We have recently been assisting John Engleman, an excellent photographer, by scanning 35mm color negatives he took, mainly in the Baltimore area, between 1968 and 1974. These include intercity trains, spanning the era before and after the 1971 Amtrak takeover, and much else.
All the comments on these photos are by Mr. Engleman. We may yet have more of these to share in future posts.
Photos by John Engleman
Did Not Win
Try as we might, our resources for purchasing vintage images are limited. Here are two that are very much worth seeing, but still escaped our grasp:
Our resident south side expert M. E. writes:
My brother sent me this video teaser of Chicago streetcars in 1950.
A bit more than half takes place along Lawrence Ave. But the rest is on the far south side, my turf.
Right near the beginning, you see a streetcar crossing railroad tracks. This is at 111th and Hale. The view looks northeast. The train tracks are the Rock Island suburban line (which still runs). The streetcar is heading westbound on Monterey Ave., crossing the tracks, then continuing westbound on 111th St. Notice the awning on the drugstore on the corner. You’ll see it again soon.
Now go past all the north side stuff, and come to what is obviously a streetcar going up a hill. This view is a little more than a block west of the rail crossing view. It shows a streetcar climbing the 111th St. “hill”. The awning I mentioned in the rail crossing scene is noticeable in the distance in this view.
One of my neighbors at that time was a boy who attended Morgan Park Military Academy, a few blocks west of the “hill” on 111th St. He told me once that, during a rain, he and other boys soaped the streetcar tracks to watch the streetcars struggle to get up the hill. Nasty!
At the bottom of the hill is a traffic signal for Longwood Drive. Longwood Drive runs north and south along the bottom of the geological Blue Island, which is atop the hill. The road runs from 91st St. (just west of a Rock Island suburban line station) all the way to 119th St. (the city limit) and into the city of Blue Island. Along Longwood Dr. on the hilly side are many huge houses, some maybe even considered mansions. One of those houses is a Frank Lloyd Wright house, between 99th and 100th Sts. on Longwood.
After the hill scene are a few more shots taken at 111th and Hale, showing that a conductor has to get off the streetcar, walk to the railroad tracks, look both ways, then signal the motorman to cross the tracks. Many of the streetcar lines on the south side, even those that carried few passengers, required conductors because there were so many ground-level railroad crossings along those streetcar lines.
The final set of shots is taken at the west terminal of the streetcar line, at 111th and Sacramento. There, on both sides of 111th, you see cemeteries. The cemeteries are the reason the streetcar line was built that far out. Just outside the view to the left is the main line of the Grand Trunk railroad, which crosses 111th. This streetcar line was the Halsted/Vincennes/111th St. line, which at that time was route 8.
My brother also sent me this video.
It is a thorough presentation of the North Shore line in 1945, back when movies were rare and expensive.
One nice touch was the system map from Howard St. to just north of Waukegan. And the video nicely explained all the traffic patterns around North Chicago.
I couldn’t help but notice how busy the northbound trains were. The video shows lots of people waiting at stations to board the train. But consider: This video was shot just when World War II ended. Not many people had cars then.
Shore Line stations were much busier than Skokie Valley stations. It was sad that the CNS&M had to stop its Shore Line service in 1955. That was a very picturesque and interesting route. And, along the Skokie Valley route, there was no outdoor entertainment park at Ravinia at that time.
With all the shots of the Electroliners, it would be easy to think that there were a lot more than just two of them.
One observation: At every station there were signs indicating how far to Chicago and how far to Milwaukee. Along the Skokie Valley route, those signs were aligned properly — I mean, the Milwaukee distance was on the north side of the sign and the Chicago distance was on the south side of the sign. But along the Shore Line route, Chicago was north, Milwaukee was south. Tsk tsk.
Thanks very much! The 1945 video was shot by the late Charles Keevil. His nephew Walter worked for the CTA for many years and he has also been active in various railfan organizations.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
Dr. Harold E. Cox – In Memoriam
Sad news… prolific author and historian Dr. Harold E. Cox has passed away, aged 90. He was the author of PCC Cars of North America (1963) and The Fairmount Park Trolley: A Unique Philadelphia Experiment (1970), among many others.
M. E. adds:
Comment about your Engleman posting:
which contains a nice map at this link:
This article and map give you everything you ever wanted to know about the rail network in Washington DC. (The article also has a similar map of Baltimore.)
There is no electrification south of Washington DC Union Station, so through passenger trains had to switch between electric and diesel engines at the station.
But freight trains changed engines in Virginia. Pennsy electrification crossed the Potomac River into Virginia. Alongside US 1 through what is now Crystal City and south from there another few miles, there was a long freight yard called Potomac Yard. That is where the engine switch took place. Consequently, one could see GG1s in Potomac Yard.
I’ll bet not a whole lot of people know that GG1s ran south of the Potomac River
Also, the Pennsylvania Railroad reached almost to Norfolk, in southeastern Virginia, via a route south from Wilmington, Delaware, through Delaware, eastern Maryland and the eastern shore of Virginia. If I remember correctly, the train cars were put on ferries to reach Norfolk. (Question: Which railroad’s engines handled the train cars at the Norfolk end?)
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
I recently appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
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For Shipping Elsewhere:
A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
This is our 277th 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 805,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.
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