Along the North Shore

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric had two car 10s, purchased in 1898 and 1899. Not sure which one this is, but it is named the Highland Park. Service to Highland Park began on June 23, 1898. (Rex Butler Collection)

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric had two car 10s, purchased in 1898 and 1899. Not sure which one this is, but it is named the Highland Park. Service to Highland Park began on June 23, 1898. (Rex Butler Collection)

It continually amazes me when we are able to find so much out about the lives of people who lived more than one hundred years ago. We recently were in touch with Rex Butler, whose grandfather Frank H. Butler worked as a conductor on the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric from 1898 to 1900. The photos in this post are from his collection, and shed some light on the early history of the North Shore Line interurban that eventually ran between Chicago and Milwaukee. It started out in Waukegan.

We are very thankful Mr. Butler has shared these wonderful photos with our readers. We also thank Diana Koester for her genealogy research.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

-David Sadowski

PS- You might also like our Trolley Dodger Facebook auxiliary, a private group that now has 771 members.

Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.

Work on our North Shore Line book is ongoing. Donations are needed in order to bring this to a successful conclusion. You will find donation links at the top and bottom of each post. We thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Butler Photos and Family History

George Butler. (Rex Butler Collection)

George Butler. (Rex Butler Collection)

Frank H. Butler.

Frank H. Butler.

Frank H. Butler learned photography from his uncle, who had a studio in the Dakotas.

Frank H. Butler learned photography from his uncle, who had a studio in the Dakotas.

Frank H. Butler eventually owned a stationary store in Waukegan that also sold books and typewriters. (Rex Butler Collection)

Frank H. Butler eventually owned a stationary store in Waukegan that also sold books and typewriters. (Rex Butler Collection)

Chicago & Milwaukee electric car #1 was built by Brill in 1896, and eventually became a line car. (Rex Butler Collection)

Chicago & Milwaukee electric car #1 was built by Brill in 1896, and eventually became a line car. (Rex Butler Collection)

The man at left certainly looks like Frank H. Butler. (Rex Butler Collection)

The man at left certainly looks like Frank H. Butler. (Rex Butler Collection)

(Rex Butler Collection)

(Rex Butler Collection)

The Republic Construction Company was owned by A. C. Frost, head of the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric, and built much of the North Shore Line up until 1908. (Rex Butler Collection)

The Republic Construction Company was owned by A. C. Frost, head of the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric, and built much of the North Shore Line up until 1908. (Rex Butler Collection)

Caleb Butler (1792-1870) was born in Vermont, and became an early settler in the Waukegan area around 1841. His sons were George Butler (1840-1927) and Henry Butler (1836-1918), who both served on the Union side during the Civil War.

Frank Henry Butler (1871-1963) was George’s son. He married Eva Celestine Browne (1892-1976) in 1917. Her father was Walter Browne (1862-1931), who added an “e” to the end of their last name because there was a town drunkard named Walter Brown, who got into all sorts of trouble. He did not want to be confused with him.

Frank H. Butler worked as a conductor on the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric for two years (1898-1900) and the 1900 census lists his occupation as a photographer. He learned the trade from his uncle.

Later, he worked at W. F. Wandel’s bookstore at 137 N. Genesse Street in Waukegan. The store sold stationary and typewriters as well, and also rented typewriters. The 1910 census says he was a salesman.

Eventually, he took over Wandel’s store and ran it until November 1921, when he sold it. The family moved to Florida for his wife’s health (she had asthma). While in Florida, he owned a candy store and later, a pharmacy. From 1931 to 1950, he worked as a janitor at a school.

Rex Butler is Frank H. Butler’s grandson.

From The Waukegan Weekly Sun, July 8, 1898, page 6 (“Waukegan Happenings”):

The new street cars are now running in this city. They are as described in this paper Saturday. The new trailers are “away out of sight.” Conductors now run on every car and fare boxes have been abandoned. Among the new conductors are Frank Butler, Mr. Goss, of North Chicago and Mr. Nellis of this city. The two new cars and four trailers for the South end of the line will probably not be running before the tracks are connected. Work of connecting them progresses slowly. On Monday, the Fourth, 3000 passengers at five cents a piece were carried. As no passes whatever are honored, the receipts for the day were about $150. Ivan and Dan Jardins, the new men have assumed charge in their respective positions of General Superintendent and Cashier. The new cars are thirty feet long and weigh 28,000 pounds. They are lighted and heated with the electric power…

A general rumor for several days has been that the Northwestern road had bought or was negotiating for the Chicago and Milwaukee electric railway. While there may be some indications as to the probability of such a transaction, as to facts there is nothing whatever to be learned in regard to it. Several prominent parties who know considerable of the business of both corporations had heard nothing of the rumors and could tell nothing. One said “I would not be surprised to hear it,” and another remarked “It seems to me a very likely project. That street railway franchise will in a few year, be a very valuable piece of property and a great thing for the Northwestern road or anyone else to own. It would be a good move for the Northwestern road to make.” Several have thought the fact that the Northwestern road was building the viaduct at North Chicago for the electric road was an indication. It is not, however, as the Northwestern prefers to supervise all construction which interfere with its right of way, and that the street railway has contracted to pay the sum of $15,000 to the Northwestern for the work, was assured to a reporter today by a man who was one of the signers of the contract.

Note: the “Northwestern road” mentioned here is the Chicago & North Western, and not the Northwestern “L”. The viaduct in North Chicago was needed so the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric could cross the North Western. The steam railroad refused to allow the upstart interurban to have a grade crossing there.

Waukegan Power Plant Explosion

Around 11:30 pm on April 22, 1908, the belt that turned a flywheel at the North Shore Electric power house in Waukegan caught fire, and this spread to the other equipment. While firemen were trying to put it out, there was an explosion, and the flywheel went through a wall, causing massive destruction. Two people were killed, and many more injured. All of Waukegan lost power as a result.

The North Shore Electric was a Samuel Insull utility, but Insull did not take control of the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric interurban until 1916, at which time it became the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee, aka the North Shore Line. Streetcars and interurbans were major customers of electric utilities, and also helped bring electric power to many rural areas.

The photos in this section are believed to have been taken by Frank H. Butler, and are courtesy of Rex Butler.

Page 1 of The Waukegan Daily Sun for April 23, 1908.

Page 1 of The Waukegan Daily Sun for April 23, 1908.

Page 4 of The Waukegan Daily Sun for April 23, 1908.

Page 4 of The Waukegan Daily Sun for April 23, 1908.

Along the North Shore

This extremely rare promotional brochure, here from Rex Butler’s collection, was produced some time between 1899 and 1902. Although the map shows service to Milwaukee, this did not come to fruition until 1908.

A Guide to the Railroad Record Club E-Book

William A. Steventon recording the sounds of the North Shore Line in April 1956. (Kenneth Gear Collection)

William A. Steventon recording the sounds of the North Shore Line in April 1956. (Kenneth Gear Collection)

Our good friend Ken Gear has been hard at work on collecting all things related to the late William Steventon’s railroad audio recordings and releases. The result is a new book on disc, A Guide To the Railroad Record Club. This was quite a project and labor of love on Ken’s part!

Kenneth Gear has written and compiled a complete history of William Steventon‘s Railroad Record Club, which issued 42 different LPs of steam, electric, and diesel railroad audio, beginning with its origins in 1953.

This “book on disc” format allows us to present not only a detailed history of the club and an updated account of Kenneth Gear’s purchase of the William Steventon estate, but it also includes audio files, photo scans and movie files. Virtually all the Railroad Record Club archive is gathered in one place!

Price: $19.99

$10 from the sale of each RRC E-Book will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.

Now Available on Compact Disc:

RRC08D
Railroad Record Club #08 Deluxe Edition: Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, Recorded by Elwin Purington
The Complete Recording From the Original Master Tapes
Price: $15.99

Kenneth Gear‘s doggedness and determination resulted in his tracking down and purchasing the surviving RRC master tapes a few years back, and he has been hard at work having them digitized, at considerable personal expense, so that you and many others can enjoy them with today’s technology. We have already released a few RRC Rarities CDs from Ken’s collection.

When Ken heard the digitized version of RRC LP #08, Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, recorded by the late Elwin Purington, he was surprised to find the original tapes were more than twice the length of the 10″ LP. The resulting LP had been considerably edited down to the limited space available, 15 minutes per side.

The scenes were the same, but each was greatly shortened. Now, on compact disc, it is possible to present the full length recordings of this classic LP, which was one of Steventon’s best sellers and an all-around favorite, for the very first time.

Canadian National. Steaming giants pound high iron on mountain trails, rumble over trestles, hit torpedos and whistle for many road crossings. Mountain railroading with heavy power and lingering whistles! Includes locomotives 3566, 4301, 6013, 3560.

Total time – 72:57

$5 from the sale of RRC08D CD will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.

Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation

We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.

Our Latest Book, Now Available:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

From the back cover:

Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.

The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages

Chapters:
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found

Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.

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

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.

Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.

It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.

Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.

Total time – 121:22

# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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CTA’s New 7000s

CTA 7009-7010 at Dempster.

CTA 7009-7010 at Dempster.

Cooler weather returned to the Chicago area last Friday, after a string of hot and muggy days. We took this opportunity to take pictures on the Chicago Transit Authority.

We rode the new 7000-series cars for the first time on the Yellow Line (formerly the Skokie Swift), where they were being tested last week. Our luck was good, as our ride from Dempster to Howard turned out to be the last trip of the day for these new cars, which are being tested extensively on the CTA system.

My impression of these new “L” cars was very favorable. While in many respects they are similar to the existing fleet, the 7000s are instantly recognizable, due to their blue end caps. They are smooth and quiet in operation, and offer improved seating, with fewer sideways seats, which did not prove to be very popular on the 5000s. The 7000s will replace the 2600-series cars, some of which are now 40 years old.

We also took some pictures of the Belmont Flyover construction progress, which is part of the RPM (Red and Purple Modernization) project. The flyover will keep Red, Purple, and Brown Line trains from having to cross in front of each other, and will therefore add capacity to these routes once it opens this November.

In addition, we have more classic traction pictures to share, both our own, and from our contributors Larry Sakar, Bob Bresse-Rodenkirk, and Jack Bejna.

-David Sadowski

PS- If you enjoy reading these posts, you might consider joining our Trolley Dodger Facebook Group as well. We currently have 419 members.

CTA Yellow Line

CTA 7009-7010 has arrived at Dempster in Skokie.

CTA 7009-7010 has arrived at Dempster in Skokie.

Our 7000s train pulls up to the platform at Dempster.

Our 7000s train pulls up to the platform at Dempster.

The 7000s interior. There is less sideways seating than on the 5000s, which should prove popular with riders.

The 7000s interior. There is less sideways seating than on the 5000s, which should prove popular with riders.

Skokie Shops.

Skokie Shops.

Skokie Shops. You can see 6711-6712 and 6101-6102, part of CTA's Historic Fleet.

Skokie Shops. You can see 6711-6712 and 6101-6102, part of CTA’s Historic Fleet.

There are some 2400s at Howard Yard, for use in work service.

There are some 2400s at Howard Yard, for use in work service.

7009-7010 after arriving at Howard. Unfortunately, there was no return trip on these cars.

7009-7010 after arriving at Howard. Unfortunately, there was no return trip on these cars.

From the side, you can hardly tell the 7000s from other "L" cars.

From the side, you can hardly tell the 7000s from other “L” cars.

The new 7000s have distinctive blue caps on the ends.

The new 7000s have distinctive blue caps on the ends.

A northbound Red Line train at Howard.

A northbound Red Line train at Howard.

CTA 7009-7010 at Howard.

CTA 7009-7010 at Howard.

The 7000s were done for the day and about to be put back in the yard.

The 7000s were done for the day and about to be put back in the yard.

5519-5520 at Howard.

5519-5520 at Howard.

5519-5520 at Howard.

5519-5520 at Howard.

5519-5520 at Howard.

Howard Yard.

Howard Yard.

Flatcars at Skokie Shops.

Flatcars at Skokie Shops.

The CTA's historic 6000s at Skokie Shops.

The CTA’s historic 6000s at Skokie Shops.

Skokie Shops. Note the 7000-series car present.

Skokie Shops. Note the 7000-series car present.

East Prairie Road.

East Prairie Road.

This portion of platform is a remnant of the old Crawford-East Prairie station on the Niles Center route.

This portion of platform is a remnant of the old Crawford-East Prairie station on the Niles Center route.

Kostner.

Kostner.

Oakton curve.

Oakton curve.

Although the Skokie Swift has been renamed the Yellow Line, the CTA still uses this distinctive logo. I believe it was designed by the late George Krambles.

Although the Skokie Swift has been renamed the Yellow Line, the CTA still uses this distinctive logo. I believe it was designed by the late George Krambles.

CTA 5519-5520 at the Dempster terminal.

CTA 5519-5520 at the Dempster terminal.

The bus turnaround area has a shelter that is stylistically in keeping with the Dempster Street Terminal.

The bus turnaround area has a shelter that is stylistically in keeping with the Dempster Street Terminal.

This is the back end of the historic Dempster Street Terminal, originally built for the North Shore Line and designed by Arthur U. Gerber. The station was moved a bit from its original location to create a bus turnaround area.

This is the back end of the historic Dempster Street Terminal, originally built for the North Shore Line and designed by Arthur U. Gerber. The station was moved a bit from its original location to create a bus turnaround area.

From 1925 to 1948, Dempster was the terminal of the CRT's Niles Center branch.

From 1925 to 1948, Dempster was the terminal of the CRT’s Niles Center branch.

Belmont Flyover

The Belmont Flyover is massive and work is proceeding rapidly. It may be put into service as soon as this November.

The Belmont Flyover is massive and work is proceeding rapidly. It may be put into service as soon as this November.

This welder wanted me to take his picture with his mask on and the flame lit.

This welder wanted me to take his picture with his mask on and the flame lit.

Thumbs up.

Thumbs up.

The three-story Vautravers Building at 947 West Newport Avenue was recently moved 30 feet to the west by the CTA as part of the flyover project, so a curve could be straightened out.

The three-story Vautravers Building at 947 West Newport Avenue was recently moved 30 feet to the west by the CTA as part of the flyover project, so a curve could be straightened out.

There is more to the RPM project than just the Belmont Flyover. Parts of the century-old "L" embankment north of Wilson Avenue are being replaced. The Lawrence Avenue station is currently closed, and there is a temporary station at Argyle (shown here).

There is more to the RPM project than just the Belmont Flyover. Parts of the century-old “L” embankment north of Wilson Avenue are being replaced. The Lawrence Avenue station is currently closed, and there is a temporary station at Argyle (shown here).

Recent Finds

Red Arrow car 27, from a late 1950s red border Kodachrome slide. It was built by Brill in 1918. Sister car 25 was retired in 1964.

Red Arrow car 27, from a late 1950s red border Kodachrome slide. It was built by Brill in 1918. Sister car 25 was retired in 1964.

Red Arrow car 68 in the late 1950s, from a red border Kodachrome. We ran a different picture taken at this location in a previous post, so I can tell the location is Sheldon and Spring Avenues on the Ardmore line, which was converted to buses at the end of 1966.

Red Arrow car 68 in the late 1950s, from a red border Kodachrome. We ran a different picture taken at this location in a previous post, so I can tell the location is Sheldon and Spring Avenues on the Ardmore line, which was converted to buses at the end of 1966.

On June 6, 1954, William C. Hoffman took this picture looking to the northwest at Congress and Bishop Streets (1432 W.), showing the demolition of main line of the Metropolitan "L".

On June 6, 1954, William C. Hoffman took this picture looking to the northwest at Congress and Bishop Streets (1432 W.), showing the demolition of main line of the Metropolitan “L”.

The view looking west from Congress and Racine Avenue (1200 W.), showing the old Metropolitan "L"'s Throop Street Shops and power plant in the process of being torn down to make way for the Congress Expressway on June 6, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view looking west from Congress and Racine Avenue (1200 W.), showing the old Metropolitan “L”‘s Throop Street Shops and power plant in the process of being torn down to make way for the Congress Expressway on June 6, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

Again, looking northwest from Congress and Racine, but this time on July 25, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

Again, looking northwest from Congress and Racine, but this time on July 25, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

Photographer Bruce C. Nelson took this picture of CTA 5695-5696 on February 19, 2017, when these cars (and two others), decorated to celebrate the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908, were used on a fantrip sponsored by the Central Electric Railfans' Association (and made possible by a substantial donation by the late Jeffrey L. Wien).

Photographer Bruce C. Nelson took this picture of CTA 5695-5696 on February 19, 2017, when these cars (and two others), decorated to celebrate the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908, were used on a fantrip sponsored by the Central Electric Railfans’ Association (and made possible by a substantial donation by the late Jeffrey L. Wien).

This shows why I am fully in favor of the recent plan to replace the State and Lake station on the Loop "L" with something new and modern. There was little left of the original station anyway, due to previous renovations and a fire. Clark Frazier took this picture looking north from State Street on April 21, 1980.

This shows why I am fully in favor of the recent plan to replace the State and Lake station on the Loop “L” with something new and modern. There was little left of the original station anyway, due to previous renovations and a fire. Clark Frazier took this picture looking north from State Street on April 21, 1980.

This picture of North Shore Line car 254 on the "L" in August 1962 generated a lot of discussion on the Facebook Trolley Dodger group. First of all, where is it? Jon Habermaas has identified it as the Harrison Curve at Harrison and Wabash. He also says that the train is northbound, turning onto Wabash, as the location of the combine as the lead car shows.

This picture of North Shore Line car 254 on the “L” in August 1962 generated a lot of discussion on the Facebook Trolley Dodger group. First of all, where is it? Jon Habermaas has identified it as the Harrison Curve at Harrison and Wabash. He also says that the train is northbound, turning onto Wabash, as the location of the combine as the lead car shows.

Jon Habermaas also posted this picture, taken at the same location.

Jon Habermaas also posted this picture, taken at the same location.

William C. Hoffman took this picture of a four-car train of 4000s at 43rd Street on October 13, 1952... with three cars in the old paint scheme and one in the new.

William C. Hoffman took this picture of a four-car train of 4000s at 43rd Street on October 13, 1952… with three cars in the old paint scheme and one in the new.

The view looking north at the 43rd Street station on October 13, 1952 found a train of flat-door 6000s. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view looking north at the 43rd Street station on October 13, 1952 found a train of flat-door 6000s. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

William C. Hoffman took this picture of a southbound train of CTA 6000s at 43rd Street on March 13, 1955.

William C. Hoffman took this picture of a southbound train of CTA 6000s at 43rd Street on March 13, 1955.

The view looking northwest from Congress and Ashland (1600 W.) on October 29, 1950. The one car train is a Douglas Park, and the two-car train of brand new 6000s is from Logan Square. This was a few months before the new Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway opened. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view looking northwest from Congress and Ashland (1600 W.) on October 29, 1950. The one car train is a Douglas Park, and the two-car train of brand new 6000s is from Logan Square. This was a few months before the new Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway opened. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

A Lake Street "L" A train prepares to head east from the Harlem terminal in September 1966. These cars were two years old then, and the line had only been elevated here four years earlier.

A Lake Street “L” A train prepares to head east from the Harlem terminal in September 1966. These cars were two years old then, and the line had only been elevated here four years earlier.

The location of this 1950s Loop photo was a mystery. But Graham Garfield writes, "It’s Wells Street looking north at Monroe St. The 200 on the building in the background isn’t 200N, it’s 200W. Everything in this view is gone now, except the “L” and the building on the near left (the SW corner of Wells/Monroe)."

The location of this 1950s Loop photo was a mystery. But Graham Garfield writes, “It’s Wells Street looking north at Monroe St. The 200 on the building in the background isn’t 200N, it’s 200W. Everything in this view is gone now, except the “L” and the building on the near left (the SW corner of Wells/Monroe).”

Halsted looking south from 63rd Street. This picture was taken some time between 1907 and 1910. This station on the Englewood "L" has been rebuilt twice since then and is still in use today as part of the CTA Green Line.

Halsted looking south from 63rd Street. This picture was taken some time between 1907 and 1910. This station on the Englewood “L” has been rebuilt twice since then and is still in use today as part of the CTA Green Line.

A close-up of the previous picture.

A close-up of the previous picture.

This was a slide that was recently sold on eBay that I did not win. North Shore Line car 157 is apparently on a fantrip at the Milwaukee Terminal in the early 1960s, with the Milwaukee Road's train shed in the background.

This was a slide that was recently sold on eBay that I did not win. North Shore Line car 157 is apparently on a fantrip at the Milwaukee Terminal in the early 1960s, with the Milwaukee Road’s train shed in the background.

There were six original slides on auction recently, all taken in Chicago on January 10, 1956. I assume the photographer, who is as of yet unknown, may have simply been in town for a short time. I did win three of these, and will post improved scans once I receive them, but I thought they were interesting as an entire set:

A nice view of a gateman's shanty on the ground level portion of the Lake Street "L" in Oak Park. All 22 grade crossings here were manually operated.

A nice view of a gateman’s shanty on the ground level portion of the Lake Street “L” in Oak Park. All 22 grade crossings here were manually operated.

This is either the Kedzie or Homan station on the Lake Street "L" (today's Green Line). There was a third track on a portion of the line, originally used for express trains. In the CTA era, it was used for midday car storage.

This is either the Kedzie or Homan station on the Lake Street “L” (today’s Green Line). There was a third track on a portion of the line, originally used for express trains. In the CTA era, it was used for midday car storage.

Graham Garfield thinks this is the "L" station at Quincy and Wells, looking north.

Graham Garfield thinks this is the “L” station at Quincy and Wells, looking north.

Wentworth on the Englewood branch. Much of what you see here was cleared away within a few years to build the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Wentworth on the Englewood branch. Much of what you see here was cleared away within a few years to build the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Racine on the Englewood branch.

Racine on the Englewood branch.

Racine on the Englewood branch.

Racine on the Englewood branch.

Here's a 1950s view of the shuttle train that went to the Polo Grounds, where the New York Giants played, before decamping to San Francisco after the 1957 season. It was located in Manhattan, within view of Yankee Stadium (which was across the river in the Bronx). This was apparently the last vestige of the 6th and 9th Avenue Els in Manhattan. The expansion New York Mets played their 1962 and 1963 seasons at the Polo Grounds, while Shea Stadium was being built, after which it was torn down.

Here’s a 1950s view of the shuttle train that went to the Polo Grounds, where the New York Giants played, before decamping to San Francisco after the 1957 season. It was located in Manhattan, within view of Yankee Stadium (which was across the river in the Bronx). This was apparently the last vestige of the 6th and 9th Avenue Els in Manhattan. The expansion New York Mets played their 1962 and 1963 seasons at the Polo Grounds, while Shea Stadium was being built, after which it was torn down.

Ebbets Field

I recently bought seven original red border Kodachrome slides, taken at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn during a World Series game between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. (They cost me just $7.50 apiece.)

The Dodgers were originally called the Trolley Dodgers in the early part of the 20th century, so I hope you won’t mind seeing these pictures here, even though they do not have a transit connection per se.

It is not often that old photos can be dated, but there are enough clues here that the actual date of this one can be figured out. The advertising signs match other pictures from the 1949 WS, where the Yankees beat the Dodgers, 4 games to 1. Games 3, 4, and 5 were played in Brooklyn, and the first two of those had a 1 pm start. Game 5 started at 2 pm since it was a Sunday.

Since the clock here says it is just after 2, and the game hasn’t started yet, this is Sunday, October 9, 1949. By studying one slide, you can see it was taken during the National Anthem. At the base of the scoreboard, there’s the iconic sign for Abe Stark’s clothing store (“Hit sign, win suit”).

Two blimps were flying overhead, one advertising R&H Beer, the other Tydol Gasoline.

The Yankees defeated the Dodgers that day 10-6 in the deciding game of the Series. Ebbets Field was not a large ballpark, and this game was attended by a crowd of 33,711 (several thousand less than the modern capacity of Fenway Park or Wrigley Field).

Ebbets Field had lights installed in 1938. This game was also historic, since the lights were turned on during the 9th inning, the first time this had been done in a WS game. (All WS games were played in the daytime until 1971.)

When games were over, fans were able to walk on part of the left field grass to exit by the center field gate.

The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season (and their rivals, the New York Giants, went to San Francisco), leaving the Yankees as the sole New York team until the expansion team Mets joined them in 1962. Ebbets Field, which opened in 1913, was torn down in 1960 and replaced by apartments.

"Hit sign, win suit."

“Hit sign, win suit.”

Recent Correspondence

This is one of the North Shore Line stations designed by Arthur U. Gerber. But which one? My guess is Kenosha. The original slide, from November 1987, was so underexposed that it almost looked opaque, but I did what I could with it.

This is one of the North Shore Line stations designed by Arthur U. Gerber. But which one? My guess is Kenosha. The original slide, from November 1987, was so underexposed that it almost looked opaque, but I did what I could with it.  (William Shapotkin Collection)

Larry Sakar writes:

As regards photo 2021/07/bills228 your guess that this is the Kenosha, WI. NSL station is 100% correct.

The giveaway is the entrance. This is the north end of the station. Sometime in the ’80’a or ’90’s when It was Spaghetti Station and then just “The Station,” the owners decided to add a banquet room to the north end of the building. It completely ruined its historical appearance. No attempt was made to make it look anything like the existing building and that big, square addition looked totally out of place with Arthur Gerber’s original design. They also ended up building across from one platform to the other forever ruining that part as well.

I went there in April or May of 1972. There was no bus service in Kenosha at the time, so I had to walk from the location of the TM station (8th Avenue & 55th St.) to the NSL station at 27th Avenue and 63rd St. When I got there I found the building completely enclosed by a picket fence. Luckily, the gate or whatever was open and I walked in and began snapping photos. In those days I was using an Ansco box camera and 620 b&w film with 8 shots to the roll. Talk about primitive!

Just then a gentleman came out of the station which was open on the south end. I explained that I was a traction fan and the North Shore line which had built this station is one of my areas of study. I thought I was going to get kicked off the property, but the man was quite flattered that I was interested in the building.

Did he know about the NSL and the history of the building? He never said. He said I was welcome to take as many pictures as I wished, and said he’d invite me inside but he had just finished washing the floor and it was slippery.

It was just as well because I’d lost the flash attachment to that camera years earlier. Remember the days of flash attachments and flashbulbs? I was also limited in how much time I could spend there. I’d come down from Milwaukee on the Wisconsin Coach Lines bus, which let you off in the downtown Kenosha area. I was really going to have to hustle if I was going to make the next bus back to Milwaukee. Luckily, I did.

I still have the prints that I shot that day and will send them to you should you wish to use them.

NSL Kenosha Station, north end of the southbound platform, April 5, 1972. (Larry Sakar Photo)

NSL Kenosha Station, north end of the southbound platform, April 5, 1972. (Larry Sakar Photo)

NSL Kenosha Station, looking south from the former track area, April 5, 1972. (Larry Sakar Photo)

NSL Kenosha Station, looking south from the former track area, April 5, 1972. (Larry Sakar Photo)

NSL Kenosha Station, southbound platform from the northbound platform, April 5, 1972. (Larry Sakar Photo)

NSL Kenosha Station, southbound platform from the northbound platform, April 5, 1972. (Larry Sakar Photo)

NSL Kenosha Station, waiting room on the southbound platform, April 5, 1972. (Larry Sakar Photo)

NSL Kenosha Station, waiting room on the southbound platform, April 5, 1972. (Larry Sakar Photo)

Bob Bresse-Rodenkirk sent in three recent photos, taken at the Shore Line Trolley Museum, in East Haven, CT:

“The Chicago Boys in proper North Shore uniform. Stephen B. Rudolph and Bob Bresse-Rodenkirk. Photos by Alan Zelazo.”

Bob adds, “I am the motorman there and Steve Rudolph is conductor.” Chicagoans may remember Bob from WBBM radio, under his professional name, Bob Roberts.

Finally, Jack Bejna sent us this photo of Chicago Surface Lines 4001:

An "as built" photo of experimental Chicago Surface Lines car 4001 in 1934. It was built by Pullman-Standard, and its body shell is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Jack Bejna Collection)

An “as built” photo of experimental Chicago Surface Lines car 4001 in 1934. It was built by Pullman-Standard, and its body shell is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Jack Bejna Collection)

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

I recently appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.

Our Latest Book, Now Available:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

From the back cover:

Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.

The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages

Chapters:
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found

Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.

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

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NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

To commemorate the 50th an