North Shore Line car 154 makes a photo stop at the Glencoe gauntlet on a July 24, 1955 “farewell to the Shore Line Route” fantrip.
The Trolley Dodger blog reached another milestone on July 22, 2023, with one million page views. So, I am not exaggerating when I say thanks a million to all our readers over the last eight-and-a-half years!
We have a fine batch of classic traction photos for your enjoyment today. We acquired some of them as part of our research for our next book about the fabled Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban.
All this research does cost money, however, so we hop you will consider making a donation. You can find links to do just that at the top of this post, and also at the end. We thank everyone who has already contributed.
In addition, we have coverage of the Chicago Transit Authority‘s celebration of the 100th anniversary of Heritage cars 4271 and 4272, which gave rides around the Loop for several hours on July 29th.
PS- You might also like our Trolley Dodger Facebook auxiliary, a private group that now has 1,394 members.
Our friend Kenneth Gear has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.
FYI, the Hoosier Traction Facebook Group celebrates electric transit in Indiana and the Midwest. It also supports the activities of the annual Hoosier Traction Meet (although not affiliated with the North American Transit Historical Society, which organizes that event).
100 Years of the CTA 4000s
To get downtown, I took an inbound Metra commuter train. Running on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, it stops at the Riverside station on July 29, 2023.
The 4000s arrive at Washington and Wabash.
What it was like to ride the 4000s around the Loop.
The 4000s berthed at the south end of the Washington and Wabash platform, as the lines of people waiting to board were quite long.
CTA 2400-series cars, which were retired some years back, made up the other Heritage Fleet train being used that day.
The various advertising wraps on “L” trains break up the monotony of having everything be gray.
Fred Lonnes, a retired CTA employee, stands near the train.
The original plans were to make all stops around the Loop after the first few trips. But that had to be revised due to the large crowds. As far as I am aware, nearly all trips began and ended at Washington and Wabash.
Lots of pictures are videos were taken.
People were excited to ride the old cars.
There was a long line to ride the 4000s at Washington and Wabash.
The miniature railway and electric wheel at Chicago’s White City amusement park, which was located on the south side on 63rd Street in the early 1900s.
The back of the postcard, mailed in 1909.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 320 makes a photo stop on an early “Railfan Special” fantrip, probably circa 1939-40. Don’s Rail Photos (via Archive.org): “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.”
Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 320 was the last to leave the property, and the first to return to service elsewhere. Here, it is in Centerville, Iowa (on the Southern Iowa Railway) on October 20, 1962. (Don Christenson Photo)
A group of Aurora Elgin and Chicago employees posed for a picture at the Dispatch Tower in Wheaton, circa 1920. The AE&C was reorganized into the CA&E in 1922.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin wood car 316 at the Fox River Trolley Museum on June 1, 1969. Don’s Rail Photos (via Archive.org): “316 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1913. It was sold to Railway Equipment Leasing & Investment Co. in 1962 and transferred to Fox River Trolley Museum in 1984.” (Don Christenson Photo)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin wood car 315 at Orbisonia, Pennsylvania on February 10, 1968. Don’s Rail Photos (via Archive.org): “315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962.” (William D. Volkmer Photo)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin center cab locos 3003 and 3004 are in Elgin on July 15, 1954. They were built by Baldwin-Westinghouse in 1923-1924 and rebuilt in 1930. Both were scrapped in August 1963.
CA&E loco 3003 at the Wheaton Shops. (S. Palmer Photo)
A J. G. Brill builder’s photo of Aurora and Geneva Railway Company car 4. The line had only four cars in all.
Aurora and Geneva Railway car 1. This was a predecessor of the Aurora Elgin and Fox River Electric and was merged into another company by 1901.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin express car 15 on the scrap track at Wheaton on February 1, 1953. It was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1910.
CA&E express motor 5 in the scrap line at Wheaton. Don’s Rail Photos (via Archive.org): “5 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1921 to replace 1st 5 which was built by American Car in 1909 and wrecked in 1920. It was retired in 1953.”
These plans are for 15 CA&E cars built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927, numbered 420-434.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin 137 was originally a North Shore Line car. Don’s Rail Photos (via Archive.org): “137 was built by Jewett Car Company in 1907 as Chicago & Milwaukee Electric 137. It was rebuilt in 1914 retired in 1954.” The CA&E leased it from the North Shore Line from 1936 to 1945. it was briefly returned to the NSL and was then purchased by CA&E in 1946. Here, we see it on August 31, 1942 in Wheaton.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin control trailer 604 is at Wheaton in August 1948. It originally came from the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis. Don’s Rail Photos (via Archive.org): “604 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1913 as WB&A 39. It was sold as CA&E 604 in October 1937.”
Chicago Aurora and Elgin cars 452, 453, and 451 were new arrivals in November 1945, when this picture was taken.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin cars 309 and 310 are on a May 19, 1957 fantrip, as a westbound train at Ardmore in Villa Park.
The fresh ballast, ties, and construction in this picture date it to September 1953, when the Chicago Aurora and Elgin cut back service to Forest Park. Their passengers then had to change trains and ride the CTA Garfield Park “L” the rest of the way into the city– at times, a rather slow and ponderous ride via 2.5 miles of temporary trackage in Van Buren Street, due to construction of the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway. Here, we see cars 451 and 425, just after they have dropped off their riders. This arrangement continued until the CA&E suspended passenger service on July 3, 1957. The view looks to the northeast. William Shapotkin adds, “I see the Forest Park CGW station in the background. The CGW continued operating passenger service out of Chicago (stopping at Forest Park) until Sept 5-6, 1956. The SOO station (located at Madison St) continued serving passenger trains until Jan 1963 (when the remaining train, the LAKER was moved from Grand Central Station to Central Station in Chicago).”
Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 320 is at the end of the line in Aurora, most likely in the 1940s. This was a fantrip for the Central Electric Railfans’ Association. Now, this is where the Illinois Prairie Path terminates.
CA&E 414 is on the Aurora branch just east of Eola Road (near Batavia Junction) on July 3, 1949. The crossing with the EJ&E is in the distance, and the Commonwealth Edison substation at left is still in use.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 316 as it was being moved off the interurban via the Chicago and North Western in May 1963. Car 20 is behind it. Both cars went to what is now the Fox River Trolley Museum.
CA&E 453, most likely just after it was delivered in late 1945.
CA&E 451 in Wheaton.
The CA&E Wheaton Yards.
CA&E 303 at Trolleyville USA in Olmstead Falls, OH in August 1991. Don’s Rail Photos (via Archive.org): “303 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in March 1945 and sold to Trolleyville in 1962. It was sold to Connecticut Trolley Museum in December 2009.”
Chicago Aurora and Elgin wood car 317, taken at the Batavia Terminal on an October 16, 1955 fantrip. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
A westbound Chicago Aurora and Elgin train, with car 32 at the helm, stops at Glen Ellyn circa 1926. The station building for eastbound trains appears to be brand new. It was torn down around 1966. The two buildings visible next to the telephone pole are still extant. (Chapek Photo)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin wood car 300 on January 13, 1962 at Wheaton, a few weeks before scrapping started on the bulk of the fleet. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
CA&E car 300 looks much the worse for wear at Wheaton on May 18, 1963. It was not one of the cars saved. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
CA&E control trailer 700 at the Wheaton Shops. This car originally came from the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis, and the ends were modified to fit the tight clearances on the “L” system. (S. Palmer Photo)
Chicago Aurora and Elgin express motor 9 at the Wheaton Shops. Don’s Rail Photos (via Archive.org): “9 was built by Niles Car in 1907. It was scrapped in 1959.” (S. Palmer Photo)
This and the next image are early postcards of the Met “L” bridge (actually two bridges, side by side) over the Chicago River.
CTA 6439-40 are at an unknown location in the 1950s, marked as a special run. The photographer is not known for certain, but I suspect this was taken by Vic Wagner.
A Central Electric Railfans’ Association special made a photo stop at the Sedgwick CTA “L” station on Sunday, December 11, 1955, using cars 6129 and 6130, which were equipped with trolley poles for use on the Evanston branch (which did not switch to third rail until 1973). Many fantrips in this era ran on Sundays, as there were fewer regular service trains to get in their way. In this case, Ravenswood “L” service did not operate south of Armitage at night or on Sundays, so leisurely photo stops were possible on the stations which had no service that day. The hanging sign on the front of the train is contemporary and was used by Evanston “Shopper’s Special” trains, a late morning version of the Evanston Express, which ran only in rush hours, for a premium fare of 40 cents. The CTA charged an extra amount north of Howard Street for a “zoned” fare for many years, unlike today where riders pay the same amount throughout the rapid transit system. These cars were also equipped with high-speed motors at the time, as the CTA was experimenting– which eventually led to their use on the 2000-series cars delivered in 1964. (Vic Wagner Photo)
This postcard, mailed in 1908, shows the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric (predecessor of the North Shore Line) station in Lake Bluff, where the branch line to Libertyville and what is now called Mundelein crossed under the Chicago and North Western.
The back side of the postcard.
A three-car North Shore Line train of Silverliners is at Valley Junction in North Chicago on January 20, 1963, the last full day of operations.
North Shore Line 721 heads west on the Mundelein branch in June 1962. (Laurence Veysey Photo) I looked up the photographer, whose name was new to me. I found this online: “Laurence R. Veysey (1932-2004) was an eccentric, a hermit, and an ardent nudist — and author of one of the foundational texts on the history of higher education.”
At the time of the 1963 abandonment, North Shore Line car 154 became the oldest survivor of the fleet. Unfortunately, it has not survived to the present time. Here, we see it in Anderson, Indiana in November 1964, when it was owned by a railroad club there, which had it pulled around by a diesel locomotive. A sign in the window says “Dixie Flyer,” which was an Indiana Railroad train. Within a few years, 154 ended up at a railway museum in Ohio, which stored it outdoors and allowed the car to slowly deteriorate. It was finally purchased by a Michigan museum, which stripped it for parts to restore an unrelated car, then dumped the body in a field.
A view of the North Shore Line’s Mundelein Terminal in July, 1962, looking northwest. (George Niles Photo)
George Niles took this picture of the North Shore Line’s Mundelein Terminal in July 1962, looking west. Past the terminal, there was a freight interchange with the Soo Line.
North Shore Line car 735 and others are at the Mundelein Terminal in July 1962. (George Niles Photo)
North Shore Line former Merchandise Despatch car 228 at Pettibone Yard in July 1962. It is now undergoing restoration at the East Troy Railroad Museum. (George Niles Photo)
North Shore Line freight loco 458 is at the Pettibone Yard in July 1962. (George Niles Photo)
North Shore Line 752 is part of a two-car train at Edison Court in Waukegan in July 1962. We are looking south. (George Niles Photo)
The Rynksel Oil and Coal Company was located in Waukegan, which is where this picture of the North Shore Line was taken (along the Skokie Valley Route) in July 1962. We are looking south from the south end of the Edison Court station. Waukegan was where the NSL originated in the late 1890s, and as there was a lot less ridership north of here, there were storage tracks, and cars were added and cut going north and south as needed. (George Niles Photo)
North Shore Line 752 is at Edison Court in July 1962. (George Niles Photo)
The “38 Fast Trains Daily” sign at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal on June 18, 1962.
Finally, here are some black and white photos that the late Robert Heinlein took in the mid-1950s:
The Milwaukee Terminal. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
A two-car train leaves the Milwaukee Terminal.
(Robert Heinlein Photo)
The Shore Line Route. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
Winnetka on the Shore Line Route. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
Ravinia Park on the Shore Line Route. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
Street running on Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
The 10th Street station in Waukegan on the Shore Line Route. After 1947, this was where the Shore Line Route ended. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
The North Shore Line
FYI, my new Arcadia Publishing book The North Shore Line is now available for immediate shipment. My publisher decided to expand it to 160 pages, instead of the usual 128. That’s a 25% increase, without any change to the $23.99 price. I am quite pleased with how this turned out.
From the back cover:
As late as 1963, it was possible to board high-speed electric trains on Chicago’s famous Loop “L” that ran 90 miles north to Milwaukee. This was the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad, commonly known as the North Shore Line. It rose from humble origins in the 1890s as a local streetcar line in Waukegan to eventually become America’s fastest interurban under the visionary management of Midwest utilities tycoon Samuel Insull. The North Shore Line, under Insull, became a worthy competitor to the established steam railroads. Hobbled by the Great Depression, the road fought back in 1941 with two streamlined, air-conditioned, articulated trains called Electroliners, which included dining service. It regained its popularity during World War II, when gasoline and tires were rationed, but eventually, it fell victim to highways and the automobile. The North Shore Line had intercity rail, commuter rail, electric freight, city streetcars, and even buses. It has been gone for nearly 60 years, but it will always remain the Road of Service.
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus North Shore Line map. Books will ship by USPS Media Mail.
02. The Milwaukee Division
03. The Shore Line Route
04. The Skokie Valley Route
05. The Mundelein Branch
06. On the “L”
07. City Streetcars
08. Trolley Freight
09. The Long Goodbye
10. The Legacy
Title The North Shore Line
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2023
ISBN 1467108960, 978-1467108966
Length 160 pages
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
New Compact Disc, Now Available:
The Last Chicago Streetcars 1958
# of Discs – 1
Until now, it seemed as though audio recordings of Chicago streetcars were practically non-existent. For whatever reason, the late William A. Steventon does not appear to have made any for his Railroad Record Club, even though he did make other recordings in the Chicago area in 1956.
Now, audio recordings of the last runs of Chicago streetcars have been found, in the collections of the late Jeffrey L. Wien (who was one of the riders on that last car). We do not know who made these recordings, but this must have been done using a portable reel-to-reel machine.
These important recordings will finally fill a gap in transit history. The last Chicago Transit Authority streetcar finished its run in the early hours of June 21, 1958. Now you can experience these events just as Chicagoans did.
As a bonus, we have included Keeping Pace, a 1939 Chicago Surface Lines employee training program. This was digitally transferred from an original 16” transcription disc. These recordings were unheard for 80 years.
Total time – 74:38
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