You’ve probably seen “first day of issue” stamp covers before, but this is kind of the opposite. Some railfans mailed these commemorative envelopes to themselves on January 21, 1963, the day the North Shore Line finally passed into history.
January 21 has long been a sad day for railfans, as this was when the fabled North Shore Line ran its last interurban train between Chicago and Milwaukee in 1963, truly the end of an era in American transportation history. To make things worse, that was a bitterly cold day.
But it is also the date when, five years ago, we started this blog.
As we celebrate that event, I thought it would be a good idea to offer a retrospective of some of our favorite images from our first 245 posts. That’s a lot to choose from, so we’re doing this in two installments. If you are a regular reader, no doubt you have your own favorites. Today’s post covers 2015 and 2016.
We are currently in the middle of our annual fundraiser. Right now, we are only part way to our goal of raising $400 to cover our fees for the coming year. We have already received several contributions, and we thank everyone who has helped to date.
If you would like to see the Trolley Dodger continue for another year, I hope you will consider making a contribution (if you have not yet already done so). There are links at the bottom of this post you can follow, in addition to our usual Online Store.
Any additional funds received, beyond those needed for our goal, will be used to purchase more images for future blog posts.
It’s been a great five years. Thanks for being a part of it. We will be back in a few days with an all-new post. Part Two of our “Best of” will appear early next month.
Electroliner 801-802 passes Tower 18 on Chicago’s Loop.
Line car 606 at the Milwaukee terminal. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “606 was built by Cincinnati in January 1923, (order) #2620. In 1963 it became Chicago Transit Authority S-606 and burned in 1978. The remains were sold to the Indiana Transportation Museum.”
CSL 7001 northbound at State and Washington, 1934. This experimental pre-PCC car transported visitors back and forth to A Century of Progress. Note that there are only three stars on the Chicago flag. The fourth star, symbolizing Fort Dearborn, was added in 1939. (CSL Photo)
I believe we are looking east near Central Avenue, where the Garfield Park line curved around the south end of Columbus Park. This is approximately where the CTA Blue Line goes through the Lotus Tunnel. A small portion of Columbus Park soon gave way to the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway.
Image #811, according to Andre Kristopans, shows a “Normal Park shuttle between Harvard Englewood and Stewart Jct – appears inbound.” Edward Maurath notes that car “223 was made by Jewett in 1902 for the South Side Line, then known as the ”alley L’.”
Image #818 shows CTA 6066-6067 at Logan Square terminal, most likely in the early 1950s. (Charles K. Willhoft Photo)
M. E. writes, “I am quite surprised that no one identified the location of photo #44. The photographer was on the westbound Englewood L platform at 63rd Place and Halsted, looking north to the heart of Englewood, 63rd and Halsted. The old red car on 63rd St. indicates that this photo was taken before the pre-war PCCs were transferred from Madison to 63rd. When this photo was taken, Englewood was almost certainly the largest commercial district outside the Loop. 63rd and Halsted was the center, but the Halsted business district ran from about 59th to 69th, and the 63rd business district ran from Wentworth west to Ashland. Things that are in this photo: — The big building on the northeast corner is Sears Roebuck. In the basement was a Hillman’s Pure Food grocery store. — The three-story building on the northwest corner is the Ace department store. As I recall, it was rather dumpy. I distinctly remember all the ceiling fans that provided the only summertime ventilation — NOT! — On the southwest corner is S S Kresge, the forerunner of K Mart. Kresge and Woolworth’s were 5-and-10-cent (a.k.a. dime) stores. The Kresge store had a doughnut manufacturing line in the windows along 63rd St. They made fresh doughnuts and sold them for 3 cents each. I also remember seeing a lot of store employees, unlike the ensuing K Mart and its ilk. — See the small newsstand on the southeast corner? I helped an older man sell newspapers there. We sold the morning Tribune and Sun-Times for 4 cents, and the evening Daily News and Herald American for 5 cents. I think the Sunday Sun-Times and Herald American cost 15 cents, and the Trib was 20 cents. The Trib was so much fatter than the other two, it was worth the difference. (The Daily News published its weekend edition on Saturday.) We also sold the Southtown Economist, which today is the Southtown Star. Their printing plant was on Union Ave. (700 West) south of 65th St., not far from 63rd and Halsted. — North of 63rd along Halsted are two movie theaters. On the east side of Halsted around Englewood Ave. (a.k.a. 62nd Place) is the Ace theater, a small old place. Across the street from the Ace is the Empress, a nicer newer place. Heading east on 63rd from Halsted, there were four more movie theaters. The easternmost was the Southtown Theater, which had a tall spire and an ornate lobby with a pond inhabited by swans. Its parking lot was surrounded by a cement Art Deco-style fence that was about a foot wide and easy to walk atop.” Bill Wasik adds, “This appears to be the Christmas shopping season on S. Halsted, going by the display in the Sears/Hillman’s window at the right. If this was taken in 1952, the photo sadly was made only days or weeks before six persons were killed in a fire that destroyed the General Furniture store at 6155 S. Halsted. The huge General Furniture sign can be seen in the distance at the right of this photo.” Jeff Wien adds, “Circa 1953, after pre-War PCCs were sent to Cottage Grove and post War PCCs were being sent to SLCC. Red Cars ran the last runs on 63rd Street.”
#43 – Len Marcus says, “Westbound on Chicago Avenue turning south onto Halsted Street during Halsted Street reroute for bridge reconstruction on Halsted, north of Chicago Avenue.” Bill Wasik adds, “This was a favorite spot for the tin sign brigade, with some rarities on display, especially the one for Nectar Beer.” Bill Shapotkin: “A S/B Halsted car turning from W/B Chicago into S/B Halsted. Cars are being detoured due to bridgework on Halsted St. (Approx 40 years later, the Halsted busses would do the same detour for the same work on the same bridge — damn, some things never change.)”
This picture was taken prior to September 20, 1953, looking east from the old DesPlaines Avenue station. The eastbound CA&E train is about to cross the B&O, a source of many delays. Due to expressway construction in the city, the CA&E stopped running east of here, and a new terminal facility was constructed to the west of this one, where riders could switch to CTA trains for the trip downtown. (Truman Hefner Photo)
#16 – CA&E 453 at Des Plaines Avenue terminal in August 1955. Cars 451-460 were ordered in 1941 More LVT Photos & Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 12-14-2015but delayed by war. They were built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1945-46 and are considered the last “standard” interurban cars built in the US, although this is a somewhat debatable point.
A two-car train of “flat door” 6000-series cars at the ground-level Oak Park Avenue station on the Garfield Park “L” in the 1950s. These used PCC technology and were built with all new parts, unlike the later curved door cars that were partly built with parts salvaged from PCC streetcars. The building at rear, located at approximately 814 Harrison Street, is still standing in Oak Park. Sean Hunnicutt adds, “That’s 6053-54.”
A two-car (170-709) North Shore Line Chicago Express “at speed” (although most likely moving very slowly) at Fifth and Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette on the Shore Line Route, October 24, 1948. (Richard H. Young Photo)
Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed interurban car 63 at Bluffton in 1936. (C. Edward Hedstrom, Sr. Photo) Car 65, a sister to this one, is preserved in operable condition at the Illinois Railway Museum.
Milwaukee Electric car 1121 and an Electroliner near Racine on the 1949 North Shore Line fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “1121 was built by Kuhlman Car in February 1909, #405. It was rebuilt in 1927. It was equipped with GE-207B motors to allow it to pull trailers. In 1949 it was found to have the best wheels, and thus it was selected for the fantrip on the North Shore Line to Green Bay Junction near Rondout. It was also used as a freight motor after the last regular freight motor was wrecked in 1950.”
CSL 7034 eastbound at Madison and Hamlin in July 1937. The tall building at rear is still there. (CSL Photo) Marty Robinson adds, “The tall building is the Midwest Hotel, which housed the studio of WNIB in the attic. I was a program host there in 1957.”
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)
CNS&M 150 in a night scene at Waukegan on January 26, 1962.
A snowy view of the 144 in February 1960, less than two years after this car last ran on the streets of Chicago (in a May 1958 fantrip).
The view looking south towards the Wilmette station on the CNS&M Shore Line Route, which was abandoned in 1955. For a view from the other end of the same station, look here. Northbound trains began street running on Greenleaf Avenue here.
Andre Kristopans comments on this 1930s photo: “Look carefully at the shot of 7003 – it is a posed picture. Probably everybody is a CSL engineering department employee. Several things of note: 1) That is not trolley bus overhead. It is two positive wires side by side. Look at the street carefully. That is gauntlet track. Most carbarns had a gauntlet track so there would be fewer switches in the normal running rail. Besides, the TB wire on Pulaski existed as far as Maypole, then turned east into the shops in 1936. 2) Behind is a southbound Kedzie car. 3) Street is way too narrow to be anywhere on Madison. Conclusion – this is on Kedzie in front of Kedzie carhouse, and indeed 7003 is on the yard lead, loading up “dignitaries” for an inspection trip.”
A couple of CA&E woods (including 308) head east, approaching the Des Plaines Avenue terminal in April 1957, a few months before abandonment of passenger service. Another CA&E train is in the terminal, while a train of CTA 4000s, including a “baldy” with the blocked-off center door, turns around on a wooden trestle. This arrangement began when the CA&E stopped running downtown in September 1953.
Feel the Birn(ey)! After service in Fort Collins ended in 1951, car 26 was sold to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. But prior to being put on static display, it operated in a Detroit parade of street railway equipment in August 1953. Don’s Rail Photos: “26 was built by American Car Co. in November 1922, #1324 as CERy 7. It was sold as FCM 26 it in 1924. It was sold to Henry Ford Museum and moved to Michigan in 1953 where it is on static display. It was operated several times on the trackage of the Department of Street Railways.” (C. Edward Hedstrom Photo) To read more about 26’s Michigan sojourn, click here.
In this classic July 1963 shot, South Shore Line car 25 is parked at the east end of the line in downtown South Bend, across from the Hotel LaSalle. Service was cut back to Bendix at the outskirts of town in 1970, and later extended to the local airport. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “25 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947.”
MBTA (Boston) PCC 3147 at an unidentified location in October 1966. Could this be the old Braves Field loop? Tunnelstation writes:”The Boston PCC picture is located at the end of the “C” line near the Chestnut Hill Reservoir off Beacon Street. The scene is the exit from the Reservoir Car yard out to the street which also serves as the end of the line return loop going to Downtown Boston. That is one of the oldest continuous running trolley lines in America and is still in service today using cars built in Japan.” Beacon Street is the MBTA Green Line “C” branch.
Originally, I thought this early 1960s night shot showed a CTA single-car unit in the 1-50 series, and those cars were used on the Congress-Douglas-Milwaukee line. But as Andre Kristopans has pointed out, the doors on those cars were closer to the ends than this one, which he identifies as being part of the 6511-6720 series. It just looks like there’s one car, since the other “married pair” behind it is not illuminated. This picture was most likely taken at the end of the line at DesPlaines Avenue.
Here is an example where even the CTA got it wrong with this caption, taken from a 1950s employee publication. This is not the center median strip for the Congress Expressway. It actually shows the CTA temporary right-of-way on Van Buren under construction circa 1952. The grade level had to be lowered at this point in order to clear the C&NW/PRR tracks, and this was done in the middle of the street, leaving only a small lane for other traffic to the north. There was also a small lane to the south, presumably to provide easy access to the construction site on both sides of the tracks. The railroad bridge was retained and is still in use today, but new supports were built under the south portion, as you will see in contemporary pictures. The actual expressway median at this point is located right where the Garfield Park “L” structure is at left. That is why it was necessary to build a temporary alignment for about 2.5 miles of the route. We are looking west.
Here, we have a difference of opinion. George Trapp: “2 car train on single track is probably circa 1938-1943 as the 4000 series is in Brown/Orange. Believe location is Emerson St. and bridge is being installed where none existed before.” On the other hand, Brian M. Hicks says that this view “is from Central St. looking North. The 2700 Hampton Pkwy apartments can be seen in the background (1930-31).” (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection) Andre Kristopans: “The shot at Central Street shows construction of the North Shore Channel underway. The embankment is being dug away and the big bridge will soon be going in.”
This picture was taken at Wells and Van Buren, and shows the old connection between the Met lines and the Loop. The Insurance Exchange building is at right. In 1955, this connection was replaced by one that went right through the old Wells Street Terminal, last used by CA&E trains in 1953 (and CTA in 1951). The terminal can be seen in this picture on the left hand side, where there is a walkway connecting it to the Quincy and Wells station. Once the Congress median line opened in 1958, no such connections were needed, and they were removed by 1964. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CSL 1786 under the Lake Street “L” on November 23, 1952. Note the Chicago Motor Coach yard at right. CMC’s assets had been purchased by CTA a few months earlier, and were gradually being integrated into regular CTA operations. Bill Shapotkin adds, “This pic is actually at Lake/Kenton (not Cicero). The car is E/B. This is the only such photo I have ever seen at this location.”
I have wondered for some time where this picture of CTA 4389 was taken. I had a gut feeling it was somewhere on the south side. Turns out, this is Wentworth and 59th. There is a picture taken at this location on page 217 of CERA B-146. All the buildings on the left are gone now, as this is where the Dan Ryan expressway now runs. As for the date, that truck appears to have a 1955 Illinois license plate. M. E. writes: “When compared with the photo on p. 217 of B-146, this is indeed 59th and Wentworth. What confuses me is the trackage turning from westbound 59th onto southbound Wentworth. Lind says the 59th St. streetcar line converted to bus in 1948. So my guess is that the CTA wanted to keep trackage open on 59th between Wentworth and State St., and the CTA built the turning trackage at Wentworth after 59th went to bus.”
Now Available On Compact Disc
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99 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 [/caption]
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. Disc One 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 Capital Transit: 05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953 06. 1:43 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 09. 4:04 10. 1:39 Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s: 11. 4:35 August 27, 1954 12. 4:51 Illinois Terminal: 13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955 14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955 Baltimore Transit: 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 Disc Two 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 03. 5:17 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 Disc Three 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) Capital Transit: 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 Chapter Titles: 01. The River Tunnels 02. The Freight Tunnels 03. Make No Little Plans 04. The State Street Subway 05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway 06. Displaced 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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Our previous post Trolley Dodgers (January 15, 2016) included a photo of the old Market Street stub terminal in downtown Chicago. Here is another view, probably from the late 1930s. It was torn down in 1948 after the CTA introduced A/B “skip-stop” service on the Lake Street “L”, which rendered it unnecessary. (Chicago Transit Authority Photo)
The Trolley Dodger mailbag is pretty full today, since we have received a lot of interesting correspondence lately. Mark Llanuza writes:
How did you get so interested in the CA&E?
I have lived in Chicago’s western suburbs pretty much my entire life. I was born in 1954 and therefore never rode the CA&E. As it was, my mother says she only rode it once, in 1946 as part of an outing with other people from the office she worked in downtown.
I know my mother took the Garfield Park “L” downtown when she worked there in 1952-53, after she married to my dad. They lived in Forest Park for a time.
In general, however, after my parents moved to the Mont Clare neighborhood, we took either the Lake Street “L” or the Logan Square line. (Although we lived very close to the Milwaukee Road commuter train, we didn’t ride it that much.)
When it was reported in the press in 1961 that the CA&E would be dismantled forever, my family took a Sunday drive out to Wheaton, where we looked forlornly at the cars in dead storage in the yard. I recall being glad at the time that they had not been vandalized.
When the Illinois Railway Museum began rail operations around 1966, we drove out there to ride the trains. And I have been back many, many times since.
As I grew up, I learned more and more about the CA&E, and am still learning.
There were three final passenger trips that took place at year’s end in 1958. On Oct 26th the Central Electric Railfans’ Association chartered three cars (with a fourth car added later due to extra loading). It was listed as the last steel car trip and went to Elgin .
The second trip was charted on Nov 21st by a church group, and went from Glen Ellyn to Clintonville station, to the Fox Valley RR club.
The final one was on December 7th 1958, which I sent you many photos of, but I may have some more.
Mark did in fact send us more images, reproduced below. The ones from the final fantrip have also been added to our previous post A Cold Last Ride (January 25, 2016). We thank him for his generosity in sharing them with our readers.
Mark Llanuza’s collection of CA&E slides include Kodachromes and Ektachromes. Kodachrome II was an improved version (with the film speed increased to ISO 25) released near the end of 1961. The original photographer’s name is not known. (Mark Llanuza Photo)
The CERA fantrip train on the CA&E at Raymond Street, October 26, 1958. (Mark Llanuza Collection) This is the same curve where several photos were taken during the December trip, where we got them identified as near the Corrugated Box Company.
TThe CERA fantrip train at 5th Avenue in Maywood, looking east, still just three cars at this point. The date is October 26, 1958 and the photographer was standing at the end of the platform, which is why the position is slightly elevated. (Mark Llanuza Collection)
Fifth Avenue in Maywood as it looks today. We are facing east.
The four-car CERA fantrip train at Raymond Street in Elgin. Mark Llanuza says the entire day was cold and rainy, and they had to add a fourth car at Wheaton because of the large number of people on this trip. (Mark Llanuza Collection)
320-319 near the Corrugated Box Company on the Elgin branch, December 7, 1958. (Mark Llanuza Collection)
320 and engineer at the Lakewood station in West Chicago, December 7, 1958. As the CA&E operations wound down, starting with the abandonment of passenger service in 1957, employees were retained on the basis of seniority. Newer ones were let go while the oldest and longest serving employees remained. (Mark Llanuza Collection)
319-320 near the Clintonville Station on the Elgin branch, December 7, 1958. (Mark Llanuza Collection)
Mark also sent us a couple of before and after pictures:
1953 and 2015 compared in South Elgin. (Mark Llanuza Photo)
1953 and 2015 at Lakewood. (Mark Llanuza Photo)
We also came across some CA&E ephemera:
Lucian C. Sprague (1882-1960) was president of the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway from 1935 to 1954, and received this pass from the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin. Officials from various railroads gave each other these sorts of passes as a professional courtesy. The Chicago & North Western bought the Minneapolis and St. Louis in 1960.
There was recently some discussion on Facebook regarding CA&E’s extensive use of uncovered third rail without fencing. It was noted that this arrangement had been in place since 1902 and residents of Chicago’s western suburbs were used to it. However, there were various signs warning of the dangers. If the CA&E had survived to the present time, no doubt there would be more protections in place.
This metal sign, said to have been used on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, recently sold on eBay for $280.
The CA&E 315 Story
Joel Salomon writes:
Thanks for the recent posting of all the great CA&E pictures on The Trolley Dodger blog. Some really fascinating images in that post.
I am a member and long time volunteer at the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Rockhill Furnace, PA. We have CA&E 315 at our museum and we are in the process of restoring the car to its original condition as built in 1909,or as close as we can make it.
One question that had always wondered me and others at the museum is how did 315 get out of Chicago and are there any photos of the car after the CA&E abandoned operations? We know the car was stored in a CN&W roundhouse for nearly a year and copies of that invoice are enclosed. But the big question is when did 315 leave the CA&E for the last time and are there any photos of that move? We do know when the car was ready to be moved to Pennsylvania the car was placed on a depressed flatcar and the trucks placed in a gondola car and moved to Mt. Union, PA. It was moved by a highway truck 11 miles to the museum site.
Do you know anyone that I might contact to help with this unknown part of the 315 story? I would appreciate knowing anyone that might be able to answer some of these questions or have pictures of 315 during its years on the CA&E as well as after abandonment.
Thanks for your help with these questions.
Thanks for writing. If, as I suspect, you are related to the late Gerhard Salomon, you might like to know I regard him as a hero for all his preservation efforts over the decades. I can only wish I had met the man to thank him personally.
While I do not have immediate answers to your various questions, I am confidant that I can help you find out, with the help of our readers.
One of my recent blog posts mentioned how the 320 (now at Mt. Pleasant) was the only car taken off the property that did not leave via a temporary interchange track with the C&NW.
It may very well be that the 315 left at the same time as some other cars that were saved, especially the ones that were heading east.
With any luck, I hope it will be possible to visit your fine museum sometime this year.
Joel Salomon is too modest. He is in fact the president of the museum. The images that follow are courtesy of Joel Salomon and the Rockhill Trolley Museum:
Perhaps somewhat coincidentally, Mark Llaunza writes:
Here are some interesting last CA&E moves from April 1962. An interchange track was built at Wheaton to pick up cars from the yards. Trains were bought over to West Chicago to run around them, and they then headed back to Chicago.
While these photos do not necessarily help answer Mr. Salomon’s question, they do show seven CA&E cars being moved off the property in April 1962. If there were, as I have read, three such trains of cars, with the 320 being handled separately, then perhaps we have a one in three chance that the 315 was part of this train movement.
Since one of the invoices shown above pro-rated the cost for moving the 315 as 1/7th of the total, that would be another indication that it may have been in the group shown in these pictures. There most likely could not have been three such trains, as I recall only around 19 cars were saved. Maybe that improves our odds to 50% or perhaps greater.
The only car whose number I can recognize in these photos is the 303, which originally went to Trolleyville USA in Ohio. However, none of the cars in this photo have curved sides, so the four cars from the 451-460 series, which also went to the Gerald E. Brookins operation, are not among them and would have been moved in a different trip.
IRM and RELIC each had their own “hospital train” and the 320 left separately so, by process of elimination, we can figure that the 315 was indeed in the seven-car “eastern museums” train in Mark’s photos. It looks to me like the order was 303-409-319-36-315-308-318.
Leaving the Wheaton interchange with the C&NW, April 1962. (Mark Llanuza Collection)
On the C&NW at Wheaton in April 1962. (Mark Llanuza Collection)
The saved CA&E cars on the C&NW in West Chicago, April 1962. (Mark Llanuza Collection)
The saved CA&E cars on the C&NW in West Chicago, April 1962. (Mark Llanuza Collection)
On the C&NW at Western Avenue in April 1962. (Mark Llanuza Collection)
This must be the March 24, 1962 train taking CA&E equipment purchased by RELIC, the predecessor to the Fox River Trolley Museum. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “11 was built by Brill in 1910, (order) #16483. It was rebuilt to a line car in 1947 and replaced 45. It was acquired by Railway Equipment Leasing & Investment Co in 1962 and came to Fox River Trolley Museum in 1984. It was lettered as Fox River & Eastern.” This picture was taken in Glen Ellyn along the C&NW. (Mark Llanuza Collection)
From http://www.thegreatthirdrail.org: The end has come for the Roarin’ Elgin. The rails have rusted over and the hallmark of the railroad, the third rail, has already been taken off of the third rail chairs. Fortunately all isn’t lost. On March 24, 1962, we see EJ&E 212 hauling several CA&E cars past the Wheaton station and Main Street to be preserved at RELIC (today’s Fox River Trolley Museum). Photo by TH Desnoyers, from the Krambles-Peterson Archive
The rescue train taking CA&E cars purchased by RELIC through Glen Ellyn. (Mark Llanuza Collection)
The Trolley Motel
Ruth Morgan writes:
There is a thesis at Mississippi State University on Land Use in Starkville. It is about 4 inches thick. I am attaching the pages on a trolley motel which is thought to have been the largest in the world. The trolleys were purchased by Vernon Chesteen from Birmingham and made into his motel prior to building one. It had a nice gas island with a streetcar diner. I located an aerial photo. I write an article for the Starkville paper entitled From Days Past and am trying to verify information. What I send you is true. The motel was on Highway 182 about a block west of town.
I wasn’t able to come up with anything about this Trolley Motel via a Google search. Perhaps my readers might know something more.
On Don’s Rail Photos, there is a page with information on the Birmingham streetcars themselves. Note this part:
Then, in August, 1941, cars 812, 816, 817, 830 thru 833, 835, and 838 were scrapped. A number of these car bodies were saved for non rail use, such as sheds and cabins.
Chances are those were the nine cars that were used for the Trolley Motel and associated diner. There is a picture of one such type car, which is known as a double-truck Birney. These cars were built in 1919 and 1920 by the Cincinnati Car Company, and were originally double-ended. They were eventually converted into single-end cars.
When these trolley cars were taken out of service, the motors, wheels, seats and control equipment would have been removed and saved for use on the remaining cars in that series. The car bodies would have been offered for sale, and would have been especially desirable in the immediate post-WWII era, when there was a housing shortage.
Back in those days, postcards were made of just about anything. It’s quite possible that a picture postcard may exist somewhere showing the Trolley Motel. Perhaps our readers may know something.
According to the thesis Lucille Liston Mitlin submitted to MSU to receive her master’s in geology and geography in August 1975, entitled “The Historical Development of Land Use in Starkville Mississippi, a Small University City,” it shows there was not much in the area during her days on campus.
The Trolley Motel was replaced by the University Motel about 1960 and all the “stars” who performed at MSU stayed there, including Johnny Cash. The motel no longer exists. Thank you so much for your research.
(Images below are courtesy of Ruth Morgan.)
This section of a 1975 dissertation describes how nine streetcar bodies from Birmingham, Alabama were used in a “Trolley Motel” in Mississippi. Eight were used as cabins and the ninth was a diner.
An aerial photo, probably from the late 1940s, where you can just barely make out (at right) some of the streetcars in the Trolley Motel.
Above is a 1952 MSU annual showing ads for the Gas Island, mentioning the diner and tourists.
Ruth sent us another note after this was posted:
THANK YOU! You are to be commended for the excellent job you do. This is the most reliable website I have seen. I talked to Mrs. V. J. Robinson, the sister-in-law of Mrs. Vernon Chesteen (about 90 years old). She remembers the trolley car motel. She said each trolley had 2 rooms so that would have been 16 rooms for the motel. Her two sisters worked in the trolley that was the diner. She is searching for old photos. Her mind is still clear as can be She has fond memories of the trolley car motel. Our town was crowded with students coming to Mississippi State University after the war. We had our largest increase in students during this time. Thank you again.
We are only too glad to help out. It’s worth pointing out that calling a double-truck Birney streetcar the largest in the world is a bit of hyperbole. I’m sure it was large, but of the same general size as plenty of other streetcars.
North Shore Line Abandoned Track?
Our youthful railfan Joey Morrow writes:
Does the North Shore Line have any abandoned track? The Skokie Valley doesn’t count because it was not abandoned when the NSL closed it’s doors. But I’ve found some track from the late 90’s though:
Skokie Valley? Nope that track was used after the abandonment. But the Shore Line might have some abandoned platforms– the Winnetka platform was still there in 2014. According to (http://www.sarahrothschild.com/real-estate–history-blog/archives/12-2014). The Indian Hill platform was still there in the late 90’s according to http://www.chicagorailfan.com/mpupn.html.
But the tracks… To find both the southbound and the northbound tracks, they weren’t dug up. They were surrounded in concrete almost impossible to notice. But… On 27 Ct. and 52 St. you will see them!
(Be aware this is in July 2012 not 2016) I was so happy I almost started crying! To know that the fate of a few yards of track on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin, would be the same for a few yards of track on the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee! North of this location but before the line turns towards Racine, there might be some more. North of 45th St. I want to check it out, but I don’t live in Kenosha anymore, not even in the Midwest. No where near where I want to be.
Good work, Joey. Perhaps one of our readers can tell us whether your detective work is correct. And in the meantime, keep trying to turn your dreams into your realities. That’s what life is all about.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. You can either leave a comment on this or any other post, or reach us at:
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