The Trolley Dodger blog started on January 21, 2015, making this our sixth anniversary. We chose the date deliberately, as it was also the day when the fabled North Shore Line interurban ran its last. We wanted there to be beginnings, as well as endings, associated with that date.
In our six years, we have had 262 posts. Here is a breakdown of page views by year:
2021: 8,436 (21 days)
Add to that the 297,195 page views from my previous blog, and we are now over a million page views. We thank you for your support.
We have lots for you this go-round… plenty of new images, including many in color, a rare article about the Metropolitan West Side Elevated, some submissions from our readers, and more photos from the William Shapotkin collection, and even a product review. We also have some North Shore Line content.
For more photos and discussions, consider joining the Trolley Dodger Facebook group, which, although new, already has 151 members.
Our Annual Fundraiser
We thank our readers for making 2020 our most successful yet, with 133,246 page views, surpassing our previous record of 2016, and a 30% increase over the previous year. Each January, we ask our readers to help defray the expenses involved with file storage, web hosting, domain registration and other overhead, the “nuts and bolts” things that make this blog possible. Fortunately, thanks to all of you, we have have received $565 to date, meeting our original goal. Additional donations are always welcome, and will be used to purchase more classic images for this site. If you enjoy what you see here, and would like it to continue, please consider making a donation by clicking on this link, or the one at the top or bottom of this post.
We thank you in advance for your time, consideration, and your generous support.
The Metropolitan West Side Elevated – 1895
We recently purchased the June 6, 1895 edition of Leslie’s Weekly, which has an extensive article, including numerous photographs and drawings, of the then-new Metropolitan West Side Elevated in Chicago:
Why aren’t there more images of the Franklin Street Terminal? Well, for one thing, it opened late, apparently too late to be photographed for the big publicity push that coincided with the opening of the Met “L”. Hence this illustration. There is a photo showing the other side of the building (or buildings– the accompanying article seems to indicate the terminal went through two buildings). Then, it closed little more than two years later, coinciding with the opening of the Union Loop, and any publicity surely concentrated on that, and not the terminal closing.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin:
Product Test – The Pixl-Latr
The Pixl-Latr is an interesting new product that may be useful to people who have film negatives, but no easy way to scan them. It was developed as a Kickstarter project.
I decided to purchase one, and here are my results.
You can read more about Newton’s Rings here. They are an interference pattern, caused when one of the two items pressed together acts as a lens.
LeRoy Blommaert writes:
How I met (and rode) the North Shore Line
I remember quite vividly the first time I saw the North Shore Line as well as the first time I rode it. It was the same time.
I was a sophomore in high school and I was on the debate team. We were to participate in a round robin tournament at St Mary’s in Evanston. We were given the address and told to take the L and change at Howard—but nothing beyond that.
While I had taken the L many times from Bryn Mawr to Wilson Ave, and downtown and to my grandmother’s on the west side, it was, with one exception, with my mother. I had never taken the L north. Neither apparently had my three companions.
We get to Howard; we get off; and we wait—but not too long. Soon something pulls in unlike anything I had ever seen before on the L. It was beautiful; it was powerful. I was entranced and I wanted to ride it. And not just sometime in the future. But now! Immediately! And I did. I persuaded my colleagues that this was the train we needed to take. They were somewhat skeptical but in the end they agreed.
I was generally a good boy (a very good boy in fact) who always followed the rules and rarely did anything I thought was wrong. But this time? This time was different! I wasn’t sure that it was not the train to take, but I had doubts that it was the right train. These doubts I dismissed.
We got on. It was one of the older cars. I remember it had a stove inside. I also remember how fast it went once we left the station and entered the cut. The conductor dutifully asked for our tickets. Obviously, we did not have them. I explained where we wanted to go; he said we got the wrong train, and we were left off at the first station—Skokie.
There we waited for the first train south. It was getting dark and no one was around. In those days, unlike today, there was very little around. We waited about an hour. Needless to say, we did not make it to the debate tournament.
The next time I rode the North Shore, the trip was much longer: to Milwaukee and back. It was a fan trip. I believe it was a Klebolt trip. I went with my father. How I found out about it, I don’t remember, as I did not know any railfans then. It was on this trip that I met Roy Benedict. I remember he wore a football helmet, not the kind we know today, but a leather one, the kind they wore in the 1920s. He had made some track maps that he either gave away or sold.
As fate would have it, in my freshman or sophomore year of college, we moved to Skokie—within walking distance of that same station. One summer I got a job in the Loop—in the Insurance Exchange Building. The best part of the job was riding the North Shore each week day. I got off at Quincy and Wells and for the trip back home, I walked to the station at Adams and Wabash. It was there I met Jeff Wien, who was a ticket agent for the summer. From there it was onto CERA meetings, to and from which I was able again to ride my favorite railroad in those early days. It is still my favorite railroad, except that sadly I can no longer ride it, except at the Illinois Railway Museum, but that is not the same. The speed is absent as is the distance and the varying landscapes.
FYI, a slightly edited version of this was published in the Edgewater Historical Society newsletter.
This prompted Jon Habermaas to write:
I first became aware of the North Shore from seeing the trains stored on the L south of Roosevelt Rd. Taking the Englewood L into the loop and as our train descended into the subway our tracks were straddled by the tracks holding the stored North Shore cars. My first trip on the North Shore was when I was in HS and needed to cut short my time with family on vacation and return to Chicago. I caught the first southbound train from Racine. I became a regular weekend rider when I was getting technical training as a new swabbie at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Getting off at LaSalle Street Station to catch a Rock Island commuter train I now realized that the large crowd of sailors we had often encountered coming down from the L platform had come from a North Shore train from Great Lakes.
LaSalle Street Station was the only one of the Chicago downtown railroad stations with direct access to the L. As a kid when we were downtown on shopping trips we often took the L to the department stores. Because the L trains were circling the loop in one direction it wasn’t possible to return that way and we would catch the Division/Van Buren streetcar on State for the return to LaSalle Street Station.
This prompted a discussion on the Trolley Dodger Facebook group about two other not-so-direct connections between the “L” and downtown train stations. Between 1970 and 1989, the Northwest Passage connected the C&NW terminal to the Clinton “L” station. It displaced Track 1 during those years.
The Canal Street station on the Met main line had a passageway leading to Union Station until the Garfield Park “L” was replaced by the new Congress median line in 1958. Here is a description from Graham Garfield’s excellent web site:
A new Union Station, serving several main line intercity railroads, was formally opened July 23, 1925, replacing an earlier railroad station on a similar site. The Chicago Daily Tribune on same day contained a paid advertisement stating, “A short enclosed passageway connects the station directly with the Canal Street Station of the Elevated Railroad.” Within the Canal “L” station a stairway went down to Union Station’s underground track level, then a walkway ran for half a block, separated from Union Station’s track area by an iron fence, and finally into the lobby of Union Station. The article “Chicago’s Stations: Gates to Everywhere” from the August 1948 issues of Trains magazine also discussed the “L”-Union Station tunnel:
“It’s kind of tough, also, that we can’t get out on the platform and look at the prow-pointed T1 at the head end of many Pennsy trains. But Union is all business, and frowns at folk who try to sneak by the gatemen ‘just to see the trains.’ Here’s a tip, though: if you go along ‘frustration walk’ — which is the entrance leading from the Canal Street ‘L’ station — you can get a squint of a train or two at the southwestern end of the terminal. Like as not, there will be some Burlington open-platform cars used on suburban runs out Aurora way.
“‘Frustration walk’ is so dubbed because commuters must walk along an iron-railed thoroughfare beside the tracks to enter the terminal. Then to go out to the train they are obliged to hike back from whence the came on the other side of the formidable railing. Short-cutting is verboten at Union. Many a commuter has seen his train pull out as he dashed madly down ‘frustration walk’ in an attempt to catch the train.”
There are some conflicting descriptions of how the tunnel actually connected to the “L” station. According to some accounts, the passage was accessed from within the Canal Street station building, suggesting the connection was to the station house. Others recall that the passage from Union Station deposited them on the Canal station platform, not in the station house, with fare collection in between.2 It is believed that there were, in fact, two access routes between the elevated platforms and the tunnel. Passengers en route from the elevated platform walked through the headhouse of the rapid transit station. While passengers from the tunnel went directly to the platforms after passing through a fare collection point.
Stuart B. Slaymaker adds:
The walkway was along Track 2. This would have been Track Zero. I seem to recall, it dumped you at or near the original outbound cab court. It was still there in 1979, when I worked at Station Services for Amtrak. Dark. Gate was locked with a big switch lock and an iron chain. In the dim light, I could see check-in desks from long-discontinued streamliners, like The Olympian Hiawatha and the Trail Blazer. All stored along the walkway, that formerly went to the Canal Street L Station. It must have been a LONG walk. The signs and ephemera behind the locked gate were covered with inches of black sooty dirt. I left CUS in September of 1979, and never saw this, again. I always wondered if any of the displays ever got saved.
Daniel Joseph found another one– Parnell on the Englewood branch. From www-chicago-l.org:
The Parnell station was adjacent to the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad’s 63rd Street station, sometimes also called the “Little Englewood” station. Although the C&WI’s station fronted onto 63rd Street, there was also an enclosed pedestrian connection from the Parnell “L” station to the steam railroad’s facility.
Mike Jacob writes:
Hello. I came across your website while trying to find information on a print I have. Please see the attached. Have you seen it before or have any idea on the artist? Thank you in advance.
Thanks for writing. I can’t quite make out the signature, although the first name seems to be Jerome.
The artist is not familiar to me, but I would imagine they were copying an old photograph. There were two North Shore Line stations in Wilmette, and it’s not that easy to identify which one this is. This was part of the Shore Line Route, which was abandoned in 1955.
Perhaps our readers might know something more.
John G. Gaul writes:
Dempster Street- January 20, 1963. Nine years old at the time and living in Evanston, my Dad took my brother and I to Dempster St one last time. They’re not very good, but I’m glad I brought my little old box camera with me. It was a very cold day I recall.
Photos by John G. Gaul:
We thank all our contributors. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
Rio Grande to Silverton:
A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
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.
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.
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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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