Never Too Late

Former Chicago Surface Lines mail car 6, built in 1891, as it looked on May 25, 1958. This car is now at the Fox River Trolley Museum, where it was recently vandalized. You can see a black-and-white photo of this car, taken at the same time as this one, in our previous post Throwback Thursday (January 7, 2016). To see a picture of West Chicago Street Railway car 4, also taken the same day, there's one in our post Chicago Streetcars In Color (February 22, 2015).

Former Chicago Surface Lines mail car 6, built in 1891, as it looked on May 25, 1958. This car is now at the Fox River Trolley Museum, where it was recently vandalized. You can see a black-and-white photo of this car, taken at the same time as this one, in our previous post Throwback Thursday (January 7, 2016). To see a picture of West Chicago Street Railway car 4, also taken the same day, there’s one in our post Chicago Streetcars In Color (February 22, 2015).

Recent news reports that eight historic railcars at the Fox River Trolley Museum were vandalized to the tune of perhaps as much as $150,000 brought back some memories.

Back in 1961, when I was six years old, my family took a Sunday drive out to the Chicago Aurora & Elgin’s Wheaton Yards to take one last look at their fleet. We had read in the news that efforts to save the CA&E had failed, and that the entire line was being abandoned forever.

I never did get to ride the CA&E, which stopped running passenger service in 1957. But I did at least get to see the railcars on their home turf in Wheaton. I distinctly recall being gratified that they did not appear to be vandalized. I did not see any broken windows.

Not all of these cars were saved, but some did make it off the property and several lived to run again in museum service in various parts of the country. (We ran some pictures of the “hospital train” in our post Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 1-29-2016.)

That anything at all got saved was, in my humble opinion, a miracle. Now it is true that in the waning days of traction, there were fans who “liberated” various bits and pieces of trolleys that were destined for the scrap heap. Their goal was to preserve history, not desecrate it. In some cases, these original parts have since been put back onto historic equipment, or are now in the collections of railroad museums. At least they were saved for future generations.

Railroad museums across the country depend on small groups of dedicated volunteers. Occasionally, entire museum operations have either failed or have been obliged to relocate. The sad situation faced by the Indiana Transportation Museum, which was recently evicted from its home in Noblesville, is but the latest example.

Let’s take a closer look at Aurora, Elgin & Fox River car 304. This fine specimen of a 1920s interurban car, which returned to run on the small surviving portion of its home rails at the Fox River Trolley Museum, was damaged by the two young vandals. It is not just a piece of equipment that was injured. This was a senseless attack on the history of an entire region.

While this blog is not affiliated with the Fox River Trolley Museum, we wholeheartedly support their efforts, and historic preservation. Insurance, unfortunately, will only cover a small portion of the cost of replacing all the broken glass and other damage. The bulk of funds will have to come from private donations.

The museum has begun a fundraising campaign, which must be successful. I realize many of us are angry about this senseless destruction, but let’s turn our anger into something constructive.

We are but the current caretakers of precious artifacts of the past. If we fail to preserve them, it will be a loss to all who come after us. We can all lament that a couple of young kids did a tremendous amount of harm here, but it’s never too late for the rest of us to do the right thing, right now.

-David Sadowski

The Toonerville Trolley That Meets All the Trains

We recently acquired the original artwork for this January 17, 1938 Toonerville Trolley comic panel by the great Fontaine Fox (1884-1964).

We recently acquired the original artwork for this January 17, 1938 Toonerville Trolley comic panel by the great Fontaine Fox (1884-1964).

In a time when trolley lines criss-crossed this country, and were a part of everyday life for Americans, there was even a railfan comic strip. Or, better put, a comic strip by a railfan, Fontaine Fox.

His “Toonerville Trolley” comic ran in newspapers from 1913 until he retired in 1955. Over time, he even grew to resemble the “Skipper,” his own creation. Fox even answered his voluminous fan mail using letterhead he had printed up for the Toonerville Electric Railway Company.

Here is what the Filson (Kentucky) Historical Society has to say about Fontaine Fox:

Fontaine Talbot Fox III, creator of the famous Toonerville Trolley, was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1884. He started his career as a reporter for the Louisville Herald, but soon abandoned this course to pursue his true passion of drawing cartoons. During a visit to the small town of Pelham, New York, Fox received inspiration for what would become one of the nation’s most beloved comics. While in Pelham, he rode on the local trolley car, where the conductor’s unhurried manner and penchant for gossiping with his passengers gave Fox the idea for his own comic strip. By 1915, the resulting comic series, Toonerville Folks, had come to the attention of the Wheeler Syndicate and was soon published in newspapers across the nation.

The Filson’s collections contain a number of items documenting the life and career of this celebrated cartoonist, including photographs of Fox and his family, as well as some of his correspondence and several scrapbooks with clippings of his cartoons. Notable among Fox’s papers are a collection of twenty-one original pen and ink cartoons from his beloved Toonerville Folks. Set in the fictional town of Toonerville, the single-paneled cartoon featured a rickety trolley car and a glimpse into suburban life in the early twentieth century. Fox created a cast of characters that charmed a nation: the Terrible-Tempered Mr. Bang, the Powerful Katrinka, Mickey (Himself) McGuire (the town bully), Aunt Eppie Hogg (the fattest woman in three counties), and of course the Skipper, who piloted the beloved trolley car. Toonerville Folks ran in hundreds of newspapers nationwide for over forty years, until Fox’s retirement in 1955. His comics would become an inspiration for a future generation of cartoonists.

Actually, it was a single panel cartoon six days a week. On Sunday, it was in color, in multiple panels. The strip had various names, including The Toonerville Trolley That Meets All the Trains and Toonerville Folks. Eventually, the adventures of the “Skipper” and his rickety trolley car only took up a part of the action, as Fox developed a variety of memorable characters for Toonerville.

Blake A. Bell
writes an excellent blog called Historic Pelham, and has written extensively about Fox, the Toonerville Trolley, and its connection to the area.

While the phrase “Toonerville Trolley” eventually became synonymous with any rural streetcar or interurban running on poorly maintained track, Pelham, NY, its inspiration, is actually a suburb, located 14 miles from Midtown Manhattan in Westchester County. It is near the city of New Rochelle, made famous as the home of Rob and Laura Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966).

The Toonerville Trolley ran in over 200 daily newspapers in its heyday, and was popular enough to inspire numerous motion pictures. The first series, circa 1920-21, was silent and produced by the Betzwood Studios in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (more on that in our book review section). You can watch one of those films here.

Next, a young Mickey Rooney (1920-2014) later starred in 78 short films based on the Toonerville character Mickey McGuire, made between 1927 and 1934. This was Mickey Rooney’s first big break in show business. He even attempted, unsuccessfully, to legally change his name to Mickey McGuire.

There were also some Toonerville Trolley animated shorts, made in 1936 by Van Beuren Studios, which can be seen on Youtube. Here is one example:

By the late 1930s, trolley lines were starting to disappear from the American scene. On July 31, 1937 the Pelham Manor “H” trolley line ran its last. Fontaine Fox used the popularity of his comic strip to turn this into a major event.

From Historical Treasures of Westchester County:

On July 31, 1937, the H-Line Trolley that inspired Fontaine Fox was shut down for good – replaced by a bus line. That day the Village of Pelham Manor hosted a celebration attended by about 8,000 people for the last run of the “Toonerville Trolley”.

This “pass,” signed by Fontaine Fox who attended the event, entitled the bearer to ride the trolley car during its last trip. That trip took hours to travel only a couple of miles due to the crowds and the antics of local residents dressed as various characters from the “Toonerville Folks” comic strip.

The Hagerstown & Frederick interurban, which we have featured in a variety of posts, is an example of a country interurban that was frequently called a “Toonerville Trolley.” Its last passenger interurban ran on February 20, 1954.

Perhaps inspired by this, around this time Fontaine Fox bowed to the inevitable, and “retired” the trolley from his strip, replacing it with a bus. But such was the popularity of the old contraption that I believe he brought it back, prior to the strip’s demise in 1955 with Fox’s retirement. He donated some of his original artwork to a trolley museum.

As a tribute to Fontaine Fox, here we present an entire month’s worth of daily Toonerville panels, from June 1927. You will note that only some of the dailies include the trolley and Skipper (who, apparently, was based on real-life Pelham operator James (“Old Jim”) Bailey, who lived in the Bronx). Charles A. Lindbergh (1902-1974) made his historic non-stop flight from New YHork to Paris on May 20-21, 1927 and “Lindbergh mania” is reflected in many of the strips shown here, suggesting that Fox was working on some of these panels not long before they appeared in newspapers.

Fontaine Fox in retirement:

https://filsonhistorical.org/wp-content/uploads/Sketch-of-Fontaine-Fox_A_F791_1_web.jpg

Book Reviews



Montgomery County Trolleys
by Mike Szilagyi, with a Foreword by Andrew W. Maginnis
Arcadia Publishing, 2018

We recently received a copy of Montogomery County Trolleys from the author, as we had provided a couple of images he used in the book. Otherwise, chances are we might not have seen this fine addition to Arcadia’s Images of Rail series, which we are also involved with (see below for information on Building Chicago’s Subways, and our Online Store for copies of Chicago Trolleys).

Author Mike Szilagyi was no stranger to us, as we had corresponded concerning a different book project he was involved with as mapmaker. This was eventually published as Riding the Bell: Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell Route by Ron Ruddell, Bulletin 147 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association (2015).

Naturally, the maps Mr. Szilagyi made for this new book are excellent. But the entire thing is well done, from the scope the author set out to cover, the organization of the chapters, picture selection, text, and captions.

Here is a capsule description:

Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, was once served by 140 miles of trolley lines. In the first half of the 20th century, a wide array of trolley cars rolled over Montgomery County’s rails, from quaint open streetcars rumbling through borough streets to sleek 80-mile-an-hour trolleys sailing across open fields in Upper Gwynedd and Hatfield Townships. The cars had zero emissions, and some lines were powered by renewable hydroelectric power. Taking the trolley was a convenient, affordable option for those travelling and commuting in Montgomery County, nearby Philadelphia, and points beyond. Freight was also carried on board trolleys, with prompt parcel delivery service. Fortunately, many years ago, dedicated trolley fans had the foresight to aim their cameras at these unique vehicles, providing rare glimpses not just of the trolleys but also of Montgomery County’s rapidly changing landscapes.

Mike Szilagyi’s interest in trolleys was sparked at a young age by the sight of big green streamliners gliding down Old York Road near his grandmother’s house in the Logan neighborhood of Philadelphia. Today, Szilagyi lives and works in Montgomery County, where he plans and designs bicycle paths and serves on the North Wales Historic Commission.

This volume’s foreword was written by noted transit historian and longtime Montgomery County resident Andrew W. Maginnis.

In addition to detailed captions for each photograph, the book offers a brief history of transportation in Montgomery County, placing the trolley era in its historical context. The timeline of travel may be very generally summed up as:

dirt roads – canals – railroads – trolleys – motor vehicles

Rather than each mode supplanting the previous, there were varying degrees of overlap between them. That said, the use of animals for motive power was there from the beginning, only fading as motor vehicles gained prominence in the 1910s and 1920s. The bicycle came on the scene in a big way in the 1890s, never really completely disappeared, and is today enjoying widespread resurgence.

By concentrating on Montgomery County, the author is able to provide tremendous variety, as he was therefore able to include the Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell interurban, the Philadelphia & Western High-Speed Line to Norristown, numerous small-town trolleys, and even a bit of Philadelphia streetcars (Route 6 went into the county). Although very little of this remains, back in the day I did manage to ride Bullets and Strafford cars on the Norristown line (which still operates, with more modern equipment) as well as PCCs on SEPTA’s Route 6, which was replaced by buses in January 1986, subjects covered in this book.

Montgomery County Trolleys is dedicated to the memory of the late Harry Foesig (1897-2003) whose long life spanned parts of three centuries. He was co-author, along with Dr. Harold E. Cox, of Trolleys of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (1968). This was an obvious inspiration for this new volume, which can be thought of as a kind of “spiritual descendant” of that earlier tome. That book also included some excellent maps, rendered by Foesig.

Anyone who has an interest in the subject, and the rich heritage of Keystone-state traction, would do well to pick up copies of each. While the earlier book is long out of print, you should have little difficulty in finding a used copy at a reasonable price. Mine only cost about $10, which is perhaps about half what you should expect to pay for Montgomery County Trolleys.

Interestingly, longtime railfan Andrew W. Maginnis contributed to both books, 50 years apart. Perhaps the 50-year anniversary was also a factor that motivated the author to put this new collection together, just as I was inspired by some anniversaries to do my new book (see below).

-David Sadowski

Pre-Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There are three subway anniversaries this year in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)

To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.

While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages

Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960

Building Chicago’s Subways will be published on October 1, 2018. Order your copy today, and it will be shipped on or about that date. All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.

The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

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The Fairmount Park Trolley

The Fairmount Park trolley, just prior to abandonment in 1946.

The Fairmount Park trolley, just prior to abandonment in 1946.

Many years ago, old-time railfans would compile “dossiers” or scrapbooks about their favorite lines. Eventually, some of these dossiers were used to help write books about those same properties.

Over the last three years or so, I have been collecting information about the Fairmount Park trolley operation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Today’s post is my “dossier” for your enjoyment. Hopefully, it will give you some of the flavor of what it must have been like to ride that long-gone scenic trolley.

There are today, of course, other scenic trolleys with open cars in service, but these are latter-day recreations such as in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Photos of the Fairmount Park trolley are scarce, so it took quite some time to find this many. Pictures in color are even scarcer, as few people were using color film as early as 1946.

There are some books about this line that do not have as many pictures as we have in this post. Most of the images you see here are taken from the original medium-format negatives.

Some of those dark spots that you see in the sky in some of the pictures are actually birds flying around in the park.

Even finding a decent map of the line was not easy. I purchased one of the “broadsides” used for the 1946 auction, and this fortunately had a nice map in it. Apparently the electric cars were used one last time to give prospective bidders a tour of the line, just days before the end of the half-century long franchise agreement.

Reports indicate that many people refused to get off the cars at the end of the line, having enjoyed it so much they went for multiple rides. This created problems on busy days.

Dr. Harold E. Cox, in his 1970 book The Fairmount Park Trolley: A Unique Philadelphia Experiment, told the fascinating story of this self-contained trolley operation that ran in a very large public park for nearly 50 years, from November 1896 until September 1946. He called it an experiment, because a park trolley line was quite unusual. There was one other example that ran in Europe, but for a much shorter period of time.

The Fairmount Park Transportation Company used the same rolling stock, originally built by Brill in 1896-97, for the entire life of the 8-mile long trolley. This was also quite unusual. Nothing seems to have been updated or replaced with anything newer.

J. G. Brill was an obvious choice for a builder as they were located in Philadelphia, and were at that time the industry leader.

By 1946, Fairmount Park was a virtual rolling museum of vintage equipment. The trolley operated year-round, on a reduced schedule during the winter of course. Open cars were used in the summer and closed cars in the winter.

The line mainly ran on the west side of the park, on a long one-way single track loop entirely on private right-of-way. There was a Junction station if you wanted to take a short cut and not have to ride all the way around the loop.

There were some double-tracked sections too, which you can see on the map below.

The east and west halves of the park were connected by a long bridge, built by the trolley company. It was renovated in the 1990s and is still in use today.

The FPTC built Woodside Amusement Park in 1897 and this provided another reason to use the park trolley. Woodside actually outlasted the trolley and closed in 1955.

Through the years, one of the closed cars was converted to a rather bizarre-looking line car. Various models have been made of this car. It sticks in your mind, just as it does the first time you see Frankenstein’s monster cobbled together from parts of various cadavers.

After World War II, the park trolley was badly in need to new equipment and new track, but it had operated at a loss for many years, and there were no funds available. The Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society drafted a proposal to save the line, suggesting that if fares were increased, additional monies could be used for renovations. Unfortunately, this came to naught, and the trolley was allowed to abandon service as of September 1946, about two months before the end of its 50-year franchise.

The trolley assets were sold at auction in November 1946, an event advertised using a large “broadside” printed brochure. All the cars were scrapped, and the rails, ties, wire, and line poles removed.

Eventually, it became difficult to tell just where the trolley had run through the park. In recent years, efforts have been made to turn the old trolley right-of-way into a trail. You can read about the Trolley Trail Demonstration Project here.

Some remnants of the trolley persist-  read about that here.

In spite of the winters in the northeast, there were a few streetcar lines that used open cars in warm weather for longer than practically anywhere else. Open cars were used in service to shuttle people to the Yale Bowl in Connecticut as late as 1948.

We are also featuring a few additional pictures from the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway, which ran open cars on the Jersey shore until 1945. We thank our resident New Jersey expert Kenneth Gear for helping research this obscure trolley line.

In addition, there is some interesting correspondence with Andre Kristopans and more great restored Chicago Aurora & Elgin pictures, courtesy of Jack Bejna.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

PS- The word “broadside,” meaning a large advertisement such as this, took on an additional meaning during the folk song revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s. It brings to mind Broadside magazine, which began publishing in 1962 and continued through the 1970s.

Some of the images in today’s post were taken by the Reverend W. Lupher Hay (1905-1984), who lived in Canton, Ohio. According to author George W. Hilton, W. Lupher Hay purchased an interurban car from the Toledo, Port Clinton and Lakeside in 1934 for use as a summer home; he sold it in 1941.* Interestingly, his wife Fay (nee Siebert) (1910-2010), who survived him, passed away one day short of her 100th birthday.

*From The Toledo, Port Clinton and Lakeside Railway, Bulletin 42 of the Electric Railway Historical Society (1964), page 32.

Our next post will be our 200th, and we have been saving up some great Chicago images for that. Watch this space.

Car 8.

Car 8.

Trailer 55 in the mid-1940s.

Trailer 55 in the mid-1940s.

Car 15.

Car 15.

Car 8. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Car 8. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Car 14.

Car 14.

Car 7.

Car 7.

Car 31 near a tunnel.

Car 31 near a tunnel.

Car 54, a 14-bench open car and two other cars in the same series at the Belmont Avenue car house in July 1934. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 54, a 14-bench open car and two other cars in the same series at the Belmont Avenue car house in July 1934. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 4 leaving the sation, moving away from the photographer in January 1935. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 4 leaving the sation, moving away from the photographer in January 1935. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 1 on October 13, 1935.

Car 1 on October 13, 1935.

Car 8, signed for Dauphin Street, is at 44th and Parkside on October 13, 1935.

Car 8, signed for Dauphin Street, is at 44th and Parkside on October 13, 1935.

Very much the same as the previous shot, same car and location (44th and Parkside) but two weeks later on October 27, 1935. (William Lichtenstern Photo)

Very much the same as the previous shot, same car and location (44th and Parkside) but two weeks later on October 27, 1935. (William Lichtenstern Photo)

The Strawberry Mansion Bridge, which connects the east and west sides of the park.

The Strawberry Mansion Bridge, which connects the east and west sides of the park.

Closed car 5, which was built by Brill in 1896 along with the rest of the fleet.

Closed car 5, which was built by Brill in 1896 along with the rest of the fleet.

Parkside station.

Parkside station.

A stock certificate.

A stock certificate.

A paper transfer.

A paper transfer.

A stock certificate.

A stock certificate.

A 1910 postcard, quite "colorized."

A 1910 postcard, quite “colorized.”

Car 18 at the Junction station. The date is given as December 12, 1935, but the time of the year seems unlikely from the way people are dressed, and the looks of the trees. If the date was 2035, this could possibly be the correct attire, but as of 1935, there hadn't been enough global warming just yet.

Car 18 at the Junction station. The date is given as December 12, 1935, but the time of the year seems unlikely from the way people are dressed, and the looks of the trees. If the date was 2035, this could possibly be the correct attire, but as of 1935, there hadn’t been enough global warming just yet.

Car 3 on January 23, 1937. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 3 on January 23, 1937. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Composite line or utility car 200 was made from closed passenger car 9. Here we see it at the Belmont Avenue car house on June 26, 1936. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Composite line or utility car 200 was made from closed passenger car 9. Here we see it at the Belmont Avenue car house on June 26, 1936. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 16 on April 19, 1937.

Car 16 on April 19, 1937.

Line car 200 on October 16, 1938.

Line car 200 on October 16, 1938.

Car 30 at the car house on September 17, 1939.

Car 30 at the car house on September 17, 1939.

Car 11 in 1939. (Duane Bearse Photo)

Car 11 in 1939. (Duane Bearse Photo)

Car 14 at the terminal near the Philadelphia Transportation Company terminal in 1940. They did not share any tracks.

Car 14 at the terminal near the Philadelphia Transportation Company terminal in 1940. They did not share any tracks.

You can tell this picture was taken at the same time and place as the last one in 1940. That's the same girl in both pictures.

You can tell this picture was taken at the same time and place as the last one in 1940. That’s the same girl in both pictures.

An open car at 44th Street in 1941.

An open car at 44th Street in 1941.

Car 18 in May 1941.

Car 18 in May 1941.

Car 32 "at speed" in May 1941.

Car 32 “at speed” in May 1941.

May 1941.

May 1941.

The interior of an open car in May 1941. This charming photo also appeared in Harold Cox's book, but here we see it scanned from the original negative.

The interior of an open car in May 1941. This charming photo also appeared in Harold Cox’s book, but here we see it scanned from the original negative.

Two open cars in May 1941.

Two open cars in May 1941.

Two open cars in May 1941.

Two open cars in May 1941.

#31 in May 1941, as seen from another car.

#31 in May 1941, as seen from another car.

#46 in May 1941.

#46 in May 1941.

#23, as seen from a passing car in May 1941.

#23, as seen from a passing car in May 1941.

#18 in May 1941.

#18 in May 1941.

#25 in May 1941.

#25 in May 1941.

#25 in May 1941.

#25 in May 1941.

#19 in May 1941.

#19 in May 1941.

#28 in May 1941.

#28 in May 1941.

#46 in May 1941.

#46 in May 1941.

Car #21 in May 1941.

Car #21 in May 1941.

#18 at the car house in September 1941.

#18 at the car house in September 1941.

Car 10, shown here at Woodside in September 1941, is signed for the Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, so perhaps this is a fantrip. Trailer #50 is at the rear out of view.

Car 10, shown here at Woodside in September 1941, is signed for the Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, so perhaps this is a fantrip. Trailer #50 is at the rear out of view.

#49, a trailer, seen here as the rear car of a two-car train at the Park Junction station in 1942.

#49, a trailer, seen here as the rear car of a two-car train at the Park Junction station in 1942.

#26 in the car house in 1944.

#26 in the car house in 1944.

Car 18 at the station in June 1945. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Car 18 at the station in June 1945. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Cars 19 and 36 on the Strawberry Mansion Bridge over the Schuykill River near Woodford Station on July 9, 1944. The bridge, built in 1896-97 for the trolley company, is still in use, but the section used by the streetcars has only recently been repurposed with a "pedestrian promenade."

Cars 19 and 36 on the Strawberry Mansion Bridge over the Schuykill River near Woodford Station on July 9, 1944. The bridge, built in 1896-97 for the trolley company, is still in use, but the section used by the streetcars has only recently been repurposed with a “pedestrian promenade.”

#7 inside the car house in June 1946.

#7 inside the car house in June 1946.

Car 25 at the Junction station on April 13, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 25 at the Junction station on April 13, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 11 at the 44th and Parkside terminal on April 14, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 11 at the 44th and Parkside terminal on April 14, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 3 on April 13, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 3 on April 13, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 20 on April 14, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 20 on April 14, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 5 at the car house.

Car 5 at the car house.

The November 6, 1946 auction.

The November 6, 1946 auction.

Dismantling the line in late 1946 or early 1947.

Dismantling the line in late 1946 or early 1947.

Dismantling the line in late 1946 or early 1947.

Dismantling the line in late 1946 or early 1947.

1946 Color Film by Gerhard Salomon:

Bill Volkmer Writes:

Might be of interest to you. I believe the Strawberry Mansion Bridge photos came in an estate collection I bought from Syd Walker who was a bus driver for Southern Penn. Bought them ca. 1960.

Thanks very much!

Car 15 on July 7, 1946. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 15 on July 7, 1946. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 10 at Woodside in 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 10 at Woodside in 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 31. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 31. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

The Strawberry Mansion Bridge circa 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

The Strawberry Mansion Bridge circa 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 10 circa 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 10 circa 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway

Me, to Kenneth Gear:

I have collected a few photos of the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway in Wildwood, NJ. As a New Jersey-ite, I was wondering if you can tell me anything about it. There hardly seems to be any info about it online.

I get the impression that the trolleys ran until the mid-1940s. It seems the company is still in business, and runs tourist trolleys that are gas powered. They claim to be an “interurban” on their web site but offer no history.

Thanks.

Wow, “New Jersey-ite”! That’s probably the nicest thing we’ve been called in a long time!

As for the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway, I personally know very little but my “go to” reference book on NJ streetcar lines has 6 pages of information. The book is STREETCARS OF NEW JERSEY by Joseph F. Eid, Jr. & Barker Gummere.

I’ve scanned the pages and attached them. Hope this tells you all you want to know.

Hey, thanks very much!

So, what nicknames do people from NJ go by? Here, I guess we have Chicagoans, or Illinoisans.

We prefer “Jerseyian” or for us men, “Jersey Guys”.

OK, thanks… FYI, I organized your scans into a PDF.

So, the trolley quit in 1945 but the bus operation that succeeded it is still going. Apparently, the character of life on the Jersey Shore changed during World War II, as there were German U-Boats preying on shipping just off the coast. They used the lights from the boardwalks to outline ships they were hunting, so a nighttime blackout was instituted.

Incredibly, there are reports that sometimes sailors from the U-Boats would row ashore and buy food locally to take back to their submarines.

Unlike the Fairmount Park trolley, at least one car from Five Mile Beach was saved. Car 36 is now at the Connecticut Trolley Museum. Read more about it here.

In Wildwood. Not sure which car this is.

In Wildwood. Not sure which car this is.

Car 20, signed for "Crest."

Car 20, signed for “Crest.”

Car 36 in Wildwood.

Car 36 in Wildwood.

Car 30 at Anglesea in July 1935.

Car 30 at Anglesea in July 1935.

Car 25 at Wildwood in the mid-1940s.

Car 25 at Wildwood in the mid-1940s.

Five Mile Beach car 26 at Wildwood, NJ in 1944. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach car 26 at Wildwood, NJ in 1944. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood car house on May 30, 1945. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood car house on May 30, 1945. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Car 36 at the Wildwood car house in 1944. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Car 36 at the Wildwood car house in 1944. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Car 36 on its way to the Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1945.

Car 36 on its way to the Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1945.

Five Mile Beach electric Railway car 27 at Atlantic and Oak Avenues in Wildwood, on the Angelsea-Crest line, June 1945. A bus is also visible. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach electric Railway car 27 at Atlantic and Oak Avenues in Wildwood, on the Angelsea-Crest line, June 1945. A bus is also visible. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach electric Railway cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood carhouse on May 30, 1945, shortly before abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach electric Railway cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood carhouse on May 30, 1945, shortly before abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 30 in the car barn, circa the mid-1940s. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 30 in the car barn, circa the mid-1940s. (Walter Broschart Photo)

The Five Mile Beach Electric Railway line truck on May 30, 1945, at the Wildwood car house around the time of abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

The Five Mile Beach Electric Railway line truck on May 30, 1945, at the Wildwood car house around the time of abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

A former Five Mile Beach Electric Railway streetcar at Wildwood, New Jersey in the late 1940s. The sign at left says, "Barbecued chicken our specialty." (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

A former Five Mile Beach Electric Railway streetcar at Wildwood, New Jersey in the late 1940s. The sign at left says, “Barbecued chicken our specialty.” (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 36 at Warehouse Point, Connecticut on August 16, 1952.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 36 at Warehouse Point, Connecticut on August 16, 1952.

Videos

Wildwood: The History of An American Resort

NJN Documentary Our Vanishing Past – Wildwood

Wildwoods by the Sea:

CA&E 1923 Pullman Cars

Here are more great Chicago Aurora & Elgin photo restorations, courtesy of Jack Bejna:

I recently received my copy of “Images of Rail: Chicago Trolleys”, just in time to take with on a flight from Florida to Los Angeles. I read it from cover to cover and enjoyed it immensely!

Glad you like it. Thanks!

In 1923 CA&E ordered 20 new cars (400­419) from Pullman. These cars were all steel and were state of the art when purchased. They were equipped with Tomlinson couplers and were not capable of training with any of the wood cars in the fleet. The new cars were put into limited service initially, but they eventually were used for all types of service.

Of these, the 409 at the Illinois Railway Museum is the lone survivor.

Recent Correspondence

The Last of the Red-Hot Pullmans

CTA 225 on October 12, 1956.

CTA 225 on October 12, 1956.

Me, to Andre Kristopans:

After the last of the red streetcars were taken out of service in May 1954, I read that the CTA planned to keep “about 10 or so” cars for emergency use.

It seems like the figure was actually nine cars. Looks like six were burned in March 1956, an event that was covered in the CTA Transit News. There is some film footage too:

From photos taken at that time, I see that some of the cars burned were 362, 453 (or is it 153), and 542. The three saved cars, of course, are 144, 225, and 460.

Any idea what numbers the other three cars might have been?

Thanks.

Actually, there seem to have been eight. There are 8 cars listed as off the books on 2/23/56:

144,225,288,362,453,460,507,542

They were part of a large group of 55 cars retired on AFR 16455R, comprising all remaining red cars. Rest were scrapped in 1955.

Thanks very much… but that CTA video sure seems to show six cars being torched.

This is somewhat strange, isn’t it? LOOKS like it might be six cars, but the scrap lists (which are contemporary records!) show only 8 cars with a 2/23/56 disposal date. Also, why do 144, 225, 460 show a “scrap date”? In fact 144 didn’t go to IRM until 1959, 460 sat around until 1985!. Only other departure was 225, supposedly in 1956 (but see below!). Apparently these are “removed from the books” dates. Another strange observation: Why are these cars so badly banged up? Especially the one at the north end of the lineup. Looks like it was chewed up by something. Were they pushing them around with forklifts? Even a forklift wouldn’t do THAT much damage. Looks like it was hit by a train!

Another tidbit – 2/1/56 roster on the IRM-CTA website has these same 8 cars listed as authorized for retirement but still around. 3/1/55 roster at same shows 60 cars in storage – scrap lists for 52 all come up April-May 1955. So unless there were some shenanigans – such as the 225 at Seashore isn’t the real 225, but another car sent to Seashore renumbered 225 and stricken off the books in 1955 under it’s real number and the real 225 was actually burned 2/56??? I can’t come up with another explanation. Can you?

I’ve been to Seashore, and that car is largely in original condition, more so than 144. There’s nothing to indicate any changes in numbering.

I think 225 might have left Chicago in 1957.

144 may have belonged to IERM while still being used in fantrip service.

I posted this on the chicagobus.org forum. This is the only thing that makes sense. If there are indeed six being burned in the video, I can’t come up with a better explanation.

Andre

You guys want to hear an interesting conspiracy theory? Well, I have one for you. First, a bit of background: I have in my possession a CTA list, hand-written and added-on to over they years, of scrapping dates for all streetcars. This can be considered a “contemporary record”. I also have in my possession a listing of which streetcars were retired under which Authorization for Retirement. Finally, the IRM-CTA website has on it various CTA rosters, with the pertinent dates being for 3/1/54 and 2/1/56.

According to the 3/1/54 roster, there were still 60 red streetcars sitting in storage. The 2/1/56 roster lists 8 left (144,225,288,362,453,460,507,542). The scrap list gives dates for the other 52 as in April and May of 1955, so this all comes out correct.

Now it gets interesting. CTA Connections has a video showing the burning of what is said to be the last red streetcars at 77th in the winter of 1956. The scrap list shows a 2/23/56 date for all eight cars listed above. HOWEVER — there is a problem. The video shows what appears to be six cars being burned. There should only have been five! Note of the above eight cars listed, three supposedly still exist – 144, 225, and 460. So what gives???

144 went to IRM in 1959. 460 sat at CTA for decades at Lincoln, Lawndale, etc. until it was finally shipped to IRM in 1985. 225 is at Seashore, and has been there since 1956, according to their website. It appears the dates in the scrap lists are actually the date a car was removed from inventory, not necessarily the actual date burned, though that date was probably soon after. So what would the sixth car scrapped in March of 1956 have been?

Here is a thought: Is it possible CTA did a number swap in 1955, and another car was actually shipped off to Seashore, lettered as 225? At this point, 61 years later, it would probably not be possible to determine if this is true, except maybe by a VERY detailed examination of the car at Seashore. However, if this is what happened, then the real 225 was the sixth car burned in 1956. Of the six cars being burned, you can only make out numbers on a couple, and in fact at least one has its number painted out. Maybe this swap was made because the real 225 had a major problem, and somebody at South Shops took it upon themselves to “send a better car?” CTA list does not note anything about 144 or 460 except a date, so if a car shown as off the inventory in 1955 was in fact shipped out, there would not likely be any note attached to it either.

Any better explanations??

Very interesting!

On the other hand, how about this scenario:

  1. The three saved cars 144, 225, and 460 have their original numbers.

2. Five other red cars were burned early in 1956.

3. One other car, not on the list of eight, was also burned at that time. This had been involved in a major wreck at some time previous, and therefore had an earlier retirement date, since there was no intention of fixing it.

This car sat around for some time until they got around to torching it with the others.

CTA was very good at scrapping what the paper said was scrapped. So definitely something marked 225 was burned that day in all likelihood, while whatever car went to Seashore while it might have been marked 225 on the car itself as it sat on the flatcar was written off as it’s “real” number, whatever it might have been. Or alternatively, the 225 burned wasn’t “really” 225 but something else in reality. No way to tell at this point, except that most likely the car at Seashore is most likely not really 225???

On the car at Seashore, I did not notice anything inside the car that would look as though the number got changed. Pretty sure I took some pictures of that too.

OK – this is what we know for sure: There are six cars burning. CTA 3/1/56 roster lists 8 cars. Scrap list corroborates these 8. 1954 roster lists 60. Scrap list corroborates that 52 scrapped 1955. So what conclusion can be drawn? A car that is listed as scrapped in 1955 at least on paper was renumbered 225 and burned 1956. Note we can make out 362, 542, 288, 507, 453 at various points, but not the sixth number. East lineup seems to be 362 (north), 453, unknown. West lineup is unknown, 288, 507?. 542 seems to be at the end of one of the rows. 542 is a smooth-side, the south car on the east row is not, but south car on west row is. Note south car on east row seems to have no visible numbers??? Only thing I can say is some number was retired in 1955 was actually 225 shipped out, while that number off the 1955 scrap list was actually burned in 1956. CTA was known to do number swapping to make reality match paperwork.

Got it, thanks.

225 was still on the property as of October 21, 1956. (It was used on a fantrip that date.)

Only thing I can say is somebody was fudging the paperwork. Were only 51 cars were burned in 1955 and the 52nd (number unknown) was actually burned in 1956? In that case somebody made a paperwork error, in multiple places, or was some other car previously written off as scrapped actually burned in 1956? This might be the case, if there is indeed a car with number painted out sitting in the fire line. Maybe another car was to go to Seashore and had been written off earlier, but then 225 was chosen instead and the original candidate burned? Like I said, it appears the dates are the day car was turned over to Materials Management for disposal, not the day something was actually burned. If somebody could come up with a specific date a specific car was burned, it might be possible to confirm this, but this is what it appears to be.

One car did seem to have the number painted out…

225 and 144 were both used for competing fantrips on February 10, 1957. Of the two, photos show 225’s number looking newer than 144. But of course that just may mean it had received a new paint job more recently than the other car. That does not necessarily indicate a renumbering of 225.

At least, that does confirm a 1957 date for 225 being moved to the Seashore Trolley Museum instead of 1956.

These car numbers only took on any significance when they were practically the only cars left. Before that, there were so many cars, one or two did not have particular importance. The May 16, 1954 “Farewell to the Red Cars” fantrip used 473 and 479, not 144 or 225.

Maybe the late Maury Klebolt was on to something when he “renumbered” the 144 into 225 for a December 1956 fantrip, eh?

Chicago Trolleys

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

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

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

-David Sadowski

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Recent Finds

On August 1, 1951, CTA surface system fares were increased to 17 cents. Here, on two-man PCC 4188, Miss Elma Parrssinen dutifully pays her fare to conductor James Long. According to information provided by Andre Kristopans, which we ran in a previous post, car 4188 had a retirement date of June 9, 1953, making it one of the first postwar cars scrapped as part of the so-called "PCC Conversion Program," whereby some parts from these cars were recycled into new 6000-series "L" cars.

On August 1, 1951, CTA surface system fares were increased to 17 cents. Here, on two-man PCC 4188, Miss Elma Parrssinen dutifully pays her fare to conductor James Long. According to information provided by Andre Kristopans, which we ran in a previous post, car 4188 had a retirement date of June 9, 1953, making it one of the first postwar cars scrapped as part of the so-called “PCC Conversion Program,” whereby some parts from these cars were recycled into new 6000-series “L” cars.

Here are lots of “new” old photos that we have recently unearthed for your viewing pleasure. As always, if you have interesting tidbits of information to add, including locations, do not hesitate to drop us a line, either by leaving a Comment on this post, or by writing us directly at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

Thanks.

-David Sadowski


Chicago Transit

This photo of CTA streetcar 6149 was taken from an original red-border Kodachrome, which identifies the location as the "Campbell Avenue barn yard." However, to me it looks like 69th and Ashland. The slide mount is of a type used by Kodak between 1950 and 1955. I would say this is closer in date the the former.

This photo of CTA streetcar 6149 was taken from an original red-border Kodachrome, which identifies the location as the “Campbell Avenue barn yard.” However, to me it looks like 69th and Ashland. The slide mount is of a type used by Kodak between 1950 and 1955. I would say this is closer in date the the former.

M. E. writes:

Regarding https://thetrolleydodger.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/dave4891.jpg
which was labelled “Campbell Av. barn yard” but you think it is the 69th and Ashland carbarn:

Campbell is 2500 West, which puts it a block west of Western (2400 West). Suppose the original location statement was a mile off. Paulina is 1700 West, a block west of Ashland (1600 West), and at 69th St., Paulina was just west of the carbarn. So I agree with you that this is probably the 69th and Ashland carbarn.

As confirmation, the 67th-69th-71st St. line (route 67) went right past the carbarn, and the destination sign aboard the route 67 car says 71st and California, the western terminus, where the route 67 car will go after leaving the barn.

However, I cannot explain the presence of route 4 Cottage Grove cars at the 69th and Ashland carbarn. The readable destination sign on car 6149 says Cottage Grove and 79th, which is a lot closer to the big carbarn at 77th and Vincennes than it is to 69th and Ashland.

I consulted my Lind book to find out when the 79th Street line and the 67th-69th-71st Street line were converted to buses. Lind says 79th was converted in September 1951 and 67th-69th-71st was converted in May 1953.

So I think this photo was taken after September 1951 and before May 1953. Somehow Cottage Grove cars were able to get to the 69th and Ashland carbarn, even though the trackage diagrams in the Lind book show no switches at 67th and Cottage Grove. Maybe the CTA built switches at 67th and Cottage Grove after September 1951 just for this purpose.

The 69th and Ashland carbarn also housed Western Ave. cars. But that carbarn must have closed soon after May 1953, because after that date, PCC cars on Western used 69th St. trackage to go east to Wentworth, south to Vincennes, and southwest to the 77th and Vincennes carbarn. That lasted until Western was converted to buses in 1956.

Thanks… I will have to look up the closing date for the 69th station (car house).
M. E. replied:
As I recall, the 69th and Ashland carbarn served these lines in the 1950s:
 9 Ashland
49 Western
63 63rd
67 67th-69th-71stLind says both lines 63 and 67 converted to buses in May 1953. But Ashland did not convert until February 1954. And as I said earlier, Western converted in 1956.Therefore, the 69th and Ashland carbarn closed in February 1954, after which Western cars lived at 77th and Vincennes until 1956.

I looked it up on the Internet, and after streetcars left, 69th and Ashland continued to handle buses for many years:

69TH STREET
1601 W. 69th St. (at Ashland Ave.)
Opened in 1908
Capacity in 1911: 191 cars inside/25 cars outside
Capacity in 1943: 191 cars inside/133 cars outside
First used for buses in 1953
Used for propane buses 1953-1973
Last used for streetcars 1954
First diesel buses 1973
Closed June 18, 1995
Replaced by 74th Street Garage
Building demolished in 1998

Source: www.chicagorailfan.com

M. E.:

I moved out of Englewood in November 1954. I wasn’t aware that the 69th and Ashland carbarn became a bus barn and lasted another four decades. Live and learn.

The fact that the 69th and Ashland barn stayed open after May 1954 begs this question: Why didn’t the Western Ave. streetcars continue to use it, rather than travel all the way to 77th and Vincennes?

I think I have an answer. After May 1954 there were only a few remaining streetcar lines:

4 Cottage Grove
22 Clark-Wentworth
36 Broadway-State
49 Western

The CTA probably wanted to consolidate all streetcar operations in one or two barns. The 22 line ran right past the 77th and Vincennes barn; the 36 line was half a mile away; and the 49 line used 69th St. to reach the 77th and Vincennes barn. The 4 line continued to use the 38th and Cottage Grove barn until the 4 line was converted to bus in June 1955. (I found this on the same Web page you cited: http://chicagorailfan.com/rosctaxh.html .)

But herein lies a further question: If 38th and Cottage Grove was kept open until the Cottage Grove line was converted, then why were Cottage Grove cars in the photo of 69th and Ashland? I already mentioned that I saw no trackage that would allow Cottage Grove cars to reach 69th and Ashland.

I had the radical notion that perhaps the photo was not of 69th and Ashland, but instead of 38th and Cottage Grove. But then why would a 67 route streetcar be there? And the same lack of switches at 67th and Cottage Grove would preclude allowing 67th-69th-71st cars to travel to 38th and Cottage Grove.

All told, a mystery.

A mystery alright, and one that perhaps our readers might help solve, thanks.

CTA red cars 612 and 407 at 95th and Ashland in December 1951.

CTA red cars 612 and 407 at 95th and Ashland in December 1951.

Ashland and 95th today, looking north.

Ashland and 95th today, looking north.

In this September 14, 1960 view, we see a pair of CTA 4000s heading east on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L", running alongside South Boulevard just west of Oak Park Avenue in suburban Oak Park. Just over two years later, this portion of the line would be relocated to the adjacent Chicago & North Western embankment, where it continues to run today as the Green Line. (Clark Frazier Photo)

In this September 14, 1960 view, we see a pair of CTA 4000s heading east on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”, running alongside South Boulevard just west of Oak Park Avenue in suburban Oak Park. Just over two years later, this portion of the line would be relocated to the adjacent Chicago & North Western embankment, where it continues to run today as the Green Line. (Clark Frazier Photo)

Here is what South Boulevard looks like today, at approximately the same spot.

Here is what South Boulevard looks like today, at approximately the same spot.

Here, we see CTA red Pullman 165 heading west on the private right-of-way portion of the 63rd Street route, a few blocks west of Central Avenue. The date is given as August 17, 1951, although some might argue for 1952 instead. These tracks ran in 63rd Place, which is now a completely built-up residential area a short distance south of 63rd Street.

Here, we see CTA red Pullman 165 heading west on the private right-of-way portion of the 63rd Street route, a few blocks west of Central Avenue. The date is given as August 17, 1951, although some might argue for 1952 instead. These tracks ran in 63rd Place, which is now a completely built-up residential area a short distance south of 63rd Street.

63rd Place today. After streetcars quit, the CTA bus was re-routed onto 63rd Street in this area.

63rd Place today. After streetcars quit, the CTA bus was re-routed onto 63rd Street in this area.

This picture of a 1926-vintage Illinois Central Electric suburban train was taken on September 9, 1959. I am not sure of the location, but it is marked as a Randolph Street Express, and the smokestack at right belongs to a laundry. Service continues today under the aegis of Metra Electric with modern bi-level cars. David Vartanoff writes: "The IC Electric pic is likely Kensington. Look at extreme magnification and one sees the r-o-w expand to 4 tracks." Jack Ferry adds: "The IC Suburban Train is heading northbound at 115th St. Kensington." This would be the same station near where the CTA route 4 - Cottage Grove streetcar ended. That was the site of many pictures over the years.(Clark Frazier Photo)

This picture of a 1926-vintage Illinois Central Electric suburban train was taken on September 9, 1959. I am not sure of the location, but it is marked as a Randolph Street Express, and the smokestack at right belongs to a laundry. Service continues today under the aegis of Metra Electric with modern bi-level cars. David Vartanoff writes: “The IC Electric pic is likely Kensington. Look at extreme magnification and one sees the r-o-w expand to 4 tracks.” Jack Ferry adds: “The IC Suburban Train is heading northbound at 115th St. Kensington.” This would be the same station near where the CTA route 4 – Cottage Grove streetcar ended. That was the site of many pictures over the years.(Clark Frazier Photo)

Here, we are at Cottage Grove and 115th, the south end of route 4. CTA red cars 3182 and 660 are visible. The date given is December 1952, but some might argue for an earlier date than that since there are no PCCs in sight here. The line ran parallel to the Illinois Central Electric suburban service embankment.

Here, we are at Cottage Grove and 115th, the south end of route 4. CTA red cars 3182 and 660 are visible. The date given is December 1952, but some might argue for an earlier date than that since there are no PCCs in sight here. The line ran parallel to the Illinois Central Electric suburban service embankment.

Cottage Grove and 115th today.

Cottage Grove and 115th today.

This wintry scene shows CTA red Pullman 636 on Cottage Grove near the 115th Street end of the line. The date is given as December 1952 but some might argue it should be earlier.

This wintry scene shows CTA red Pullman 636 on Cottage Grove near the 115th Street end of the line. The date is given as December 1952 but some might argue it should be earlier.

It's June 10, 1951, and CTA red Pullman 230 is heading west on Chicago Avenue in this view taken from the Ravenswood "L".

It’s June 10, 1951, and CTA red Pullman 230 is heading west on Chicago Avenue in this view taken from the Ravenswood “L”.

A contemporary view of Chicago Avenue looking east from the "L".

A contemporary view of Chicago Avenue looking east from the “L”.

Here, CSL car 19xx is heading eastbound on Chicago Avenue, having passed the north-south "L" and a safety island.

Here, CSL car 19xx is heading eastbound on Chicago Avenue, having passed the north-south “L” and a safety island.

Chicago Avenue looking west toward the "L".

Chicago Avenue looking west toward the “L”.

CSL 1433.

CSL 1433.

CSL 1724. I'm wondering if this is on Wabash, just north of the Chicago River. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1724. I’m wondering if this is on Wabash, just north of the Chicago River. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1856. Not sure of the exact location, but it appears to be one of Chicago's angle streets. Patrick writes: "CSL 1856 looks to be eastbound on Harrison (it appears signed for Harrison), crossing Ogden. The building on the northeast corner is still there." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1856. Not sure of the exact location, but it appears to be one of Chicago’s angle streets. Patrick writes: “CSL 1856 looks to be eastbound on Harrison (it appears signed for Harrison), crossing Ogden. The building on the northeast corner is still there.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The J.L. Higgie building, at Ogden and Harrison, as it appears today.

The J.L. Higgie building, at Ogden and Harrison, as it appears today.

CSL 1300, signed for Cicero Avenue. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1300, signed for Cicero Avenue. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1301 on the 14-16th Street line. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1301 on the 14-16th Street line. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

Madison and Wells in the early 1900s. Not sure if we are looking east or west. Mike Payne writes, "I believe the picture on Madison and Wells is looking west; in the distance you can see Market St, and the weird “L” stub structure ending on the south side of Madison."

Madison and Wells in the early 1900s. Not sure if we are looking east or west. Mike Payne writes, “I believe the picture on Madison and Wells is looking west; in the distance you can see Market St, and the weird “L” stub structure ending on the south side of Madison.”

The old Market Street stub-end "L" terminal, which was used by Lake Street trains until the late 1940s. It was demolished shortly thereafter, and Market Street itself was turned into the north-south portion of Wacker Drive in the 1950s.

The old Market Street stub-end “L” terminal, which was used by Lake Street trains until the late 1940s. It was demolished shortly thereafter, and Market Street itself was turned into the north-south portion of Wacker Drive in the 1950s.

CSL 1371, signed for Taylor-Sedgwick-Sheffield.

CSL 1371, signed for Taylor-Sedgwick-Sheffield.

CTA 1693 on the Division route, probably in the late 1940s. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CTA 1693 on the Division route, probably in the late 1940s. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1885 southbound on the Kedzie line. From the street addresses, I'd say we are on California Avenue. The sign on the from of the car advertises "1275 New Streetcars and Buses - Soon," so perhaps this is circa 1945-46. I recently came across a CTA document advertising the 1275 figure, and it was dated January 1946. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1885 southbound on the Kedzie line. From the street addresses, I’d say we are on California Avenue. The sign on the from of the car advertises “1275 New Streetcars and Buses – Soon,” so perhaps this is circa 1945-46. I recently came across a CTA document advertising the 1275 figure, and it was dated January 1946. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1459. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1459. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1076 is southbound in the 1940s, but on which line? Perhaps the sign, indicating a route via Larrabee and Wells, offers a clue. Phil Oellrich says, "CSL car 1076 is southbound on Damen Avenue about to turn south on Lincoln Avenue at Irving Park Blvd. The route is Lincoln-Rosehill . On August 1, 1948, the CTA discontinued Lincoln-Rosehill service, while extending the North Damen Bus to follow roughly the same route north of Irving Park. The white Terra-Cotta building behind car 1076 housed the North Center Theatre at 4031 N Lincoln, which opened on February 3, 1926 and closed in 1963. The building was demolished in 1966-67." (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1076 is southbound in the 1940s, but on which line? Perhaps the sign, indicating a route via Larrabee and Wells, offers a clue. Phil Oellrich says, “CSL car 1076 is southbound on Damen Avenue about to turn south on Lincoln Avenue at Irving Park Blvd. The route is Lincoln-Rosehill . On August 1, 1948, the CTA discontinued Lincoln-Rosehill service, while extending the North Damen Bus to follow roughly the same route north of Irving Park. The white Terra-Cotta building behind car 1076 housed the North Center Theatre at 4031 N Lincoln, which opened on February 3, 1926 and closed in 1963. The building was demolished in 1966-67.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

The same corner today. Lincoln is to the left, Damen to the right, and Irving Park would be right behind us. We are looking north.

The same corner today. Lincoln is to the left, Damen to the right, and Irving Park would be right behind us. We are looking north.

CSL 3106. But which line is this, and which "L" is in the background? It's hard to make out for sure, but the side sign may say 18th Street. Patrick writes: "CSL 3106 is on Leavitt, northbound, at 21st Street. The buildings are still there. The Douglas L is in the background." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 3106. But which line is this, and which “L” is in the background? It’s hard to make out for sure, but the side sign may say 18th Street. Patrick writes: “CSL 3106 is on Leavitt, northbound, at 21st Street. The buildings are still there. The Douglas L is in the background.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

21st and Leavitt today.

21st and Leavitt today.

CSL Pullman 620 is southbound on Western Avenue, while some track work goes on nearby. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL Pullman 620 is southbound on Western Avenue, while some track work goes on nearby. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The caption on this photo reads, "Westbound car 2623 passes under the Illinois Central main line at 75th and South Chicago Avenue, over the diagonal tracks of the busy South Chicago line." Bill Shapotkin notes, "Indeed, this car is on 75th St and has just x/o UNDER the IC. The car is W/B (note platform of IC's Grand Crossing station at left atop embankment)." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The caption on this photo reads, “Westbound car 2623 passes under the Illinois Central main line at 75th and South Chicago Avenue, over the diagonal tracks of the busy South Chicago line.” Bill Shapotkin notes, “Indeed, this car is on 75th St and has just x/o UNDER the IC. The car is W/B (note platform of IC’s Grand Crossing station at left atop embankment).” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 2813 on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago line, which was jointly through-routed by both the Surface Lines and the aforementioned Indiana operator. Streetcar service was eliminated on this line in 1940, but this picture looks older than that. Bill Shapotkin: "This picture (of which I have a copy myself) was taken in Exchange (JUST EAST of Indianapolis Blvd) looking west in East Chicago. Note the "Y" in the wire behind the car. As an aside, the tracks in Exchange are still in-place. David Stanley and I JUST HAPPENED to visit here when Exchange was being repaved. The pavement was removed up to the railhead -- with the rails left in-place and (within a few days) paved over AGAIN."

CSL 2813 on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago line, which was jointly through-routed by both the Surface Lines and the aforementioned Indiana operator. Streetcar service was eliminated on this line in 1940, but this picture looks older than that. Bill Shapotkin: “This picture (of which I have a copy myself) was taken in Exchange (JUST EAST of Indianapolis Blvd) looking west in East Chicago. Note the “Y” in the wire behind the car. As an aside, the tracks in Exchange are still in-place. David Stanley and I JUST HAPPENED to visit here when Exchange was being repaved. The pavement was removed up to the railhead — with the rails left in-place and (within a few days) paved over AGAIN.”

The photo caption reads, "The open fields behind car 2701 notwithstanding, the corner of 79th and State was a busy transfer point. This eastbound 79th Street car clatters over the CSL tracks on State." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The photo caption reads, “The open fields behind car 2701 notwithstanding, the corner of 79th and State was a busy transfer point. This eastbound 79th Street car clatters over the CSL tracks on State.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

It's October 1871, shortly after the Great Chicago Fire. The view is of State and Madison, looking northeast. The various horse cars we see are serving the Madison, Blue Island, and State Street lines.

It’s October 1871, shortly after the Great Chicago Fire. The view is of State and Madison, looking northeast. The various horse cars we see are serving the Madison, Blue Island, and State Street lines.

Here, the caption reads, "43rd-Root. Westbound car 3280, about to cross Halsted Street to reach its west terminal at the Stock Yards. This line competed with the Stock Yards "L" and lasted until 1953." Andre Kristopans adds, "3280 turning from nb State into wb Root. Old Bowman dairy bldg still there." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Here, the caption reads, “43rd-Root. Westbound car 3280, about to cross Halsted Street to reach its west terminal at the Stock Yards. This line competed with the Stock Yards “L” and lasted until 1953.” Andre Kristopans adds, “3280 turning from nb State into wb Root. Old Bowman dairy bldg still there.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The old Bowman Dairy building at 43rd and Root as it looks today.

The old Bowman Dairy building at 43rd and Root as it looks today.


Chicago Buses

CTA trolley bus 9713 is shown heading westbound on North Avenue at Cicero on April 26, 1970. The last Chicago trolley bus ran in 1973.

CTA trolley bus 9713 is shown heading westbound on North Avenue at Cicero on April 26, 1970. The last Chicago trolley bus ran in 1973.

CTA Flxible propane bus 8050, shown here on Central Avenue near the end of its service life in 1971, was part of a series delivered in 1956-57. These buses replaced some of the last Chicago streetcars, but they were woefully underpowered for the job they had to do. I believe we are just south of Belmont Avenue. Trolley buses last ran on Central on January 7, 1970. The old street lamps were holdovers from an earlier era, and were retained in some shopping areas of the city for some time, even after more modern lights were installed.

CTA Flxible propane bus 8050, shown here on Central Avenue near the end of its service life in 1971, was part of a series delivered in 1956-57. These buses replaced some of the last Chicago streetcars, but they were woefully underpowered for the job they had to do. I believe we are just south of Belmont Avenue. Trolley buses last ran on Central on January 7, 1970. The old street lamps were holdovers from an earlier era, and were retained in some shopping areas of the city for some time, even after more modern lights were installed.

The same area today. We are looking south on Central Avenue, just south of Belmont.

The same area today. We are looking south on Central Avenue, just south of Belmont.

After the Chicago Cubs won their first world championship since 1908, the Chicago Transit Authority put a special "wrap" on one bus (I think the number is 8305) for a limited time, and ran it on Addison, which passes right by Wrigley Field. The following two pictures were taken there on November 9, 2016. Bill Shapotkin adds, "While the Cub's victory was the first in 108 years, it was also the first since moving to Wrigley Field (formerly Weegman Park). When the Cub's won the 1908 series, they were still playing on the West Side grounds (roughly Wood/Polk, if I recall the location correctly)." Yes, that is also where games for the 1906 WS between the Cubs and White Sox were played (the Sox won, 4 games to 2). Legend has it there was an insane asylum located near West Side Grounds, which is supposedly the origin of the expression, "from out of left field."

After the Chicago Cubs won their first world championship since 1908, the Chicago Transit Authority put a special “wrap” on one bus (I think the number is 8305) for a limited time, and ran it on Addison, which passes right by Wrigley Field. The following two pictures were taken there on November 9, 2016.
Bill Shapotkin adds, “While the Cub’s victory was the first in 108 years, it was also the first since moving to Wrigley Field (formerly Weegman Park). When the Cub’s won the 1908 series, they were still playing on the West Side grounds (roughly Wood/Polk, if I recall the location correctly).” Yes, that is also where games for the 1906 WS between the Cubs and White Sox were played (the Sox won, 4 games to 2). Legend has it there was an insane asylum located near West Side Grounds, which is supposedly the origin of the expression, “from out of left field.”

Here, 8305 heads west on Addison. There is a lot of construction around the ballpark these days, as entire blocks have been cleared, and a couple of large hotels are going up.

Here, 8305 heads west on Addison. There is a lot of construction around the ballpark these days, as entire blocks have been cleared, and a couple of large hotels are going up.

I was lucky to get all of 8305 in the frame here, as it was "at speed" and I had to dodge traffic in the middle of the busy street to get this unobstructed shot.

I was lucky to get all of 8305 in the frame here, as it was “at speed” and I had to dodge traffic in the middle of the busy street to get this unobstructed shot.

CTA bus 700 is powered by Lithium batteries, and is one of two currently owned by the authority, although there are plans for 20 or 30 more. These are the first electric buses the CTA has had since the last trolley bus ran in 1973. I did not board this bus, but would expect it to provide a ride similar to a trolley bus.

CTA bus 700 is powered by Lithium batteries, and is one of two currently owned by the authority, although there are plans for 20 or 30 more. These are the first electric buses the CTA has had since the last trolley bus ran in 1973. I did not board this bus, but would expect it to provide a ride similar to a trolley bus.

CTA electric bus 700 at the west end of route 21 (Cermak), which is the North Riverside Mall, on November 29, 2016.

CTA electric bus 700 at the west end of route 21 (Cermak), which is the North Riverside Mall, on November 29, 2016.


Interurbans

It's June 1962 at Rondout, and we see a North Shore Line freight train, headed up by electric loco 455.

It’s June 1962 at Rondout, and we see a North Shore Line freight train, headed up by electric loco 455.

This June 1962 North Shore Line photo looks like it was taken at about the same time as one in our previous post More Color Restorations (August 9, 2016). As you can see from the sign on car 744, the occasion was a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip. This may be the excursion on June 22, 1962, which was billed as a farewell trip. As it turned out, a few additional fantrips were held before the interurban was abandoned on January 21, 1963. Don's Rail Photos says, "744 was built by Pullman in 1928. It was modernized in 1940." This car is on the wye at the Harrison Street Shops in Milwaukee.

This June 1962 North Shore Line photo looks like it was taken at about the same time as one in our previous post More Color Restorations (August 9, 2016). As you can see from the sign on car 744, the occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. This may be the excursion on June 22, 1962, which was billed as a farewell trip. As it turned out, a few additional fantrips were held before the interurban was abandoned on January 21, 1963. Don’s Rail Photos says, “744 was built by Pullman in 1928. It was modernized in 1940.” This car is on the wye at the Harrison Street Shops in Milwaukee.

cerafantrip2

This photo of North Shore Line 774 plus 3 looks to have been taken where the line shifted from 5th to 6th Street in Milwaukee. The date is January 13, 1963, just eight days before service ended. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

This photo of North Shore Line 774 plus 3 looks to have been taken where the line shifted from 5th to 6th Street in Milwaukee. The date is January 13, 1963, just eight days before service ended. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

A photo stop on the same January 13, 1963 fantrip. Perhaps one of our keen-eyed readers can help identify the location. Don's Rail Photos says, "774 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930, It was rebuilt as Silverliner on May 9, 1950." Joey Morrow writes: "NSL 774 is west of Green Bay Jct. The line to the west leads to the Highwood shops and offices. In the distance you can see the bridge that is currently used by the Metra UP-N. You can still see where the NSL once ran under the bridge. The line to the east leads to The Lake Bluff station just across the street out of the shot. Not totally sure if the cement that once held the catenary supports is still there or not, but the telephone POLES behind the camera man are still there." (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

A photo stop on the same January 13, 1963 fantrip. Perhaps one of our keen-eyed readers can help identify the location. Don’s Rail Photos says, “774 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930, It was rebuilt as Silverliner on May 9, 1950.” Joey Morrow writes: “NSL 774 is west of Green Bay Jct. The line to the west leads to the Highwood shops and offices. In the distance you can see the bridge that is currently used by the Metra UP-N. You can still see where the NSL once ran under the bridge. The line to the east leads to The Lake Bluff station just across the street out of the shot. Not totally sure if the cement that once held the catenary supports is still there or not, but the telephone POLES behind the camera man are still there.” (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

It's April 1964, more than a year after North Shore Line service ended. Car 251 is at the head of the line here, and has already been sold to the Illinois Railway Museum, where she runs today. This may also be a J. W. Vigrass photo, but it is not marked as such.

It’s April 1964, more than a year after North Shore Line service ended. Car 251 is at the head of the line here, and has already been sold to the Illinois Railway Museum, where she runs today. This may also be a J. W. Vigrass photo, but it is not marked as such.

A close-up of the last picture shows a sign: "Acq'd for Ill. Ry. Museum. Do not climb, tamper with, or remove parts from this car." Sound advice, indeed!

A close-up of the last picture shows a sign: “Acq’d for Ill. Ry. Museum. Do not climb, tamper with, or remove parts from this car.” Sound advice, indeed!

Our previous post The Littlest Hobo (November 27, 2016), which featured some pictures of scrapped Pacific Electric “Hollywood” cars stacked up like cordwood, inspired me to run this photo, showing one of the cars that actually was saved:

Pacific Electric "Hollywood" car 5112 in Watts local service on April 9, 1958. By then, the service was being operated by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority. Don's Rail Photos says, "637 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1922. It was rebuilt in 1939 and rebuilt in 1950 as 5112. It became LAMTA 1801 in 1958. It was retired and restored as 637 at Orange Empire Railway Museum in March 1960."

Pacific Electric “Hollywood” car 5112 in Watts local service on April 9, 1958. By then, the service was being operated by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority. Don’s Rail Photos says, “637 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1922. It was rebuilt in 1939 and rebuilt in 1950 as 5112. It became LAMTA 1801 in 1958. It was retired and restored as 637 at Orange Empire Railway Museum in March 1960.”

The following photo has been added to our post Red Arrow in Westchester (September 13, 2016):

Although the late Merritt Taylor, Jr. may have been, in some fashion, a "closet railfan," he was also responsible for the ill-fated Railbus experiment on the Red Arrow Lines in 1967-68. This was an attempt to replace rail with buses that could also run on railroad tracks. Fortunately, the effort proved to be a failure. Taylor had found that he couldn't simply convert all his rail lines to bus service, without losing much of the rights-of-way in turn due to the terms under which rail service had started many years earlier. It turns out that the requirements of a railcar and a bus are too much different to be combined into a single vehicle. Within a couple years of this experiment, Taylor sold Red Arrow to SEPTA, and the Norristown, Media and Sharon Hill lines remain rail to this day.

Although the late Merritt Taylor, Jr. may have been, in some fashion, a “closet railfan,” he was also responsible for the ill-fated Railbus experiment on the Red Arrow Lines in 1967-68. This was an attempt to replace rail with buses that could also run on railroad tracks. Fortunately, the effort proved to be a failure. Taylor had found that he couldn’t simply convert all his rail lines to bus service, without losing much of the rights-of-way in turn due to the terms under which rail service had started many years earlier. It turns out that the requirements of a railcar and a bus are too much different to be combined into a single vehicle. Within a couple years of this experiment, Taylor sold Red Arrow to SEPTA, and the Norristown, Media and Sharon Hill lines remain rail to this day.

PS- Here is a video with many additional pictures of the Red Arrow Railbus:


Recent Correspondence

The experimental Brill-built pre-PCC 7001 as it appeared at 77th and Vincennes on September 10, 1959, shortly before it was scrapped. (Clark Frazier Photo)

The experimental Brill-built pre-PCC 7001 as it appeared at 77th and Vincennes on September 10, 1959, shortly before it was scrapped. (Clark Frazier Photo)

Hampton Wayt writes:

I am trying to research the history of the design (industrial design or “styling”) of the PCC streetcars. Over the years, two different people have independently indicated to me that industrial designer Donald R. Dohner was responsible for the design of the PCC, but I have been unable to verify it. Dohner was the head of design for Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company from 1930 through 1934 and would work on many transportation designs while employed there. He also had an industrial design firm in Pittsburgh after leaving Westinghouse.

Dohner was the unrecognized primary designer of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s iconic GG-1 electric locomotive for which Raymond Loewy got (or should I say, “took”) full credit. For years, retired industrial designers that I met told me that Dohner designed the GG-1 despite what Loewy claimed, and after doing some serious in depth research I was finally able to prove they were right (Loewy made some very minor changes to the GG-1 prior to manufacturing, but would take credit for much, much more than he actually did). Dohner never received credit for the design during his lifetime, and only began to receive recognition for it for the first time 75 years later after the fact, thanks to an article I wrote on the matter for Classic Trains magazine in 2009.

A couple of years ago I was also able to verify that Dohner designed the New Haven Comet Train with the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation, his having worked heavily on the design in 1933. He never received credit for the design of this train either.

Neither of the two individuals who credited Dohner with the PCC design knew the name of the streetcar, but both stated that it was a design that was used universally all over the country. One of the men also stated that the cars were in Brooklyn first and then “all over.” That suggests the PCC to me, but I do not know where to begin to research it.

Do you happen to know if any of the original paperwork for the Presidents Conference Committee exists for researchers? If so, I would love visit the archives and take a close look and see if Dohner’s name appears anywhere in the record as it did in Pennsylvania Railroad paperwork found during my research on the GG-1.

It also occurred to me that Dohner could have been involved in the design of the experimental CSL 4001 car, which was developed with Westinghouse. Do you happen to know if there is any documentation on the development of this unit?

Any guidance you can give me would be greatly appreciated, and I look forward to your response.

Best Regards,
Hampton C. Wayt
http://www.hamptoncwayt.com

Thanks for writing. In one of my previous blog posts, I note the following:

Starting in 1929, CSL* was a very active participant in the Electric Railway Presidents’ Conference Committee, whose work developed the standardized PCC car, which soon dominated the industry.

The PCC patents were assigned to the Transit Research Corporation, whose stock was owned by the various transit operators who took part in the program. CSL apparently owned the largest amount of stock, which in turn was owned by the Chicago Transit Authority starting in 1947. Eventually Walter J. McCarter, first general manager of CTA, became the head of TRC, which I think has since been disbanded.

*Chicago Surface Lines

TRC’s successor, in turn, was the Institute for Rapid Transit, which merged with the American Public Transit Association, and is now called the American Public Transportation Association. So, you might try contacting them to see what they may know.

However, if Dr. Harold E. Cox is to be believed, TRC’s main focus was technical patents involving components such as truck and wheel design. (See his 1965 article, “What is a PCC Car?”)

Dr. Cox is, as far as I know, still living, so you might try contacting him as well. However, according to this news story from 2015, Dr. Cox is fighting a courageous public battle with Alzheimer’s.

It may be that a lot of the familiar PCC design “look” came from each individual car manufacturer, building on previous work done by others. The progression would be from the 1934 Brill car 7001, built for the Chicago Surface Lines, to the very similar cars built for Washington, D.C. in 1935 (the order split between Brill and St. Louis Car Company), to the 1936 PCCs from SLCC (Brooklyn, Chicago, et al) and the one car built by the Clark Equipment Co. (which has standee windows, not seen on many cars prior to the end of WWII).

The efforts from various manufacturers to develop a “type car” preceded the PCC effort, as can be seen in the Brill “Master Units” circa 1932. But these efforts were never 100% successful, although the PCC car did come the closest. Still, there were numerous variations between cities, Chicago’s being the most different of them all.

Even after the concept of a “standard” PCC car became the norm for North American cities, the PCCs made by SLCC competitor Pullman have subtle differences in styling, including a somewhat boxier overall appearance. This may have been the result of differences in manufacturing techniques between the two companies.

So, chances are the styling of the PCC cars cannot be ascribed to a single individual, but it is certainly possible that one person, such as your candidate, may have played a very important part.

There is also a complicating factor regarding Brill. While Brill built the CSL 7001, and part of the 1935 order for DC, the company had a policy of not paying any patent royalties to other firms. Thus, they parted ways with the PCC project at this point.

However, they did come up with their own PCC knock-off, which was called the Brilliner. They first started marketing these in 1938, and the last ones were sold in 1941. Very few were sold.

The Brilliner came too late to save Brill. By then, St. Louis Car Company had the bulk of the streetcar market to themselves, with Pullman taking a much smaller share.

Brill exited the streetcar market at this point, and merged with ACF in 1944 to form ACF-Brill. They made buses, including some trolley buses.

I hope other people who read this may be able to offer additional insights of their own. I am assuming you are familiar with the available literature, which includes various books such as PCC From Coast to Coast. There is at least one book about the St. Louis Car Company, written by the late Alan R. Lind. Some of the other PCC books, which you might find for cheap or in public libraries, include PCC: The Car That Fought Back, An American Original: The PCC Car, and Dr. Cox’s PCC Cars of North America.

Thanks.


Jay Maeder, Sr.

John Edward Maeder's 1925 high school yearbook picture. Hawken School is located in Cleveland, Ohio, and was founded in 1915.

John Edward Maeder’s 1925 high school yearbook picture. Hawken School is located in Cleveland, Ohio, and was founded in 1915.

We have written about the short-lived and ill-fated Speedrail project before. This was a 1949-51 attempt to continue interurban service between Milwaukee and Waukesha, Wisconsin, led by Jay Maeder, Sr. (1908-1975).

This was a noble effort. Maeder grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where a former interurban still runs today as the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit line.

Milwaukee’s TMER&L (aka TMER&T) west line was known locally as the “Rapid Transit” line, and with a little less bad luck, could have evolved into something akin to what Cleveland has today. But alas, it was not to be, due to a horrific head-on collision in 1950 that killed several people.

Jay Maeder, Sr. was at the controls of one of the two cars involved in the collision, which remains controversial to this day. The question recently came up on one of the online transit forums I belong to, as to what Maeder’s background was. I did manage to come up with a few things:

His real name was John Edward Maeder. Jay was a nickname. In the 1930 census, the family was living in South Euclid, Ohio.

In a 1949 newspaper article, regarding the Speedrail purchase, Maeder is referred to as a “Cleveland industrial engineer.” Apparently, he was an efficiency expert.

“Jay” probably was a nickname based on his first initial. Perhaps, like many other people, he did not like his first name (cf. James Paul McCartney).

Here is his high school yearbook from 1925:

Click to access misc_112653.pdf

At that time, John Edward Maeder was nicknamed “Ed,” which is how they had him in some of the census records. Apparently, he did not like his first name.

John Edward Maeder’s birth certificate gives the same date of birth as that given for Jay Edward Maeder (March 11, 1908).

The 1910 US census says there was a two-year-old child named Edward in the household, but does not mention other siblings. Since his father’s name was also John, that may be why they were calling him Edward from an early age.

The 1920 census has him as J. Edward, but again mentions no siblings.

In the 1930 census, they have him as Edward J., but again there are no siblings listed. He was 22 years old then, and his occupation is listed as a newspaper solicitor (salesman?).

So, everything seems to indicate he was an only child. Haven’t found an obit for Jay Maeder Sr. yet though.

Jay Maeder Sr.’s wife Catherine died in Houston, Texas in 2009, aged about 99.

I don’t know if Jay Maeder Sr. ever lived in Texas, or if, sometime after the 1950 crash, he reverted to using John, his real name.  His son, Jay Maeder, Jr. lived from 1947 to 2014, and was the last writer for the Little Orphan Annie cartoon strip before it was retired in 2010.

If Speedrail had survived, it surely would have received a shot in the arm from the opening of County Stadium along its route in 1953. The Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee that year, and had good attendance for several years before moving to Atlanta in 1965. The Braves were in the World Series two years running (1957-58), winning the world championship in 1957 over the New York Yankees.


Bonus Photo

Pictures of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) streetcar system are rare, as it quit in 1935. Creating a roster would be difficult, as the cars had names rather than numbers. Here, we see the "F. W. Wurtzburg," built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

Pictures of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) streetcar system are rare, as it quit in 1935. Creating a roster would be difficult, as the cars had names rather than numbers. Here, we see the “F. W. Wurtzburg,” built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)


New Book Project

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CSL by the Numbers

CTA 78 is shown at the east end of the Madison-Fifth shuttle in February, 1954. But wait-- wouldn't car 78 be on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago? According to Alan R. Lind's CSL book, the CTA renumbered car 1780 to 78 in the waning days of red car service, in order to free up numbers in the 1780s for some buses. This was the only time a CSL streetcar was given a two-digit number, except for work cars. That's one school of thought. On the other hand, the number on the side of this car looks like 1781, and according to Andre Kristopans, it was still 1781 when scrapped. It may in fact not be a renumbering at all, just a case where either the car's paint got touched up and obscured part of the number, or part of the number fell off and did not get replaced, since red car service was ending in a few months anyway. At left in the background you can see Fohrman Motors, a Chicago car dealer from 1912 to 1979. Three people were killed at the dealership by a disgruntled customer on January 7, 1966. The neighborhood, not far from the construction site for the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway, is already showing signs of urban decay. We discuss this in our post Some Thoughts on “Displaced” (August 30, 2016).

CTA 78 is shown at the east end of the Madison-Fifth shuttle in February, 1954. But wait– wouldn’t car 78 be on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago? According to Alan R. Lind’s CSL book, the CTA renumbered car 1780 to 78 in the waning days of red car service, in order to free up numbers in the 1780s for some buses. This was the only time a CSL streetcar was given a two-digit number, except for work cars.
That’s one school of thought. On the other hand, the number on the side of this car looks like 1781, and according to Andre Kristopans, it was still 1781 when scrapped. It may in fact not be a renumbering at all, just a case where either the car’s paint got touched up and obscured part of the number, or part of the number fell off and did not get replaced, since red car service was ending in a few months anyway.
At left in the background you can see Fohrman Motors, a Chicago car dealer from 1912 to 1979. Three people were killed at the dealership by a disgruntled customer on January 7, 1966. The neighborhood, not far from the construction site for the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway, is already showing signs of urban decay. We discuss this in our post Some Thoughts on “Displaced” (August 30, 2016).

Here is Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago car 78, very similar to CSL equipment. It was built by American in 1919.

Here is Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago car 78, very similar to CSL equipment. It was built by American in 1919.

Chicago once had the largest street railway system in the world, and, as such, you would expect it to have a complicated roster. This is certainly true, but there is an additional complicating factor, in that the Chicago Surface Lines was an operating entity or association, a “brand” that functioned as the public face of several smaller constituent companies.

According to the Wikipedia:

Four companies formed the CSL: the Chicago Railways Company, Chicago City Railway, Calumet and South Chicago Railway, and Southern Street Railway. (The Chicago City Railway had a subsidiary, the Chicago & Western Railway, and 95% of the stock of the City Railway and all of the stock of the Southern, Calumet, and Western were in a collateral trust, to secure certain bonds.)

Of these, Chicago Railways and Chicago City Railway were by far the most important. Rolling stock was about 60% CRYs and 40% CCRY. As far as the public was concerned, however, everything was CSL.

In anticipation of the creation of CSL in 1914, the various rosters of its underlying companies were rationalized, and in many cases, cars were renumbered so as to avoid duplication. It also seems as though blocks of car numbers were reserved for the four firms.

New cars ordered after 1914 were, generally speaking, split 60-40 between CRYs and CCRY. This often meant that there were at least two sets of numbers assigned to one type of car, as was the case with the 1929 Sedans and 1936 prewar PCCs.

The same car order might be split between different builders. The 100 Sedans were divided up three ways, between J. G. Brill, the Cummings Car Company, and CSL itself.  The groups of car “types” used by CSL did not always imply one particular builder, although they often did.

Things got even more complicated with the 600 postwar PCCs. The 310 Pullmans were technically owned by CRYs, while the 290 St. Louis Car Company cars were split into three different number groups. In part, this was due to CRYs having 60% of the order (360) and CCRY 40% (240), meaning that the St. Louies had to be split between the two companies.

I used to think that perhaps the fans had sorted out the all-time CSL roster into various car types, with nicknames for each. Interestingly, the CSL roster in Central Electric Railfans’ Association bulletin 27, issued in 1941 at the peak of the streetcar system, did not use any of these group names.

Turns out the nicknames originated within CSL, and appear on lists of car assignments used over the years.  This includes the “Odd 17,” which lumped together a few small batches of cars that did not fit easily into other categories.

Even then, there were “oddball” series that weren’t even put into the Odd 17 (which actually turns out to have been 19 cars for some reason).  1424-1428, five cars built by Brill but with St. Louis Car Company trucks, are not in the Odd 17, and neither were 5701-5702.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it in his essay on Self-Reliance:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

With that in mind, we have put together a short guide, that can be used to identify CSL car types by number. Since the numbers were, to some extent, related to the underlying ownership, we have also included the company names.

A few things are worth noting. There were no regular cars numbered 1-99. This was probably due to the joint operation of the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago service between Chicago and Indiana.

As Don Ross writes:

HW&EC was formed in 1892 in Hammond where 2 miles of track were built. It was then extended through East Chicago and Whiting to the state line and a connection to the South Chicago City Railway. It came under SCCRy control and service was extended to 63rd and Stony Island. In 1901 a fire destroyed the Hammond Packing Co which caused such a financial impact that all but 12 cars were sold. In 1908 the SCCRy merged with the Calumet Electric Street Ry as the Calumet & South Chicago Ry which retained control of the HW&EC. Joint service was maintained using cars of both companies. After World War I the line was plagued by private auto and jitney competition and finally filed for abandonment in 1929. A new company, Calumet Railways was formed, but it failed and was replaced by C&CDT. The Indiana Harbor line was abandoned in 1934 and the remainder of the system on June 9, 1940.

The Calumet & South Chicago, which controlled the HW&EC, was one of the constituent companies of CSL and therefore, it seems an effort was made to avoid car number duplication between the HW&EC, which had cars numbered between 46 and 80, and CSL.

Here’s how the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago cars break out by manufacturer:

hwec

These cars were very much like Chicago Surface Lines equipment, which caused some consternation among our readers a while back, when trying to figure out a couple of “mystery photos” showing HW&EC cars in action.

Still, there are various anomalies. Even in a small batch of cars, such as the 10 single-truck Birneys CSL had, there were variations. CERA B-27 says that 2000-2005 were Birney safety cars, 2006 was “modified” (but does not say how), and 2900-2903 were “similar” to Birneys, but does not call them such, even though they were part of the same order. The 2006 was built by Chicago Surface Lines, while the other nine cars in the series were built by Brill.

Here is what Dr. Harold E. Cox wrote about them in his classic work The Birney Car (copyright 1966):

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What about something like CSL mail car 6? This operated as a streetcar RPO (railway post office) for about a year into the CSL era. The car itself has been preserved and is now at the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin, Illinois. Where does that fit into the CSL numbering system?

Well, the work cars had their own number sequences, preceded by a letter. So, for example, you could have car S-201, a supply car, and also have Big Pullman 201. There were many instances where work cars had the same number, but they were preceded by different letter designations, as they were in different classes.

As we have recently discussed in the Comments section of our post Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part Eleven (September 2, 2016), CSL had a habit of storing unused cars around, often for decades. (When new equipment arrived, such as the 83 prewar PCCs, the City of Chicago mandated that an “equal value” of older equipment be scrapped.)

In some cases, this means there were cars in storage well into the CSL era that still had their old, pre-CSL numbers.  We have included a picture of just one such example here, taken nearly 20 years after the creation of CSL.

In at least one other case, parts of the numbers actually fell off a car, giving the impression that it had a different number than was actually the case.

Car 2859 is another oddity. This was a replacement car, built by CSL in 1924. It was owned by the Calumet and South Chicago Railway, yet it was a “169” or Broadway-State car. Curious indeed!

Don’s Rail Photos has an excellent page for CSL car information. This has a lot more information than can be presented here, and often includes details about individual cars. Although naturally there are going to be typographical errors on such a huge and complex web site, I hope you will join me in saluting Don Ross for creating such an invaluable resource.

Here is my own modest contribution to the subject. If there are any errors, or if you can think of some way to improve this chart, please let us know. Consider this a “finding aid” for CSL car types. If you can see the car number in a photo, you can easily look up which type it is using this chart.

To create this, we have consulted not only Don’s Rail Photos, but CERA bulletins 27 (1941) and 146 (2015), The Birney Car by Dr. Harold E. Cox (1966), and Electric Railway Historical Society bulletin 8, The Hammond Whiting and East Chicago Ry. by James J. Buckley (1953).

You can even extrapolate a few things from this exercise. If more postwar PCCs had been ordered, as was originally planned, the first new Chicago Railways car would have been 4412, and 7275 for the Chicago City Railway.

Likewise, there is a large unused block of numbers after the Chicago Railways Birneys. Does this mean there were hopes to order more Birneys, which were not realized, since they proved too small for such a big city?

I guess, when there are so many factors involved, it’s too much to expect that you can make all the numbers add up, all the time. This way lies madness.

To paraphrase Emerson, since the Surface Lines was perhaps the greatest streetcar system of all time, it can also be the most misunderstood.  I hope that we have made that a little easier.

-David Sadowski

cslroster

Chicago City Railway car 2169 on the 75th Street route. According to Central Electric Railfans' Association bulletin 27 (July 1941), this car was part of an order of 69 closed cable trailer cars (with double door in bulkheads) built by Wells-French in 1896. These cars were electrified in 1908, and most were renumbered. My guess is we are at 75th and South Chicago. This picture would have been taken between 1908 and 1914, when CCR became part of the Chicago Surface Lines. If I am reading B-27 correctly, this car would originally have been numbered 2129. It was scrapped after CSL was formed. Bob Lalich adds, "I agree, Chicago City Railway car 2169 is at 75th and South Chicago Ave. It appears that the Grand Crossing grade separation project was underway, judging by the construction shacks." Note that 2169 is an unassigned CSL roster number.

Chicago City Railway car 2169 on the 75th Street route. According to Central Electric Railfans’ Association bulletin 27 (July 1941), this car was part of an order of 69 closed cable trailer cars (with double door in bulkheads) built by Wells-French in 1896. These cars were electrified in 1908, and most were renumbered. My guess is we are at 75th and South Chicago. This picture would have been taken between 1908 and 1914, when CCR became part of the Chicago Surface Lines. If I am reading B-27 correctly, this car would originally have been numbered 2129. It was scrapped after CSL was formed. Bob Lalich adds, “I agree, Chicago City Railway car 2169 is at 75th and South Chicago Ave. It appears that the Grand Crossing grade separation project was underway, judging by the construction shacks.” Note that 2169 is an unassigned CSL roster number.

Ancient CSL car 2144 at Clark and Devon, c1930-32. The side sign reads, "Base Ball." (George Krambles Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection) Note that 2144 is not an assigned CSL number.

Ancient CSL car 2144 at Clark and Devon, c1930-32. The side sign reads, “Base Ball.” (George Krambles Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection) Note that 2144 is not an assigned CSL number.

Is Chicago City Railway 2503 the same car as CSL 2503? Andre Kristopans says yes. (See the Comments section of this post.)

Is Chicago City Railway 2503 the same car as CSL 2503? Andre Kristopans says yes. (See the Comments section of this post.)

Chicago Union Traction streetcar 5801, definitely not the same as CSL "Nearside" 5801.

Chicago Union Traction streetcar 5801, definitely not the same as CSL “Nearside” 5801.

Trailer 8000 being used as a shed. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Trailer 8000 being used as a shed. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

West Chicago Street Railway #4 was pulled out for pictures on May 25, 1958, the occasion of the final fantrip on Chicago's streetcar system. That is not a CSL assigned number.

West Chicago Street Railway #4 was pulled out for pictures on May 25, 1958, the occasion of the final fantrip on Chicago’s streetcar system. That is not a CSL assigned number.

Former Chicago Surface Lines mail car 6, built in 1891, as it looked on May 25, 1958. This car is now at the Fox River Trolley Museum. You can see a black-and-white photo of this car, taken at the same time as this one, in our previous post Throwback Thursday (January 7, 2016). To see a picture of West Chicago Street Railway car 4, also taken the same day, there's one in our post Chicago Streetcars In Color (February 22, 2015).

Former Chicago Surface Lines mail car 6, built in 1891, as it looked on May 25, 1958. This car is now at the Fox River Trolley Museum. You can see a black-and-white photo of this car, taken at the same time as this one, in our previous post Throwback Thursday (January 7, 2016). To see a picture of West Chicago Street Railway car 4, also taken the same day, there’s one in our post Chicago Streetcars In Color (February 22, 2015).

Don's Rail Photos says the "Sunbeam" was built by Pullman in 1891. It was used as a party car, later for storage. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) This car doesn't even have a number!

Don’s Rail Photos says the “Sunbeam” was built by Pullman in 1891. It was used as a party car, later for storage. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) This car doesn’t even have a number!

This old Chicago Daily News photo is identified as being at the end of a cable car route, where horses were used to move the cars around. However, the Chicago Auto Show is being advertised, which would help date this photo. This car is #1325.

This old Chicago Daily News photo is identified as being at the end of a cable car route, where horses were used to move the cars around. However, the Chicago Auto Show is being advertised, which would help date this photo. This car is #1325.

Chicago City Railway cable trailer 209 in October 1938. Supposedly built around 1892, it appears to be a replica built by CSL in 1934 using some original parts. It is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Alfred Seibel Photo)

Chicago City Railway cable trailer 209 in October 1938. Supposedly built around 1892, it appears to be a replica built by CSL in 1934 using some original parts. It is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Alfred Seibel Photo)

North Chicago Street Railroad horse car 8 on January 2, 1925. The occasion was the opening of the new Cicero Avenue extension. This car, built in 1859 by the John Stephenson Car Company, is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.

North Chicago Street Railroad horse car 8 on January 2, 1925. The occasion was the opening of the new Cicero Avenue extension. This car, built in 1859 by the John Stephenson Car Company, is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.

It's August 28, 1936 on north Ashland Avenue, and time for a parade. One week earlier, streetcar service had been extended north of Cortland in one of the final extensions under CSL. Prior to this time, this portion of the route had run on Southport, two blocks to the east. North Chicago Street Railroad "Bombay roof" horsecar 8 is ahead of the experimental 1934 Brill pre-PCC car 7001. Ironically, the older car survives at the Illinois Railway Museum, while 7001 was scrapped in 1959.

It’s August 28, 1936 on north Ashland Avenue, and time for a parade. One week earlier, streetcar service had been extended north of Cortland in one of the final extensions under CSL. Prior to this time, this portion of the route had run on Southport, two blocks to the east. North Chicago Street Railroad “Bombay roof” horsecar 8 is ahead of the experimental 1934 Brill pre-PCC car 7001. Ironically, the older car survives at the Illinois Railway Museum, while 7001 was scrapped in 1959.

This supposed Chicago City Railway horse car #10 was actually a 1930s replica. It was also used at the Chicago Railroad Fair. This picture was taken by Charles Cushman (1896-1972) in 1949. (Charles W. Cushman Collection, University Archives, at Indiana University, Bloomington.)

This supposed Chicago City Railway horse car #10 was actually a 1930s replica. It was also used at the Chicago Railroad Fair. This picture was taken by Charles Cushman (1896-1972) in 1949. (Charles W. Cushman Collection, University Archives, at Indiana University, Bloomington.)


Recent Correspondence

scranton409

Tony Zadjura writes:

In need of a little advice. I am the Chairman of the Jefferson Township Historical Society, Lackawanna County PA.  Our area includes Moosic Lake, which at one time had trolley service to the lake and amusement park (Gateway to the Clouds).  We have recently been given a photograph of # 409 which shows Moosic Lake as its destination. A question has been raised as to whether the Moosic Lake destination sign has been added.

The trolley service to Moosic Lake terminated in 1926.

Is it possible to give a date of this car being built or first being available for use by STC in service. I am enclosing the photo in question, cropped to show the front of the car a little better. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Thanks for writing. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “409 was built by Osgood-Bradley Co. in 1925” for the Scranton Transit Company.

So, it is possible that this car could have operated to Moosic Lake, but not for very long.

Hope this helps.

Tony Zadjura replies:

Thanks for the quick reply. According to accounts, the trolley ride over the Moosic mountain must have been a thrill!

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. You can reach us at: thetrolleydodger@gmail.com or leave a Comment on this post.

-David Sadowski


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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Our 150th Post

NSL 420 heading south at Dempster, current end of the line for the CTA Yellow Line (aka the "Skokie Swift"), which revived a small portion of the old interurban a year after service ended in January 1963.

NSL 420 heading south at Dempster, current end of the line for the CTA Yellow Line (aka the “Skokie Swift”), which revived a small portion of the old interurban a year after service ended in January 1963.

The Trolley Dodger blog has reached another milestone with this, our 150th post since we started on January 21, 2015. As time goes on, it becomes both easier and harder to come up with new ideas. On the one hand, we have to work harder to avoid repeating ourselves, since we have already posted thousands of images to date.

On the other hand, there always seems to be more material out there to be had. So in that sense, it seems unlikely that we will ever run out of new material. However, it’s always good to remind our faithful readers that all this historical research costs real money. It costs nothing to read our blog, of course, but the quality and frequency of future posts is entirely dependent on the financial support we get from you.

We are committed to maintaining a very high quality standard in what we put out, and our goal is not only to share information, but to create something of lasting value. We will let others be the judge of whether or not we have succeeded to date, but it’s interesting to note that I often find my own posts coming up to the top of Google searches, when I am researching things.

What makes a good blog post? Well, as I have said before, in general my idea is to use pictures to tell a story. But beyond that, it becomes more difficult to put your finger on what works and what doesn’t.

I would liken it to being a chef in a restaurant who takes whatever fresh ingredients are on hand, and tries to whip them up into a tasty dish. Since our first post featured the North Shore Line, we have a generous helping of classic CNS&M images on today’s menu.

In addition, we have a sprinkling of Chicago, Aurora & Elgin photos, plus some other Chicago/Illinois material, since that is where we are from. Hopefully, all this adds up to a complete “meal,” a feast for the eyes that is also designed to make you think.

But we have not forgotten “dessert.” Our last post (More Mystery Photos, July 29, 2016) included a picture of what appeared to be a Birney car that was not, according to Frank Hicks, an actual Birney. (If anyone is interested in learning what attributes of a streetcar make it into a “true” Birney, look no further than Dr. Harold E. Cox’s book on just that subject. What constitutes a PCC car is also somewhat debatable, another area where the esteemed Dr. Cox has weighed in with an expert opinion.)

While Birney cars, due to their small size, were unsuccessful in larger cities like Chicago, there can be no doubt they were a great success in Fort Collins, Colorado, the “Birney-est” place of all. The Fort Collins Municipal Railway purchased nine such cars for use between 1919 and 1951, a couple for parts. Of these, there’s been a pretty good survival rate, with fully five cars (#s 20, 21, 22, second 25, and 26) still extant.

These cars were so beloved in the area that they never completely left, and efforts to restore a car and revive at least a small portion of service began as early as the 1970s. Service on a mile-and-a-half line began in 1984 and continue to this day, meaning that the resurrected Birney car service in Fort Collins has lasted 32 years now, the same length of time that the original service ran.

Don Ross (in Don’s Rail Photos) writes:

The last regular operation of Birney cars in the U. S. was in Fort Collins, CO. The line was originally built by the Denver & Interurban Ry in 1907. In July 1918, the D&I stopped operating the local lines. A bus system was tried, but was very unpopular. In January 1919, the voters, by an 8 to 1 majority, decided to take over the system. Four Birneys were purchased from American Car of St. Louis and began operation in May. Over the years additional cars were added and replaced. Finally, in 1951, the system was abandoned on June 30th. The city had grown beyond the car lines, and riders had gone to the automobile. Car 21 was preserved locally. Other cars were saved at other locations. A local group began to restore 21 in 1977, and operation began on Mountain Avenue on December 29, 1984. Over the next two years, 1.5 miles of track was restored for operation. For a complete story about this system, check out their web site.

But wait, there’s more! There was also a double-truck version of the Birney, so we have posted a couple pictures of Johnstown 311, a much-loved car by the fans who took it on many trips back in the day. It ran in service in Pennsylvania until 1960 and has been preserved at the Rockhill Trolley Museum.

We are featuring color photos today, and will have several new black-and-white images to share in the near future. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Bon Appétit!

-David Sadowski

PS- If you can help identify any of missing locations, or have other interesting thoughts on these pictures, don’t hesitate to drop us a line, either as a Comment here, or via:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com


Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee (aka North Shore Line)

NSL 706 heads south from Dempster in this June 9, 1961 photo by Clark Frazier. This is the current terminal of the CTA Yellow Line. The area under the electrical tower at left is where the "pocket" track went, when this was the end-of-the-line for the CRT's Niles Center Branch. This local service ended in 1948. CTA "L" service resumed here in 1964.

NSL 706 heads south from Dempster in this June 9, 1961 photo by Clark Frazier. This is the current terminal of the CTA Yellow Line. The area under the electrical tower at left is where the “pocket” track went, when this was the end-of-the-line for the CRT’s Niles Center Branch. This local service ended in 1948. CTA “L” service resumed here in 1964.

A solitary North Shore Line car crosses the Chicago River at Wacker Drive on the "L".

A solitary North Shore Line car crosses the Chicago River at Wacker Drive on the “L”.

NSL 739 and train at Lake Bluff.

NSL 739 and train at Lake Bluff.

NSL 737 at the Loyola curve on the CTA.

NSL 737 at the Loyola curve on the CTA.