At the Hop

It has been 60 years now since Milwaukee had a streetcar line, but that will soon change as its new line, christened The Hop, is expected to begin operating this November. Milwaukee officials held an open house on June 8th at the new maintenance facility, where two new streetcars, built by Brookville Equipment Corporation were on display– and your roving reporter was there.

Ultimately, there will be five vehicles to start, and they are being delivered at the rate of about one per month. From the looks of things, it may be another month or so before testing begins along the line.

The day after the open house, we drove around, taking numerous pictures that we hope will gave you an idea of how track work is progressing. Not all portions of the route will use overhead wire, as modern streetcars have batteries too.

Finally, on Sunday the 10th, we journeyed to the East Troy Electric Railroad, where we were fortunate to ride Milwaukee streetcar #846 for the first time. While 60 years may separate the running of the old and the new, there’s nearly a century between lightweight “safety” car 846, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1920, and its modern equivalent.

That just goes to show how much our expectations of what a streetcar should be have changed and grown over the last 100 years. We expect better safety, performance, comfort, and accessibility than our grandparents and great-grandparents did.

When the new Milwaukee streetcar was first proposed, there were plenty of nay-sayers who thought it was a useless idea, didn’t go anywhere, was pointless, and that no one would ride it. But as the time draws near to actual operations, many of these same people have changed their tune. While modern streetcar lines may not work for all cities, or even some cities that have started them, I feel confidant that Milwaukee’s will be successful.

We hope these photos will give you the “flavor of the event.”

-David Sadowski

PS- Our congratulations go out to Russ Schultz, who has for some years been driving a bus for the Milwaukee public transit system. He will now cap off his career as one of The Hop’s new streetcar operators.

The East Troy Electric Railroad had a table at the open house.

The East Troy Electric Railroad had a table at the open house.

Part of the East Troy Electric Railroad display.

Part of the East Troy Electric Railroad display.

Part of the East Troy Electric Railroad display.

Part of the East Troy Electric Railroad display.

The idea behind Milwaukee's approximately two-mile-long first streetcar line is park your car, then hop on and off the streetcar as you make your way around the center city. Thanks to a generous donation from a local casino, fares will be free for the first year, and probably $1 after.

The idea behind Milwaukee’s approximately two-mile-long first streetcar line is park your car, then hop on and off the streetcar as you make your way around the center city. Thanks to a generous donation from a local casino, fares will be free for the first year, and probably $1 after.

The inspection pit.

The inspection pit.

It's not often you can get a close-up look at the pantograph on a streetcar. There were no wires in the maintenance facility, so in all likelihood, the cars will enter and leave by either using battery power, or being towed.

It’s not often you can get a close-up look at the pantograph on a streetcar. There were no wires in the maintenance facility, so in all likelihood, the cars will enter and leave by either using battery power, or being towed.

The new streetcar maintenance facility makes use of space underneath a highway.

The new streetcar maintenance facility makes use of space underneath a highway.

Local news reporters interviewing Alderman Bob Bauman, a strong streetcar supporter.

Local news reporters interviewing Alderman Bob Bauman, a strong streetcar supporter.

Free “hop corn.”

We shook Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman's hand and he graciously agreed to pose for pictures for us in front of one of the new streetcars.

We shook Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman’s hand and he graciously agreed to pose for pictures for us in front of one of the new streetcars.

The streetcar line makes a rather tight turn at this intersection.

The streetcar line makes a rather tight turn at this intersection.

This is the northern end of the line.

This is the northern end of the line.

There are various obstacles blocking parts of the line, enough to make me think that it could be a month or so before the streetcars are tested out on the streets.

There are various obstacles blocking parts of the line, enough to make me think that it could be a month or so before the streetcars are tested out on the streets.

Brick surrounds the tracks at this intersection.

Brick surrounds the tracks at this intersection.

Some work still needs to be done on the various safety islands along the line.

Some work still needs to be done on the various safety islands along the line.

This late 1950s Buick was new around the time streetcars last ran in Milwaukee.

This late 1950s Buick was new around the time streetcars last ran in Milwaukee.

Only eastbound car and truck traffic was allowed on this bridge over the Milwaukee River.

Only eastbound car and truck traffic was allowed on this bridge over the Milwaukee River.

The streetcar will serve Milwaukee's busy Public Market in the historic Third Ward.

The streetcar will serve Milwaukee’s busy Public Market in the historic Third Ward.

Cement work was still being done on the bridge approach.

Cement work was still being done on the bridge approach.

TMER&T 846 approaches the Elegant Farmer.

TMER&T 846 approaches the Elegant Farmer.

At the Elegant Farmer.

At the Elegant Farmer.

At the Elegant Farmer.

At the Elegant Farmer.

Rear taillights were being added to autos in the 1920s, so it should not be too surprising they began to appear on streetcars of the same era.

Rear taillights were being added to autos in the 1920s, so it should not be too surprising they began to appear on streetcars of the same era.

The former East Troy substation, now the museum's depot.

The former East Troy substation, now the museum’s depot.

At the East Troy depot.

At the East Troy depot.

Tributes.

Tributes.

Not sure if this sign is original to the trolley or was added in museum service.

Not sure if this sign is original to the trolley or was added in museum service.

Unloading at the Elegant Farmer in Muckwonago.

Unloading at the Elegant Farmer in Muckwonago.



Handouts from the Open House:

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.

This book makes an excellent gift and costs just $17.99 plus shipping. That’s $4.00 off the list price.

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 213th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 411,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

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In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

Badgered

Chicago, South Shore & South Bend car 30 was built in 1926 by Pullman, and retired in the early 1980s. It, and several of its sister cars, are an important part of East Troy's fleet.

Chicago, South Shore & South Bend car 30 was built in 1926 by Pullman, and retired in the early 1980s. It, and several of its sister cars, are an important part of East Troy’s fleet.

There’s plenty of traction action going on nowadays in Wisconsin, the Badger State. We just spent an eventful weekend checking it out.

On Friday, we stopped by Kenosha for a ride on their two-mile streetcar loop. 4616, the Cincinnati tribute car, was out on the line that day.

On Saturday, I spent some time in Milwaukee, where track construction on Phase 1 of their new modern streetcar line is well underway. A few blocks of track are already in place on St. Paul Street.

The 2.5 mile-long line begins near the Milwaukee Intermodal Station (Amtrak), and heads east into the historic Third Ward. It will cross the Milwaukee River, but as of this writing no work has been done to add tracks to the existing bridge on St. Paul.

From the Third Ward, home of the Milwaukee Public Market, the line heads north into the Lower East Side, via two one-way routes, before turning north and east to its initial terminus at Burns Commons.

Here is a map showing the planned lines. Cars will be stored underneath nearby highway 94.

This is the first time I have seen new streetcar construction. I’m used to seeing decades-old tracks, long buried under asphalt, being torn out. The idea that this line will be completed sometime within the next two years is an exciting prospect.

Here is a recently discovered video, showing the final day of service on Route 10, Milwaukee’s last streetcar line, on March 1, 1958:

On Sunday, we headed out to the East Troy Electric Railroad, to ride on the last remaining original interurban trackage in Wisconsin.

South Shore Line car 30, which is one that was never lengthened and modernized, was out that day, as was Twin cities Rapid Transit 1583. The two 4000s are out of service and being worked on, as are the two Milwaukee cars.

We rode 1583 last year (see our previous post Badger Traction, 2016).

This was our first time riding a South Shore Line car at East Troy, and they seem to do quite well there. The South Shore cars, which were capable of high speeds, used 1500 volt DC current on their home tracks, but now have to make do with just 600. This is not a problem, as top speed on this demonstration railroad is about 15-20 mph.

The South Shore cars are wider than the line was designed for, which means tighter clearances with the line poles. If you do travel there, be sure not to stick anything out the windows.

While tourist trolleys and railroad museums are important and deserve your support, I for one will be glad when Wisconsonites will be able to use a streetcar for its original intended purpose, which is to get from one place to another.

-David Sadowski

Don's Rail Photos: "4616 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1950, #1674, and completed by Canadian Car & Foundry in 1951, #1912, as TTC 4515, Class A8. It was rebuilt in 1991 as 4616, Class A15. It was sold to Vintage Electric Streetcar Co in 1996 and sold to KTL as 4616. It was painted in a Cincinnati Street Ry scheme."

Don’s Rail Photos: “4616 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1950, #1674, and completed by Canadian Car & Foundry in 1951, #1912, as TTC 4515, Class A8. It was rebuilt in 1991 as 4616, Class A15. It was sold to Vintage Electric Streetcar Co in 1996 and sold to KTL as 4616. It was painted in a Cincinnati Street Ry scheme.”

At left, the Milwaukee Intermodal Station.

At left, the Milwaukee Intermodal Station.

This was originally a smoking compartment.

This was originally a smoking compartment.

Car 30 still has its original mahogany wood, unlike the South Shore cars that were lengthened and modernized in the 1940s.

Car 30 still has its original mahogany wood, unlike the South Shore cars that were lengthened and modernized in the 1940s.

Recent Finds

This August marks 50 years since my first trip to Boston. This picture of MBTA 3295 was taken on Beacon Street on August 31, 1967, and shows the PCCs just as I remember them from that time. (Frederick F. Marder Photo)

This August marks 50 years since my first trip to Boston. This picture of MBTA 3295 was taken on Beacon Street on August 31, 1967, and shows the PCCs just as I remember them from that time. (Frederick F. Marder Photo)

Chicago Missouri & Western GP 40 3025, as it looked on September 5, 1987. If the CM&W logo looks surprisingly familiar, that's because it was copied from the CA&E. All of which should be no surprise, as the Venango River folks, who owned the South shore Line at that time, were involved. In fact, it was taking on this railroad that proved their undoing. (Bruno Berzins Photo)

Chicago Missouri & Western GP 40 3025, as it looked on September 5, 1987. If the CM&W logo looks surprisingly familiar, that’s because it was copied from the CA&E. All of which should be no surprise, as the Venango River folks, who owned the South shore Line at that time, were involved. In fact, it was taking on this railroad that proved their undoing. (Bruno Berzins Photo)

Here is a very interesting streetscape. It shows one of the old Third Avenue El stations in the Bowery, Manhattan in 1955, possibly after the line closed on May 12. Those two convertibles are Fords.

Here is a very interesting streetscape. It shows one of the old Third Avenue El stations in the Bowery, Manhattan in 1955, possibly after the line closed on May 12. Those two convertibles are Fords.

This is indeed a rare and historic photo. By comparison with a postcard view on Don Ross' web site, taken at exactly the same time, we can say with certainty that this shows Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria freight loco 25 pulling some coaches into Princeton, Illinois on July 31, 1908. This was the first CO&P train to this area.

This is indeed a rare and historic photo. By comparison with a postcard view on Don Ross’ web site, taken at exactly the same time, we can say with certainty that this shows Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria freight loco 25 pulling some coaches into Princeton, Illinois on July 31, 1908. This was the first CO&P train to this area.

Interior shots from long ago are fairly rare. This one shows Shaker Heights Rapid Transit PCC 42 in May 1967. Don's Rail Photos says, "42 was built by St. Louis Car in 1946, #1655, as SLPS 1767. It was sold as SHRT 42 in 1959 and converted to MU operation after purchase."

Interior shots from long ago are fairly rare. This one shows Shaker Heights Rapid Transit PCC 42 in May 1967. Don’s Rail Photos says, “42 was built by St. Louis Car in 1946, #1655, as SLPS 1767. It was sold as SHRT 42 in 1959 and converted to MU operation after purchase.”

Old-time railfanning was, unfortunately, often a series of "lasts." Here we see DC Transit 1101 at the Peace Monument in front of the Capitol building on January 27, 1962, the last day of service. Streetcars have since returned to Washington, D. C.

Old-time railfanning was, unfortunately, often a series of “lasts.” Here we see DC Transit 1101 at the Peace Monument in front of the Capitol building on January 27, 1962, the last day of service. Streetcars have since returned to Washington, D. C.

Here is a northbound five-car North Shore Line train at Great Lakes on December 30, 1951, with 706 at the rear.

Here is a northbound five-car North Shore Line train at Great Lakes on December 30, 1951, with 706 at the rear.

Chicago, Aurora & Elgin woods 317 and 316 went to the end of the line on the Batavia branch on an Illini Railroad Club fantrip on October 16, 1955.

Chicago, Aurora & Elgin woods 317 and 316 went to the end of the line on the Batavia branch on an Illini Railroad Club fantrip on October 16, 1955.

North Shore Line 733 is at Chicago Avenue on the "L" in June 1953.

North Shore Line 733 is at Chicago Avenue on the “L” in June 1953.

CA&E caboose 1001 at Wheaton, February 21, 1959. This was just prior to the end of freight service on the railroad. Passenger service ended on July 3, 1957, except for a few charters.

CA&E caboose 1001 at Wheaton, February 21, 1959. This was just prior to the end of freight service on the railroad. Passenger service ended on July 3, 1957, except for a few charters.

CTA trolley bus 9440, northbound on Lake Park at 56th, in October 1958. Trolley bus service ended on the 51st-55th route on June 21, 1959, exactly one year after the last Chicago streetcar ran. This was the beginning of a 14-year phase out of electric bus service.

CTA trolley bus 9440, northbound on Lake Park at 56th, in October 1958. Trolley bus service ended on the 51st-55th route on June 21, 1959, exactly one year after the last Chicago streetcar ran. This was the beginning of a 14-year phase out of electric bus service.

Recent Correspondence

Jack Bejna writes:

The Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railway started operations with 8 motors and 2 trailers built by the Niles Car Company in 1902, and 16 motors and 5 trailers built by the John Stephenson Car Company, also in 1902. Here are images of the Stephenson cars except for: CA&E 32 (rebuilt to flat car 1936), CA&E 40 (retired 1911), CA&E 50 (no image found), CA&E 58 (burned 1911).

Thanks for the CA&E photos!

Great stuff, as always.

Jack replies:

My plan is to eventually provide you with as complete a photographic record of the CA&E roster that you may use as you see fit. As I find new images that are worthy of your wonderful site I will provide them to you. The latest group of the original Stephenson order is missing a few of the cars that either were off the roster early or were not photographed much. Car 38 is, of course, the only car that was converted to rectangular end windows so I created an image that highlights the windows.

Thanks for the last two posts of The Trolley Dodger; both of them present a huge amount of information, images, etc., of properties that disappeared many years ago but still live thanks to your continuing efforts!

Good job!!

Chicago Trolleys

Work continues on our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys, which is now in the layout and proofreading stage. The expected publication date is September 25th of this year. We will keep you advised as things progress.

street-railwayreview1895-002

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 185th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 293,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

Recent Finds, Part 2

CTA pre-war PCCs 4016 and 4050 at Western and 79th, southern terminal of route 49. This picture was taken seconds after a similar one on page 363 of CERA Bulletin 146. That picture is dated May 1956 and is attributed to William C. Janssen.

CTA pre-war PCCs 4016 and 4050 at Western and 79th, southern terminal of route 49. This picture was taken seconds after a similar one on page 363 of CERA Bulletin 146. That picture is dated May 1956 and is attributed to William C. Janssen.

The CTA terminal at Western and 79th today.

The CTA terminal at Western and 79th today.

Here are more classic traction photos we recently acquired. While many are from Chicago, our trip this time takes us all around the country, and even across our northern border.

As always, if you have interesting tidbits of information to add, you can either post a Comment here, or drop us a line directly aat:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

Don’t forget, if you click on each picture with your mouse, you can bring up a larger version in your browser, and zoom in on that one too for closer inspection.

Thanks.

-David Sadowski


Chicago Area

When I got this slide, it was identified as being a station on the Garfield Park "L". However, I did some further research, and it is actually the old Austin Boulevard stop on the Douglas Park line. The house and apartment buildings in the background are still there. The Douglas branch was cut back to 54th Avenue in 1952 and the former right-of-way is now used for parking. Locals still call it the "L" Strip.

When I got this slide, it was identified as being a station on the Garfield Park “L”. However, I did some further research, and it is actually the old Austin Boulevard stop on the Douglas Park line. The house and apartment buildings in the background are still there. The Douglas branch was cut back to 54th Avenue in 1952 and the former right-of-way is now used for parking. Locals still call it the “L” Strip.

The same view today.

The same view today.

CTA 2163-2164, then brand new, in the 54th Avenue Yard, west end of the Douglas Park "L" (now the Pink Line) in 1964. The roadway at left is where the line continued before it was cut back in 1952. (Walter Broschart Photo)

CTA 2163-2164, then brand new, in the 54th Avenue Yard, west end of the Douglas Park “L” (now the Pink Line) in 1964. The roadway at left is where the line continued before it was cut back in 1952. (Walter Broschart Photo)

CTA 4002 is shown heading north on route 49 - Western on July 14, 1953. The photographer was up on the Logan Square "L" platform. The people at right are waiting for a southbound car at a safety island. In the distance, we see what was then the Bloomingdale freight spur of the Milwaukee Road, but is now part of the 606 Trail. Jim Huffman adds, "Photo #525. “CTA 4002 is shown heading north on route 49 – Western on July 14, 1953”, I feel is incorrect. 1. There is a 1955 Chevrolet on the left, precludes 1953. 2. 1-Man, Pre-War PCC were assigned in June 1955 (as well as 1-Man Post-Wars), prior to that Western used 2-Man Post-War PCCs only. Went Bus in June 1956. 3. People standing on the safety island are waiting at the end for the front door boarding of an 1-man car. Prior to 1-Man cars, they waited at the other end for the rear doors. 4. Although there is no proof, the 55 Chev looks somewhat used, I would say this is a 1956 photo."

CTA 4002 is shown heading north on route 49 – Western on July 14, 1953. The photographer was up on the Logan Square “L” platform. The people at right are waiting for a southbound car at a safety island. In the distance, we see what was then the Bloomingdale freight spur of the Milwaukee Road, but is now part of the 606 Trail. Jim Huffman adds, “Photo #525. “CTA 4002 is shown heading north on route 49 – Western on July 14, 1953”, I feel is incorrect.
1. There is a 1955 Chevrolet on the left, precludes 1953.
2. 1-Man, Pre-War PCC were assigned in June 1955 (as well as 1-Man Post-Wars), prior to that Western used 2-Man Post-War PCCs only. Went Bus in June 1956.
3. People standing on the safety island are waiting at the end for the front door boarding of an 1-man car. Prior to 1-Man cars, they waited at the other end for the rear doors.
4. Although there is no proof, the 55 Chev looks somewhat used, I would say this is a 1956 photo.”

CSL single-truck mail car H2, apparently still operational, is shown years after streetcar RPO (Railway Post Office) service ended in 1915. It was scrapped on October 2, 1942. From the looks of the autos in the background, this picture may date to the 1920s.

CSL single-truck mail car H2, apparently still operational, is shown years after streetcar RPO (Railway Post Office) service ended in 1915. It was scrapped on October 2, 1942. From the looks of the autos in the background, this picture may date to the 1920s.

CTA red Pullman 225 is shown here on a mid-1950s fantrip at the 77th Street Shops. The big man at front is Maurice Klebolt (1930-1988), who organized many such trips for the Illini Railroad Club. He later moved to San Francisco and helped start the historic trolley festival there. Car 225 is preserved at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine. (Chuck Wlodarczyk Photo)

CTA red Pullman 225 is shown here on a mid-1950s fantrip at the 77th Street Shops. The big man at front is Maurice Klebolt (1930-1988), who organized many such trips for the Illini Railroad Club. He later moved to San Francisco and helped start the historic trolley festival there. Car 225 is preserved at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine. (Chuck Wlodarczyk Photo)

On this fantrip, Maury is calling the shots. Looks like he's wearing a tie with various railroad insignias.

On this fantrip, Maury is calling the shots. Looks like he’s wearing a tie with various railroad insignias.

Car 225 under makeshift cover at Seashore (Kennebunkport, Maine) in the late 1950s. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Car 225 under makeshift cover at Seashore (Kennebunkport, Maine) in the late 1950s. (Walter Broschart Photo)

CSL 2601 is shown running on the last day of streetcar service on route 111 (111th Street), September 22, 1945. As for the exact location, Andre Kristopans says this is "probably just west of Indiana Av., looks like the school campus in background that is between King and Indiana to this day."

CSL 2601 is shown running on the last day of streetcar service on route 111 (111th Street), September 22, 1945. As for the exact location, Andre Kristopans says this is “probably just west of Indiana Av., looks like the school campus in background that is between King and Indiana to this day.”

CSL 4033 passes the Garfield Park field house on Madison in 1938.

CSL 4033 passes the Garfield Park field house on Madison in 1938.

CSL Pullman 318 is heading west on Fullerton in the mid-1930s picture. At right, you can just make out the marquee of the old Liberty Theatre, which opened in 1911 and closed in 1951. The building is now a banquet hall. Will Rogers' name is on the marquee. The photo date is given as September 8, 1937 and I guess that is possible although Rogers died in August 1935.

CSL Pullman 318 is heading west on Fullerton in the mid-1930s picture. At right, you can just make out the marquee of the old Liberty Theatre, which opened in 1911 and closed in 1951. The building is now a banquet hall. Will Rogers’ name is on the marquee. The photo date is given as September 8, 1937 and I guess that is possible although Rogers died in August 1935.

The same area today.

The same area today.

The former Liberty Theatre at 3705 W. Fullerton.

The former Liberty Theatre at 3705 W. Fullerton.

CSL 7024 is westbound on Madison just west of the Chicago River in this September 8, 1937 view. The photo caption describes this as a "noiseless streetcar," with magnetic air brakes and rubber cushioned wheels.

CSL 7024 is westbound on Madison just west of the Chicago River in this September 8, 1937 view. The photo caption describes this as a “noiseless streetcar,” with magnetic air brakes and rubber cushioned wheels.

The view from 400 W. Madison today. We are looking to the southeast.

The view from 400 W. Madison today. We are looking to the southeast.

CTA 7093 is southbound on State Street near Lake, as a route 36 Broadway-State car. The film Scaramouche, playing at the State-Lake, was released on June 27, 1952, so that is the approximate date of this picture. Note a Chicago Motor Coach Company bus at left. The State-Lake opened in 1919 and closed in 1985. It was taken over by WLS-TV for use as a studio. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

CTA 7093 is southbound on State Street near Lake, as a route 36 Broadway-State car. The film Scaramouche, playing at the State-Lake, was released on June 27, 1952, so that is the approximate date of this picture. Note a Chicago Motor Coach Company bus at left. The State-Lake opened in 1919 and closed in 1985. It was taken over by WLS-TV for use as a studio. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

State and Lake today.

State and Lake today.

CTA 7051 is northbound at State and Delaware as a route 36 Broadway-State car in the early 1950s. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

CTA 7051 is northbound at State and Delaware as a route 36 Broadway-State car in the early 1950s. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

State and Delaware today, looking south.

State and Delaware today, looking south.

CTA 1784, on route 16, has just turned from eastbound Lake Street south on Dearborn, and is passing the Selwyn Theater. A poster advertises Joan Bennett and Zachary Scott in the play Bell, Book and Candle. They took over those parts on May 9, 1952, which is the approximate date of this picture. Bell, Book and Candle was later made into a movie in 1958, starring James Stewart and Kim Novak. Michael Todd eventually bought the Harris and Selwyn later in the 1950s and they were converted into movie theaters. The facades of those two buildings have been saved and are now part of the Goodman Theater complex. (Walter Hulsweder Photo)

CTA 1784, on route 16, has just turned from eastbound Lake Street south on Dearborn, and is passing the Selwyn Theater. A poster advertises Joan Bennett and Zachary Scott in the play Bell, Book and Candle. They took over those parts on May 9, 1952, which is the approximate date of this picture. Bell, Book and Candle was later made into a movie in 1958, starring James Stewart and Kim Novak. Michael Todd eventually bought the Harris and Selwyn later in the 1950s and they were converted into movie theaters. The facades of those two buildings have been saved and are now part of the Goodman Theater complex. (Walter Hulsweder Photo)

Dearborn and Lake today.

Dearborn and Lake today.

Joan Bennett and Zachary Scott in the 1952 off-Broadway version of Bell, Book and Candle.

Joan Bennett and Zachary Scott in the 1952 off-Broadway version of Bell, Book and Candle.

Bell, Book and Candle helped inspire the later TV series Bewitched.

Bell, Book and Candle helped inspire the later TV series Bewitched.

This undated photo shows the station (car house) at Cottage Grove and 38th. It is undated, but the newest car shown here was built in 1912. So a good guess would be sometime between 1912 and the early 1920s, when streetcars were painted red to make them more visible to motorists. Several cars can be identified in this picture. From left to right, I see 5368, 5357, 5364, 5378, 5707, 5802, 5782, 5743, 5759, 5736, 5386, 5706, and 5348. All are either Brill-American-Kuhlman cars, or Nearsides. Streetcars last ran out of Cottage Grove in 1955, after which the building was demolished.

This undated photo shows the station (car house) at Cottage Grove and 38th. It is undated, but the newest car shown here was built in 1912. So a good guess would be sometime between 1912 and the early 1920s, when streetcars were painted red to make them more visible to motorists. Several cars can be identified in this picture. From left to right, I see 5368, 5357, 5364, 5378, 5707, 5802, 5782, 5743, 5759, 5736, 5386, 5706, and 5348. All are either Brill-American-Kuhlman cars, or Nearsides. Streetcars last ran out of Cottage Grove in 1955, after which the building was demolished.

A close-up of four unidentified men in the photo. Presumably, all worked out of the Cottage Grove station.

A close-up of four unidentified men in the photo. Presumably, all worked out of the Cottage Grove station.

It's April 23, 1939, and Chicago & West Towns cars 140 and 141 are operating on an early Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip. Car 141, the lone survivor of the fleet, is now restored to operable condition at the Illinois Railway Museum.

It’s April 23, 1939, and Chicago & West Towns cars 140 and 141 are operating on an early Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. Car 141, the lone survivor of the fleet, is now restored to operable condition at the Illinois Railway Museum.


New Site Additions

FYI, these Birney car pictures have been added to Our 150th Post (August 6, 2016):

Fort Collins Municipal Railway "Birney" car 21, at the intersection of Johnson and Mountain Avenues. (Ward Photo)

Fort Collins Municipal Railway “Birney” car 21, at the intersection of Johnson and Mountain Avenues. (Ward Photo)

Restored FCMR 21 as it appeared on May 14, 1995. (Mark D. Meyer Photo)

Restored FCMR 21 as it appeared on May 14, 1995. (Mark D. Meyer Photo)

FCMR 22 on October 26, 1949. Its paint scheme is described as green, red, and aluminum.

FCMR 22 on October 26, 1949. Its paint scheme is described as green, red, and aluminum.

FCMR 25 at the car barn. (Ward Photo)

FCMR 25 at the car barn. (Ward Photo)

Many other cities had Birneys, of course. Here, we see Brantford (Ontario) Municipal Railway car 137 on July 1, 1935. This was ex-Lock Haven, Pa. Electric Railway car #2. (George Slyford Photo)

Many other cities had Birneys, of course. Here, we see Brantford (Ontario) Municipal Railway car 137 on July 1, 1935. This was ex-Lock Haven, Pa. Electric Railway car #2. (George Slyford Photo)

This picture has been added to our post Badger Traction, 2016 (June 14, 2016):

In this mid-1950s view, Village of East Troy Railway freight motor M-15 is shown here in East Troy, Wisconsin, near the power station which now serves as the waiting room for the East Troy Electric Railroad museum operation. It was built by TMER&L in 1920 and is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Walter Broschart Photo)

In this mid-1950s view, Village of East Troy Railway freight motor M-15 is shown here in East Troy, Wisconsin, near the power station which now serves as the waiting room for the East Troy Electric Railroad museum operation. It was built by TMER&L in 1920 and is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Walter Broschart Photo)

We have added this one to The “Other” Penn Central (May 29, 2016):

Montreal Tramways had four of these unique observation cars in their fleet, which were used for sightseeing tours. Here, car #3 is at St. Joseph's Shrine on August 14, 1948. All four cars have been preserved, and car 3 is now at Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum. A few years ago, I rode the very similar car #2 at the Seashore Trolley Museum.

Montreal Tramways had four of these unique observation cars in their fleet, which were used for sightseeing tours. Here, car #3 is at St. Joseph’s Shrine on August 14, 1948. All four cars have been preserved, and car 3 is now at Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum. A few years ago, I rode the very similar car #2 at the Seashore Trolley Museum.

These pictures have been added to Red Arrow in West Chester (September 13, 2016):

This picture shows Red Arrow Brilliner 8 and an older car at the end of the Ardmore branch on May 15, 1949. It looks like the older car is in fantrip service, while the Brilliner is the regular service car ahead of it. The Ardmore branch was replaced by buses in 1966.

This picture shows Red Arrow Brilliner 8 and an older car at the end of the Ardmore branch on May 15, 1949. It looks like the older car is in fantrip service, while the Brilliner is the regular service car ahead of it. The Ardmore branch was replaced by buses in 1966.

Here, Red Arrow Brill Master Unit 86 is the regular service car at the end of the line in West Chester, with the older fantrip car behind it. Again, the date is May 15, 1949.

Here, Red Arrow Brill Master Unit 86 is the regular service car at the end of the line in West Chester, with the older fantrip car behind it. Again, the date is May 15, 1949.

The photo caption reads, "Two car streamline train arriving at Norristown, looking up from R. R. tracks." The date is May 12, 1935, meaning these "Bullet" cars were just a few years old.

The photo caption reads, “Two car streamline train arriving at Norristown, looking up from R. R. tracks.” The date is May 12, 1935, meaning these “Bullet” cars were just a few years old.

This picture was added to Chicago’s Pre-PCCs (May 5, 2015):

Baltimore Transit Company car 6105, shown here on route 15 - Ostend St., is one of the last modern streetcars built before PCCs took over the market. The sign on front says that September 7 will be the last day for 6 hour local rides. Perhaps that can help date the picture.

Baltimore Transit Company car 6105, shown here on route 15 – Ostend St., is one of the last modern streetcars built before PCCs took over the market. The sign on front says that September 7 will be the last day for 6 hour local rides. Perhaps that can help date the picture.


Bonus Pictures

The Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley (aka the Laurel Line) was a Scranton-area interurban powered by third rail, much as the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin was. Here, we see coach #37 in Scranton on September 9, 1950. The line quit at the end of 1952. There were no takers for these cars and all were scrapped. It has been suggested that perhaps CA&E might have benefited from buying some of these cars, although it does seem they were too long for tight turns on the Chicago "L". However, I do not know if this would have prevented them from running on the CA&E after the system was cut back to Forest Park. In any case, CA&E had previously reduced the length of other cars purchased from the Baltimore & Annapolis in 1938. What was missing in 1953, apparently, was a willingness to continue trying to operate.

The Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley (aka the Laurel Line) was a Scranton-area interurban powered by third rail, much as the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin was. Here, we see coach #37 in Scranton on September 9, 1950. The line quit at the end of 1952. There were no takers for these cars and all were scrapped. It has been suggested that perhaps CA&E might have benefited from buying some of these cars, although it does seem they were too long for tight turns on the Chicago “L”. However, I do not know if this would have prevented them from running on the CA&E after the system was cut back to Forest Park. In any case, CA&E had previously reduced the length of other cars purchased from the Baltimore & Annapolis in 1938. What was missing in 1953, apparently, was a willingness to continue trying to operate.

The Hagerstown & Frederick was a Maryland interurban in sparsely populated rural areas, a veritable real-life "Toonerville Trolley." Despite having practically no ridership, it subsisted on freight and somehow managed to survive into the mid-1950s. Here, we see freight motor #5 in Frederick, Maryland on April 11, 1954. (Gene Connelly Photo)

The Hagerstown & Frederick was a Maryland interurban in sparsely populated rural areas, a veritable real-life “Toonerville Trolley.” Despite having practically no ridership, it subsisted on freight and somehow managed to survive into the mid-1950s. Here, we see freight motor #5 in Frederick, Maryland on April 11, 1954. (Gene Connelly Photo)

In some sense, the Charles City Western in Iowa was comparable to the Hagerstown & Frederick, in that it had sparse ridership, yet managed to survive into the 1950s with freight. Here we see combine 50 in March 1937. Don's Rail Photos notes, "50 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1915. It became Iowa Terminal 101 in December 1964. It was sent to Mount Pleasant and restored as CCW 50. It was then sent to Boone & Scenic Valley RR." Vintage audio of the Charles City Western in operation can be heard on Railroad Record Club disc #28, which is available on compact disc via our Online Store.

In some sense, the Charles City Western in Iowa was comparable to the Hagerstown & Frederick, in that it had sparse ridership, yet managed to survive into the 1950s with freight. Here we see combine 50 in March 1937. Don’s Rail Photos notes, “50 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1915. It became Iowa Terminal 101 in December 1964. It was sent to Mount Pleasant and restored as CCW 50. It was then sent to Boone & Scenic Valley RR.” Vintage audio of the Charles City Western in operation can be heard on Railroad Record Club disc #28, which is available on compact disc via our Online Store.

The Omaha & Council Bluffs Street Railway operated between Nebraska and Iowa. Here, car 814 is shown in Council Bluffs in September 1936, unloading passengers next to a natty-looking 1935 V8 Ford Sedan Delivery, advertising Old gold cigarettes. I assume this car was built by O&CB in 1908 and was rebuilt in 1932, possibly to convert it to one-man service. If so, riders would board at the rear and pay as they left through the front. Note the "people catcher" device at front.

The Omaha & Council Bluffs Street Railway operated between Nebraska and Iowa. Here, car 814 is shown in Council Bluffs in September 1936, unloading passengers next to a natty-looking 1935 V8 Ford Sedan Delivery, advertising Old gold cigarettes. I assume this car was built by O&CB in 1908 and was rebuilt in 1932, possibly to convert it to one-man service. If so, riders would board at the rear and pay as they left through the front. Note the “people catcher” device at front.


Recent Correspondence

Virginia Sammis writes:

I wrote you once before, and I was hoping you might be able to help me again. I am still trying to find CSL employee photos. I had a researcher in Chicago spend some hours looking at the CHM archives of the CSL newsletter and she did find Gustav Johnson’s brief obituary in there for 1946. But very few photos. Do you know of any other place I might find photos of employees of CSL?

(She had written some months ago, looking for information on Gustav Johnson, who emigrated to America around 1880, worked for the Chicago Surface Lines, and died in 1946.)

The employee newsletter would have been the best bet. However, I do know a genealogist, and I can ask her to see what she can find out.

In the CTA era, which started in October 1947, the newsletter ran more pictures of retirees, of which there were many. However, we are talking about several thousands of people working there at any one given time, so the odds of finding one person are not good.

If you know which routes, or which car houses (aka “stations”) he might have worked at, that would help.

I just got a picture (see elsewhere in this post) showing four guys standing outside the car barn at Cottage Grove and 38th, taken in the early 20th century, but have no way of knowing who the people in the picture are.

I will run your request in my blog, and see what other people might suggest.

Ms. Sammis replied:

This is what his obituary said:
“Gustave Johnsen, 84, motorman from Devon, died 11-22-46, after along illness. He had been with the company for 35 years.”

It was actually spelled Gustav Johnson. Does that mean that he would have reported to work every day at the Devon Station at 6454 N. Clark St/Devon St.? Also, can you confirm that a “motorman” was the engineer on the trolley and the “conductor” collected the fares?

Thank you for your help David. I am determined to find a photograph of Gustav SOMEWHERE!

Yes, that means he worked out of the Devon station, or car house. And yes, the motorman operated the streetcar, while the conductor collected the fares. We have run lots of pictures in previous posts showing streetcars at or near Devon station. You can find those by typing Devon into the search window at the top of this page.

Thanks.

-David Sadowski


Our resident South Side expert M. E. writes:

Your latest post, Recent Finds Part 2, includes a photo of the carbarn at 38th and Cottage Grove. This photo obviates my wild guess that perhaps the photo ostensibly of the 69th and Ashland carbarn instead might have been the 38th & Cottage barn. (See our previous post Recent Finds, December 2, 2016.)

In the new photo, https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/dave511.jpg , the bay numbers under the Chicago City Railway logo are 7 and 6. In the previous photo, https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/dave4891.jpg , the bay number under the logo is 4.

This observation, together with the Campbell barn label (Campbell is nowhere near Cottage Grove), cements my opinion that you are correct saying the previous photo is of the 69th and Ashland carbarn.

None of which solves the mysteries of why there are so many 4 Cottage Grove cars at the 69th and Ashland barn, and how they got there from Cottage Grove.

It’s a mystery, alright… hopefully one we will eventually clear up, thanks!


Kenneth Gear writes:

Hi David. I’ve been falling behind on my reading lately and just today read the latest Trolley Dodger “Recent Finds 2”.

I was very interested in the photo of Hagerstown & Frederick Railway freight motor # 5.

Back in 2008 while chasing and photographing the Maryland Midland RR train UBHF from Union Bridge to Highfield, I was surprised to find H&F freight motor #5 displayed at the former site of the H&F Thurmont Station along Main Street.

It was apparently under going restoration at the time. The building in the background is a former H&F electric sub station. I’m not sure how this restoration has progressed in the ensuing years, but here is the photo I took back on March 9, 2008:

hagerstown-and-frederrick-rr-freight-motor-at-power-sub-station-thurmont-md-3-9-08

Thanks! Good to know this car was saved. Here’s what Don’s Rail Photos says: “5 was built by H&F in 1920. It was retired in 1955 and went to Shade Gap Electric Ry. It then was returned to home by H&F Ry Historical Society.”

About the line in general, Don Ross adds:

“It’s hard to describe the H&F since it seems to be more of a country trolley than an interurban line. Yet they did operate freight service and covered some 76 miles of line in western Maryland. It was the last passenger interurban east of Chicago. The H&F was a consolidation of several lines dating back to 1902. They joined together in 1913. Abandonments began in 1932. In 1938 the main line was cut so that there were two separate sections, one at Hagerstown, and the other at Frederick. The Hagerstown line finally quit in 1947, but the Frederick to Thurmont passenger service lasted until February 20, 1954. Freight service was later dieselized but lasted only until 1958.”

I checked and it looks like the car went from the Rockhill Trolley Museum to Thurmont in 2006. The car is now owned by the City and there are trucks under the body.

As for the Shade Gap name, here is how the Wikipedia explains it:

The museum operates what has been historically referred to as the Shade Gap Electric Railway to demonstrate the operable pieces in its collection. “Shade Gap” refers to the name of a branch of the East Broad Top Railroad, from whom the museum leases it property.

-David Sadowski


Charles Turek writes:

re: Recent Finds, Part 2 – image dave513.jpg

Having grown up at 27th & Harvey in Berwyn, IL, effective walking distance from Austin/Cermak in the 1950s, I can confirm the station is, indeed, Austin on the Douglas Park line. The distinctive chain gate, which was atypical for the line, was my first clue. I used to find this gate fascinating to watch and enjoyed hearing the pulleys (in the towers on each side of Austin) crank it up and down. This was a very busy area in those days and the chain gate was effective in stopping traffic in both lanes that would otherwise attempt to get past standard gates to make the signals at Cermak Road. Nonetheless, the gateman who holed up in the little house in front of the station was still necessary.

Love your web pages and visit them often.


Stained Glass from New York’s Third Avenue El

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FYI, to raise money to help fund the original research we do on this site, we are selling two unique artifacts— decorative stained glass, circa 1878, from stations on the old IRT Third Avenue El in New York, which was torn down in 1955. We purchased these several years ago from a noted New York collector.

You can check out our eBay auction here. This may be your only opportunity to own a true piece of history from that fabled line, which has yet to be replaced more than 60 years after it was abandoned.

Thanks.


New Book Project

We are now working on a new paperback book Chicago Trolleys, that we expect will be published in 2017. Original research does cost money, so please consider making a donation to cover our costs. We will keep you updated as we progress, and thank you in advance for your help.


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 170th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 228,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a contribution there as well.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

Guy Wicksall and His Films

South Shore Line car 102 in downtown Chicago.

South Shore Line car 102 in downtown Chicago.

You probably have not ever heard of Guy J. Wicksall before, but he has been shooting movies of trains for a long time now. He recently had some of his rare 16mm color films converted to video. By special arrangement with the photographer, we are now able to offer our readers The Guy Wicksall Traction Collection (1963-1975) on DVD (details below, at the end of this post).

All the photos in this post are screen grabs from the Wicksall Collection. We figured the best way to introduce these films to you would be to go to the source, and discuss them with Guy himself.

Here is an edited transcript of my conversation with the man behind the movies from October 10, 2016.  Mr. Wicksall is now 81 years old and lives in the Finger Lakes area in upstate New York.

-David Sadowski


How long have you been making movies?

I started making movies in 1960. I have right now, some 59 DVDs. If I could ever get the money together, I have enough material for another 30 or 40.

That’s pretty incredible. What subject matter would most of them be?

Most of it is anything that ran on steel rails (laughs), there are a few exceptions, I have a few of the aerial cable ways in Switzerland. I have a real short piece, a 15-minute piece, on the Minnesota Transportation Museum trolleys.

And what percentage of your film footage would you say is devoted to electric traction?

Oh, probably 5 percent, maybe as much as 10 when you count in the European stuff.

And was it all 16mm that you shot?

Not all of it. The first few years I was shooting 8mm. When Kodak came out with their Super 8, my local photo shop loaned me a sample of Kodak Super 8 film, and I looked at that, and compared it with the 8mm, and decided that the 8mm wasn’t suitable, and the Super 8 wasn’t any better, so I changed at that time to 16mm.

(Editor’s note: Kodak introduced Super 8 in 1965, but some of Mr. Wicksall’s 16mm films date back to 1963. You can read more about these film formats here.)

And how much larger is the 16mm film area that the 8mm?

Oh, well, it’s at least four times the area.

That makes a tremendous difference as far as the quality is concerned. I’m very pleased with the excellent quality of the films that you made, because I am used to seeing videos made up from 8mm, where the picture is so fuzzy that if you made a screen shot of it, you’d hardly know what it was a picture of.

Right. I know what you mean. And, talking with people, it seems that the Super 8 got worse as the years went by. They tried to push the speed, it hurt the quality of the image.

Was it Kodachrome or Ektachrome, or both?

Kodachrome.

What was the film speed back then?

Well, I started out with 25 ASA, and I think I got to 64 at some point.

And what kind of film was available for 16mm? Was it also Kodachrome?

Yes. I always shot Kodachrome on the 16mm.

And then, at some point, did you switch over to using video?

Yes, I got pushed into it by the cost, when I started shooting 16 it was about $9 for a 50-foot reel, and it went to $70, and I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to go to something that was a little more reasonable. Unfortunately, I lost a little quality on the early Hi8 camera I used.

Sure. But now they keep coming up with new formats for the video, they’ve got this new one called 4k, which is the best one yet.

Well, the big problem is they keep changing formats so quickly. Now I’ve had three different video cameras with three different setups. A couple used Hi8, and the last one is digital video on SD cards, and things keep changing.

Regarding some of the film on the two traction discs, I could ask you a few questions. You made some business trips to Chicago, is that how you ended up making some films around Chicago?

Some of it was business trips to Chicago, and some of it was just plain vacation. I didn’t get a lot of business trips. The stuff shot in New York was on business trips, and some of the stuff shot in Chicago was on business trips, but not all of it.

In ’63 or so, you took some film on the “L”. It looked like you were at what they now call Adams and Wabash station, watching some trains come around into the station, and you’ve got some footage where you rode out on the Lake Street “L” to Oak Park.

Right.

That was the year after they had elevated that one section, the outer end of the Lake Street “L”, it ran on the ground for 2 ½ miles on the west end, and I saw that you had a glimpse there showing the track was still in place, even though you were up on the embankment. But it looks like they had paved over the grade crossings.

I was wondering a little bit what that track was.

Until October 28, 1962, the west end of the Lake Street “L” ran on the ground, west of the Laramie station. There was a ramp that went down to ground level and it ran parallel to the Chicago and North Western embankment there, using overhead wire. They had trolley poles on the trains, and clearances were very tight. There were something like 22 grade crossings, blind crossings, where you could easily have an accident where a vehicle would run under that viaduct and run right into a train. It was kind of dangerous. These were manually operated gates, so there was a lot of manpower involved.

The CTA wanted to reduce expenses, improve the running time, and safety, so they made a deal with the Chicago and North Western in the 1950s to relocate the tracks onto the embankment, which had probably been put up sometime around 1910. It was a big project which involved a variety of different government bodies, the Village of Oak Park, the City of Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority, the State of Illinois, and it was a “win-win” situation, because everybody benefited from the relocation of the tracks. When they got rid of those tracks, that made the street wider, and it allowed for more parking, and of course there were a lot of improvements based on the quicker running time for the trains, and since it was grade separated, there weren’t going to be any more accidents with pedestrians and vehicles.

I grew up in the area around Oak Park, so we rode those trains many times when they ran on the ground. The clearances were so tight that they couldn’t run the 6000-series “L” cars, which had curved sides, and just that little bit of extra room was enough that they couldn’t run those cars on that part of the line. I noticed also that you had taken some film showing trains going up the ramp out of the old Hamlin Yard, which was near Lake and Pulaski.

You remind me of what was in that video. A lot of it, I’ve forgotten. Of course, it’s been a few years, I’ve had some time to forget stuff.

Yeah, for car storage then, they really didn’t have a proper yard as such at the end of the line, which was in Forest Park, just west of Harlem Avenue. For car storage, they had this Hamlin Yard, across the street from West Shops, used by the Surface Lines. They had streetcar trackage running in and out of there, where they had overhead wire. They also had a third track on the Lake Street “L” where they stored some cars. You had some great shots of all of that.

And then you had shots of the South Shore Line and the Illinois Central Electric, showing the old IC cars from 1926, plus the Highliners, the bi-levels that were replacing them back in the ’70s.

Yes, yes.

All great stuff. Those first generation Highliners have now been retired, just within the last year or so, and they’ve been replaced by something very similar, but more modern.

That’s the thing about a lot of this railfanning. I’ve been at it long enough that sometimes, the things have been replaced, and sometimes the replacements have been replaced.

Right. And on the South Shore Line, all those old cars have been replaced. I think that many of them have been saved, by many railway museums, and there are a few of them that actually operate some, like the Illinois Railway Museum, and the East Troy Electric Railroad in Wisconsin. I did ride those cars a few times in their twilight years. Those cars were replaced by some Japanese-made vehicles around 1981, and now they even have some bi-levels of their own. They piggybacked on an order of cars for the Metra Electric, which runs the service now that used to be the Illinois Central suburban. They just use them during weekday rush hours. There is even now some talk of double-tracking the rest of the line out to South Bend.

It’s been a lot of changes.

Your first shots there of the South Shore Line were taken in 1971 or so. Up until the summer of 1970, they ran all the way into downtown South Bend. They had some street running there, which they cut back to the outskirts of town. Since that time, they built some new track to a nearby airport. There’s always been talk about grade separating the track that runs on the streets through Michigan City, but they haven’t done that yet. They keep arguing over which route they would use. So, at the moment, all those South Shore trains run right down the street through Michigan City, like they have for many, many decades.

You had some great footage in other places too, like in San Francisco, amazing shots of all that wonderful old equipment. Fortunately, they still have some old equipment running, on those historic lines they’ve come up with, and then Red Arrow, some great footage there of the Red Arrow Lines. Do you have some memories of those visits?

Oh yes. I have some memories, but I don’t have the details. I have to watch the videos to see what I saw.

There’s a lot out east, New York and New Jersey.

I’ve got a lot of, oh dear, Conrail. I was looking here, I’ve got Minnesota Transportation Museum, September ’74, that’s 11 minutes. There’s another one that’s about 15 minutes, that shows the same stuff years later.

Some of the east coast stuff would be interesting to many people. There’s a friend of mine who lives in New Jersey. I’m sure he would love to see your footage of the Gladstone Branch, the Erie Lackawanna. Some of that reminds me of, the old cars there, reminds me a lot of the ones that were used on the Illinois Central.

Trains have changed so much in the last 50 years.

Sure, those lines are running too, but they’re all NJ Transit.

Now, the Como-Harriet trolley (Minneapolis-St. Paul), I have the one reel from 1974, and another one that shows the same thing in 1998, with expansion and so on. Anyway, I’ve got these two, which add up to another oh, 26 minutes. They might be of some small interest too.

Oh, sure.

I used to show my movies to the Syracuse chapter of the NRHS. I wore out a projector doing that. Now I’ve gotta get off the phone. My wife is calling me for supper.

I have no objection to your making copies of these DVDs, and to sell them. I am quite happy with it. My thought is, it does no good sitting on my shelf. I would rather have it spread as widely as possible, and you look like you might be a good person to do that.

It’s been so nice talking to you. We’ll be in touch. Thanks so much. Take care.

You’re welcome.


The original Illinois Central Electric trains, which were built in 1926.

The original Illinois Central Electric trains, which were built in 1926.

4000s pass the old Tower 12 at Wabash and Van Buren in Chicago's Loop.

4000s pass the old Tower 12 at Wabash and Van Buren in Chicago’s Loop.

A Lake train of 4000s approaches Adams and Wabash in 1963, when the Loop was single-directional.

A Lake train of 4000s approaches Adams and Wabash in 1963, when the Loop was single-directional.

A two-car CTA Ravenswood train approaches Adams and Wabash in 1963.

A two-car CTA Ravenswood train approaches Adams and Wabash in 1963.

In 1963, the old Lake Street Transfer station had not yet been torn down. It was removed the following year. Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains stopped running on the other level here in 1951.

In 1963, the old Lake Street Transfer station had not yet been torn down. It was removed the following year. Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains stopped running on the other level here in 1951.

A quick glimpse of CTA trolley bus 9649.

A quick glimpse of CTA trolley bus 9649.

A Milwaukee Road train in the early 1960s. Not sure if this is inter-city or commuter service. Bi-levels were being phased in on the MR commuter lines. David Vartanoff adds: "The Milw Road train is a commuter run. By the time he was filming, intercity cars had been repainted to UP as the E-7 was."

A Milwaukee Road train in the early 1960s. Not sure if this is inter-city or commuter service. Bi-levels were being phased in on the MR commuter lines. David Vartanoff adds: “The Milw Road train is a commuter run. By the time he was filming, intercity cars had been repainted to UP as the E-7 was.”

The photographer was on a northbound Evanston train that was pacing a Howard train of 6000s.

The photographer was on a northbound Evanston train that was pacing a Howard train of 6000s.

4000s pass the old Tower 18 in Chicago's Loop. It was torn down and relocated in 1969 so that Lake Street trains could go directly east at this point, when that line was paired with the new Dan Ryan service.

4000s pass the old Tower 18 in Chicago’s Loop. It was torn down and relocated in 1969 so that Lake Street trains could go directly east at this point, when that line was paired with the new Dan Ryan service.

CTA single-car units under wire in Evanston in 1963.

CTA single-car units under wire in Evanston in 1963.

A Pennsy GG1.

A Pennsy GG1.

A New Haven train emerges from a tunnel in Manhattan.

A New Haven train emerges from a tunnel in Manhattan.

A New York rapid transit train on the 7 line in 1964.

A New York rapid transit train on the 7 line in 1964.

The New York Central in Manhattan.

The New York Central in Manhattan.

To this day, San Francisco operates trolley buses as well as PCCs.

To this day, San Francisco operates trolley buses as well as PCCs.

SF Muni PCC 1021 and a 1955-57 two-seater Thunderbird roadster.

SF Muni PCC 1021 and a 1955-57 two-seater Thunderbird roadster.

SF Muni double-end PCC 1015.

SF Muni double-end PCC 1015.

A San Francisco cable car in the late 1960s.

A San Francisco cable car in the late 1960s.

Red Arrow Strafford car 163 on a curve.

Red Arrow Strafford car 163 on a curve.

Red Arrow Strafford car 164.

Red Arrow Strafford car 164.

A Strafford car with a Liberty Liner (ex-North Shore Line Electroliner) behind it at 69th Street.

A Strafford car with a Liberty Liner (ex-North Shore Line Electroliner) behind it at 69th Street.

A Bullet car on the Norristown High-Speed Line.

A Bullet car on the Norristown High-Speed Line.

A train of Philadelphia "Almond Joys" at 69th Street Terminal.

A train of Philadelphia “Almond Joys” at 69th Street Terminal.

St. Louis-built double-end car 16 (not an official PCC, although it certainly looks like one) on the Red Arrow.

St. Louis-built double-end car 16 (not an official PCC, although it certainly looks like one) on the Red Arrow.

Red Arrow Brilliner #1 at 69th Street.

Red Arrow Brilliner #1 at 69th Street.

David Vartanoff: "PRR never had RDCs. That is an NYC (New York Central) car."

David Vartanoff: “PRR never had RDCs. That is an NYC (New York Central) car.”

David Vartanoff: "The PRR EMU you show is NYC (New York Central). The under running third rail is the clue."

David Vartanoff: “The PRR EMU you show is NYC (New York Central). The under running third rail is the clue.”

Erie Lackawanna.

Erie Lackawanna.

A Penn Central train.

A Penn Central train.

An Erie Lackawanna train in New Jersey.

An Erie Lackawanna train in New Jersey.

700-series electric freight locos.

700-series electric freight locos.

The South Shore Line shops in Michigan City.

The South Shore Line shops in Michigan City.

The South Shore Line in Indiana.

The South Shore Line in Indiana.

South Shore Line car 108 in Chicago.

South Shore Line car 108 in Chicago.

An Illinois Central bi-level whose end has not yet been repainted in brighter colors.

An Illinois Central bi-level whose end has not yet been repainted in brighter colors.

IC Highliners downtown.

IC Highliners downtown.

Illinois Central bi-levels in Chicago, with the old Central Station in the background.

Illinois Central bi-levels in Chicago, with the old Central Station in the background.


Recent Correspondence

Father Thomas Nagle writes:

Hello…hope you can point me in the right direction. I remember seeing CTA wreck wagons as a kid and was always fascinated by them. They looked like CFD rigs to me with Mars lights, gongs and sirens and even red and green headlights. Are there any photos of them available anywhere? I’ve googled them and come up empty. Thank you.

Fr Thomas Nangle
CPD chaplain retired

Perhaps our readers may have some pictures, thanks!

One of our regular readers writes:

Why didn’t the CSL/CTA ever install Post War PCC cars on Ashland Avenue? The street was as wide as Western Avenue from the north end to the south end. All that would have been necessary would have been the construction of an off street loop (such as Western and Berwyn) at 95th Street and a connecting track off of northbound Clark to southbound Southport at the north terminal.

PS: Is it possible that Ashland and Milwaukee might have been slated for PCCs if they had ordered 1,000 as had been originally thought?

In 1937, when the “Green Book” plan was issued, the City of Chicago envisioned replacing half the existing streetcar fleet with PCCs, and the other half with buses (some of which would have been trolley buses). But the report noted that at some future date, buses might be able to handle all the traffic.

Half the fleet, at that time, would have been something more like 1,500 PCC cars. That the number was soon reduced to 1,000 probably reflects the continuing trend toward buses.

Milwaukee would have to be a candidate for PCCs, since one PCC (4051) was operated there in 1940-41, on a test basis with the altered door configuration that CSL adopted for the postwar cars.

On the other hand, arguing against that is the plan, formulated in 1939, for the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway. Only the outer portion of Milwaukee truly made sense to run PCCs if you were going to have a greatly improved, more direct rapid transit service running in a subway on Milwaukee. PCCs would have done well in feeder service between the Imlay Loop at the city limits and the Logan Square terminal.

Offhand, I don’t know where Ashland would stack up in a list of the heaviest lines. But certainly the prevailing wisdom at CSL in the 1930s and 40s was to use streetcars for the heaviest lines, trolley buses for the medium ones, and gas or diesel buses for the rest. I assume that Ashland had plenty enough ridership to be considered for PCCs, though, and it would have been an excellent choice.

Ridership in the WWII era was heavy enough that CSL and the City planned to assign the 600 postwar PCCs to just four major lines. But by the time the deliveries were complete, this had been expanded to six lines, since ridership was declining.

What we don’t know is how strategic these assignments were, with the thought of creating an ongoing streetcar system for Chicago that could have continued into the future. One thought is that perhaps the CTA and the City felt that they had to spread the new cars around, so that more neighborhoods would benefit from the new service.

If that was a consideration, it would argue against Ashland, since it ran parallel to Western and went to many of the same parts of town. It would argue in favor of choosing a street like 63rd, which ran east-west on the south side and therefore served different neighborhoods.

In any event, by 1947 the CTA, even as it was still taking deliveries on the postwar order, seems to have planned for the gradual phasing out of streetcars, even the PCC ones. The 1947 CTA modernization plan (which you can read in my E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story), which covered the years 1946-1955, anticipated having only three streetcar lines left by 1955, which is pretty much what actually did happen. Presumably, they would have phased those out in the years following 1955, if another such plan had been published.

Furthermore, it was not always possible for CTA to put turnback loops where they wanted them. The area around 95th and Ashland was built up and who knows what locations would have been available.

There were plans to build a loop for the 36-Broadway at 115th that never materialized, due to neighborhood opposition. And the Grand-Nordica trolley bus loop for route 65 – Grand could only be put a couple blocks away from Harlem, which would have been much the preferred location.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. You can always reach us at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com


New From Trolley Dodger Press

VIDEOS ON DVD:

South Shore Line car 102 in downtown Chicago.

South Shore Line car 102 in downtown Chicago.

The Guy Wicksall Traction Collection (1963-1975)

Our latest release, by special arrangement with Guy Wicksall, features video transfers of rare, high quality 16mm color films of electric railroads taken across the country between 1963 and 1975. These are much better quality than the more typical 8mm films railfans used back then. If you like classic railfan videos, you are sure to enjoy this collection, which features narration by the photographer. Mr. Wicksall receives a royalty on each disc sold.

Disc 1: 38 Chicago and New York Commuter Trains, 1963-1964 (18:24)
Includes Illinois Central Electric, South Shore Line, Chicago Transit Authority “L” trains in the Loop, on Lake Street, Howard, and Evanston lines, Chicago & North Western and Milwaukee Road commuters, Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Central, Long Island Rail Road, New Haven, and New York elevated trains.

Disc 2: 48 Commuter Trains, 1968-1975 (57:22)
Includes San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) PCCs (some double-ended), trolley buses, and cable cars, Philadelphia Suburban (Red Arrow Lines), including Straffords and Bullets), Penn Central, New Haven, Erie Lackawanna, South Shore Line, Illinois Central Electric, and more.

Total time – 75:46

# of Discs – 2
Price: $24.95


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 161st post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 206,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

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Badger Traction, 2016

The Minneapolis car at East Troy.

The Minneapolis car at East Troy.

Badger Traction is alive and well in Wisconsin, the Badger State. Although the Interurban era ended when the last North Shore Line train crossed the state line into Illinois in 1963, interesting things are happening here, with more to come. The new Milwaukee “starter” streetcar should be up and running in a few years.

Electric trains have run continuously between East Troy and Mukwanago, more or less, since 1907, although it was freight only from 1939 until 1973. Soon after, a museum operation began*, which unfortunately had its problems and got replaced with the current incarnation, the East Troy Electric Railroad. This is the last remaining original remnant of what was once a vast Wisconsin interurban network.

It’s been a few years since I went to East Troy, but I made the trip last weekend and as usual it was very enjoyable. The people are friendly, as they are all over Wisconsin, and the museum is headed in the right direction. Restoration work continues on various cars in their roster, their facilities have recently been improved, and they have a group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers.

Our the way north, we made a short stop for lunch at the historic Franks Diner in Kenosha, where we spotted the Chicago tribute car out on the two-mile long loop. (See the video at the end of this post.)

Service at East Troy is usually two different trains running on an hourly basis, meeting up at a passing siding in the middle of the main line between the power house and the Elegant Farmer. This year, they are operating on an additional two miles of trackage east of the Elegant Farmer to a local park, near a lake. It’s a nice addition and makes for a picturesque ride, and the track is actually in better shape than the regular main line. (I was told they are replacing 250 ties on the main line this year.)

The day we were there, they were running the former Minneapolis car 1583, and a two-car train made up of 4000-series Chicago “L” cars. South Shore Line interurban car 30 was parked at the East Troy depot but did not operate. Still, I took a look inside and marveled at the new bucket seats that were recently installed.

The only trackage that they do not regularly operate now is a spur line to an industrial park in East Troy. I was told that this is operational, and was used last year to shuttle people back and forth when a new plant opened.

This is not a high-speed operation, being limited to 15 miles per hour. As our conductor explained, it’s more about the trip than how fast you get there.

Here’s what Don’s Rail Photos says about Twin Cities Rapid Transit Co. car 1583:

1583 was built at Snelling Shops in May 1913 as Class L-8. It was rebuilt in 1921, one-manned in 1928, and rebuilt in 1948. In 1954 it was retired and sold for use as a cottage in northwest Wisconsin. In 1981 it was acquired and rebuilding began by Paul Averdung as Duluth-Superior Transit 253 which was an almost identical car. It now operates on the East Troy Electric Ry.

One interesting feature of the 1583 is its air horn. This sounded different depending on which direction the car was going, more like a horn one way, and a whistle the other. Yet I was told the same horn is used in both directions, although I did not try to confirm that. I made sure to record several horn blasts on the videos at the end of this post.

While in Wisconsin, we spotted some interesting vintage cars, including a 1929 Ford Model A (a “Fordor,” natch), a 1938 Pontiac Touring Sedan, and a 1953 Studebaker (see pictures below).

After our train rides, we bought an apple pie that was baked in a paper bag at the Elegant Farmer, always a good place to stop by, and then had some great burgers at Fred’s Parkview in Burlington.

However, there was one more bit of railfan serendipity on our way back south, although we did not manage to snap a picture. We drove past a steam excursion train in Fox Lake, Illinois, headed up by Nickel Plate Road 765, with an impressive array of passenger cars, including some dome cars behind it. It was just leaving town as we got there.

Here’s what I found about this steam trip:

CHICAGO, May 4, 2016 – The second weekend in June will mark an historic occasion for rail fans with the return of the Nickel Plate Road’s locomotive No. 765 to the Chicago region.

On Saturday, June 11, this 400-ton historic steam locomotive will make an appearance at Franklin Park’s annual Railroad Daze festival followed by its first public excursion trip in the Chicago region in more than 20 years on Sunday, June 12.

Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive no. 765 will be on live-steam display for visitors to Franklin Park’s Railroad Daze from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 11. On Sunday, June 12, No. 765 will pull “The Varsity” an exclusive roundtrip excursion train between The Glen of North Glenview stop on Metra’s Milwaukee North Line and Janesville, Wis. The train will also stop for passengers at Metra’s Fox Lake Station.

“The Varsity” will feature vintage passenger cars from the 1930s-1950s and will include accommodations in standard coach, deluxe coach, and first class and dome car. Tickets can be ordered online or by calling 888-718-4253. Additional information and frequently asked questions can be read at fortwaynerailroad.org/faq.

“We are thrilled to bring the dramatic sights and sounds of no. 765 to the region,” said Bill Otter, president of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS). “We could not be more fortunate to be working with Metra, the Village of Franklin Park, the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad and the Iowa Pacific to bring this type of experience to thousands of area residents.”

Owned and operated by the FWRHS, no. 765 has operated passenger excursions and public exhibitions throughout the Midwest since 1979. The locomotive and train attract passengers from around the world for numerous sell-out excursions throughout the year. No. 765 was originally built in 1944, restored in 1979 and completely rebuilt in 2005 and is maintained by an all-volunteer crew.

“There is nothing like the sights, sounds and mechanical marvels of a steam locomotive in mainline service! Please join us as we relive a past era of railroading in the Chicago area, and throughout America. Welcome aboard!” stated R.R. Conway, Senior Trainmaster, Metra.

“The Varsity” will operate over the route of its Milwaukee Road namesake train, which originally ran between Chicago and Madison, Wis., until 1971. The No. 765’s excursion June 12 will be the first by a steam locomotive over portions of the route since 1953.

The visit to Railroad Daze and the excursion trip to Janesville are operated in partnership with Metra, the Village of Franklin Park, Wisconsin and Southern Railroad, Iowa Pacific and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS). In addition, the Indiana Harbor Belt and Norfolk Southern Corp are assisting in the logistics and transportation of No. 765 to and from the events.

The operation and ongoing maintenance of No. 765 is supported by donations, ticket sales and a membership base of around 1,000 supporters.

“These types of operations are incredibly complex, involving countless parties, organizations, railroads and individuals. All of them prove crucial to inspiring people with the power of the 765,” added Otter.

Additional excursions for No. 765 will be announced later this season.

Another Chicago-area trip using NKP 765 is planned for June 25 and 26.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t been to East Troy, or haven’t gone in a while, take my advice and make the trip. You’ll be glad you did.

The only thing that could have made our trip even better would have been to ride the Milwaukee car, which I still haven’t done. But as the Brooklyn baseball fans used to say, “wait ’til next year.”

-David Sadowski

PS- All the photographs in this post are mine unless otherwise noted.

*The original operation was called the East Troy Trolley Museum, and was run by the Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society. Upon leaving East Troy, their collection was dispersed and some cars went to the Illinois Railway Museum. I don’t believe there is any overlap with the current roster.

The Minneapolis car at the Elegant Farmer.

The Minneapolis car at the Elegant Farmer.

The Minneapolis car at the Elegant Farmer.

The Minneapolis car at the Elegant Farmer.

The main line runs southwest from Mukwonago to East Troy.

The main line runs southwest from Mukwonago to East Troy.

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The old station in East Troy serves as a museum.

The old station in East Troy serves as a museum.

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South Shore Line 30, which was built in 1926. In museum service, its pantograph has been replaced by a pole.

South Shore Line 30, which was built in 1926. In museum service, its pantograph has been replaced by a pole.

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Car 30 has new seats. I don't recall it ever looking this good on the South Shore Line.

Car 30 has new seats. I don’t recall it ever looking this good on the South Shore Line.

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The proprietor of the local ice cream parlor in East Troy is an avid supporter of the museum.

The proprietor of the local ice cream parlor in East Troy is an avid supporter of the museum.

A nice looking 1953 Studebaker at East Troy.

A nice looking 1953 Studebaker at East Troy.

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The 4000s head into a siding so we can proceed on the single track line.

The 4000s head into a siding so we can proceed on the single track line.

The Beulah stop once led to a popular resort that burned down in 1911.

The Beulah stop once led to a popular resort that burned down in 1911.

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A visitor from Scotland helps change the poles.

A visitor from Scotland helps change the poles.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

The new end of the line.

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At the Elegant Farmer.

At the Elegant Farmer.

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Chicago Rapid Transit 4420 and 4453 at the Elegant Farmer.

Chicago Rapid Transit 4420 and 4453 at the Elegant Farmer.

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The Elegant Farmer is always a good place to stop for a homemade apple pie, baked in a paper bag.

The Elegant Farmer is always a good place to stop for a homemade apple pie, baked in a paper bag.

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A stunning 1929 Ford Model A at Kopp's Custard in Greenfield, Wisconsin. (Diana Koester Photo)

A stunning 1929 Ford Model A at Kopp’s Custard in Greenfield, Wisconsin. (Diana Koester Photo)

(Diana Koester Photo)

(Diana Koester Photo)

The dog makes this picture. I think the owner said his names is Johnny. (Diana Koester Photo)

The dog makes this picture. I think the owner said his names is Johnny. (Diana Koester Photo)

A 1938 Pontiac Touring Sedan in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

A 1938 Pontiac Touring Sedan in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Fred's Parkview in Burlington, Wisconsin has great hamburgers.

Fred’s Parkview in Burlington, Wisconsin has great hamburgers.

NKP 765 at the Edgebrook Metra station on June 12, 2016. (Melvin Bernero Photo)

NKP 765 at the Edgebrook Metra station on June 12, 2016. (Melvin Bernero Photo)

In this mid-1950s view, Village of East Troy Railway freight motor M-15 is shown here in East Troy, Wisconsin, near the power station which now serves as the waiting room for the East Troy Electric Railroad museum operation. It was built by TMER&L in 1920 and is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Walter Broschart Photo)

In this mid-1950s view, Village of East Troy Railway freight motor M-15 is shown here in East Troy, Wisconsin, near the power station which now serves as the waiting room for the East Troy Electric Railroad museum operation. It was built by TMER&L in 1920 and is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Walter Broschart Photo)


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 141st post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 169,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

Remembering Don L. Leistikow

speedraillogo

Don L. Leistikow (1928-2015)

Noted Wisconsin railfan Don L. Leistikow, a co-founder of both the Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society and East Troy Trolley Museum, passed away on November 4th at age 87. He was also one of the last living links to Milwaukee’s Speedrail interurban, having worked on that ill-fated line as a motorman.

You can read his obituary here.

Perhaps the best way of remembering Don Leistikow is in his own words.  Here is a sampling of his writing, taken from public forums and private correspondence with this author:

About growing up:

I grew up in Wauwatosa, a close suburb of Milwaukee.

68th and Bluemound Road, is midway between the Route 10 and its split destinations in Wauwatosa and West Allis. My Father lost his automobile and never bought another one. Therefore, as a Great Depression child, I grew up riding streetcars. Local Transit was just too good.

My favorite cars were the big 50 foot, Deck Roofed 500’s, weighing in at 59000 lbs. They were assigned to Routes 10, 14 and 15. Base service on Route 10 were cars 530-549, with some variation from time to time, however, supplementing them, were cars 500-510 and 586-599, as rush-hour Trippers.

We knew of the Rapid Transit westside lines but, were unaware of their Local Service until relatives told us of it. So, we began to ride the Rapid Transit with a running time 68th to Downtown in only eleven minutes, compared with the surface lines schedule of some 25 minutes.

Transportation in those days was largely inbound in the morning and outbound in the late afternoon. I once rode downtown on an errand for my Mother and came back on an empty 1100 class car. With only 7 blocks of street running before achieving the private right of way, I disembarked at 68th street, in seven minutes, flat. Those big 1100’s would top out at some 75 mph and did have Field Tappers to achieve that speed.

My stories about the Rapid Transit Lines, and its history, are without end. It was the third fastest scheduled interurban line in the US. Wish it was still around, today!

About being a Speedrail motorman:

My interests are in rolling stock which ran in Milwaukee. I spotted an EASTON LIMITED pix in your email. As you may be aware, two of them (1100 and 1102) came to Milwaukee’s last interurban operation, SPEEDRAIL.

The 1102 was refurbished in the backshop of the Terminal and was repainted at the then TMER&T Cold Spring Shops.

Actually, I did hire out as a motorman during SPEEDRAIL’s operation. As Badge 9 (missing from my home) I was the last Operator to be trained on the old 1100 heavyweights of TMER&L Rapid Transit Lines. I did put in some time on the D 21 Line Car and the then Carload Freight motor, 1142.

Am always looking for more pix, sometimes finding me, in the photo.

About the Speedrail collision:

Briefly, Trackage Rights were held by schedules. Any crew retained those rights for up to, five minutes later than the scheduled time. Being later than that, required the crew to ‘phone-in’, on Company private phone lines. strung along the tracks. All other (Extra) trains, were required to obtain ‘Train Orders’ from the Dispatcher, located in the PSB Terminal in Milwaukee.

Early on, the then popular Nachod Signal Company of Louisville, set up their White and Red illuminated signals, to provide additional protection on single track lines. These were not Block Signals but were Permissive or Stop signal aspects.

This system was in place between passing sidings, which were ‘Home Free’ spaces. Company phones were installed at each and every siding. For the record, these Nachod Signals could hold 12 counts meaning that following cars could enter a WHITE permissive signal block by counting in, and then as each car was counted out at the next Siding, no cars waiting in said siding, could enter in the opposiite direction, until all opposing counts were satisfied.

When no cars were in the single track block, the Nachod Signals were DARK, at both ends.

Such was the setting, on the day of the most horrible accident. Neither train saw the other as they met on a reverse and elevated curve, centered on National Avenue, former STH 15.

As that date was my day off, 9/2/50, I hurried out there to observe the situation. From the Greenfield Avenue bridge over the mainline double tracks, I could see the first Nachod Signal, just past the West Junction landing, where the single track HC line began. It was WHITE.

That meant that the companion opposing signal at Oklahoma Siding was RED.

After the accident was cleaned up, various persons of knowledge were on hand to test the Nachod Signals. They were found to be in perfect working order.

Not generally known, is that when a car enters a RED Nachod Block, a count must be entered. Physically, the RED aspect will drop out, a WHITE aspect will appear as the count was recorded. Then the WHITE aspect will drop out and the former RED aspect will return.

Testimony in court substantiated a WHITE aspect was observed. True, but that WHITE did not stay lit. It dropped out.

Speedrail did have insurance, expensive as it was.

About how interurbans reached Kenosha:

The original Kenosha Electric Street Railway was Chartered in 1892. Although some rail had been laid, the company failed in 1897 and the existing rails were torn up. In 1900, Bion J. Arnold, an electrical engineer, obtained a franchise in the name of the Kenosha Street Railway for a new line, and construction began.

On June 19th, 1901, the Chicago, Kenosha & Milwaukee Electric Railway Company (a subsidiary of C&ME) and B. J. Arnold, President of the Kenosha Street Railway, signed an agreement making KSR a subsidiary of CK&MERy.

In November 1905, the C&ME (North Shore) purchased the Kenosha Electric Railway from Bion J. Arnold, thus securing the Kenosha operation to the parent company. TMER&L then acquired the Kenosha property from the C&ME in 1912, thus securing it as a TMER&L entity and anchoring Kenosha to their system.

This short history is no less complicated. The original MR&K was chartered on January 15th of 1896. Articles of Incorporation were filed on August 8th of 1896 in Racine County. On March 1st of 1899, North American, the holding company which included TMER&L, purchased the line and assigned it to the Milwaukee Light, Heat & Traction Company. This was the entity that was to build the far reaching Interurban lines emanating from Milwaukee. Sometime later, this regional property came under the purview of Wisconsin Gas & Electric Company.

About TMER&L:

As for TMER&L Company, about 1938, they split the operations into Wisconsin Electric Power Company (electric power generation and distribution) and The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Company (TMER&T), a wholly owned subsidiary which, although available for sale, had no buyers.

Said arrangement continued through WW 2 and TMER&T became available again thereafter, finally being sold off to an industrialist operating city transit services in Indianapolis and Louisville. Said property then became the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Company (M&ST).

Somewhere along the line of mergers, the Milwaukee Gas Light Company was acquired by WEPCO.

Today, WEPCO is known as WeEnergies.

About highways and transit:

The attitude up here in Wisconsin about funding for Transit appears to be, “We’ll study it” whereas, funding for Highways appears to be, “How much do you want”?

The ironic part of funding for Highways and Freeways is that there is no way to account for Origin & Destination of all of that traffic. Several times, I have related that Highways/Freeways induce population sprawl. In areas where Rail Transit Systems exist, the findings are that the public is attracted to Central Business Districts which in turn, bring development and monetary flow remaining in the immediate area.

Furthermore, studies of ground traffic have found that the highest cost of surface transportation is; a lone driver, in his automobile, on a Freeway.

Conversely, the cost of transportation by area Rail Transit comes in at 70% of the above and has a life expectancy of some 50 years before replacement.

Wisconsin remains dedicated to the Automobile and Truck vehicles and its fuel supply, as Gasoline and Diesel fuel costs remain uncontrollable. Meanwhile, across America, Rail Transit programs continue to surface as the return on investment is staking their economy.

He continued:

There is an old saying which I quote:

“If all possible objections must first be overcome, nothing will ever be accomplished”.

Cities all across our Country, are moving toward Electric Rail Transit. When will Milwaukee and Wisconsin, join the march of transit progress?

Don’s account of how some North Shore Line cars were saved after the line’s abandonment in 1963:

CNS&M 757 and 763 were purchased off the scrap line at Rondout, Illinois by my longtime friend, Richard Kratsch.

He telephoned me, confirming his activity then stated; “What are we going to do with them”? To which I replied; “What’s this we stuff”?

After some verbal exchanges, I agreed to help and made contact with Wisconsin Electric Power HQ (ex TMER&L) and found assistance for storage at the Cold Spring Shops.

Inclusion in this activity came from Richard Heinbaugh, of the Mid-Continent Railway Museum at North Freedom, Wisconsin. They (he) had purchased CNS&M 715 and were also interested in accompanying the movement of their car to Milwaukee and beyond.

Arrangements were quickly put together to move the now three cars into Milwaukee then sending the 715 onward to North Freedom.  All of this transportation would be ‘on own wheels’.

Of course, no movement of them could be entertained without an inspection by the MILW Railroad, getting their acceptance and notifying the C&NW for their clearance beyond to North Freedom.

Next, I heard from the MILW Car Department that the couplers were too low and that the wide swing of them would have to be restricted for ‘over the road’ transport. A followup conversation with their Car Inspector was to inform me that large blocks of Iron would be bolted to the circle irons and that two idler cars (which turned out to be two elderly Stock Cars, diverted from their scrap line) would be necessary to accommodate the low height of the North Shore cars.

However, an end of each car had to be dropped by four inches to meet the NSL drawbars. This was accomplished by cutting down the truck springs on one end of each Stock Car thus accommodating rules of movement.

All was not in order though, as the Terminal Superintendent in Milwaukee had not been notified of this Hospital Movement and stopped the cut of cars south of the Terminal District. Acceptance was accomplished and the movement continued into Milwaukee’s Davies Yard (the Running Repair Yard) in the Terminal close by the Falk Company in the Valley.

More special movements were made without breaking the five car string. The block of cars was sent to the lower Cold Spring Yard, intact. A cut was made to deliver the 757 and 763 which were then shoved into the entrance hold track. Then the 715 and its companion idler car were reconnected and the now 3 car cut was returned to Davies Yard.

At this point, the MILW confirmed arrangements to deliver the 715 and idler cars to the C&NW via the Menomonee Belt to Mitchell Yard. The balance of the movement to North Freedom was underway. The two idler cars were donated to Mid-Continent by the MILW.

All three cars have been preserved. Here are their histories, from the Branford Electric Railway Association web site:

Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee #715 1926-1963 / 1st preserved by Mid-Continent Railroad Museum 1963-1967 / later preserved by The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society 1967-1988 / Fox River Trolley Museum (South Elgin, Illinois) 1988-present

Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee #757 1930-1963 / 1st preserved by The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society ?-1988 / Illinois Railway Museum (Union, Illinois) 1988-present

Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee #763 1930-1963 / 1st preserved by The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society ?-1988 / Illinois Railway Museum (Union, Illinois) 1988-present

About the North Shore Line abandonment:

As a life-long resident of the greater Milwaukee area, I too wish that somehow, the NSL could have remained in service.

However, passenger traffic was waning. The usual four car trains, in and out of the Milwaukee Terminal, were shrinking dramatically. Off rush-hour trains were shrinking as I was witnessing single car departures, southbound. Passenger counts would attest to that as factual information, if available anywhere by anyone.

Generally, they found it necessary to cut or fill cars at Edison Court, a testimonial that ridership remained strong south of the Wisconsin-Illinois State Line. Why then, was service not retained by simply abandoning the Milwaukee Division?

Another thought; nothing was said about the Carload Freight operation. How much revenue was that service bringing in? As my career was in Industrial Traffic Management, I did route some carload freight onto the North Shore Line via Racine Junction to Waukegan and connections around Chicago, just to buy time to accommodate customer’s delivery specification while balancing production. In example, CMStP&P (Racine) CNS&M (Waukegan) EJ&E – CSS&SB – PRR to destination.

IMHO, I believe that by cutting off the Milwaukee Division, the NSL could have remained profitable, for some additional years though.  Passenger counts and revenue receipts, from Edison Court and Mundelein into Chicago, would be an interesting study, even at this late date.

He continued:

The North Shore Line was literally starving in Wisconsin.

Four car+ trains continued to operate after WW 2 but, as Freeways grew, North Shore revenues declined. However, revenues derived from WW 2, provided a cushion for their post war operations. As time passed, non-rush hour trains were finally operated with but one car hourly to and from Milwaukee.

Enter the Susquahanna Corp., a financial investment group, which bought into the CNS&M line. Eventually controlling the finances, those funds went into S Corp’s coffers and were used for their investment purposes, as I recall. That left day-to-day operations over budget.

Actually, had the CNS&M cut off the Wisconsin segment and continued operations from Edison Court and Mundelein, it could well have remained in business during the foreseeable future.

The final blow was it’s quick demise. As I recall, the CNS&M car 722 was undergoing a General Overhaul at that time in their Highwood Shops. That’s not something that you do, while expecting abandonment.

About the East Troy Electric Railroad:

Some confusion about the East Troy Electric Railroad. It connects with the Canadian National (former Soo Line) at Mukwonago. This is the last remaining segment of the once great TMER&L Rapid Transit Lines that hosted some 250+ miles of track on five lines. Destinations were Sheboygan, Watertown, East Troy, Burlington and Kenosha.

Because of online industries in East Troy which shipped or received Carload Freight, it was operated by ‘TM’ after the passenger service ended in 1939. Box Motor M 15, was refitted with snow plows permanently affixed on each end, plus a wooden platform centered on the roof, to service maintenance of the overhead wire.

A detailed history of the remaining Carload services and the Industries, can be found in the CERA Bulletin 112, titled “TM“.

If it is true that the Canadian National has removed the interchange switch in Mukwonago, that would be a mistake as, the East Troy Industrial Park (on a branch line) hosts several Buildings that would be quite useful as, Industries would find the Labor Market more reasonable for Carloading,  Containerization and/or over the highway Trucking.

Although the East Troy Electric Railroad now owns the property, it must have inherited some form of Interstate and Wisconsin State Commerce authority, to move Freight Shipments on its tracks.

I never met Don in person, but oddly enough, I actually took a picture of him once without even realizing it, fittingly when he was buying a ticket at the East Troy Electric Railroad in 2013. You can see that picture here. He later saw it online and recognized himself.

He will be missed by all who care about the future of railroads and public transit.

-David Sadowski

PS- You can read another of Don’s stories about the classic days of steam railroading here.

Milwaukee Electric Railway (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co.) car 1137, westbound on the Rapid Transit Line, 68th Street Bridge, July 22, 1949.

Milwaukee Electric Railway (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co.) car 1137, westbound on the Rapid Transit Line, 68th Street Bridge, July 22, 1949.

The tragic result of a head-on collision between two Speedrail cars on a blind curve on September 2, 1950. Heavyweight cars 1192-1193, at left, ran into lightweight articulated cars 39-40. Ten people were killed and dozens were injured.

The tragic result of a head-on collision between two Speedrail cars on a blind curve on September 2, 1950. Heavyweight cars 1192-1193, at left, ran into lightweight articulated cars 39-40. Ten people were killed and dozens were injured.

Speedrail car 66, shown here on the Waukesha loop, was a Cincinnati “curved-side” car. It had formerly been used by both Lehigh Valley Transit and the Dayton and Troy. This car, after having been refurbished for Speedrail, was only in service for a short period of time before the line quit in 1951.

Traction in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Electric 1121 crosses the Chicago and North Western on a 1949 fantrip over the North Shore Line. It even has a Skokie Valley Route sign on it.

Milwaukee Electric 1121 crosses the Chicago and North Western on a 1949 fantrip over the North Shore Line. It even has a Skokie Valley Route sign on it.

Our last post featured the Kenosha streetcar, which has been running now for 15 years. Milwaukee is planning a streetcar line of its own, and may begin construction next spring.

Today, we pay tribute to this rich traction history with a selection of classic photos showing Milwaukee streetcars and interurbans. Much of the information we are sharing about these railcars comes from Don’s Rail Photos, an excellent online archive. Don Ross has been collecting photos since 1946 and if you have not yet checked out his web site, I hope you will do so.

Milwaukee once had an interurban system, part of which was called a “rapid transit” line. The last vestige of this once-great system was called Speedrail.

Speedrail was a valiant effort to keep service going on a shoestring, in an era before government funding for transit. Unfortunately, there was a horrific accident on September 2, 1950 that led directly to the end of the interurban on June 30, 1951. That this crash was involved a train full of railfans, many of whom had come to Milwaukee from out of town to attend a convention, made things even more tragic. Jay Maeder, head of Speedrail, was at the controls of one of the two trains, which hit head-on on a blind curve. The exact cause of the accident was never determined. You can read more about it here.

Milwaukee’s last streetcar ran in 1958. If you would like to hear the sounds of Milwaukee streetcars in action, you may be interested in our compact disc of Railroad Record Club LPs #35 and 36, which you can find in our Online Store.

This Hi-Fi recording, made in the 1950s, has been digitally remastered and sounds great. It is paired with additional vintage recordings of the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee, Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, plus the Chicago Transit Authority’s Garfield Park “L”.

When the Illinois Electric Railway Museum, then located in North Chicago, purchased a Chicago, Aurora & Elgin railcar after the “Roarin’ Elgin” was abandoned, the suggestion was made to use a CA&E car on a North Shore Line fantrip. And although an inspection showed that the CA&E car was, most likely, in better shape than some of the CNS&M’s existing rolling stock, IERM was unable to get permission to use the car, and this historic opportunity was lost.

However, about a dozen years before this, a similar sort of trip was run, when Milwaukee Electric interurban car 1121 ran on a fantrip over North Shore Line trackage. We are pleased to offer three photos from that trip in this post.

According to the book Kenosha on the Go, by the Kenosha Streetcar Society, page 79, this fantrip took place on Sunday, December 4, 1949, with North Shore motorman Howard A. Odinius at the controls. It had been 27 months since the abandonment of the MRK (Milwaukee-Racine-Kenosha) interurban line of KMCL (Kenosha Motor Coach Lines), which ran to downtown Kenosha. (Speedrail ran service to Waukesha.)

You can read Don Ross’ account of the fantrip here.

After Milwaukee lost its streetcars, the era of traction continued there until the North Shore Line quit in 1963, and the last Milwaukee trolley bus ran in 1965. Now, the Illinois Railway Museum has a variety of Milwaukee equipment in its extensive collections.

Let’s hope events in Milwaukee are gaining traction, and not losing it.

-Ye Olde Editor

PS- Here’s a video showing Milwaukee’s route 10 streetcar in 1957:

Milwaukee Electric car 1121 and an Electroliner near Racine on the 1949 North Shore Line fantrip. Don's Rail Photos adds, "1121 was built by Kuhlman Car in February 1909, #405. It was rebuilt in 1927. It was equipped with GE-207B motors to allow it to pull trailers. In 1949 it was found to have the best wheels, and thus it was selected for the fantrip on the North Shore Line to Green Bay Junction near Rondout. It was also used as a freight motor after the last regular freight motor was wrecked in 1950."

Milwaukee Electric car 1121 and an Electroliner near Racine on the 1949 North Shore Line fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “1121 was built by Kuhlman Car in February 1909, #405. It was rebuilt in 1927. It was equipped with GE-207B motors to allow it to pull trailers. In 1949 it was found to have the best wheels, and thus it was selected for the fantrip on the North Shore Line to Green Bay Junction near Rondout. It was also used as a freight motor after the last regular freight motor was wrecked in 1950.”

Milwaukee Electric car 1121 alongside an Electroliner (probably 803-804) at the Kenosha station. This was a 1949 fantrip where a TMER&T car was operated on part of the North Shore Line.

Milwaukee Electric car 1121 alongside an Electroliner (probably 803-804) at the Kenosha station. This was a 1949 fantrip where a TMER&T car was operated on part of the North Shore Line.

Don's Rail Photos says, "1182-1183 was rebuilt from an I&C (Indianapolis & Cincinnati Traction Co.) car in 1929 and scrapped in 1952." The car is shown at the North Side station in Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.

Don’s Rail Photos says, “1182-1183 was rebuilt from an I&C (Indianapolis & Cincinnati Traction Co.) car in 1929 and scrapped in 1952.” The car is shown at the North Side station in Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.

Don's Rail Photos says, "1196-1197 was built at Cold Spring in 1929. The second car was equipped with small dining facilities but it was shortly rebuilt with a baggage compartment at the rear end. It was stored at West Allis Station after a few years. In 1942 it was rebuilt with all coach and scrapped in 1952." This car is shown in downtown Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.

Don’s Rail Photos says, “1196-1197 was built at Cold Spring in 1929. The second car was equipped with small dining facilities but it was shortly rebuilt with a baggage compartment at the rear end. It was stored at West Allis Station after a few years. In 1942 it was rebuilt with all coach and scrapped in 1952.” This car is shown in downtown Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.

Milwaukee Electric Railway (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co.) car 1137, westbound on the Rapid Transit Line, 68th Street Bridge, July 22, 1949.

Milwaukee Electric Railway (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co.) car 1137, westbound on the Rapid Transit Line, 68th Street Bridge, July 22, 1949.

Speedrail cars 300 and 65, both signed for Hales Corners. According to Don's Rail Photos, "300 was built by St Louis Car in 1924. #1308. In 1936 it was sold to Cleveland Interurban RR as 300. CI became Shaker Heights Rapid Transit in 1944. It was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail in May 1950 as 300. It was scrapped in 1952." Car 65 at right is a "curved side" car built by the Cincinnati Car Company. It also came by way of Shaker Heights.

Speedrail cars 300 and 65, both signed for Hales Corners. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “300 was built by St Louis Car in 1924. #1308. In 1936 it was sold to Cleveland Interurban RR as 300. CI became Shaker Heights Rapid Transit in 1944. It was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail in May 1950 as 300. It was scrapped in 1952.” Car 65 at right is a “curved side” car built by the Cincinnati Car Company. It also came by way of Shaker Heights.

Speedrail car 66, shown here on the Waukesha loop, was a Cincinnati "curved-side" car. It had formerly been used by both Lehigh Valley Transit and the Dayton and Troy. This car, after having been refurbished for Speedrail, was only in service for a short period of time before the line quit in 1951.

Speedrail car 66, shown here on the Waukesha loop, was a Cincinnati “curved-side” car. It had formerly been used by both Lehigh Valley Transit and the Dayton and Troy. This car, after having been refurbished for Speedrail, was only in service for a short period of time before the line quit in 1951.

The tragic result of a head-on collision between two Speedrail cars on a blind curve on September 2, 1950. Heavyweight cars 1192-1193, at left, ran into lightweight articulated cars 39-40. Ten people were killed and dozens were injured.

The tragic result of a head-on collision between two Speedrail cars on a blind curve on September 2, 1950. Heavyweight cars 1192-1193, at left, ran into lightweight articulated cars 39-40. Ten people were killed and dozens were injured.

Here is a video about the Speedrail wreck:

Milwaukee city streetcar 570 on route 15. Don's Rail Photos adds, "570 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1911. It was one manned in 1931."

Milwaukee city streetcar 570 on route 15. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “570 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1911. It was one manned in 1931.”

The caption to this photo reads, "City car - Milwaukee. Last 2-man car pulling into station on last run in West Allis." Charles Kronenwetter adds, "Car 638 appears to be coming Northbound on 84th St approaching the National Ave intersection." Don's Rail Photos: "638 was built at Cold Springs in 1913. It was reconditioned as a two man car in 1928."

The caption to this photo reads, “City car – Milwaukee. Last 2-man car pulling into station on last run in West Allis.” Charles Kronenwetter adds, “Car 638 appears to be coming Northbound on 84th St approaching the National Ave intersection.” Don’s Rail Photos: “638 was built at Cold Springs in 1913. It was reconditioned as a two man car in 1928.”

Don's Rail Photos says, "589 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1911. It was rebuilt in 1927." This car is shown at the end of one of the Milwaukee city streetcar lines in West Allis. Charles Kronoenwetter says, "589 is coming off the short section of private right-of-way which ran between Mitchell St. and Becher St. onto Becher St."

Don’s Rail Photos says, “589 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1911. It was rebuilt in 1927.” This car is shown at the end of one of the Milwaukee city streetcar lines in West Allis. Charles Kronoenwetter says, “589 is coming off the short section of private right-of-way which ran between Mitchell St. and Becher St. onto Becher St.”

Milwaukee city car 556 on Becher St. in West Allis. Don's Rail Photos adds, "556 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1911. It was one manned in 1928."

Milwaukee city car 556 on Becher St. in West Allis. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “556 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1911. It was one manned in 1928.”

Railroad Record Club LP #35 features Hi-fi audio recordings of Milwaukee streetcars in the 1950s. We have digitized this and many other recordings, which you can find in our Online Store.

Railroad Record Club LP #35 features Hi-fi audio recordings of Milwaukee streetcars in the 1950s. We have digitized this and many other recordings, which you can find in our Online Store.

Updates

FYI, we’ve added another picture to a previous post, More Hoosier Traction:

Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago car 74.

Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago car 74.

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