The Mass Transit Special

Elmhurst. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, Mark Llanuza Collection)

Elmhurst. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, Mark Llanuza Collection)

We continue our recent series on the last days of the fabled Chicago, Aurroa & Elgin interurban with some additional pictures from Mark Llanuza, who writes:

On March 6th 1958, the CA&E saw its first passenger train over the line in eight months. It was dubbed The Mass Transit Special, and it was intended to jump-start the resumption of passenger service.

Aboard were railroad officials and politicians from various communities along the line as well as members of the Illinois Mass Transportation Commission. It was a two-car train set made up of the 417 and one of the St. Louis cars. This train stopped at suburban towns with many people coming out to stand by the CA&E and bring it back to service. Some towns (like Glen Ellyn) had marching bands. Attendance was large in many towns but it wasn’t enough to bring back service. These photos were captured by Bob Gibson.

 

If you would like to read more about why the effort to save the CA&E failed, check out our previous post The CTA, the CA&E, and “Political Influence” (February 18, 2015).

-David Sadowski


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 117th 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 120,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a donation there as well.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.


5th Avenue, Maywood, March 6, 1958. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, Mark Llanuza Collection)

5th Avenue, Maywood, March 6, 1958. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, Mark Llanuza Collection)

5th Avenue, Maywood, March 6, 1958. Notice how the platform extensions have been flipped up to accommodate freight trains. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, Mark Llanuza Collection)

5th Avenue, Maywood, March 6, 1958. Notice how the platform extensions have been flipped up to accommodate freight trains. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, Mark Llanuza Collection)

Elmhurst. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, Mark Llanuza Collection)

Elmhurst. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, Mark Llanuza Collection)

pic209

Glen Ellyn. (Robert W. Gibson, Mark Llanuza Collection)

Glen Ellyn. (Robert W. Gibson, Mark Llanuza Collection)

Glen Ellyn. (Robert W. Gibson, Mark Llanuza Collection)

Glen Ellyn. (Robert W. Gibson, Mark Llanuza Collection)

Main Street, Lombard. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, Mark Llanuza Collection)

Main Street, Lombard.  (Robert W. Gibson Photo, Mark Llanuza Collection)


CA&E Ephemera

Here is an interesting piece of CA&E ephemera– a Car Equipment Defect Report from June 1, 1914. Car number 303 has “leaks all over.”

caedefect2

caedefect1

caedefect3

caedefect4

One curious thing about this form is the reference to the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railway. As far as I know, in 1914 it was called the AE&C, before being reorganized into the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad (not Railway) in the early 1920s.

badorder

At one time, people purchased their electric service directly from the interurban, as seen in these 1918 bills.

At one time, people purchased their electric service directly from the interurban, as seen in these 1918 bills.


New Beginnings for 320

CA&E wood car 320, the last saved car to leave the property, was also the first to operate again in a new location in 1962. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “320 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Iowa Chapter NRHS in 1962. It was transferred to Midwest Electric Railway Museum in 1968.”

From 1962 to 1968, the 320 ran on the Southern Iowa Railway. Again, according to Don’s Rail Photos:

The railroad became home to the Iowa Chapter, NRHS, in the 1950s. Three interurbans were acquired, plus a CGW caboose. In 1958 1.5 miles of the Mystic branch was abandoned. When the Centerville powerhouse was closed, ISU wanted to abandon or sell the line. It was purchased by a local group and became the Southern Industrial RR. In 1966 the wire was removed on the Moravia line and a CB&Q motor car was acquired. The wire remained at Moravia and box motor 101 was stationed there for switching. Also in 1966 the Chariton River trestle burned and the line was severed. The wire at Centerville was removed and service became occasional. The Moravia operation was abandoned on July 18, 1967, and was the final electric operation.

 

Since 1968, the 320 has been restored and now provides service during the Midwest Old Thresher’s Reunion every Labor Day weekend in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

Here are some pictures of the 320 on the Southern Iowa Railway, taken between 1962 and 1964 by the late James D. Johnson:

Madison Street, October 20, 1962. (James D. Johnson Photo)

Madison Street, October 20, 1962. (James D. Johnson Photo)

"Milwaukee, southbound," October 12, 1963. (James D. Johnson Photo)

“Milwaukee, southbound,” October 12, 1963. (James D. Johnson Photo)

(James D. Johnson Photo)

(James D. Johnson Photo)

(James D. Johnson Photo)

(James D. Johnson Photo)

(James D. Johnson Photo)

(James D. Johnson Photo)

(James D. Johnson Photo)

(James D. Johnson Photo)

cae320g

cae320h

Here's another one from the New Dave's Rail Pix.

Here’s another one from the New Dave’s Rail Pix.

Here is another photo from the June 9, 1957 CA&E fantrip we covered in a previous post. We have added the photo there as well:

CA&E 459 at Raymond Street in Elgin, June 9, 1957. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

CA&E 459 at Raymond Street in Elgin, June 9, 1957. (Mark Llanuza Collection)


With so many CA&E cars now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum, it’s fitting to consider IRM’s own interurban origins. The museum’s Main Line was once part of the Elgin & Belvidere Electric, which ran from 1907 to 1930.

For several years after abandonment, the railroad’s cars sat out in the open in Marengo, waiting for buyers that never came.

Again, according to Don Ross:

In 1956, I was checking on ownership of an abandoned C&NW right-of-way for the Illinois Railway Museum, and I stopped in the county clerk’s office in Woodstock. The clerk became curious and then suggested that we might be interested in a piece of property which was on the delinquent tax rolls. It was 50 feet wide and 7 miles long. After paying the taxes for two years, a quit claim was filed and this has become the home of the IRM at Union, IL.

 

According to Don's Rail Photos, "103 provided freight and express service."

According to Don’s Rail Photos, “103 provided freight and express service.”


Space, the Final Frontier

Thanks in part to the generous donations from our readers, we have now solved the space problem caused by the growth of this blog. During our first year, we posted 13gb of files, our entire allotment under a WordPress professional account. When space became tight, we had to figure out some workarounds, posting some of our image files elsewhere.

However, this was not entirely satisfactory, because our readers could not magnify those images for closer scrutiny, as they can with all the ones we upload via WordPress. With this additional upgrade, we now have unlimited storage space, and will not need to worry about running out of space as long as we can continue to make the yearly payments.

We have many exciting things planned for future posts. At any given time, planning for this blog includes having posts for today, tomorrow, next week and next month. We have been keeping many plates spinning in the air, and although from time to time they have threatened to come crashing down, with your help and support, our future looks bright. Watch this space.

-David Sadowski

PS- We thank our readers for giving us 11,428 page views in January 2016. That’s our third-best ever and the fifth month in a row with an increase over the previous one.

A Cold Last Ride

319-320 in Wheaton. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 in Wheaton. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Thanks to the generosity of Mark Llanuza, we are today featuring photos from his collection that were taken on December 7, 1958, on the final passenger movement on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin interurban. This was a fantrip sponsored by the Illini Railroad Club.

As you can see in the flyer reproduced below, the trip started and ended at 5th Avenue in Maywood. This was as far east as CA&E could go in 1958. To get there from the DesPlaines Avenue CTA terminal, fans would have taken the CTA #17 bus (which replaced the Westchester “L” in 1951), got off at Madison and First, and walked about three blocks south.

In a previous post (“The CTA, the CA&E, and “Political Influence,” Feb. 18, 2015) we delved into some of the issues surrounding efforts to save the CA&E, and why they ultimately failed.

In short, CA&E was allowed to “temporarily” abandon passenger service as of July 3, 1957 because, at that moment, it was in the best interests of all the various power brokers who were involved.

The State of Illinois wanted very much to begin expressway construction near the DesPlaines River, so that two segments of highway could be connected. CA&E owned a crucial piece of property where the highway was to be built, and if they had not agreed to sell it, this could have held up construction for two years.

CA&E, in turn, had been operating at a loss since they voluntarily stopped running their trains over CTA trackage in September 1953. They had received a lot of income, on the other hand, through the sale of various parts of their right-of-way. For example, the CTA bought CA&E’s infrastructure between Laramie and DesPlaines Avenue (but not, apparently, the terminal itself) for $1m. Instead of using this money to purchase new equipment, the railroad distributed the proceeds from this partial liquidation to their shareholders.

These kinds of actions invited speculators to purchase CA&E stock and helped hasten the eventual liquidation of the entire railroad. It was worth more dead than alive. Operating, it lost money, but liquidated, it meant a handsome profit to the shareholders.

A CA&E stock certificate issued in 1956 to Curtis M. Wylie (1890-1958), a Michigan businessman. The stock was redeemed in 1959 after his death. Wylie left a bequest of $6.2m to the Grand Rapids Foundation, which continues to benefit the community today.

A CA&E stock certificate issued in 1956 to Curtis M. Wylie (1890-1958), a Michigan businessman. The stock was redeemed in 1959 after his death. Wylie left a bequest of $6.2m to the Grand Rapids Foundation, which continues to benefit the community today.

caestock2

If CA&E had wanted to continue operating passenger service, it would have been possible to build a temporary track connection with the CTA Forest Park terminal via the Chicago Great Western starting at First Avenue using overhead wire. But CA&E was only interested in either selling the entire railroad (to the State or the CTA) or liquidating it. The highway project became an expedient excuse for abandonment. Meanwhile, CA&E insisted on being reimbursed for the operating losses they had incurred since 1953, and this appears to have been folded into the amount they were paid for their right-of-way between First Avenue and DesPlaines.

There were, in fact, additional portions of CA&E right-of-way that were needed for highway construction elsewhere. In retrospect, it would have saved the state money if they had simply purchased the entire railroad for $6m, as they nearly did in 1956. But this would have made the state responsible for maintaining service.

Likewise, it did not benefit the CTA to keep the CA&E running. Better to let them abandon service, in case it would have been possible for the CTA to resume service over a portion of the interurban (to Wheaton) later on. In any event, CTA did not want to operate any service over former CA&E trackage until and unless their additional operating expenses would be paid for. And nobody stepped forward to make that happen.

So, once CA&E had distributed the proceeds from various land sales to their shareholders, there was little or nothing left in the till to pay for a resumption of passenger service in 1959. And although there was a modest increase in freight traffic after the 1957 abandonment of passenger service, the railroad was still losing money. Without a firm sale or an additional funding source, the railroad’s choices were to either dissipate all their remaining assets, or simply go out of business.

It was hoped that the December 1958 fantrip would help generate interest in a resumption of passenger service on the CA&E. Unfortunately, this did not happen.

If service had been resumed, there likely would have been continued short-term losses in passengers due to completion of the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway in the suburbs. But over time, this trend surely would have reversed itself and passenger counts would have once again increased as the western suburbs became more and more built up.

As it turned out, the state and CTA wanted to be the “good cops,” who would resume some partial level of service on the interurban if DuPage County would cover the costs, and were perfectly happy to let CA&E act as the “bad cop” who discontinued service. And in this, they rose to the occasion, with an abrupt midday shutdown that stranded thousands of riders on July 3, 1957. They were content to “take the money and run,” so to speak.

The great majority of images in this post were shot by one unknown photographer who went on the 1959 fantrip. Mark Llanuza purchased them from the man’s daughter after he died.

Film speeds were much slower in 1958 than they are today. Kodachrome was ISO 10, meaning it was mainly usable only on sunny days. However, Kodak had also introduced Ektachrome, another slide film with an initial speed of 32. I believe this is the film used on that day.

These images have a larger grain structure than is typical for Kodachrome, and are, in general, underexposed. This was a day when ISO 400 would have been a better choice, if such a thing had existed. Even the most popular black-and-white film of the time, Super-XX, only had a speed of 200 ISO.

Many railfan photographers were turned off to Ektachrome because the version available around 1956 faded badly to red in a short period of time. (Technically speaking, the red layer stayed the same, while the green and blue layers faded.) This problem appears to have been solved by 1958, when these pictures were taken.

Under the circumstances, we can be glad that the pictures turned out as well as they did. Since the film was somewhat underexposed, there are reciprocity shifts in color, which generally gave these images an overall blue cast which is unnatural. We have attempted to correct for these color shifts as best we could, but it was not always possible to eliminate all of them without increasing the contrast in each image to an excessive degree. In other words, if there is snow in the picture, you want the snow to look white and not blue, yellow, or gray.

Looking at these pictures, it’s possible to figure out somewhat the itinerary for the trip, including the photo stops and where there were staged run-bys for the benefit of motion picture cameras. Presumably, if there weren’t any freight movements on that Sunday, the fantrip had the entire railroad to itself and didn’t have to worry about any meets.

The flyer mentions a “speed run” back from Elgin but I do not know offhand to what extent CA&E’s automatic gates were still in use at this point. Freight service continued for but a few more months after this before it, too, was abandoned forever.

Thanks again to Mark for sharing these rare images with us, the last gasp of the legendary “Roarin’ Elgin.”

-David Sadowski

PS- You can hear rare audio recordings of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin on Railroad Record Club LP #36. This recording has been digitally remastered onto compact disc, along with RRC 35, and is available in our Online Store. Along with the CA&E, this disc also features recordings of the CTA Garfield Park “L”, the North Shore Line, and Milwaukee city streetcars.

Mark Llanuza writes:

You did a really great job putting this together for your fans and members. I talked to Norm Carlson who rode this trip on a very cold December 7th 1958 trip. He said it was cold and damp, then started to rain and got colder and snow came. They ran five photo run bys– one at Elgin station, Lakewood, Wheaton Golf club, Price Crossing rd., Glen Oak, and a grand tour of the Wheaton shops in the snow storm.


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 114th 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 116,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a donation there as well.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.


http://www.greatthirdrail.org/images/ROW_despl_br.jpg
When the fantrip took place, the CA&E’s former right-of-way near the DesPlaines River was torn up for expressway construction. As you can see in this photo, the bridge was in the process of being shifted to the north, with a new track alignment. This process was not completed until the second half of 1959, by which time the railroad was unable to resume service even on a trial basis. The new track connection to the CTA Forest Park terminal was never used.

The Chicago Tribune weather forecast for December 7, 1958 called for cloudy and cold conditions, with a temperature between 12 and 20 degrees.

The Chicago Tribune weather forecast for December 7, 1958 called for cloudy and cold conditions, with a temperature between 12 and 20 degrees.

The flyer for what became the final passenger movement on the CA&E. Freight service lasted a few months into 1959 before it too was abandoned. Various efforts to revive the interurban failed, and it received government permission for complete abandonment in 1961. (William Barber Collection)

The flyer for what became the final passenger movement on the CA&E. Freight service lasted a few months into 1959 before it too was abandoned. Various efforts to revive the interurban failed, and it received government permission for complete abandonment in 1961. (William Barber Collection)

A CA&E pocket map made by Roy G. Benedict in 1958, when the "Roarin' Elgin" had already abandoned passenger service (except for charters) but was still running freight. Roy mimeographed these and sold them to aspiring railfans. He has made many additional maps since, and has had a successful career in the publishing industry.

A CA&E pocket map made by Roy G. Benedict in 1958, when the “Roarin’ Elgin” had already abandoned passenger service (except for charters) but was still running freight. Roy mimeographed these and sold them to aspiring railfans. He has made many additional maps since, and has had a successful career in the publishing industry.

photo016

When the fantrip began at 10:00 am, it had not started snowing yet. By the time it ended, at 5:00 pm, a substantial amount of snow was on the ground.

On December 7, 1958, CA&E wood cars 319 and 320 operated the last passenger train on that venerable railroad as a charter. Here, we are at Fifth Avenue station looking east. After the CTA abandoned the Westchester branch, this station was repainted in CA&E colors, and the interurban took over all service here from 1951-57.

On December 7, 1958, CA&E wood cars 319 and 320 operated the last passenger train on that venerable railroad as a charter. Here, we are at Fifth Avenue station looking east. After the CTA abandoned the Westchester branch, this station was repainted in CA&E colors, and the interurban took over all service here from 1951-57.

319-320 at the Aurora terminal. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 at the Aurora terminal. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Aurora terminal. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Aurora terminal. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 at Glen Oak. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 at Glen Oak. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 at Glen Oak. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 at Glen Oak. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

320-319 at Prince Crossing on the Elgin branch. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

320-319 at Prince Crossing on the Elgin branch. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

320-319 at Prince Crossing Road. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

320-319 at Prince Crossing Road. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Chicago Golf Club at Wheaton. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Chicago Golf Club at Wheaton. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 at the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 at the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319 at Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319 at Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Freight motors at Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Freight motors at Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)[/caption]

Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

[/caption]

Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)[/caption]

Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

[/caption]

Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Wheaton Shops. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 at Lakewood Station in West Chicago. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 at Lakewood Station in West Chicago. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

The former Lakewood station as it looked last summer. It is now part of the Illinois Prairie Path. (Mark Llanuza Photo)

The former Lakewood station as it looked last summer. It is now part of the Illinois Prairie Path. (Mark Llanuza Photo)

At speed near Lakewood Station, West Chicago. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

At speed near Lakewood Station, West Chicago. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 near the Clintonville Station on the Elgin branch, December 7, 1958. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 near the Clintonville Station on the Elgin branch, December 7, 1958. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 in Elgin. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 in Elgin. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

At the Corrugated Box Co., Elgin. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

At the Corrugated Box Co., Elgin. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

At the Corrugated Box Co., Elgin. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

At the Corrugated Box Co., Elgin. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

At the Corrugated Box Co., Elgin. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

At the Corrugated Box Co., Elgin. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

320-319 near the Corrugated Box Company on the Elgin branch, December 7, 1958. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

320-319 near the Corrugated Box Company on the Elgin branch, December 7, 1958. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

320-319 at the Elgin terminal. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

320-319 at the Elgin terminal. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

320 at the Elgin terminal. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

320 at the Elgin terminal. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 arcing in Maywood. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

319-320 arcing in Maywood. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

320-319 at 5th Avenue, Maywood. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

320-319 at 5th Avenue, Maywood. (Mark Llanuza Collection)


After Abandonment:

Dunham Road, Wayne IL, January 1960. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Dunham Road, Wayne IL, January 1960. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Dunham Road, Wayne IL, January 1960. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Dunham Road, Wayne IL, January 1960. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

The former CA&E station at Wayne (Army Trail Road) as it looked in November 1961. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

The former CA&E station at Wayne (Army Trail Road) as it looked in November 1961. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Glen Ellyn Station in 1961. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

Glen Ellyn Station in 1961. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

The Elgin Watch Factory in January 1963. It closed the following year. (Mark Llanuza Collection)

The Elgin Watch Factory in January 1963. It closed the following year. (Mark Llanuza Collection)