North Shore Line car 749 at the 50th Avenue station, Illinois Railway Museum, July 3, 2021.
I could not think of a better place to be on July 3rd than at the Illinois Railway Museum, which I had not visited in nearly two years. Here are some pictures from that day.
Unfortunately I did not arrive in time for the annual reenactment of the sudden mid-day July 3, 1957 abandonment of passenger service by the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, which stranded perhaps 3,500 riders. At the museum, museum visitors are taken to the end of the main line via a CA&E train, which then leaves them high and dry (only to be picked up by another train shortly thereafter).
I did not arrive until later in the afternoon. No CA&E cars were running, but I did capture lots of other action.
Every time I visit the museum, things are a little bit nicer, a little bit better, thanks to the dedication of their many volunteers. May it always be so.
PS- We have already sent out over 100 copies of our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, which is available for immediate shipment. Ordering information can be found at the end of this post, and in our Online Store.
Although the 50th Avenue station was closed for renovations, North Shore Line car 749 was there for a fundraising event, where people could actually pilot the car for a brief period out on the line.
Dayton trolley bus 9809 joined the IRM fleet in 2020.
A Budd RDC (rail diesel car).
Metropolitan “L” car 2872 is under restoration. There is a picture of it in service on the Kenwood shuttle in my new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s.
Chicago Rapid Transit car 4146, a “Baldy,” was built by Cincinnati Car Company in 1915 as one of our first all-steel “L” cars. The four separate “L” companies had come under joint operation a few years earlier, and previously just had wood-steel cars that were ordered for an individual line. The center doors on these cars were never used.
CTA PCC 4391 was operating on the streetcar loop that day.
Neils No. 5 was one of two steam engines being used that day.
CTA single car units 41 and 30 were operating as a pair. The former with trolley poles, and the latter with a Skokie Swift pantograph.
Car 30 looked resplendent in a new coat of paint.
The singles were set up for one-person operation, where it was possible to have the operator collect fares on the train. They were used at night on the Evanston shuttle in this manner for some years, but it really slowed things down.
Frisco 1630, a 2-10-0, on the IRM main line.
The 1630 at the passing siding near the end of the main line.
A close-up of CTA 41’s third rail shoe.
CTA 6655-6656 were also running.
An attractive “retro” sign has already gone up for what will eventually be a model train display (but not a hobby shop, apparently).
I recently acquired this 1893 map, showing the route of the Columbian Intramural Railway at the World’s Fair here in Chicago. The Jackson Park “L” connected with the CIR at Chicago Junction (65th Street on this map), a few blocks south of where the “L” ran on 63rd Street.
A CTA Skokie Swift train crosses McCormick Boulevard on September 20, 1966. (James P. Marcus Photo)
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) car 16 at the end of the Ardmore line on June 11, 1966, six months before trolleys were replaced by buses. (Allan H. Roberts Photo)
This picture of Chicago Surface Lines pre-PCC 7001 was taken in 1935, a year after it was built. Auto parts dealer Warshawsky & Co. was located at around 1900 S. State Street, which may be this location. The streetcar is heading north.
A three-car train of cable cars on Madison Street in the 1890s. This is a colorized photo.
Cable car 1836 is part of a two-car train on Dearborn Street, circa the 1890s. This is a colorized photo.
A Pittsburgh Railways employee works on a PCC wheel in August 1957.
A 6-car Evanston Express train, made up of wood-steel cars, heads northbound approaching the Wilson Avenue station in August 1957. The Wilson Shops is in the background behind the train. At right, you can see the ramp that went down to Buena Yard.
A westbound Garfield Park “L” train crosses Austin Boulevard in August 1957. That’s Columbus Park in the background. This is now the site of I-290.
In August 1957, an eastbound two-car train of 4000s is on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”, running parallel to South Boulevard in Oak Park. We are looking north. I am not sure of the exact side street here. Dan Cluley writes: “I think the picture of the Lake St. L in Oak Park (pic 397) is S Kenilworth Ave. The house at right has been replaced with a parking lot, but the tops of the Post Office & First United Church seen through the trees seem to match up.”
The same location today.
Michael Franklin writes: “This (aaa397) is looking north on Kenilworth. The twin spires in the background are the church on the NE corner of Kenilworth and Lake. The long gone Oak Leaves Offices are on the right. Building demolished in 1971.” Here we see the same building from a different angle, looking to the southeast across the “L” right-of-way.
A CTA fantrip was held on August 6, 1972, which took a four-car train down into the Lake Street “L”‘s Hamlin Yard. Two single-car units flanked a pair of flat-door 6000s, all equipped with trolley poles. Shortly after this picture was taken, car 44, in the foreground, was detached from the rest of the train, and operated across Lake Street to West Shops. We have run other photos from this trip in previous posts. The ramp connecting Hamlin Yard to the Lake Street “L” was removed many years ago.
The same location today.
J. W. Vigrass took this picture in East Chicago, Indiana, on September 15, 1956, shortly before the South Shore Line in this area was relocated to run alongside the Indiana Toll Road. That’s car 22 coming at us.
The Last CA&E Train?
There is some question whether this photo does or does not actually show the last CA&E passenger train leaving DesPlaines Avenue without passengers on July 3, 1957, shortly after the interurban was given permission to abandon service by the courts. Some people think the photo was actually taken earlier.
This is how the photo appeared in the July 4, 1957 issue of the Chicago Tribune.
This photo, showing a mirror at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee terminal, was taken on January 21, 1963 (after abandonment) by Allan Y. Scott for the Milwaukee Journal. You can see the photographer in the picture, apparently using a Leica M2 or M3. This picture came from the collection of the late John Horachek. Rather than being a double exposure, it seems like the ghostly image of an Electroliner was applied to the mirror using a stencil and a product known as Glass Wax.
John Nicholson writes:
Attached is a photo of the mirror in question at the Milwaukee terminal lunch counter on the last day of operation. I ate lunch there on the last day, wondering all the while who was going to grab that mirror once the line closed. Nobody seems to know what happened to it.
So, as you can see, all the photographer had to do was take a photo of the mirror with the waiting room reflected in the background.
(Ernie Maragos Photo, John Nicholson Collection)
Thanks for sharing those. At first, some people who saw that other picture thought it was a double exposure, but it was apparent to me that it wasn’t. I figure it was applied using Glass Wax and a stencil. My mother put some Christmas decorations on our window that way when I was a small child.
I remember the Glass Wax stencils from Christmas 1957. Once they were removed after the holiday, at least your windows got a cleaning in the process.
Miles Beitler writes:
Your latest post included discussion of why the Congress line was constructed with room for a third track between the Lotus tunnel and the Forest Park terminal. I have attached a Tribune article from 1954 which gives the “official” reason (which essentially agrees with your post).
Thanks. You can read the article by clicking on the link given above.
The question came up recently, about whether the Congress rapid transit line was planned to have three tracks between Laramie and Forest Park, and what the third track was intended for. This Chicago Tribune article from January 6, 1954 provides the answer.
The third track was added to the plans at the insistence of Governor William Stratton, who wanted to make sure that the Chicago Aurora & Elgin could resume going downtown eventually. This is described as the final issue that needed to be settled in the overall deal whereby the CTA purchased CA&E’s fixed assets in this section for $1m. This process began when the CA&E announced that they could not afford to pay for new tracks in this stretch a few years earlier. State and county officials did not want the highway extension to be the cause of the interurban’s demise. Eventually the CTA came up with the proposal that they would purchase the CA&E’s fixed assets there, which naturally all would need to be replaced anyway. This gave the CTA “skin in the game” to continue offering rail service west of Laramie. CA&E made money from both the sale of the land for the highway and the sale of the tracks and signals to the CTA.
Suburban transit riders were unhappy with the need to transfer to the CTA at Forest Park for a slow ride downtown, starting in September 1953, and Gov. Stratton’s move was partly a response to that. The article says that the third track could be used by the CA&E or express trains (CTA’s), but the CTA did not have any interest in a third track, since they considered the new line an express service in itself. And the area that would have been occupied by this third CA&E track was left vacant. It runs north of the existing two tracks. That’s why there is a third portal in the Lotus Tunnel. The only place where this got fudged was the bridge over DesPlaines Avenue, where a tight curve got eased by using part of the area set aside for this third track.
Peter Korling writes:
I was looking for the layout of street cars and elevated trains in O scale on your website. Can you help? Or if you have other layouts help me use your search machine to find them- let me know.
Another question- do you have a picture of a streetcar in the layover at Oakenwald and 35th st? I’m not sure of the street the CTA used but the cross street was Oakenwald. Near the IC tracks. Circa 1940. the date doesn’t have to be exact. I searched CTA’s website with no success. This is for my interest only I am NOT a policeman solving a case.
I drove the L line for Muni in mid 60s. I have pics. PCC cars.
My father took this B&W photo in the early 40s.
I have original print w/his signature should you know somebody who would want to buy it.
(FYI, Peter’s father was Torkel Korling, a famous photographer and inventor.)
Thanks for the photos. I actually met your father a couple of times in the 1980s. We had the chance to chat over a cup of coffee and he told me many interesting things.
I am not a model railroader myself, but perhaps some of my readers can help you with that.
As for a streetcar photo at the east end of the 35th Street line, I don’t recall seeing such a picture, but naturally I will check.
Jeremy Barnard writes:
I noticed you have a page dedicated to Capital Transit trolleys. I’m trying to find someone who may have some fleet roster information for capital-transit-company that might included buses from the early 1940s.
I have a couple photos from that era of White buses and have been trying to figure out exactly which model they were.
I saw David Sadowski’s name mentioned a few times. Do you think there would be a way to ask him as well?
I’d really appreciate any help in pointing me in the right direction.
Unfortunately I don’t have a Capital Transit bus roster, although there have been some books published about this operator. You might check those, in case you have not already done so.
As for David Sadowski, that’s me, so I guess you have killed two birds with one stone there.
Maybe some of our readers can assist you further.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
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
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages
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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A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
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CTA 7156 heads south on Broadway at Lawrence in Uptown on February 15, 1957, the last day of streetcar service on Broadway. The film Giant, starring James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor, opened in the US on November 24, 1956, and was playing at the Uptown. You can see the Green Mill lounge a bit south of the Uptown. The Riviera Theater would be just out of view to the left here. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 244 of B-146, mistakenly credited to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
Life is full of loose ends, and so is this post. Let’s see if we can tie a few up.
Most of what you see in this post is a tribute to Robert Heinlein and the late Jeffrey L. Wien. I spent a lot of time working on these images, because I wanted to give these gentlemen a 100% effort.
There were several slides that I scanned last year for Jeff, that I had not yet had a chance to work over in Photoshop at the time of his passing on January 6th. These were 35mm color slides he had purchased on eBay, to fill in holes in his collection. In his later years, he took great pleasure in buying images that he had not been able to take himself.
Jeff had told me on a number of occasions that I was free to post anything here from his vast collection. So I am sure he would not mind that I share these with you now, after I made them look better. In fact, I think he would be glad I followed through on this. Perhaps the best tribute I can give my friend is to continue the work of historic preservation, which meant so much to him.
Publication of CERA Bulletin 146, Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958 in 2015 inadvertently created another loose end. Jeff had some duplicate slides he had acquired in 1959, several of which were used in the book. He was certain that these were pictures taken by Charles Tauscher, and this included the photo on the book’s front cover, showing a Clark-Wentworth PCC passing by Wrigley Field.
While we were working on the book, Jeff bought Tauscher’s photo collection, and was disappointed when the originals of these slides did not turn up there (although many other excellent slides did– Tauscher was a great photographer in his own right).
After the book came out, we found out the duplicate slides in question had actually been shot by Bob Heinlein. In 2016, Bob loaned us his original red border Kodachrome slides, so we could set the historical record straight. Now you can see them too, and we can finally give credit where credit is due. It seems an even dozen of these were used in B-146, but the ones that weren’t are every bit as good.
The 24 pictures of Bob’s that are here were all taken between October 1956 and September 1957, and nearly all on the north side of Chicago. By then, the only remaining streetcar lines in the city were Clark-Wentworth and Broadway. Western was replaced by buses a few months before Bob started taking these pictures.
Broadway had been de-coupled from its southerly half (State) in December 1955. Clark and Broadway shared a car barn (Devon) and a portion of their route south of Diversey, so their fates were tied together. By the end of 1957, there were no more north side streetcars, and the last remaining line (Wentworth) only made it until June 21, 1958, when 7213 became the last Chicago streetcar.
In our last post, we featured an extensive article about the Metropolitan West Side Elevated from an 1895 issue of Leslie’s Weekly. After I purchased the magazine, it took 35 days for it to show up. It spent some time, no doubt, buried in a USPS distribution center in December, probably at the bottom of the pile.
Because of the delay, the seller graciously offered to send me an 1894 Leslie’s with another article about the Chicago elevated. He did, but it turns out the article is not about the “L”, but actually details the start of the grade separation movement of steam railroads in the Chicago area, which is another subject I am interested in. You can read it here, from the September 20, 1894 issue of Leslie’s Weekly.
In addition, we have some new recent photo finds of our own. One of these was also a “loose end.” I recently received the negative of CTA streetcar 1743 downtown. I didn’t recall buying this recently. Then, I looked at the postmark on the envelope– June 15, 2020! Turns out I did buy this, and had forgotten all about it. Chances are, the envelope was put into the wrong PO Box by mistake, and whoever owns that box doesn’t regularly check their mail. But all’s well that ends well.
There are a couple of pictures from the collections of John Smatlak. We thank him for sharing these with our readers.
We are grateful for all our contributors. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
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Robert Heinlein’s Chicago PCCs:
Wouldn’t you just know it? Without even realizing it I am sure, someone walked right into Bob Heinlein’s shot in this September 1957 view of CTA PCC 4390 (which would end up being one of the last cars used in June 1958). What to do, but wait for another car to come along, and take another picture (see Heinlein008).
Although signed for the south portion of Route 36, which was replaced by buses in December 1955, PCC 4406 is actually on Clark and 16th Streets. Since 4406 was used (along with red car 225) on a fantrip on October 21, 1956, my guess is this picture was taken on that day. It was common practice to put incorrect signs up on trips, although on most of the pictures I have seen from that trip, it says “Chartered.” (Robert Heinlein Photo)
In September 1957, CTA 7160 passes by the Rainbo building at left, located in the 4800 block of north Clark Street. A skating rink opened there that year. To the right, you see St. Boniface Catholic Cemetery. We are looking north. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 162 of B-146, where it was incorrectly credited to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7211, still in its original paint scheme, heads south at Clark Street and Irving Park Road in September 1957, near the entrance to Graceland Cemetery. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 164 of B-146, where it was incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7149, signed for Clark and Schreiber (Devon Station). Note that the route number is 22 with a red slash through it. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7222 by Wrigley Field (Clark and Addison) in July 1957. This picture appears twice in CERA B-146, on the cover and on pages 134 and 167, taken from a duplicate slide. On page 167, it is incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. This is the original Red Border Kodachrome. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7164 is northbound on Clark at Addison in July 1957, crossing the Milwaukee Road tracks near Wrigley Field. A version of this photo, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 166 of B-146, incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
In September 1957, CTA PCCs 7220 and 7211 pass each other on Clark Street at Delaware near the Newberry Library and Washington Square Park, also known locally as “Bughouse Square.” A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 181 of B-146, mistakenly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7200 is turning south from Devon onto Broadway in 1957. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7190 heads south on State Street, crossing the Chicago River. Work on the new Chicago Sun-Times building is well underway. It opened in 1958. The following years, Field Enterprises bought the Daily News, and this building became its headquarters as well. It is now the site of the Trump International Hotel and Tower. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7178 heads south on Clark Street near Wrigley Field in September 1957. The Milwaukee Road railroad tracks running by the ballpark were used for freight and connected with the CTA “L” just north of Irving Park Road. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 166 of B-146, where it is incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7190 at Clark and Seminary by Wrigley Field in July 1957. The “coke” advertised here wasn’t Coca-Cola, but coal, used for heating homes and businesses then, but phased out soon afterwards. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 167 of B-146, incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7189 is southbound on Clark Street just south of Irving Park Road in July 1957. The Wunders Cemetery is at right. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 165 of B-146, where it is incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7191 passing by Wrigley Field. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7214 heads south on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. Since the Cubs were in the middle of a home stand, the date may very well have been September 4, 1957. The Cubbies would lose two of their three next games to the Cincinnati Redlegs (“Reds” was apparently too sensitive a name politically then) on their way to finishing the season with a record of 62 wins, 92 losses, and 2 ties. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7180 is southbound on Clark Street, passing by the coal company that was once located next to Wrigley Field. You get a good view of the Milwaukee Road freight tracks, since abandoned, that headed north of here. This was once part of a line that offered commuter rail service on the north side. The portion north of Wilson Avenue was taken over by the “L” in the early 1900s. Originally known as the Evanston Extension, it was gradually elevated as well. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7151 is southbound at Clark Street and Chicago Avenue, passing by what is now the former Cosmopolitan Bank Building, designed by the firm of Schmidt, Garden & Martin and built in 1920. The northern portion of the building was a 1930 addition, and was redone in 1995, in a style matching the original portion. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7193 is northbound on Clark, just north of Ridge, at around 5961 N. Clark in July 1957. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, was incorrectly credited to Charles L. Tauscher on page 158 of B-146. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7192 at Kinzie and Dearborn in 1957. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
I was curious about this car, shown in the previous photo, so I posted it to a Facebook group devoted to 1955-56 Packards and asked, “Is this a Packard?” Apparently, it is a 1956 Clipper, produced and sold by Packard. For that year and that year only, it was its own separate brand and not branded as a Packard. But I think you would be forgiven for calling it a 1956 Packard Clipper Constellation.
The 1956 Clipper Constellation, made by Packard. From what I have read, there may only be one place, somewhere on the trunk, that identifies this as a Packard. They tried to make it a brand of its own, just for this one year. Packard merged with Studebaker, and the final two years of Packards (1957-58) were rebranded Studebakers. 1956 was the last year that Packard built its own cars.
CTA 7138 at Schreiber and Ravenswood, near Devon Station. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7171 is northbound on Clark Street, passing Wrigley Field. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7162 is southbound on Clark Street at LaSalle Drive in September 1957. A version of this photo, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 177 of B-146, mistakenly credited to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7163 is southbound at Clark, Halsted, and Barry in July 1957. A version of this photo, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 170 of B-146, mistakenly credited to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
From the Wien-Criss Archive:
The North Shore Line’s Libertyville station on the Mundelein branch in January 1963. (Wien-Criss Archive)
NJ Transit car 6 on the Newark City Subway in July 1975. After the PCCs were replaced in 2001, this car went to the Rockhill Trolley Museum. Sister car #4 (ex-Twin Cities Rapid Transit) is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Wien-Criss Archive)
CTA 2554 on a westbound Douglas-Milwaukee B-train between Jefferson Park and Montrose on August 17, 1978. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 764 heads up a train at North Chicago Junction on January 16, 1960. (William D. Volkmer Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
This is the “before” version of the following slide, the raw scan prior to my working it over in Photoshop.
A North Shore Line employee’s shanty at the Milwaukee Terminal on June 17, 1962. “Cream City” is a nickname for Milwaukee. I believe a fantrip was held on that day, which helps explain the photographer at left. (Wien-Criss Archive)
The North Shore Line’s Woodridge station in August 1962. This was one of several 1920s-era stations designed in “Insull Spanish.” Only two such stations exist today, one of which is Beverly Shores on the South Shore Line. The Woodridge station was demolished after the North Shore Line shut down in 1963. (Wien-Criss Archive)
North Shore Line 714 heads up a northbound train at Loyola on July 13, 1955. Car 714 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Wien-Criss Archive)
A North Shore Line train on the Shore Line Route is southbound in Winnetka in September 1954. This section was grade-separated in 1940, along with the adjacent Chicago & North Western tracks, following a series of pedestrian accidents. Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, approved Federal aid that paid for part of this work, in a similar fashion to Chicago’s Initial System of Subways. Ickes had lived in the area for many years. The train is moving towards the photographer, and the front is blurred due to the shutter speed that had to be used, in the days when Kodachrome was ISO 10. (Wien-Criss Archive)
One of the two Electroliners crosses the North Shore Channel on October 21, 1950. After the abandonment of the North Shore Line in 1963, this became part of the route of the CTA Skokie Swift, today’s Yellow Line. This is near the border between Skokie and Evanston. (Wien-Criss Archive)
The entrance to the South Shore Line platforms at Randolph Street Station on August 4, 1974. This has since been completely modernized, and the neon sign is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Douglas N. Grotjahn Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
Chicago South Shore and South Bend 23 is at the head of a westbound train at Miller, Indiana on October 1, 1990. (Bill McCoy Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
Although this picture was originally identified as Franklin Street, north of the Loop, it’s actually at 8th Street, south of the Loop. The clue is the Big 4 Advertising carriers storefront, which was located at 26 E. 8th Street. Thanks to John Suhayda for pointing this out. The head North Shore Line car is 420, and this photo was taken by Robert F. Collins on June 2, 1960. (Wien-Criss Archive)
North Shore Line 727 and 729 are northbound at Belmont on the CTA north side “L” on May 20, 1962. Don’s Rail Photos: “727 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It was modernized in 1939 and sold to Iowa Chapter, National Railway Historical Society in 1963. It became Iowa Terminal RR 102 in 1967 and acquired by Iowa Trolley Museum in 1987. It was restored to some extent as CNS&M 727 and apparently returned to Iowa Terminal RR.” (Wien-Criss Archive) John Nicholson: “Off to the right behind the “L” structure Benty Hobby Supplies was still a going concern. I remember it still being in operation into the early 1980s right around the time I moved into the Lake View neighborhood. Now hobby shops are becoming as scarce as interurbans.”
North Shore Line Silverliners 770, 738, and 767 just north of Wilson Avenue on June 2, 1962. This is probably a “substitute Liner,” meaning they were temporarily taking the place of an Electroliner when one of that pair was being serviced. (Wien-Criss Archive) John Nicholson adds: “I noticed you referred to the three Silverliners pictured just north of Wilson (taken On Saturday, June 2, 1962) as a possible “substitute Electroliner.” The latest ruling from the recently-departed Mr. Horaheck was that “substitute Electroliner” is incorrect. The correct term should be “equipment substituting for a shopped Electroliner.” Since the train did not have No. 415 in the consist, it was probably just a three-car train of Silverliners.”
North Shore Line car 754 gets a bath at the Milwaukee Terminal on May 14, 1961. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
North Shore Line car 758 is at the rear of a northbound train at Dempster Street in Skokie in August 1962. This is now where the CTA Yellow Line ends, and the historic station building has been moved a short distance away, but has been restored. (Wien-Criss Archive)
This Seabord Coast Line streamlined diesel train #4900 was built in 1936 by St. Louis Car Company, and was an obvious influence on the design of the North Shore Line Electroliners, built five years later, The 4900 was scrapped in 1971 after Amtrak took over intercity passenger rail service. It is shown here in August 1969 and was originally Seaboard Air Line 2028. Like the Electroliners, it was one of a pair. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Pennsylvania Railroad steam train 612 at the Parkway overpass, Sea Girt, NJ, October 20, 1957. #612 was a K-4S (4-6-2) “Pacific” built in Juniata during 1917 and retired in April 1958. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Atlantic City Brilliner 205 on December 28, 1955. From http://www.nycsubway.org: “The third electrified service in Atlantic City lasted longer than the others and it was a streetcar line that made its way from a place called The Inlet at the north end of Atlantic City and operated largely along the city’s major thoroughfare, Atlantic Avenue, southward and through the communities of Ventnor, Margate and Longport. Owned and operated by the Atlantic City Transportation Company, this service was distinctive, during its final decade-and-a-half, in that its basic fleet of cars consisted in twenty-five streamlined Brilliners, the Philadelphia-based Brill Company’s competitive answer to the PCC car. Other properties purchased small fleets of similar Brilliners, but only in Atlantic City did this unique car serve as the basic rolling stock of a transit system. Until the very end of streetcar service in December of 1955, the Brilliners were supplemented by a small number of conventional Hog Island cars.” So, this picture was taken just off the Boardwalk at The Inlet, near Captain Starn’s Restaurant and Yacht Bar, one of the most famous seafood eateries in America in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. It opened in 1940 and closed in 1979. This was part of a complex offering sailboat rides, speedboats, a fish market, and sea lions. It was featured in the 1972 film The King of Marvin Gardens. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Here is a video, with some shots of the Atlantic City Brilliners (built 1938-39), with their distinctive “tavern” doors (starts at about 9:38):
Baltimore Transit Company Brilliner 7501 on the Eastern Avenue route. It was built on December 19, 1938. Jeff was actually in Baltimore on the last day of streetcar service on November 3, 1963. Light rail transit returned to the Baltimore area in 1992. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Philadelphia Transportation Company Brilliner 2023 is north of Olney Avenue in May 1953, on a fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos: “2023 was built by Brill Car Co in April 1939, #23763-006. It was scrapped in August 1956.” Brill had been part of the group that developed the PCC car, but refused to pay patent royalties to other companies and dropped out, preferring to go their own way. It was a fatal mistake. By the time Brill introduced their PCC-lookalike, the Brilliner, in 1938, St. Louis Car Company had the PCC market sewed up, and Brill’s was viewed as an inferior product in some ways. Hence, few were sold– one to Philadelphia, one to Baltimore, 24 to Atlantic City, and 10 to Red Arrow. Brill made its last streetcar in 1941. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Philadelphia Transportation Company 6213 was known as a Nearside Peter Witt car. Here is an explanation from http://www.ectma.org/nearside.html : “The 1500 Nearside Cars represented the largest single group of cars in Philadelphia until 1948. They were aquired in five orders between 1911 and 1913 and were numbered 6000 – 7499. As originally built they had only a single double door in the front and a conductor’s booth immediately behind the motorman. A small rear door existed for emergency use only. Previous practice with double end cars was for the car to stop at the far side of intersections so passengers could board the rear platform where the conductor was stationed. The name “Nearside” derives from the fact that these new single end cars stopped for passengers at the near side of each intersection. The double door was arranged with the front leaves opening in for incoming passengers and the rear leaves opening out for exiting passengers. Between 1919 and 1921 to solve the “muzzle loading” problem, 1160 of the 1500 cars were equipped with center doors and the “Peter Witt” fare collection system with the conductor stationed in the middle of the car.” 6213 is on Route 15 – Girard Avenue, which still has a streetcar line, which is currently on hiatus while its small fleet of PCC II cars are being rebuilt. This is from a “half frame” slide. Half frame had a brief fad in the 1950s as a way to double the number of pictures on a roll, but it also had half the film area of 35mm, and therefore wasn’t as sharp. The slide mount gives the location as “Richmond Street near the Ship Yards.” This would be on the eastern portion of the line. This type of streetcar was retired here in 1957. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Atlantic City Brilliner 218. The movie poster advertises Welcome Stranger, a film starring Bing Crosby, John Garfield, and Barry Fitzgerald, released in June 1947, which may help date this photo. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Philadelphia Transportation Company Brilliner 2023 is on a charter trip at Chelten and Yorr Roads. There is a notation on this half-frame slide of “Route 52.” The Brilliner was scrapped in August 1956, so this must be before then. (Wien-Criss Archive)
This is a real photo postcard I recently bought. Chicago Surface Lines 6031 was built by Brill in July 1914. The State line was originally numbered 34 by CSL, for internal accounting purposes. When merged with Broadway in 1937, it became Route 36 – Broadway-State. Dewey, I think, was later renamed Schubert Avenue, and is a short street located at 2720 North. So Clark and Dewey would be just south of Diversey. I got rid of some of the scratches via Photoshop.
A three car train of northbound CTA woods on the Evanston Express in August 1957, just a few short months before the last of the woods was retired from regular service. Since the train is using third rail, and there are four tracks, this is somewhere south of Evanston.
I can read the sign on the right (Evanston Wilmette via L) but I wonder what the sign in the middle says?
The CTA Linden Avenue Yard in Wilmette in July 1957. We see 5000s, 6000s, and wood cars present. To the left is where the North Shore Line’s Shore Line Route continued north until the 1955 abandonment.
This photo of a pair of Philadelphia streetcars has to be from the 1940s, since Birney car #1 is present, along with 8471. The occasion was a fantrip. From the original red border Kodachrome. (Charles R. Houser, Sr. Photo)
Chicago & West Towns Railways streetcar 160 on Hillgrove Avenue at Brainard Avenue in the 1940s. This was the end of the long LaGrange line, which also served the Brookfield Zoo and had some private right-of-way.
NSL 725 at the Mundelein Terminal, which resembled the Dempster Street station in Skokie. Don’s Rail Photos: “725 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, (order) #2890. It was modernized in 1939.”
NSL 710 at Libertyville on the Mundelein branch. Don’s Rail Photos: “710 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1924, (order) #2725. It was purchased by American Museum of Electricity in 1963 and resold to Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1972.”
A North Shore Line Electroliner… at North Chicago Junction?
CTA Lake Street car 1743 is turning north at Randolph and Franklin on April 18, 1953.
A sign on the “L” station at Randolph and Wells, from the previous photo.
Red Arrow (Philadelphia & West Chester Traction) car 78 in Media on December 2, 1935. This car was built circa 1931-32 by Brill and is known as a “Master Unit.” It is now at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA.
Chicago Rapid Transit “Baldy” 4000’s SB at Armitage about to plunge into the subway. No date, but guessing mid-1940’s based on the presence of the tower that was built here when the subway opened (you can see the tower roof at left above the platform canopy). (John Smatlak Collection)
A two-car train of CTA woods makes a fantrip stop in the 1950s at the ground-level Buena Yard, which was an interchange point for freight between the “L” and the Milwaukee Road up until 1973. Under the “L”, you can see remnants of the former Buena station, which closed in 1949. In the distance, there is a ramp leading up to the “L”. This site is now the location of Challenger Park. (John Smatlak Collection)
I recently bought this real photo postcard, circa 1910. This is how it looked before restoration. I think the developer was not properly fixed when this was made 110 years ago, so the image has faded and may continue to do so in the future. This is the Metropolitan West Side Elevated crossing the Chicago River, not the Northwestern “L”. But perhaps the “N. W.” refers to Met trains that went to Humboldt Park and Logan Square.
The same image after restoration in Photoshop.
A close-up shows the train was probably stopped when this picture was taken.
I recently purchased a CRT map (current as of July 7, 1925), and this useful bit of history, facts, and figures was on the back.
I spent some time cleaning up this map in Photoshop today. I think it’s interesting and a bit unusual, in that is also shows the North Shore Line stops on 63rd Street (service was eventually cut back to Roosevelt Road). When my new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s comes out, I think I will include a facsimile of this map, and the historical information on the backside, with every copy purchased directly from me.
Someone on Facebook recently asked when the CTA added the “Metropolitan Transit” banner to its logo. The answer, courtesy of the CTA Transit News, is May 1958.
Erie Lackawanna 3442 at Hoboken on September 2, 1964, looking pretty spiffy, and much better than the other car in the next photo, taken 18 years later, near the end of its service life. (Dick Ganger Photo)
Erie Lackawanna coach 3515 at Hoboken, NJ on August 7, 1982. It was built by Pullman in 1930.
From the September 20, 1894 Leslie’s Weekly. There is a link to the article “Track Elevation in Chicago” in the introduction to this post.
South Shore Line freight loco 707. Don’s Rail Photos: “707 was built by Alco-General Electric in June 1931, #68270, 11193, as NYC 1242, Class R-2. It was renumbered 342 in August 1936. In July 1967 it was rebuilt as CSS&SB 707. It was scrapped in April 1976.”
A classic winter scene, with South Shore Line 103 at the helm.
South Shore Line “Little Joe” freight loco 803 in Michigan City.
South Shore Line 108 in Michigan City.
South Shore Line 101 heads up a two-car train in Michigan City.
South Shore Line 110 and train running on the street in Michigan City.
South Shore Line car 100 and freight loco 706 are identifiable in this scene that I assume is Michigan City.
South Shore Line caboose 1056.
I assume this is the South Shore yards at Michigan City.
South Shore Line car 7 in downtown Chicago.
South Shore Line car 38.
You would be forgiven for thinking that this picture of South Shore freight running down a busy street could have been taken in East Chicago, Indiana, due to the double track seen here. But comparison with other photos proves this is 11th and Franklin in Michigan City, looking west, with a bit of the South Shore Line depot visible. As for the date, I am going to say this could be 1947, since Indiana license plates were yellow that year, and appear to be a lighter color than some years that followed. There were two tracks for a stretch near the station at that time.
It might help date the picture if I can figure out what year and model this car is. It definitely looks postwar, however.
This picture, from one of our previous posts, was taken at the same location, around the same time:
The way to distinguish South Shore Line street running photos from one city to another usually includes counting the number of tracks. Only East Chicago was double tracked. However, this is Michigan City, as there are two tracks for a short distance near the station seen at rear, since many runs begin and end here. This picture, showing car 105 and train, was taken on August 6, 1948. The station building still exists but is no longer in use.
The same location today.
I unfortunately did not win the auction for this negative from 1961, but it does at least show that steam actually did operate over the new B&OCT tracks that were relocated next to I-290, the Eisenhower Expressway (during an excursion). Who knew? The loco is Grand Trunk Western #5629. The location is in Forest Park, just west of Circle Avenue (the bridge in the distance, with an auxiliary entrance to the CTA Congress median rapid transit line).
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
RGTS Rio Grande to Silverton: A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading Price: $14.99
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, 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. 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!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
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) Help Support The Trolley Dodger This is our 263rd 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 724,000 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.
In 2016, Jeff Wien hired Rick Foss to add realistic color to what had been a black-and-white image, a rare shot of a PCC streetcar passing the entrance of Riverview Amusement Park on Western just north of Belmont in 1956. The results were spectacular. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Our Annual Fundraiser
We thank our readers for making 2020 our most successful yet, with 133,246 page views, surpassing our previous record of 2016, and a 30% increase over the previous year. Each January, we ask our readers to help defray the expenses involved with file storage, web hosting, domain registration and other overhead, the “nuts and bolts” things that make this blog possible. As of this writing, we have only raised $55 of this year’s $500 goal. If you enjoy what you see here, and would like it to continue, please consider making a donation by clicking on this link, or the one at the top or bottom of this post.
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A Tribute to Jeffrey L. Wien
Like many, I was recently shocked and saddened to hear that longtime Chicago railfan Jeffrey L. Wien had died at the age of 79. I had known Jeff for more than 40 years. While I mourn his passing, this post celebrates his lifelong interest in electric railways, which was so important to him.
Some time ago, he had asked me to compose his obituary, and this is what I came up with:
Jeffrey Lawrence Wien of Chicago died from a heart attack at Rush University Medical Center on January 6, 2021 at the age of 79. He had been hospitalized for about ten days suffering from pneumonia. Jeff was born in Chicago on April 3, 1941, the son of Jerome Lester Wien and Helen Louise Kraus. He grew up on the south side of Chicago near 47th Street until 1950, when the family moved to Evanston. He was a graduate of Evanston Township High School (class of 1959) and Northwestern University (class of 1963). He served his country as a Lieutenant in Naval Intelligence from 1963 to 1967. By profession, he was an accountant, and worked for Blue Cross-Blue Shield and at Provident Hospital. He was smart, funny (with an acerbic wit), opinionated, and loyal to his friends. Although he was talented in many areas, he was very modest and never boastful. He did not suffer fools gladly, but if you knew him, he was your friend for life. He loved to travel and was an avid and accomplished photographer and filmmaker, whose work appeared in many publications. His interest in historic preservation, architecture, and nostalgia drew him to street railways, interurbans and railroads. He was a passenger on the last Chicago streetcar in 1958 and was one of the last living employees of the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban. He was the author of Chicago Streetcar Memories, a DVD produced by Chicago Transport Memories LLC in 2009. Jeff was a co-author of the very comprehensive book Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, issued as Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association in 2015. Jeff was a voting member of the Illinois Railway Museum and a generous contributor to its activities. He was also a director and officer of Central Electric Railfans’ Association for 37 years. CERA is a not-for-profit technical and educational association founded in 1938. Along with Bradley Criss, he established the Wien-Criss Archive, an important photographic collection and resource that will continue to aid historical research in the future. Jeff will be very much missed and long remembered by everyone who knew him. He believed that life is the single most important thing, so you must protect it. He was predeceased by his spouse Bradley Scott Criss, and is survived by his sister Helen Jo Wien (Lotsoff), a niece and nephew. Interment is at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois. Donations can be made in Jeff’s memory to the Illinois Railway Museum CTA 4391 Restricted Fund.
Jeff became interested in streetcars at an early age. Ray DeGroote recalls answering a letter requesting more information from Jeff in 1955 while volunteering at CERA (Central Electric Railfans’ Association). They became lifelong friends, and brought Jeff in touch with what Ray has called the “intelligence network” of railfans, in those pre-Internet days. Jeff participated in his first fantrip in December 1956, one of several that were held in the declining years of Chicago streetcars, as the last lines were replaced by buses one by one.
His family lived at 48th and Woodlawn on Chicago’s south side until 1950, when they moved to the north end of Evanston. The closest “L” station was Isabella, a lightly patronized ground-level station that closed in 1973. It was made somewhat famous by being featured in the opening credits of the original Bob Newhart Show in the early 1970s.
Jeff’s initial interest was in taking 8mm color motion pictures. One roll would yield about three minutes of silent movie film. He taught himself photography by trial and error. Sometimes, people watching him would ask, incredulously, why he would want to take pictures of a streetcar?
Once Jeff discovered that the Western Avenue line would soon be replaced by buses, he did everything possible to document it, and the other remaining Chicago streetcar lines. Late in life, he could still recall how disappointed he was to discover that Western Avenue streetcars had been replaced by buses in June 1956.
This was followed by the loss of the final two north side lines in 1957 (Broadway and Clark), and finally Wentworth on the south side in 1958. In each case, Jeff rode the last car. By then, he had met other friends his own age who shared the same interest. Together, they decorated the last Chicago streetcar with crepe paper and a sign bidding farewell to Windy City trolleys. (This was no doubt inspired by “last cars” from other cities, some of which commemorated those events by decorating the cars, which the Chicago Transit Authority did not do.)
Until Jeff was 14, interurban trains of the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee (aka the North Shore Line) passed near to his house in Evanston on the Shore Line Route. The North Shore Line became another of Jeff’s great interests, and he rode the last southbound car on a very cold January 21, 1963 along with his sister, although not to the end of the line at Roosevelt Road. (As the hour was so late, Jeff and Helen Jo got off at Howard Street to take the Evanston shuttle back to Isabella.)
During the summer of 1961, Jeff had a summer job as a ticket-taker for the North Shore Line at the Adams and Wabash station downtown, making him one of the interurban’s last living employees. Several years ago, he purchased a rare North Shore Line ticket cabinet from the Dempster Street station on that line. It was one of his prized possessions, and I persuaded him to write an article about it, which you can read here.)
Jeff started shooting color 35mm slides in 1959. His favorite film was Kodachrome, which then had a film speed of 10, meaning it was largely restricted to sunny days. Jeff would say, “I worship the sun,” and his favorite type of photo was the “three quarter” view, taken on a sunny day. He became a master at this type of photo. He favored all-mechanical Pentax cameras, as he did not trust batteries. He learned how to expose film by using the tried and true “Sunny f/16” rule.
Many other “last rides” in different cities followed. From 1963 to 1967, Jeff served in the Navy, and was stationed in Washington, DC. He was in Baltimore when their last streetcars ran in 1963, and Los Angeles when they ended both streetcar and trolley bus service the same year. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were also among Jeff’s favorite cities, as they both had extensive streetcar systems that were gradually reduced in size and scope over the years.
It was, for many years, a hobby with many “lasts,” but after reaching a low point in the mid-1970s, things began to turn around, with the start of the new San Diego Trolley in 1981. Soon this was joined by a host of other new “firsts,” light rail and streetcar lines across the country, and Jeff traveled to many of these places, to ride, photograph, and film them.
Jeff was an avid collector of other people’s photos in addition to his own. Ray DeGroote gave him the William C. Hoffman collection, after the latter’s death in 1988. Hoffman had extensively documented Chicago’s streetcar, interurban, and “L” lines in photographs and in movies during the 1950s, which are now invaluable historical artifacts. These, he freely shared with others.
Jeff was very active in the Central Electric Railfans’ Association, a not-for-profit technical and educational group, and served as a director for 37 years. This culminated in the 2015 publication of CERA Bulletin 146, Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, which I co-authored. For Jeff, this was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, and the book was well received.
In the book, I wrote a tribute to Jeff, since I really thought of it as being his life’s work. I compared him to the late Richard Nickel, one of the pioneers of architectural preservation here in Chicago. Jeff was a pioneer as a transit preservationist. His influence was profound and extensive in his field. It’s fine that people will pay tribute to him now that he is gone, but I felt it was just as important to do this while he was still alive and able to read it himself.
Fantrips were one of Jeff’s major interests, and the last one he was involved with was on February 19, 2017, when CERA sponsored a trip on the CTA “L” system with four cars wrapped temporarily to celebrate the Cubs winning the 2016 World Series. This was made possible in large part by Jeff’s $2000 contribution.
He was also quite active at the Illinois Railway Museum, as one of only 100 voting members, and through his preservation activities. He helped bring Chicago Surface Lines motor coach 3407 to the museum, and in 2019, made a substantial contribution to bring Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 453 to IRM.
Along with his late partner Bradley Criss, Jeff produced two feature-length videos, Chicago Streetcar Memories, and A Tribute to the North Shore Line.
Jeff’s final activities were to add slides and negatives to his collection that either interested him, or filled gaps in his collection. Some of these were pictures that he was unable to take himself, and gave him immense pleasure. This included his purchase of a large portion of the late Bob Selle’s black-and-white negatives in 2018 and numerous rare Kodachrome slides taken by others, including the late Charles L. Tauscher.
Jeff’s was a life well lived, and a blessing to those who knew him. What follows are some highlights from Jeff’s life in our hobby. He will be sorely missed.