Here are some Christmas colors for you. On January 23, 1954, CTA 1782 passes 1774 at the west end of the Lake Street line near Austin Boulevard. Since 1782 has already been repainted green, it most likely could not have been the car in the 1780 series that was oddly renumbered as “78” on the Madison-Fifth shuttle a short time later (see a picture on our previous post Chicago Streetcars in Black-and-White (January 23, 2015). The Park Theater, by then already shuttered, was behind the two streetcars.
I’m having difficulty identifying this car. But note it has a “continental” spare tire, implying it is not one of the cheaper models. The newest it could be is a 1954. The 1955 models wouldn’t have been on the market until some months after streetcars quit on Lake Street. So far, my best guess is this may be a 1953 Dodge Coronet. Gary Kleinedler:
I believe that the CTA 1782 & 1774 photo shows a 1953 Dodge Coronet Diplomat 2-door hardtop. All 1952 Dodge models had separate, bolted-on rear fenders; the photo shows a straight fender sideline. The 1953 Coronet series was the top trim line (Meadowbrook–Coronet; Wayfarer models were discontinued after 1952), and a Coronet 2-door hardtop would have a three-piece wraparound rear window and V-8 Hemi engine. The 1954 Dodge Coronet (and new top-line Royal) models had the model name in script on the rear fenders, which doesn’t seem to be present in the photo. A Continental spare wheel kit and wire wheels (which appear to be present) were both offered as factory options in 1953. I took the above info from the Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1974, John Gunnel, ed.
A 1953 Dodge Coronet.
There are lots of great photos under the Trolley Dodger tree this year. Besides the color shots, we have many rare, classic black-and-whites, which came out of one railfan’s scrapbook and were taken in the early-to-mid 1930s. Many of these were taken by one Earl W. McLaughlin of Chicago. There was a man by the same name who worked for the CTA in 1958 (and did some reporting for the Transit News, their employee publication), but I am not yet sure if they are one and the same.
Some railfans like to ride, and others prefer to take pictures. Edward Frank, Jr., whose work we have featured on many occasions, was in the latter category– he rode his bicycle everywhere instead of taking the streetcar, in order to save up money for film. Given the number of shots Mr. McLaughlin took at ends of various lines, I’d say he liked to ride as well as photograph.
As always, if you have any interesting tidbits of information to add to the discussion, after seeing these pictures, don’t hesitate to drop us a line at:
PS- So far, I have determined that Earl W. McLaughlin was born in 1915 and died in 1969. For much of his life, he lived on the north side of Chicago, and died in Des Plaines. In 1940, his profession was grading furs.
Illinois Central Electric car 1210 heads up a Randolph St. Express on September 9, 1959. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “1100 thru 1239 were built by Pullman in 1929. 1198 went to Illinois Railway Museum in 1972.” (Clark Frazier Photo) Andre Kristopans: “IC 1210 – arriving at 91st/South Chicago. Tracks on right were B&O. Note trailers were always at the NORTH end of an IC Electric train, as only a trailer would fit under the old South Water St entrance to Randolph St Station, so in order to use the full track length, trailers always had to lead north.” Daniel Gornstein adds, “I’m not sure if anyone else has replied on the IC 91st St. photo yet, but the unquestionable answer is on the catenary pole. If you look closely on the macro view you will see, arranged vertically, this: “SC4-33,” meaning South Chicago Subdistrict, located at MP 4.33. The 2 branches used to have independent MP’s, but are now shown on Engineering Dept. files as the same distance to South Water St., as the Univ. Pk. mainline does. To the photographer’s rear is 91st St. and in the distance, just north of 90th St., is NB signal 420, or approx. MP 4.2. IRM’s operable “Suburban Unit” is motor 1198, as noted, and trailer 1380.”
This picture, showing a Skokie Swift single car unit at the Dempster terminal, was taken on August 11, 1964. We see an interesting variety of 1960s cars in the parking lot, including a first-generation Corvair. The slide says this is car #30, but under magnification, the number looks more like 39. However, as far as I know, car 39 was then being used in Evanston service with trolley poles. So perhaps 30 is correct. That car is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Douglas N. Brotjahn Photo)
Here, we see MBTA (Boston) double-end PCC 3346 at the Ashmont end of the Ashmont-Mattapan line in November 1977. This picture has special significance to me, as I rode these cars for the first and only time just three months earlier. They were nearing the end of their service lives, however, and by the time I revisited, had been replaced by single-ended PCCs. Over time, the terminals at both ends of this feeder line have been changed, and I don’t believe the cars run here any longer. I recall there was a sign somewhere in the vicinity, probably from the 1920s, calling this the “High Speed Trolley.” I hope someone managed to save that sign.
I have wondered for some time where this picture of CTA 4389 was taken. I had a gut feeling it was somewhere on the south side. Turns out, this is Wentworth and 59th. There is a picture taken at this location on page 217 of CERA B-146. All the buildings on the left are gone now, as this is where the Dan Ryan expressway now runs. As for the date, that truck appears to have a 1955 Illinois license plate. M. E. writes: “When compared with the photo on p. 217 of B-146, this is indeed 59th and Wentworth. What confuses me is the trackage turning from westbound 59th onto southbound Wentworth. Lind says the 59th St. streetcar line converted to bus in 1948. So my guess is that the CTA wanted to keep trackage open on 59th between Wentworth and State St., and the CTA built the turning trackage at Wentworth after 59th went to bus.”
Here is an enlargement of part of the 1952 CTA Surface System track map. It does show a track connection between Wentworth and State. Possibly some of these connections were kept for bypass use in case of flooded viaducts, such as the one that resulted in the infamous 1950 crash between a PCC car and a gasoline truck. M. E. writes: “The enlarged map you added of the 59th-Wentworth trackage made me think about how the 4 Cottage Grove cars got to the 69th and Ashland barn. Try this: Cottage Grove to 61st, west to State, north to 59th, west to Wentworth, south to 63rd, west to Ashland, south to 69th. You suggested that all this trackage was kept open (at least as late as 1952) to bypass flooded viaducts such as the one on State south of 63rd. This theory would also apply to the viaducts on the 63rd St. line. Much of that line between Wentworth and State consisted of viaducts for four passenger railroads (New York Central + Nickel Plate; Pennsylvania; and Rock Island), as well as Englewood Union Station. In fact, between the station and State St. there was a big yard for New York Central freight, which accounted for the majority of the viaduct over 63rd St. So, if the 63rd St. viaducts were to flood, the 63rd St. cars (let’s say heading east) would turn north on Wentworth to 59th, east to State, south to 63rd, then east on 63rd.
The same location today.
You might think, at first glance, that this picture of CSL 453 was taken downtown, but you would be wrong. This is the east end of the Lawrence line at Broadway in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. The motorman and conductor are talking before making the trip west to Austin on August 4, 1934. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)
The same location today.
On a foggy day in December 1932, we see CSL “maximum traction” car 6109 southbound at State and Wacker.
This photo of CSL 6170 heading northbound, was taken at State and Wacker, probably also in December 1932.
This damaged photo of CSL 581 was taken at the Imlay Loop at the outer end of route 56 – Milwaukee, on August 4, 1935. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)
Here, we see CSL 6176 on Broadway at Berwyn (5300 N.). This Broadway-Wabash car is going direct to the World’s Fair gates at 18th and 23rd Streets on August 4, 1934. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)
The same location today.
This picture of CSL 335 may have been taken on route 65 – Grand. If so, it is heading east.
CSL 1333, built in 1908.
CSL 5383 is laying over at the north end of the Ashland line, at Southport and Clark, on August 4, 1934. Since the Ashland bridge over the Chicago River was not opened until 1936, this car would have crossed the river via Southport. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)
CSL 381. Andre Kristopans: “Probably somewhere in Devon Carbarn yard. Lawrence and Broadway/Wabash both ran out of there.” George Trapp adds, “I am pretty sure the location is at the Devon Depot, the east end of the South open yard, the ladder track curves out into Schreiber Avenue behind the photographer. Car 381 is signed for Cottage Grove-Broadway TR#1. Car 3201 to it’s left is signed for Lawrence which operated out of Devon in the 1930’s, it is one of the two original MU cars, 3200-3201 with 4 motors. These cars operated on Broadway during the daytime as two man cars and as night cars on Lawrence as one man. The car barn structure also looks like Devon Depot.”
Caption: “Chicago Surface Lines #3284. i man car built by Lightweight Noiseless Car Co. in 1925. Taken: Chicago, Ill., 8-4-34. Former two-man (car) also in MU (multiple unit) service. Now equipped with stop light and foot brakes.” The car is shown at the east end of the Montrose line, just west of Broadway. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)
This photo of CSL Sedan (Peter Witt) 3325, taken August 4, 1935, was a challenge to identify. These cars were being used exclusively on the Clark-Wentworth line then. The sign for the Heinsen Photo Studio (located at 6221 N. Clark) provided the necessary clue to ID this as Clark and Granville. The car is heading south. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)
Clark and Granville today. The building that once had a photo studio is still there.
CSL 1984, built by the Chicago Railways Company in 1913-1914, is shown at the east end of the North Avenue line on November 24, 1934. That’s Clark Street in the rear. When route 72 was changed to trolley bus in 1949, buses continued to a new turnaround loop east of Clark. The building at rear is the old Plaza Hotel. To see it from another angle, check out our post Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 2-28-2016. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)
North and Clark today.
Here is an interesting photo of CSL one-man car 3110, taken on August 4, 1934. The location is Ashland and Irving Park Road, and the large building at rear is Lake View High School, where my mother graduated in 1946. Since this was two years before the north and south portions of Ashland were connected by a new bridge over the Chicago River, this is a North Ashland Shuttle car, running the two miles between Irving Park (4000 N.) and Fullerton (2400 N.). (Actually, the sign says the car is going to Clybourn, which is just south of Fullerton.) We ran another North Ashland Shuttle photo in our post Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part Eleven (September 2, 2016). (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)
Ashland and Irving Park today.
It’s not easy to determine just where this picture of CSL 1589 was taken on August 4, 1934. The car is signed for Irving Park and Neenah, and with the track configuration, you would expect we are at the east end of the Irving Park line. However, according to my CSL track maps, the crossover was just west of Broadway. If so, that doesn’t explain the traffic signal in the picture. Perhaps Irving Park cars turned back just east of Broadway? (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo) Andre Kristopans: “More likely Irving and Clark. Note cemetery behind car.”
Irving Park and Broadway today.
CSL 6042 on the State route on November 24, 1934. The Broadway-State through-route did not start until August 19, 1937, so this is likely to be somewhere on the south side. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo) Andre Kristopans: “I’d bet at the north end of the line, on Division east of Wells. Note car is switching back.”
Chicago and West Towns car 156 on 22nd Street (or was it already called Cermak road) in Cicero, 1936. The car is heading west and we can just see a glimpse of the Douglas Park “L”, which runs just north of Cermak. The car is signed to go to Riverside. Don’s Rail Photos: “156 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was rebuilt in 1942 and scrapped in 1948.”
Don’s Rail Photos says Chicago & West Towns car 106 “was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1915. It was dismantled in 1943.” Here, we see it heading north on Harlem and Stanley in 1936, having just crossed the Burlington RR.
C&WT 101 at the same location in 1936. Note the Harlem stop on the Burlington commuter line at right. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “101 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948.”
Harlem and Stanley in Berwyn today. The Harlem stop on the Burlington has been updated, but is still in the same location as the 1936 picture.
This is not a very good picture, technically (it appears to be a double exposure) but it does show the North Shore Line in Milwaukee in 1934.
South Shore Line cars 33, 24 and ? near Chicago’s Art Institute on August 17, 1931.
Caption: “Chicago, South Shore and South Bend trailer 207. Although this car has no motors, it has controls, and can be used as (the) head car in (a) train. These trains make the 90 miles to South Bend in 2 hours and go over 100 to keep up schedule, and they go through city streets in several cities, among them Gary. They use tracks of the Illinois Central out and in Chicago. Builder- Pullman.”
Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee dining car 417 at Highwood. Don’s Rail Photos: “417 were built by Cincinnati Car in June 1924, #2905 as dining car trailer. It was rebuilt as a tavern-lounge on November 8, 1940. It was out service by 1951, retired on December 31, 1955, and scrapped in 1959.”
This picture of CSS&SB 109 has been restored. The original was not properly fixed in development, and the print has continued to develop over the last 80 years. Eventually, it will fade out completely. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “109 was built by Pullman in 1926. It was lengthened in 1944. Air conditioning and picture windows came in 1949.” (James B. M. Johnson Photo)
This is another photo that was not properly fixed in development. Don’s Rail Photos: “1126 was a work motor built by Niles in 1908 as CLS&SB 73. In 1927 it was rebuilt into work motor 1126. In 1941 it was sold and converted to a house. In 1994 it was purchased for restoration from a buyer who had picked it up the month before for back taxes. He really did not want the car, just the land. Bob Harris began restoration in 2005 and plans to complete it in 2009.” (James B. M. Johnson Photo)
South Shore Line car 37. Don’s Rail Photos: “37 was built by Standard Car in 1929,, #P-3380. It was air conditioned and sold to IRM in 1983.”
Here is a rare picture. Don’s Rail Photos notes, “222 was built by Kuhlman in 1908 for the CLS&SB and was numbered between 101 and 110. It was rebuilt in 1927 to a deluxe coach and numbered 222. Shortly afterwards, when the 200s arrived, it was used by the Way & Structures Dept. Later it was used as a newspaper car, and it was scrapped in 1941.” It is identified in this picture as a maintenance of way car.
Here is another rare photo of CSS&SB wooden combine car 1126.
Illinois Terminal car 121, as it appeared at Granite City on June 7, 1936. It was then being used in local service on the route between St. Louis and Alton. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “121 was built by East St Louis & Suburban in 1924 as 5. It became StL&ARy 5 in 1930 and IT 121 in January 1931. It was sold for scrap to Hyman Michaels Co on July 23, 1953.” (Glenn Niceley Photo)
Illinois Terminal car 273 in Bloomington in March 1936. (Robert M. Hanft Photo)
Another rare photo. This is Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric “Birney” city car #72 in May 1934. Caption: “Color: Orange. 2 Motors. This system, which operated local cars in Aurora and Elgin, as well as an interurban line between those two cities, abandoned April 1, 1935.” Actually, a small portion of the AE&FRE did survive in South Elgin as a freight line, which has now morphed into the Fox River trolley Museum. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)
Again, a rare picture. This is AE&FRE car #206 in Aurora in May 1934. Color: Brown. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)
Chicago, Aurora & Elgin car 107 under trolley wire in downtown Aurora in 1936. Within a short period of time, the street running in Aurora was eliminated and replaced by a new terminal with private right-of-way. Don’s Rail Photos: “107 was built by Stephenson in 1903. It was wrecked in 1914 and rebuilt as an express trailer. It was retired in 1937.” I’m not sure if this is really car 107 (as the photo says it is), since this car looks like it can run under its own power, which an express trailer could not do. Andre Kristopans: “CAE car in Aurora – probably 407. 107 was a woodie to begin with!” Don’s Rail Photos says, “407 was built by Pullman in 1923.” Bill Shapotkin adds, “This pic is indeed in Broadway at the CB&Q overcrossing (just south of Benson). When the streetcars quit in Aurora, the car tracks (which had at one time gone under the CB&Q) were cut-back to this point. The view looks N/E.”
Caption: “Chicago, Aurora & Elgin trailer 209. This car has controls (like CSS&SB 207) but no motors. Built by Niles.” Don’s Rail Photos: “”Carolyn” was built by Niles Car in 1904. It was rebuilt as 209, a trailer coach, in 1924 and rebuilt in May 1939. It was retired in 1959.”
Caption: “Chicago, Aurora & Elgin 433, geared for 95 miles an hour.” 433 was built by Cincinnati Car Co. in 1927. There is some debate as to just how fast CA&E cars ran. The general consensus is they could do at least 60 mph but that close proximity to nearby buildings might have inflated the “illusion of speed” relative to, say, the North Shore Line, which was in more open areas.
Don’s Rail Photos says CA&E car 20 “was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was preserved by Railway Electric Leasing & Investing Corp in 1962. It was then transferred to Fox River Trolley Museum in 1984. It is the oldest operating interurban in the United States.”
John Smatlak writes:
I picked up this interesting shot of CSL 5990 at a swap meet. I was intrigued by the transfer table pit and the apartment buildings alongside; it’s obviously at one of the carbarns / shops, any idea of which one?
Before I could post this, John solved his own riddle:
Mystery solved, the photo was taken at West Shops.
That’s incredible detective work… how did you figure it out?
Just looking at the B&W photo one day and got the idea that I’d seen the location in another one of my photos, and upon checking, sure enough that was it.
Always enjoy the Trolley Dodger site, keep up the good work!
The book’s cover shows the Hagerstown & Frederick, a Maryland interurban. Ironically, considering the title, it had very few riders.
One of the most intriguing yet neglected pieces of American transportation history, electric interurban railroads were designed to assist shoppers, salesmen, farmers, commuters, and pleasure-seekers alike with short distance travel. At a time when most roads were unpaved and horse and buggy travel were costly and difficult, these streetcar-like electric cars were essential to economic growth. But why did interurban fever strike so suddenly and extensively in the Midwest and other areas? Why did thousands of people withdraw their savings to get onto what they believed to be a “gravy train?” How did officials of competing steam railroads respond to these challenges to their operations? H. Roger Grant explores the rise and fall of this fleeting form of transportation that started in the early 1900s and was defunct just 30 years later. Perfect for railfans, Electric Interurbans and the American People is a comprehensive contribution for those who love the flanged wheel.
At its core, the word “interurban” means between cities. The definition of an interurban railway has always been a bit difficult to pin down. Some say it should not include suburbs, or lines that were shorter than 15 miles, or that originated with steam railroads.
No matter what definition you might accept, however, you are likely to find exceptions to all of these rules that still seem “interurban-ish” in character. The Philadelphia & Western is not quite 15 miles long, and yet it was always considered an interurban. The Erie Lackawanna’s Gladstone Branch began life as a steam railroad, yet has always seemed like an interurban at heart.
George Hilton and John Due, in their book The Electric Interurban Railways in America, first published in 1964, declared the interurban era at an end with the demise of the Pacific Electric and North Shore Line. Yet while there are remnants of that era all over this country, they are no longer considered “interurbans.”
Everyone agrees that the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend (now operated by NICTD) is the last surviving major interurban in America. But I would bet that 90% or more of its riders think of it as a commuter rail line today.
Likewise, there is the Blue Line, which runs 22 miles between Los Angeles and Long Beach, much of it in the exact same right-of-way that a Pacific Electric interurban line used until 1961. But the Blue Line is not considered an interurban– it is “light rail.”
There are other latter-day interurbans, such as BART, which runs between San Francisco, Oakland, and other places. In any other era, the PATCO Speedline, which runs between Philadelphia and New Jersey, would likewise be called an interurban and not “rapid transit.”
With all this in mind, I welcome the publication of Electric Interurbans and the American People by H. Roger Grant, simply because its focus is largely on people, and people have often been left out of many such previous books on this subject.* Investing in an interurban railway was always a very risky and speculative venture. But for a time in the early 1900s, thousands of miles of such lines were built.
While Hilton and Due considered the interurban era to have been practically an accident of history, noting that had autos and paved roads been available just a few short years earlier, it might not have happened at all, its effects on America were beneficial and long-lasting. While interurban stockholders may have been caught short in the long run, the connections that these railroads made between cities and communities have been permanent and long-lasting.
With the development of new rail lines, whether called rapid transit, light rail, or high-speed rail, interurbans have made a bit of a comeback in the US, and this seems likely to continue into the future.
The best parts of this book are the ones that deal with various interurban abandonments. I am particularly fond of how the late Maurice Klebolt organized the last passenger trip on the Illinois Terminal interurbans in 1956. Entire towns along the way turned out to pay tribute, many dressed in period costume. We ran a picture of Mr. Klebolt in a recent post.
At just 192 pages, this book, while a welcome addition, just scratches the surface in examining the sociological dimensions of the interurban era. I highly recommend this book to anyone with such an interest. We can only hope that this rich historical vein will continue to be mined by other authors in the future.
*I can think of many books where the author seemed to think that people just get in the way of a good photo of an empty railcar.
Louis Marx and Company was a major toymaker when I was growing up, but they went out of business in 1980. They made a number of metal train sets, and during the 1990s, another firm (Marx Trains) made some interesting O-scale tribute vehicles that I’ve just recently learned about.
These trains aren’t easy to find now, and they don’t come cheap– expect to pay somewhere in the range of $500-750 a set.
This is one car from a three-car CTA “4500s” powered train set that will actually operate on a layout and has sound effects and lights. This was obviously patterned after the 6000s but with only one set of “blinker” doors.
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