A CTA Stock Yards shuttle car in September 1957, just prior to the abandonment of this branch line. Service withered away as the Stock Yards did. Both are long gone. A portion of this line used a single track, one-way loop.
We are back, after working 16 straight days as an election judge here in suburban Cook County, Illinois, just in time to shelter in place during a quarantine. We apologize for the length of time since our last post, but as always, much work has been going on behind the scenes.
We are happy to report that we have a new book project that we are very excited about. More details will be forthcoming in the future, but we are hard at work already and have been for some time.
We have to compete with everyone else when purchasing traction photos, and our finances do not permit us the luxury of winning all the auctions that interest us (and could interest you). For every excellent photo we win, there are many others that slip through our fingers.
We have collected some of these here, and present them for your consideration, along with some explanations of why our luck and finances fell short. It’s always possible that the winning bidders may choose to share some of these fine images with our readers in the future.
Prices on individual images may run as high, in some cases, as $100 for a single 35mm Red Border Kodachrome slide, depending on its quality, subject matter, and rarity.
In future posts, we will go back to showing more photos that we did actually win.
This, and the next seven pictures that follow, were part of a very interesting and unusual auction that we were outbid on. There was a fad in the 1950s for 3-D movies and photos, and these pictures were shot in stereo, probably using a camera called a Stereo Realist, which would shoot two half-frame 35mm images, each offset by approximately the same distance as your eyes. When mounted in a special mount, and viewed with the proper viewer, the result was, lo and behold, 3-D pictures of the CA&E and CTA in mid-1950s Forest Park! This view looks east.
Click this link for a complete rundown on Stereo Realist cameras.
A two-car CA&E train (460 and 421) loops in Forest Park. The 460 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union.
The train seen in a previous picture approaches the terminal. During construction of the nearby expressway in the late 1950s, there were temporary tracks just to the right, and the stores on Des Plaines Avenue were demolished.
From 1953 to 1957, passengers could change trains here between the CA&E and CTA. The gas holder shown was a long-time Forest Park landmark.
A CTA wooden Met car on the temporary Van Buren Street right of way, circa early 1954 would be my guess. Note that a Garfield Park line bridge has not yet been dismantled at right, in the middle of the Congress Expressway construction site.
The CA&E train loops around, in close proximity to a bus, which presumably would either be CTA’s Route 17, going to Bellwood and Westchester (it replaced the Westchester branch of the “L” in 1951) or one of the various Chicago & West Towns routes.
The CA&E train has looped and is now ready to pick up passengers for the trip west.
What are these strange looking freight cars on the Chicago Great Western, just north of the CTA tracks at DesPlaines Avenue? Thomas Kaufman: “That photo in the ones that got away showing a train on the Chicago Great Western appears to be some Maintenance of Way bunk cars used to hold sleeping quarters for the employees. Another giveaway is the orange paint as M of Way cars are generally painted different colors than the standard freight equipment.” Andre Kristopans thinks some of those cars could date to the 1880s.
A two-car CTA train of flat-door 6000s is running on the Logan Square route. This may be California Avenue. However, why is there a bag over the coupler? This picture was probably taken in the 1950s.
What streetcar or interurban ran to Chicago Heights?
I had expected a friend to possibly bid on this nice 1955 North Shore Line picture, but he demurred. We all have our standards for what constitutes a good photo. He said he already had other shots like this, and this shows the back of the train. At any rate, this is street running in Milwaukee.
I am not sure where these two views of a CTA “L” station were taken. Answer: two different places. The top picture is 42nd Place on the Kenwood branch of the “L”, looking west. The lower picture was taken at Fullerton on the north-south main line.
The top picture is the Belmont “L” station, and the bottom is the Illinois Central (now Metra) Electric.
Two downtown shots on the Loop “L”, probably 1950s.
This location is a mystery. Daniel Joseph thinks this may be Dorchester, on the Jackson Park branch of the “L”.
An IC Electric station.
An original sign, indicating the abandonment of trolley service in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. This was a unique line, which was about 8 miles long and was not connected to any other Philadelphia streetcar line. It ran only in the park and lasted for 50 years. Open cars were run in the summer, closed cars at other times. By the time it shut down, it was practically an operating museum.
The Chicago & West Towns had a line to LaGrange that included some private right-of-way through the Forest Preserves. I assume this is the bridge over the DesPlaines River.
C&WT 152 on the LaGrange line, signed for the Brookfield Zoo.
A nice early postcard view of the end of the Logan Square line. Unfortunately, the seller thinks this is worth $100, so I have taken a pass.
CTA postwar PCC 7101 (I think), but where? According to Jeff Wien, this is south State Street, between 88th and 92nd.
CTA 144 on one of those late 1950s fantrips… but where? The PCC further ahead is also likely part of the same fantrip, which took place on the weekend, when the CTA substituted buses for streetcars on the dwindling remaining routes prior to the 1958 abandonment. According to Jeff Wien, this picture was taken on May 25, 1958. The occasion was the final Chicago streetcar fantrip held by the Central Electric Railfans’ Association. Note that the streetcars are heading north on Dearborn, crossing the Chicago River, using what had once been the southbound track, since this was once a two-way street.
C&WT 107 at, I am pretty sure, the south parking lot of Brookfield Zoo.
C&WT 154 in what looks like a late 1930s paint scheme. I presume this is the barn at Cermak and Harlem.
Not sure where this picture of C&WT 124 was taken… Maywood? Or could this be Madison Street in Forest Park? Bill Shapotkin adds: “This photo was taken in Maywood. The car is in 19th Ave and the west end of the Madison St Line. The Grade crossing in the background is the C&NW-IHB (the “Melrose Park” C&NW station would be located to right). View looks north.”
By comparing this picture of C&WT 100 with a different one, I have determined this was taken at Madison and Austin in Oak Park.
C&WT 111 at Madison and Austin in Oak Park.
After what was supposed to be a “temporary” abandonment of the Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell route between Allentown and Norristown (PA) in September 1951, the railroad wasted no time in ripping up rails, so as to make it permanent. They were out there the very next morning.
Illinois Terminal interurban car 284 at an unknown location.
CTA prewar PCC 7013 on the Cottage Grove line, circa 1952-55.
In August 1957, a two-car CTA Garfield Park “L” train crosses the Chicago River near Union Station. Less than a year later, this line was replaced by the new Congress line, which connected to the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway.
CTA wooden “L” cars, including 345 at left, and a Met car at right, being scrapped at Skokie Shops in September 1957.
Photos of streetcar company employees are always interesting. The car in this early 1900s photo is signed for Halsted Street.
Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 20 in South Elgin in August 1968. This is now called the Fox River Trolley Museum. It’s original name was RELIC.
The North Shore Line’s Highwood Shops on November 1, 1962, in a photo by R. W. Ferge. Car 767 is at left. Such interior photos are rare.
On May 20, 1956, this is a view of the CTA’s Metropolitan main line just west of the Loop. By this time, Chicago, Aurora & Elgin trains only ran as far as Forest Park, and 2.5 miles of the Garfield Park line ran in Van Buren Street. These tracks, or two of the four tracks, actually, continued in service for two more years, until the new Congress Expressway median line opened.
South Shore Line car 105 in South Bend, near the end of the line, in August 1955. Service was cut back to the outskirts of town in 1970, but there are plans to bring the line back downtown, although not via street running.
A CTA prewar PCC car at 77th and Vincennes on August 10, 1956, just prior to scrapping. Note how the seller has given this picture an extreme tilt, just to level it out. These cars were last used on Western Avenue.
This very nice picture shows two of the CTA’s new single car units on November 25, 1960, and was taken by Robert E. Bruneau. These were given high-speed motors and “circus wagon” colors for a time.
This is the first time I can recall an original George Krambles slide being offered for sale. It shows a North Shore Line train “at speed” at Briergate in 1949. There are two schools of thought about such pictures. On the one hand, it’s not technically perfect. It does not show a train posed in the sun. On the other hand, it does convey motion. These were moving trains, and boy, did they move!
A Philadelphia PCC on Route 23 (Germantown) is at the Mermaid Loop on July 29, 1968.
This picture of CTA 144, at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum at its original location in North Chicago, was taken on February 21, 1960. It’s very interesting, but we already posted a very similar photo before, so we did not bid on this one.
If I had to guess, I would say this Chicago, Aurora & Elgin photo was taken at Wheaton. But so were a lot of such pictures, and the light was not shining the right way to illuminate the ends of the cars on this one.
A three-car North Shore Line train on June 16, 1962.
One of the two North Shore Line Electroliners on June 17, 1962. Looks like a fantrip.
A two-car CTA wooden “L” train on April 13, 1957. I would expect that we are not too far south of Howard Street.
Oak Parkers “of a certain age” might remember there was once a time (up to October 1962) when the outer portion of the Lake Street “L” ran on the ground, using overhead wire, running parallel to South Boulevard. This is an excellent example of such a photo. Note there is no fence on this portion. The “L” was relocated to the adjacent Chicago & North Western embankment.
Accident photos are a sensitive and controversial topic in the railfan field. Some don’t think they should be shown at all, while others believe they are an important part of history. This is the aftermath of the 1977 accident where one CTA train ran into another, right at the corner of Wabash and Lake, and pushed some “L” cars off the structure. Since that tragedy, where several people lost their lives, additional steel has been added to the structure to prevent a reoccurence. This is a Mark Llanuza photo.
This Mark Llanuza picture from December 1982 says it is a “last run.” I can’t make out what the sign says, but at the very least, it’s a six car CTA “L” train, made up of three sets of 6000-series cars, each painted different colors.
This must be a fantrip train, and the date is August 6, 1972. But where was this taken? It can’t be on the Evanston branch, as that was still powered by overhead wire, and there’s no evidence of that here. According to Daniel Joseph, this actually is Noyes on the Evanston branch, and the picture must have been taken after third rail was installed. So the date provided could very well be wrong.
CSL/CTA work car AA101 at 77th and Vincennes in 1955. Don’s Rail Photos adds: “AA101, salt car, was built by South Chicago City Ry in 1907 as SCCRy 335. It was rebuilt in 1907 and became C&SCRy 834 in 1908. It was renumbered 2849 in 1913 and became CSL 2849 in 1914. It was later converted as a salt car and renumbered AA101 in 1948. It was retired on December 14, 1956.
A 1958 date means this picture of a CTA PCC on Route 22 was taken on the last remaining streetcar line in Chicago, Wentworth. It is headed south. A few people have pointed out that 4385 is headed south on Clark Street, just north of the Chicago River, after passing over freight tracks.
CTA trolley buses- are they coming or going? A June 25, 1974 date indicates they are going, towards Mexico and additional service there. This was just over a year since they last ran in Chicago.
The Rochester (NY) Subway, 1956.
The Rochester (NY) Subway, 1956.
The Rochester (NY) Subway, 1956.
The Rochester (NY) Subway, 1956.
We haven’t actually lost this auction yet, but this image is bundled with several others, and the price has already gone high. But this is an interesting picture, as it shows the temporary CTA Garfield Park/Congress right of way, somewhere west of the Lotus Tunnel, and presumably after a portion of the Congress median line opened in June 1958, but before the highway opened in 1960. Is this Austin Boulevard? At left, there is a residential street. At right, is the future site of the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway. In the distance, is perhaps a freight train, an industrial area, or maybe even part of Laramie Yard. A real mystery. We really do hope we will have the financial wherewithal to purchase this fascinating image.
Our resident South side expert M. E. writes:
I suspect you will find your answer (which interurban line is it?) in this map:
My two cents is that this is the Chicago and Interurban Traction Co. See
which is the red line in the shore-line.org map.
I certainly remember the building that housed the barn at 88th and Vincennes. There was still trackage leading into it.
The sign says Ravenswood. The maximum length of Ravenswood trains was 6 cars.
Thanks… the sign I meant in picture 52 is the one hanging from the chain. I assume this was a Sunday fantrip, during the time when the Rave only ran to Belmont. So they would have been the only train on this part of the line, with photo stops galore.
Tricia Parker writes:
I was writing with a quick inquiry about a recent found beach object, which I believe is a streetcar badge. (Attached) Awhile back, before I found the badge, a friend directed me to your IG page, which I much enjoy!
I am seeking any information, and would be willing to pay for research time. The badge reads (all caps) “S. Haehlen’s 117 Express.” I believe it might be a 1933 World’s Fair route, but it’s a guess.
I am looking to make a brief video about it for educational purposes, and would welcome any knowledge. Happy to give you credit for any information. Thanks so much!
Thank you for your kind words. Let’s see what our readers can make of this.
Glad you like the photos I post on IG, even though I hardly ever put any train pictures there (look for @thetrolleydodger).
Vernon Glover writes:
As a now aging kid from Chicago, I enjoy your efforts a lot. And have purchased some items. Today, however, I am fully engaged in southwestern rail and industrial history, especially the El Paso & Southwestern System, an arm of Phelps Dodge. I have a number of M. D. McCarter prints and I would like to ask properly for permissions in publication for a forthcoming book with the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society (SPH&TS).
Anything you have on the current status and address of the McCarter photo collection would be appreciated.
I am not sure what happened to his collection. Unfortunately, he died a few years ago. At one time, I tried calling the phone number listed for him, and there was no answer. I too had purchased some photos from him.
Sorry I can’t be of more assistance. Perhaps someone out there might know?
Todd Liebenauer writes:
Hello – Reaching out to see if you can help with a project I’m working on. My name is Todd Liebenauer, grandson of Karel Liebenauer. I think you may have used some of his pictures in your publications.
My father Karl and I both model O scale trolley cars and we both have a model of the Cleveland 5000 streetcar.
I’ve been researching the internet for every picture I can find of these cars to determine what equipment was on the underbodies of these cars. I have found a number pictures but none have given me a clear enough image of the left sides of the front and rear cars. What I have determined is not all the cars were the same. The pictures I found prove that. Would you happen to have anything you can share about these trolleys?
Attached is a picture of the model I have.
Thanks for any help you might be able to provide.
Another question I can’t answer… but maybe one of our readers might know? Thanks.
Allen Zagel writes:
I found your site while doing a search. Very interesting site.
Anyway, I seem to remember that a series of old Red CSL streetcars had unusual trucks featuring two different size wheels. In searching my Shore Line dispatches, especially #9, page 88, it appears that possibly it was High Side Brill #6063 but I can’t be sure.
Would there be any info or photos or drawings around?
Hopefully you might be able to help?
Thanks for writing. While I don’t know the answer to your question offhand, it’s likely that someone who reads my blog might.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
Now Available On Compact Disc
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include:
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern
$5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere.
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick):
01. 3:45 Box motor #5
02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953
03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954
04. 4:13 Loco #12
05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953
Altoona & Logan Valley:
07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit:
08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s:
11. 4:35 August 27, 1954
13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955
14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955
15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954
16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto:
17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954
18. 5:20 #80, October 1954
Total time: 79:30
St. Louis Public Service:
01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953
Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City):
02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954
Third Avenue El (New York City):
04. 5:07 December 31. 1954
05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954
Southern Iowa Railway:
06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955
07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9
IND Subway (New York City):
08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954
Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick:
09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr.
Total time: 61:31
Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction:
01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953)
Cincinnati Street Railway:
02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951)
Toledo & Eastern:
03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958)
04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s)
Total time: 74:02
Total time (3 discs) – 215:03
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways
There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.
While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960
Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
For Shipping to Canada:
For Shipping Elsewhere:
Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
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