This picture of the old Met bridge over the Chicago River is undated, but probably dates to circa 1952-55 based on the type of red border Kodachrome mount it is in. But it is certainly after the the other picture in this post, taken at much the same location, since the building at rear, or part of it, was in the process of being torn down. This was not related to expressway construction, since the “L” at this point was north of there. Once the Congress rapid transit line opened in 1958, this section of “L” was taken out of service and by the early 1960s it had been torn down.
Cooler weather has moved into the Chicago area, and along with it, we have a Fall Harvest of classic rail images for you today, including many by three of the greatest railfan photographers of the 1950s– Clark Frazier, Truman Hefner, and William C. Hoffman.
Enjoy! -David Sadowski
This video features streetcars and elevated trains in Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York City, mostly from the early 1950s– and originally shot on high quality 16mm film:
CSL 4001 at South Shops, with 7001 in front of it, probably during the 1950s, when these two experimental cars were being used for storage.
CTA PCC 4371, built by Pullman, is on State Street heading south from Randolph, with the old State-Lake Theater in the background. The film “Lovely To Look At” was released on July 4, 1952, which is probably around when this picture was taken.
North Shore Line 759 heads up a two-car train heading southbound at Harrison Street, leaving street running in favor of private right-of-way in Milwaukee on June 16, 1962. (Richard H. Young Photo)
A two-car CTA Kenwood shuttle train at Indiana Avenue, probably some time around 1949. I assume there must have been stairs leading up to the tower.
A close-up of the previous image.
CTA 6130-6129 are “at speed” near Jarvis “L” station on the north side, operating under wire on the southbound express track as a mid-day Evanston “Shopper’s Special” on December 11, 1955. The picture is slightly blurred because Kodachrome back then was ASA 10 (until the introduction of Kodachrome II in 1961). The unique signage on the train indicates which stations this express train stopped at.
Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 28 is at the head of a train in this picture I assume was taken in Wheaton, between 1952-55 (based on the slide mount).
Red Arrow Strafford car 164 is on the high-speed line to Norristown in the early 1950s, perhaps near 69th Street Terminal. Kenneth Achtert adds: “Your picture of Strafford car #164, if the early 1950s date is accurate, was most likely not on a Norristown line trip, but is arriving at 69th St. Terminal likely coming from Strafford. Strafford service was not abandoned until 1956 and was what gave the 160-series cars their common name. The bullet cars could have been called Norristown cars, but they already had an even better name.”
Red Arrow double-ended car 20, which looks like a PCC but technically isn’t, is running outbound on the Ardmore branch in the early 1950s. Not sure what all the track work is about, although the West Chester branch itself was abandoned in favor of buses in 1954, so that West Chester Pike could be widened. I assume this is the intersection of West Chester Pike and Darby Road in Havertown, PA. The Ardmore trolley was replaced by buses at the end of 1966. Both trolley lines here are now SEPTA bus routes. Mark A. Jones adds: “Regarding the Red Arrow trackage on West Chester Pike west of the Ardmore turn-off, it continued in use after the West Chester line became a bus as the Llanerch car barn (which housed the Red Arrow trolleys at the time) was located Darby Rd. and West Chester Pike west of the Ardmore cut-off. That’s my memory of that.”
Red Arrow double-ended St. Louis car 15, built circa 1949, is coming off the Ardmore line towards the 69th Street Terminal in the early 1950s. The West Chester branch might still have been in operation then, as there is a car in the distance on West Chester Pike.
Red Arrow Brilliner 9 is signed for the Media route in the early 1950s.
Red Arrow Brilliner 6 is signed for the Media route in the early 1950s.
On August 3, 1950, an eastbound Garfield Park “L” train approaches Western Avenue station. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Deck roofed “L” cars, including 2908, are in Laramie Yard on July 2, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An eastbound train of wooden “L” cars (including 3210), with trolley poles up, heads east on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L” in Oak Park on October 12, 1953. I believe the location is a few blocks east of Marion Street, where the street (South Boulevard) narrows.
The subway entrance on State Street between Madison and Monroe, as it looked on December 5, 1954. PCCs were still operating on State at that time. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking south from the 35th Street “L” station on August 23, 1963. A new center island station had opened here in 1961, taking up space formerly occupied by the center express track, which had been unused after 1949. A fire destroyed the new station in October 1962, and temporary facilities were used until the station was rebuilt in 1965. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An 8-car train of CTA 4000s, still in the old tan color, approaches 35th Street on November 6, 1950. In this somewhat underxposed slide, you can still make out the long walkway at right, which connected to a stairway at the former 33rd Street “L” station, only used as an auxiliary entrance and exit for 35th after 1949. This walkway was closed on September 25, 1961 and removed thereafter. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking west from the transfer bridge at the CTA station at 40th and Indiana Avenue on July 7, 1953. A southbound train of 6000s heads into the station. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This slide, taken on Sunday, March 6, 1955, gives a good view of the direction sign on the transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana station. Our resident South Side expert M. E. adds, “Two-car trains were rare on the north/south main line. The destination sign explains why just two cars: It is an “all-stop” sign reading “Howard Street”. Most days of the week, main line service was either “A” or “B”. The only time the CTA ran just two cars on the main line as all-stop trains was on Sunday mornings.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The westbound view from the transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana on July 2, 1963 shows CTA 6047 at the rear of a northbound train, fitted with an experimental ventilation system. This was not shot on Kodachrome, which explains the somewhat funky color shift on this slide. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view west from the overhead transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana on July 7, 1953, looking west. We see a northbound train of 4000s, an approaching southbound train of 6000s, a Stock Yards shuttle train, and some additional Stock Yards cars being stored on the former express track, unused since 1949. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Looking west from the passenger overpass at Indiana Avenue on July 3, 1950, we see an 8-car train of steel cars, and a Stock Yards shuttle train. In the distance, that may be some additional Stock Yards cars being stored on the otherwise unused center track. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Our resident South Side expert M. E. writes: “Your caption needs correction. What you claim to be a Stock Yards shuttle is not on the Stock Yards tracks, which ran directly west from the switch building at the end of the platform. Instead, your “Stock Yards” train is on the main line heading east/south. Apparently the CTA still ran old cars on the main line at that time, although I don’t remember that. Another, more remote, possibility is that this short train is dead-heading east (without passengers) toward the Kenwood line. But in the next photo, you see no track connection from the main line to the Kenwood line. The only way dead-headed cars destined for Kenwood could end up on the Kenwood line would have been to turn south on the main line to 43rd St. and use switches to go from the southbound main line to the northbound main line to the former northbound main line track, which joined the Kenwood shuttle track back at Indiana Ave. — and which (in reverse) provided the only way to move Kenwood cars off the Kenwood tracks.” We were only repeating the information that Mr. Hoffman wrote on the original slide mount, which, of course, could be wrong.
Two “new” and two “old” 6000s enter the CTA station at 40th and Indiana on June 6, 1954. The Kenwood shuttle continued to operate for another three years after this. We are facing east. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
SF Muni 170 on the N Line, entering the Sunset Tunnel in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 130 on Ocean Avenue by Elkton Shops on September 16, 1957. According to the Market Street Railway web site: “Car No. 130 was among the the last ‘Iron Monsters’ to leave passenger service, in 1958. Muni shop foreman Charlie Smallwood saved it from the scrap heap by hiding it in the back of Geneva carhouse while its mates met their fates. He then talked his bosses into making it a ‘wrecker’. Stripped bare and painted yellow, it spent the next 25 years towing its replacements–PCC streetcars–back to the barn when they broke down. It was fully restored by Muni craft workers in 1983 for the Historic Trolley Festival, including original seats, which Charlie had kept all those years in his basement…just in case!” (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System A Train 130 near Yerba Buena Island on the Bay Bridge on April 18, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Pittsburgh 1499 on Route 34/21 on Ladoga Street near Ingram in 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Pittsburgh 1486 and 1485 rest at Ingram carhouse in 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 162 at La Playa (48th), approaching the N Line terminus on December 16, 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
The SF Muni Geary car house in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Dresden 264 007 on Line 4 at Dresdner Schloss on June 3, 1978. At the time, Dresden was located in East Germany. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System 167 is an A Train east of Yerba Buena Island on the Bay Bridge on April 18, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 178 on a fantrip on the J Line by SF Muni “Iron Monster” 178 on a fantrip on the J Line by Dolores Park in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)Park in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 114 stops for passengers on the B Line in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1553 at the Route 20 Plow Pit on February 7, 1959. This was a spot where overhead wire ended (by law) and streetcars changed over to collecting electricity through an underground conduit. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3276 entering Reservoir Yard on June 5, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3216 on Mass Avenue in North Cambridge on August 29, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3337 (ex-Dallas) near the Cedar Grove station on the Ashmont-Mattapan line on May 31, 1961. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1543 on Route 20 in Georgetown on June 7, 1959. The Georgetown Theatre was located at 1351 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC and opened in 1913. It closed in 1986 and was converted to retail. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1159 at the Calvert Bridge on Route 92 on February 6, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 213 on the N Line, west of the Sunset Tunnel, in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System (Oakland) E train 184 to Berkeley leaving 55th Street in 1958. This slide has a processing date of March 1958 stamped on it, one of the earliest I have seen. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 130 on the M Line by Parkmerced on September 16, 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
A Key System E train to San Francisco near Tower 3 in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1136 on Route 54 at the Navy Yard car barn on September 1, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
In May 1952, a CTA train of flat-door 6000s heads down an incline west of Pulaski Road on the Douglas Park “L”. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A train of CTA 6000s on the Metropolitan main line, looking east from Marshfield Avenue. This probably dates to late 1950, since no work has yet been done building the temporary right-of-way in Van Buren Street to the left, later used by Garfield Park trains. The tag on the train indicates whether it stopped at some part-time stations on Douglas. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA two-car train of 6000s, running on the Douglas Park line, heads east onto the Metropolitan main line at Marshfield Junction. Since a train is visible on the Garfield Park portion, the date cannot be later than September 1953, and is likely a couple years before that. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 6056-6057 crossing East Avenue in Berwyn, where a sign indicates that the crossing guard is off duty. This portion of “L” was abandoned in February 1952. (Truman Hefner Photo)
6053-6054 near Oak Park Avenue on the Douglas Park “L”. The date given here (December 1953) must be wrong, as the line had already been cut back to 54th Avenue by then. It may be December 1950, as Douglas was the first line to use the new 6000s. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 2725 at the Oak Park Avenue terminal of the Douglas Park “L” in December 1950. The line was cut back to 54th Avenue, nearly two miles east of here, in 1952. This area is now used as a parking lot in Berwyn, often referred to as the “L” strip. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 6087 and train are running on the ground-level portion of the Douglas Park “L” at Kenton Avenue in May 1952. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA deck-roofed car 2891 is just south of Roosevelt Road on the Westchester “L” in April 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A train of CTA 6000s (probably 6055-6056) crosses Austin Boulevard in Cicero on the Douglas Park “L” in February 1952, shortly before service was abandoned west of 54th Avenue. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA train of 6000s is turning onto the Metropolitan main line from the Douglas Park “L” on April 3, 1954, while a CTA test train (with car 2276) is on the new, as yet unused connecting track between the Douglas “L” and the old Logan Square branch. Once Douglas trains began using this new “L” connection, they began running downtown via the Lake Street “L”, and portions of the old “L” east of here were torn down for expressway construction. By 1958, there was a new ramp in place, approximately in the same place the 6000s are here, leading down to the Congress rapid transit line in the expressway median. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA train of 6000s is turning from the Metropolitan main line onto the Douglas Park “L” on April 3, 1954, while a CTA test train (with car 2276) is on the new, as yet unused connecting track between the Douglas “L” and the old Logan Square branch. Once Douglas trains began using this new “L” connection, they began running downtown via the Lake Street “L”, and portions of the old “L” east of here were torn down for expressway construction. By 1958, there was a new ramp in place, approximately in the same place the 6000s are here, leading down to the Congress rapid transit line in the expressway median. (Truman Hefner Photo)
In December 1950, CTA open platform, railroad-roofed car 2327 is westbound at Austin Boulevard on the Douglas Park “L”. Here, the barrier is down. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA wooden open platform, railroad-roofed car 2330 is northbound on the Northwestern “L” near Berwyn Avenue, running on the Evanston line in July 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 2256 is part of a four-car Met train, turning from Market Street onto the double bridge over the Chicago River in March 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA railroad roofed, open platform car 2707 under the Belt Railway at Kenton Avenue on the Douglas Park “L”. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA arched roof, open-platform car 2281 at 54th Avenue on the Douglas Park “L” in March 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
Open platform, railroad roof car 2715 at 54th Avenue in Cicero, on the Douglas Park “L”, in January 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
The CTA ground-level station at Austin Boulevard in Cicero, on the Douglas Park “L” in December 1950. Note the unusual raised barrier at the crossing. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA open-platform, railroad roof car 2338 at Kenton on the Douglas Park line, where there was a connection to the Belt Railway of Chicago, in December 1950. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA open-platform, railroad roof car 2318 at Kenton on the Douglas Park line, where there was a connection to the Belt Railway of Chicago, in December 1950. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA PCC 7215, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is signed to go to 80th and Vincennes, operating on Route 22 – Wentworth in 1958. But was this picture taken at 80th and Vincennes? M. E. writes: “Reason to think this photo was taken at 80th and Vincennes: There was a single loop track at 80th and Vincennes, and the terminal area was on the east side of a miniature “park” situated east of Vincennes between the terminal trackage and Vincennes Ave. proper. Reasons to think this photo was not taken at 80th and Vincennes: (1) The exit trackage in the photo makes no sense if it were indeed 80th and Vincennes. The exit trackage ran straight out of the loop and onto northbound Vincennes trackage. (2) As I recall, 80th and Vincennes was a residential area with no large buildings. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say this photo was taken on the property of the 77th/Vincennes carbarn, and the streetcar in the photo had either just returned from 80th and Vincennes or was headed there. This scenario is also likely because there was never a “terminal” on line 22 at 77th St.; the closest was at 80th St. Consequently, streetcars in service coming from the north had to go to at least 80th St. before heading back to the barn at 77th St.”
The Prince Crossing station on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, as it appeared on June 14, 1960, after abandonment.
Did Not Win
Try as we might, our resources are always limited and there are photos that our beyond our means to afford. Yet many of them are worth another look anyway:
Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad modernized interurban coach 28 and modernized steel interurban combine 107 at the end of the line station shared with Amtrak. The line was cut back from downtown South Bend in 1970. In 1992 the line would be diverted to the South Bend Airport. April 26, 1980, W Washington St & W Meade St, South Bend, Indiana. (Clark Frazier Photo)
This original glass plate negative, showing the last New York City horse car line circa 1907, recently sold on eBay for $539(!). The location is Broadway looking north just past Broome Street. The horse car line was abandoned in 1917, by which time it had few passengers as was a “franchise run.”
Angel’s Flight in its original LA Bunker Hill location, probably circa 1969. The funicular opened in 1901, but was dismantled and put into storage for several years not long after this picture was taken, as the hill it climbed was razed. It has since reopened in a different location.
A Hidden Freight Spur
I was somewhat surprised a few months ago when it appeared some freight car switching was taking place on the Union Pacific West Line (formerly Chicago & North Western) embankment in Forest Park, just east of Lathrop Avenue. The tracks here were raised around 1910 and not far east of here, the embankment is shared with the Chicago Transit Authority’s Green Line (aka the Lake Street “L”).
There isn’t much light industry left near the railroad in Forest Park, but apparently there is still at least one active customer, and behind a row of town houses, there is an active freight spur, with a ramp leading up to the embankment. I found a lone freight car on the spur. Presumably it will be hauled away prior to the next delivery, whenever that might be.
The freight spur is visible on this map. You can also see how the curved streets in this part of Forest Park got their shape. They once formed a “wye” used to turn trains around. Much of the CTA rail yard west of Harlem Avenue was built onto new embankment in the early 1960s.
I drive by this area nearly every day, but all this is so completely hidden from view that I had no idea any of this still existed. It also sheds some light on the changes made to the “L” and the adjacent commuter rail line in the late 1950s.
When the CTA and C&NW were negotiating the relocation of the Lake Street “L” onto the embankment, at first it was thought that the “L” would run as far west as the DesPlaines River in River Forest. In 1958, the C&NW sought permission to close several commuter rail stations, ceding their close-in ridership to the CTA (and at the same time speeding up service to suburbs that were further out).
Originally, the River Forest station was one of the C&NW petitioned the Illinois Commerce Commission to close, but at some point, plans were changed, and the station is still there, serving riders on what is now the Metra Union Pacific West Line.
If the “L” had been extended through this area, it would have made it difficult for the C&NW to continue serving their freight customers in Forest Park with the spur line that is, apparently, still in use.
Looking southeast. Town houses have replaced light industry south of the railroad spur.
Larry Sakar writes:
A three-car train in Lake Bluff by William D. Volkmer, 10/8/60.
I was browsing through some of your newest pics on The Trolley Dodger. You have a great picture of a North Shore train NB at Lake Bluff taken by Bill Volkmer on 10/08/60 (5 days after my 10th birthday). They aren’t what I’m concerned with.
In the spring of 1992 I accompanied another NSL fan on a tour of the abandoned NSL from Lake Bluff to Mundelein, probably other spots on the NSL as well but I no longer remember. It may have been this trip, or another time but he was after a whistling post that was still embedded near one of the crossings on the Skokie Valley route. He brought along a sack of tools with which to extricate it. He discovered that it was anchored very deeply by a steel cord of some sort and did not get it.
I took the attached photo at Lake Bluff that day. What I would like to know is where the Lake Bluff station would have been in the 1992 photo and what direction I am facing. As you can obviously tell, it was a damp and foggy day. The second picture was taken at Mundelein. He told me that the NSL station was in the parking lot seen in my photo, which I seem to recall was for an apartment complex.
The individual in the photo was an avid NSL fan, having ridden the last northbound train from Chicago to Racine. He was a high school student at the time. The Racine station agent was a friend of the family. He was in the right place at the right time. The place was the Racine station on the day it was torn down. It was gone by the time he got there but he noticed a pile of items being burned. Among those items was the ticket agent’s rack and rubber stamps which he rescued from the pile.
No rush. I’ve just been wondering. He may have told me that where he was standing was where the trains stopped, but I honestly don’t remember. I ceased all contact with this individual in 2003 when I quit TMER&THS (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transit Historical Society).
The site of the former North Shore Line station in Lake Bluff in 1992.
The site of the former North Shore Line station in Mundelein in 1992.
The site (at right) of the former North Shore Line station in Waukegan in 1992.
Perhaps some of our readers can help Larry figure this out, thanks.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
I recently appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s Images of America Author David Sadowski Edition illustrated Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021 ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007 Length 128 pages
Chapters: 01. The South Side “L” 02. The Lake Street “L” 03. The Metropolitan “L” 04. The Northwestern “L” 05. The Union Loop 06. Lost Equipment 07. Lost Interurbans 08. Lost Terminals 09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
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A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
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Another year has come and gone. How quickly time flies. For this blog, it was another successful year, with 118,985 page views from 34,503 visitors. These numbers are more than 2015, but less than 2016.
We made fewer posts last during 2017, but they tended to be longer overall. Some had more than 100 images, and there are over 100 in this post. To date, we have posted over 30gb of classic images via this blog. It’s no coincidence that when I do Google searches on traction subjects, it seems like half the “hits” that come up are from The Trolley Dodger.
One of our goals has always been to provide a resource where people can find this type of information. I believe we have succeeded, and will continue to build on that success. There are some who think our hobby is on the decline, but I believe we have shown just the opposite.
Our average number of page views per post has continued to increase. In 2015, it was 995 per post; in 2016, this increased to 1744, and in 2017 we reached 3718 page views per post.
2017 was also notable for the publication of our book Chicago Trolleys, which has been very well received.
While at this stage, it is impossible to know how many posts we will have this year, we are committed to maintaining a high standard of quality on whatever we do present.
Among our other recent posts, we are particularly proud of The Fairmount Park Trolley (November 7, 2017), which included dozens of rare images, most from the original medium format negatives. It took us nearly three years to collect all this material, which probably represents a total cost of about $1000- and this was just one post.
As an example of how we have inspired additional research, I would point to our post The “Other” Penn Central (May 29, 2016), which has gradually gotten longer and longer, thanks to additions from our ever-inquisitive readers.
In addition, as time goes on, we have more and more friends who share their material with our readers. Today we feature the contributions of noted author Larry Sakar. The pictures are his, unless otherwise noted.
Happy New Year! May you and your family have health, wealth, and happiness in 2018.
PS- In about 30 day’s time, our annual bill to fund this site and its web domain comes due. That comes to $400, or just over $1 per day. If you enjoy reading this blog, and want to see it continue, we hope you will consider supporting it via a donation. You can also purchase items from our Online Store. With your help, we cannot fail.
Early Trolley Museum Visits
Larry Sakar writes:
You’ve been posting a lot of photos of CA&E cars of late, which reminded me of a day 47 1/2 years ago when I went to a trolley museum for the very first time. For several years, I would see the ads for IRM in Trains, Railroad (before it became Railfan & Railroad) and Model Railroader and I wanted to go there. Asking my father would have been useless. He wouldn’t have taken me in a million years. Neither of my parents approved of my interest in trolleys.
Luckily I had met Bill Beaudot in 1967, when he was the librarian in charge of the Local History Room at the Central Library downtown. My regular visits to read and reread CERA B-97, “The Electric Railways of Wisconsin” got him wondering what that was all about. All the remaining CERA Bulletins and other traction books had been removed from circulation, and placed under lock and key in the Local History Room.
And so it was that on a warm Saturday afternoon in August of 1970, I went with Bill and his family to my first trolley museum. But it was not IRM, well not initially anyway. The first museum we visited was then called RELIC in South Elgin, IL. RELIC was an acronym for the Railway Equipment Leasing and Investment Corp. Today we know it as the Fox River Trolley Museum.
CA&E wood car 20 was in operation that day, and we rode it from South Elgin to the end of the line at the I.C. bridge over the Fox River at Coleman. When they told the history of the line, I remembered that this was the line from which Speedrail cars 300 and 301 originated.
Of course, they spent 25 years in Cleveland operating on the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, but so what? It was still nice to see where those cars began their service lives. And sitting on a side track was a car I had heard and read about innumerable times: NSL Tavern Lounge 415. Some years later they sold the car to Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
CA&E car 20 at the RELIC museum, August 1970.
The interior of CA&E car 20 in August 1970.
CA&E 300-series car at the RELIC museum in August 1970.
CA&E 300-series car at the RELIC museum in August 1970.
The Illinois Central interchange at Coleman with the ex-AE&FRE right-of-way, at the RELIC museum in August 1970.
North Shore Line tavern-lounge car 415 at the RELIC museum in August 1970.
Leaving South Elgin and RELIC we headed for Union, Illinois and IRM. As we crossed the museum line and entered the grounds, I saw Milwaukee streetcar 972 with CSL 144 behind it loading at the station. Instantly, I felt like a kid again, when I would get excited as my grandfather drove my grandmother and me to the Harwood Avenue terminus of the No. 10 Wells Streetcar line in Wauwatosa.
In those days you turned from Wauwatosa Ave. west to Harwood. You found yourself at the top of a very steep hill that dropped down into the Menomonee River Valley, and crossed the Milwaukee Road mainline at grade. And on the west side of those tracks sat the Harwood terminal and the No. 10 Wells streetcar line. A 100-car plus Milwaukee Road freight would cause a monumental traffic jam on both sides of the Harwood hill. In the ’80’s a bypass was built, and traffic no longer has access via the old route. Just as well. Both the streetcar and terminal are long gone.
Anyway, I did get to ride 972 and it felt like 1957-58 all over again. I even made sure to relive my childhood memory of streetcar rides with my grandmother by walking to the opposite end of 972 and sitting in the motorman’s seat. The only difference was I no longer needed someone to boost me up and hold me in the seat!
So here are scans of the prints from the pictures I took that day. I had a great shot of TM 972 speeding down the mainline, but I gave it away about 10 years ago, unfortunately.
While looking through some other pictures, I came across four pictures I took at IRM sometime in the 1980s or ’90s. Two are of my favorite car (after TM 972) Indiana RR 65 and 2 are of AE&FR 306 currently undergoing restoration. Car 65 was flying white flags and was not in regular service. It had been taken out for use in some movie.
I don’t remember much of the detail I heard, but it involved George Krambles in some way. That’s as much as I can recall. 306 was in the car barn parked next to IT 101. I did ride 65 on a member’s weekend once years ago. We reached the end of the line at the Kishwaukee River crossing. They threw whatever electric switches they had to in order to put control over to the back-up controller in the rear of the car, but it refused to budge. Our motorman had to radio for a car to come to our rescue. They sent down C&ME 354.
That was my first and to date only ride on that car. I’ve heard that 65 does not operate very often. While going thru a large group of my slides last Thursday that I had marked as “unidentified,” I found the interior photo I knew I’d taken of CRANDIC 111 at Rio Vista in 2000. I need to look thru the slides I have in my metal slide box #2 of 3. I’m sure I took at least one exterior of CRANDIC 111 that day.
Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric 306 at the Illinois Railway Museum in the 1980s or 90s.
Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric 306 at the Illinois Railway Museum in the 1980s or 90s.
CSL 144 at the IRM depot in August 1970.
CSL 144 with TM 972 ahead, August 1970.
Illinois Terminal 415 at speed on the IRM main line in August 1970.
The interior of Illinois Terminal 415 at IRM in August 1970.
Illinois Terminal 415 at the IRM depot in August 1970.
Indiana Railroad 65 at IRM in the 1980s or 90s.
Indiana Railroad 65 at IRM in the 1980s or 90s.
A North Shore Line 700-series car at IRM in August 1970.
Following the RELIC and IRM pix are a set of pictures taken on a PA Transit PCC in Pittsburgh in the winter of 1971-72. I did not take these pictures. My good friend Bill did, and gave them to me because he knew I liked PCCs.
Because I have never been to Pittsburgh, I am unable to tell the readers where these pictures were taken. PA Transit, for anyone not familiar with it, was the municipal agency that took over the Pittsburgh Railways Co. in 1967. PA stands for Port Authority, not Pennsylvania.
It has always struck me as unusual that streetcar service would be run by the Port Authority, but the Port Authority of Allegheny County was given the task of transit operations, odd though that may seem.
I can still remember the controversy in Railroad Magazine over how the Pittsburgh PCCs were painted in the late ’60s and perhaps early ’70s. Many were painted in three colors, each color being placed on one-third of the car. In keeping with the times one PCC was painted in this wild looking paint scheme and dubbed the “Psychedelic trolley.”
PA Transit 1727 in 1972. (Bill Beaudot Photo)
PA Transit 1727 in 1972. (Bill Beaudot Photo)
The interior of PA Transit 1727. (Bill Beaudot Photo)
A PA Transit PCC with the motorman using a switch iron in 1972. (Bill Beaudot Photo)
I’ll finish up with a few shots of the Illinois Central Electric (later METRA Electric) Highliners taken mostly as 115th St. Kensington station around 1975. I remember when I.C. first got them, and now they too are history.
An ICG Highliner at Randolph Street in 1975.
An ICG Highliner at 115th in Kensington in 1975.
Looking north at the Kensington station, as a South Shore Line train approaches in 1975.
Looking north along the northbound track at Kensington station in 1975.
Looking south from the Kensington ICG station, with the tower to the left.
ICG Highliner interior.
An ICG Highliner at 115th Street in Kensington in 1975.
For all readers of The Trolley Dodger who are shivering in this arctic cold here’s a posting that will let you temporarily escape to a much warmer place; sunny California. During the 50s, 60s and 70s, California (except for San Francisco) shed its electric traction lines as fast as they could.
Much of this was due to a company called National City Lines. In city after city they bought up the rail lines (San Diego Electric Railway, Los Angeles Railway, Pacific Electric, Key System Transit), abandoned all rail service and replaced it with Mack or GM Buses running on Firestone Tires and probably burning diesel fuel supplied by Phillips Petroleum. And they didn’t limit their destructive efforts to just California.
Then came the 1980s, and slowly California began to wake up from its love affair with freeways. And it all started with the San Diego Trolley in 1981. So, it’s only appropriate that we begin our look at traction in the Golden State there.
The San Diego Trolley’s original cars were built by Duewag of Dusseldorf, Germany with help from Siemens.
Originally, the San Diego Trolley line to the Mexican border started here.
Self-service. Passengers entered the car by pressing the black button, seen to the lower right of the door.
Trains bound for the Mexican border had a San Ysidro destination sign.
The interior of the beautifully restored ex-Santa Fe (now Amtrak) San Diego station.
Look at that beautiful tile work, including the Santa Fe logo on the wall.
Interior of a Duewag car – spartan, but functional.
No controller, no brake handle – computerized push-button control.
A typical stop on city streets.
The maintenance facility on the line to San Ysidro.
A modern-day Southern California car barn, San Diego style.
More of the maintenance facility.
City College stop. Fare checkers board here.
Amtrak Redondo engine maintenance facility.
Arrival at San Diego. looking toward the rear of the train.
Arrival at San Diego. looking forward toward the front of the train.
Curving southeast through an industrial area. Note signal at right.
Curving southeast through an industrial area.
Leaving LAUPT, passing Mission Tower.
Now you know why the line was renamed the San Diego Surfliner.
Oceanside, CA – quite literally.
I can’t think of a city that so completely turned its back on electric rail transit and embraced freeways the way Los Angeles did except for Milwaukee.
In her 1969 Grammy Award winning song, composed by the magnificent team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Dionne Warwick asked the question, “Do you know the way to San Jose?” One of the lines in the song says, “LA is a great big freeway. Put a hundred down and buy a car.”
I can’t speak to “putting a hundred down to buy a car,” other than to say perhaps in 1969, but very unlikely in 2018! But I can attest to the sentiment that LA was and still is “a great big freeway.” There are two Amtrak routes between San Francisco and LA. The Coast Starlight is a long-distance train operating once daily between Seattle and LA. But like any long-distance train, it is often subject to delays. Even on time, arrival in LA is not until 9:00 pm.
The other San Francisco to LA train is a corridor train called the San Joaquin, operating between Jack London Square station in Oakland and Bakersfield. All Amtrak service between San Francisco and other cities arrives and departs from either Jack London Square station in Oakland or Emeryville station. Emeryville is a separate city, 12 miles north of Oakland.
And yes, it is the Emeryville where the Key System had its shops.
Passengers going to San Francisco are bused across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge via Amtrak Thru-Way buses. In the golden age of rail passenger service, trains such as SP’s San Joaquin Daylight, the Lark and the Owl plied the tracks between San Francisco and LA. But when Amtrak took over in 1971 the SP and later UP which now owns the tracks forbade Amtrak trains to continue over the Tehachapi Mountains from Bakersfield to LA.
Therefore, passengers such as me boarded an LA bound Amtrak Thru-Way bus on August 7th at Bakersfield for the two-and-a-half hour ride down I5 and the Hollywood Freeway to LAUPT. This was not my first trip between Bakersfield and LA, so I knew what to expect the closer we got to LA. From the Magic Mountain Amusement park in Valencia to Glendale, where my bus was making a stop, I5 was a sea of cars in both directions.
As bad as that seemed, the Hwy 1012 Hollywood Freeway to downtown LA was even worse. It made rush hours on the Kennedy and Eisenhower look like child’s play! I kept asking myself, “How does anyone put up with this, on a daily basis?” And gas prices in California were at least $1.00 per gallon higher than here in the Midwest. In fact, I think it safe to say everything costs more out there!
So, what brought about this miraculous turnaround from asphalt and concrete to rail? I could tell you, but as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. I took this photo from the Griffith Park Observatory which is perched some 1300+ feet above LA in the summer of 1980 just before the rail renaissance began. Note that orange cloud on the far horizon. That is smog and it coats LA like a blanket daily. It is unhealthy to say the least and extremely bad for people with asthma and other respiratory problems. I can only guess that one day, someone woke up and pondered, “How did we get ourselves into this mess?” That’s easily answered. You allowed National City Lines and Metropolitan Coach Lines to take over and destroy Los Angeles Railways and Pacific Electric the system that literally helped build southern California.
The last PE line from LA to Long Beach was abandoned by the LAMTA– an agency formed to save remaining rail transit in LA but which, because it was controlled by some of the same people who ran Metropolitan Coach Lines, did the exact opposite. That was in April1961, but luckily the right of way between LA and Long Beach was saved, as parts of it were used by Southern Pacific (of which PE was a part) for freight service.
So, it was only fitting that after an absence of almost 30 years, electric transit service between LA and Long Beach was reborn in the form of the new LA Metro Blue Line on July 14, 1990. And just two-and-a-half years after that, the new LA Metro Red Line subway between downtown and North Hollywood opened for service.
Ironically, the new subway was built just one block (in places) from the old PE Belmont Subway. (Note: Though often referred to as the Hollywood subway because PE trains headed there and to other locations in and near the San Fernando Valley such as Universal City and North Hollywood as well as Glendale and Burbank) operated thru it. But its official name was the Belmont subway, no relation to Belmont Avenue in Chicago.
LA from the Griffith Park Observatory in 1980.
The LA Red Line subway at the 7th Street/Union Station stop in 2001. The LA Red Line subway is used by passengers to reach the Blue Line to Long Beach. Long Beach trains end in their own subway a few blocks from the Staples Center (LA’s version of the United Center). I believe these are Japanese Kawasaki-built cars.
Long before BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) began service between Oakland and Fremont in 1972, there was the Key System. Started in 1903 by a man called “Borax” Smith, who became a millionaire mining Borax. If you’re around my age perhaps you remember the 19670’s TV show “Death Valley Days” hosted by actor Dale Robertson which was sponsored by 20 Nuke Team Borax.
The line got its name because, when viewed on a map, the 5 East Bay lines were designated by letters: A: Downtown Oakland later extended to East Oakland on the tracks of the Interurban Electric Ry. an SP subsidiary which was abandoned in 1941 B: Lakeshore and Trestle Glen C: Piedmont D: Never used. Reserved for a line to Montclair alongside the Sacramento Northern Interurban which was never built E:Claremont F: Berkeley
They resembled the top part of a skeleton key, the straight bottom portion represented by the Key Pier, which jutted out into the Bay 1.3 miles from the Oakland shore. San Francisco-bound passengers transferred to Key System Ferry boats at the Key pier for the trip to the San Francisco Ferry Building at the foot of Market St.
In January 1939 Key System trains began using the newly constructed San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Tracks were laid on the lower deck of the bridge which was reserved for trucks and buses. A newly constructed terminal at 1st & Mission Streets in San Francisco (initially called the “East Bay Terminal” and then the “Trans Bay Transit Terminal”) served as the station for Key System trains, as well as Sacramento Northern and Interurban Electric. The latter two systems both abandoned service in 1941. Key took over some on the former IER trackage in and around Berkeley.
In 1938 newly-built articulated trains replaced the original wood center-entrance cars. As the saying goes, looks can be deceiving, and such was the case with the new articulated trains. They were, in fact, a new body placed atop salvaged components from the original wood cars, which consisted of everything from trucks to controllers. Worse yet, the new bodies had a major design flaw. They lacked proper ventilation. They were not air conditioned and did not have openable windows. Cars ran on third rail between the Trans Bay Terminal and the Key Bridge Yards in Oakland which abutted the Oakland toll plaza.
The Bay Bridge, like the Golden Gate Bridge and every Transbay bridge in San Francisco, is a toll bridge operated by the California Toll Bridge Authority. Each of the companies running trains across the Bay Bridge were required to deed a certain number of cars to Toll Bridge Authority ownership. This would prove fortuitous as the cars now preserved at the Western Railway Museum in Suisun City, CA and the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Riverside, CA were ones deeded to the Toll Bridge Authority.
Key System 187 at the Western Railway Museum in 2000.
A Key System Transit train in the Trans Bay Terminal in 1953.
Key System 182 at the Western Railway Museum in 2000.
Key System 182 at the Western Railway Museum in 2000.
The Trans Bay Transit Terminal at 1st and Mission in San Francisco, razed in 2011.
In 1946, the Lundeberg management sold its interest in the Key System to National City lines. As was almost always the case with any rail lines acquired by NCL, the streetcar lines in and around Oakland, operated by Key subsidiary East Bay Transit Company, were converted to bus operation in 1948. Key trains operated until April 1958 when the last trains crossed the Bay Bridge for the final time. The State of California spent huge sums of money to remove the overhead wires and rails from the Bay Bridge and Trans Bay Terminal to accommodate Key System Transit’s new Mack and GM Buses.
In 1960 Key System was acquired by A.C. Transit which still operates buses across the Bay Bridge to East Bay points to this day. A.C. stands for the two counties who operate the bus line, Alameda and Contra Costa.
The Transbay Transit Terminal was razed in 2011 and is being replaced by a new facility a few blocks away on Folsom Street. Unfortunately, the new terminal, which had been due to be completed in 2017, has been stopped from completion by a lawsuit filed by the nearby Millennium Towers Condos Building. The 58-story building with luxury condos, selling for upwards of $3 million and home to celebrities such as Joe Montana, is sinking into its foundation at an alarming rate and is also tilting as a result.
Its developers blame the contractor building the new Trans Bay Terminal claiming he drained out too much of the ground water causing the Millennium building foundation to shift in the sands which anchor it. The contractor for the new Trans Bay Terminal has counter-sued claiming that the Millennium Tower’s builder should have anchored the building’s foundation in the bed rock 200 feet below. Until the issue is resolved, a temporary Transit Terminal is open at 200 Folsom Street.
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority operates buses and one light rail line from Santa Teresa to Alum Rock in the San Mateo-San Jose area. It will connect with BART when the line is extended into San Mateo County. At least three major Silicon Valley companies will be served: Cisco Systems, eBay and Adobe.
The light rail line operates between Santa Teresa and Alum Rock. The car seen here, and its mates, were sold to the Sacramento RTD when VTA purchased new low-floor cars.
An VTA Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority LRV at Santa Teresa station in 2000.
Sacramento RTD at Roseville Yards in 2004.
Sacramento RTD at Roseville Yards in 2004.
Sacramento RTD at Roseville Yards in 2004.
Sacramento RTD at Roseville Yards in 2004.
Sacramento RTD service started between Watt I-80 and the Historic Folsom District on 3-12-87.Within the past year a branch to Consumes River College was opened. The maintenance facility for the Sacramento RTD is located in adjacent Roseville, north of Sacramento, a city located at the southern base of the Sierras. The four photos seen here were taken from Amtrak Train #5, the California Zephyr, on the way to Emeryville in 2004.
A year before the Key System abandoned rail service in April 1958, planning for some sort of new Transbay rail line was being contemplated. That became the Bay Area Rapid Transit district. This was a county-based, special-purpose district formed to construct and operate a rail transit system in the five counties that initially formed the district: The city and county of San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Mateo.
Though invited to participate, Santa Clara county declined to join until 2018 when BART will enter San Mateo County, with the extension to Milpitas and Berryessa. In 1962 San Mateo County supervisors voted to leave BART, claiming their voters would be paying taxes for riders primarily from Santa Clara County. San Mateo eventually formed its own transit agency called SAMTRANS. The departure of San Mateo County lead to the departure of Marin County as well.
Construction of BART began in 1964, but it would not be until 1972 that the first trains operating between Fremont and Oakland would begin service. Initially, there was a debate about how BART trains would cross the Bay. Would it be an above ground crossing or a subway tube? The decision was made to dig a trench in the floor of San Francisco Bay and construct a subway tube between San Francisco and Oakland. All other parts of the system would be elevated (parts of Oakland immediately after trains leave the Transbay tube), subway (through Berkeley) or private right-of-way, often in the median of existing expressways.
Author Harre Demoro frequently insisted, in his books, that BART was neither the modern day Key System or Sacramento Northern. I disagree. In my opinion it is both. It serves many of the same cities served by Key or SN, and even utilizes parts of the old SN right of way in Concord, Rockridge, and West Pittsburg.
When I visited the Western Railway Museum for the first time in 1996, I rode an interurban saved from a system I’d never heard of, called the Peninsular Railway. A Google search revealed that the line had run in the San Mateo/San Jose area now known as “Silicon Valley”. One of the stations served by the Peninsular Railway was Berryessa. In 2018 the new BART extension into San Mateo County will provide service to two new stations; Milpitas and Berryessa. The Peninsular Railway abandoned service in 1934. It has taken 84 years, but electric rail transit is back in Berryessa. Let’s go for a ride on BART.
Along the right of way to Milbrae and the SFO International Airport.
Another view of the BART Oakland yards.
Approaching the station loading area.
A BART C train, built by Alstom circa 1995.
The BART SFO International Airport station in 2004.
A BART train arriving at the SFO International Airport in 2004.
C car interior. Note the blue colors, versus brown for the Rohr-built cars.
The BART Concord station, on the former Sacramento Northern right-of-way.
Concord station, close-up of BART train.
A BART C train at Civic Center station.
The interior of a Rohr-built BART car.
The interior of a Rohr-built BART car.
Oakland Yards near the MacArthur station.
The operator of a BART car signs in.
The operator’s cab in a BART car, all computer controlled, like San Diego.
An original Rohr-built BART train at Balboa Park station.
The people mover at the SFO International Airport.
Pittsburg Bay Point station, the farthest east point on BART.