This picture of the old Met bridge over the Chicago River is undated, but probably dates to circa 1952-55 based on the type of red border Kodachrome mount it is in. But it is certainly after the the other picture in this post, taken at much the same location, since the building at rear, or part of it, was in the process of being torn down. This was not related to expressway construction, since the “L” at this point was north of there. Once the Congress rapid transit line opened in 1958, this section of “L” was taken out of service and by the early 1960s it had been torn down.
Cooler weather has moved into the Chicago area, and along with it, we have a Fall Harvest of classic rail images for you today, including many by three of the greatest railfan photographers of the 1950s– Clark Frazier, Truman Hefner, and William C. Hoffman.
Enjoy! -David Sadowski
This video features streetcars and elevated trains in Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York City, mostly from the early 1950s– and originally shot on high quality 16mm film:
CSL 4001 at South Shops, with 7001 in front of it, probably during the 1950s, when these two experimental cars were being used for storage.
CTA PCC 4371, built by Pullman, is on State Street heading south from Randolph, with the old State-Lake Theater in the background. The film “Lovely To Look At” was released on July 4, 1952, which is probably around when this picture was taken.
North Shore Line 759 heads up a two-car train heading southbound at Harrison Street, leaving street running in favor of private right-of-way in Milwaukee on June 16, 1962. (Richard H. Young Photo)
A two-car CTA Kenwood shuttle train at Indiana Avenue, probably some time around 1949. I assume there must have been stairs leading up to the tower.
A close-up of the previous image.
CTA 6130-6129 are “at speed” near Jarvis “L” station on the north side, operating under wire on the southbound express track as a mid-day Evanston “Shopper’s Special” on December 11, 1955. The picture is slightly blurred because Kodachrome back then was ASA 10 (until the introduction of Kodachrome II in 1961). The unique signage on the train indicates which stations this express train stopped at.
Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 28 is at the head of a train in this picture I assume was taken in Wheaton, between 1952-55 (based on the slide mount).
Red Arrow Strafford car 164 is on the high-speed line to Norristown in the early 1950s, perhaps near 69th Street Terminal. Kenneth Achtert adds: “Your picture of Strafford car #164, if the early 1950s date is accurate, was most likely not on a Norristown line trip, but is arriving at 69th St. Terminal likely coming from Strafford. Strafford service was not abandoned until 1956 and was what gave the 160-series cars their common name. The bullet cars could have been called Norristown cars, but they already had an even better name.”
Red Arrow double-ended car 20, which looks like a PCC but technically isn’t, is running outbound on the Ardmore branch in the early 1950s. Not sure what all the track work is about, although the West Chester branch itself was abandoned in favor of buses in 1954, so that West Chester Pike could be widened. I assume this is the intersection of West Chester Pike and Darby Road in Havertown, PA. The Ardmore trolley was replaced by buses at the end of 1966. Both trolley lines here are now SEPTA bus routes. Mark A. Jones adds: “Regarding the Red Arrow trackage on West Chester Pike west of the Ardmore turn-off, it continued in use after the West Chester line became a bus as the Llanerch car barn (which housed the Red Arrow trolleys at the time) was located Darby Rd. and West Chester Pike west of the Ardmore cut-off. That’s my memory of that.”
Red Arrow double-ended St. Louis car 15, built circa 1949, is coming off the Ardmore line towards the 69th Street Terminal in the early 1950s. The West Chester branch might still have been in operation then, as there is a car in the distance on West Chester Pike.
Red Arrow Brilliner 9 is signed for the Media route in the early 1950s.
Red Arrow Brilliner 6 is signed for the Media route in the early 1950s.
On August 3, 1950, an eastbound Garfield Park “L” train approaches Western Avenue station. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Deck roofed “L” cars, including 2908, are in Laramie Yard on July 2, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An eastbound train of wooden “L” cars (including 3210), with trolley poles up, heads east on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L” in Oak Park on October 12, 1953. I believe the location is a few blocks east of Marion Street, where the street (South Boulevard) narrows.
The subway entrance on State Street between Madison and Monroe, as it looked on December 5, 1954. PCCs were still operating on State at that time. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking south from the 35th Street “L” station on August 23, 1963. A new center island station had opened here in 1961, taking up space formerly occupied by the center express track, which had been unused after 1949. A fire destroyed the new station in October 1962, and temporary facilities were used until the station was rebuilt in 1965. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An 8-car train of CTA 4000s, still in the old tan color, approaches 35th Street on November 6, 1950. In this somewhat underxposed slide, you can still make out the long walkway at right, which connected to a stairway at the former 33rd Street “L” station, only used as an auxiliary entrance and exit for 35th after 1949. This walkway was closed on September 25, 1961 and removed thereafter. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking west from the transfer bridge at the CTA station at 40th and Indiana Avenue on July 7, 1953. A southbound train of 6000s heads into the station. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This slide, taken on Sunday, March 6, 1955, gives a good view of the direction sign on the transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana station. Our resident South Side expert M. E. adds, “Two-car trains were rare on the north/south main line. The destination sign explains why just two cars: It is an “all-stop” sign reading “Howard Street”. Most days of the week, main line service was either “A” or “B”. The only time the CTA ran just two cars on the main line as all-stop trains was on Sunday mornings.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The westbound view from the transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana on July 2, 1963 shows CTA 6047 at the rear of a northbound train, fitted with an experimental ventilation system. This was not shot on Kodachrome, which explains the somewhat funky color shift on this slide. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view west from the overhead transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana on July 7, 1953, looking west. We see a northbound train of 4000s, an approaching southbound train of 6000s, a Stock Yards shuttle train, and some additional Stock Yards cars being stored on the former express track, unused since 1949. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Looking west from the passenger overpass at Indiana Avenue on July 3, 1950, we see an 8-car train of steel cars, and a Stock Yards shuttle train. In the distance, that may be some additional Stock Yards cars being stored on the otherwise unused center track. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Our resident South Side expert M. E. writes: “Your caption needs correction. What you claim to be a Stock Yards shuttle is not on the Stock Yards tracks, which ran directly west from the switch building at the end of the platform. Instead, your “Stock Yards” train is on the main line heading east/south. Apparently the CTA still ran old cars on the main line at that time, although I don’t remember that. Another, more remote, possibility is that this short train is dead-heading east (without passengers) toward the Kenwood line. But in the next photo, you see no track connection from the main line to the Kenwood line. The only way dead-headed cars destined for Kenwood could end up on the Kenwood line would have been to turn south on the main line to 43rd St. and use switches to go from the southbound main line to the northbound main line to the former northbound main line track, which joined the Kenwood shuttle track back at Indiana Ave. — and which (in reverse) provided the only way to move Kenwood cars off the Kenwood tracks.” We were only repeating the information that Mr. Hoffman wrote on the original slide mount, which, of course, could be wrong.
Two “new” and two “old” 6000s enter the CTA station at 40th and Indiana on June 6, 1954. The Kenwood shuttle continued to operate for another three years after this. We are facing east. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
SF Muni 170 on the N Line, entering the Sunset Tunnel in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 130 on Ocean Avenue by Elkton Shops on September 16, 1957. According to the Market Street Railway web site: “Car No. 130 was among the the last ‘Iron Monsters’ to leave passenger service, in 1958. Muni shop foreman Charlie Smallwood saved it from the scrap heap by hiding it in the back of Geneva carhouse while its mates met their fates. He then talked his bosses into making it a ‘wrecker’. Stripped bare and painted yellow, it spent the next 25 years towing its replacements–PCC streetcars–back to the barn when they broke down. It was fully restored by Muni craft workers in 1983 for the Historic Trolley Festival, including original seats, which Charlie had kept all those years in his basement…just in case!” (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System A Train 130 near Yerba Buena Island on the Bay Bridge on April 18, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Pittsburgh 1499 on Route 34/21 on Ladoga Street near Ingram in 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Pittsburgh 1486 and 1485 rest at Ingram carhouse in 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 162 at La Playa (48th), approaching the N Line terminus on December 16, 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
The SF Muni Geary car house in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Dresden 264 007 on Line 4 at Dresdner Schloss on June 3, 1978. At the time, Dresden was located in East Germany. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System 167 is an A Train east of Yerba Buena Island on the Bay Bridge on April 18, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 178 on a fantrip on the J Line by SF Muni “Iron Monster” 178 on a fantrip on the J Line by Dolores Park in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)Park in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 114 stops for passengers on the B Line in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1553 at the Route 20 Plow Pit on February 7, 1959. This was a spot where overhead wire ended (by law) and streetcars changed over to collecting electricity through an underground conduit. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3276 entering Reservoir Yard on June 5, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3216 on Mass Avenue in North Cambridge on August 29, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3337 (ex-Dallas) near the Cedar Grove station on the Ashmont-Mattapan line on May 31, 1961. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1543 on Route 20 in Georgetown on June 7, 1959. The Georgetown Theatre was located at 1351 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC and opened in 1913. It closed in 1986 and was converted to retail. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1159 at the Calvert Bridge on Route 92 on February 6, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 213 on the N Line, west of the Sunset Tunnel, in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System (Oakland) E train 184 to Berkeley leaving 55th Street in 1958. This slide has a processing date of March 1958 stamped on it, one of the earliest I have seen. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 130 on the M Line by Parkmerced on September 16, 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
A Key System E train to San Francisco near Tower 3 in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1136 on Route 54 at the Navy Yard car barn on September 1, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
In May 1952, a CTA train of flat-door 6000s heads down an incline west of Pulaski Road on the Douglas Park “L”. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A train of CTA 6000s on the Metropolitan main line, looking east from Marshfield Avenue. This probably dates to late 1950, since no work has yet been done building the temporary right-of-way in Van Buren Street to the left, later used by Garfield Park trains. The tag on the train indicates whether it stopped at some part-time stations on Douglas. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA two-car train of 6000s, running on the Douglas Park line, heads east onto the Metropolitan main line at Marshfield Junction. Since a train is visible on the Garfield Park portion, the date cannot be later than September 1953, and is likely a couple years before that. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 6056-6057 crossing East Avenue in Berwyn, where a sign indicates that the crossing guard is off duty. This portion of “L” was abandoned in February 1952. (Truman Hefner Photo)
6053-6054 near Oak Park Avenue on the Douglas Park “L”. The date given here (December 1953) must be wrong, as the line had already been cut back to 54th Avenue by then. It may be December 1950, as Douglas was the first line to use the new 6000s. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 2725 at the Oak Park Avenue terminal of the Douglas Park “L” in December 1950. The line was cut back to 54th Avenue, nearly two miles east of here, in 1952. This area is now used as a parking lot in Berwyn, often referred to as the “L” strip. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 6087 and train are running on the ground-level portion of the Douglas Park “L” at Kenton Avenue in May 1952. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA deck-roofed car 2891 is just south of Roosevelt Road on the Westchester “L” in April 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A train of CTA 6000s (probably 6055-6056) crosses Austin Boulevard in Cicero on the Douglas Park “L” in February 1952, shortly before service was abandoned west of 54th Avenue. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA train of 6000s is turning onto the Metropolitan main line from the Douglas Park “L” on April 3, 1954, while a CTA test train (with car 2276) is on the new, as yet unused connecting track between the Douglas “L” and the old Logan Square branch. Once Douglas trains began using this new “L” connection, they began running downtown via the Lake Street “L”, and portions of the old “L” east of here were torn down for expressway construction. By 1958, there was a new ramp in place, approximately in the same place the 6000s are here, leading down to the Congress rapid transit line in the expressway median. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA train of 6000s is turning from the Metropolitan main line onto the Douglas Park “L” on April 3, 1954, while a CTA test train (with car 2276) is on the new, as yet unused connecting track between the Douglas “L” and the old Logan Square branch. Once Douglas trains began using this new “L” connection, they began running downtown via the Lake Street “L”, and portions of the old “L” east of here were torn down for expressway construction. By 1958, there was a new ramp in place, approximately in the same place the 6000s are here, leading down to the Congress rapid transit line in the expressway median. (Truman Hefner Photo)
In December 1950, CTA open platform, railroad-roofed car 2327 is westbound at Austin Boulevard on the Douglas Park “L”. Here, the barrier is down. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA wooden open platform, railroad-roofed car 2330 is northbound on the Northwestern “L” near Berwyn Avenue, running on the Evanston line in July 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 2256 is part of a four-car Met train, turning from Market Street onto the double bridge over the Chicago River in March 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA railroad roofed, open platform car 2707 under the Belt Railway at Kenton Avenue on the Douglas Park “L”. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA arched roof, open-platform car 2281 at 54th Avenue on the Douglas Park “L” in March 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
Open platform, railroad roof car 2715 at 54th Avenue in Cicero, on the Douglas Park “L”, in January 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
The CTA ground-level station at Austin Boulevard in Cicero, on the Douglas Park “L” in December 1950. Note the unusual raised barrier at the crossing. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA open-platform, railroad roof car 2338 at Kenton on the Douglas Park line, where there was a connection to the Belt Railway of Chicago, in December 1950. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA open-platform, railroad roof car 2318 at Kenton on the Douglas Park line, where there was a connection to the Belt Railway of Chicago, in December 1950. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA PCC 7215, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is signed to go to 80th and Vincennes, operating on Route 22 – Wentworth in 1958. But was this picture taken at 80th and Vincennes? M. E. writes: “Reason to think this photo was taken at 80th and Vincennes: There was a single loop track at 80th and Vincennes, and the terminal area was on the east side of a miniature “park” situated east of Vincennes between the terminal trackage and Vincennes Ave. proper. Reasons to think this photo was not taken at 80th and Vincennes: (1) The exit trackage in the photo makes no sense if it were indeed 80th and Vincennes. The exit trackage ran straight out of the loop and onto northbound Vincennes trackage. (2) As I recall, 80th and Vincennes was a residential area with no large buildings. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say this photo was taken on the property of the 77th/Vincennes carbarn, and the streetcar in the photo had either just returned from 80th and Vincennes or was headed there. This scenario is also likely because there was never a “terminal” on line 22 at 77th St.; the closest was at 80th St. Consequently, streetcars in service coming from the north had to go to at least 80th St. before heading back to the barn at 77th St.”
The Prince Crossing station on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, as it appeared on June 14, 1960, after abandonment.
Did Not Win
Try as we might, our resources are always limited and there are photos that our beyond our means to afford. Yet many of them are worth another look anyway:
Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad modernized interurban coach 28 and modernized steel interurban combine 107 at the end of the line station shared with Amtrak. The line was cut back from downtown South Bend in 1970. In 1992 the line would be diverted to the South Bend Airport. April 26, 1980, W Washington St & W Meade St, South Bend, Indiana. (Clark Frazier Photo)
This original glass plate negative, showing the last New York City horse car line circa 1907, recently sold on eBay for $539(!). The location is Broadway looking north just past Broome Street. The horse car line was abandoned in 1917, by which time it had few passengers as was a “franchise run.”
Angel’s Flight in its original LA Bunker Hill location, probably circa 1969. The funicular opened in 1901, but was dismantled and put into storage for several years not long after this picture was taken, as the hill it climbed was razed. It has since reopened in a different location.
A Hidden Freight Spur
I was somewhat surprised a few months ago when it appeared some freight car switching was taking place on the Union Pacific West Line (formerly Chicago & North Western) embankment in Forest Park, just east of Lathrop Avenue. The tracks here were raised around 1910 and not far east of here, the embankment is shared with the Chicago Transit Authority’s Green Line (aka the Lake Street “L”).
There isn’t much light industry left near the railroad in Forest Park, but apparently there is still at least one active customer, and behind a row of town houses, there is an active freight spur, with a ramp leading up to the embankment. I found a lone freight car on the spur. Presumably it will be hauled away prior to the next delivery, whenever that might be.
The freight spur is visible on this map. You can also see how the curved streets in this part of Forest Park got their shape. They once formed a “wye” used to turn trains around. Much of the CTA rail yard west of Harlem Avenue was built onto new embankment in the early 1960s.
I drive by this area nearly every day, but all this is so completely hidden from view that I had no idea any of this still existed. It also sheds some light on the changes made to the “L” and the adjacent commuter rail line in the late 1950s.
When the CTA and C&NW were negotiating the relocation of the Lake Street “L” onto the embankment, at first it was thought that the “L” would run as far west as the DesPlaines River in River Forest. In 1958, the C&NW sought permission to close several commuter rail stations, ceding their close-in ridership to the CTA (and at the same time speeding up service to suburbs that were further out).
Originally, the River Forest station was one of the C&NW petitioned the Illinois Commerce Commission to close, but at some point, plans were changed, and the station is still there, serving riders on what is now the Metra Union Pacific West Line.
If the “L” had been extended through this area, it would have made it difficult for the C&NW to continue serving their freight customers in Forest Park with the spur line that is, apparently, still in use.
Looking southeast. Town houses have replaced light industry south of the railroad spur.
Larry Sakar writes:
A three-car train in Lake Bluff by William D. Volkmer, 10/8/60.
I was browsing through some of your newest pics on The Trolley Dodger. You have a great picture of a North Shore train NB at Lake Bluff taken by Bill Volkmer on 10/08/60 (5 days after my 10th birthday). They aren’t what I’m concerned with.
In the spring of 1992 I accompanied another NSL fan on a tour of the abandoned NSL from Lake Bluff to Mundelein, probably other spots on the NSL as well but I no longer remember. It may have been this trip, or another time but he was after a whistling post that was still embedded near one of the crossings on the Skokie Valley route. He brought along a sack of tools with which to extricate it. He discovered that it was anchored very deeply by a steel cord of some sort and did not get it.
I took the attached photo at Lake Bluff that day. What I would like to know is where the Lake Bluff station would have been in the 1992 photo and what direction I am facing. As you can obviously tell, it was a damp and foggy day. The second picture was taken at Mundelein. He told me that the NSL station was in the parking lot seen in my photo, which I seem to recall was for an apartment complex.
The individual in the photo was an avid NSL fan, having ridden the last northbound train from Chicago to Racine. He was a high school student at the time. The Racine station agent was a friend of the family. He was in the right place at the right time. The place was the Racine station on the day it was torn down. It was gone by the time he got there but he noticed a pile of items being burned. Among those items was the ticket agent’s rack and rubber stamps which he rescued from the pile.
No rush. I’ve just been wondering. He may have told me that where he was standing was where the trains stopped, but I honestly don’t remember. I ceased all contact with this individual in 2003 when I quit TMER&THS (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transit Historical Society).
The site of the former North Shore Line station in Lake Bluff in 1992.
The site of the former North Shore Line station in Mundelein in 1992.
The site (at right) of the former North Shore Line station in Waukegan in 1992.
Perhaps some of our readers can help Larry figure this out, thanks.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
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 Edition illustrated Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021 ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007 Length 128 pages
Chapters: 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
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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)
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On August 1, 1951, CTA surface system fares were increased to 17 cents. Here, on two-man PCC 4188, Miss Elma Parrssinen dutifully pays her fare to conductor James Long. According to information provided by Andre Kristopans, which we ran in a previous post, car 4188 had a retirement date of June 9, 1953, making it one of the first postwar cars scrapped as part of the so-called “PCC Conversion Program,” whereby some parts from these cars were recycled into new 6000-series “L” cars.
Here are lots of “new” old photos that we have recently unearthed for your viewing pleasure. As always, if you have interesting tidbits of information to add, including locations, do not hesitate to drop us a line, either by leaving a Comment on this post, or by writing us directly at:
This photo of CTA streetcar 6149 was taken from an original red-border Kodachrome, which identifies the location as the “Campbell Avenue barn yard.” However, to me it looks like 69th and Ashland. The slide mount is of a type used by Kodak between 1950 and 1955. I would say this is closer in date the the former.
Campbell is 2500 West, which puts it a block west of Western (2400 West). Suppose the original location statement was a mile off. Paulina is 1700 West, a block west of Ashland (1600 West), and at 69th St., Paulina was just west of the carbarn. So I agree with you that this is probably the 69th and Ashland carbarn.
As confirmation, the 67th-69th-71st St. line (route 67) went right past the carbarn, and the destination sign aboard the route 67 car says 71st and California, the western terminus, where the route 67 car will go after leaving the barn.
However, I cannot explain the presence of route 4 Cottage Grove cars at the 69th and Ashland carbarn. The readable destination sign on car 6149 says Cottage Grove and 79th, which is a lot closer to the big carbarn at 77th and Vincennes than it is to 69th and Ashland.
I consulted my Lind book to find out when the 79th Street line and the 67th-69th-71st Street line were converted to buses. Lind says 79th was converted in September 1951 and 67th-69th-71st was converted in May 1953.
So I think this photo was taken after September 1951 and before May 1953. Somehow Cottage Grove cars were able to get to the 69th and Ashland carbarn, even though the trackage diagrams in the Lind book show no switches at 67th and Cottage Grove. Maybe the CTA built switches at 67th and Cottage Grove after September 1951 just for this purpose.
The 69th and Ashland carbarn also housed Western Ave. cars. But that carbarn must have closed soon after May 1953, because after that date, PCC cars on Western used 69th St. trackage to go east to Wentworth, south to Vincennes, and southwest to the 77th and Vincennes carbarn. That lasted until Western was converted to buses in 1956.
Thanks… I will have to look up the closing date for the 69th station (car house).
M. E. replied:
As I recall, the 69th and Ashland carbarn served these lines in the 1950s: 9 Ashland 49 Western 63 63rd 67 67th-69th-71stLind says both lines 63 and 67 converted to buses in May 1953. But Ashland did not convert until February 1954. And as I said earlier, Western converted in 1956.Therefore, the 69th and Ashland carbarn closed in February 1954, after which Western cars lived at 77th and Vincennes until 1956.
I looked it up on the Internet, and after streetcars left, 69th and Ashland continued to handle buses for many years:
1601 W. 69th St. (at Ashland Ave.)
Opened in 1908
Capacity in 1911: 191 cars inside/25 cars outside
Capacity in 1943: 191 cars inside/133 cars outside
First used for buses in 1953
Used for propane buses 1953-1973
Last used for streetcars 1954
First diesel buses 1973
Closed June 18, 1995
Replaced by 74th Street Garage
Building demolished in 1998
I moved out of Englewood in November 1954. I wasn’t aware that the 69th and Ashland carbarn became a bus barn and lasted another four decades. Live and learn.
The fact that the 69th and Ashland barn stayed open after May 1954 begs this question: Why didn’t the Western Ave. streetcars continue to use it, rather than travel all the way to 77th and Vincennes?
I think I have an answer. After May 1954 there were only a few remaining streetcar lines:
4 Cottage Grove 22 Clark-Wentworth 36 Broadway-State 49 Western
The CTA probably wanted to consolidate all streetcar operations in one or two barns. The 22 line ran right past the 77th and Vincennes barn; the 36 line was half a mile away; and the 49 line used 69th St. to reach the 77th and Vincennes barn. The 4 line continued to use the 38th and Cottage Grove barn until the 4 line was converted to bus in June 1955. (I found this on the same Web page you cited: http://chicagorailfan.com/rosctaxh.html .)
But herein lies a further question: If 38th and Cottage Grove was kept open until the Cottage Grove line was converted, then why were Cottage Grove cars in the photo of 69th and Ashland? I already mentioned that I saw no trackage that would allow Cottage Grove cars to reach 69th and Ashland.
I had the radical notion that perhaps the photo was not of 69th and Ashland, but instead of 38th and Cottage Grove. But then why would a 67 route streetcar be there? And the same lack of switches at 67th and Cottage Grove would preclude allowing 67th-69th-71st cars to travel to 38th and Cottage Grove.
All told, a mystery.
A mystery alright, and one that perhaps our readers might help solve, thanks.
CTA red cars 612 and 407 at 95th and Ashland in December 1951.
Ashland and 95th today, looking north.
In this September 14, 1960 view, we see a pair of CTA 4000s heading east on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”, running alongside South Boulevard just west of Oak Park Avenue in suburban Oak Park. Just over two years later, this portion of the line would be relocated to the adjacent Chicago & North Western embankment, where it continues to run today as the Green Line. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Here is what South Boulevard looks like today, at approximately the same spot.
Here, we see CTA red Pullman 165 heading west on the private right-of-way portion of the 63rd Street route, a few blocks west of Central Avenue. The date is given as August 17, 1951, although some might argue for 1952 instead. These tracks ran in 63rd Place, which is now a completely built-up residential area a short distance south of 63rd Street.
63rd Place today. After streetcars quit, the CTA bus was re-routed onto 63rd Street in this area.
This picture of a 1926-vintage Illinois Central Electric suburban train was taken on September 9, 1959. I am not sure of the location, but it is marked as a Randolph Street Express, and the smokestack at right belongs to a laundry. Service continues today under the aegis of Metra Electric with modern bi-level cars. David Vartanoff writes: “The IC Electric pic is likely Kensington. Look at extreme magnification and one sees the r-o-w expand to 4 tracks.” Jack Ferry adds: “The IC Suburban Train is heading northbound at 115th St. Kensington.” This would be the same station near where the CTA route 4 – Cottage Grove streetcar ended. That was the site of many pictures over the years.(Clark Frazier Photo)
Here, we are at Cottage Grove and 115th, the south end of route 4. CTA red cars 3182 and 660 are visible. The date given is December 1952, but some might argue for an earlier date than that since there are no PCCs in sight here. The line ran parallel to the Illinois Central Electric suburban service embankment.
Cottage Grove and 115th today.
This wintry scene shows CTA red Pullman 636 on Cottage Grove near the 115th Street end of the line. The date is given as December 1952 but some might argue it should be earlier.
It’s June 10, 1951, and CTA red Pullman 230 is heading west on Chicago Avenue in this view taken from the Ravenswood “L”.
A contemporary view of Chicago Avenue looking east from the “L”.
Here, CSL car 19xx is heading eastbound on Chicago Avenue, having passed the north-south “L” and a safety island.
Chicago Avenue looking west toward the “L”.
CSL 1724. I’m wondering if this is on Wabash, just north of the Chicago River. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1856. Not sure of the exact location, but it appears to be one of Chicago’s angle streets. Patrick writes: “CSL 1856 looks to be eastbound on Harrison (it appears signed for Harrison), crossing Ogden. The building on the northeast corner is still there.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
The J.L. Higgie building, at Ogden and Harrison, as it appears today.
CSL 1300, signed for Cicero Avenue. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 1301 on the 14-16th Street line. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
Madison and Wells in the early 1900s. Not sure if we are looking east or west. Mike Payne writes, “I believe the picture on Madison and Wells is looking west; in the distance you can see Market St, and the weird “L” stub structure ending on the south side of Madison.”
The old Market Street stub-end “L” terminal, which was used by Lake Street trains until the late 1940s. It was demolished shortly thereafter, and Market Street itself was turned into the north-south portion of Wacker Drive in the 1950s.
CSL 1371, signed for Taylor-Sedgwick-Sheffield.
CTA 1693 on the Division route, probably in the late 1940s. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 1885 southbound on the Kedzie line. From the street addresses, I’d say we are on California Avenue. The sign on the from of the car advertises “1275 New Streetcars and Buses – Soon,” so perhaps this is circa 1945-46. I recently came across a CTA document advertising the 1275 figure, and it was dated January 1946. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1459. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 1076 is southbound in the 1940s, but on which line? Perhaps the sign, indicating a route via Larrabee and Wells, offers a clue. Phil Oellrich says, “CSL car 1076 is southbound on Damen Avenue about to turn south on Lincoln Avenue at Irving Park Blvd. The route is Lincoln-Rosehill . On August 1, 1948, the CTA discontinued Lincoln-Rosehill service, while extending the North Damen Bus to follow roughly the same route north of Irving Park. The white Terra-Cotta building behind car 1076 housed the North Center Theatre at 4031 N Lincoln, which opened on February 3, 1926 and closed in 1963. The building was demolished in 1966-67.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
The same corner today. Lincoln is to the left, Damen to the right, and Irving Park would be right behind us. We are looking north.
CSL 3106. But which line is this, and which “L” is in the background? It’s hard to make out for sure, but the side sign may say 18th Street. Patrick writes: “CSL 3106 is on Leavitt, northbound, at 21st Street. The buildings are still there. The Douglas L is in the background.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
21st and Leavitt today.
CSL Pullman 620 is southbound on Western Avenue, while some track work goes on nearby. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
The caption on this photo reads, “Westbound car 2623 passes under the Illinois Central main line at 75th and South Chicago Avenue, over the diagonal tracks of the busy South Chicago line.” Bill Shapotkin notes, “Indeed, this car is on 75th St and has just x/o UNDER the IC. The car is W/B (note platform of IC’s Grand Crossing station at left atop embankment).” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2813 on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago line, which was jointly through-routed by both the Surface Lines and the aforementioned Indiana operator. Streetcar service was eliminated on this line in 1940, but this picture looks older than that. Bill Shapotkin: “This picture (of which I have a copy myself) was taken in Exchange (JUST EAST of Indianapolis Blvd) looking west in East Chicago. Note the “Y” in the wire behind the car. As an aside, the tracks in Exchange are still in-place. David Stanley and I JUST HAPPENED to visit here when Exchange was being repaved. The pavement was removed up to the railhead — with the rails left in-place and (within a few days) paved over AGAIN.”
The photo caption reads, “The open fields behind car 2701 notwithstanding, the corner of 79th and State was a busy transfer point. This eastbound 79th Street car clatters over the CSL tracks on State.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
It’s October 1871, shortly after the Great Chicago Fire. The view is of State and Madison, looking northeast. The various horse cars we see are serving the Madison, Blue Island, and State Street lines.
Here, the caption reads, “43rd-Root. Westbound car 3280, about to cross Halsted Street to reach its west terminal at the Stock Yards. This line competed with the Stock Yards “L” and lasted until 1953.” Andre Kristopans adds, “3280 turning from nb State into wb Root. Old Bowman dairy bldg still there.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
The old Bowman Dairy building at 43rd and Root as it looks today.
CTA trolley bus 9713 is shown heading westbound on North Avenue at Cicero on April 26, 1970. The last Chicago trolley bus ran in 1973.
CTA Flxible propane bus 8050, shown here on Central Avenue near the end of its service life in 1971, was part of a series delivered in 1956-57. These buses replaced some of the last Chicago streetcars, but they were woefully underpowered for the job they had to do. I believe we are just south of Belmont Avenue. Trolley buses last ran on Central on January 7, 1970. The old street lamps were holdovers from an earlier era, and were retained in some shopping areas of the city for some time, even after more modern lights were installed.
The same area today. We are looking south on Central Avenue, just south of Belmont.
After the Chicago Cubs won their first world championship since 1908, the Chicago Transit Authority put a special “wrap” on one bus (I think the number is 8305) for a limited time, and ran it on Addison, which passes right by Wrigley Field. The following two pictures were taken there on November 9, 2016. Bill Shapotkin adds, “While the Cub’s victory was the first in 108 years, it was also the first since moving to Wrigley Field (formerly Weegman Park). When the Cub’s won the 1908 series, they were still playing on the West Side grounds (roughly Wood/Polk, if I recall the location correctly).” Yes, that is also where games for the 1906 WS between the Cubs and White Sox were played (the Sox won, 4 games to 2). Legend has it there was an insane asylum located near West Side Grounds, which is supposedly the origin of the expression, “from out of left field.”
Here, 8305 heads west on Addison. There is a lot of construction around the ballpark these days, as entire blocks have been cleared, and a couple of large hotels are going up.
I was lucky to get all of 8305 in the frame here, as it was “at speed” and I had to dodge traffic in the middle of the busy street to get this unobstructed shot.
CTA bus 700 is powered by Lithium batteries, and is one of two currently owned by the authority, although there are plans for 20 or 30 more. These are the first electric buses the CTA has had since the last trolley bus ran in 1973. I did not board this bus, but would expect it to provide a ride similar to a trolley bus.
CTA electric bus 700 at the west end of route 21 (Cermak), which is the North Riverside Mall, on November 29, 2016.
It’s June 1962 at Rondout, and we see a North Shore Line freight train, headed up by electric loco 455.
This June 1962 North Shore Line photo looks like it was taken at about the same time as one in our previous post More Color Restorations (August 9, 2016). As you can see from the sign on car 744, the occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. This may be the excursion on June 22, 1962, which was billed as a farewell trip. As it turned out, a few additional fantrips were held before the interurban was abandoned on January 21, 1963. Don’s Rail Photos says, “744 was built by Pullman in 1928. It was modernized in 1940.” This car is on the wye at the Harrison Street Shops in Milwaukee.
This photo of North Shore Line 774 plus 3 looks to have been taken where the line shifted from 5th to 6th Street in Milwaukee. The date is January 13, 1963, just eight days before service ended. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)
A photo stop on the same January 13, 1963 fantrip. Perhaps one of our keen-eyed readers can help identify the location. Don’s Rail Photos says, “774 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930, It was rebuilt as Silverliner on May 9, 1950.” Joey Morrow writes: “NSL 774 is west of Green Bay Jct. The line to the west leads to the Highwood shops and offices. In the distance you can see the bridge that is currently used by the Metra UP-N. You can still see where the NSL once ran under the bridge. The line to the east leads to The Lake Bluff station just across the street out of the shot. Not totally sure if the cement that once held the catenary supports is still there or not, but the telephone POLES behind the camera man are still there.” (J. W. Vigrass Photo)
It’s April 1964, more than a year after North Shore Line service ended. Car 251 is at the head of the line here, and has already been sold to the Illinois Railway Museum, where she runs today. This may also be a J. W. Vigrass photo, but it is not marked as such.
A close-up of the last picture shows a sign: “Acq’d for Ill. Ry. Museum. Do not climb, tamper with, or remove parts from this car.” Sound advice, indeed!
Our previous post The Littlest Hobo (November 27, 2016), which featured some pictures of scrapped Pacific Electric “Hollywood” cars stacked up like cordwood, inspired me to run this photo, showing one of the cars that actually was saved:
Pacific Electric “Hollywood” car 5112 in Watts local service on April 9, 1958. By then, the service was being operated by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority. Don’s Rail Photos says, “637 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1922. It was rebuilt in 1939 and rebuilt in 1950 as 5112. It became LAMTA 1801 in 1958. It was retired and restored as 637 at Orange Empire Railway Museum in March 1960.”
Although the late Merritt Taylor, Jr. may have been, in some fashion, a “closet railfan,” he was also responsible for the ill-fated Railbus experiment on the Red Arrow Lines in 1967-68. This was an attempt to replace rail with buses that could also run on railroad tracks. Fortunately, the effort proved to be a failure. Taylor had found that he couldn’t simply convert all his rail lines to bus service, without losing much of the rights-of-way in turn due to the terms under which rail service had started many years earlier. It turns out that the requirements of a railcar and a bus are too much different to be combined into a single vehicle. Within a couple years of this experiment, Taylor sold Red Arrow to SEPTA, and the Norristown, Media and Sharon Hill lines remain rail to this day.
PS- Here is a video with many additional pictures of the Red Arrow Railbus:
The experimental Brill-built pre-PCC 7001 as it appeared at 77th and Vincennes on September 10, 1959, shortly before it was scrapped. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Hampton Wayt writes:
I am trying to research the history of the design (industrial design or “styling”) of the PCC streetcars. Over the years, two different people have independently indicated to me that industrial designer Donald R. Dohner was responsible for the design of the PCC, but I have been unable to verify it. Dohner was the head of design for Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company from 1930 through 1934 and would work on many transportation designs while employed there. He also had an industrial design firm in Pittsburgh after leaving Westinghouse.
Dohner was the unrecognized primary designer of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s iconic GG-1 electric locomotive for which Raymond Loewy got (or should I say, “took”) full credit. For years, retired industrial designers that I met told me that Dohner designed the GG-1 despite what Loewy claimed, and after doing some serious in depth research I was finally able to prove they were right (Loewy made some very minor changes to the GG-1 prior to manufacturing, but would take credit for much, much more than he actually did). Dohner never received credit for the design during his lifetime, and only began to receive recognition for it for the first time 75 years later after the fact, thanks to an article I wrote on the matter for Classic Trains magazine in 2009.
A couple of years ago I was also able to verify that Dohner designed the New Haven Comet Train with the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation, his having worked heavily on the design in 1933. He never received credit for the design of this train either.
Neither of the two individuals who credited Dohner with the PCC design knew the name of the streetcar, but both stated that it was a design that was used universally all over the country. One of the men also stated that the cars were in Brooklyn first and then “all over.” That suggests the PCC to me, but I do not know where to begin to research it.
Do you happen to know if any of the original paperwork for the Presidents Conference Committee exists for researchers? If so, I would love visit the archives and take a close look and see if Dohner’s name appears anywhere in the record as it did in Pennsylvania Railroad paperwork found during my research on the GG-1.
It also occurred to me that Dohner could have been involved in the design of the experimental CSL 4001 car, which was developed with Westinghouse. Do you happen to know if there is any documentation on the development of this unit?
Any guidance you can give me would be greatly appreciated, and I look forward to your response.
Starting in 1929, CSL* was a very active participant in the Electric Railway Presidents’ Conference Committee, whose work developed the standardized PCC car, which soon dominated the industry.
The PCC patents were assigned to the Transit Research Corporation, whose stock was owned by the various transit operators who took part in the program. CSL apparently owned the largest amount of stock, which in turn was owned by the Chicago Transit Authority starting in 1947. Eventually Walter J. McCarter, first general manager of CTA, became the head of TRC, which I think has since been disbanded.
*Chicago Surface Lines
TRC’s successor, in turn, was the Institute for Rapid Transit, which merged with the American Public Transit Association, and is now called the American Public Transportation Association. So, you might try contacting them to see what they may know.
However, if Dr. Harold E. Cox is to be believed, TRC’s main focus was technical patents involving components such as truck and wheel design. (See his 1965 article, “What is a PCC Car?”)
Dr. Cox is, as far as I know, still living, so you might try contacting him as well. However, according to this news story from 2015, Dr. Cox is fighting a courageous public battle with Alzheimer’s.
It may be that a lot of the familiar PCC design “look” came from each individual car manufacturer, building on previous work done by others. The progression would be from the 1934 Brill car 7001, built for the Chicago Surface Lines, to the very similar cars built for Washington, D.C. in 1935 (the order split between Brill and St. Louis Car Company), to the 1936 PCCs from SLCC (Brooklyn, Chicago, et al) and the one car built by the Clark Equipment Co. (which has standee windows, not seen on many cars prior to the end of WWII).
The efforts from various manufacturers to develop a “type car” preceded the PCC effort, as can be seen in the Brill “Master Units” circa 1932. But these efforts were never 100% successful, although the PCC car did come the closest. Still, there were numerous variations between cities, Chicago’s being the most different of them all.
Even after the concept of a “standard” PCC car became the norm for North American cities, the PCCs made by SLCC competitor Pullman have subtle differences in styling, including a somewhat boxier overall appearance. This may have been the result of differences in manufacturing techniques between the two companies.
So, chances are the styling of the PCC cars cannot be ascribed to a single individual, but it is certainly possible that one person, such as your candidate, may have played a very important part.
There is also a complicating factor regarding Brill. While Brill built the CSL 7001, and part of the 1935 order for DC, the company had a policy of not paying any patent royalties to other firms. Thus, they parted ways with the PCC project at this point.
However, they did come up with their own PCC knock-off, which was called the Brilliner. They first started marketing these in 1938, and the last ones were sold in 1941. Very few were sold.
The Brilliner came too late to save Brill. By then, St. Louis Car Company had the bulk of the streetcar market to themselves, with Pullman taking a much smaller share.
Brill exited the streetcar market at this point, and merged with ACF in 1944 to form ACF-Brill. They made buses, including some trolley buses.
I hope other people who read this may be able to offer additional insights of their own. I am assuming you are familiar with the available literature, which includes various books such as PCC From Coast to Coast. There is at least one book about the St. Louis Car Company, written by the late Alan R. Lind. Some of the other PCC books, which you might find for cheap or in public libraries, include PCC: The Car That Fought Back, An American Original: The PCC Car, and Dr. Cox’s PCC Cars of North America.
We have written about the short-lived and ill-fated Speedrail project before. This was a 1949-51 attempt to continue interurban service between Milwaukee and Waukesha, Wisconsin, led by Jay Maeder, Sr. (1908-1975).
This was a noble effort. Maeder grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where a former interurban still runs today as the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit line.
Milwaukee’s TMER&L (aka TMER&T) west line was known locally as the “Rapid Transit” line, and with a little less bad luck, could have evolved into something akin to what Cleveland has today. But alas, it was not to be, due to a horrific head-on collision in 1950 that killed several people.
Jay Maeder, Sr. was at the controls of one of the two cars involved in the collision, which remains controversial to this day. The question recently came up on one of the online transit forums I belong to, as to what Maeder’s background was. I did manage to come up with a few things:
His real name was John Edward Maeder. Jay was a nickname. In the 1930 census, the family was living in South Euclid, Ohio.
In a 1949 newspaper article, regarding the Speedrail purchase, Maeder is referred to as a “Cleveland industrial engineer.” Apparently, he was an efficiency expert.
“Jay” probably was a nickname based on his first initial. Perhaps, like many other people, he did not like his first name (cf. James Paul McCartney).
Here is his high school yearbook from 1925:
At that time, John Edward Maeder was nicknamed “Ed,” which is how they had him in some of the census records. Apparently, he did not like his first name.
John Edward Maeder’s birth certificate gives the same date of birth as that given for Jay Edward Maeder (March 11, 1908).
The 1910 US census says there was a two-year-old child named Edward in the household, but does not mention other siblings. Since his father’s name was also John, that may be why they were calling him Edward from an early age.
The 1920 census has him as J. Edward, but again mentions no siblings.
In the 1930 census, they have him as Edward J., but again there are no siblings listed. He was 22 years old then, and his occupation is listed as a newspaper solicitor (salesman?).
So, everything seems to indicate he was an only child. Haven’t found an obit for Jay Maeder Sr. yet though.
Jay Maeder Sr.’s wife Catherine died in Houston, Texas in 2009, aged about 99.
I don’t know if Jay Maeder Sr. ever lived in Texas, or if, sometime after the 1950 crash, he reverted to using John, his real name. His son, Jay Maeder, Jr. lived from 1947 to 2014, and was the last writer for the Little Orphan Annie cartoon strip before it was retired in 2010.
If Speedrail had survived, it surely would have received a shot in the arm from the opening of County Stadium along its route in 1953. The Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee that year, and had good attendance for several years before moving to Atlanta in 1965. The Braves were in the World Series two years running (1957-58), winning the world championship in 1957 over the New York Yankees.
Pictures of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) streetcar system are rare, as it quit in 1935. Creating a roster would be difficult, as the cars had names rather than numbers. Here, we see the “F. W. Wurtzburg,” built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)
New Book Project
We are now working on a new paperback book Chicago Trolleys, that we expect will be published in 2017. Original research does cost money, so please consider making a donation to cover our costs. We will keep you updated as we progress, and thank you in advance for your help.
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And I have question to Mr. Sadowski:
Are you speak Polish (your name is very Polish;)? Because my English is very bad and easier when I will be writing in Polish.
Thank you and have nice day.
My grandparents on my father’s side came to America from Poland in the early 1900s. Their children were forbidden from speaking Polish at home. My dad only knew a few words. My aunt could understand it, but couldn’t speak it.
While I don’t know any Polish, I do see that this building, whatever it was, is not listed as a car barn on this useful web site:
Fortunately, members of the Chicagotransit Yahoo discussion group came up with a lot of useful information:
Interesting question. Marcin must have very sharp eyes to note the portal inscription. It would seem the streetcar loop on the east side of State Street north of 63rd (site of the 1950 PCC disaster) would be behind this facility. 63rd Street was not a cable car line, so it may well date from the horse car era .The door dimensions may well be a clue, since horse cars were generally smaller than electric cars. Fire insurance maps, not at my finger tips, would be useful. (Chicago’s horse car system represents a book that hasn’t been written yet.)
Perhaps a few clues can be found in the dates when transit service began in the vicinity of this building, which is located just north of 63rd Street on Wabash, which is near State.
1898 – electric streetcar service introduced State St. to Halsted
1899 – electric streetcar service introduced State St. to Cottage Grove
As for State Street, horse car service was extended south to 63rd in 1882, and then converted to cable car operation in 1887. North of 63rd, cable cars remained in service until July 22, 1906.
Electric streetcar service was introduced between 63rd St. and 71st St. in 1898. As of July 1, 1901, this service was extended south to 81st Street, replacing a battery operated streetcar.
According to Cable Railways of Chicago by George W. Hilton (ERHS bulletin 10, page 5)* cable car service south of 39th was run from a powerhouse at 52nd and State. The Chicago City Railway’s main car house for the cable operation on State was located at 39th Street. There was another car barn at 61st and State.
So, it’s possible the building in question was used by CCR’s horse car operation between 1882 and 1887.
However, it’s possible that it may also have been used for trolleys starting in 1898. Some of the first Chicago streetcars were actually cable trailers that were electrified.
This is at least possible because the building would be strategically located to serve both 63rd and State. However, once cable service ended in 1906, it might have been necessary to use other car barns (“stations”) instead.
Interesting that this building is still standing after all these years.
*Available in The Complete ERHS Collection, an E-book published by Central Electric Railfans’ Association. Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.
The 1926 fire insurance map shows the building as Chicago Surface Lines Wrecking Wagon House.
The 1895 fire insurance map shows the property on Wabash without a building, but has a small structure at 6235 State, labeled as Conductor’s Room. This was the end of track for the State Street cable car line.
An adjacent building and all other buildings on State are labeled S, for Store. The few facing Wabash are marked D, for Dwelling.
My 1906 CSL track map shows a building there, identified only as Company Property.
Another reader adds:
Several years ago Dave Diamond of IRM showed me some photos that he had taken of the building located near Wabash and 63rd that had a CCRys entablature on it. He said that his research found that the building had been used for horsecar supplies and later was used by CSL as a storage facility. I do not know whether it still exists. I doubt that it is owned by the CTA at this time.
So, there you have it. There are two possibilities here. On the one hand, if the building actually dates back to horse car days, it would have been built around 1882 and used for this purpose until 1887. That would not explain why there is no building shown on an 1895 map.
Another theory would be that the building was built around 1898 and was used in some fashion when streetcar service was instituted on both State and 63rd in this area. If it was in fact used as a car barn, this was short-lived since the rapid expansion of electric streetcar service would have rendered this inadequate by 1906. Some of the first streetcars used here were actually retrofitted cable trailers.
In 1914, the Chicago City Railway Company became a part of Chicago Surface Lines, which was like an umbrella agency. CSL continued to use the building for various purposes. Chances are, it was then owned by the successor Chicago Transit Authority starting in 1947. With the rapid consolidation of CTA facilities, it would not surprise me if the building was sold during the 1950s.
This was also the general vicinity of the horrific May 25, 1950 crash between a PCC streetcar and a gasoline truck, the subject of an earlier post.
A close-up of the area from a 1941 CSL track map, which can be found in our E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available from our Online Store. It looks like there were tracks leading to this building.
From a previous post, here is a picture showing one of those retrofitted cable trailers in streetcar service:
Chicago City Railway car 2169 on the 75th Street route. According to Central Electric Railfans’ Association bulletin 27 (July 1941), this car was part of an order of 69 closed cable trailer cars (with double door in bulkheads) built by Wells-French in 1896. These cars were electrified in 1908, and most were renumbered. My guess is we are at 75th and South Chicago. This picture would have been taken between 1908 and 1914, when CCR became part of the Chicago Surface Lines. If I am reading B-27 correctly, this car would originally have been numbered 2129. It was scrapped after CSL was formed. Bob Lalich adds, “I agree, Chicago City Railway car 2169 is at 75th and South Chicago Ave. It appears that the Grand Crossing grade separation project was underway, judging by the construction shacks.”
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This is our 128th 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 137,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.
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As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”
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New From Trolley Dodger Records
Red Arrow Lines 1967: Straffords and Bullets
# of Discs – 1
This disc features rare, long out-of-print audio recordings of two 1967 round trips on the Philadelphia & Western (aka “Red Arrow Lines”) interurban between Philadelphia and Norristown, the famous third rail High-Speed Line. One trip is by a Strafford car and the other by one of the beloved streamlined Bullets. The line, about 13 miles long and still in operation today under SEPTA, bears many similarities to another former interurban line, the Chicago Transit Authority‘s Yellow Line (aka the “Skokie Swift”). As a bonus feature, we have included audio of an entire ride along that five mile route, which was once part of the North Shore Line.
Total time – 53:08
AFR Steam Sounds of America’s First Railroad
(Baltimore & Ohio)
# of Discs – 1
This set represents the only professionally produced audio recordings of a large assortment of Baltimore and Ohio steam locomotives. Every type of steam power operated by the B&O in the 1950s is included. This release is for the serious railfan and railroad historian who want to accurately hear regular revenue steam motive power operations. No excursion or railfan trips have been included. All recordings are from 1952-1955.
Total time – 66:54
RRC #21 and SIC Duluth and Northeastern
Steam in Colorado
# of Discs – 1
Railroad Record Club #21:
The Duluth and Northeastern Railroad, as of 1961 when this recording was made, was an all steam short line operating from Cloquet to Saginaw, Minnesota, a distance of approximately 11.5 miles. Its primary industry was the Northwest Paper Company mill at Cloquet where it handled loads to and from the interchange at Saginaw with the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range. It also connected with the N. P., G. N. and C. M. ST. P & P., at Cloquet. We hear from locomotives No. 27 (2-8-0) and 29 (0-8-0).
Record #SIC: Steam in Colorado (1958) presents five great railroads, depicting the passing of an era. Roads represented are the Union Pacific, Burlington, Colorado & Southern, Rio Grande and Great Western. Steam in Colorado portrays the daily tasks of the “Iron Horse” in high country and each track has been carefully selected for the listener’s enjoyment. All aboard!
Although the auction description does not mention it, replica car 10 was also used at the Chicago Railroad Fair. This picture was taken by Charles Cushman (1896-1972) in 1949. (Charles W. Cushman Collection, University Archives, at Indiana University, Bloomington.)
Bonham’s auction house recently announced that they will be selling some historic railroad items from the collections of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. While we, of course, have no connection with either institution, we thought our readers would enjoy reading about the replica cable car that is being offered. There are links just in case anyone is interested in pursuing this further.
We can also share a bit of the backstory behind how and why this railcar was made. According to a 1938 article in Surface Service magazine, the “house organ” of the Chicago Surface Lines, the heads of CSL and MSI (Julius Rosenwald?) got together around 1929, and CSL agreed to donate a couple of historic items to the museum, which was then just getting started. (The other is cable car 532, still on display at MSI. There is another similar cable car replica at the Illinois Railway Museum.)
Never to be repeated, early railway locomotives and cars from the Museum of Science and Industry – highly significant to America’s history and heritage – are to be sold in Philadelphia
Bonhams is honored to present five significant pieces of transportation history from the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. These wonderful artifacts have been housed at the museum on full-time display for over 80 years and will now be sold at Bonhams’ “Preserving the Automobile” auction at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia on October 5th.
…Other artifacts from the museum include the exact replica 1859 horse car “Archer Avenue No. 10” that was donated to the museum by the Chicago City Railway Company in 1930. These beautiful, craftsman-built, horse-drawn rail cars were operated in congested urban areas, such as Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, where steam locomotive transportation was impractical. They were the antecedent of the electric streetcar that later dominated urban public transport.
From the collection of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
Built for the 1933-34 Century of Progress Fair in Chicago
c.1929 Chicago City Railway Built ‘1870 Archer Avenue No. 10’ Horsecar
US$ 25,000 – 35,000
£16,000 – 22,000
To be sold without reserve
Preserving the Automobile
An Auction at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum
5 Oct 2015 14:00 EDT
Philadelphia, Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum
Built for the 1933-34 Century of Progress Fair in Chicago
c.1929 Chicago City Railway Built ‘1870 Archer Avenue No. 10’ Horsecar
The horse drawn streetcar, typically contracted as ‘horsecar,’ was a significant early step in the evolution of urban transport. In this context, the term ‘car’ refers specifically to a railway vehicle and does not imply an internal combustion engine automobile (now commonly known as a ‘car’).
As cities in America grew during the first half of the 19th century, the working population began to live ever further from their places of employment, shopping and entertainment. Greater distances and larger numbers of people on the move increased the need for pay as you go urban transport, and so private companies emerged to supply transport using omnibuses on fixed routes and schedules. An omnibus was a compact horse-drawn coach. Chicago’s first commercial omnibus service was operated by Frank Parmelee beginning in 1853. (Parmelee’s business evolved and in later years his name was associated with Parmelee Transfer service that provided over-the-road connections between all of the City’s six primary railroad passenger terminals. By World War I, Parmelee had begun to use motor vehicles).
The horsecar was an important advancement to the omnibus. This innovation allowed a single horse to draw a heavier vehicle while providing a smoother and more comfortable ride. Among the drawbacks of the horsecar operation were that the mode was severely limited where cars encountered ascending grades, while busy lines required many more horses than cars because it was only possible to work horses for a few hours a day. In some instances mules were preferred over horses because of their greater stamina. By one estimate, Chicago street railways employed 8,400 horses in 1893.
The horsecar led to development of the steam-dummy (a small streetcar powered by an on-board steam engine) and later to the cable car, which was drawn by an underground cable. British-born Andrew Smith Hallidie was the San Francisco cable manufacturer credited with melding key cable innovations and establishing the city’s Clay Street Hill Railroad in 1873, the world’s first urban cable hauled street railway. This set important precedents that resulted in an urban transit revolution emulated across San Francisco and in approximately 30 cities across the United States and around the world.
More significant was the development of the electrically powered streetcar, commonly known in America as trolley car or trolley, which describes the wheel at the end of the pole, used to run along the overhead wire to draw electricity for propulsion. While ‘trolley’ is occasionally used as a synonym for a streetcar in the United States, the term should only be correctly applied to electric cars with trolley poles.
Various inventors had dabbled with electric streetcars in the mid-1880s, but it was in 1887-1888 that electrical genius Frank Julian Sprague successfully demonstrated a practical electric street railway in Richmond, Virginia. Electric operation was cheaper and simpler than cable hauled lines, and allowed streetcar lines to practically cover much greater distances than possible with horses. Within a year of Sprague’s demonstration, hundreds of new electric streetcar schemes were being considered and by 1900 most American cities and many small towns were connected by electric railways. Since horsecar street railways they already had an established route structure and track infrastructure, often they upgraded existing lines with electrification.
Often, companies that began as horsecar lines upgraded their operations.
The overwhelming cost and operating advantages of electric operation rapidly displayed horsecars on city streets. By 1900, the horsecar had vanished from most cities. In Chicago, some horsecar and cable car routes survived until 1906 owing to a regulation or law that prohibited the erection of overhead wires in downtown areas. Once this obstacle was overcome the electric streetcar prevailed. Nationally, horsecars disappeared very quickly from the scene and despite their early prevalence very few were preserved for posterity.
THE HORSECAR OFFERED
Chicago Horse Car No. 10 is a replica constructed by the Chicago City Railway at its South Shops for the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry during 1929 and 1930 and is believed to be the second object donated to the museum. Although a replica, the car is an accurate rendition of a period street railway vehicle. At the time of construction, it had been less than 25 years since similar horse cars had worked Chicago streets and thus the cars were still in the living memory of men working for the company.
The replica was intended to represent one of Chicago’s first horse cars built in 1859. This is a comparatively small car, measuring about 9 feet 9 inches tall, 7 feet ½ inches wide,16 feet and 1 ½ inches long. It weighs 4,560 lbs. The car was designed for one-man operation with a single horse drawing it. Average speed would have been between 3-5 mph. It had space for 18 seated passengers.
Passengers are believed to have entered via a door at the back of the car and paid their fare by dropping a coin into a slot that delivered it by gravity to the driver. This clever system was intended to avoid unnecessarily distracting the driver while the car was in motion. The car uses a ‘Bob-tail’ design, so-called because it only has a platform at the drivers’ end. The driver rode on the small exterior platform at the front of the car that was covered by a roof extension. Other than horse reins, his only other control was a hand brake consisting of a metal arm used to slow and stop the car and prevent it from colliding with the horse, or rolling backward when on an upgrade. Other equipment includes a stovepipe exhaust stack from the passenger compartment, although there doesn’t appear to have been a stove installed in this replica.
In its early years the replica was displayed as Archer Avenue No. 10 of the Chicago City Railway Company. It was one of three replica streetcars used as part of a larger exhibit to demonstrate the evolution of urban transport in Chicago. The other two cars were replicas of the cable-hauled grip car and its trailer. (Between 1892 and 1906 Chicago had a cable car system, similar to that still in use in San Francisco, that was the most extensive of its kind in the world). Horsecar No. 10 was among the exhibits at the ‘Wings of a Century’ pageant for the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition held during 1933 and 1934.
As an authentic replica, Chicago Horsecar No. 10 can provide a key element to any urban transport exhibit since it bridges the gap between the horse-drawn omnibus and the electric streetcar. This piece is significant to both Chicago history and to the greater story of urban transportation in North America. It also demonstrates the comparatively primitive expectations of the traveling public at the time of the American Civil War. Comfort levels and travel speeds were much lower than today. Imagine riding to work every morning and home every evening squashed into a vehicle like this one?