of space. His interests were very wide-ranging, far more so than mine. One of my resolutions for 2023 is to start going through this collection systematically and decide what to keep, and add to my own collection. Simply leaving all these slides in boxes does not do anyone any good.
It is a fact of life that you can’t keep everything and you can’t take it with you. Since the Trolley Dodger blog has ongoing expenses, and my book projects cost real money, I have decided to sell some of these slides to help defray expenses and de-clutter. Here are the first 30 slides I have listed on eBay. The process of going through these will take several years. I can still post the scanned images to the blog, as I have done below.
Most of the slides below were taken by the late James J. Buckley (1918-1994), who was an excellent photographer.
We continue to purchase prints, slides, and negatives for what we consider our core collection, which we hope will eventually end up at a proper institution that can make good use of it. Those things that do not fit into our core collection can be sold, and the proceeds will help in our overall efforts.
Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad 1974 Original 35mm Kodachrome Slide Subject: CRI&P 652-610-654 and 14 cars on train 5, intercity service to Rock Island, IL Location: Chicago IL Date: May 4, 1974 Photographer: James J. Buckley This is slide EBA030 in our internal filing system. From the Wikipedia: By the time Amtrak was formed in 1971, the once-proud Rock Island was down to just two intercity trains, the Chicago-Peoria Peoria Rocket and the Chicago-Rock Island Quad Cities Rocket, both of which now operated entirely within the borders of Illinois. However, the Rock Island opted against joining Amtrak, in part because the government assessed the Amtrak entrance fee based upon passenger miles operated in 1970. After concluding that the cost of joining would be greater than remaining in the passenger business, the railroad decided to “perform a public service for the state of Illinois” and continue intercity passenger operations. To help manage the service, the Rock Island hired National Association of Railroad Passengers founder Anthony Haswell as managing director of passenger services. The last two trains plied the Rock Island’s Illinois Division as the track quality declined from 1971 through 1977. The transit times, once a speedy 2½ hours in the 1950s, had lengthened to a 4½ hour run by 1975. The State of Illinois continued to subsidize the service to keep it running. The track program of 1978 helped with main-line timekeeping, although the Rock Island’s management decreed that the two trains were not to delay freight traffic on the route. By this time, both once-proud trains were down to just two coaches, powered by EMD E8 locomotives entering their second decade of service. With the trains frequently running with as many paying passengers as coaches in the train, Illinois withdrew its subsidy, and the two trains made their final runs on December 31, 1978. Link to eBay Listing
Santa Teresa Tram Rio de Janeiro Original 1974 35mm Kodachrome Slide Subject: CTCG 6 Location: Carioca (R10) Date: March 17, 1974 Photographer: James J. Buckley Link to eBay Listing
Amtrak Conrail Train Valpo Local 1971 Original 35mm Kodachrome Slide Subject: CR 5780-5603 plus 3 commuter train to Valparaiso, IN Location: Chicago IL Date: May 14, 1977 Photographer: James J. Buckley From the Wikipedia: The Calumet, also commonly called the Valpo Local, was a 43.6-mile (70.2 km) passenger train route operated by Amtrak between Chicago and Valparaiso, Indiana. Despite Amtrak’s mandate to provide only intercity service, the Calumet was a commuter train. Transferred from Conrail in 1979, the full route was shared with Amtrak’s Broadway Limited until 1990; the Calumet was discontinued the next year. Link to eBay Listing
Bolton Tram 66 Original 1985 35mm Kodachrome Slide UK Subject: Bolton Tram 66 Location: Fleetwood (on Blackpool Tramway, UK) Date: July 14, 1985 Photographer: James J. Buckley From The Bolton News: The Bolton 66 tramcar was built in 1901 as an open top eight-wheel double deck bogie tram by the Electric Railway and Tramway Carriage Works in Preston. Bolton 66, the only tram in Blackpool Transport’s Heritage Tramcar fleet which does not originate in Blackpool, is well over one hundred years old and is still in good running order but that has not always been the case. At the beginning of the 1960’s, Alan Ralphs and Bolton-born Derek Shepherd took the decision to attempt to restore the Bolton tramcar. After more than 40 years serving the people of Bolton, the tramcar spent twenty years as a semi derelict bodyshell on a farm on the moors above Bolton. However, with lots of enthusiasm, a group led by the duo, professional electrical engineer Derek Shepherd and supported by Alan Ralphs, spent many hours to completely restore the tram to a new condition taking them 18 years to complete. In June 1981 the tram was moved to Blackpool and started to operate on the seafront, where it has remained for the last 41 years, due to Covid the 40th anniversary was postponed until this year. Link to eBay Listing