An early railfan photographer (probably armed with a folding or box camera) captures Gary Railways cars 9 and 17 passing each other, probably circa 1938-39. According to Mitch Markovitz, this is “45th on the Crown Point Line.”
This post features many classic railfan pictures of Gary Railways in the Hoosier State, generously shared from the collections of William Shapotkin.
While it only existed as electric transit from 1906 to 1948, what eventually got reorganized under the name Gary Railways had some interesting characteristics that were of great interest to some of the earliest railfans. The area around Gary developed rapidly into an industrial powerhouse as soon as U.S. Steel built the Gary Works steel mill there. A vibrant and growing city rapidly emerged, but there were many surrounding areas that were kept vacant for future industrial development.
Therefore, Gary Railways had both urban and interurban characteristics. It also had quite a variety of equipment. The system was part of the Samuel Insull empire during the 1920s, and various generations of lightweight, modern cars were purchased.
As with many other electric railways, the system went into a decline during the Great Depression. There was a gradual abandonment and bus substitution, starting with the interurban portions. This, in turn, attracted the attention of many Chicago area railfans who wanted to ride and photograph these lines before they faded into oblivion.
Gary was easily reachable by car and via the South Shore Line. Fans chartered a trip on Gary Railways on May 1, 1938, which was later regarded as the beginning date of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association (CERA). The group wasn’t organized much until later, but that came to be regarded as the start of it all.
The Gary system also had an interesting connection to what was envisioned as the Chicago–New York Electric Air Line Railroad. This “air line” did not involve airplanes, but was meant to be high-speed rail that would travel in a straight line between Chicago and New York City.
Ultimately, only about twenty miles of this Air Line were ever built, before the entire scheme collapsed due to the tremendous cost of actually building it. Portions of what did get built were used by Gary Railways up until 1942.
John F. Humiston (1913-2003) was one of the early railfans photographers whose excellent work is featured here, along with other luminaries as Malcolm D. McCarter, Robert V. Mehlenbeck, Gordon E. Lloyd, Donald Idarius, William C. Janssen, and Edward Frank, Jr.
We will feature more photos from Gary Railways in a future post. In addition, as usual, we have some interesting recent photo finds for your enjoyment.
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.
Our Annual Fundraiser
Since we started this blog in 2015, we have posted over 13,500 images. This is our 283rd post.
In just about three week’s time, we will need to renew our WordPress subscription, our domain registration, and pay other bills associated with maintaining this site, so it is time for our Annual Fundraiser.
The Trolley Dodger blog can only be kept going with the help of our devoted readers. Perhaps you count yourself among them.
If you have already contributed in the past, we thank you very much for your help. Meanwhile, our goal for this fundraiser is just $700, which is only a fraction of what it costs us each year. The rest is made up from either the profits from the items we sell, which are not large, or out of our own pocket, which is not very large either.
There are links at the top and bottom of this page, where you can click and make a donation that will help us meet our goal again for this coming year, so we can continue to offer you more classic images in the future, and keep this good thing we have going.
We thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
Gary Railways snow sweeper 4 on November 21, 1927. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways Valparaiso Division train 12, car #1, at the Pine Street Siding alongside Central Avenue in East Gary, Indiana on July 24, 1938. Don’s Rail Photos: “1 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in May 1924, (order) #825, as Gary & Valparaiso Ry 1. It became GRy 1 in 1925 and retired in 1947.” (John F. Humiston Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 11, going eastward, meets car 14 heading in the opposite direction, on the Hammond Division at Kennedy Siding along 165th Street in Hammond. This picture was taken at 11:40 am on Friday, May 6, 1938. Don’s Rail Photos: “14 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was scrapped in 1946.” (John F. Humiston Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 11 at Sibley and Oakley at the Hammond city street terminal in 1942. The view looks west from Oakley. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 9 is on 11th Avenue, just west of Rutledge Street on the Hammond line on July 7, 1946. Don’s Rail Photos: “1st 9 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was wrecked on 5th Avenue on April 28, 1927, colliding with 201. It was scrapped. 2nd 9 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It replaced 1st 9 and retired in 1946.” (Donald Idarius Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 19 on an early CERA fantrip. This date might be March 19, 1939. The well-known CERA drumhead is not yet in evidence. According to the late John Marton, it was first used on a June 25, 1939 sojourn. Don’s Rail Photos: “19 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was retired in 1946 and the body was acquired by Illinois Railway Museum in 1989.” (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 8 in storage in the yard east of the Gary car barn, on January 18, 1941. Don’s Rail Photos: “8 was built by by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was retired in 1946.” (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 6 is heading west on 5th Avenue at Clarke Siding in Gary, IN on March 18, 1939. This was the last day of service on the Indiana Harbor Division. Don’s Rail Photos: “6 was built by by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was retired in 1946.” (John F. Humiston Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
It’s a bit blurred, but this looks like Gary Railways 12. Don’s Rail Photos: “12 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was scrapped in 1946.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
(Edward Frank, Jr. Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Mike Franklin: “This is looking west on Sibley St. across Oakley Ave. Oakley Hotel is on the corner to the right.”
The interior of Gary Railways car 18. Don’s Rail Photos: “18 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was scrapped in 1946.” (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 19 at 145th and Main in Indiana Harbor on Sunday, March 19, 1939 (the day after this line was abandoned). The view looks northwest, with St. Catherine’s Hospital in the distance. (Donald Idarius Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Broadway looking north from 9th Avenue in Gary on July 8, 1909. This was the “state of the art” in streetcar and roadway construction at that time. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 18 is on Bridge Street in Gary, IN, crossing the South Shore Line, on Sunday, June 5, 1938. (John F. Humiston Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways 207 exiting the gate at the Tube Works onto 2nd Avenue in Gary on Saturday, June 18, 1938. Don’s Rail Photos: “207 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1918, #681, as GSRy 207. It was rebuilt by Cummings Car Co in 1927 and scrapped in 1946.” (John F. Humiston Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways 19, as a Glen Park local. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 120 at the Gary carbarn on May 1, 1938. I assume it was built by the McGuire-Cummins Manufacturing Company in 1911. (Donald Idarius Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 8 at 5th Avenue and Broadway on May 8, 1932. (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 14 at the Mill Gate in Gary, working the Hammond route, on August 18, 1946. (Donald Idarius Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 16 in Hammond on August 18, 1946. Don’s Rail Photos: “16 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was scrapped in 1946.” (William C. Janssen Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Mike Franklin adds: “This is looking east on Sibley St toward Oakley Ave. Oakley Hotel on the corner, the Labor Temple next to the east, and the First Baptist Church (larger dome) further down. All is gone except for the white building, once the Federal Building of Hammond, in front of the car located on NE corner of State St & Oakley Ave.”
Gary Railways 17 at Mill Gate on March 19, 1939. (Donald Idarius Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 121. Don’s Rail Photos: “121 was built by McGuire-Cummings Mfg Co in 1911 as G&IRy 121. It got a new roof in 1922 and retired in 1940.” (William Shapotkin Collection)
West 5th Avenue in Gary in 1924. That looks like Gary Railways car 206. If so, it was was built by Kuhlman Car Company in 1918. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 203. Don’s Rail Photos: “203 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1918, #681, as Gary Street Ry 203. It was rebuilt by Cummings Car Co in 1927 and scrapped in 1946.” (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 1 is turning into the carbarn off of 22nd Avenue on October 24, 1940. The view looks north from the apron of the car barn. (Donald Idarius Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 19, likely on one of those early late 1930s fantrips. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 15 in storage at the Gary car barn on January 18, 1941. This car was likely built by Cummings Car Company in 1926. (Malcolm D. McCarter Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
The former Gary Railways car 50 in service as a diner at 63rd Street and Central Avenue in Chicago on March 8, 1947. Don’s Rail Photos: “50 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1929. It was scrapped in 1946.” (Donald Idarius Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary, IN. The Central Electric Railfans’ Association day-after abandonment fantrip on March 19, 1939. The view looks west on 37th Street at Michigan Central Crossing (Mississippi Street). (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 3 at Mill Gate on May 1, 1938. Don’s Rail Photos: “3 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in February 1925, #851 as Gary & Hobart Traction Co 3. It became GRy 3 in 1925 and scrapped in 1947.” (Donald Idarius Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 5 is on a CERA fantrip, in front of the Hobart car barn on March 19, 1939, the day after regular service here ended. The Nickel Plate’s tracks are visible at rear. Don’s Rail Photos: “5 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in February 1925, #851, as G&HT 5. It became GRy 5 in 1925 and scrapped in 1947.” (Donald Idarius Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 12 at Mill Gate (Gary) on May 1, 1938. The EJ&E embankment is visible at rear. (Donald Idarius Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 9 at Mill Gate terminal in 1942, about to pull a trip to Tolleston. (Malcolm D. McCarter Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways 213 at 45th and Grand on July 21, 1946. Don’s Rail Photos: “213 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1919, #658, as Buffalo & Lake Erie Traction Co 231. It was sold as G&I 213 in 1923 and rebuilt by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was scrapped in 1947.” (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 19. According to Bob Lalich, the location is Cline Avenue at the Grand Calumet River. He adds, “Photo 889 is looking south. The railroad crossing in the distance is the South Shore.” I assume this photo was taken on the same day as Shapotkin875, also in this post, on March 19, 1939. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
The idea behind the “New York Air Line” was simple– build a track in a straight path between Chicago and New York, reducing the distance traveled by a considerable amount, and use electric vehicles to compete with the steam railroads. It would have been an early form of high-speed rail. But engineering and fundraising challenges proved insurmountable, and the venture collapsed after only about 20 miles of track were built in the vicinity of Gary. Parts were incorporated into the Gary streetcar system. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary in the early 1900s. I believe this is a part of the New York Air Line. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary was a boom town that sprung up practically overnight in the early 1900s. New roads and streetcar lines sprung up along with it. (William Shapotkin Collection)
A streetcar line under construction in Gary in the early 1900s. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 6 on the Indiana Harbor Division, west on Fifth Avenue at Colfax Siding in Gary, IN on Saturday, March 18, 1939. (John F. Humiston Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Breaking ground for grading at East Gary, five miles from Gary, on June 16, 1909. From the Air Line News, July 1909. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Union Atation. Chris Cole says this “the former NYC/AMTRAK station in Gary. It still stands although in a derelict condition between the railroad tracks and the Indiana Toll Road.”(William Shapotkin Collection)
(William Shapotkin Collection)
Railroad dignitaries at Air Line Park. From the Air Line News, July 1909. (William Shapotkin Collection)
(William Shapotkin Collection)
The Lake Shore Depot in Gary in the early 1900s. (William Shapotkin Collection)
(William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways 109 in storage at the Gary car barn in September 1938. Don’s Rail Photos: “109 was built by McGuire-Cummins Mfg Co in 1910 as G&I Ry 109. It was made one man in 1927 and scrapped in 1939.” (Donald Idarius Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 102. According to the caption, street railway service in Gary was inaugurated with this car. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 17 at the Pennsylvania Railroad crossing in Tolleston on July 21, 1946. Don’s Rail Photos: “17 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was scrapped in 1946.” (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 19 on a trestle along a highway. This was a CERA Railfan Special on March 13, 1939 (IMHO, this date may actually have been the 19th, in which case the late Mr. McCarter had a typo in his photo database). According to Bob Lalich, the location is Cline Avenue at the Grand Calumet River. He continues, “Photo 875 is looking north. The factory on the left was a Cudahy soap plant that made Old Dutch Cleanser. I believe there was a car shop located there as well to service Cudahy’s refrigerator fleet. The first railroad crossing near the factory is the EJ&E line between Shearson and Cavanaugh. The distant crossing is the B&OCT/SLIC joint line.” (M. D. McCarter Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Air Line car 102. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Looking west along the Air Line toward Monon Crossing on October 17, 1908. From the Air Line News, November 1908. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Laying track west of the Monon Railroad crossing on July 22, 1908. From the Air Line News, August 1908. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 19 in downtown Gary, on one of those early fantrips, circa 1939. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 128 at the Gary car barn on May 1, 1938. (Donald Idarius Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 22 at the Mill Gate terminal in Gary on May 1, 1938. (Malcolm D. McCarter Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 19 on a fantrip, circa 1939. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Gary Railways car 19, likely also on a 1939 CERA fantrip. (William Shapotkin Collection)
South Side Elevated locomotive #22 on April 17, 1898, just as this “L” was converting from steam to electricity (note the third rail). This was scanned from a second-generation negative. The original was a 5×7 glass plate neg, and I believe this one was contact printed from that. Now, I took out some of the most obvious imperfections with Photoshop, and the result is probably the best you could hope for, from an image that is 123 years old. (Ralph D. Cleveland Photo)
The North Shore Line’s massive Zion station, as it looked in the early 1960s. The elders in what started out as a religious community insisted that the railroad build a station this size, anticipating rapid growth in their community that did not materialize. The station was torn down within a few years of the interurban’s 1963 abandonment. The current population is about 23,500.
An early postcard view of the Chicago Stock Yards and the “L” branch by the same name.
Did Not Win
Our resources are always limited, and therefore we do not win the auctions for everything we think will interest our readers. Still, these items we did not win are definitely worth a second look:
This early image of Chicago Aurora and Elgin cars 24, 10, and 20 recently sold for $100.99. It was described as being the original 4×5″ negative, not a copy.
A North Shore Line blueprint recently sold for $122.50 on eBay. Don’s Rail Photos: “410 was built as a trailer observation car by Cincinnati Car in June 1923, #2640. It was out of service in 1932. It was rebuilt on December 31, 1942, as a two motor coach by closing in the open platform and changing the seating.”
Here is a really nice slide that I unfortunately did not win. Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell Limited, picking up passengers in Allentown, PA. This interurban quit in 1951.
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)
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!
$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:
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A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
This is our 283rd 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 833,000 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.
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In street railway parlance, when there are tracks on cross streets such as this, and cars can turn in any direction, that is called a Grand Union. Chicago had several of these, and this is the one at Madison and Clinton Streets. (Clinton is running left-right in this picture.) Bill Hoffman took this picture on September 17, 1954 from a nearby sixth-floor fire escape.
Photographers like Bill Hoffman, Truman Hefner, Joe Diaz, and Edward Frank, Jr. took their cameras with them everywhere back in the 1940s and 1950s. They were able to go to lots of interesting places, many which no longer exist. Today’s post features some of their work, plus that of other railfan shutterbugs. Most are from our own collections, and some have been generously shared by William Shapotkin.
Many of these pictures were taken at the CTA’s South Shops. 1950s streetcar fantrips often included a shops tour, and Hoffman took many pictures of whatever was out on the scrap track at that time. In addition, historic cars that had been saved were trotted out for pictures. This tradition ended after the last Chicago streetcars ran in 1958. In the mid-1980s, the CTA’s collection was parsed out between the Illinois Railway Museum and Fox River Trolley Museum, where these historic vehicles can be appreciated today.
Since 2015, we have offered an ever-expanding catalog of classic out-of-print railroad audio from the 1950s and 60s, remastered to CDs. This includes the entire Railroad Record Club output, some of which has now been remastered from the original source tapes. The proceeds from these sales help underwrite the costs of maintaining the Trolley Dodger blog. Postage costs have gone up by a lot, so as of November 15, 2021, we will have no choice but to raise the prices of our single disc CDs by $1. The price of multi-disc sets, DVDs, and books will be unaffected. Until then, you can still purchase discs through our Online Store and via eBay at current prices.
According to the information I received with this slide, this Jackson Park “L” train is going to the Metropolitan “L” Shops at Racine. But the date given (December 1950) must be wrong, as I doubt whether cars 6149-6150 had yet been delivered to the CTA, much less assigned to the North-South “L”. Perhaps a date of 1952 is more likely. (Truman Hefner Photo) George Trapp writes: “The photo of CTA 6149-6150 just east of Throop Street shops on the old Met Mainline I think was taken in September/October of 1951 judging by the brand new look of the cars. The first 200 of the 6000’s (the two orders of flat door cars) and the articulated 5000’s were delivered to 63rd lower yard then sent to Throop Street shops to be readied for service. Jackson Park reading is probably just the reading the factory sent them displaying as this series were first assigned to the Ravenswood line.”
This is the view looking east from out of the back of a westbound Stock Yards “L” train near the Indiana Avenue station. We see, at left, a northbound train of 4000s on the North-South main line, and, at right, an eastbound Stock Yards train, also made up of 4000s. There were five tracks in all here– two for the Stock Yards, and three on the main line. The date given was June 1951, but the presence of steel cars on Stock Yards could mean this picture was taken during one of the two political conventions at the International Amphitheatre in July 1952 instead. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 4270 is on the single-track Stock Yards loop. The date provided (June 1950) may not be correct, as 4000s were only used on this line when there were major events happening at the nearby International Amphitheatre at 4220 S. Halsted Street, which seems to be visible at right and has a bunch of flags flying over it. In that case, the date could be July 1952, when both major political parties held their nominating conventions there. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 4241 and train are on a double-track portion of the Stock Yards line. The presence of a multi-car train of 4000s would suggest that a major event was taking place at the nearby International Amphitheatre. But I am not sure about the June 1950 date– there were two major conventions in July 1952, so that’s a possibility. I’m also not certain that the car number provided with this slide is correct. (Truman Hefner Photo)
On February 12, 1950, CTA 3148 plus one are westbound at Laramie Avenue on the Lake Street “L”, about to descend to ground level. This is where the changeover from third rail to overhead wire took place back then. The changeover point was later moved to the bottom of the ramp circa 1961, when a section of temporary ramp was installed, as part of the project that resulted in the “L” being shifted onto the nearby C&NW embankment west of here in October 1962. This station was removed during the early 1990s rehab the Lake Street line received, but it was replaced by a new station within a few short years. (Truman Hefner Photo)
Work car W226 and a Western Pacific box car at the CTA materials handling yard at 39th and Halsted on April 8, 1951. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Don’s Rail Photos: “W226, work car, was built by Chicago City Ry in 1908 as CCRy C33. It was renumbered W226 in 1913 and became CSL W226 in 1914. It was retired on January 12, 1955.” Here, we see W226 in the CTA yards at 39th and Halsted on April 8, 1951. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
CTA supply car S201 at South Shops on July 2, 1949. Don’s Rail Photos: “S201, supply car, was built by Chicago City Ry in 1908 as CCRy C45. It was renumbered S201 in 1913 and became CSL S201 in 1914. It was retired on September 27, 1956.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking northwest at 71st and Marshfield on October 21, 1953, through Bill Hoffman’s lens, shows CTA salt cars AA103 and AA89. Don’s Rail Photos: “AA103, salt car, was built by South Chicago City Ry in 1907 as SCCRy 338. It was rebuilt in 1907 and became C&SCRy 837 in 1908. It was renumbered 2852 in 1913 and became CSL 2852 in 1914. It was later converted as a salt car and renumbered AA103 in 1948. It was retired on February 17, 1954.” And: “AA89, salt car, was built by CUT in 1900 as CUT 4552. It was rebuilt as 1503 in 1911 and became CSL 1503 in 1914. It was rebuilt as salt car and renumbered AA89 on April 15, 1948. It was retired on September 9, 1954.”
Salt cars and snow plows at South Shops on June 15, 1958. Don’s Rail Photos: “E57, sweeper, was built by Russell in 1930. It was retired on March 11, 1959.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
CTA freight motor Y303 and Western Pacific box car 40077 at the materials handling yard at 39th and Halsted on April 8, 1951. Don’s Rail Photos: “Y303. baggage car, was built by C&ST in 1911 as 59. It was renumbered Y303 in 1913 and became CSL Y303 in 1914. It was retired on September 27, 1956.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Damaged CTA PCC 4055, built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1947, at South Shops on November 11, 1956. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The late William C. Hoffman took this picture of the scrap line at South Shops on June 17, 1955. Most of these cars are Pullman-built PCCs that had recently been retired from service, and were destined to be shipped to the St. Louis Car Company for scrapping and parts recycling, as part of the so-called “PCC Conversion Program” whereby some parts were used in new 6000-series rapid transit cars. Here’s what Don’s Rail Photos has to say about work car AA104, seen at front: “AA104, salt car, was built by South Chicago City Ry in 1907 as SCCRy 339. It was rebuilt in 1907 and became C&SCRy 838 in 1908. It was renumbered 2853 in 1913 and became CSL 2853 in 1914. It was later converted as a salt car and renumbered AA104 in 1948. It was retired on December 14, 1956.” Somehow, 2843 survived, and is now in the Illinois Railway Museum collection.
North Shore Line car 718 at Lake Bluff on October 19, 1963, having been vandalized several months after the interurban was abandoned.
North Shore Line car 712 at Lake Bluff on October 19, 1963, having been vandalized several months after the interurban was abandoned.
The old Chicago & North Western station, torn down in the 1980s. (William Shapotkin Collection)
I’m not sure who the Swift is in this picture, but it isn’t the Skokie Swift. This picture appears much older than 1964, when the Swift started. Perhaps the Swift here was part of the meat-packing family. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Chicago Aurora & Elgin express motor 9 at Wheaton on April 2, 1957. Don’s Rail Photos: “9 was built by Niles Car in 1907. It was scrapped in 1959.” (William Shapotkin Collection)
CSL 2564, signed to go to Torrence and 124th. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Andre Kristopans: “2564 – Torrence Shuttle south of CWI crossing at 112th looking ne.”
CSL 2773 is running northbound on the Cottage Grove route, next to the Illinois Central Electric commuter rail embankment. (William Shapotkin Collection) Mike Franklin adds: “CSL 2773 is northbound on Lake Park Ave at 55th St.” And our resident South Side expert M.E. chimes in: “The destination sign reads State-Lake, which leads you to think this car is running northbound. But Cottage Grove Ave. south of 95th St. was on the east side of the Illinois Central tracks. Therefore this car has to be heading south, despite the destination sign. Also, I see only one streetcar track on the street. Ergo, I think this photo was taken at 115th and Cottage Grove, looking north. 115th was the end of the streetcar line, so the motorman had already changed the destination sign for the northbound trip. To return north, the streetcar will turn left on 115th (into the picture), east on 115th to St. Lawrence, north to 111th, west to Cottage Grove, then north.” Andre Kristopans: “2773 – Lake Park/56th looking SE.”
FYI, the picture above seems to be a better match to 55th than 115th. Compare with this picture, from one of our previous posts:
CTA trolley bus 9440, northbound on Lake Park at 56th, in October 1958. Trolley bus service ended on the 51st-55th route on June 21, 1959, exactly one year after the last Chicago streetcar ran. This was the beginning of a 14-year phase out of electric bus service.
This enlarged section of the CSL 1941 track map helps explain why there was but one streetcar track on Lake Park near 55th. M.E. writes: “The 1941 CSL track map you sent explains everything. It tells me I was correct to assume there was some sort of loop south and west of the 55th / Lake Park intersection. Keep in mind, though, that the Cottage Grove / 55th St. photo was taken earlier than 1941. The 1941 CSL map shows double trackage along Lake Park Ave., and even to the north and south. All that “new” trackage was put in place to accommodate the 28 Stony Island streetcar route, which by 1941 was running as far north and west as 47th and Cottage Grove (or maybe as far west as the mainline north/south L station at 47th and Prairie. I’m not certain). Route 28 started at 93rd and Stony Island, ran north on Stony Island to 56th St., turned left to duck under the IC tracks, then turned right on Lake Park Ave., north to 47th St., and west from there. Eventually route 28 ran even farther north, all the way into downtown, using Indiana Ave. to Cermak, west to Wabash, north to Grand, and east to Navy Pier. The 1941 CSL map segment also shows the 59th / 61st St. line, which ended at 60th St. and Blackstone Av. The route had to turn north on Blackstone because there was no viaduct on 61st St. under the IC tracks. And the route could not go north of 60th because no road crossed the Midway Plaisance (part of the city’s boulevard system) between Dorchester (1400 E.) and Stony Island (1600 E.). So the CSL did what it could to deliver its route 59 passengers as close as possible to the IC’s 59th – 60th St. station.”
CSL 5074, signed to go to both the old Dearborn Street train station and Racine and 87th. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Mike Franklin adds: “CSL 5074 is southbound on Canal St at 24th St.” Our resident South Side expert M.E. adds, “As I remember this route (44), southbound, it took Archer Ave. southwest to Canal St., south on Canal to 29th, west a block to Wallace, south to Root St., west to Halsted, south to 47th, west to Racine, south to 87th. Because it parallels a railroad; because the Pennsylvania Railroad headed straight south out of Union Station (which was also on Canal); and because the Pennsy used a bridge that looks like the one in the background, I think this scene is along Canal, somewhere between Archer and 29th.” Andre Kristopans: “5074 – Canal/24th looking n.”
CSL 2512 and another unidentified streetcar. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Andre Kristopans: “2512 – 106th/Indianapolis looking E.”
CSL 2518 on the far southeast side of Chicago, signed to go to Brandon and Brainard. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Andre Kristopans: “2518 – Calumet Western crossing about 129th looking N.”
Hammond, Whiting, & East Chicago car 76 is signed here to go from Indiana into the City of Chicago, an arrangement that ended in 1940. These cars were just about identical to CSL Pullmans. (William Shapotkin Collection) Andre Kristopans: “HWEC 76 – most likely Indianapolis and Exchange at end of line in East Chicago.”
Chicago & West Towns 124 is at the east end of the Madison Street line, at Austin Boulevard. Riders going into the city could change here for CSL PCC cars. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Hammond, Whiting, & East Chicago car 74. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Andre Kristopans: “HWEC 74 – further study suggests Hohman near Michigan looking S – note big buildings in distance, seem to match downtown Hammond in street view, and how the power lines go way up in distance, such as crossing a railroad.” Mike Franklin writes: “Hammond, Whiting, & East Chicago car 74 is heading west bound on 119th St at New York Ave, Whiting, Indiana. Building behind the car is the Whiting Post Office (still there).”
CSL 2594. Don’s Rail Photos notes that this car, nicknamed a Robertson, was “built by St Louis Car Co in 1901. It was retired on August 1, 1947.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Andre Kristopans: “2594 – 106th crossing BRC and PRR 106th east of Torrence looking E.”
Chicago & West Towns Railways car 122 is eastbound on Cermak Road at Oak Park Avenue in suburban Berwyn in 1947. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA one-man streetcar 1781 has just gone under the Chicago & North Western embankment at Lake Street and Pine Avenue, probably not long before the end of trolley service on Route 16 in 1954. 1781 will head west for a few blocks before reaching the end of the line at Austin Boulevard, the city limits. This picture gives a good view of the C&NW signal tower, which apparently served four tracks at that time. The tower is still there, but just with three tracks on the successor Union Pacific, as the CTA Green Line (former Lake Street “L”) has shared space there since 1962. (William Shapotkin Collection)
The same location in 2019, when the streetcar tracks were finally being removed, after having been unused for 65 years.
Chicago Surface Lines one-man car 3205. I can’t make out the route sign. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Andre Kristopans: “3205 – 51st west of Stewart – sign “55th-LAKE PARK” looking W.”
Philadelphia Transportation Company 8027 on route 38 at the Pennsylvania Railroad’s 30th Street Station. (William Shapotkin Collection) Michael Greene writes: “The picture of PTC 8027 was taken on a weekend between June 1955 and September 10 1955. From September 11 1955 to Route 38’s conversion to bus on October 17 1955, PCCs were used on the 38. The car seen on the 38 was what PTC referred to internally as an SER, an 8000-series car that had been redone inside with chrome stanchions, PCC-style lighting, cross seats up front, the wooden seats getting springing and imitation leather covering, and herringbone gearing. The cars that were not redone were called by PTC, internally, as SE, basically staying the same way as they were delivered in 1923 and 1925, aside from having a PTC logo. Those cars were used on the 38, and, after April 11 1948, on the 37, on weekdays. On Sundays (and Saturdays, at some point) remodeled cars were used on the 37 and 38, in both cases, it was until September 11 1955 that PCCs also came to the 37. Their run ended on November 6 1955 when the 37 and 36, an all-surface route, were merged.”
A Chicago & North Western train on the Northwest Line at Mayfair on Chicago’s northwest side, during construction of the Northwest (now Kennedy) Expressway on February 3, 1960. (William Shapotkin Collection) Andre Kristopans: “CNW on shoofly – Addison looking N.” (Mayfair is a neighborhood located within Albany Park on Chicago’s northwest side.) Richmond Bates: “The train on the shoofly at Mayfair has a Milwaukee Road diesel, not North Western. Train 15 was the Olympian Hiawatha. I can’t identify the specific photo location. The Milwaukee and the C&NW Wisconsin Division crossed at Mayfair which is near Montrose and the Kennedy Expressway. The photo caption mentions Addison which is about a mile away and might be considered the Irving Park neighborhood. If the photo is near the Mayfair crossing, it could be Milwaukee tracks; if it is Addison, then it must be C&NW tracks.”
I don’t know for certain, but I think this photo of one of the CTA Skokie Swift cars might date to the Blizzard of ’79. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This shows the Met main line at Halsted and Congress, during expressway construction. Here, the bridge over the highway was being built, and Halsted streetcars were using a shoofly. It looks as though a portion of the CTA “L” station is being removed here, as two of the four tracks at this location were in the expressway footprint. The station itself remained in use by Garfield Park trains until June 1958. This picture is from the early 1950s. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA red car 3200 is on the scrap track at South Shops on January 30, 1954. Don’s Rail Photos: “3200 was built by CSL in 1923. It was given experimental multiple-unit equipment. It was rebuilt as (a) one-two man convertible car in 1936.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
West Chicago Street Railway car 4 at South Shops on October 21, 1956. Historical cars were often trotted out for photos during fantrips, and this was no exception. This car was originally built as Chicago Union Traction 4022 in 1895. CSL had it repainted and renumbered in 1934 for the Chicago World’s Fair (A Century of Progress). This car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The interior of West Chicago Street Railway car 4, as it looked on October 21, 1956. It was originally Chicago Union Traction car 4022 and never actually operated on the West Chicago Street Railway. It was renumbered and painted this way by the Chicago Surface Lines in the 1930s. It is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
North Chicago Street Railway 8 was built in 1859 and pulled by horses. The last horsecars in Chicago were retired in 1906, and thereafter, this car was only used for ceremonial occasions, like parades or the opening of streetcar extensions. While CSL did build some replicas of old cars in the early 1930s, this one is the real deal, and one of the oldest such cars in existence. To show you how confusing some of this history can be, photographer Bill Hoffman wrote on the mount of this October 21, 1956 slide that this was a “replica,” which is incorrect.
The interior of replica cable car trailer 209, as it looked on October 21, 1956. While the sign inside the car says it was used on State Street between 1880 and 1906, in actuality, this was built by the Chicago Surface Lines in the early 1930s, although it includes original parts. Mail car 6 is behind this car. That one is original, but may have been renumbered. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The Humboldt Park “L” crossing Humboldt Boulevard in 1949. Where the “L” crossed a boulevard, the Park Board insisted that the structure should be fancier than normal, and so it was here. The view looks to the northeast. (William Shapotkin Collection)
The Humboldt Park “L” at Western Avenue in 1949. The picture can be dated by one of the posters at the station. (William Shapotkin Collection)
The second annual Television and Electrical Living show took place in Chicago in October 1949. This poster is visible in the previous picture.
A 2700-series Met car at the St. Louis Avenue station on the Humboldt Park “L”, possibly circa 1949. The view looks east. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Bill Hoffman’s attempt to get a shot of bot a CTA “L” car on Van Buren and red Pullman #531 on Paulina was thwarted in this instance by a passing truck on October 20, 1953. Edward J. Maurath writes: “This picture shows the Van Buren temporary tracks used by the Garfield Park ‘L’ from 1953-1958. The front of car 2831 is partially obscured by the infamous stop light erected by the CTA to save the expense of installing crossing gates and other crossing signals. I wonder how many of your readers know how frustrating an experience riding on these temporary tracks for approximately 2½ miles was. The system worked like this. For the 2½ miles of temporary tracks there were 15 street crossings. Chicago blocked 5 of them, leaving 10 with these stop-light control systems. They worked like this: normally the light was red and the traffic light systems for the two streets (Van Buren and the cross street) worked normally. When a CTA train stooped for the red light, both street were given a normal cycle and then both streets were given a red light. Then the CTA train light turned to green and remained so until the train had crossed the street. Then the street traffic lights returned to normal use and the CTA train light turned red and remained red until the next train approached. This meant ten lengthy waits at each cross street over the 2½ miles of temporary tracks. To avoid further delays, there were no stops on this 2½ miles of track, but still the constant waiting at each of the ten cross streets was annoying, to say the least. Notice the yellow color of the stop sign for the train. That was the standard color for stop signs until 1954. Also note the color of the train which had not been painted for about 14 years, and has been described as ‘two shades of mud’.” It’s worth noting that the CTA claimed to simply be following the example of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, which ran in many places without crossing gate protection, although not in an urban area such as this. The CTA was able to speed up the Garfield Park “L” between 1953 and 1958, however, by eliminating several stops, and using faster railcars, to the point where, by the end of the operation, running time from Forest Park to Downtown was the same as it had been before the ground-level operation started.
For a few months (September 1953 to January 1954), it was possible to catch CTA red cars crossing the temporary Garfield Park “L” right-of-way at Paulina and Van Burn Streets. Photographer William C. Hoffman tried to do just that, with varying degrees of success. Here, on October 20, 1953, we see CTA Pullman 597 heading south. As you can see, the “L” on Paulina was just west of here, but was not then in use. “L” cars last ran there in February 1951, when the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway opened. But they would soon run there again, when Douglas Park trains were rerouted via a new connection to the Lake Street “L” starting in April 1954– a connection used now by Pink Line trains. The streetcar is running on Route 9 – Ashland, but is seen on Paulina at this point, because streetcars were not permitted to operate on boulevards, which part of Ashland (between Roosevelt Road and Lake Street) was.
The two CSL experimental pre-PCC cars (4001 and 7001), used as storage sheds, at South Shops in May 16, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This is the portal to the old Van Buren streetcar tunnel at Franklin Street on July 26, 1959. That’s a 1957 Chevy, possibly a Bel Air model. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
CSL 2605, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1902, was damaged by fire, and is shown at South Shops on May 16, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Looking west from 78th and Perry on April 25, 1954, photographer Bill Hoffman captured this view of streetcars on the scrap line at South Shops. From left to right, a Pullman, car 2605 in bluish green, and a streetcar trailer.
CTA red Pullman 460 at South Shops in March 1958. It had been retired in 1954 and was saved for the CTA Historical Collection. In the 1980s, it went to the Illinois Railway Museum. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The interior of CTA red Pullman 460 in March 1958. By then, it was being stored as part of the CTA Historical Collection, but now it is at the Illinois Railway Museum. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
CTA St. Louis-built PCC 7200 at 81st and Halsted in March 1958. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Andre Kristopans: “PCC 7200 – Vincennes at 81st looking NE.”
We are looking east into the lower level of Navy Pier on June 25, 1956. The tracks at right belonged to the Chicago & North Western. At one time, they were joined by Grand Avenue streetcar tracks. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Northbound CTA 5573, built by Kuhlman in 1907, is on Paulina at Van Buren on October 29, 1950. Just short of three years later, Garfield Park “L” trains would be re-routed into the south half of Van Buren Street. The streetcar is operating on Route 9 – Ashland. (William C. Hoffman Photo)