Sweet Home Chicago

In 1938, a visitor to Chicago from the Soviet Union snapped this picture of Chicago PCC 4032 running on route 20 - Madison downtown, and brought it home. Now, more than 80 years later, it has returned to Chicago.

In 1938, a visitor to Chicago from the Soviet Union snapped this picture of Chicago PCC 4032 running on route 20 – Madison downtown, and brought it home. Now, more than 80 years later, it has returned to Chicago.

They say you can never go home again. But no matter how far we may wander from home, there is something, almost like an unseen force, that calls us back to the places we lived in, grew up in, or love the most. And while we often feature transit photos from other cities, Chicago remains our home and will always be our favorite. So today, we are featuring Chicago-area streetcars, rapid transit, interurbans, and buses.

We do have a couple examples of things that, improbably, did find their way home. First, a picture of a Chicago PCC streetcar that has come back “from Russia with love.” Second, prints and negatives of Chicago transit, taken in 1952, that have been reunited after who knows how many years.

We also have some recent photo finds of our own, including a news report from Miles Beitler on the new Pulse bus rapid transit operation in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, and more classic photos shared by Bill Shapotkin and Jeff Wien of the Wien-Criss Archive.  Finally, there is some correspondence with Andre Kristopans.

We thank all our contributors.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

PS- If you have comments on individual photos, and I am sure you will, please refer to them by their image number, which you can find by hovering your mouse over the photo (for example, the picture at the top of this post is img882). That is more helpful to me than just saying something was the seventh photo down, etc. We always appreciate hearing from you if you have useful information to contribute regarding locations and other details. Thanks in advance.

We also should not let the opportunity pass to wish Raymond DeGroote, Jr. a happy belated 89th birthday. Ray is a world traveler, a raconteur, and the Dean of Chicago railfans.

Recent Finds

CSL "Matchbox" 1412 is on the Morgan-Racine-Sangamon route in this photo by Edward Frank, Jr. Don's Rail Photos adds, "1412 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1906 as CUT 4641. It was renumbered 1412 in 1913 and became CSL 1412 in 1914. It was retired on March 30, 1948... These cars were built by St. Louis Car in 1903 and 1906 for Chicago Union Traction Co. They are similar to the Robertson design without the small windows. Cars of this series were converted to one man operation in later years and have a wide horizontal stripe on the front to denote this. Two were used for an experimental articulated train. A number of these cars were converted to sand and salt service and as flangers." Car 1374 in this series has been lovingly restored to operating condition, at the Illinois Railway Museum.

CSL “Matchbox” 1412 is on the Morgan-Racine-Sangamon route in this photo by Edward Frank, Jr. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “1412 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1906 as CUT 4641. It was renumbered 1412 in 1913 and became CSL 1412 in 1914. It was retired on March 30, 1948… These cars were built by St. Louis Car in 1903 and 1906 for Chicago Union Traction Co. They are similar to the Robertson design without the small windows. Cars of this series were converted to one man operation in later years and have a wide horizontal stripe on the front to denote this. Two were used for an experimental articulated train. A number of these cars were converted to sand and salt service and as flangers.” Car 1374 in this series has been lovingly restored to operating condition, at the Illinois Railway Museum.

A two-car Chicago Aurora & Elgin train, headed up by 433, is just west of the Canal Street station on the Metropolitan four-track main line in August 1953, a month before CA&E service was cut back to Forest Park. (John Szwajkart Photo)

A two-car Chicago Aurora & Elgin train, headed up by 433, is just west of the Canal Street station on the Metropolitan four-track main line in August 1953, a month before CA&E service was cut back to Forest Park. (John Szwajkart Photo)

CTA 4060 is at the front of a two-car Ravenswood "L" train approaching Kimball and Lawrence in this undated photo (1950s-60s).

CTA 4060 is at the front of a two-car Ravenswood “L” train approaching Kimball and Lawrence in this undated photo (1950s-60s).

CTA Pullman 460 is on either Route 8 - Halsted or 9 - Ashland in the early 1950s, you can't quite make it out on the roll sign. However, I am leaning towards Halsted, as Ashland got bussed in 1951, and the auto at left looks more like 1953 vintage. This streetcar was saved by the CTA, and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. It is one of only three red Pullmans saved, the others being 144 (also at IRM) and 225 (at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine). Charles F. Amstein adds that 460 is "on Ashland, just north of 95th Street, looking north-northwet. I grew up in this area and spent much of my time at Beverly Bowling Lanes, seen in the distance at right."

CTA Pullman 460 is on either Route 8 – Halsted or 9 – Ashland in the early 1950s, you can’t quite make it out on the roll sign. However, I am leaning towards Halsted, as Ashland got bussed in 1951, and the auto at left looks more like 1953 vintage. This streetcar was saved by the CTA, and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. It is one of only three red Pullmans saved, the others being 144 (also at IRM) and 225 (at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine). Charles F. Amstein adds that 460 is “on Ashland, just north of 95th Street, looking north-northwet. I grew up in this area and spent much of my time at Beverly Bowling Lanes, seen in the distance at right.”

CTA 4374 is southbound on Clark Street, just south of Diversey, on September 6, 1957, the last day for the north half of Route 22 - Clark-Wentworth. Ricketts (no relation to the current Cubs ownership) was a popular restaurant. At left, down the street, you can just make out the marquee of the Parkway Theater. Autos visible include several Chevys, a Studebaker, and (at left) a 1957 Ford. (Charles H. Thorpe Photo) The tracks curving off to the left went into the CTA's Limits car barn (station), which was located at 2684 N. Clark. It got its name because, a long time earlier, this had been the city limits. There were facilities for cable cars at this location dating back to 1888. Limits car house opened in 1909, and was last used by streetcars in 1954 (the end of the Red Car era). It was used by buses until 1994, and the building was torn down in 1998.

CTA 4374 is southbound on Clark Street, just south of Diversey, on September 6, 1957, the last day for the north half of Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. Ricketts (no relation to the current Cubs ownership) was a popular restaurant. At left, down the street, you can just make out the marquee of the Parkway Theater. Autos visible include several Chevys, a Studebaker, and (at left) a 1957 Ford. (Charles H. Thorpe Photo) The tracks curving off to the left went into the CTA’s Limits car barn (station), which was located at 2684 N. Clark. It got its name because, a long time earlier, this had been the city limits. There were facilities for cable cars at this location dating back to 1888. Limits car house opened in 1909, and was last used by streetcars in 1954 (the end of the Red Car era). It was used by buses until 1994, and the building was torn down in 1998.

CTA Met car 2907 is at Indiana Avenue, running the Kenwood shuttle on the last day of service, November 30, 1957 (also the last day for regular passenger service for wooden "L" cars).

CTA Met car 2907 is at Indiana Avenue, running the Kenwood shuttle on the last day of service, November 30, 1957 (also the last day for regular passenger service for wooden “L” cars).

CTA one-man car 1769 (here painted green, not red) is at Lake and Austin, west end of Route 16. The date of this Bob Selle photo is December 19, 1953, one year to the day before I was born. The Park Theater at right appears to already be closed.

CTA one-man car 1769 (here painted green, not red) is at Lake and Austin, west end of Route 16. The date of this Bob Selle photo is December 19, 1953, one year to the day before I was born. The Park Theater at right appears to already be closed.

CTA one-man car 1732, in red, heads southwest on Fifth Avenue at Harrison on July 5, 1953. Madison-Fifth was part of Route 20, but as of May 11, 1952, buses were substituted for streetcars on weekends– except for the Fifth Avenue branch, which used streetcars. That must be a Harrison bus in the background. (Robert Selle Photo)

On June 19, 1953 CTA PCC 7070 heads south on Roue 8 - Halsted, passing by the Congress Expressway construction site. PCCs were soon taken off Halsted, which ended streetcar service the following year using older equipment. This photo was taken from the nearby Halsted "L" station, which was not in the expressway footprint. (Robert Selle Photo)

On June 19, 1953 CTA PCC 7070 heads south on Roue 8 – Halsted, passing by the Congress Expressway construction site. PCCs were soon taken off Halsted, which ended streetcar service the following year using older equipment. This photo was taken from the nearby Halsted “L” station, which was not in the expressway footprint. (Robert Selle Photo)

On May 12, 1954, Bob Selle took this picture of CTA Pullman 600, southbound on Route 8 - Halsted. This was less than three weeks before the end of streetcar service on this line. We are just south of the Metropolitan "L" station at Halsted, and crossing over the Congress Expressway construction. That looks like a Studebaker at left.

On May 12, 1954, Bob Selle took this picture of CTA Pullman 600, southbound on Route 8 – Halsted. This was less than three weeks before the end of streetcar service on this line. We are just south of the Metropolitan “L” station at Halsted, and crossing over the Congress Expressway construction. That looks like a Studebaker at left.

In this undated (probably late 1960s) photo taken on the Red Arrow Lines in suburban Philadelphia, Brilliner 10 appears to be changing ends. It is signed for the Media route, although this is not the end of that line. Perhaps there was track work going on. Matthew Nawn adds, "The photo of Red Arrow Lines #10 was taken at the Penn Street stop in Clifton Heights, PA. This is a stop on the Sharon Hill Line."

In this undated (probably late 1960s) photo taken on the Red Arrow Lines in suburban Philadelphia, Brilliner 10 appears to be changing ends. It is signed for the Media route, although this is not the end of that line. Perhaps there was track work going on. Matthew Nawn adds, “The photo of Red Arrow Lines #10 was taken at the Penn Street stop in Clifton Heights, PA. This is a stop on the Sharon Hill Line.”

This is how the interior of Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 301 looked on August 8, 1954, the date of a fantrip for the Central Electric Railfans' Association. Don's Rail Photos: "301 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in December 1940." (Robert Selle Photo)

This is how the interior of Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 301 looked on August 8, 1954, the date of a fantrip for the Central Electric Railfans’ Association. Don’s Rail Photos: “301 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in December 1940.” (Robert Selle Photo)

CA&E car 434 at an unidentified terminal. possibly Elgin.

CA&E car 434 at an unidentified terminal. possibly Elgin.

Once CA&E service stopped running to downtown Chicago, less equipment was needed. Here, wooden cars 137 and 141 are on the scrap track at the Wheaton Shops. Bob Selle took this picture on August 8, 1954. These cars were purchased from the North Shore Line in 1946.

Once CA&E service stopped running to downtown Chicago, less equipment was needed. Here, wooden cars 137 and 141 are on the scrap track at the Wheaton Shops. Bob Selle took this picture on August 8, 1954. These cars were purchased from the North Shore Line in 1946.

CA&E car 701, ex-Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis. Don's Rail Photos: "701 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1913 as WB&A 81. It was sold as CA&E 701 in 1938." Don also notes, "In 1937, the CA&E needed additional equipment. Much was available, but most of the cars suffered from extended lack of maintenance. Finally, 5 coaches were found on the Washington Baltimore & Annapolis which were just the ticket. 35 thru 39, built by Cincinnati Car in 1913, were purchased and remodeled for service as 600 thru 604. The ends were narrowed for service on the El. They had been motors, but came out as control trailers. Other modifications included drawbars, control, etc. A new paint scheme was devised. Blue and grey with red trim and tan roof was adopted from several selections. They entered service between July and October in 1937."

CA&E car 701, ex-Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis. Don’s Rail Photos: “701 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1913 as WB&A 81. It was sold as CA&E 701 in 1938.”
Don also notes, “In 1937, the CA&E needed additional equipment. Much was available, but most of the cars suffered from extended lack of maintenance. Finally, 5 coaches were found on the Washington Baltimore & Annapolis which were just the ticket. 35 thru 39, built by Cincinnati Car in 1913, were purchased and remodeled for service as 600 thru 604. The ends were narrowed for service on the El. They had been motors, but came out as control trailers. Other modifications included drawbars, control, etc. A new paint scheme was devised. Blue and grey with red trim and tan roof was adopted from several selections. They entered service between July and October in 1937.”

CA&E 401 at the end of the line in Elgin.

CA&E 401 at the end of the line in Elgin.

CA&E 452 at either Elgin or Aurora.

CA&E 452 at either Elgin or Aurora.

CA&E 457 at the front of a two-car train near the end of either the Aurora or Elgin terminals, as it is operating with overhead wire instead of third rail.

CA&E 457 at the front of a two-car train near the end of either the Aurora or Elgin terminals, as it is operating with overhead wire instead of third rail.

CA&E 429 at the head of a two-car train.

CA&E 429 at the head of a two-car train.

CA&E 451 heads up a two-car limited heading towards Chicago.

CA&E 451 heads up a two-car limited heading towards Chicago.

Speedrail (Milwaukee) car 63, a curved-sided product of Cincinnati Car Company, is operating as a local on the turnback track in Waukesha, on June 28 1951, two days before abandonment. (Photo by R. H. Adams, Jr.)

Speedrail (Milwaukee) car 63, a curved-sided product of Cincinnati Car Company, is operating as a local on the turnback track in Waukesha, on June 28 1951, two days before abandonment. (Photo by R. H. Adams, Jr.)

Six years ago, I purchased a couple strips of 35mm Super-XX black-and-white negatives and ran the photos on the blog I had at that time. There was no way to tell the exact date the pictures were taken, but they did contain various clues that helped narrow down the date. I posted the images, and several people guessed as to when they were shot. The consensus that eventually emerged was they were taken between Fall 1952 and Spring 1953. Well, in an act of serendipity, Jeff Wien (by way of Mr. Edward Springer) donated a set of snapshots to me that were made from these same negatives. They are dated December 1952, which is a better answer than we had before. You can see the rest of the photos here.

Six years ago, I purchased a couple strips of 35mm Super-XX black-and-white negatives and ran the photos on the blog I had at that time. There was no way to tell the exact date the pictures were taken, but they did contain various clues that helped narrow down the date. I posted the images, and several people guessed as to when they were shot. The consensus that eventually emerged was they were taken between Fall 1952 and Spring 1953. Well, in an act of serendipity, Jeff Wien (by way of Mr. Edward Springer) donated a set of snapshots to me that were made from these same negatives. They are dated December 1952, which is a better answer than we had before. You can see the rest of the photos here.

Pulse Bus Rapid Transit Celebration

Pace launched its Pulse bus rapid transit this week with the Pulse Milwaukee line which runs between Golf Mill in Niles and the Jefferson Park transit center in Chicago. Pace held a celebration event earlier today (August 15th) at Milwaukee and Touhy in Niles featuring speeches by various politicians, agency bureaucrats, and public transit advocates. A new Pulse bus was parked at the event and was available for public inspection, as well as a Pulse bus station with its passenger amenities.
Since you include bus photos on your blog, I have attached several photos of the event. Feel free to post any or all of them. The Pace website has detailed information about the Pulse service.
Ironically, Richmond (VA) has operated a bus rapid transit line for over a year which is very similar, and it’s also called “Pulse”. I don’t know if this is just a coincidence or if there is some connection between them. However, the Richmond line has dedicated bus-only lanes for part of its length, while our line runs in mixed traffic along Milwaukee Avenue.
-Miles Beitler

From the Collections of William Shapotkin:

On June 21, 1958 an eastbound CTA train is in the station at Pulaski Road on the new Congress rapid transit line, then also known as the West Side Subway. Notice how little fencing there was separating the right-of-way from the highway. Eventually, this was replaced by concrete Jersey barriers after numerous vehicle crashes that impacted the "L". That way, when something hits the fence, it can take a "Jersey bounce."

On June 21, 1958 an eastbound CTA train is in the station at Pulaski Road on the new Congress rapid transit line, then also known as the West Side Subway. Notice how little fencing there was separating the right-of-way from the highway. Eventually, this was replaced by concrete Jersey barriers after numerous vehicle crashes that impacted the “L”. That way, when something hits the fence, it can take a “Jersey bounce.”

On June 21, 1958 a woman enters the new CTA rapid transit station at Pulaski Road on the Congress line, which replaced the Garfield Park "L" the following day. On this day, free rides were given out between Halsted and Cicero Avenues. The fiberglass panels on the sides of the entrance ramp were eventually cut down to allow for better visibility from outside.

On June 21, 1958 a woman enters the new CTA rapid transit station at Pulaski Road on the Congress line, which replaced the Garfield Park “L” the following day. On this day, free rides were given out between Halsted and Cicero Avenues. The fiberglass panels on the sides of the entrance ramp were eventually cut down to allow for better visibility from outside.

A North Shore Line Electroliner on December 28, 1962, less than a month before the end of the line for this interurban.

A North Shore Line Electroliner on December 28, 1962, less than a month before the end of the line for this interurban.

A new 2000-series CTA train at (I am guessing) the Douglas Park yards at 54th Avenue in Cicero on October 25, 1964.

A new 2000-series CTA train at (I am guessing) the Douglas Park yards at 54th Avenue in Cicero on October 25, 1964.

What I presume is the Douglas Park yard on October 25, 1964.

What I presume is the Douglas Park yard on October 25, 1964.

CTA articulated car set 51 (formerly 5001) found new life on the Skokie Swift after being oddball equipment on other lines, along with its three mates. Here, they are seen on the Swift on October 25, 1964, where they helped provide much-needed capacity in the face of unexpectedly large ridership several months after the new branch line began service.

CTA articulated car set 51 (formerly 5001) found new life on the Skokie Swift after being oddball equipment on other lines, along with its three mates. Here, they are seen on the Swift on October 25, 1964, where they helped provide much-needed capacity in the face of unexpectedly large ridership several months after the new branch line began service.

The date stamped on this slide is April 18, 1964, when demonstration rides were given out on the new CTA Skokie Swift branch line. However, that date may be incorrect, as my understanding is on that day, single car units 1-4 were coupled together and operated as a unit to provide demonstration rides, Regular service began on April 20, 1964. So either the units were uncoupled, or the date is wrong. Here, one of the high-speed cars is lowering its pan trolley, at the point where the line changed from overhead wire to third rail "on the fly."

The date stamped on this slide is April 18, 1964, when demonstration rides were given out on the new CTA Skokie Swift branch line. However, that date may be incorrect, as my understanding is on that day, single car units 1-4 were coupled together and operated as a unit to provide demonstration rides, Regular service began on April 20, 1964. So either the units were uncoupled, or the date is wrong. Here, one of the high-speed cars is lowering its pan trolley, at the point where the line changed from overhead wire to third rail “on the fly.”

On October 25, 1964 a pair of 4000-series "L" cars are seen at the Dempster terminal on the Skokie Swift, presumably on a fantrip.

On October 25, 1964 a pair of 4000-series “L” cars are seen at the Dempster terminal on the Skokie Swift, presumably on a fantrip.

This picture of the Dempster terminal is dated April 18, 1964, which would have been the very first day people could ride the Skokie Swift.

This picture of the Dempster terminal is dated April 18, 1964, which would have been the very first day people could ride the Skokie Swift.

Line car S-606 at the Dempster terminal on October 25, 1964. Don's Rail Photos adds, "S-606 was built by Cincinnati in January 1923, #2620, as Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 606. In 1963 it became CTA S-606 and burned in 1978. The remains were sold to the Indiana Transportation Museum." Since the museum was evicted from its home, whatever portion of the car that survives has been taken on by another preservation group, in hopes that it can eventually be rebuilt or restored.

Line car S-606 at the Dempster terminal on October 25, 1964. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “S-606 was built by Cincinnati in January 1923, #2620, as Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 606. In 1963 it became CTA S-606 and burned in 1978. The remains were sold to the Indiana Transportation Museum.” Since the museum was evicted from its home, whatever portion of the car that survives has been taken on by another preservation group, in hopes that it can eventually be rebuilt or restored.

The following South Shore Line photos, again courtesy of William Shapotkin, are all dated October 1965 and are from a fantrip.

Here are some classic postcard views, again from the collections of William Shapotkin:

From Jeff Wien and the Wien-Criss Archive:

These pictures of the Illinois Terminal Railroad were taken on July 4, 1950:

Don's Rail Photos: "1565, Class B, was built at Decatur in 1910. It was sold to Illinois Power & Light Co at Campaign on April 10, 1955. It was acquired by Illinois Railway Museum in 1960."

Don’s Rail Photos: “1565, Class B, was built at Decatur in 1910. It was sold to Illinois Power & Light Co at Campaign on April 10, 1955. It was acquired by Illinois Railway Museum in 1960.”

IT 270.

IT 270.

IT 273.

IT 273.

Don's Rail Photos: "276 was built by St Louis Car in 1913. It was air conditioned and the arch windows were covered. It was sold for scrap to Compressed Steel Co on March 13, 1956."

Don’s Rail Photos: “276 was built by St Louis Car in 1913. It was air conditioned and the arch windows were covered. It was sold for scrap to Compressed Steel Co on March 13, 1956.”

IT 281.

IT 281.

IT 284.

IT 284.

Don's Rail Photos: "1201 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1910 as an express motor with 20 seats at the rear. In 1919 it was rebuilt with a small baggage section at the front and the trucks were changed from Curtis to Baldwin."

Don’s Rail Photos: “1201 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1910 as an express motor with 20 seats at the rear. In 1919 it was rebuilt with a small baggage section at the front and the trucks were changed from Curtis to Baldwin.”

IT 052. This looks like a sleeping car or bunk car and is unpowered.

IT 052. This looks like a sleeping car or bunk car and is unpowered.

Again from the Wien-Criss Archive, here are a series of photos taken at the Chicago Aurora & Elgin’s Wheaton Yards, in August 1959 after the line had stopped running even freight service. Several cars were sold to museum interests and moved off the property in early 1962. Everything else was scrapped. It’s possible that these pictures may have been taken by the late Joseph Saitta of New York.

Looking somewhat worse for wear, here is CA&E car 321 as it looked at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago on June 9, 1962. This and the other cars that were saved from the line had been stored outdoors for a few years, and exposure to the elements took their toll. The museum, now just IRM, moved to Union in 1964. (Wien-Criss Archive Photo)

Looking somewhat worse for wear, here is CA&E car 321 as it looked at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago on June 9, 1962. This and the other cars that were saved from the line had been stored outdoors for a few years, and exposure to the elements took their toll. The museum, now just IRM, moved to Union in 1964. (Wien-Criss Archive Photo)

The following pictures, also from the Wien-Criss Archive, are not very sharp, but do show Chicago transit vehicles in September 1953 and May 1954. There are several shots of the temporary ground-level trackage used from 1953 to 1958 by the Garfield Park “L”, during construction of the Congress Expressway. Those pictures were taken at Van Buren and Western. Some of the PCC photos were snapped in the vicinity of Roosevelt Road, which is also where the Greyhound bus picture was probably taken.

Recent Correspondence

We recently asked Andre Kristopans about which Chicago streetcars, including PCCs, were converted to one-man operation in the CTA era.  Here’s what he reports:

In 1951, all 83 prewar PCCs to OMC on AFE S14000. At same time, 21 Sedans to OMC (3325,3347-3349,3351-3352,3354-3355,3357,3360-3363,3368,3372,3378-3379,6303,6305,6310,6319) on AFE S14001

However almost immediately 20 postwars 4052-4061,7035-7044 to OMC on S14011

155 older cars 1721-1785,3119-3178,6155-6198 to convertible OMC 1948 on S11381

Some additional info. Of the 169 cars in the three groups listed for one-manning, the following were already gone when the plan was announced:

6 under CSL 1945-47 1738,1754,1770,3133,3170,3176
8 under CTA 1948 1727,1763,3130,3150,3152,3155,3159,6197

169 minus above 14 leaves 155 for conversion in 1949

Me: Thanks… and none of the Peter Witts were used in one-man service, right?

Andre: Redone then scrapped replaced by postwars?

Me: Didn’t this have to do with the decision not to one-man 63rd Street? Or was it simply that mixing the Sedans with PCCs would have slowed things down?

Andre: Supposedly one of the aldermen along 63rd pitched a bitch about the sedans after he saw one. Thought they would be “unsafe”. Not sure on what grounds, suspect had to do with center door arrangement. But plan was dropped and sedans scrapped.

Me: Thanks!

Now Available On Compact Disc
CDLayout33p85
RRCNSLR
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99

Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14
[/caption]


Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 3Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 2Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 1Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 2Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 1Tape 2 Mundeline pic 3Tape 2 Mundeline pic 2Tape 2 Mundeline pic 1Tape 1 ElectrolinerTape 1 Electroliner pic 3Tape 1 Electroliner pic 2Notes from tape 4Note from tape 2

RRC-OMTT
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Price: $24.99


Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes

Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include:

Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern
$5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere.
Disc One
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick):
01. 3:45 Box motor #5
02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953
03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954
04. 4:13 Loco #12
Capital Transit:
05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953
06. 1:43
Altoona & Logan Valley:
07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit:
08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953
09. 4:04
10. 1:39
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s:
11. 4:35 August 27, 1954
12. 4:51
Illinois Terminal:
13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955
14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955
Baltimore Transit:
15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954
16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto:
17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954
18. 5:20 #80, October 1954
Total time: 79:30
Disc Two
St. Louis Public Service:
01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953
Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City):
02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954
03. 5:17
Third Avenue El (New York City):
04. 5:07 December 31. 1954
05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954
Southern Iowa Railway:
06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955
07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9
IND Subway (New York City):
08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954
Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick:
09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr.
Total time: 61:31
Disc Three
Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction:
01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953)
Cincinnati Street Railway:
02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951)
Toledo & Eastern:
03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958)
Capital Transit:
04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s)
Total time: 74:02
Total time (3 discs) – 215:03



The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago last November, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938-- Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.

While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!

Bibliographic information:
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960
Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo) Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 236th 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 539,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

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

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

More Railroad Record Club Rarities

Waterloo Cedar Falls and Northern car 100. This car is featured on Railroad Record Club LP #2. Don’s Rail Photos: “100 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914. It was built as a second motor to operate behind the 140s as a two car train. The baggage compartment was a kitchen, and the rear end was an open platform observation. The buffet section was replaced with coach seats in 1918. The car was then rebuilt with a control station and baggage compartment in 1928 and the rear platform was enclosed at that time. It was the last interurban left on the WCF&N when it became diesel freight, and it was donated to the Iowa Chapter of the NRHS in 1956. It was moved to Centerville and operated on the Southern Iowa Ry. When the SI cut back its operation and dieselized, the Iowa Chapter transferred the car to the Iowa Terminal RR in 1966. Shortly after it was repainted and put into charter service, it was destroyed in the carbarn fire early November 24, 1967. It had been the only car saved from the WCF&N roundhouse fire on October 31, 1954, when the other two cars of its class burned.”

No one person has been more responsible for preserving the historic artifacts connected with William A. Steventon‘s Railroad Record Club than our good friend Kenneth Gear. A while back, Ken acquired many of the original RRC tape recordings, some of which were never issued.

I have referred before to the RRC output being the “tip of the iceberg,” so to speak, and thanks to Ken, we are beginning to see what the rest of the RRC archive consisted of. While we had already issued some “new” RRC recordings, taken from discs found in the Steventon archive, we have something even more exciting to announce today– newly uncovered audio recordings of the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban, the fabled North Shore Line, unheard for perhaps as much as 60 years.

These recordings have been digitized from original RRC tapes that Ken purchased, and are now available for the first time on compact disc. More details about that will be found at the end of this post.

Because we feel it is important for Ken to get back at least some of the substantial investment he has made, in order to preserve these and other historic materials, we are paying Ken a royalty of $5 for each disc sold. Our humble offerings are already reasonably priced, and we don’t make much money from them. On top of that, the Trolley Dodger has, to date, operated at a loss for every year. Our original losses were in excess of $10k per year. This was reduced to $6k in 2017, and we recently did our taxes and are pleased to report that we cut the loss to just $1400 in 2018.

Our goal with this enterprise is historic preservation and education, to provide an archive where people can get, and exchange information about electric railways. In some ways it is the modern equivalent of what my friend Ray DeGroote calls the “intelligence network” of railfans, which has been around since the 1930s or even earlier, just updated for the Internet age.

It used to be that you had to know somebody to be part of this intelligence network, and information was passed from one person to another. Now, it is accessible to anyone and everyone who wants it, via the world wide web.

With that in mind, our goal has always been to break even, in order to make the Trolley Dodger a self-sustaining enterprise.

But we have to give credit where credit is due. Without Kenneth Gear’s personal sacrifices, it’s possible that these materials would have been lost forever, and would have ended up in a dumpster somewhere. You never would even have known they existed.

That’s why I hope you will help support Ken’s gallant efforts by purchasing a copy of this new CD offering.

Because we are not entirely mercenary, Ken is also sharing dozens of classic railfan photos which he purchased as part of the Railroad Record Club archive. Presumably, all or nearly all of these were taken by the late William A. Steventon (1921-1993) himself, as many reflect the areas he lived, worked, and traveled to in his career.

A few of these we already published, but most of these appear here for the first time.

As always, if you can help provide any additional information about these photos, we would love to hear from you.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Altoona and Logan Valley car 74. Don’s Rail Photos: “74 was built by Osgood-Bradley Car Co in 1930.”

This photo was originally misidentified, but actually shows Indianapolis Railways Peter Witt car #132, apparently on a fantrip, probably circa 1950. The streetcar was a Master Unit (that was a Brill trade name), built circa 1932-33, making it one of the last such orders before the PCC era. Master Units were supposed to be a standardized car, but in actuality I believe no two orders were exactly the same.

This photo was originally misidentified, but actually shows Indianapolis Railways Peter Witt car #132, apparently on a fantrip, probably circa 1950. The streetcar was a Master Unit (that was a Brill trade name), built circa 1932-33, making it one of the last such orders before the PCC era. Master Units were supposed to be a standardized car, but in actuality I believe no two orders were exactly the same.

A Chicago, Aurora & Elgin train street running in Aurora in 1931. The CA&E was relocated off-street here in 1939.

A Chicago, Aurora & Elgin train street running in Aurora in 1931. The CA&E was relocated off-street here in 1939.

A Capital Transit PCC and bus at Catholic University in the Washington, DC area.

A Capital Transit PCC and bus at Catholic University in the Washington, DC area.

Denver and Rio Grande Western 476, which was featured on Railroad Record Club LP SP-1.

Denver and Rio Grande Western 476, which was featured on Railroad Record Club LP SP-1.

Denver and Rio Grande Western 481.

Denver and Rio Grande Western 481.

Des Moines and Central Iowa cars #1701 and 1704 in the scrap line, November 19, 1939.

Des Moines and Central Iowa cars #1701 and 1704 in the scrap line, November 19, 1939.

Des Moines and Central Iowa #1705 in October 1938.

Des Moines and Central Iowa #1705 in October 1938.

Des Moines and Central Iowa car 1710.

Des Moines and Central Iowa car 1710.

East Broad Top #15 on a rainy day, very likely while Railroad Record Club LP #3 was being recorded.

East Broad Top #15 on a rainy day, very likely while Railroad Record Club LP #3 was being recorded.

Evansville and Ohio Valley car #134.

Evansville and Ohio Valley car #134.

Hagerstown and Frederick #19 in Frederick, MD on May 30, 1939.

Hagerstown and Frederick #19 in Frederick, MD on May 30, 1939.

The same picture cropped.

The same picture cropped.

A Hagerstown and Frederick work car in Fredercik, MD on May 30, 1939.

A Hagerstown and Frederick work car in Fredercik, MD on May 30, 1939.

Hagerstown and Frederick 164.

Hagerstown and Frederick 164.

Illinois Terminal car 285. Don’s rail Photos: “285 was built by St Louis Car in 1914. It was rebuilt as a parlor car in 1024 and as a coach in December 1928. It was air conditioned in August 1938 and got new seating in December 1952. It was sold for scrap to Hyman Michaels Co. on May 16, 1956.”

An Illinois Terminal local on Caldwell Hill in East Peoria about 1936.

An Illinois Terminal local on Caldwell Hill in East Peoria about 1936.

A fuzzy picture of Illinois Power Company loco #1551.

A fuzzy picture of Illinois Power Company loco #1551.

A builder's photo of Illinois Terminal #207.

A builder’s photo of Illinois Terminal #207.

Illinois Terminal 1201 at Peoria. Don’s Rail Photos: “1201 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1910 as an express motor with 20 seats at the rear. In 1919 it was rebuilt with a small baggage section at the front and the trucks were changed from Curtis to Baldwin.”

Indiana Railroad box car #550.

Indiana Railroad box car #550.

Indiana Railroad loco #752 waiting for loads at a mine scale.

Indiana Railroad loco #752 waiting for loads at a mine scale.

Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed car #64. Howard Pletcher adds, “Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed car #64 is at the Fort Wayne passenger terminal.”

The Indiana Railroad passenger terminal in Fort Wayne. (Howard Pletcher Collection)

The Indiana Railroad passenger terminal in Fort Wayne. (Howard Pletcher Collection)

Indiana Railroad #93 at Anderson, IN on September 4, 1938.

Indiana Railroad #93 at Anderson, IN on September 4, 1938.

Indiana Railroad box motor #722.

Indiana Railroad box motor #722.

Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed car #80 on an Indianapolis local. It was built by Pullman in 1931 and scrapped in 1941.

Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed car #80 on an Indianapolis local. It was built by Pullman in 1931 and scrapped in 1941.

Indiana Railroad box motor #115.

Indiana Railroad box motor #115.

Indiana Railroad car #375. Don’s Rail Photos: “375 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1926 as Indiana Service Corp 375. It was ass1gned to IRR as 375 in 1932 and rebuilt as a RPO-combine in 1935. It was sold to Chicago South Shore & South Bend in 1941 as 503 and used as a straight baggage car. It was rebuilt in 1952 with windows removed and doors changed.”

Indiana Railroad car #446.

Indiana Railroad car #446.

Indiana Railroad car #730.

Indiana Railroad car #730.

Indiana Railroad loco #792.

Indiana Railroad loco #792.

The same picture, restored.

The same picture, restored.

Indiana Railroad Vigo with rails ripped out.

Indiana Railroad Vigo with rails ripped out.

Indiana Service Corp., looking forward from car at speed on Spy Run Avenue showing car on #6 line, May 22, 1939.

Indiana Service Corp., looking forward from car at speed on Spy Run Avenue showing car on #6 line, May 22, 1939.

Indiana Service Corporation #820 at Wabash station on August 3, 1936.

Indiana Service Corporation #820 at Wabash station on August 3, 1936.

Indiana Service Corp View across the Broadway bridge, showing double truck car in distance, August 18, 1940. (But what city is this?) Mike Peters writes: “he ISC city car is in Fort Wayne, a block away from the south end of the Broadway line. The bridge carries Bluffton Road and the ISC interurban to Bluffton over the Saint Marys River. A good map of the Ft. Wayne system can be found in “Fort Wayne’s Trolleys” (George Bradley). ISC did provide service in several smaller cities, but these lines did not survive the 1930’s.”

Interstate car #711, ex-Indiana Public Service Corporation 427, on September 3, 1939.

Interstate car #711, ex-Indiana Public Service Corporation 427, on September 3, 1939.

Interstate car 711 on shop siding west of Greencastle on June 3 1939.

Interstate car 711 on shop siding west of Greencastle on June 3 1939.

Indiana Railroad lightweight car #94. Don’s Rail Photos: “90 thru 99 were built by Cummings in 1930 as Northern Indiana Ry 350 thru 359. In 1935, they were returned to Cummings, who rebuilt them and sold them to the IRR. They were retired in 1940.”

Indiana Railroad line car 763 at the Muncie station on May 19, 1940.

Indiana Railroad line car 763 at the Muncie station on May 19, 1940.

Indiana Railroad lightweight car 96.

Indiana Railroad lightweight car 96.

Indiana Railroad lightweight car #90 at New Castle, IN on July 4, 1936. Note the Woolworth's at right.

Indiana Railroad lightweight car #90 at New Castle, IN on July 4, 1936. Note the Woolworth’s at right.

Indiana Railroad lightweight car #95 at the Indianapolis terminal.

Indiana Railroad lightweight car #95 at the Indianapolis terminal.

Indiana Railroad lightweight car #99.

Indiana Railroad lightweight car #99.

Indiana Railroad #787.

Indiana Railroad #787.

Lake Erie and Northern car #795.

Lake Erie and Northern car #795.

Lake Erie and Northern car #797.

Lake Erie and Northern car #797.

Lake Erie and Northern car #939.

Lake Erie and Northern car #939.

A Lehigh Valley Transit Allentown Limited on the Liberty Bell Route, descending the ramp at Norristown (where LVT shared tracks with the Philadelphia & Western for access to Philadelphia, at least until 1949).

A Lehigh Valley Transit Allentown Limited on the Liberty Bell Route, descending the ramp at Norristown (where LVT shared tracks with the Philadelphia & Western for access to Philadelphia, at least until 1949).

Lehigh Valley Transit lightweight high-speed car 1002, presumably in Allentown PA.

Lehigh Valley Transit lightweight high-speed car 1002, presumably in Allentown PA.

Mason City and Clear Lake car #34 (photo restored).

Mason City and Clear Lake car #34 (photo restored).

Mason City and Clear Lake car #34 (unrestored photo).

Mason City and Clear Lake car #34 (unrestored photo).

Mason City and Clear Lake car #106.

Mason City and Clear Lake car #106.

Mason City and Clear Lake car #14.

Mason City and Clear Lake car #14.

Mason City and Clear Lake steeple cab #52.

Mason City and Clear Lake steeple cab #52.

Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway yard.

Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway yard.

A Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway snow plow.

A Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway snow plow.

A Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway trolley.

A Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway trolley.

A nice right-of-way photo with no information, other than the date-- March 31, 1936.

A nice right-of-way photo with no information, other than the date– March 31, 1936.

Jeff Wien: “TMER&T, route 13: Clybourn Downtown Milwaukee.”
.

No information.

No information.

This is a three-car train of Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speeds in multiple-unit service on a fantrip, circa 1938-40.

This is a three-car train of Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speeds in multiple-unit service on a fantrip, circa 1938-40.

No information (photo restored).

No information (photo restored).

No information (unrestored photo).

No information (unrestored photo).

Does ST F Co RR stand for Santa Fe? At any rate, this is car #54 at Farmington, MO.

Does ST F Co RR stand for Santa Fe? At any rate, this is car #54 at Farmington, MO.

Salt Lake and Utah loco #101.

Salt Lake and Utah loco #101.

Sand Springs Railway (Oklahoma) loco #1001.

Sand Springs Railway (Oklahoma) loco #1001.

Unidentified car and person. Mike Peters: “The photo of 817 and employee would also be Fort Wayne. After passenger operations ceased, this motor was retained for switching the Spy Run power plant and several nearby industries. The roster in “Fort Wayne and Wabash Valley Trolleys” (CERA #122) shows the 817 as being retired in 1952.”

Unidentified steeple cab locomotive.

Unidentified steeple cab locomotive.

Unidentified steeple cab locomotive.

Unidentified steeple cab locomotive.

Union Electric Railway loco #80.

Union Electric Railway loco #80.

Utah Idaho Central #905 in June 1945.

Utah Idaho Central #905 in June 1945.

Utah Idaho Central #905 in June 1945.

Utah Idaho Central #905 in June 1945.

Washington and Old Dominion car #44 and a Railway Express Agency truck in Rosslyn VA.

Washington and Old Dominion car #44 and a Railway Express Agency truck in Rosslyn VA.

A Washington and Old Dominion locomotive.

A Washington and Old Dominion locomotive.

A Washington and Old Dominion RPO (Railway Post Office) on a mail run outside Rosslyn VA.

A Washington and Old Dominion RPO (Railway Post Office) on a mail run outside Rosslyn VA.

The Washington and Old Dominion shops.

The Washington and Old Dominion shops.

Recent Finds

The CTA DesPlaines Avenue terminal in Forest Park in July 1955. This is an unusal view, looking west from Desplaines Avenue. At left, you can just barely see some streetcar tracks, which were used by West Towns Railways trolleys no later than 1948. That could be a CTA Route 17 bus, and you can also see some Chicago, Aurora & Elgin interurban cars in the station. The CA&E cut back service to here in 1953.

The CTA DesPlaines Avenue terminal in Forest Park in July 1955. This is an unusal view, looking west from Desplaines Avenue. At left, you can just barely see some streetcar tracks, which were used by West Towns Railways trolleys no later than 1948. That could be a CTA Route 17 bus, and you can also see some Chicago, Aurora & Elgin interurban cars in the station. The CA&E cut back service to here in 1953.

CTA 1775 at Cermak and Kostner on March 21, 1954, about two months before streetcar service ended on Route 21.

CTA 1775 at Cermak and Kostner on March 21, 1954, about two months before streetcar service ended on Route 21.

CTA 7213 on Route 49 - Western on August 2, 1949. This car would later become the last Chicago streetcar to operate.

CTA 7213 on Route 49 – Western on August 2, 1949. This car would later become the last Chicago streetcar to operate.

North Shore Line 254

North Shore Line 254 “at freight station on “L”structure near Loop – January 27, 1962.”

The North Shore Line shops interior in Milwaukee, September 24, 1961.

The North Shore Line shops interior in Milwaukee, September 24, 1961.

Chicago Surface Lines 5258 at Lowe Avenue in the 1940s (not sure of main street, perhaps 79th?).

Chicago Surface Lines 5258 at Lowe Avenue in the 1940s (not sure of main street, perhaps 79th?).

CTA 6180, a one-man car, picks up passengers at an

CTA 6180, a one-man car, picks up passengers at an “L” station in the early 1950s.

CTA 7216, a St. Louis Car Company PCC, is northbound on Route 36 – Broadway in the 1950s. Jeff Wien: “Cars laying over on 119th at Morgan.”

CTA 4362, a Pullman PCC, on Route 8 – Halsted, most likely in the late 1940s. Jeff Wien adds, “Rt. 8 car has just pulled off of Broadway onto Waveland to head south on Halsted to 79th Street loop. Photo ca 1951 when Halsted was operated with PCCs, most Pullmans.”

TRACTION AUDIO, NOW AVAILABLE ON COMPACT DISC:

CDLayout33p85

RRCNSLR
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99

Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963

Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.

Total time – 73:14


Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 3Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 2Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 1Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 2Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 1Tape 2 Mundeline pic 3Tape 2 Mundeline pic 2Tape 2 Mundeline pic 1Tape 1 ElectrolinerTape 1 Electroliner pic 3Tape 1 Electroliner pic 2Notes from tape 4Note from tape 2

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago last November, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.

Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)

To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.

While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages

Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960

Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.

The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 229th 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 507,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

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

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt, Part 2

1 Selection of Steventon tapes mostly unreleased

1 Selection of Steventon tapes mostly unreleased

Following up on our recent post William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club (September 24, 2018), guest author Kenneth Gear continues with a detailed rundown on his latest discoveries.

I have been interested in historic preservation for a long time, and it’s not every day that anyone comes across original material such as this. Suddenly, out of nowhere it seems, previously unknown, unissued audio recordings have emerged for some long-vanished steam and electric railroads, along with 16mm motion picture film, and various artifacts related to the Railroad Record Club’s 42 issued LPs, in their various forms. It seems like a miracle that somehow, it all survived to be rescued from oblivion.

Getting this done involved a tremendous financial sacrifice on Ken’s part, as he is of modest means. I hope that he will be able to recoup at least some of his substantial investment in the future. I am sure he will appreciate any contributions you may be able to offer him, towards the cost of transferring some of these reel-to-reel tapes and 16mm movie films to digital.

You can find Part 1 here: Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt (July 30, 2017)

-David Sadowski

PS- Our new book Building Chicago’s Subways is now available for immediate shipment.  If you already pre-ordered it, your copy is already on its way to you.  We are excited to have had the opportunity to tell the story of this exciting chapter in Chicago history.  Details on how to order are at the end of this post.

Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt, Part 2

It’s been over a year since I acquired a large portion of the William Steventon estate. The Railroad Record Club items that I purchased last year have enabled David and I to piece together a fairly complete history of the RRC and to more fully appreciate the time and effort Mr. Steventon put into producing these records. The homemade 78rpm records alone proved to be an invaluable resource. Not only did they provide us with some wonderful recordings, most of which hadn’t been heard in over fifty years, they revealed the pre-history of the club and offered a glimpse into the infancy of railroad field recording.

We were able to hear the very first railroad recording Steventon made– B&O trains at Riverdale, Maryland in 1953. We also finally completed our quest to get a copy of every single released RRC record digitized and put on CDs. We are now only in need of two samplers, the 5th and 6th years. More interesting information was garnered from examining original record jacket artwork and paste up boards, as well as the metal print blocks. We were also able to compile a list of records re-issued on 12″ stock and find out what was necessary for it to happen and the cost of doing it.

Photographs from his personal collection were scanned and published in the Trolley Dodger for all to enjoy. I think the effort that went into keeping all this material from ending up in a dumpster was well worth the time and expense and I’m happy to have been involved.

In spite of this, I knew the job was only half finished. There was much more that needed to be saved and time was running out. Those tapes I wrote about under the heading “what I left behind” in the first treasure hunt story needed to be preserved. There were still a big box of photos, reams of correspondence, the metal master discs for the 12″ reissues and lots and lots of sealed records.

The estate dealer was quite adamant that this stuff had to go…and quickly! I purchased all that I could, but I certainly could not afford to buy anything else and asked for some time to raise the money. As I tried to come up with the extra cash needed, months went by and the emails ceased. For a while it seemed that all this great material would be lost. Still, I squirreled away what money I could when I could and slowly, much too slowly, I approached his asking price. With the funds in hand, I emailed the estate dealer putting in the subject line that I HAD the money for the remaining Steventon estate items. Even as I composed that email I couldn’t be sure that the entire lot wasn’t already in some land fill rotting away. He answered me the next day, but it seemed a lot longer then that to me. His first two sentences were a relief:  

Ken, good to hear from you.  Yes, it is all as we left it a year ago.

There was one complication that needed to be addressed. I could not make the trip up to him in Wisconsin this year as I had done before. All the items would have to be shipped to me in New Jersey.

The estate dealer was agreeable to packing up the items and doing the weighing and making the transportation arrangements, but again there was a complication. This was his busy season and he would be working extensively out of town.  He would not be able to devote much time to this effort for the next few weeks. A little progress was made here and there through the rest of June and I purchased boxes and packing material in July. I was a little apprehensive about shipping old open reel tapes and vinyl records during the hottest part of the summer anyway, so I just had to be patient. In early August progress was made and on the 13th I received the long-awaited email:

The last box is packed.  You’ll have a pallet coming that’s right around 400 pounds, perhaps a touch over.  Nine boxes to be delivered to the YRC terminal. 

Several more delays would still be encountered, not the lest of which was the local hardware store’s forklift needing repairs. The hardware store, for a $20 fee, would be used to lift the pallet onto the truck. At last, in early September, with all hurdles cleared, a newly-repaired forklift placed the shipment on to the truck. Finally, the second half of the Steventon estate’s Railroad Record Club items were on their way to me.

A few days later I heading to the local YRC terminal to receive the long-awaited shipment. After some paperwork in the office, I backed a borrowed ¾-ton pick-up truck to the indicated bay. Soon a forklift lowered the last of the Railroad Record Club items from the Steventon estate into the truck bed. I now had a night of treasure hunting to look forward to!

I had sort of “cherry picked” the first half of the estate, so I knew that a great unexpected find was rather doubtful, but I did come across a few surprises.

THE TAPES

2 Tapes appear to be in good condition

2 Tapes appear to be in good condition

3 Tape with hand written track listing

3 Tape with hand written track listing

4 More unreleased Steventon audio

4 More unreleased Steventon audio

5 Lots of interesting material on these tapes

5 Lots of interesting material on these tapes

6 Still more intersting tapes

6 Still more intersting tapes

7 Unreleased audio this is why I bought the whole lot

7 Unreleased audio this is why I bought the whole lot

8 Steventon tapes

8 Steventon tapes

9 More Stevnton tapes

9 More Stevnton tapes

10 Even more tapes

10 Even more tapes

11 Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records

11 Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records

12 Another view of the Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records

12 Another view of the Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records

13 A box full of the Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records

13 A box full of the Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records

14 Close up of the 78rpm record master tapes

14 Close up of the 78rpm record master tapes

15 Another Close up of the 78rpm record master tapes

15 Another Close up of the 78rpm record master tapes

16 78rpm master tapes showing condition of tapes-not too bad

16 78rpm master tapes showing condition of tapes-not too bad

17 close up of 78rpm master tape showing condition

17 close up of 78rpm master tape showing condition

18 BC Electric and Montreal & South Counties tapes with Steventon letter

18 BC Electric and Montreal & South Counties tapes with Steventon letter

19 Montreal & South Counties tape with Steventon letter

19 Montreal & South Counties tape with Steventon letter

20 BC Electric tape with Steventon letter

20 BC Electric tape with Steventon letter

21 Close up of the BC Electric and Montreal & South Counties tapes

21 Close up of the BC Electric and Montreal & South Counties tapes

22 Railroad Record Club Master tapes

22 Railroad Record Club Master tapes

23 Master tape for record 26

23 Master tape for record 26

24 A stack of 22 Railroad Record Club Master tapes

24 A stack of 22 Railroad Record Club Master tapes

25 master tape Railroad Record Club number 16

25 master tape Railroad Record Club number 16

26 master tape Railroad Record Club number 15

26 master tape Railroad Record Club number 15

27 master tape Railroad Record Club with memo

27 master tape Railroad Record Club with memo

28 master tape Railroad Record Club number 17

28 master tape Railroad Record Club number 17

29 master tape Railroad Record Club number 18

29 master tape Railroad Record Club number 18

30 Note on box containing master tape Railroad Record Club number 18

30 Note on box containing master tape Railroad Record Club number 18

31 Two master tapes for record number 3

31 Two master tapes for record number 3

32 Two master tapes for record number 3 showing condition

32 Two master tapes for record number 3 showing condition

33 master tape Railroad Record Club number 7

33 master tape Railroad Record Club number 7

34 master tapes Railroad Record Club number 10

34 master tapes Railroad Record Club number 10

35 master tape Railroad Record Club number 23 with memo

35 master tape Railroad Record Club number 23 with memo

36 master tape Railroad Record Club number 17

36 master tape Railroad Record Club number 17

The reel to reel tapes that I had left behind last year were the real reason I went to all this trouble and expense to acquire the rest of the estate. I’m sure I did not get any of the tapes that were actually in Steventon’s recorder when he was trackside, but they may no longer exist. Perhaps he transferred these “field tapes” to newer tape stock, in an effort to preserve them and some of these duplicates are what I received. There is at least one recording I know he made that is not among my tapes. In the liner notes of Record Number 20, Steventon writes that the cab ride onboard NYC # 1441 with his father at the throttle was edited down from over two hours of tape. I would have been very happy to find 4 or 5 reels of tape marked “cab ride with Dad” but it was not to be. What I did find, however, is some very good and interesting stuff, most of which has never been released on a Railroad Record Club LP.

One tape that was a bit of a surprise was a 4″ reel of tape marked NYS&W. Of all the railroads in the New York area, why the Susquehanna? If he recorded this tape while in New York to ride and record the Queensboro Bridge trolley, which had to be prior to April 1957 when that line shut down, then why not record PRR K-4s on the New York & Long Branch which lasted until October of that year? Or all those electric locomotives on the NYC and NYNH&H? Perhaps he did record some or all these railroads and I just don’t have the tapes. Anything is possible, but I have found no evidence that he ever did. I’ll just have to wait until I have the NYS&W tape put on CD to find out just what the attraction may have been.

Other interesting finds include three 5″ reels of a fan trip operated by the Northern Pacific Railroad on June 20, 1957. 4-8-4 # 2686 pulled the train from St. Paul, MN to Staples. One tape is labeled “NP 2686-LV MPLS,” the second NP 2686 coal dock stop,” and the last, “NP 2686 LV Staples.” There was also a negative of the NP 2686 at Staples found among the photographs. Other steam and/or diesel tapes are labeled “CPR,” “NKP Ft. Wayne,” “N&W,” and “Soo Line.”

The traction fans among us will be happy to know there is plenty for them. The CNS&M has several tapes devoted to it. One tape is marked “CNS&M switching at Rondout and Mundelein”. There is a cut on Record 26 of locomotive # 459 switching at Rondout, but not at Mundelein. Another North Shore tape is marked “Mundelein Run” and another simply ” Mundelein”. One more CNS&M tape has “Electroliner” written on the box.

There is a tape marked “ITS 202”, apparently Steventon preferred Illinois Traction System to Illinois Terminal. On Record 25 Steventon wrote in the liner notes, “We had just arrived (at Harristown, IL) on interurban No. 202 where we had made an “on train” recording east from Springfield. We alighted and watched the 202 fade into the distance. This was the last sight and sound we had of the Illinois Terminal as an interurban. The “on train” recording of 202 and a streamliner is scheduled for release at a later date.” It never was. I don’t know about the streamliner recording, I may or may not have it, but I will consider it a privilege to be involved with releasing the 202 recording for him.

There are also tapes of the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City (CRANDIC), Charles City Western, Toledo & Eastern, and Capital Transit. Canadian traction fans are not overlooked either. There is a 5″ reel of the Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. There are also two 5″ reels, one each, of the BC Electric and the Montreal & Southern Counties. These two tapes were recorded by Eugene Van Dusen, and the accompanying letter to Steventon, plus a copy of it sent to Elwin Purington, were found among some RRC papers I have. Another reel of tape not recorded by Steventon is “Cincinnati Street Railway Car 187 12/13/51.” Finding this was a nice surprise. I don’t know who did record it, but Steventon did not start making recordings until 1953.

Here is the entire list of the tape reels, excluding 21/2″ reels which I’ll list separately, and the master tapes for the LPs,

REEL TO REEL TAPES

INFORMATION MARKED ON TAPE BOXES

4″ reels:

1. NYS&W

5″ reels:

1. CPR-J. Van Brocklin
2. Soo Line
3. T&E NKP Diesel-NKP Ft. Wayne
4. N&W
5. N&W from Salem
6. N&W Billy + Larry on end
7. NP 2686 Lv Mpls-6/20/57
8. NP 2686 coal dock stop
9. NP 2686 Lv Staples
10. B. C. Electric
11. Montreal & Southern Counties
12. Potomac Edison #5
13. Potomac Edison H&F last run radio program
14. CNS&M -switching at Rondout and Mundelein
15. Mundelein Run
16. Capital Transit co 1151
17. ITS car 202
18. Cedar Rapids and Iowa City 5/31/53
19. CCW 5/18/54*
20. CCW CC to Colwell
21. Toledo & Eastern
22. PRR GG-1s

7″ reels:

1. Railroading in Spooner Wisconsin
2. CNS&M Electroliner
3. N. St. C & Toronto
4. Johnstown Traction and Altoona & Logan Valley
5. Cincinnati Street Railway car 187 12/13/51

The next bunch of tapes are smaller reels. These 21/2″ reels are in their original manufacture’s boxes and are marked only with a Railroad name and a catalog number. The catalog numbers correspond with the catalog numbers on the 10″ 78rpm acetate records that I acquired with the first half of the estate. As producing these records was a very time-consuming task, Steventon saved time by making a master tape for each record. The master tape would contain his spoken introductions followed by the train sounds. I bought over sixty of these small master tapes, and a large number have never been put on the regular Railroad Record Club releases. They contain sounds of railroads I was completely unaware Steventon ever recorded, such as L&N, Southern, and Virginian. This collection also contains the Queensboro Bridge trolley, the IND subway, and the Third Avenue EL recordings Steventon made in New York City.

21/2″ reels:

1. Potomac Edison, 4 reels
2. Shenandoah Central, 2 reels
3. Capital Transit, 3 reels
4. Altoona & Logan Valley, 2 reels
5. B&O, 9 reels
6. Shaker Heights RT, 3 reels
7. PRR, 5 reels
8. NKP, 1 reel
9. St. Louis PS, 1 reel
10. Illinois Terminal, 2 reels
11. ICRR 3 reels
12. N&W, 1 reel
13. WM Rwy, 1 reel
14. Baltimore Transit, 2 reels
15. Senate Subway, 1 reel
16. Scranton Transit, 1 reel
17. Rochester Subway, 1 reel
18. CB&Q, 2 reels
19. Niagara, St. C & T, 2 reels
20. Virginian, 2 reels
21. Southern, 2 reels
22. Queensboro Bridge, 2 reels
23. Wabash, 1 reel
24. Third Ave. EL, 2 reels
25. Soo Line, 5 reels
26. L&N, 2 reels
27. St. Elizabeth Hospital, 1 reel (used steam switcher to move coal hoppers)
28. Omaha Road, 1 reel
29. NYC IND Subway, 1 reel
30. Unidentified, 4 reels

This is not a complete set of all the master tapes made for the 78rpm records to be sure, but it’s most of them. I consider it a small miracle that any survive at all! I am not an audio expert, but in my opinion, uninformed as it may be, these tapes appear to be in reasonably good condition. I would think that the tapes would be able to withstand a few more plays, enough to be digitized at least. Neither David nor I have the equipment to attempt this and I think it would be ill advised of us to try anyway. The tapes are old and were not stored in archival conditions. I’m sure the prudent course of action is to entrust any work on them to a professional.

The last batch of tapes are the master tapes made for the released Railroad Record Club LPs. There are different size reels, some tapes are only of one side of the LP while others have both sides on the same reel. Some are in good condition and some are not. Some I have multiple copies of and a few of the LPs I have no tapes for, Rather then make a complete list of every reel I will simply list the few LPs I have NO master tapes for.

No master tapes:

RRC 21
RRC 24
RRC 29
RRC 31
RRC SP-2
RRC SP-4
RRC SP-6

Most of these reels are 7″ with only a few smaller or larger. The most interesting master tapes are the reels for RRC 3 EBT/D&RGW. There are two 7″ reels that most likely have the original release version of the record, the one with William Steventon’s narration. There are also two 5″ reels, one marked “sounds only” and the other labeled “Narrative.” Since Steventon removed his voice from the 12″reissue of the record, the “Narrative” tape must contain just the voice of Elwin Purington doing the new narration.

I’m not sure just what to do with these master tapes. Some are in rough shape and all these sounds are on the released Railroad Record Club LPs. It certainly would be a considerable expense to digitize them all and no new sounds would be gained. For now, I’ll store them in the best possible conditions that I can provide and perhaps one day a clear path of action will present itself.

MOVIE FILMS

1 Steventon Film that should be all trains

1 Steventon Film that should be all trains

2 Capital Transit B&W Night Film

2 Capital Transit B&W Night Film

3 Steventon film

3 Steventon film

4 Pennsy and B&O film

4 Pennsy and B&O film

5 Back of Kodachrome box

5 Back of Kodachrome box

6 Front of kodachrome box

6 Front of kodachrome box

I found several rolls of 16mm movie film within the boxes of audio tapes. Fortunately, Steventon was very good at labeling everything. He inserted little slips of paper into the film boxes listing the contents of the films. Unfortunately, the majority are family home movies. Most are of Steventon’s son Seth. His first day of school, Christmases, and birthday parties. There were six 100-foot reels that should be all trains.

16mm movies;

1. 100-foot reel but only about 50 feet of film. Labeled “Pennsy Fan Trip and B&O near Riverdale.”
2. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “Canada Term”. I’m not sure what that is supposed to indicate. I unspooled a few feet of film and the first few frames are without a doubt a steeple cab locomotive.
3. 100-foot reel, full, B&W, labeled “Cap Transit Night Film.”
4. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “EBT Reel 1.”
5. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “EBT Reel 2.”
6. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “Negative 1R Freight” Also written on box “bad footage.”

PRINT BLOCKS

1 Selection of print blocks

1 Selection of print blocks

2 More print blocks

2 More print blocks

3 Still more print blocks

3 Still more print blocks

4. Print block for very early RRC traction logo

4. Print block for very early RRC traction logo

5. Railroad Record Club logo print block

5. Railroad Record Club logo print block

6 Another style Railroad Record Club logo print block

6 Another style Railroad Record Club logo print block

7 Interurban car fron LP Sound Scrapbook-Traction

7 Interurban car fron LP Sound Scrapbook-Traction

8 Interurban car fron LP Sound Scrapbook-Traction in two sizes

8 Interurban car fron LP Sound Scrapbook-Traction in two sizes

9 PRR steamer from 1st edition of RRC 10 in two sizes

9 PRR steamer from 1st edition of RRC 10 in two sizes

10 D&RGW locomotive from the 1st edition of the LP the Siverton Train

10 D&RGW locomotive from the 1st edition of the LP the Siverton Train

11A Print block for NKP LP

11A Print block for NKP LP

12 Ad for RRC 25

12 Ad for RRC 25

13 Ad for RRC 25 reversed

13 Ad for RRC 25 reversed

14 Print block for large ad

14 Print block for large ad

15 Print block for large ad reversed

15 Print block for large ad reversed

16 Ad for traction watch fobs

16 Ad for traction watch fobs

17 Ad for steam LPs

17 Ad for steam LPs

18 Ad for steam LPs reversed

18 Ad for steam LPs reversed

19 Strange RRC ad

19 Strange RRC ad

20 Strange RRC ad printed version

20 Strange RRC ad printed version

I also acquired a good number of print blocks, which are mostly quite small and were used in the RRC advertisements.  I have a bunch of print blocks of the LP covers, all about the size of a postage stamp. They were used in ads and in the catalogs. There are a few complete ads that mostly feature a single record release. One large ad of interest is a very 1960’s, almost psychedelic illustration of a steam locomotive looming over a record player. Smoke is shooting from it’s stack and entwined within the billows of smoke are such things as a whistle blowing, a box cab electric locomotive, and a steam train. LPs are seen flying through the air and the words “steam and electric recordings” in twisted snake-like lettering fills the upper portion. Wild and unexpected. I would certainly like to know if this ad ever appeared anywhere in print.

I did not make a list of these small print blocks, there are just too many. I did photograph a representative selection of them. These photos will give a good idea of what is in the collection.

RECORDS

1 41 copies of RRC 3

1 41 copies of RRC 3

2 18 copies of RRC 5

2 18 copies of RRC 5

3 RCA test pressing for Sound Scrapbook Steam showing notation on upper left of sleeve

3 RCA test pressing for Sound Scrapbook Steam showing notation on upper left of sleeve

4 RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal one of only 3 good discs

4 RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal one of only 3 good discs

5 Back of RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal

5 Back of RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal

6 Close up of RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal

6 Close up of RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal

7 Close up of RCA test pressing for NKP

7 Close up of RCA test pressing for NKP

8 RCA test pressing for CN showing damage

8 RCA test pressing for CN showing damage

9 Metal press stamp

9 Metal press stamp

10 Metal press stamp with cardboard sleeve

10 Metal press stamp with cardboard sleeve

11 RRC Nashville Metal press stamp

11 RRC Nashville Metal press stamp

12 Metal press stamps in cardboard sleeves for RRC4 B&O

12 Metal press stamps in cardboard sleeves for RRC4 B&O

13 3 RRC Nashville Metal press stamps

13 3 RRC Nashville Metal press stamps

14 Metal press stamp for RRC LP

14 Metal press stamp for RRC LP

15 Railroad Record Club SP-4 boxes and sleeves

15 Railroad Record Club SP-4 boxes and sleeves

16 Record jackets for each of the 3 records in the SP-4 set

16 Record jackets for each of the 3 records in the SP-4 set

17 Label for 1st edition of record 1 side 1 of RRC-SP4

17 Label for 1st edition of record 1 side 1 of RRC-SP4

18 Label for 2nd edition of record 1 side 1 of RRC-SP4

18 Label for 2nd edition of record 1 side 1 of RRC-SP4

19 Label for 3rd edition of record 1 side 1 of RRC-SP4

19 Label for 3rd edition of record 1 side 1 of RRC-SP4

Since the estate dealer would only sell me the tapes unless I bought the entire lot, including the remainder of the RRC LP stock, I had no choice but to buy them. I’ll admit I would not have wanted to see all these mint condition, still sealed LPs go in the trash, but what am I going to do with them and where am I going to store them? These questions I’m still contemplating. However, these concerns are secondary to preserving and digitizing the tapes. I have a few options, I can rent a table at a few railroadiania swap meets, contact a few local hobby stores and see if they are willing to sell some, and David and I have been thinking of making them available through the blog.

I’ll have to carefully consider my options. It would be nice to make a little of my money back and put it towards digitizing tapes. For the record, here is a list of the 12″ remasters. They are all still sealed and, for the most part, in mint condition. A few may have a bend or crease in the jackets and a few copies of RRC 20 have brown water stains in the lower right corner.

12″ remaster LPs:

41 copies of RRC 3, EBT/D&RGW
18 copies of RRC 5, D7rgw
36 copies of RRC 8 CN
29 copies of RRC 3 15, CB&Q
34 copies of RRC 16, Westside Lumber
25 copies of RRC 20, NYC/C&IM (6 copies have water damage)
15 copies of RRC 26, CNS&M Freight
22 copies of RRC 29, NKP 779

Included with the unsold record stock were several mint copies of the original 10″ LPs:

10″ LPs:
1 copy RRC 2, WCF&N
1 copy RRC 4, B&O
2 copies of RRC 5, D&RGW
1 copy RRC 7, N&W
1 copy RRC 8, CN
1 copy RRC 10, PRR
1 copy RRC 16, Westside Lumber
1 copy RRC 17, Soo Line
1 copy RRC 19, DM&IR
1 copy RRC 20, NYC/C&IM
8 copies of RRC 28, Charles City Western
1 copy RRC 29, NKP 779
1 copy RRC SP-2 NP 2626

Twenty-four RCA test pressing were included in the sale, ten 12″ pressings and fourteen 10″. All these pressings are stamped on one side only and on the paper sleeve of two of the 12″ pressings there is a hand-written note: “Masters will be 12 inch”. This is the one rather disheartening part of the story. All but three of these test pressings are in very poor condition. The accrete has flaked off in large chips. When I removed the disc from the paper sleeve to determine its condition, a black snowfall often resulted. I’m not sure what to do with these, they are really just trash now. I will photograph the label of each one for my archive but after that, I just don’t know. The three good discs are two 12″ pressings for both sides of RRC 15, CB&Q. It’s lucky that the only undamaged 12″ RCA test pressings are for the two sides of the same record. The one good 10″ disc is for side 2 of RRC 25, Illinois Terminal.

The metal stamping plates vary in condition. I was able to inspect these plates while at the dealer’s property last July, so I knew what to expect. I turned them down last year to save my money for what I considered the good stuff, the artwork and 78rpm records. All the original RCA stamp plates were lost in 1973, necessitating the 12″ remaster program. These plates are the Nashville-made stamps made in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. As I remember it, all 17 master plates were in the dealer’s warehouse. I only looked at them briefly but the top few were scratched and dented. Now, if I wanted the tapes, I had to buy them. Here I did a little dealing. Since these plates were a bit heavier than the records and I was paying for shipment by the pound, I convinced the dealer to choose a few of the stamps that were in the best condition. Those in poor condition he would not charge me for and he could discard them. The archivist in me wanted to save them all, but compromises must occasionally be made.

In all I got twelve of these stamps, five are 14″ and 7 are 12″.

I ended up with a bunch of returned records as well. Numbering somewhere around fifteen or twenty, these records were returned by buyers dissatisfied with them.  Most of them have a note attached with the buyer’s name and his complaint. Things such as scratches, surface noise, and various clicks and pops were the most often cited reasons for the return.

An interesting find was various copies of the records that comprise the three-record set of SP-4. I was able to put together a set of each of the three pressings this set had. A surprise was a set of these records not in the display box that they came in, but in three separate record jackets. Each jacket had the same drawing of CSS&SB MU #108 that appeared on the box lid. Perhaps this was some sort of test printing or the original idea for the jackets. I may never know but I’m sure it is a unique set.

PHOTOGRAPHS

NP 4-8-4 2686

NP 4-8-4 2686

CA&E Elgin train on street in Aurora IL 1931

CA&E Elgin train on street in Aurora IL 1931

Capital Transit PCC and bus Catholic University

Capital Transit PCC and bus Catholic University

D&RGW 476 locomotive featured on SP-1

D&RGW 476 locomotive featured on SP-1

D&RGW 481

D&RGW 481

Des Moines & Central Iowa car 1710

Des Moines & Central Iowa car 1710

EBT 15 on a rainy day very likely while record 3 was being recorded

EBT 15 on a rainy day very likely while record 3 was being recorded

Evansville & Ohio Valley car 134

Evansville & Ohio Valley car 134

Ill Terminal car 285

Ill Terminal car 285

Ill Terminal local on Caldwell Hill East Pearia about 1936

Ill Terminal local on Caldwell Hill East Pearia about 1936

Indiana box car 550

Indiana box car 550

Indiana RR 752 waiting for loads at mine scale

Indiana RR 752 waiting for loads at mine scale

Indiana RR car 64

Indiana RR car 64

Indiana RR car 93 at Anderson IN September 4 1938

Indiana RR car 93 at Anderson IN September 4 1938

Indiana RR Vigo with rails ripped out.

Indiana RR Vigo with rails ripped out.

Interstate car 711 ex-IPSC 427 September 3 1939

Interstate car 711 ex-IPSC 427 September 3 1939

Interstate car 711 on shop siding west of Greencastle June 3 1939

Interstate car 711 on shop siding west of Greencastle June 3 1939

Interurban car 44 and REA truck Rosslyn VA

Interurban car 44 and REA truck Rosslyn VA

MC&CL RR car 34

MC&CL RR car 34

MC&CL Steeple cab 52

MC&CL Steeple cab 52

Nice right of way photo but no info other than date March 31 1936

Nice right of way photo but no info other than date March 31 1936

S T F Co RR 54 Farmington MO

S T F Co RR 54 Farmington MO

Unidentified car and person

Unidentified car and person

Unidentified steeple cab locomotive

Unidentified steeple cab locomotive

Unidentified steeple cab locomotive photo 2

Unidentified steeple cab locomotive photo 2

Waterloo Cedar Falls & Northern car 100 this car is featured on RRC 2

Waterloo Cedar Falls & Northern car 100 this car is featured on RRC 2

Here again I had to do a little dealing. I went quickly through the box of Steventon photos last year, choosing about 20 photos to purchase. The box contained a mix of railroad photos and family snap shots. The family photos outnumbered the trains. Again, I did not want to pay for, or have the added weight of photos that were just going to be tossed away. Steventon’s son was the one who sold all this family history in the first place, so I saw no reason to try and get it back to him. The dealer agreed to sort the photos and sell and ship only railroad photos. He would discard the unwanted photos.

In all there are 135 photos of railroad equipment, mostly traction subjects. Some have complete caption information, and some have nothing. There are 23 photos of active traction right-of-ways but no caption information. 24 photos of abandoned traction right-of-ways have no captions. I cannot be sure if it is a “before” and “after” series of 27 photos. I also received 11 steam negatives, the aforementioned NP 4-8-4 # 2686 (two almost identical shots at Staples, MN) and several D&RGW narrow gauge roster photos. There is one EBT negative and a shot of a steam tractor.  I haven’t had time to scan all of these photos yet, but they will appear in the Trolley Dodger as I do. For now, here are a few scans to whet your appetite.

DOCUMENTS

Stack of prints of Soo 2715

Stack of prints of Soo 2715

VHS VIDEO TAPES 

There was one last surprise waiting for me. There are eight VHS video tapes in the estate lot, seven of which were professionally produced programs of traction subjects, several of which Steventon provided audio for. One tape on a store-bought blank was labeled simply “Railroad Programs”. I thought it was most likely a tape of TV shows about trains, but I popped it in the player just to see. It turned out to be a recording of a presentation that Steventon made to a local historical society. The video quality is bad, but you can hear everything he says perfectly.

It’s all really basic stuff, what you would expect him to present to a general audience. Such things as the appeal of a steam locomotive, the nicknames of various railroad job positions like “Hogger” for engineer etc.  He then gets into the “sound portion” of his talk. He has a reel to reel tape player with him, and he explains the use of whistle signals and then plays a cut of a B&O EM-1 from Record number 4, noting the “two longs-a short-and another long” signal for a road crossing. He then goes into how a steam locomotive gains traction. Here he plays the sequence of SOO Line 2718 backing off the wye track from the intro record. He stops the tape at places to note the change in the locomotive’s sound and what that indicates to the engineer. Next, he talks about the use of torpedoes as a signaling device and plays a cut from Record number 8. He never says that these sounds are from his records. In fact, he never mentions that he ever sold records and the Railroad Record Club is not once referenced.

He eventually brings out a chart of steam locomotive wheel arrangements.  He walks out of frame with it, but you can still hear what he is saying. At some point someone thinks to pan the camera around, but the view is only the back of the chart!

By the time he finishes with the chart, the program has gone on for about 40 minutes. Now he introduces “Whistle ‘Round the Bend” and plays the entire record, all 30 minutes. While the camera never moves during this, and Steventon just sits there listening, it’s a bit of a poignant moment. The video quality, as I said, is poor, and he is in the center of a wide shot, but it’s still possible to see that he is moved by the words and sounds he his hearing.

While little information is given about how, where, or when the sounds he played were recorded a little more personal stuff is revealed. He tells of the day in 1936 that his mother died. His father was at work and needed to get home. The NYC put every opposing train on the siding and he had green signals the whole way. He also tells us that he was a sickly child and his father took him onboard the locomotive with him, even against the rules, because he wanted to spend time with him, and make William happy, as the doctors said he may not survive into adulthood.  With this video I was able to “know” William Steventon just a little bit better.

As I have these tapes put on to CD, they will be offered for sale in the online store. I bought these tapes not to just save them from destruction, but to have them made available to everyone who may be interested. I think that is perhaps the best way to ensure these historic sounds are preserved. Not just as a tribute to the people who recorded them who are now gone, but to ensure these sounds will endure to instruct and entertain future railfans long after we are gone too.

-Kenneth Gear

New Steam Audio CD:

FTS
Farewell To Steam
Mister D’s Machine
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.99

Farewell To Steam
On February 6, 1955 the Santa Fe Railway ran a railfan train from Los Angeles to Barstow and back for the Railway Club of Southern California. This was Santa Fe’s last run powered by a steam locomotive over this route. The engine was a 4-8-4, #3759. We have used the original, rare 1955 mono version of this recording, and not the later 1958 reissue that had a bunch of echo added to create a fake stereo effect.

Mister D’s Machine
When diesel locomotives replaced steam in the 1950s, they offered a multitude of different sounds. This original 1963 stereo recording showcases the many sounds of diesels on the San Joaquin and Los Angeles Divisions of the Southern Pacific, including the Tahachappi Loop, an engineering feat that made modern railroading famous.

As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.

Total time – 72:56

Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There are three subway anniversaries this year in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)

To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.

While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages

Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960

Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today!  All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.

The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

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William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club

William Steventon

William Steventon

Today’s post is the first of two by Kenneth Gear, long a friend of this blog. We have great news to report– Ken has finally been able to purchase all the remaining Railroad Record Club items from the dealer that purchased them many years ago from the estate of William A. Steventon, who died 25 years ago.

Ken details all that in another post, Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt, Part 2. These new discoveries have enabled him to offer what is, to my knowledge, the first-ever comprehensive and factual history of William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club.

Thanks in great part to Ken’s dedication and persistence, you can find practically all the RRC’s 10″ and 12″ output, now digitized on compact discs for the 21st century, in our Online Store. We thank him for these efforts, and hope you will too.

-David Sadowski

INTRODUCTION

As regular readers of this blog know, David and I have been gathering bits and pieces of information about the Railroad Record Club and its founder, William A. Steventon. We wanted to get a better understanding of what went into making these records, and to put together a history of the club. David started the ball rolling in April 2015 when he wrote the first Trolley Dodger post about it. As soon as I read that post I jumped aboard having been interested in the subject for some time. Together we finally managed to accumulate enough separate fragments of the story so that when we put it all together, it formed an accurate outline of the events leading up to the formation of the club and offered some insight into its operation. We were also able to build a brief biological sketch of Mr. Steventon.

Separately David and I looked for any resource that might reveal some small bit of new information. We read liner notes, club newsletters, and we looked through back issues of magazines in search of RRC ads. We collected order blanks, and I purchased copies of records I already owned because they had club inserts tucked away in the jackets. I researched the meaning of the matrix codes engraved in the lead out grooves of the LPs to more accurately date them. We studied artwork and found some of Steventon’s personal correspondences.  Everything came together when I purchased a large collection of Railroad Record Club items from Steventon’s estate. Combing through this material finally gave us enough information so that David and I could piece together the Railroad Record Club story you are about to read.

There are still unanswered questions to be sure and there are also missing recordings. We haven’t been able to secure copies of the 5th and 6th year sampler records. We also can only speculate on how, to whom, and at what cost these sampler records were distributed.

If any readers have any RRC material, please contact David. We only ask for a scan of any paper work or leads you may be able to offer as to who might be able to help. Thank you.

I have recently been able to purchase the last of the Steventon estate items I left behind last year (more on that in A Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt, Part 2) and with luck David and I will be able to put together a few more pieces of the Railroad Record Club puzzle.

WILLIAM STEVENTON & THE RAILROAD RECORD CLUB 

William A. Steventon was born in 1921 in Mount Carmel, Illinois, son of a locomotive engineer on the Big Four Railroad (New York Central). As a child he spent much of his time around the red brick passenger station and wooden freight house across from Main Street. The family eventually moved to Cairo, Illinois and there he would often ride in the locomotive cab with his father. In the liner notes to Record number 20- NYC/C&IM while describing an in-cab recording made with his father at the throttle, Steventon reminisces about his boyhood days spent there:

“It is strange that this recording should remind me of something that I had almost forgotten. If I hadn’t heard my father pull a whistle cord in 50 years, and in the distance I should hear a certain whistle, I would know that it was him. This recording also reminds me of the many times I had waited as a youngster for him to whistle near Cherry switch to let us know he was coming home from a north-end run. It reminds me of the many times I have walked down Washington Street in Cairo and heard him whistling in the yards.”

After serving in World War II Steventon married and took a government job. He and his wife settled in the Washington DC area and it is here that the Railroad Record Club story begins.

It all began when Steventon’s wife gave him a record of Railroad sound effects as a Christmas gift, most likely in 1952. While he was interested in the concept of recorded train sounds, he was very dissatisfied with this record. He was convinced that the sounds were not those of actual trains, that they were train “effects” created in a recording studio.  He wanted sound recordings of REAL trains. He purchased one of the new reel to reel tape recorders that had recently become available and in March 1953, set out to make his first railroad sound recordings.

First recording

First recording

The first recording he made was along the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at the Riverdale, Maryland passenger station (MP 32.4 on the Washington Branch). As best as can be determined, the first train he recorded was # 523 the “MARYLANDER” powered by an EMD diesel (he did not make note of the locomotive number). His second train was powered by steam but in his haste to hear the recording immediately after making it, he accidently partially erased it! He wrote about his frustration in an article for TRACTION & MODELS Magazine:

“When we made our very first recording in 1953 we took the equipment to Riverdale, Maryland and recorded a steamer thundering past the B&O station. When it was gone we stopped the recorder, rewound the tape and played it back. Nothing happened-the tape was silent. we waited thinking that the steamer wasn’t within “hearing distance” as yet, but when it became evident that we should be hearing the sound, we investigated.  In our enthusiasm to “get recording” we had failed to become familiar with our equipment. Instead of pushing the playback key, we had pushed the record key and were erasing the sound we had just recorded.”

That partially erased recording, as well as the others he made that night, were discovered on a 78rpm acetate record in his estate. It is included on the Trolley Dodger Railroad Record Club Rarities Steam & Diesel CD.

During the next few years, Steventon made numerous railroad sound recordings, both in and around Washington DC and on trips to visit family in Illinois. Near Washington DC he recorded the streetcars of the Capital Transit Company, steam & diesels on the B&O, and Pennsy GG-1s. He even recorded the sounds of the Senate Subway. He made trips to Maryland to record the Western Maryland, the Hagerstown & Frederick interurban cars and freight box motors, and he rode and recorded the Baltimore streetcars. In Pennsylvania he recorded mainline steam on the PRR, revenue steam on the East Broad Top, and made extensive recordings of the Johnstown Traction Company and the Altoona & Logan Valley. In Illinois he captured the sounds of the New York Central, Chicago & Illinois Midland, Nickel Plate, Illinois Central, and Chicago Burlington & Quincy among others. He did recordings of the passenger and freight operations of the Midwestern electric railways including the Illinois Terminal, Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee, Chicago Aurora & Elgin and even recorded an entire run of Chicago South Shore & South Bend M.U. car # 108 from Chicago to South Bend. In Iowa he added the Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern, Southern Iowa, Cedar Rapids & Iowa City and Charles City Western. In his travels he made recordings of the Pacific Electric, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Wabash, Soo Line, Denver & Rio Grande Western narrow gauge, and Norfolk & Western. In a 1958 newspaper interview he stated he had traveled to fifteen states to record train sounds. It is quite an extensive output and not all of it has been pressed into vinyl or released on tape or CD.

All this recording did not come easily. Dragging the equipment from home to car and from car to trackside required the help of at least one other person. Steventon wrote about the difficulty of using this bulky equipment in the field:

“We had a 12-volt auto battery for the primary power source, a 12 v.d.c. to 110 v.a.c. rotary converter, a reel to reel recorder plus a satchel of extra equipment, tapes, and assorted material. Two men could struggle with all this equipment, but it required three men to carry everything with any degree of ease and mobility. In addition, we normally carried a battery charger for use with keeping the battery up to par during the night. This could be left in the auto during the day but was a very necessary part of our total equipment requirement.”

It is a wonder anyone was able to record anything, considering the burden it must have been to get all this stuff trackside. It makes one grateful for the ability to record high quality sound and high definition video with just a tiny cell phone as we can do today.

Steventon eventually took a job as manager of the Cream Valley Telephone Company and he and his wife moved to Hawkins, Wisconsin. There he would continue to make railroad sound recordings, start a family. and create the Railroad Record Club.

Doing all this traveling and making these recordings invariably put him in contact with like-minded people. It is safe to assume that they would want to trade and share the recordings they made with each other. In the mid-1950s this was no easy task. Modern home audio systems, as we think of them now, simply did not exist. The problem was made even worse if recordings were to be shared or sold to someone who did not make recordings themselves and therefore did not own a reel to reel tape player/recorder. While most people at the time did not own a tape player, a phonograph could be found in most homes.

Steventon pre-RRC 78rpm records

Steventon pre-RRC 78rpm records

If Steventon wanted to give or sell his recordings to many other people, they would have to be put onto phonograph records. This too, wouldn’t be easy. The solution was to procure a portable disc cutter. These machines became available for home use starting in about 1929 and were most often used to record things off the radio. The standard record format of the time was a disc ten inches in diameter and made of aluminum covered with acetate. The 78rpm playing speed yielded no more than five minutes of content per side. These records had to be made in real time and the record blanks were quite heavy compared to a modern vinyl record. To distill more and varied content on these homemade records, he spliced together all sorts of bits and pieces and recorded brief introductions to tell listeners what they were about to hear. He conceived a catalog numbering system and had rubber stamps made for the most popular titles, the rest having hand-written labels. Steventon produced an extraordinary amount of records this way. Finding a sizable collection of these acetate records in the Steventon estate reveled just how extensive the output was. Although a complete catalog listing of these records can not presently be made, the following partial list is still very impressive.

01. Potomac Edison (aka Hagerstown & Frederick)
02. Shenandoah Central
03. Capital Transit
04. Johnstown Traction
05. Altoona & Logan Valley
06. Baltimore & Ohio
07. Shaker Heights Rapid Transit
08. Claude Mahoney Radio Program about NRHS fantrip (1953)
09. Pennsylvania Railroad
10. Nickel Plate Road
11. St. Louis Public Service
12. Illinois Terminal
13. Illinois Central
16. Norfolk & Western
17. Western Maryland Railway
18. Baltimore Transit
19. Senate Subway (Washington, DC)
21. Rochester Subway
22. East Broad Top
23. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy
24. Chicago & Illinois Midland
25. Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto
26. Virginian
28. Queensboro Bridge
29. Wabash
30. 3rd Avenue Elevated
31. Minneapolis, St Paul & Sault Ste Marie
32. Louisville & Nashville
34. St Elizabeth’s Hospital (hospital in Washington DC that used a 0-4-0T to move coal from the B&O.)
37. Independent Subway

It is worth noting that this numbering sequence is totally different from the later one adopted for the 10” records issued later.

Things were apparently going well for Steventon’s railroad record enterprise for a while but things were about to change. Long playing 33 1/3 rpm records made of lighter materials and with improved sound were beginning to gain in popularity. Record blanks and parts for the disc cutter would undoubtedly become harder to get. Steventon needed to have his records made by a professional record pressing company to continue selling them. Steventon would have to make new master tapes for each release because the new records, although still 10”, could hold fifteen minutes of sound on each side-a full half-hour altogether. This would be the equivalent of more then five of the old acetates. He would forgo, for the most part, his spoken introductions and provide printed notes on the cardboard record jackets. These notes could be pretty sparse at first, containing little more than the railroad and locomotive number.

RRC intro record

RRC intro record

RRC INTRO old SP5

RRC INTRO old SP5

Bill Steventon recording compressor noise on CNS&M interurban

Bill Steventon recording compressor noise on CNS&M interurban

Eventually he began to write extensive notes on separate sheets of paper that were inserted into the record jackets. In time, the first completed master tape was sent off to the RCA Custom Record facility in Indianapolis, Indiana and soon afterward the first official Railroad Record Club LP came into being. The record was titled simply INTRODUCTORY RECORD and carried no catalog number. Side one contained the sounds of Soo Line 4-6-2 # 2718 powering an August, 1955 fan trip between Minneapolis, Minnesota and Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Illinois Central 0-8-0 # 3509 switching at Centralia, Illinois was featured on the flip side. A look at the first four characters in the matrix code engraved into the lead-out grooves of a first edition of this record, G8OL, gives the following information: First is the date code-G indicates the record was manufactured in 1956, then the label code-8 showing it was a custom job that was re-recorded from the client’s source material. Next is the category code-O meaning it is a phonograph record, and the fourth character-L denoted the size, speed & groove, 10”, mono, & 331/3 rpm. The final numbers 0479 for side one and 0480 on side two were simply sequence numbers. The Introductory Record was therefore available for sale sometime in 1956 or perhaps 1957.

He made the decision to sell these new records not as a regular mail order business, but as a club. The club membership idea may have been the direct result of the expense associated with this new endeavor. He had to have the records pressed by RCA which required metal master plates to be made. Cardboard record jackets had to be purchased and be printed with photographs or drawings. Tape stock had to be bought for the making of the new master tapes. All in all, this must have been a considerable expense. Selling the records through a club meant that the members were required to purchase a set number of records and paying for them in advance, thereby guaranteeing he would get some return on all this investment. The club worked like this: Four records would be offered per year. Members could buy the records at the discounted price of $4 each providing they maintained membership by purchasing at least three of the selections. Membership expired upon the purchase of one year’s group. There were no membership dues, but records were paid for in advance to provide the necessary money to have the metal masters made.  Special pressings could be purchased at club prices but were not counted toward the three-record minimum. Non-members could buy individual LPs at $5.25 each. $4.00 for a LP record sounds like a bargain but remember those $4 in 1958 had the same buying power as $34.72 in 2018! These Records weren’t cheap. According to a 1958 interview he gave to the Milwaukee Sentinel, the club started off very well. The article stated that there were some 200 club members through out the United States and several foreign countries including New Zealand, Australia, England and Canada. It goes on to state he has already sold 1,000 records.

Steventon continued to sell his records through the yearly club membership plan until October 1965 when the club membership requirement was withdrawn. The records would now be sold separately and at the same price to everyone.

From 1957 with the release of the Introductory record until October 1965 when the last regularly scheduled production of a Railroad Record Club release (Record number 32-New York Central) was offered, Steventon produced thirty-two regular club releases and three special pressings. One more release, SP-4-CSS&SB would be released later that year. Afterwards, Steventon released Records Numbers 33-36 and special pressings numbers SP-5 (a reissue of the introductory record) and the last all new Railroad Record Club record in 1983, number SP-6 Milwaukee Road box cab electrics. Each record was simply numbered in the order it was produced.

RAILROAD RECORD CLUB TITLES
0 Soo Line, Illinois Central (Introductory Record)
1 Wabash Railroad, Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha
2 Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern, Southern Iowa Railway
3 Denver, Rio Grande & Western, East Broad Top
4 Baltimore and Ohio
5 Denver & Rio Grande Western
6 Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick)
7 Norfolk & Western, Illinois Central (Also includes a bit of Illinois Terminal Railroad)
8 Canadian National (aka Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam)
9 Winston-Salem Southbound
10 Pennsylvania Railroad
11 Shaker Heights Rapid Transit
12 Duluth Missabe & Iron Range
13 Nickel Plate Road
14 Pacific Electric
15 Chicago, Burlington & Quincy
16 Westside Lumber Company
17 Minneapolis & St Paul, Sault Ste Marie Railway
18 Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee
19 Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range
20 Chicago & Illinois Midland – New York Central
21 Duluth & Northeastern
22 Buffalo Creek & Gauley
23 Pennsylvania Trolleys
24 Canadian Pacific
25 Illinois Terminal Railroad
26 Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee (freight)
27 Capital Transit Company
28 Charles City Western – Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern
29 Nickel Plate Road
30 Sound Scrapbook, Traction
31 Sound Scrapbook, Steam
32 New York Central
33 Chicago, South Shore & South Bend (freight)
34 Chicago, South Shore & South Bend (freight)
35 Milwaukee & Suburban Transport, Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee
36 Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, Chicago Transit Authority

Special Pressings
SP1 The Silverton Train
SP2 Northern Pacific 2626 Memorial Album
SP3 Whistle ‘Round the Bend
SP4 Chicago, South Shore & South Bend Railroad (passenger)
SP5 Soo Line, Illinois Central
SP6 The Milwaukee Road (electric freight)

He also produced several “sampler” records which contain short snippets of tracks from the LP records.

THE RAILROAD RECORD CLUB SAMPLERS

1st & 2nd Year Sampler:  (short excerpts from records 1 to 4 on side one & records 5 to 8 on side two)
3rd & 4th Year Sampler: (short excerpts from records 9 to 12 on side one & records 13 to 16 on side two)
5th Year Sampler: (short excerpts from records 17 to 20 recorded on one side only)
6th Year Sampler: (short excerpts from records 21 to 24 recorded on one side only)
7th & 8th Year Sampler: (short excerpts from records 25 to 28 on side one & records 29 to 32 on side two)

Among these forty-two LPs there are some real gems. He certainly started off strong with Record Number one. On side two there is one of his best “sound picture” type recordings. It features Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha 2-8-0 # 219 switching in the yards at Spooner, Wisconsin on a dark misty night in October of 1955. This was one of his favorite audio sequences and he described it like this in the record’s reissue liner notes:

“Close your eyes and imagine you are in a Pullman berth. Your passenger train has stopped at the station and you are sleepily listening to this nearby switching movement.” And from the notes to the original release: “That night in October of 1955 was very dark, moonless and misting heavily. The sulfuric, yet nostalgic odor of coal smoke drifted sluggishly over the Spooner, Wisconsin yards as the sound of exhausts and squealing brakes seeped through the murky atmosphere. A dim yellow light at the south end of the station platform rocked in the wind, flicking shadows to and fro over the moving cars.” 

If you don’t feel the dampness, smell the coal smoke, or find that you need to shake off a chill while listening to this, you’re just not trying.

There are so many remarkable sound sequences on these LPs that it would be impossible to list them all, Some of the most interesting ones include:  a D&RGW narrow gauge train with a mid-train helper on Cumbres Pass on Record number 3, the B&O EM-1 stopping and starting sequences on Record Number 4, a PRR 4-8-2 on slick rail on Record number 10, the cab rides in CSS&SB freight motors on Record numbers 33 and 34, the list goes on and on.

William Steventon did not exclusively use his own recordings on the Railroad Record Club LPs. In the second year of the club he began to utilize the talents of his friends, and the most notable of the group was Elwin D. Purington. Mr. Purington’s considerable recording talents added greatly to the quality of Steventon’s releases. Three records were entirely comprised of his recordings and they are three of the best. Record number 8-Canadian National (re-released as “Canadian Railroading in The Days Of Steam”) is one of Steventon’s favorites, and SP-2 the Northern Pacific 2626 memorial album Steventon called “a masterpiece.”  He provided the sounds for side one of Record number 12-DM&IR and his recordings of the CMSt.P&P electric freight locomotives are featured on Record SP-6.  He also did the narration on Number 3-East Broad Top and SP-3-Whistle ‘Round the Bend. Thomas A. Hosick recorded the train sounds for Record number 9-Winston-Salem Southbound, and John L. Wise contributed to Record number 10-PRR. Harold O. Lewis did some fine recording work that was used on three LPs, Record number 16-Westside Lumber, number 24-Canadian Pacific, and number 31-Sound Scrapbook-Steam. Eugene Van Dusen made all but the final three cuts for Record Number 32-NYC, and finally A. L. Shade, another top-notch sound recorder of trains, added his talents to Record numbers 13-Nickel Plate, 29-NKP 779 and 22-Buffalo Creek & Gauley.

Excellent HM Pech cover RRC 5

Excellent HM Pech cover RRC 5

Marginal HM Pech cover 1st edition of Record number 8

Marginal HM Pech cover 1st edition of Record number 8

RRC 19

RRC 19

The sounds on these LPs were great right from the start, but it took awhile for the record jackets to evolve into something interesting and appealing. At first the record jackets had little in the way of cover art, nothing more than a small photo or two plus a few paragraphs of text. Eventually sketches of the featured locomotive pulling a train were added, usually draw by an artist who signed his work HM Pech. These drawings could range from excellent (Record number 5) to marginal (1st edition of Record number 8). All mediocrity was removed for good when the cover art for Record number 19 was revealed. The cover of this record is a very nice accomplishment. The drawing of DM&IR 2-8-8-4 # 222 is perfect in every way. This great drawing combined with an appealing layout makes for a wonderful cover. A new visual benchmark for the Railroad Record Club had been reached and there was no going back. The drawing was done by Marshall P. (Pat) McMahon. He worked for the Minneapolis Star Tribune as an illustrator. His drawings of railroad equipment are flawless. The detail is meticulously rendered and drawn with precision and skill. Mr. McMahon would from here on out, be the main artist used by Steventon to illustrate the record jackets. When second editions of previously released records were pressed, McMahon would be called upon to create a new cover drawing. Every one is a vast improvement over what had come before. He also got the call to do new drawings when the records began to be reissued on 12″ discs, and he even did at least one drawing that Steventon sold prints of (Soo Line steamer # 2715). He would go on to do cover illustrations for thirty record jackets for the club! Rounding out the list of artists employed by the Railroad Record Club: Ernie Towler did a fine pencil sketch of a Shay locomotive for the 12″ reissue of Record Number 16-Westside Lumber and he did the cover of the reissue of number 15-CB&Q. Herb Mott did a painting of a boy watching a steam train passing for the cover of SP-3-Whistle ‘Round the Bend. This record has the distinction of being the only one with a full color cover.

RRC 17 Steventon enjoyed being here Hawkins WI Soo station

RRC 17 Steventon enjoyed being here Hawkins WI Soo station

RRC 17 1st edition drawing Hawkins WI Soo station

RRC 17 1st edition drawing Hawkins WI Soo station

RRC 20

RRC 20

Advertising had to be done, and ads were placed in several railroad and modeling magazines including Trains and Model Railroad Craftsman. Such tag lines as “Authentic steam and electric railway recordings,” “Sounds you like to hear steam-traction,” and “Out of the past and into your home” were used. A mailing list was maintained, and announcements and sales information mailed directly to those on it. Records were sold in hobby stores, and Steventon sent LPs  to railroad historical societies that coincided with the group’s interests. He even devised a unique “Audition Set Program”. To audition a set of records a request form had to be filled out. A choice could be made as to which records were wanted but a choice of pre-selected LPs could be made by choosing ” all steam” or “all traction” or both. A “random” selection could be made giving the customer the choice of titles and number of records. A deposit in the following amounts had to be sent: “all steam” consisting of 25 10″ records-$100.00, “all traction” consisting of 15 10″ records-$60.00 and “random” $4.00 each. After listening, the records were to be returned with (hopefully) a purchase order. The money for the purchased records would be deducted from the deposit and the remainder returned with the record order.

Eventually Steventon branched out and began to sell all types of things. His biggest sideline was selling photographs. The photo catalog alone was 40 pages! He sold 16mm, 8mm and super 8 traction movies, books, records from other producers, he even had a line of railroad logo watch fobs! In one sales flyer he was trying to unload his old adding machine, a Sears model No. 871.58251 (he wanted $40 for it postpaid).

After 1965, when The Railroad Record Club stopped functioning as a club, not much else changed. Steventon continued to release records and in fact had plans to release many more. In a 1966 newsletter Steventon makes mention of future planned releases, unfortunately not all of them were produced. He writes: “Future releases will be made on the basis of availability of time and material. At this writing an “on train” recording of the old 1000 series Chicago South Shore & South Bend locomotives is in production. No release date has been set.” (Records number 33 & 34). He continues: “Other material for future work includes many steam and electric lines including the Shenandoah Central (never produced), Baltimore & Ohio (never produced) Chicago Aurora & Elgin (Record Number 36), Chicago Transit Authority (record number 36) Queensboro Bridge (never produced) and others.”

This newsletter also announces the first Railroad Record Club selection ever to be released on 12” discs-Special Pressing number 4.  “On December 21, 1965 a new milestone was established with the release of a set of three 12-inch 33 1/3 rpm recordings of the complete run of interurban No. 108 from Chicago to South Bend. Approximately two hours playing time and conveniently arranged for automatic playing sequence. Prepared and recommended for the devoted traction enthusiast.”

Through the rest of the 1960s and into the 1970s Steventon successfully sold his records. Some of the most popular selections had second and even third editions pressed, and the covers and liner notes continued to evolve, The liner notes were becoming more extensive and contained more information, not just about the equipment recorded, but somewhat personal stuff as well. For example, on record number 17, the entirety of side one contains the sounds of the activities going on inside the Hawkins, Wisconsin Soo Line station. Although Steventon writes in the third person he conveys his pleasure at being there. The sound of the telegraph, talking with the agent, the rumble of trains going past, the whole “atmosphere” he loved. “Plant your feet on the desk” he writes, “lean back in your chair and you’re the agent at this small village station.” He wrote fond boyhood memories in the notes to Record number 20 and revealed in those same notes just how he felt about diesel locomotives. He wrote that while recording a C&IM 0-8-0 switcher going about her chores, he was “dismayed” and “disgusted” when a GM&O RS-1 came onto the scene.  He included the diesel on the record however, noting that the steamer and the diesel sharing the stage made for an interesting recording. As he puts it: “Actually this could be considered as the tug-of-war between two types of motive power as to which will dominate the railroad scene”. At this point, he had to be dismayed to know steam would be the loser. Eventually his negative view of diesels must have softened a bit because in 1988, when he revised the notes to Record number 20, he removed the word “disgusted” although he continued to be “dismayed”. Steventon never released an LP that was entirely diesel sounds. He recorded diesels with some degree of regularity, as his first recording was of one. In his estate there was an open reel tape labeled “Nickel Plate Diesels” and on those acetate records there are plenty of B&O diesels. Perhaps he thought his record buying customers wouldn’t want to spend money to hear those “disgusting” machines. Rarely is the sound of a diesel included on any of the records.

The Railroad Record Club continued steadily along until early in 1973. A situation then developed that could not be easily overcome, in fact, it never would be completely. Early in that year RCA informed Steventon that they would no longer press his records. In club announcements concerning this situation Steventon wrote “In February of 1973 they (RCA) notified us that all of their custom work was being discontinued.” If RCA would not press his records, he would just have to find another company that would. That plan quickly died when another, more devastating difficulty was discovered. RCA had lost or destroyed all the Club’s metal master discs at its Indianapolis plant. Without those master discs new records could not be pressed by anyone. Steventon was stopped cold.  If he wanted to continue selling his previously released records, new master discs would have to be made. By the early 1970s 7” singles and 12” albums were the standards and the old 10” format was on the way out. New master discs would have to be made and they would have to be 12”.  Steventon managed to surmount these obstacles. He found a new company to work with, Nashville Record Productions of Nashville, Tennessee.

Even as the process of remastering and pressing new records progressed, Steventon was cautious with his expectations. He wrote carefully in a flyer about the remastering: “Due to a shortage of raw material record pressings may become difficult to obtain. Consequently we have no guarantee that our complete line can be produced, but will re-issue each record as conditions permit.”  Interested parties were mailed a “Railroad Record Club Advance Notice Mailing Card.” On this card selections were to be made as to which records the recipient wanted to be notified of when the 12” reissue was being readied. The recipient could then purchase the record at a pre-production discounted price.  Progress was made, albeit very slowly. The RCA masters were lost in the winter of 1973 but by summer 1976, only two records had been reissued. The first two being number 10-PRR and the second Number 8-CN now titled “Canadian Railroading in The Days Of Steam.” Steventon could not simply reissue the records numerically starting at number one and progressing from there. This was a very expensive undertaking and he needed to release the most popular titles first. At first, he considered having all the records remastered at once and getting a press run of each. This idea was dropped when the cost turned out to be more then $30,000! He decided to go back to his original club plan where he required a set amount of those pre-production advance payments to come in. Once there was sufficient interest shown for a certain record, as calculated from the advance mailing cards, he would announce that it was being readied for remastering. He would only send an order to Nashville when enough of the pre-production money came in to justify it.

In a telling reply to an inquiry from a customer wanting to know why a certain record, number 36, was still unavailable, Steventon spelled it out clearly:

“The program of re-mastering was started in ’73 after RCA lost our metal masters. The pre-production offer is used to generate funds to pay for the re-mastering process. As a rule of thumb it takes about 125 pre-payments to cover these costs. Experience has shown that roughly only 50% of those who ask to be notified on a new selection actually follow through with an order. Thus we need 250 requests to start the program. As of this date (March 29, 1989) only 99 have shown an interest in record 36, CA&E. The pressing firm in TN has just notified us of another increase in production costs. Dollar wise we are now talking $1100 to $1200 to re-master and get the first press run. The RR club is not a profit venture – we only ask to break even. In 1987 we operated at a loss of $444.10. 1988 was better with a modest net income of $119.75. We need EVERY bit of interest shown to keep the program rolling – it is a tough job!”

It was a tough job to be certain and it was also a very slow one. An order blank from November 1984 shows only eight remastered records, Number 4-B&O, 7-N&W/IC, 8-CN, 10-PRR, 19-DM&IR, 29-NKP 779 and SP-5-SOO/IC the ex-intro record. Also for sale at that time was a second pressing of SP-4 the CSS&SB three record set. Also listed on this order blank was a brand new record. Even with the remastering difficulties going on the Railroad Record Club managed to release one last all-new record. This last hurrah was special pressing number 6-The Milwaukee Road- Box Cab Electric Locomotives on the Coast Division, recorded by Elwin Purington in stereo. On the jacket SP-6 is touted as the “30th Anniversary Issue 1953-1983.” Another fine McMahon drawing graced the cover.

As each 12” reissue was produced, Steventon would revise and update the liner notes. If the record had an existing McMahon illustration it was transferred to the new jacket in the same size it appeared on the 10” jacket, but with a wide white border. If a reissue did not have a previously drawn McMahon picture, one would be commissioned. These black and white record jackets were distinctive and attractive. On the reissues the audio content was always identical to the 10” version, since the same master tapes were used. There was one exception, however. Although the railroad sounds were exactly the same, on the original release of Record number 3-EBT/D&RGW, Steventon had recorded spoken introductions to each of the EBT tracks, just as he had done for the old 78 acetate records in fact, they are exactly the same.  Steventon wanted these introductions removed to correct a mistake and instead of simply taking them off and writing the information into the liner notes, he had Elwin Purington re-record them.

The long and expensive remastering project continued into 1990. A test pressing for Record number 16-Westside Lumber had a memo attached that read: “Record No. 16, Westside Lumber Co. Record pressing approved if “blips” at approximately 3 min, 36 seconds into side one and continuing for about 6 or 7 seconds were corrected. Card returned 1/10/90.”  Not all of the surviving test pressings have dates on the jackets, but it is obvious that this one had to be among the last. By the early 1990s’ compact discs were already poised to topple vinyl records as the standard audio format. Steventon simply choose not to upgrade to yet another new format. Record number 16 being reissued in 1990, proves that Steventon worked at remastering the records almost to the end of his life. He died in 1993, just three years after the test pressing date for Record number 16. The long, expensive, and difficult remastering program started in 1973 and continued into at least 1990. In all only 17 of the 40 10” records were reissued on 12″ discs.

RAILROAD RECORD CLUB RECORDS REISSUED IN 12″ FORMAT
#1-WABASH (10″ 3rd Edition Cover Art)
#3-D&RGW/EBT (New Cover Art)
#4-B&O (New Cover Art)
#5-D&RGW
#7-N&W/IC (New Cover Art)
#8-CN (New Cover Art) Title changed to “Canadian Railroading In The Days Of Steam”
#10-PRR (10″ 2nd Edition Cover Art)
#15-CB&Q (New Cover Art)
#16-Westside Lumber (New Cover Art) Cover changed from a photograph to a pencil sketch
#17-Soo (New Cover Art)
#18-CNS&M (10″ 2nd Edition Cover Art)
#19-DM&IR
#20-C&IM/NYC
#26-CNS&M (Freight)
#29-NKP 779
#SP-2-NP 2626 (Same photo used on both 10″ & 12″ record covers but reproduced smaller on the reissue)
#SP-4-CSS&SB (passenger) 3 record set was only released on 12″ stock in display box
#SP-5-Soo/IC Formally the introductory record (New Cover Art)
#SP-6-MILW Box Cabs (Only released in 12″ format)
17 records reissued from 10″ to 12″
2 records only released on 12″

The Railroad Record Club didn’t completely die with William Steventon. His son Seth revived the club some years after his father’s death by putting the entire line of records on cassette tapes. By this time, however, CDs were the favored format and the effort was shelved.

Because of William A. Steventon’s commitment to recording the vanishing sounds of a passing era on American railroads, and just as importantly, making those recordings available to all who were interested, we can today hear the sounds of a Hagerstown & Frederick interurban car speeding past a lonely country crossing. We can experience the sonic thunder of a New York Central 4-6-4 blasting out of Mount Carmel, Illinois with a whistle full of water. We can ride along in the cab of a CSS&SB freight motor on its trip out of Michigan city, and we can enjoy the work of the other talented railroad recordists whose work Steventon put on his records. We can even listen to that whining rotary converter in Harristown, Illinois.

-Kenneth Gear

New Steam Audio CD:

FTS
Farewell To Steam
Mister D’s Machine
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.99

Farewell To Steam
On February 6, 1955 the Santa Fe Railway ran a railfan train from Los Angeles to Barstow and back for the Railway Club of Southern California. This was Santa Fe’s last run powered by a steam locomotive over this route. The engine was a 4-8-4, #3759. We have used the original, rare 1955 mono version of this recording, and not the later 1958 reissue that had a bunch of echo added to create a fake stereo effect.

Mister D’s Machine
When diesel locomotives replaced steam in the 1950s, they offered a multitude of different sounds. This original 1963 stereo recording showcases the many sounds of diesels on the San Joaquin and Los Angeles Divisions of the Southern Pacific, including the Tahachappi Loop, an engineering feat that made modern railroading famous.

As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.

Total time – 72:56

Pre-Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There are three subway anniversaries this year in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)

To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.

While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages

Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960

Building Chicago’s Subways will be published on October 1, 2018. Order your copy today, and it will be shipped on or about that date. All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.

The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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For Shipping Elsewhere:

Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

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The Magic of Jack Bejna

CA&E Car 52 (Stephenson, 1902).

CA&E Car 52 (Stephenson, 1902).

Some of you have a device called a Magic Jack to make telephone calls using your home computer. But as many of our readers know, this blog also has a “Magic Jack” all of its own.

Today’s post features the work of Jack Bejna, whose pictures have been featured here many times previously. He loves finding old photographs and works his own brand of magic on them, making them look better using Photoshop.

We thank him for sharing these great images with our readers. The comments that follow, in this section, are Jack’s. Just to keep a hand in, we also have a few additional photos of our own that follow.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Chicago Aurora & Elgin at Laramie Avenue

Here are a few shots of the yard at Laramie Avenue. The first shows the yard looking east with the freight shed at the right, and at the left a CTA train heads west. The second shot features a CA&E train heading west (not sure but looks like a motorman in the front window). The third shot is at the freight house looking west. The tracks in the foreground were used to store CA&E trains when not needed, and many photographs of CA&E cars were taken at this location through the years. The fourth shot shows a CA&E freight at Flournoy Street heading west. In the background can be seen the mid-day storage tracks for CA&E cars.

CA&E Lockwood Yard at Laramie.

CA&E Lockwood Yard at Laramie.

CA&E Laramie Yard overview.

CA&E Laramie Yard overview.

CA&E Laramie Ave freight house.

CA&E Laramie Ave freight house.

CA&E 7 at Flournoy Street, Laramie Yard.

CA&E 7 at Flournoy Street, Laramie Yard.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin Wheaton Yards

CA&E car 18 (Niles 1902), plus cars 44 and 423.

CA&E car 18 (Niles 1902), plus cars 44 and 423.

CA&E car 24 (Niles 1902).

CA&E car 24 (Niles 1902).

CA&E car 26 (Niles 1902).

CA&E car 26 (Niles 1902).

CA&E car 28 (Niles 1902).

CA&E car 28 (Niles 1902).

CA&E Car 34 end view (Stephenson, 1902).

CA&E Car 34 end view (Stephenson, 1902).

CA&E Car 34 (Stephenson, 1902).

CA&E Car 34 (Stephenson, 1902).

CA&E Car 36 (Stephenson, 1902).

CA&E Car 36 (Stephenson, 1902).

CA&E Car 48 (Stephenson, 1902).

CA&E Car 48 (Stephenson, 1902).

CA&E Car 52 (Stephenson, 1902).

CA&E Car 52 (Stephenson, 1902).

Detroit Jackson & Chicago

I believe that all of these pictures were taken in or near Jackson, Michigan. The Jackson depot is lettered Michigan United Railways in one picture, Michigan United Traction Comapny in another, and the cars are lettered Michigan Railway Lines, all as a result of several changes of ownership of the Detroit Jackson and Chicago lines. Also included is a map of downtown Jackson.

Jackson Interurban Station postcard.

Jackson Interurban Station postcard.

Jackson Interurban Station.

Jackson Interurban Station.

Jackson, Michigan Traction Map.

Jackson, Michigan Traction Map.

Michigan Railway Lines - Car 1.

Michigan Railway Lines – Car 1.

Michigan Railway Lines - Car 2.

Michigan Railway Lines – Car 2.

Michigan Railway Lines - Car 3.

Michigan Railway Lines – Car 3.

Michigan Railway Lines - Car 16.

Michigan Railway Lines – Car 16.

Michigan Railway Lines - Cars 27 and 64.

Michigan Railway Lines – Cars 27 and 64.

Michigan Railway Lines - Car 65.

Michigan Railway Lines – Car 65.

Michigan Railway Lines - Car 85.

Michigan Railway Lines – Car 85.

Michigan Railway Lines - Car 647.

Michigan Railway Lines – Car 647.

Detroit United Railway

Some years ago a friend of mine told me that her uncle had died and left a lot of railroadiana behind, and I could have a look and take anything I wanted. Most of the stuff was not worth anything but I did come across two small (4”x 6”) two ring binders that were full of Detroit United Railways and Michigan Interurban equipment photos. The DUR photos had in-depth tech specs on the photo back for the particular car pictured. The pre-printed tech spec info form was dated: Rep cost 10-1-1921. I believe these photos were part of an audit for an upcoming fare increase request. I therefore believe that the photos were taken circa 1921.

I kept the binders and several years ago I started scanning them and Photoshopping them when I had time to spare. The quality of the pictures (i.e., exposure, lighting, etc.) varies but there are a number that are fine following a lot of Photoshop work.

Most of the photos don’t include the location where the photo were taken, and, since I’m not familiar with Michigan towns and cities, I don’t have any idea where the pictures were taken, with some exceptions.

I hope that readers of your fine blog may help to identify locations of some of the photographs.

DUR Car 1026

DUR Car 1026

DUR Car 1857

DUR Car 1857

DUR Car 1939

DUR Car 1939

DUR Car 2004

DUR Car 2004

DUR Car 2046

DUR Car 2046

DUR Car 2105

DUR Car 2105