Larry Sakar, TM, and Speedrail

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don's Rail Photos: "1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952." It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don’s Rail Photos: “1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952.” It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Today, we are featuring some recent correspondence with Larry Sakar, author of the 1991 book Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?. This has long been a collector’s item– try finding a copy at a reasonable price, and you will see what I mean.

Larry has continued his research in the 26 years since this book came out, and has a new book in the works. Larry is very outspoken, and doesn’t pull any punches. Perhaps that is because he knows his subject so well.

Meanwhile, this Wednesday, I sent off the corrected proofs of our own book Chicago Trolleys to the publisher. That means our part in it is now pretty much done, except perhaps for answering any questions that the proofreaders might have. Then it will go to press and the publication date is September 25.

If any of you have ever written a book, you may know that it is something akin to wrestling an alligator. However, now I believe I’ve got the alligator wrestled to the ground, and am very happy with the finished product. Chances are, you will be too.

-David Sadowski

Larry A. Sakar writes:

I just discovered your site and saw the 3 color photos of LVT 1100 & 1102 loaded onto flat cars for the trip to Milwaukee (Odds and Ends, May 5, 2017). The Feb., 1948 date is not correct. Speedrail did not exist in 1948. It began on 9/2/49 after Jay Maeder bought the Waukesha line from Northland Greyhound for $110!

I know because I’m Larry Sakar, author of “Speedrail Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?” published by Interurban Press in 1991.

Cars 1100 & 1102 were purchased sometime in late October by Jay Maeder who went to Allentown for the purpose of buying additional Cincinnati Curved side lightweight cars to go with the 6 purchased by Ed Tennyson, Speedrail’s VP of operations in Sept. 1949 from Shaker Heights Rapid Transit (cars 60-65). SHRT sold Tennyson the 6 cars for $500 each and he leased them back to Speedrail. The sale was supposed to be contingent on Mr. Maeder putting up the additional $2300 for spare parts. Whether or not he did I have never been able to find out.

Maeder paid $750 each for 1100 & 1102 which were supposedly the best 2 of the 4 cars (1100-1103). You are absolutely correct about the refurbishing of 1102 into MRT car 66 which premiered on 3/31/51 and served only for 3 months before Speedrail ended all operations on 6/30/51. As part of the rehabilitation it exchanged trucks with car 64 which was wrecked in the collision with e-TM 1121 serving as Speedrail’s freight motor. That happened just 3 days after the terrible and fatal accident on the NMRA fan trip of 9/2/50. The 3 man crew on 1121 finished switching the C&NW Ry. interchange just south of West Jct. early that day and were in a hurry to get home so they ignored the proper procedure for entering the mainline from the C&NW interchange and smacked into car 64 bashing in a significant portion of the front platform. They did not have to worry about getting home early after that. All 3 were terminated. But it caused Travelers Insurance to pull the plug on Speedrail’s liability insurance because of 2 serious accidents in 3 days and also because Maeder was 6 months behind in paying the premiums. He had used money set aside for insurance to buy Shaker Heights cars 300 & 301! As President and sole stockholder he could do what he wanted. The money was used to buy equipment and not for any personal purposes thus making it perfectly legal but also perfectly stupid!

To the best of my knowledge Maeder never intended to use car 1100 for spare parts. That only happened because it was dead on arrival in Milwaukee and would not run period. 1102 blew a motor on arrival and had to be sent to TMER&T’s Cold Spring shops for repair. Cold Spring was marking up costs by 100%! The small shops facility in the Public Service building terminal could not do major repairs.

I don’t know if you would be interested but I have just completed a new manuscript entitled, “The Complete History of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line from TMER&L to Speedrail.” There are 146 pages of text plus an additional 160 pages of photos and documents. Of these there are 37 pages of color photos.

The money to pay for refurbishing 1102 into 66 came from the sale of 14 surplus ex-TM 1100 series cars to Afram Brothers Scrap Metal Company in Milwaukee. This all took place several months after Bruno V. Bitker the federal bankruptcy trustee dismissed Jay Maeder. The seats put in what became car 66 came from some of those 1100’s. It also switched trucks with the damaged car 64.

I think if Maeder had remained in charge he would never have sold those surplus 1100’s. He had a sentimental attachment to TM which he first discovered in 1926 when he attended St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin for his senior year of high school. Delafield was a stop on the Milwaukee-Watertown line.

Thanks and continue the great work. You have a fantastic website.

Thanks for writing, and also for all this wonderful information. As you are well aware I am sure, the information people write on slides, prints, negs, etc. is not always 100% accurate. I appreciate your corrections.

Lehigh Valley Transit purchased four Cincinnati curved-side cars second-hand in 1938 for the Easton Limited interurban line. Unfortunately, these cars were underpowered, and not really up to the task of working this hilly route. They were sharp-looking cars as LVT renovated them, but could not maintain the schedules of the cars they replaced. So it is no great surprise that by the time Speedrail got two of them in 1949, they were in bad shape.

Larry replied:

Yes, I do know that incorrect info often turns up in both pics and books. My 1991 Speedrail book has errors but when I wrote it in 1988 it was based on the best information I had at the time. I never dreamed that after it came out I’d be contacted by Jay Maeder’s daughter Jane and would be the recipient of several boxes of documents her father left behind. She and her late brother Jay Jr. decided that I should have them as they would never do anything with them. Neither of them knew much about Speedrail other than that their father once “owned a railroad”.

That reminds me. I saw the discussion as to whether Jay Maeder ever lived in Texas. No he didn’t but his daughter Jane Maeder Walsh lives in Houston. And Jay Sr. is survived by a lot of grandchildren. I didn’t know Jay Jr. drew that cartoon but I’m not surprised. He was an authority on the Dick Tracy comic strip having authored two books on the subject. I only spoke to him one time while he was working for the New York Daily News and was writing a column called “Lounge Lizard” which reviewed NYC lounge acts. I’ve had a lot of contact with Jane.

I wanted to scream when I got the last shipment of documents in 2012. At the bottom of the box was a scrapbook – the kind with the brown pages like many of us had as kids where we glued things in with Muselix glue. That’s what I expected to see when I opened it but instead found blank pages. Then I looked again. What he did, David, was rip out newspaper clippings related to Speedrail. Then he’d rip out the date and using a nail like the ones you get with picture hooks, would attach it to the clipping. But instead of placing the clippings on the pages he literally shoved them into the spines of each page. Well, after 60 years as I’m sure you know the newsprint deteriorated and the dates fell off as the paper deteriorated. Newsprint is notorious for that. Consequently, I ended up with about 25 clippings where the event could have happened anytime in the 22 months Speedrail existed.

You’re 100% right that the 9-2-50 accident is still controversial. I would say that in terms of blame 80% goes to Maeder and 20% to Tennyson. The Maeder/Tennyson working relationship had been deteriorating ever since the fall of 1949 when Maeder bought the Local Rapid Transit line (Milwaukee-West Junction-Hales Corners) without ever bringing the matter before the Speedrail Board (such as it was). Tennyson was opposed. He told me that when he went to Cleveland on 9/12/49 and met with Maeder’s Cleveland Attorney, Frank Taplin, Taplin told him, “Ed, whatever you do do not let Jay buy that Local Rapid Transit line. He will lose his shirt!” Tennyson was there to buy the 6 Shaker Heights curved side cars. Anyway, according to what he told me, when he found out what Maeder had done he went to the third member of the board, Oliver A. Grootemaat Speedrail’s general counsel and secretary. He said Grootemaat told him, “Maeder owns all the stock. He can do whatever he wants.!”

As for 9-2-50 Tennyson told me Maeder had asked him to draw up a schedule and rules for the 5 NMRA fan trips which he did. On the morning of 9/2 he discovered the trains were running late and that’s when he called the so-called dispatcher, Joe Bellon at the Public Service Building to find out what was going on. It was then that he found out that Maeder and one of the senior motormen, Gerald Greer had spent the night before drawing up “anticipatory train orders” that required every train to call from every siding. Also, the rules were that photo stops were to be made southbound to Hales Corners only. And anyone who did not come when time was up for the photo stop would be left behind. When Maeder’s train got to Hillcrest loop in Hales Corners the fans asked for a photostop going back to Milwaukee. Maeder should have said “NO” but he went along with it. So Tennyson called Bellon and told him to go back to the original orders where trains were to operate by schedule and timetable and only call if they ran into trouble. Maeder had called from Hillcrest to report they’d be stopping for a photostop northbound but from that point on he wasn’t heard from again. In order to allow the regularly scheduled southbound Hales Corners pass Maeder pulled in to Greenwood Jct., a siding never used which was the connection to the Lakeside Belt Line. It was seldom if ever used and once the M-R-K (Milwaukee-Racine Kenosha Line) was abandoned in Dec. of 1947 it was useless.

As a result of the reversal of orders Equitz assumed Maeder would hold at Oklahoma Ave. for him to pass. Maeder, still operating under his revised orders expected the dispatcher would tell Equitz he’d cleared Maeder’s train all the way to West Jct. The end result was that 10 people were killed because two guys didn’t get along. I do think Maeder went thru a red signal. And I also feel he had no business running the train especially since it was discovered he was color blind. If he’d been familiar with the Nachod signals that should not have made a difference. The position of the lights would have shown if the signal was red or white. Maeder was too occupied by all of the railfans gathered around him and he didn’t give the signal more than a quick glance, something you could not do with Nachod signals.

Maeder made an idiot of himself at the Coroner’s inquest. When the DA asked him why his train was running late he objected. the DA asked why he objected to his train being labeled as late and he replied, “My train was an extra train. Extra trains cannot be late. They can only be behind schedule.” HUH?? What’s the difference? Isn’t being behind schedule being late? He also testified that he and the regular motorman George Wolter weren’t relying on the signals. “They were a help but we weren’t relying on them”, is what he testified. Yes, Maeder was exonerated in court but only because the law on 4th Degree Manslaughter required it to be a deliberate act. I seriously doubt if he would be as lucky today not to mention that he personally would face a ton of lawsuits. And though he was exonerated in court he could and did not fare as well in the one court he could do nothing about, the court of public opinion. Bitker clearly didn’t want him around anymore. Tennyson said Bitker banned Maeder from the property but I don’t know if that’s true.

The Rapid Transit book I’ve completed contains photos you’ve never seen before. One of my sources is John Schoenknecht the head of the Waukesha County Historical Society and he has supplied me with some really great photos.

I see Bill Shapotkin comments quite regularly. I’ve known Bill since 1986. Great guy!

This is all great stuff. Who is publishing your book? I see that Interurbans Press put out your Speedrail volume.

Larry:

Interurbans Press did put out the Speedrail book. They published one or two books after that and went out of business. Mac Sebree, the owner retired and sold the company to video producer PENTREX. PENTREX had no interest in selling or publishing books. They bought Interurban Press for one thing and one thing only – their videos. And even if they were still around I’d be extremely reluctant to deal with them again! At the time they accepted the book they had purchased PTJ Publications which was in Waukesha. PTJ as you may know was the original publisher of Passenger Train Journal.

 In 1988 home computers and the Internet did not exist. But since they had the office in Waukesha I begged and pleaded for them to do the book there even though the normally did all books in Glendale, CA. Mike Schaefer was part of PTJ Publications and he was the person I wanted to edit and layout the book. I pointed out that it would be much easier for all concerned should any problems arise. I couldn’t hop a plane to Glendale, CA.  just like that. I was working. But driving out to Waukesha would be no problem. What I didn’t know until later was that “bad blood” existed between Mike and this Paul Hammond who ran things in Glendale. Interurban Press interpreted my request as taking sides. I was trying to do what I felt would be best especially since I knew Mike knew the subject which the California people did not. Interurban Press refused.

The book was to have been published in 1989 but a tragedy at the Waukesha office delayed it by two years. A young staff member was engaged to be married. Something happened and the engagement was called off. He become despondent and went out to Butler and killed himself by stepping in front of an on-coming C&NW train. Horrible! Anyway they resumed work on it and things seemed to go well from there. I don’t know how it works today but back then you received 3 final drafts. The first two showed the space where the photos would be and the caption but not the actual photo. The final proof was called the blue line. So the blue line arrives in the mail and I absolutely exploded. What was supposed to be a photo of the 9-2-50 Speedrail wreck was a photo of the 8-24-49 Soldiers Home wreck. I probably didn’t even need long distance I was so angry. Their excuse: “Well, we just assumed that the wrecks were one and the same.” YOU ASSUMED?? So I had to quickly run out to Waukesha. They had the Milwaukee Journals for the day of and days after the 9-2-50 wreck. With the space already dedicated we had to choose that really bad picture that appears in the book. It was the only one that fit.

There were any number of other things that happened over those 2-3 years (1988-1991). I can’t tell you how many times they told me they “expected to take a loss” on the book and discouraging things like that. Loss nothing! It sold out all of the first printing in 18 months. I had thought about pitching it to Kalmbach but didn’t think I’d stand much of a chance being an unknown at the time. I was right. In 1999 a couple of years after the video, “Rapid Transit in Milwaukee From TMER&L to Speedrail” was put out by TMER&THS of which I was Secretary and Treasurer we decided to write a companion book to the video. Jack Gervais was co-authoring it with me. He was handling everything up to Speedrail and I was writing from Speedrail to the end. When we finished it in 2000 I tried pitching it to Kalmbach now that I had a book published. They turned it down. They were full of compliments about it being well written and all but felt it was too limited as a subject and would not sell the way a book on a more popular subject like the Milwaukee Road would. Gervais then contacted Larry Plachno. I did not want to deal with him as I’d heard a great deal of negative things about him from Bill Shapotkin. Well we did end up driving all the way to Polo, Illinois only to have Plachno open the binder, look at a few pages and go, “Tsk, Tsk, Tsk! I have a problem with you people already” HUH? “All this quoting. Don’t you know a good historian never quotes. He paraphrases.” I politely took the binder, shut it, said, “Thank you for your time, Mr. Plachno. That may be your philosophy for writing books but it isn’t mine!” In the intro to the new book I address that. I don’t believe in paraphrasing because that puts my interpretation on what was said. I quote and I let my readers decide how to interpret what was said. 

So in terms of a publisher I don’t have one and I’ve no idea of who I could give it to. I’m not looking to make money from this. The Maeder family designated me “Keeper of the Flame” where Speedrail is concerned. They entrusted what Jay left behind because they feel I would know best how to make use of it. I take that both as a compliment and a responsibility to preserve this history. That is my goal, here. Norm Carlson is a perfect example of someone who understands that. I have worked with him quite a few times and enjoyed it. He’s a professional and “First & Fastest” is the high quality publication it is because of his dedication. Browsing thru your site I see much the same thing, David. You obviously have a real feel for preserving this history and those are the type of people I like to work with. I really enjoy the Trolley Dodger site.

The Speedrail book was written as a way to promote TMER&THS Inc. I quit the group 14 years ago so this book has absolutely no connection to them or any other group. I am a member of Shore Line. Norm has been very gracious in publishing my articles. I’m also writing for “Landmark,” the publication of the Waukesha County Historical Society. My goal is to leave behind a historical record so that someday someone can come along and view this history. 

I saw your comment that maybe if things had been just a little different Speedrail might still be around today. Actually, David, sad to say, Speedrail was dead before it began. The following chapters from my book and  a page from a city of Milwaukee subcommittee in March, 1945 will show you what Milwaukee thought of the Rapid Transit. Once the city caught what I call “expressway fever” and they decided the Rapid Transit line west from downtown was the place for the East-West Freeway they stopped at nothing to get it. Maeder owned the track, overhead wire, cars and bridges but not the land on which those tracks sat. That remained Wisconsin Electric Power Co. property. Shaker Heights did not have that problem. Maeder wrongly assumed that Milwaukee would rally to support his efforts to save the Rapid Transit as happened in Shaker Heights. It was the Waukesha riders who rallied to support it. Milwaukee could’ve card less except for Mayor Zeidler, of course. More to follow soon.

The photo I sent you earlier today which shows a guy up on a stage addressing a crowd of people goes with the chapter”The First Public Pledge Meeting.” The date is 6-27-51. The place was Kuney’s dance hall in the Town of Calhoun. I think the man on stage is Edwin Knappe but am not sure. You’ll read about him and the Calhoun Farms Riders Group in the chapter about them. Kuney’s is still there today if you think I should put in a present day picture. There’s nothing special about it. Calhoun Farms was to the north and west of the Calhoun Road stop on the Waukesha line. There’s a historical marker which explains about it and the area of Calhoun which is east of Waukesha. It even mentions the Rapid Transit. I have pictures of that too.

One of the people you’ll see quoted in the Speedrail section fairly often is former Speedrail motorman Don Leistikow. I’d say that at least 50% of what I learned about Speedrail over the years came from Don. I’m attaching his famous “Skunk” story. I think you” get a laugh out of it. Don was quite a story teller. He passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 85 and is sorely missed.

While I never actually met Don L. Leistikow, I did correspond with him a bit, and I almost met him once.  I went out to East Troy onetime and took some pictures, and after I posted them to the web, someone identified him in one of the pictures.  What a nice man.

Larry:

NSL fans may be interested to know that after being vacant for the last 47 years the site of the North Shore’s Harrison St. shops at S. 5th St. and W. Harrison Ave. (remember NSL called it “street” but Harrison is actually an avenue) is finally being redeveloped. Sadly, not for traction purposes. A private charter school whose name I can’t remember is building on the property all the way to where it dead-ends above the KK River and Cleveland Ave. and extending west on Harrison Ave. to the southeast corner of S. 6th St. It’s a huge, multi-story facility. Back in 2005 when I visited the site of the shops with Norm Carlson of the Shore Line interurban Historical Society and Walter Keevil of CERA I noticed that the city of Milwaukee had paved S. 5th St. from the point where the private right-of-way began on the south side of the street all the way to the fence and concrete barrier that mark where the NSL’s bridge over the river began. Let’s face it. Vacant lots do not generate property tax revenue. The dilapidated shops building stood until about 1970. I remember a Milwaukee Journal editorial cartoon and article in 1968 urging its demolition because it presented a bad image of Milwaukee to drivers coming in (northbound) on I-94 which sits below the east end of the property. The school is supposed to open for the fall 2018-2019 semester next year.

I’m sure most NSL fans don’t know this. After the 6th and Michigan station in downtown Milwaukee was razed in May or June of 1964 somebody came up with the ideas of building a tourist tower on the south end of the property at about the point where NSL trains entered and left the elevated platforms that were attached to the south end of the terminal. Here is an artists rendering of what it was going to look like from the Milwaukee Journal of 11-22-64. Of course it ever happened. What did happen was this. In the summer of 1965 the church whose denomination I have forgotten that was on the north side of Wisconsin Ave. between N. 10th & N. 11th Sts. was being forced to move. The entire block on both sides of the street was disappearing, literally. The I-43 freeway was and does cross beneath the “Avenue” at this point. So the church spent almost $2 million to buy the entire 4 square blocks where the NSL station had stood. That encompassed W. Michigan St. on the north. W. Clybourn St. on the south. N. 5th St. on the east and N. 6th St. on the west. The plan was to build the church and some sort of shopping area around it. I say the “plan” because that too never happened. I remember a wooden sign erected on the station site facing W. Michigan St. that said, “Future home of…” and it named the congregation. For the next 33 years the property sat vacant. Then in 1998 Time Insurance Co. which had been located on the corner of N. 5th St. and W. Wells St. downtown built their new corporate headquarters on the site. A check of the Milwaukee city directory shows the building there as of 1998. The Wells St. building was sold to make way for Milwaukee’s first downtown convention center which was called “MECCA – the Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center and Arena.” It was judged as the boxiest and ugliest building ever built in Milwaukee and it too fell to the wrecking ball when the new, and very underused, downtown convention center was constructed along Wisconsin Ave. between N. 4th & N. 6th Sts. Why the church was never built and how Time Insurance acquired the property (sale, foreclosure??) is something I have been unable to find out. The congregation disappears from the Milwaukee city directory in 1966. Perhaps they moved to one of the suburbs or merged with another congregation. If any of the NSL fans know I’d be very interested in the details. Time Insurance has since been thru all kinds of mergers and the building now says Securant Insurance.

In the summer of 1971 I went to the site of Ryan Tower on the abandoned NSL r.o.w. I didn’t drive back then so it meant to very lengthy bus rides from my home on Milwaukee’s northwest side. and a long walk up Ryan Rd. from the end of the Rt. 66 bus line. I knew I was at the right spot when I got to the crossing with the C&NW’s new line. And that was the only way I knew. The NSL was gone with nary a trace. I had to walk a block or so north before I came across the abandoned NSL r.o.w. As I continued north there much to my surprise was the NSL’s Carrollville substation still standing 8 years after the abandonment. I took this picture of it on 8-17-71 using a Polaroid camera I’d gotten for Christmas the previous year. My ANSCO 8-shot box camera took better pictures than that Polaroid! And then you always had the chore of having to spread this smelly fixer on the photo to keep it from curling up. So please forgive the quality of the pictures.

Larry’s Human Interest Stories

I’ll be glad to write this. There are four of them, all involving people who had they been where they had planned to be might not have lived another day.

What I have found in the 52 years I have been studying and researching the Rapid Transit and Speedrail is that fate and coincidence seem to play a major role. For example, take how I got to know Jane Maeder Walsh, Jay’s daughter. In 1991 when the Speedrail book came out she had a daughter who was a student at Carroll College (now University) in Waukesha. Jane was living in Atlanta at the time but decided to come to Waukesha for a visit. While there she decided to go to the Waukesha Public Library and see what she could find out about “the railroad that my father owned.” At first, all the librarian was able to find was a folder containing a few newspaper clippings from the Waukesha Freeman, Waukesha’s daily newspaper. Then she remembered that the library had just received a new book about Speedrail. She gave it to Jane to browse through there since she obviously would not be able to borrow it.

A short time later, on a Saturday morning my phone rang. The lady on the other end asked if I was the person who wrote the Speedrail book. I said I was. She said, “My name is Jane Walsh. I know that name doesn’t mean anything to you until I tell you my maiden name. It is Maeder and Jay Maeder was my father.” I kind of held my breath for a second thinking the next thing I’d hear was that she didn’t like the things Tennyson said about her father and she was going to sue me. Quite to the contrary she wanted to know where she could go to buy copies of the book. I put her in touch with one of the local hobby shops that I knew was carrying it and she bought half a dozen copies for her family. I didn’t hear from her for quite a while after that until the day she and her brother discovered a box of material relating to Speedrail, long forgotten, left behind by her father. She said that she and her brother had no interest in it and asked if I would want it? Are you kidding? Over the course of the next few years they found other boxes of things. She e-mailed Jay Jr. and asked if he wanted it. He replied, “Are we still in touch with that Sakar guy?” Jane said she had talked to me about it and I’d said I wanted it if her brother didn’t. Jay Jr. then replied, “Let’s face it… neither you nor I will ever make anything out of this stuff. I say, let’s make him keeper of the flame. Larry will know what to do with it.” That was a great honor that they had confidence that I could make use of the material.

We still keep in touch by e-mail from time to time. My friend and colleague Chris Barney and I paid to have copies made of that picture of her father walking alongside car 60 flagging it on the inaugural Speedrail fan trip of 10-16-49. We sent them to her and she was thrilled. It’s the only picture she has of her father with “his railroad.”

You might remember that on the 9-2-50 the motorman of the 1192-93 heavy duplex that collided with Maeder’s train (39-40) was LeRoy Equitz. In the fall of 1971, I got a job as a student library aide at the main library in downtown Milwaukee. One night I was sitting in the lunchroom on break with a brother and sister who also worked there. Terry, the brother struck up a conversation with me. “We hear you like trains.” I said, “Well yes. I do like trains but my main interest is streetcars and interurbans.” They had no clue as to what either of those were. Terry said, “Our uncle was a train engineer.” I said, Oh really, where?” He said, “Right here in Milwaukee.” I asked which railroad he worked for, thinking it had to be either the Milwaukee Road or the C&NW. Terry said neither one sounded like the one their uncle had mentioned. I asked when he worked as an engineer and he said, “In the ’50’s.” Then he continued. “Our uncle was involved in an accident and ended up losing a foot because of it.” Suddenly, my curiosity was on high, so to speak.” So I said, “This accident. Could it have been in 1950 itself?” Terry said, “Come to think of it, yes. He did say 1950.” So I continued, “And this accident, could it possibly have been on Labor Day weekend in 1950?” BINGO! He said that it was. That’s when I said, “Don’t tell me your uncle’s name. Let me guess it. Is it LeRoy Equitz?” The brother and sister sat there for a second in amazement. “Yes. How on earth did you know that?” Of course I explained about Speedrail and told them which newspaper and dates to look at if they wanted more information. As I recall, LeRoy was still living but he had moved away some years earlier. I don’t recall to where so I never had an opportunity to talk to him.

You ask yourself what were the odds that I’d end up working with the niece and nephew of LeRoy Equitz. And I have found that to be the case so often in this hobby. So call it fate, destiny, coincidence. There are times when you can’t help but feel this was meant to be.

Thanks for taking the time to write this and your other reminiscences. I’d like to share these with my readers.

Naturally, I won’t use any of the material you sent me from your upcoming book, but is there anything else that you would not want me to run in my blog?

Larry:

Please feel free to use any of the material I’ve sent you for the Trolley Dodger. Anything and everything I write is for the enjoyment and/or information of others. What’s the point of keeping what I’ve learned over the years to myself? That benefits no one!

I saw the piece in The Trolley Dodger on the late Maury Klebolt. From 1983 to 1987 I went out to SFO every September for the Historic Market Street streetcar festival. I used to see Maury at the Market and Duboce storage facility below the former San Francisco mint. He was very involved with that Market Street Railway group. I seem to recall that he acquired a couple of streetcars for them. I wasn’t acquainted with him but had stories about his fan trips from the late Jack Gervais who apparently knew him. Bill Shapotkin also told me some stories about him.

By the way I kind of chuckle every time I see a Joe L. Diaz photo of a CSL “Sedan”. My good friend Dave Stanley knew Joe very well, along with a number of other well-known Chicago fans like the late Bob Gibson. I met both Dave and Bill Shapotkin in 1986. Both Dave and Bill told me Joe would have a fit when someone called those cars “Sedans.” It would provoke an “Ooh, they weren’t called that” response. I knew him by sight but I didn’t actually know him as such. I remember seeing him at CERA meetings in the back of the room selling books. That was back in the days when CERA met at the old Midland Hotel. I believe that’s now called the Blackhawk Hotel. I was a CERA member in the ’90’s but didn’t keep up my membership. Going to meetings meant having to drive to either Kenosha and take METRA which also meant leaving the meeting early to catch the 9:00pm train back to Kenosha and then an 11:00pm one hour drive back to Milwaukee. I never cared for night driving. Then in 2009 I lost all of the sight in my left eye as a result of diabetic retinopathy, which I didn’t know I had until it was too late. Since then I have been advised not to drive at night or on the highway or expressway. I no longer have the necessary depth perception and bright light, especially headlights coming at me blind me. Amtrak experimented with a late night (first 11:00pm then changed to 10:30pm) train to Milwaukee but they never promoted it so the ridership never materialized. Now the last train to Milwaukee leaves Chicago at 8:45pm.

I knew a lot of really nice guys in Chicago all of whom I have not seen nor spoken with in at least 15 years. Bruce Moffat and Ray DeGroote are two who come to mind. I always called Ray the Rick Steeves of the traction world. In any Ray DeGroote program you could always count on a money lesson, a geography lesson and a culture lesson. When I was the program director for TMER&THS from 1989 to 1995, I used to refer to Ray as “our world traveler”. The last time I saw Bruce was on a CERA fan trip on METRA Electric in the ’90’s. Bill Shapotkin was the trip director. At the first photo stop GK wanted a photo with the other car host and myself. Bruce took the picture but to this day I’ve never seen it.

I haven’t seen all of the issues of The Trolley Dodger but here are some Milwaukee streetcar photos from my collection that I think readers might enjoy.

Every now and then you get a photo that really has you stumped trying to figure out where it was taken. That’s what happened with this photo given to me by Bob Genack. I saw the RT 35 Route sign and stupidly assumed this had to be somewhere on the 35th Street route. But what really threw me a curve was the “35th St.” sign in the destination sign box below the big roof Route sign. If this was a northbound car it should have said “Burleigh,” and if southbound “St. Paul”. After puzzling over it I looked it over with a magnifying glass to see if I could detect any business names. And there in the left background was the solution. This is a time exposure so it’s a “ghosted” image. But if you look closely you will see a TM heavy duplex. OK. Now I see what this was all about. This is a TM posed, company photo. The 943 isn’t on 35th St. It’s on Michigan Street. You can’t see it but the Public Service Building is just out of the right hand side of the picture. The duplex is inbound from Sheboygan on N. 3rd St. It will turn left onto Michigan St. go one block east and then turn right onto N. 2nd St. to enter the PSB terminal. Those aren’t passengers standing waiting for the streetcar. They are TM company employees posing for the picture. The 943 looks brand new so I’m thinking this was taken in about 1928 or 1929. OK TM, you fooled me.

Streetcar advertising was a frequent occurrence on TM. But unlike the buses of today where the advertising is put on mylar sheets and then attached to the bus with a heat gun, and it is simply peeled off when the time is up, in streetcar days the car was actually repainted. Here’s one of the all-time classic examples of a repainted Milwaukee streetcar that is from the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. days. M&STC bought TMER&T at the end of 1952 and took over operation of the system on Jan. 1, 1953. They continued to use “The Transport Company” as their shortened name. M&STC lasted until July, 1975 when Milwaukee finally municipalized its transit system when M&STC was purchased by Milwaukee County. That is when the present-day Milwaukee County Transit System was born. But the “Transport Company” name had become so ingrained in the minds of Milwaukeeans that many continued to call it “The Transport Company” for quite some time after the county took over. Now everyone refers to it as MCTS.

Anyway, in 1955, car 943 was chosen to be repainted with a “safety message” from the Milwaukee Safety Commission. Isn’t it a bit ironic that the car advertising safety was involved in an accident downtown at 4th and Wells Streets in a collision with a city garbage truck? I guess the car didn’t heed its own message! The close-up b&w shot was taken at the Farwell Ave. terminal where Rt. 10 streetcars and Rt. 21-North Ave. trolleybuses laid over. The trolley bus service on Rt. 21 North Ave. lasted until 1961 or 1962 when it was converted to diesel bus operation using the new 1500 series GM new look fishbowl buses M&STC had purchased for that purpose. A portion of Rt. 10 east of Jackson & Wells Sts. downtown was eventually abandoned and most of the route from Jackson & Wells Strees east covered by Rt. 30 Sherman Blvd. buses.

Next up are 2 beautiful color photos of 943 in its “safety commission” paint job taken by Don Ross (Don’s Rail Photos. In the close-up shot, the car is on a fan trip at S. 81st St. and W. Greenfield Ave. which was Route 18-National Ave. That line ended at S. 92nd St. & W. Lapham Ave. Before West Junction was rebuilt Rt. 10 cars ran all the way out there via the private right-of-way which continued all the way out there. Prior to the construction of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line between 1925 & 1930, interurbans also used that r.o.w. Today the r.o.w. is still there going west from 92nd & Lapham and is used by We Energies vehicles to get to West Jct. so that the power lines can be serviced. In the second, more distant photo 943 is crossing W. Wisconsin Ave. on the p.r.o.w. that paralleled N. 52nd St. from Wells to the entrance to the Calvary Cemetery cut, later the stop for Milwaukee County Stadium from 1953 to 1957. Streetcars were gone by the opening of the baseball season in 1958.

The TM 900-series streetcars were an updated version of the 800-series built in 1920. The earliest 900’s were identical to the 800’s in all respects except one. The center motorman’s window on an 800 is narrower than on a 900. Other than that there was little if any difference. But by the time the group of cars from 976 seen here at Cold Spring shops to 985 were built, the interiors now had leather seats vs. rattan for all previous cars, and this group of 10 was unique in that they had that sort of visor/sun shield over the center window. One car in this group survives today. Car 978 was saved by former Milwaukeean Al Buetschle on behalf of the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club. They wanted a streetcar for outdoor display in Hart Park which is just to the east of the Wauwatosa end of the No. 10 line at Harwood Ave. and State Streets. Al loved the cars with the front visor and that is why he chose the 978. The car is now the property of the East Troy Electric RR and is currently undergoing an extensive rehabilitation. There is a very involved history of how the car was acquired and what happened to it over the years which I wrote for a fan publication in 1998. Al now lives in Oakley, Ca. a city in Contra Costa, County 60 miles northeast of San Francisco.

As I mentioned the 800’s had a narrower center window than the 900’s. You can see that in this photo of car 870 at the end of Rt. 40 at Kinnickinnic & St. Francis Aves. in St. Francis. The area doesn’t look much different today save for the absence of the streetcar. St. Francis is a suburb of Milwaukee on the southeast side.

Here’s a second shot of an 800 seen at the end of Rt. 11 at Howell & Howard Aves. probably in the 1950’s. Rt. 11 was converted to bus operation in 1956 and was Milwaukee’s second to last streetcar line.

At the start I mentioned “mystery” photos, and to close out here is one such example. I know where this is and I think this is probably in the 20’s or 30’s. What I can’t figure out is what a 600 series car (at least that’s what it looks like with that roof destination sign in the middle) is doing on Rt. 12 – 12th St. or why the destination sign says Center. Center is Center St. which was home to the Rt. 22 streetcar line. Rts. 21 & 22 were some of the earliest conversions from streetcar to trackless trolley. I question the destination because Rt. 12 cars usually operated all the way to 27th & Hopkins Streets. In the late 1920’s a transfer station was constructed here. It was a smaller version of the one at Farwell & North Aves. When Rt. 12 was converted to diesel bus operation the building was torn down and became a parking lot for the nearby A.O. Smith Corp. At last report the streetcar tracks are still in the pavement.

Thanks so much for this and your other recent messages. You have given me plenty of material to work with here. I am sure our readers, especially those in the Milwaukee area, will love reading this.

Who knows, it might even help you find a publisher!

This excerpt from a 1945 Milwaukee freeway report shows how even then, planners intended to take the Rapid Transit Line right-of-way for highway use.  The bottom photo, of course, was a composite.

This excerpt from a 1945 Milwaukee freeway report shows how even then, planners intended to take the Rapid Transit Line right-of-way for highway use.The bottom photo, of course, was a composite.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified this photo. Here, M&DSTC car 943 is going eastbound on the famous Wells Street trolley viaduct on a 1955 fantrip.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified this photo. Here, M&DSTC car 943 is going eastbound on the famous Wells Street trolley viaduct on a 1955 fantrip.

Book Review:

The Street Railways of Grand Rapids
By Carl Bajema and Tom Maas
Bulletin 148 of Central Electric Railfans’ Association*
Hardcover with dust jacket, 304 pages

The authors present a fascinating and very thorough account of street railway service in Grand Rapids, Michigan, covering the years up to 1935, when the system was abandoned in favor of buses. There was quite a variety of service in the area, including horse cars, cable cars, steam dummies, streetcars of various types, and interurbans connecting to other cities such as Holland. The authors coverall these ably and thoroughly.

This book has just been issued in a very limited edition, and chances are it will not be reprinted once the first edition has sold out, which I am sure it will. CERA Bulletins have a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and this book does not disappoint.

Having had a few discussions about this book with Mr. Bajema myself, when it was in its early stages, I can attest that it presented a considerable challenge. After all, Grand Rapids streetcar service ended in 1935, and anyone old enough to have ridden one, and remember it, would be close to 90 years old by now.

Color photography was still in its infancy in 1935. Fortunately, there are ways to add color to such a book, including color postcards, yellowed newspaper clippings, and maps. All these are present in abundance.

Another challenge is the lack of corporate records for the operator. And then, there is the matter of a roster, which is pretty much de rigueur for a book such as this.

Complicating matters, the Grand Rapids system used names for their cars instead of numbers, which makes it very difficult to put forward a complete roster.

The names of all such cars as of 1927 are given. Interestingly, though, the one Grand Rapids photo we have posted on this blog is not included in the book. It shows the F. W. Wurtzburg, named after a local department store. Since this photo probably dates to the 1930s, perhaps the name was applied after 1927.

This book should interest anyone who likes streetcars in general, or lives in Michigan in particular. It is available from the publisher. At 304 pages, it is also somewhat larger than the typical 224-page CERA length.

The general approach the authors have taken here could also be applied to other subjects of a similar vintage, such as the Chicago, Ottawa and Peoria, an Illinois interurban which quit in 1934.

It is somewhat ironic that Grand Rapids was at the forefront of innovation in the 1920s, but just a decade later, was also among the first cities of its size to completely replace streetcars with buses.  But there is a connection– the need to innovate was born out of necessity.

Read the book, and you’ll find out why.

-David Sadowski

The "F. W. Wurtzburg," built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

The “F. W. Wurtzburg,” built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

*Please note that The Trolley Dodger is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

Product Review

This picture shows the lightbox with the light turned off.

This picture shows the lightbox with the light turned off.

Tracing Light box Dbmier A4S USB Powered Light Pad Artcraft Tracing LED Light Board for Drawing, Tracing, Sketching, Animation Active Area 8.27″ X 12.20″

Here is a new product that should interest anyone who works with photographic negatives or transparencies. It is a modern version of a lightbox, using LED technology. It is powered by a USB cord that can connect to a computer. I expect you can get an adapter that will allow you to use AC power. Otherwise, you would be limited to using it in the vicinity of your computer.

In years past, there have been various lightboxes on the market. Some had conventional light bulbs, and others used florescent lighting. All were somewhat problematic and all were also bulkier than this ultra-thin model, which has three levels of brightness and puts out white light (which many of the older lightboxes did not).

The old type lightboxes also put out a lot of heat, which this one does not.  It’s a 21st century solution to a 20th century problem, but better late than never!

It is available for a very attractive price. I highly recommend it, and gain nothing financially if anyone does buy one. I only wish a product like this had been available 30 years ago.

-David Sadowski

Recent Correspondence

Bruce Fastow writes:

Perhaps you can guide me. I own a Johnson fare box similar to the one attached. Can you tell me how I can take the top off so I can clean out the hopper? My kids put paper in the unit.

 

Chances are, one of our readers knows the answer and can help, thanks.

Pre-Order Our New Book 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.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 221 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans Under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping. Shipping within the US is included in the price. Shipping to Canada is just $5 additional, or $10 elsewhere.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

We are pleased to report that selected images from our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will be available on September 25th in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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street-railwayreview1895-002

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 189th 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 305,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

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Odds and Ends

CTA Prewar PCC 4041 is northbound on Western Avenue near Fulton Street on July 7, 1955. (Chuck Wlodarczyk Photo)

CTA Prewar PCC 4041 is northbound on Western Avenue near Fulton Street on July 7, 1955. (Chuck Wlodarczyk Photo)

Here in Chicago, April showers (and there were many) have finally given way to May flowers. What better time to do some late Spring cleaning, and sort out a bunch of recently acquired material to share with you, our readers.

In spite of the lack of an overall theme, somehow this post grew like Topsy, to the point where it now has more images in it (100+) than any of our previous installments.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

In the 1950s, CTA PCC 7125 is heading southbound at State and Kinzie while track work is underway nearby.

In the 1950s, CTA PCC 7125 is heading southbound at State and Kinzie while track work is underway nearby.

We've run a couple pictures from this, the first Omnibus Society of America fantrip, in previous posts (Tip of the Iceberg, March 10, 2017 and Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part Six, February 22, 2016), but this one actually provides the date, March 2, 1958. CTA trolley bus 9193 is heading south on Kedzie at the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway. As you can see, the entrance to the Kedzie rapid transit station is not quite finished. The line would open on June 22, 1958, replacing the old Garfield Park "L".

We’ve run a couple pictures from this, the first Omnibus Society of America fantrip, in previous posts (Tip of the Iceberg, March 10, 2017 and Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part Six, February 22, 2016), but this one actually provides the date, March 2, 1958. CTA trolley bus 9193 is heading south on Kedzie at the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway. As you can see, the entrance to the Kedzie rapid transit station is not quite finished. The line would open on June 22, 1958, replacing the old Garfield Park “L”.

On May 16, 1954, two weeks before the end of Red Car service, the Central Electric Railfans' Association held a fantrip on several lines. Here, we see fantrip car 479 at right and regular service car 1758 on the left. The location is Lake and Laramie, as you can see the ramp that brought the Lake Street "L" down to street level for the last 2.5 miles of its route. Car 473 also took part in the excursion.

On May 16, 1954, two weeks before the end of Red Car service, the Central Electric Railfans’ Association held a fantrip on several lines. Here, we see fantrip car 479 at right and regular service car 1758 on the left. The location is Lake and Laramie, as you can see the ramp that brought the Lake Street “L” down to street level for the last 2.5 miles of its route. Car 473 also took part in the excursion.

The same location today. The Lake Street "L" (today's CTA Green Line) was relocated onto the nearby Chicago & North Western embankment in 1962, and a new structure replaced the former ramp. Steel support columns were relocated to the curb. We are facing west.

The same location today. The Lake Street “L” (today’s CTA Green Line) was relocated onto the nearby Chicago & North Western embankment in 1962, and a new structure replaced the former ramp. Steel support columns were relocated to the curb. We are facing west.

This picture of CTA 473 was also taken on the May 16, 1954 fantrip, during a photo stop at 79th Place and Emerald.

This picture of CTA 473 was also taken on the May 16, 1954 fantrip, during a photo stop at 79th Place and Emerald.

Westbound CTA 1758 is turning from Lake onto Pine. This picture may also have been taken on May 16, 1954, as the same car shows up in some of the fantrip pictures. That looks like a 1953 Kaiser at left. Kaiser was an upstart automaker that got started after WWII and ceased American car production in 1955 to concentrate on making Jeeps. Kaisers had nice styling and interiors, but were underpowered compared to the Buicks and Oldsmobiles they competed against, lacking a V-8 engine.

Westbound CTA 1758 is turning from Lake onto Pine. This picture may also have been taken on May 16, 1954, as the same car shows up in some of the fantrip pictures. That looks like a 1953 Kaiser at left. Kaiser was an upstart automaker that got started after WWII and ceased American car production in 1955 to concentrate on making Jeeps. Kaisers had nice styling and interiors, but were underpowered compared to the Buicks and Oldsmobiles they competed against, lacking a V-8 engine.

CTA PCC 7170 is heading southbound at Clark and Granville in this wintry 1950s scene. The Kroger grocery store was located at 6157 N. Clark, in a building now occupied by the Raven Theatre Company.

CTA PCC 7170 is heading southbound at Clark and Granville in this wintry 1950s scene. The Kroger grocery store was located at 6157 N. Clark, in a building now occupied by the Raven Theatre Company.

Photo caption: "Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee RR 352 passenger interurban (Built Cincinnati). Only car on Mundelein branch." Don's Rail Photos: "352 was built by St Louis Car Co in January 1928, #1453. It was retired and scrapped in 1951."

Photo caption: “Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee RR 352 passenger interurban (Built Cincinnati). Only car on Mundelein branch.” Don’s Rail Photos: “352 was built by St Louis Car Co in January 1928, #1453. It was retired and scrapped in 1951.”

A Dayton (Ohio) trolley bus at night in September 1972.

A Dayton (Ohio) trolley bus at night in September 1972.

A Lehigh Valley Transit Liberty Bell Limited interurban car in Lansdale (note the nearby Reading catenary). While the interurban quit in 1951, electric commuter rail service to Lansdale continues under the auspices of SEPTA. Between 1949 and 1951, LVT considered terminating the interurban here instead of continuing to Norristown. This would have involved building a loop to turn the single-ended cars. Ultimately, this was not done.

A Lehigh Valley Transit Liberty Bell Limited interurban car in Lansdale (note the nearby Reading catenary). While the interurban quit in 1951, electric commuter rail service to Lansdale continues under the auspices of SEPTA. Between 1949 and 1951, LVT considered terminating the interurban here instead of continuing to Norristown. This would have involved building a loop to turn the single-ended cars. Ultimately, this was not done.

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don's Rail Photos: "1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952." It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don’s Rail Photos: “1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952.” It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Lehigh Valley Transit 1102 loaded on an Lehigh Valley RR flat car in Allentown, PA (November 1949). Don's Rail Photos: "1102 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as D&TRy 203. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1102. In 1949 it was sold to Speedrail, but was not rehabilitated until March 1951. But it only ran for 3 months as 66 before the line was abandoned and then scrapped in 1952."

Lehigh Valley Transit 1102 loaded on an Lehigh Valley RR flat car in Allentown, PA (November 1949). Don’s Rail Photos: “1102 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as D&TRy 203. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1102. In 1949 it was sold to Speedrail, but was not rehabilitated until March 1951. But it only ran for 3 months as 66 before the line was abandoned and then scrapped in 1952.”

"LVT 1102 loaded on an NYC flat car at Riverside to be shipped to Milwaukee, Wisconsin."

“LVT 1102 loaded on an NYC flat car at Riverside to be shipped to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.”

Chicago Streetcar R.P.O. (Railway Post Office)

We recently acquired this envelope, and enclosures, that were cancelled in 1946 on an old Chicago streetcar. Streetcars had last been used to sort and transport mail in 1915. The event was a stamp collector’s convention.

Don's Rail Photos: "H7, mail car, was built by American Car Co in 1891, as a C&PS (Cicero & Proviso Street Ry) passenger car. It was rebuilt as CUT 8 in 1900 as a mail car and as CRys 8 in 1903. It was renumbered H7 in 1913 and became CSL H7 in 1914. It was retired on May 16, 1949."

Don’s Rail Photos: “H7, mail car, was built by American Car Co in 1891, as a C&PS (Cicero & Proviso Street Ry) passenger car. It was rebuilt as CUT 8 in 1900 as a mail car and as CRys 8 in 1903. It was renumbered H7 in 1913 and became CSL H7 in 1914. It was retired on May 16, 1949.”

Hagerstown & Frederick (Potomac Edison)

We recently purchased a number of rare photos showing the Hagerstown & Frederick, a Maryland interurban. This was a real-lie “Toonerville Trolley,” which, despite not having a lot of ridership, somehow managed to survive into the 1950s.

Here is what Don’s Rail Photos says about the H&F:

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 was fortunate enough to visit Frederick the year after passenger service ended, but some of the freight equipment was still around.

Interestingly, some of these pictures were part of a set produced by the Railroad Record Club. I had no idea that the RRC sold sets of photos, but apparently they did. This is only part of one such set, #12. That would imply there are more RRC photo sets out there waiting to be rediscovered.

There is a Railroad Record Club discs featuring the H&F, but it is disc #6 and not 12. RRC #6 is one of the ones we have already digitized.

H&F car 48 on May 18, 1941. "Wood steel sheathed city car. Green and cream." Don's Rail Photos adds, "48 was built by Brill in 1926. It came from the CG&W, also, since they were owned by Potomac Edison, too. It was retired in 1949 and disposition is unknown."

H&F car 48 on May 18, 1941. “Wood steel sheathed city car. Green and cream.” Don’s Rail Photos adds, “48 was built by Brill in 1926. It came from the CG&W, also, since they were owned by Potomac Edison, too. It was retired in 1949 and disposition is unknown.”

H&F 151.

H&F 151.

The last passenger trolley (1947) on the Hagerstown-Williamsport line.

The last passenger trolley (1947) on the Hagerstown-Williamsport line.

The last passenger trolley (1947) on the Hagerstown-Williamsport line.

The last passenger trolley (1947) on the Hagerstown-Williamsport line.

H&F 169 in Hagerstown. Don's Rail Photos: "169 was built by Brill in 1917 and was sold for other uses in 1947."

H&F 169 in Hagerstown. Don’s Rail Photos: “169 was built by Brill in 1917 and was sold for other uses in 1947.”

H&F 172 in Braddock Heights, Maryland. Don's Rail Photos: "172 was built by Brill in 1921. It was retired in 1954. The disposition is unknown."

H&F 172 in Braddock Heights, Maryland. Don’s Rail Photos: “172 was built by Brill in 1921. It was retired in 1954. The disposition is unknown.”

H&F 49 at Hagerstown on May 29, 1938. On the back of the photo, it says this car was built by Brill in 1924.

H&F 49 at Hagerstown on May 29, 1938. On the back of the photo, it says this car was built by Brill in 1924.

The Union Street Substation in Cumberland, MD, installed prior to 1900.

The Union Street Substation in Cumberland, MD, installed prior to 1900.

H&F in downtown Hagerstown.

H&F in downtown Hagerstown.

Williamsport, Maryland about 1944. That looks like a 1934 Ford at left.

Williamsport, Maryland about 1944. That looks like a 1934 Ford at left.

H&F 31.

H&F 31.

H&F freight loco 12 in Frederick about 1947. Don's Rail Photos adds, "12 was built by General Electric, December, 1917, #6238, as Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 452, but was diverted to the government for use as Watervliet Arsenal E-2. It came to the H&F in 1947. Disposition is unknown."

H&F freight loco 12 in Frederick about 1947. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “12 was built by General Electric, December, 1917, #6238, as Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 452, but was diverted to the government for use as Watervliet Arsenal E-2. It came to the H&F in 1947. Disposition is unknown.”

"Potomac Edison Co. Car #48 at Cumberland in 1926, on Greene Street at the Dingle intersection with Fayette Street. (Note: House on the left, at 903 Fayette Street, still existed in 1997.) Don's Rail Photos: "48 was built by Brill in 1926. It came from the CG&W, also, since they were owned by Potomac Edison, too. It was retired in 1949 and disposition is unknown."

“Potomac Edison Co. Car #48 at Cumberland in 1926, on Greene Street at the Dingle intersection with Fayette Street. (Note: House on the left, at 903 Fayette Street, still existed in 1997.) Don’s Rail Photos: “48 was built by Brill in 1926. It came from the CG&W, also, since they were owned by Potomac Edison, too. It was retired in 1949 and disposition is unknown.”

H&F #9. Don's Rail Photos: "9 was built by the Washington & Old Dominion in 1918 as their 25. It came to the H&F in 1944. It was retired in 1955 and the disposition is unknown."

H&F #9. Don’s Rail Photos: “9 was built by the Washington & Old Dominion in 1918 as their 25. It came to the H&F in 1944. It was retired in 1955 and the disposition is unknown.”

H&F 171. Don's Rail Photos adds, "171 was built by Brill in 1919. It was retired in 1954 and became a private residence. It is now a fishing cabin." The car body has been preserved in Mountaindale, Maryland.

H&F 171. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “171 was built by Brill in 1919. It was retired in 1954 and became a private residence. It is now a fishing cabin.” The car body has been preserved in Mountaindale, Maryland.

H&F #3 (left) and 15 (right). Don's Rail Photos: "3 was built by H&F in 1914. It was retired in 1945. 15 was built by the Chambersburg Greencastle & Waynesboro Street Ry. in 1917 as their 15. It came to the H&F from this line which was a connection at Shady Grove, Pa. in 1932. Disposition is unknown."(Railroad Record Club photo #12-107)

H&F #3 (left) and 15 (right). Don’s Rail Photos: “3 was built by H&F in 1914. It was retired in 1945. 15 was built by the Chambersburg Greencastle & Waynesboro Street Ry. in 1917 as their 15. It came to the H&F from this line which was a connection at Shady Grove, Pa. in 1932. Disposition is unknown.”(Railroad Record Club photo #12-107)

H&F 178 on a fantrip, probably circa 1954. (Railroad Record Club photo #12-129)

H&F 178 on a fantrip, probably circa 1954. (Railroad Record Club photo #12-129)

(Railroad Record Club photo #12-138)

(Railroad Record Club photo #12-138)

H&F 164. Don's Rail Photos: "164 was built by Brill in 1910 as Frederick RR 32 and scrapped in 1945." (Railroad Record Club photo #12-101)

H&F 164. Don’s Rail Photos: “164 was built by Brill in 1910 as Frederick RR 32 and scrapped in 1945.” (Railroad Record Club photo #12-101)

H&F #12. Don's Rail Photos: "12 was built by General Electric, December, 1917, #6238, as Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 452, but was diverted to the government for use as Watervliet Arsenal E-2. It came to the H&F in 1947. Disposition is unknown." (Railroad Record Club photo #12-120)

H&F #12. Don’s Rail Photos: “12 was built by General Electric, December, 1917, #6238, as Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 452, but was diverted to the government for use as Watervliet Arsenal E-2. It came to the H&F in 1947. Disposition is unknown.” (Railroad Record Club photo #12-120)

(Railroad Record Club photo #12-162)

(Railroad Record Club photo #12-162)

H&F #160. Don's Rail Photos: "160 was built by Cincinnati in 1909 as Hagerstown Ry. 45. Disposition is unknown." (Railroad Record Club photo #12-100)

H&F #160. Don’s Rail Photos: “160 was built by Cincinnati in 1909 as Hagerstown Ry. 45. Disposition is unknown.” (Railroad Record Club photo #12-100)

H&F 178 (Railroad Record Club photo #12-112)

H&F 178 (Railroad Record Club photo #12-112)

Looks like fantrip time in Thurmont, possibly in 1954, with H&F 171 at the head of the line. (Railroad Record Club photo #12-127)

Looks like fantrip time in Thurmont, possibly in 1954, with H&F 171 at the head of the line. (Railroad Record Club photo #12-127)

H&F work car #7 at Frederick, Maryland, on April 11, 1954. It was built in the H&F shops in 1927 and had four Westinghouse 101B2 motors. On the other hand, Don's Rail Photos says, "7 was acquired in 1918 from an unknown source. Other information showed it as being built in the company shop in 1927. It served double duty in the winter as a plow. The disposition is unknown." (Gene Connelly Photo)

H&F work car #7 at Frederick, Maryland, on April 11, 1954. It was built in the H&F shops in 1927 and had four Westinghouse 101B2 motors. On the other hand, Don’s Rail Photos says, “7 was acquired in 1918 from an unknown source. Other information showed it as being built in the company shop in 1927. It served double duty in the winter as a plow. The disposition is unknown.” (Gene Connelly Photo)

H&F 167 at Frederick Yard in June, 1945. Don's Rail Photos: "167 was built by Brill in 1914. It was wrecked in 1946." (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

H&F 167 at Frederick Yard in June, 1945. Don’s Rail Photos: “167 was built by Brill in 1914. It was wrecked in 1946.” (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Upstate New York

We received these pictures recently as a gift. They are all from upstate New York. Otherwise, we don’t profess to know much about these properties. Perhaps some of our knowledgeable readers can help us fill in the blanks.

Photo caption: "Franklin Sqaure is one block south of (the )railroad crossing on River Street. Troy (NY)."

Photo caption: “Franklin Sqaure is one block south of (the )railroad crossing on River Street. Troy (NY).”

United Traction Co. - Franklin Square, Troy, NY.

United Traction Co. – Franklin Square, Troy, NY.

United Traction Co. - Franklin Square, Troy, NY.

United Traction Co. – Franklin Square, Troy, NY.

United Traction Co. - Franklin Square, Troy, NY. Don's Rail Photos: "The company was formed in 1899 as a consolidated of various street railway properties in Albany NY and surrounding cities. The last car operated in Albany in 1946."

United Traction Co. – Franklin Square, Troy, NY. Don’s Rail Photos: “The company was formed in 1899 as a consolidated of various street railway properties in Albany NY and surrounding cities. The last car operated in Albany in 1946.”

Schenectady Railway - State Street from Park.

Schenectady Railway – State Street from Park.

"650 type entering Saratoga terminal. Taken during last days of operation- H. V. (Hudson Valley?) tracks removed in 1929- was once 4-track far out at this point."

“650 type entering Saratoga terminal. Taken during last days of operation- H. V. (Hudson Valley?) tracks removed in 1929- was once 4-track far out at this point.”

Schenectady Railway #53. "Wood suburban car, built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1901 as part of the 50-55 series. Renumbered 550-555, Albany car." According to Dr. Harold E. Cox, the renumbering took place in 1902 and the series was converted to PAYE (pay as you enter) in 1915.

Schenectady Railway #53. “Wood suburban car, built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1901 as part of the 50-55 series. Renumbered 550-555, Albany car.” According to Dr. Harold E. Cox, the renumbering took place in 1902 and the series was converted to PAYE (pay as you enter) in 1915.

Surface Service

We recently acquired 14 more copies of Surface Service, the Chicago Surface Lines employee magazine, with the following dates:

1942 – May, June, August
1943 – December
1944 – January, March, May, June
1945 – January, February, March
1946 – February, August, September

Surface Service was published from the early 1920s until CSL became part of the Chicago Transit Authority on October 1, 1947, a period of about 25 years. These magazines are full of interesting tidbits of information that are invaluable for historical research.

In particular, most of these issues cover the World War II era, and show the various way the CSL helped support the war effort. For example, unless you read one of these magazines, you would have no way of knowing that the War Bond car, shown on the August, 1942 cover, was used on 17 different routes throughout the city, one week at a time. The routes and dates are listed, and this information can be used to date photographs showing the car, a “rolling billboard,” in service.

These 14 issues are each 16 pages, meaning we have added 224 additional pages of information to our E-Book, Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, which is available through our Online Store.

The June 1942 cover is quite interesting, as it features a rare “bird’s eye view” of the loop at Madison and Austin, with no less than five pre-war PCCs on hand. The radio tower was a recent addition. Radio communications back then did not involve streetcar or bus operators, but were used by supervisors.

The radio tower is still there in the middle of the loop, which has since been shortened by lopping off the portion to the west. Now, buses turn north on Austin Boulevard before entering the loop, which is no longer “U” shaped, but more like an “L”.

Adventures in Restoration

We recently purchased an original Ektachrome slide shot in December, 1960 by Earl W. Clark, which has faded badly to red. It turned out that some of the dye layers on early Ektachrome films were very unstable. (A similar problem, interestingly, also happened to some pre-1940 Kodachrome slides.)

The dye layers on today’s slide films have excellent longevity.

The late Bradley Criss was an expert at restoring these types of images. He once gave me some advice on how to best approach this.

Most people would probably scan the slide, then try to color correct it. But since there is such an extreme amount of correction involved, he recommended color correcting in the scanning stage as a first step.

Here are some pictures showing the various steps along the way towards restoring this slide to something like its original appearance. I’m not saying that the results are perfect by any means, but they are a vast improvement.

Before tools like scanners and Photoshop were available, about the best you could do with an image like this was to convert it to black-and-white.

Often, a photographer’s slides don’t come up on the open market until they have passed from the scene. I was hoping this was not the case for Earl W. Clark. I made some inquiries, and it appears that Mr. Clark, the dean of Cincinnati railfans, is still very much on the scene, as this report from last Fall would indicate.

I would imagine Mr. Clark is overjoyed that streetcars have returned to Cincinnati.

-David Sadowski

This is an early Ektachrome slide that has faded badly over the years due to having unstable dyes. They longevity of such dyes has been greatly improved since. The green and blue layers have badly faded, leaving very little but the red. This is how the slide scanned without any color correction.

This is an early Ektachrome slide that has faded badly over the years due to having unstable dyes. They longevity of such dyes has been greatly improved since. The green and blue layers have badly faded, leaving very little but the red. This is how the slide scanned without any color correction.

Before scanning the slide again, this time I manipulated the colors using adjustments in the scanning software. This gave me a "leg up" when starting work in Photoshop, which was the next step.

Before scanning the slide again, this time I manipulated the colors using adjustments in the scanning software. This gave me a “leg up” when starting work in Photoshop, which was the next step.

Here is what the slide looked like after using Photoshop's Auto Color feature. The color is still not right, having a rather magenta (red-blue) cast. Green is the opposite of magenta. You can either reduce the amount of magenta or increase the amount of green-- it all amounts to the same thing.

Here is what the slide looked like after using Photoshop’s Auto Color feature. The color is still not right, having a rather magenta (red-blue) cast. Green is the opposite of magenta. You can either reduce the amount of magenta or increase the amount of green– it all amounts to the same thing.

Here, in Photoshop, I am adjusting the color by using the sliders until the overall color looks right. Notice there are three sets of color opposites.

Here, in Photoshop, I am adjusting the color by using the sliders until the overall color looks right. Notice there are three sets of color opposites.

Here, I am increasing the color saturation in Photoshop to make up for dye fading.

Here, I am increasing the color saturation in Photoshop to make up for dye fading.

Since 2/3rds of the dye layers on this slide have faded badly, the overall level of color saturation has to be increased in order to restore the proper amount of contrast.

Since 2/3rds of the dye layers on this slide have faded badly, the overall level of color saturation has to be increased in order to restore the proper amount of contrast.

The slide has bee brightened up somewhat and I have removed some of the crud that has accumulated on it over the decades. However, ultimately I decided this was slightly too light.

The slide has bee brightened up somewhat and I have removed some of the crud that has accumulated on it over the decades. However, ultimately I decided this was slightly too light.

The end result. This photo of Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 315 was taken by Earl W. Clark in December 1960. Don's Rail Photos: "315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962."

The end result. This photo of Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 315 was taken by Earl W. Clark in December 1960. Don’s Rail Photos: “315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962.”

Charles L. Tauscher in Memoriam

FYI, sad news to report. Charles L. Tauscher‘s niece Jennifer Fulbrook wrote on Facebook that he passed away on April 21st:

Hello. I am sorry for this somewhat off topic post. I know some of you were friends with my uncle (Chuck Tauscher) I wanted to let you know he passed away today after suffering a massive stroke last week.

We do not have any public memorials planned as of yet. Please share this post as you see fit.

Tauscher had a keen interest in history. He was one of the founders of the Omnibus Society of America and was also an excellent photographer. We used several of his pictures in CERA Bulletin 146.

My upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will also have a number of his pictures in it.

I believe he was about 76 years old.

Recent Correspondence

Greg Ross writes:

I’m a student at the University of Chicago, and I am currently working on a story for our student paper, the Chicago Maroon. The story is about the history of the former Garfield Green Line station, the oldest standing L station in the city. I’m writing to ask if you have any information about either the station of the Green Line (the Alley “L”) that I could use in my story. I’ve browsed your blog and would love to see any pictures you may have of the station as well. Please let me know if you would be available to talk.

Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear back!

I posted a picture of the Garfield station to the blog I did before this one (see CTA Red Line Reroute, July 13, 2013), but that is a picture anybody could take today. I am assuming you have already read the station history on Graham Garfield’s excellent web site www.chicago-l.org?

Perhaps some of our readers might have additional information that can help you.

Bill Downes writes:

This is way off the topic, but anyone have a link to an authoritative source regarding the issue dates of some West Towns transfers I have?? There are rather large numerals “22” and “23” superimposed on the body of transfer which shows direction of travel, month, route etc but no date or day of week!! If I had day of week and date could look at calendar and approximate year. Thanks.

An interesting question. Unfortunately, I do not know the answer. Perhaps one of our readers might be able to help, thanks.

Kenneth Muellner writes:

Just wanted to say how much I am enjoying your website. I’ve always had a soft spot for streetcars, interurbans, trolley buses and the like, and really enjoy your site. You mentioned that you grew up near Grand and Harlem, and I grew up not too far away at Addison and Oak Park. We had lots of family that lived over on Mont Clare Ave., just south of Diversey, and we were in the area a lot. I still remember being with my grandfather, waiting for my mother shopping in High Low on Harlem Avenue, and going over with him over to Caputo’s, which was just a garage at that time, with my grandfather telling him how to run his business!

My dumb question is about streetcars. I have a lot of books about them, but one thing I am unclear on is how did the streetcars turn at switches? Did the motorman have to go out of the car and manually move the switch, or was there some sort of remote control where they could switch the track, and then back again for cars following? I never have really understood how that worked.

Thanks again.

There are no dumb questions in my book. Thanks for asking.

Track switches can be hand thrown by the conductor or operator, who would have to stop, get off the streetcar in traffic, and use a long metal rod called a “switch iron.”  Eventually, motorized switches were developed for use in places where route changes were frequent.

Here’s an excellent explanation of such switches, written about the Brooklyn system, but I would imagine applicable elsewhere:

ELECTRIC TRACK SWITCHES

To avoid delaying service, electric track switches were installed at busy intersections. These switches were set by the Motorman while the car was in motion. The current in a contactor located on the trolley wire controlled the track switch. A car coasting under the contactor set the switch for the straight route. If the car’s controller was set on the first point when it passed under the contactor, the switch was set for the diverging route. Because the PCCs had high acceleration, their high starting current would have burned up the contactor. To correct this condition, a switch and a resistor was installed on a separate circuit. Therefore, all PCCs coasted when they approached an electric track switch. For the diverging route, the Motorman actuated this special switch on his desk.

-From the ERA Bulletin (Electric Railroader’s Association) , February 2009.

Max Hoffman writes:

Is Iowa Traction 727 serviceable at Mason City? Is it running in 2017? I would love to photograph it. We have a sister car at Illinois Railway Museum.

That’s an excellent question. Hopefully one of our readers may have an answer.

The Iowa Traction Railway, as it is now called, is a subsidiary of Progressive Rail. You might try contacting them directly.  To the best of my knowledge, ITR owns North Shore 727, but I do not know who maintains it or handles its use on charters.

Miles Beitler writes:

I attached three photos (originally color slides) of CTA trains. The 1972 Halsted photo shows a 2200 series train at the UIC-Halsted station. Note the Sears Tower under construction in the background. The 1972 Morgan photo shows a 6000 series train eastbound at Morgan siding. The last photo shows a 2000 series train in its original paint scheme at Wabash near Randolph. I took all of these photos so feel free to post them to your blog and you may use my name as well.

Thanks for sharing these with our readers.

One of our readers, who prefers to remain anonymous, writes:

I noticed that you recently posted about the CA&E and the North Shore Line, so I attached some old photos which might interest you.

The first three attached photos are from an old North Shore Line calendar. The first photo (CER-NSL Church St) was taken by Fred Borchert probably in the early 1920s and shows the NSL Evanston terminal with the Evanston L station in the background. The other two photos have self-explanatory captions.

I have no copyright information about these photos, but you know that Fred Borchert died long ago. The calendar was “produced by Joe L. Diaz, editor and publisher of The Street Railway Review, 1414 Elmdale, Chicago 60660”.

The fourth photo is of the Wells Street Bridge and the last photo is a CA&E train running on the old Garfield Park line. I’m not sure of the location but it could be the St Louis Avenue curve. These are from Model Transport magazine, June 1982. I did not find any copyright notice in this railfan publication.

Wells St Bridge — from the Chicago Dept of Public Works archives (so this should be public domain)

CA&E on Garfield Pk elevated circa 1940 — photographer unknown

Unfortunately, Joe L. Diaz is also no longer with us. Thanks for sharing!

Jack Bejna writes:

Hi David, Here are a few images of the CA&E ex WB&A trailers, except for 600 and 702 (I can’t find any images so far). I’ve always wondered why CA&E didn’t use them as motors instead of rebuilding them as trailers. Also, I’ve also sent an image of a CA&E caboose with part of the original dispatcher’s office in the background….still looking for s good shot! Thanks for the excellent Easter post; most enjoyable; another winner!

Many of our readers will recognize Mr. Bejna’s fantastic work from previous posts. We all appreciate seeing these great images that he has made look as if they were shot yesterday, through his hard work and talent.

Kenneth Gear writes:

Hi David,

The post office did a good job today and delivered the package containing the April 1982 issue of Traction & Models. That is two days earlier than expected. This is the issue with William Steventon’s article about recording railroad sounds. I’m sending it to you quickly so you can use it in the next Trolley Dodger post, if that was your intention.

The article does, as I had hoped, contain a photo of him trackside making a recording, three actually. It has a lot of very interesting information in it, some of which is about the Railroad Record Club specifically . Steventon tells of a few things that happened to him out in the field while recording sounds that were used on RRC LPs, how he recorded certain sounds, and why he chose the locations he recorded at. He talks about sounds recorded for records numbers 7, 4, and 18, and a few others.

He also talks about recording the sounds of CSS&SB locomotive number 1013. I think the recording should be on one of the LPs that you were just given.

Two of the photos show him and his group trackside getting ready to record the H&F at Lewistown, MD on January 3, 1954, could you have recently purchased the photos taken this day?

He also writes about recording sounds of the New York City subway, another recording that never made it to vinyl.

It is interesting to read that he felt that sound recordings were a valuable historic record, he was so right. Without his work, I would never had been able to hear the sounds of most of the railroad equipment he captured on tape.

Here is a PDF of the Steventon article mentioned above. Traction and Models magazine is long defunct (I could not find any record of issues after 1984.) As always, we are very grateful to Ken for tracking this down and making it available to our readers.

William A Steventon recording the compressor operation on North Shore car number 724 at Mundelein Station.

William A Steventon recording the compressor operation on North Shore car number 724 at Mundelein Station.

William Steventon and friends waiting to record the passing of a car on the Hagerstown & Frederick (Potomac Edison) near Bethel, MD Jan. 3 1954.

William Steventon and friends waiting to record the passing of a car on the Hagerstown & Frederick (Potomac Edison) near Bethel, MD Jan. 3 1954.

Kenneth Gear also writes:

I was thinking it might help our RRC info collecting efforts if you were to ask the readers of the blog to contribute any Railroad Record Club materials they may have. Ask if they would scan any newsletters, catalogs, advertisements, or correspondence and Email it to you or as comments to the post. You might also mention that we still need 3 of the records (#22 Buffalo Creek & Gauley, #31 Sound Scrapbook, Steam & #32 New York Central) and all of the samplers. With luck, this may bare some fruit.

As some of you may know, Kenneth Gear, a great friend of this blog, has been very helpful in tracking down many of the Railroad Record Club LPs and ephemera in our joint quest to document, as completely as possible, the RRC’s output and activities. Of the 42 or so different recordings issued by the RRC, we need only the three titles mentioned above to complete our efforts at digitally remastering them for a whole new generation of railfans.

We recently acquired three RRC titles (#19, 33 and 34), fully half the ones we were missing, and two of the three are traction recordings, which are far less numerous than steam. More details on these new CDs appear in the section below.

PS- We are also looking for the Sacramento Northern Electrics LP, and any other important out-of-print, “orphan works” traction recordings that we don’t already have.

Sacramento Northern Maintenance of Way car 302 at Mallard, California on November 29, 1953 on a Bay Area Electric Railroad Association fantrip. Don's Rail Photos says, "1020 was built by Hall-Scott Motor Car Co in 1913, as OA&E 1020. It became SF-S 1020 in 1920 and SN 1020 in 1928. It was renumbered as MW302 in 1941 and went to Western Railway Museum in 1962." (William R. Smith Photo)

Sacramento Northern Maintenance of Way car 302 at Mallard, California on November 29, 1953 on a Bay Area Electric Railroad Association fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos says, “1020 was built by Hall-Scott Motor Car Co in 1913, as OA&E 1020. It became SF-S 1020 in 1920 and SN 1020 in 1928. It was renumbered as MW302 in 1941 and went to Western Railway Museum in 1962.” (William R. Smith Photo)

Three New CD Collections

FYI, we have three new CD collections available:


RRC #19
Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range
# of Discs – 1
Price: $12.95

In steam days, the DM&IR was controlled by the U.S. Steel Co., and its main activity was the haulage of iron ore from the Missabe iron mines to the docks at Two Harbors and Duluth, Minnesota. The Iron Range 2-8-8-4 locomotives, simple articulated “Yellowstone” types, were among the largest U.S. locomotive designs. As with the Nickel Plate, the Iron Range used steam power long into the diesel era. The last revenue steam run took place in 1961, and these recordings were made between 1958 and 1960. Includes a very interesting sequence in a dispatcher’s office. Besides RRC #19, this disc includes the EP Sounds of Steam on the Iron Range.

Total time – 49:48


RRC #33 and 34
Chicago, South Shore & South Bend
(South Shore Line) Electric Freight
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.95

Railroad Record Club #33 and 34
On September 14, 1962, William A. Steventon recorded South Shore Line electric freight locomotives 1012 and 1013 on a run between Michigan City and South Bend, Indiana. Originally, this was planned as a single LP disc with a switching scene on one side, and a road run on the other. As it turned out, the two locos, although similar, made substantially different sounds, so it was decided to issue two discs instead. Both are now included on a single compact disc, along with the original liner notes for each. Since Diesel replaced electric freight on the South Shore Line in 1981, these are sounds that are impossible to duplicate today.

Total time – 62:04


HC-FFNP
Steam in the High Country
Fast Freight on the Nickel Plate
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.95

Steam in the High Country:
The land of mile high prairies and shining snow-capped mountains formed a dramatic backdrop for the sight and sound of the steam locomotive in action. Here is a tremendous contrast in power, from the giant Union Pacific #4-8-8-4, to the Denver and Rio Grande Western miniature Mikado, in a symphony of steam, steel and cinders. Featuring steam locomotives of the Union Pacific, Colorado & Southern, Great Western, Denver & Rio Grande Western, and the Burlington, recorded between 1957 and 1962.

Fast Freight on the Nickel Plate:
The New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad is perhaps better known by its official nickname, “The Nickel Plate Road.” The road’s main line ran from Buffalo to Chicago, with numerous branches into southern Ohio coal fields and a line to St. Louis. The main line closely paralleled the route of the New York Central, so the Nickel Plate had to offer superior service to attract business from the lines of the neighboring giant. The road lived up to its motto “Nickel Plate for high speed service.” Until early 1958 this line was serviced by a fleet of modern 2-8-4 Berkshire steam locomotives, being one of the last important main line jobs for steam power in the U.S. Anyone who has watched these fine engines in action, as they moved 100 plus cars of freight at a mile a minute or better speed, can attest to the fine job they did. It was only after many refinements and improvements that diesel locomotives became worthy replacements of the famous Berkshires heard here in recordings made in the early part of 1958.

Total time – 75:34

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

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More LVT Photos & Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 12-14-2015

LVT 1006 making a backup move, which these single-ended cars had to do on a regular basis in Allentown. This must be near the end of service in 1951 as evidenced by the premature corrosion on the car (caused by electrolysis between the steel and aluminum plates it was built with).

LVT 1006 making a backup move, which these single-ended cars had to do on a regular basis in Allentown. This must be near the end of service in 1951 as evidenced by the premature corrosion on the car (caused by electrolysis between the steel and aluminum plates it was built with).

Our recent post about the Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell Limited interurban (December 7) prompted us to dig around for some additional photos to share with you. In addition, we have some recent selections from the Trolley Dodger mailbag. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks, either as comments, or to:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

-David Sadowski

LVT 1002 on the Philadelphia & Western in 1940. The straight track heading behind us is the original main line that went to Strafford (and gave the Strafford cars their name). It was eventually eclipsed by the extension to Norristown and was abandoned in 1956.

LVT 1002 on the Philadelphia & Western in 1940. The straight track heading behind us is the original main line that went to Strafford (and gave the Strafford cars their name). It was eventually eclipsed by the extension to Norristown and was abandoned in 1956.

In a 1951 snow scene, LVT 702 meets a 1000-series car.

In a 1951 snow scene, LVT 702 meets a 1000-series car.

LVT 702 and 812 on November 12, 1939.

LVT 702 and 812 on November 12, 1939.

An LVT 1000-series lightweight high-speed car on the Philadelphia & Western in the 1940s. According to Jim Graebner, the siding is "a yard track of the Millbourne Mills shop area. The long straight stretch of double track leads to the first station stop at West Overbrook, which is just over the hill out of sight."

An LVT 1000-series lightweight high-speed car on the Philadelphia & Western in the 1940s. According to Jim Graebner, the siding is “a yard track of the Millbourne Mills shop area.
The long straight stretch of double track leads to the first station stop at West Overbrook, which is just over the hill out of sight.”

LVT's Souderton car barn in 1951.

LVT’s Souderton car barn in 1951.

LVT 702 at Rink Siding in Norristown in 1951.

LVT 702 at Rink Siding in Norristown in 1951.

LVT 1020 and 1002 on Washington Street on an April 1, 1951 fantrip.  If you look closely, you will see lots of fans with their cameras on both cars.

LVT 1020 and 1002 on Washington Street on an April 1, 1951 fantrip. If you look closely, you will see lots of fans with their cameras on both cars.

LVT 704 and 1020 taking their last trip on the way to the Bethlehem Steel scrap line, on New Street near 3rd Street in Bethlehem on January 8, 1952, four months after service ended on the Liberty Bell Limited interurban. Some cars had to be towed, but these at least were still able to move on their own.

LVT 704 and 1020 taking their last trip on the way to the Bethlehem Steel scrap line, on New Street near 3rd Street in Bethlehem on January 8, 1952, four months after service ended on the Liberty Bell Limited interurban. Some cars had to be towed, but these at least were still able to move on their own.

Prior to being put into service on the Liberty Bell Limited in September 1941, LVT 1030 made the rounds throughout the system.  Note the sign advertising this new club car.  This may be Easton, usually the territory of the Easton Limited, LVT's other interurban.  Notice the difference in the shape of the rear end (curved) vs. that of the ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie cars that LVT had (squared off).  That is because 1030 was originally Indiana Railroad car 55, and the IR lightweight high-speeds could be operated in multiple units and hence needed more clearance in back for turns.

Prior to being put into service on the Liberty Bell Limited in September 1941, LVT 1030 made the rounds throughout the system. Note the sign advertising this new club car. This may be Easton, usually the territory of the Easton Limited, LVT’s other interurban. Notice the difference in the shape of the rear end (curved) vs. that of the ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie cars that LVT had (squared off). That is because 1030 was originally Indiana Railroad car 55, and the IR lightweight high-speeds could be operated in multiple units and hence needed more clearance in back for turns.

Lehigh Valley Transit Co. Liberty Bell Route right-of-way at Acorn Siding one year after abandonment, looking north in 1952.

Lehigh Valley Transit Co. Liberty Bell Route right-of-way at Acorn Siding one year after abandonment, looking north in 1952.

The Lehigh Valley Transit Co. Aineyville Viaduct over the Reading Railroad East Penn Junction in Allentown, PA in 1951.

The Lehigh Valley Transit Co. Aineyville Viaduct over the Reading Railroad East Penn Junction in Allentown, PA in 1951.

LVT built the Eighth Street Bridge in Allentown, which charged tolls. This vintage postcard was mailed in 1919.

LVT built the Eighth Street Bridge in Allentown, which charged tolls. This vintage postcard was mailed in 1919.

An LVT local car (yes, the interurban had locals as well as expresses) in Norristown in 1934, on the ramp up to the Philadelphia & Western terminal.

An LVT local car (yes, the interurban had locals as well as expresses) in Norristown in 1934, on the ramp up to the Philadelphia & Western terminal.

A Liberty Bell Limited saucer.

A Liberty Bell Limited saucer.

The LVT crockware was made in Allentown. According to author Ron Ruddell, these were custom-fired in 1914 for use on car 999.

The LVT crockware was made in Allentown. According to author Ron Ruddell, these were custom-fired in 1914 for use on car 999.

This vintage liberty Bell Limited mustard pot recently sold on eBay for $429.99, although not to me (my finances don't cut the mustard for stuff like this).

This vintage liberty Bell Limited mustard pot recently sold on eBay for $429.99, although not to me (my finances don’t cut the mustard for stuff like this).

Jamestown (NY) Street Railway car 82, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1917, was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit in 1938 as part of their modernization program, where it was renumbered into the 400-series.

Jamestown (NY) Street Railway car 82, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1917, was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit in 1938 as part of their modernization program, where it was renumbered into the 400-series.

A vintage uniform patch.

A vintage uniform patch.

A P&W "Bullet" car side by side with the LVT at the 69th Street Terminal in 1948. The following year, Liberty Bell Limited service would be cut back to Norristown.

A P&W “Bullet” car side by side with the LVT at the 69th Street Terminal in 1948. The following year, Liberty Bell Limited service would be cut back to Norristown.

A rear view of two Lehigh Valley Transit ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie "Red Devils" shows how their squared-off ends were not designed for multiple-unit operation. By comparison, car 1030, adapted from Indiana Railroad car 55, had a rounded end and was designed for multiple unit operation. Presumably, this is the Fairview car barn in Allentown. Liberty Bell Limited interurban service ended in 1951.

A rear view of two Lehigh Valley Transit ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie “Red Devils” shows how their squared-off ends were not designed for multiple-unit operation. By comparison, car 1030, adapted from Indiana Railroad car 55, had a rounded end and was designed for multiple unit operation. Presumably, this is the Fairview car barn in Allentown. Liberty Bell Limited interurban service ended in 1951.

The final meet between two Liberty Bell Limited cars (1006 and 702), late in the night on September 6, 1951. The operators are F. Enters and C. Kistler. This was a press photo and appeared in newspapers. (Gerhard Solomon Photo)

The final meet between two Liberty Bell Limited cars (1006 and 702), late in the night on September 6, 1951. The operators are F. Enters and C. Kistler. This was a press photo and appeared in newspapers. (Gerhard Solomon Photo)

Recent Correspondence

Joey Morrow writes:

On this link there are 2 photos that show the northbound (outbound) platform directly north of Elm street east of the (North Shore Line) Winnetka Station which would have been on the modernized section of the Shore Line route. The only thing remaining are the cement blocks that supported the platform structure. The platform is long gone, but the cement supports are still fighting trees and other greenery from taking out the last known platform (that I know of) from America’s fastest interurban era. The strange thing is that this platform was abandoned in 1955.

Obviously it’s either gone (let’s hope not), or it’s so hidden you can’t see it. But it’s pretty clear that those photo’s are not old. I’m pretty sure that one of them is still there, or at least the foundation of the platform.

P.S. Thank you so very much for posting my email on your blog, you totally made my day!

The Shore Line was abandoned in 1955 since it was a lot slower than the Skokie Valley route and presumably had a lot fewer passengers. It also had a lot more direct competition. Of course, their eventual goal was to abandon everything, which did happen in 1963.

Around 1950, the CTA proposed turning over the Evanston/Wilmette service to the North Shore Line, in exchange for having all their trains terminate at Howard. I am sure some people at the CTA regarded the interurban operations on their tracks as an inconvenience that created various operating complications. With the CTA’s attempts to speed up service, at first by using A/B skip-stop service, then later high speed motors, they felt that reasonable times to downtown could still be achieved even if interurban passengers had to change trains at Howard (or Forest Park).

This did not work out so well for the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin in 1953-57 but that was mainly due to the very slow temporary trackage on Van Buren Street (2 1/2 miles). Who knows how things would have worked out if CA&E had survived after the new Congress rapid transit line had opened in June 1958?

Riley O’Connor writes (in reference to our recent post about the Ken Kidder O-scale model of CSL 7001):

Thanks for the reference to the CSL car. It sometimes seems that the best we can do is get “close enough” for colors. And, sometimes an educated guess is closer to reality than the rivet counters want to admit.

I follow a seller on eBay who operates out of Waukesha and he seems to be knowledgeable about the Kidder 0-Scale production. There appear to have been quite a number of these short production run cars in addition to your CSL car. I just haven’t had time to sit down and pick his brain about them. Kidder specialized in this sort of thing, and these cars appear to be at the direction of a buyer or two, with an additional unknown number of “spec” cars. No telling where he got the drawings of the different cars; perhaps Wagner.

From what I’ve seen, Kidder did, among other things, an Electroliner body (four cars, but no floor or mechanism) and a number of interurbans. Also at least one city car in 0-Scale.

By the way, I’ve read your blog on many occasions and I thank you for doing it. It’s very interesting.

One possible source for the 7001 blueprint would be Car Plans of the Chicago Surface Lines (1962), published by the Electric Railway Historical Society as their 38th bulletin. All 49 ERHS bulletins have been reissued by Central Electric Railfans’ Association on a DVD data disc in PDF form, and are available directly from them or their dealers.

I’ve seen Ken Kidder brass Birney cars for sale on eBay, both single and double truck. The double truck Birney would be the same type of car (Johnstown 311) featured on Railroad Record Club LP #23, Pennsylvania Trolleys, available on CD via our Online Store. This car still exists and was the first one acquired by the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Pennsylvania.

birney1

birney2

birney3

Kenneth Gear writes:

I started buying RRC LPs from Mr. Steventon back when I was in high school (Mid-1970s) My uncle had RRC 10 PRR and he loaned it to me and I enjoyed it very much. In spite of the fact that this record was almost fifteen years old, I wanted to find out if the other LPs (I knew there had to be at least nine others) were still available. I wrote a letter to the Railroad Record Club thinking that I’d never get a reply. Could the post office even deliver a letter addressed simply Hawkins, Wisconsin? A few weeks later I got a nice handwritten note from Mr. Steventon (I sure wish I had saved it) explaining that RCA had lost or destroyed his master discs that the LPs were made from. He was in the process of having new masters made using good copies of the 10″ LPs. He would then start selling the remastered records as 12″ discs.

I would end up buying eight LPs over the next couple of years, but for a while my interest faded. By the time I wanted to start buying more, it was all over.

Just one of the reasons I enjoy these records (CDs) so much.

Awhile ago I sent a few Railroad LPs to a company I found online. I spoke to the sound engineer on the phone before I sent any thing to them. He admitted that he had no idea what to do with locomotive sound recordings but he agreed to make simple transfers to CD without attempting any restoration or track dividing. The results were CDs that sounded exactly like playing the LPs. Your work is so much better that there is no comparing them.

So far, I haven’t been able to find anything to indicate that Steventon (1921-1993) had any children. His wife’s name was Mary (née Witt) (1921-2003) and they got married in Washington, D. C. in 1954, when they were in their early 30s.

She outlived him by ten years and it looks like someone else helped clean out their house after she died. His own personal collection of RRC LPs ended up getting sold one-by-one on eBay.

I would like to think that we are continuing to carry out Mr. Steventon’s life mission by making these fine recordings available once again in modern form as compact discs.

Dennis Kern writes:

I wrote you a while back asking if anyone might have photos/plans of interurban stations/depots specifically ones like the ones on Northern Indiana Power. This was the line that ran from Marion, Indiana to Frankfort, Indiana and more specifically like the depot in CERA book bulletin 102, 1958 on pg 55 of Michigantown – Bottom right. The depot in this photo is very like the one we are working on in Russiaville, Indiana. I know you indicated you might ask around however since I have not heard anything more I assume you did not find anything. You will recall we want to restore the Waiting room in the depot. We did find one photo of the Agents office which is attached for you.

!. Can you tell me your opinion of generally what a waiting room would be like. I am thinking a lot of depots had vertical siding about 3 feet up from the floor covering the lower portion of the plaster. This wood was like box car siding I think. Would appreciate any suggestions you might have because if we can not find anything specific we will just make it look like a generic depot interior.

2. Could you look at the photo – Questions; the two men in uniform – one is an agent. The uniforms are different i.e. one has a dark shirt – other has a white shirt also different hats – we have talked about trying to obtain some uniforms like these and putting some “dummies” in the depot agents office. Any idea where we might obtain uniforms like these. Also any idea on the route map on the wall above the desk, Also the telephone. Also would you say what I think is a window – to the left of door in the back – might be a ticket window – what do you think. Also any comments you might have about the other objects in the office.

Thanks for your time in looking at this.

interurban station

Let me ask the readers of my blog and also some of the railroad discussion groups I belong to. I apologize for not following through on your previous request. Chances are some of our readers will offer some excellent ideas.

Thanks.

Andre Kristopans writes:

I have a series of huge sheets from1939 that detail car equipments. Would have to scan in three sections to send, and right now scanner is acting up anyway. However, let me give you some interesting tidbits regarding the Odd 17 (actually 19) cars:

6138-6146, 3090 built 1918

11’8-3/16″ high

6138-6142 Brill 27GE1 trucks, 4’10” wheelbase, 4 GE 226-A 45hp motors weight 46700

6143-6145 MCGMCB A/Brill 27FE1 trucks, 6′ wheelbase, 4 GE 80-A 40hp motors, weight 51600

6146 Brill 39E trucks, 4’10” wheelbase, 2 GE 242-B 65hp motors, weight 40600

3090 Brill 39E-1 trucks, 4’10” wheelbase, 2 GE 242-B 65hp motors, weight 41100

6147-6154, 3091 built 1919

11’9-3/8″ high

6147-6153 Brill 27GE1 trucks, 4’10” wheelbase, 4 GE 226-A 45hp motors, weight 46100

6154 Brill 51-E2 trucks, 4’10” wheelbase, 4 GE 80-A 40hp motors, weight 51150

3091 Brill 39E-1 trucks, 4’10” wheelbase, 2 GE 242-B 65hp motors, weight 41800

27GE1 trucks with 226A motors (12) almost certainly came from 1429-1526 series cars, of which many were sold 1914-1916

MCB 10A trucks (the 6-foot wheelbase ones) with 80A motors would have come from 5001-5200 series, though trucks were apparently rebuilt by Brill as “27FE-1″ as MCB 10A trucks were only 4’10” wheelbase.
There were three cars burned 1916, 5169, 5194,5303.

39Ewith 242-B motors would have come from 5701?

39E1 with 242-B motors on 3090-3091 might have been new purchases as no other cars with 242-B motors were retired by 1918-19

Here is some more info on these 19 cars. Officially, 6138-6142 replaced 2520, 2526, 2584, 2597, 2621, 6147-6150 replaced 2515, 2546, 2565, 2585, 6151 replaced 2777, 6152 replaced 5239, 6153 replaced 5765, and 6154 replaced 2561. However, the reality is a bit different.

2500’s had 4 GE 67 40hp motors and 6′ wheelbase St Louis MCB trucks. Very different from 226-A’s and 27GE-1 trucks.

2777 had again 4 GE 67 40hp motors and Brill 51-E-2 trucks

5239 GE 80A 40hp motors and Brill 27FE trucks

Possibly 2777’s trucks ended up under 6154, with 5239’s motors?

6143-6146 do appear to have the equipments of 5169,5194,5303,5701 which they “replaced”. However, note that 1927 inventory shows 6143-6145 with GE 80 (not 80-A) motors. This might be an error, though.

It would appear that 6138-6142 and 6147-6153 did not have the equipments from the cars they “replaced” at all, but instead had trucks and motors from entirely different cars, the 1409-1505 series Bowling Alleys. One wonders if the 2500’s trucks went with the 1400’s bodies when they were sold off?

In addition 3090-3091 “replaced” 1405 and 1360, Matchboxes. Again, no equipment match. St Louis 47A trucks with GE 80A 40hp motors vs Brill 39E-1 trucks and 242-B motors. In 1927, though, 3090 is shown with GE 80A motors, which were apparently from the Matchbox, but by 1939 has 242-B’s.

Here is an interesting tabulation. One-man conversions over the years.

1994-1999 to convertibles (can be operated one or two man) 1936
2841,2842,2845 to one-man 1926-27
5703-5722 to convertibles 1933
5723-5731 to convertibles 1935
6000-6019 to one-man 1945, back to 2-man 1946
6061-6065 to convertibles 1936
1721-1726,1728-1737,1739-1753,1755-1762,1764-1769,1771-1785, 6155-6158 to one-man 1949-50
3119-3129,3131-3132,3134-3149,3151,3153,3154,3156-3158,3160, 6159-6186 to one-man 1949-50
3161-3169,3171-3175,3177,3178,6187-6196,6198 to one-man 1949-50
3179 to convertible 1935
3200-3201 to convertibles 1936
3202-3231,6199-6218,3232-3261,6219-6238 to one-man 1932
3204-3206,3210-3216,3220,3222-3224,3227,3229,3244,6219-6221,6223-6227,6229,6235 return to 2-man 1948, back again to 1-man 1949
3262-3281,6240-6252 to one-man 1932
3262,3264,3265,3267-3270,3275,3276,3278,3279,6241-6252 return to 2-man 1948, back again to 1-man 1949
3282-3301,6253-6265 to one-man 1932
6253,6255,6257,6258,6261,6264,6265 return to 2-man 1948, back again to 1-man 1949
3302-3321,6266-6279 to one-man 1932
3319,3321 return to 2-man 1948, back again to 1-man 1949
3325,3347-3349,3351,3352,3354,3355,3357,3360,3361-3363,3368,3372,3378,3379,6303,6305,6310,6319 to one-man 1952, never operated as such
4002-4051,7002-7034 to one-man 1952
4052-4061 to one-man 1952, 4059-4061 back to 2-man 1954, then all 4052-4061 to convertibles 1955
7035-7044 to one-man 1952, back to 2-man 1954, to convertibles 1955
7049,7052,7053,7057,7058,7060,7062,7064,7066,7067,7070-7074 to one-man 1952, but back to 2-man same year
7235-7249,7251,7253-7259 to convertibles 1955

Thanks!!

Ron Ruddell writes:

The China shown on your blog embossed with the Liberty Bell was not used in any depot restaurant. It was custom-fired in 1914 for Liberty Bell Car 999. Please see my book “Riding on the Bell” – page 78 for further information. I have a pickle dish of the same pattern.

Thanks for the correction.

Nice to hear from you again. Congratulations on the successful completion of your excellent and very definitive work on the Liberty Bell interurban.


In the News

Upcoming Exhibition at Grohmann Museum in Milwaukee

Jan. 22 – April 24, 2016
Art of the North Shore Line

With its rapid expansion in the 1920s, the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad set the standard for electric interurban transit in America; no railway could compare to the North Shore Line. The North Shore Line also established itself as a leader in marketing with a highly successful print ad and poster campaign featuring the work of designers Willard Frederic Elmes, Oscar Rabe Hanson and Ervine Metzl, among others. Assembled from the collection of the Milwaukee Public Library and a number of private collections, this exhibition features many of these memorable posters along with photographs, prints and ephemera from the height of the North Shore Line’s success. Curated by photographer John Gruber and J.J. Sedelmaier, world-renowned artist, designer and animator of Saturday Night Live’s TV Funhouse.

Gallery Night and Day
Friday, Jan. 22, 5 to 9 p.m. – Free admission
(Presentation by John Gruber and J.J. Sedelmaier, guest curators, at 7 p.m.)
Saturday, Jan. 23, Noon to 6 p.m. – Free admission

Grohmann Museum
1000 N. Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 277-2300
grohmannmuseum@msoe.edu


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Ringing “The Bell”

LVT interurbans 1006 and 702 at Perkasie on February 11, 1951. 702 was in fantrip service.

LVT interurbans 1006 and 702 at Perkasie on February 11, 1951. 702 was in fantrip service.

Lehigh Valley Transit

Today, we review a new book about the Liberty Bell Limited, a classic Pennsylvania interurban line that carried passengers between Philadelphia and Allentown until abandonment in the early hours of September 7, 1951. President George H. W. Bush once mistakenly referred to September 7th as Pearl Harbor Day, but to Keystone Traction enthusiasts, it will always be a day that will live in infamy.

Along with our book review, we offer a generous selection of classic Lehigh Valley Transit photos from our own collections– mostly from the Liberty Bell route, but with a few from the Easton Limited, LVT’s “other” interurban, and even a city car to boot.

P1060347

Riding the Bell: Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell Route by Ron Ruddell
Bulletin 147 of Central Electric Railfans’ Association

There have been many books written about the famed Liberty Bell Limited over the years, including some excellent ones, but Riding the Bell, available now from Central Electric Railfans’ Association* and their dealers, is sure to stand the test of the time as the best and most comprehensive of the lot.

This is not the first time that the “Bell Route” has been covered in a CERA publication, of course. A roster appeared during World War II, and a 1000-series lightweight graced the cover of Trolley Sparks, the organization’s newsletter, when the line was still running.

The late author Ronald DeGraw included much information about LVT in his excellent book Pig & Whistle: The Story of the Philadelphia & Western Railway, published by CERA in 2007 as their 140th bulletin. However, that coverage only pertained to LVT’s use of the P&W line to Norristown, which became the Bell’s main route to Philadelphia in the early 1900s.

Author Ron Ruddell headed up a group of Pennsylvania traction historians, who labored for ten years to create a book equal to their subject. I am glad to say they have succeeded in spades. A tremendous amount of information has been put into Riding the Bell‘s 224 pages, and it would be hard to put anything else into it without needing to take out something just as important.

The 1950s were the twilight years of Keystone Traction, at least outside of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The LVT Liberty Bell Limited was, in some ways, the last great interurban in the eastern United States. It has been gone for 64 years now, meaning you would have to be a few years older than that to have ridden it, even as a youth.

Many Chicago-area railfans made a pilgrimage to ride it, but not all were so lucky. Ray DeGroote, still going strong at 85, did not get there until a few weeks after the interurban quit in 1951. He was able to ride and document the still-extensive LVT city streetcar system, and he saw the interurban cars in dead storage, but could not ride them. It was “one that got away.”

The Bell line is fondly remembered and riding it must have been, in some ways, like riding the world’s largest roller coaster. The area between Allentown and Philadelphia is not flat, with grades that certainly put a strain on LVT’s traction motors. It also included quite a lot of variety, with burst of high speeds, followed by numerous stops in many small towns. Several of the station buildings in these towns still exist.

Luckily for us, Lehigh Valley Transit must be about the most well-documented operation ever, perhaps even more so than the Pacific Electric or the three great Chicago-area interurbans. When it comes to photographs, there is literally an embarrassment of riches, and as a result, the book is full of fine photos, some in color. An attempt has been made not to duplicate ones that were already featured in previous LVT books.

As a subject, LVT operations covered so much ground that this book does not even attempt to document their extensive city lines or the Easton Limited, LVT’s shorter interurban. Those are wisely left to future authors and future books.

Faced with a need to either modernize or abandon rail service in 1938, LVT took the daring step of updating the Liberty Bell fleet. This task was made even more daunting due to a very constrained budget, which meant buying new PCCs or other such equipment was out of the question.

Fortunately, some relatively new (circa 1930) lightweight high-speed interurban cars were available at a relatively low cost, as the Cincinnati & Lake Erie had just been abandoned. 13 cars were purchased for the Bell, along with four Cincinnati curved-side cars for the Easton Limited, and LVT attractively modernized them.

The new cars were a hit with the public, and ridership increased. The facelift was never intended to be permanent, but was hoped to buy the interurban another five years of usefulness before the inevitable switch to bus. It ended up lasting for 12, a testament to the build quality and durability of these cars.

There were many unfortunate problems along the way. The ex-C&LE lightweights could not be coupled together. More passengers meant running additional trains in second and third sections. Inevitably, this led to a horrific accident in 1942, which was not the only such collision.

After one of the C&LE cars was destroyed in a fire, LVT purchased one additional lightweight car, which had been built for the Indiana Railroad. This was rebuilt into club car 1030, which became the standout of the fleet and one of the few Liberty Bell cars that has been preserved.

Wartime rationing of gasoline and tires also increased ridership. The wear and tear of all that hill climbing really did a number on those traction motors. Schedules had to be adjusted in the interest of safety, and running times between Allentown and Philadelphia increased.

What really would have helped LVT would have been some more of those ex-Indiana Railroad cars, which were very similar to the C&LE “Red Devils” but could be coupled together in as many as three cars at a time. More than two dozen of these cars were available circa 1940-41 but ended up being unsold and were scrapped just prior to the outbreak of World War II. They would have been quite useful to LVT.

Only two such Indiana Railroad lightweights were saved– car 55, which became LVT 1030, and car 65, which was sold to CRANDIC (Cedar Rapids and Iowa City) and eventually made its way to the Illinois Railway Museum, its first acquisition. Oddly enough, they were made by two different builders.

The end of the war in 1945 meant a steep drop-off in interurban ridership. By then, the handwriting was really on the wall for the Bell line, but the end did not come for another few years yet.

There was a piecemeal abandonment. For a variety of reasons, well covered in this book and in Pig & Whistle, service was cut back to Norristown. The Liberty Bell Limited never had a direct route to center city Philadelphia throughout its history.

Consideration was given to cutting service back to Lansdale, where the Bell could connect to Reading (now SEPTA) suburban commuter trains to Philadelphia, but this would have necessitated building a turnaround loop for the single-end cars. Since the Bell’s days were numbered anyway, LVT decided to simply let service continue as far as Norristown and the P&W.

By 1951, LVT had really let maintenance slide, to the point where, in September, only a few of the lightweight interurban cars were still operable. As soon as they could get approval for abandonment, the end was swift. Fortunately, the fans caught wind of it and the railroad allowed them to ride one last time. The rails began to come up the very next morning.

In some ways, this abandonment has some parallels in what happened a few years later to the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin. They decided not to continue running trains to Chicago’s downtown over the CTA Garfield Park “L” temporary trackage in 1953, due to expressway construction. In CA&E’s case, however, they kept up the equipment right to the end, as did the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee, which quit in 1963.

When CA&E got a local judge to allow their “temporary” abandonment of passenger service on July 3, 1957, they ceased operations immediately, stranding thousands of riders who had to scramble for a way home.

In LVT’s case, they offered a replacement bus service. Unfortunately, while the interurban could run in a straight line between towns, the bus had to follow a more convoluted path at right angles. As more and more highways were built in Pennsylvania, even the bus ridership evaporated, and the interurban bus quit without any fanfare in 1956.

While electric rail transit is undergoing a renaissance in many places around the world today, the chance that anything like a Liberty Bell service might return to the Lehigh Valley is very slim indeed. The cost would simply be too great, compared to the number of potential passengers.

But until it does, the spirit of this historic interurban is conjured up very well  in this great new volume by Ron Ruddell. Hats off to him, and to the team that worked so long and hard to make this book possible. I would also like to single out John Nicholson, who acted as project coordinator for CERA in bringing this very worthy book over the finish line. Publishing any book like this is a very complicated effort.

The layout, by the veteran team of Jack and Ad Sowchin, is handsome and attractive. CERA merits a lot of credit as well for publishing this wonderful addition to the historical record.

Even if you do not live in Pennsylvania, the book may interest you. The Bell was one of the classic interurbans and, in one way or another, it had many connections to the Midwest.

It is highly recommended, and I urge you to purchase a copy if you have not done so already. Only limited quantities of such books are made, and once they run out, the prospect of them being reprinted is unlikely for a variety of reasons.

Many previous CERA books have become collector’s items and cost more to buy used than they did when new. I will not be surprised when this book sells out and if you don’t purchase your copy today, you may have difficulty picking one up in the future.

In addition to this book, there are also some excellent Liberty Bell videos on the market, and those will really give you an idea of what the line was all about, after you have whetted your appetite by feasting on Riding the Bell.

-David Sadowski

PS- You can also experience some of the twilight of Keystone Traction via one of our recently released audio CDs, featuring 1950s-era Hi-Fi recordings of Johnstown Traction, Altoona & Logan Valley, and Scranton Transit, available from our Online Store.  Just look for the Railroad Record Club disc with LPs 23 and 30 on it.

*Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.


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LVT 812 at 69th Street terminal in Upper Darby on August 12, 1934. Most people refer to this as Philadelphia, but it is just outside the city limits. Don's Rail Photos says, "812 was built by St Louis Car in 1901 as 159. It was rebuilt as 999 in 1914 and rebuilt as 812 in 1921. It was scrapped in November 1951."

LVT 812 at 69th Street terminal in Upper Darby on August 12, 1934. Most people refer to this as Philadelphia, but it is just outside the city limits. Don’s Rail Photos says, “812 was built by St Louis Car in 1901 as 159. It was rebuilt as 999 in 1914 and rebuilt as 812 in 1921. It was scrapped in November 1951.”

LVT 808 in Allentown on April 22, 1934. Don's Rail Photos: "808 was built by Jewett Car in 1913. It was rebuilt as C15 in 1935." The C-series cars were used for interurban freight.

LVT 808 in Allentown on April 22, 1934. Don’s Rail Photos: “808 was built by Jewett Car in 1913. It was rebuilt as C15 in 1935.” The C-series cars were used for interurban freight.

LVT 805 at 69th Street terminal in Upper Darby. This car was built by Jewett circa 1912-13. Apparently this car has been preserved and is privately owned but not operable.

LVT 805 at 69th Street terminal in Upper Darby. This car was built by Jewett circa 1912-13. Apparently this car has been preserved and is privately owned but not operable.

LVT 812 in the Easton town circle on June 30, 1947, making a rare appearance on LVT's "other" interurban, the Easton Limited by way of a fantrip. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 812 in the Easton town circle on June 30, 1947, making a rare appearance on LVT’s “other” interurban, the Easton Limited by way of a fantrip. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 812 on Broad Street in Bethlehem on June 30, 1947. The occasion was a fantrip. Many fans considered it a real shame that the 812 was not saved. Other than the 1030, it was the "jewel of the fleet." (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 812 on Broad Street in Bethlehem on June 30, 1947. The occasion was a fantrip. Many fans considered it a real shame that the 812 was not saved. Other than the 1030, it was the “jewel of the fleet.” (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 1007 at Perkasie on November 12, 1939.

LVT 1007 at Perkasie on November 12, 1939.

LVT 1020 at 69th Street terminal in 1939, shortly after being modernized. Don's Rail Photos: "1020 was built by Cincinnati Car in April 1930, #3055, as C&LE 113. It was renumbered 413 in 1932 and sold to LVT as 1020 in 1938. It was scrapped in 1951."

LVT 1020 at 69th Street terminal in 1939, shortly after being modernized. Don’s Rail Photos: “1020 was built by Cincinnati Car in April 1930, #3055, as C&LE 113. It was renumbered 413 in 1932 and sold to LVT as 1020 in 1938. It was scrapped in 1951.”

Another view of 1020 taken at the same time as the previous photo. Jim Boylan adds, "Location is the wye where the Victory Ave. bus garage is now, across the tracks from the P&W's 72nd St. Shops."

Another view of 1020 taken at the same time as the previous photo. Jim Boylan adds, “Location is the wye where the Victory Ave. bus garage is now, across the tracks from the P&W’s 72nd St. Shops.”

LVT 702, 704, and 710 are southbound on a fantrip at West Point on April 15, 1951. This was the first and only time a matched set of three 700-series cars were operated as a multiple unit. Shortly after this, the 710, looking pretty shabby here, was scrapped.

LVT 702, 704, and 710 are southbound on a fantrip at West Point on April 15, 1951. This was the first and only time a matched set of three 700-series cars were operated as a multiple unit. Shortly after this, the 710, looking pretty shabby here, was scrapped.

LVT 702 at Locust Siding on February 11, 1951.

LVT 702 at Locust Siding on February 11, 1951.

LVT 1009 at Hatfield on May 9,1951. (William D. Slade Photo)

LVT 1009 at Hatfield on May 9,1951. (William D. Slade Photo)

From this scene, it would appear that a Liberty Bell Limited lightweight is backing up to the LVT downtown terminal in Allentown. Meanwhile, LVT city streetcar 900 passes by. Don's Rail Photos says, "900 was built by Brill Car Co in February 1917, (order) #20206. It was (later) rebuilt." Looks like an LVT employee is crossing the street.

From this scene, it would appear that a Liberty Bell Limited lightweight is backing up to the LVT downtown terminal in Allentown. Meanwhile, LVT city streetcar 900 passes by. Don’s Rail Photos says, “900 was built by Brill Car Co in February 1917, (order) #20206. It was (later) rebuilt.” Looks like an LVT employee is crossing the street.

An LVT 1100-series lightweight interurban, still looking shiny, in the Easton town square circa 1939. These Cincinnati curved-side cars were built in 1929 for the Dayton & Troy. They were repossessed in 1932 and remained at the Cincinnati Car Company plant until sold to LVT in 1938. After the Easton Limited was bussed in 1949, two of the four cars were sold to Speedrail in Milwaukee, where one operated briefly as car 66. Unfortunately all four cars were scrapped.

An LVT 1100-series lightweight interurban, still looking shiny, in the Easton town square circa 1939. These Cincinnati curved-side cars were built in 1929 for the Dayton & Troy. They were repossessed in 1932 and remained at the Cincinnati Car Company plant until sold to LVT in 1938. After the Easton Limited was bussed in 1949, two of the four cars were sold to Speedrail in Milwaukee, where one operated briefly as car 66. Unfortunately all four cars were scrapped.

LVT 812 heading towards Allentown on the Liberty Bell Limited.

LVT 812 heading towards Allentown on the Liberty Bell Limited.

An LVT 1000-series car delivers newspapers (probably dailies from Philadelphia) in Allentown.

An LVT 1000-series car delivers newspapers (probably dailies from Philadelphia) in Allentown.

LVT 1030, the so-called "Golden Calf" of the fleet, on a National Railway Historical Society fantrip on September 28, 1941. This club car was just being introduced into regular service at this time, and had been extensively rebuilt from Indiana Railroad car 55. Don's Rail Photos: "1030 was built by American Car & Foundry in 1931, #1203, as Indiana RR 55. It was rebuilt in 1934 (as a club car) and rebuilt as C&LE 1030 in 1941. It was acquired by Seashore Trolley Museum in 1951."

LVT 1030, the so-called “Golden Calf” of the fleet, on a National Railway Historical Society fantrip on September 28, 1941. This club car was just being introduced into regular service at this time, and had been extensively rebuilt from Indiana Railroad car 55. Don’s Rail Photos: “1030 was built by American Car & Foundry in 1931, #1203, as Indiana RR 55. It was rebuilt in 1934 (as a club car) and rebuilt as C&LE 1030 in 1941. It was acquired by Seashore Trolley Museum in 1951.”

LVT 1103 on the Easton Limited interurban. From the looks of the cars, this picture probably dates to around 1939. (Larry Gaillard Photo)

LVT 1103 on the Easton Limited interurban. From the looks of the cars, this picture probably dates to around 1939. (Larry Gaillard Photo)

LVT 1007 making a fantrip photo stop on the Liberty Bell Limited. A fan with a box camera is jumping off.

LVT 1007 making a fantrip photo stop on the Liberty Bell Limited. A fan with a box camera is jumping off.

CRANDIC 111, shown here on June 10, 1953, was another ex-Cinicinnati & Lake Erie lightweight interurban car. While all the ones that went to LVT were scrapped, some of the ones that went to CRANDIC were saved. Don's Rail Photos:"111 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1930, #3055, as C&LE 111. It was sold to Crandic in 1939 and kept the same number. In 1954 it was sold to an individual and stored at Emporia, KS, until 1973. It was then donated to the Bay Area Electric Railway Association at Rio Vista, CA. It has been restored as Crandic 111."

CRANDIC 111, shown here on June 10, 1953, was another ex-Cinicinnati & Lake Erie lightweight interurban car. While all the ones that went to LVT were scrapped, some of the ones that went to CRANDIC were saved. Don’s Rail Photos:”111 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1930, #3055, as C&LE 111. It was sold to Crandic in 1939 and kept the same number. In 1954 it was sold to an individual and stored at Emporia, KS, until 1973. It was then donated to the Bay Area Electric Railway Association at Rio Vista, CA. It has been restored as Crandic 111.”

One other Indiana Railroad high-speed car had a second life, in addition to 55. Car 65 became Cedar Rapids and Iowa City 120, shown here on June 10, 1953. From Don's Rail Photos: "120 was built by Pullman in 1931, #6399, as Indiana Railroad 65. It was sold to the Crandic as 120 in 1941. In 1954 it was purchased as the first car of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum and restored as IRR 65." The last official run of a CRANDIC passenger train occurred on May 30, 1953.

One other Indiana Railroad high-speed car had a second life, in addition to 55. Car 65 became Cedar Rapids and Iowa City 120, shown here on June 10, 1953. From Don’s Rail Photos: “120 was built by Pullman in 1931, #6399, as Indiana Railroad 65. It was sold to the Crandic as 120 in 1941. In 1954 it was purchased as the first car of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum and restored as IRR 65.” The last official run of a CRANDIC passenger train occurred on May 30, 1953.

LVT 1001, 701, 1008 and 702 at Fairview car barn in Allentown on January 6, 1952, shortly before being scrapped.

LVT 1001, 701, 1008 and 702 at Fairview car barn in Allentown on January 6, 1952, shortly before being scrapped.

LVT 1006 in the scrap line at Bethlehem Steel on January 23, 1952.

LVT 1006 in the scrap line at Bethlehem Steel on January 23, 1952.

LVT 1030 loaded on a flat car at Riverside Yard on January 30, 1952, headed to Boston, and, eventually, the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine, where it remains today in operable condition.

LVT 1030 loaded on a flat car at Riverside Yard on January 30, 1952, headed to Boston, and, eventually, the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine, where it remains today in operable condition.

Machine-generated Liberty Bell Limited tickets.

Machine-generated Liberty Bell Limited tickets.

Lehigh Valley Transit's Liberty Bell Limited lightweight high-speed car 1001 (ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie 128) at the 69th Street Terminal on the Philadelphia & Western, September 21, 1949. Soon after this picture was taken, LVT passenger service was cut back to Norristown.

Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell Limited lightweight high-speed car 1001 (ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie 128) at the 69th Street Terminal on the Philadelphia & Western, September 21, 1949. Soon after this picture was taken, LVT passenger service was cut back to Norristown.

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.