This remarkable Kodachrome image was taken on Canal Street in New Orleans on June 19, 1940. It was shot on size 828 film, which has an image area of 28x40mm, about 30% larger than 35mm. (828 film, which Kodak introduced in the late 1930s, was essentially 35mm film without sprocket holes, but with a paper backing like other roll film formats.) One of our regular readers writes, “The 4 tracks were taken out about 1948 when a number of the car lines that operated off of Canal were converted to trolley bus.” The location is the intersection of Canal and St. Charles. Car 444 is looping at the end of the St. Charles route and will be turning to the left in the picture. WSMB (now WWWL) was an AM radio station at 1350 on the dial. Its old call letters reflect its original ownership by the Saenger theater chain and Maison Blanche department store. Its studios were located in the Maison Blanche department store building at right, now the Ritz-Carlton hotel. The Saenger Theatre, another local landmark, is also on the right side of the picture. In the days before air conditioning, men used to wear white suits, as you see here, since white reflects more heat than darker clothing. When this picture was taken, France had just fallen to Nazi Germany. The US did not enter World War II directly until 18 months later.
Our theme today is points east, west, and south. We’re going off in three directions, every which way but north.
The West Towns map and photos of other properties come from our own collections. As always, to see a larger version of each photo, just click on it with your mouse. And, if you have useful information to add, please be sure to contact us.
A streamlined Kodak Bantam camera, using size 828 roll film, of a type that may have taken the New Orleans picture.
The same location today. The St. Charles line still loops as it did in the 1940 picture. Streetcars were absent from Canal Street for 40 years starting in 1964, but have returned. There is a crossover track, visible in this picture, connecting the two lines.
This close-up shows New Orleans Public Service car 444. One of our regular readers says, “It is not a Perley-Thomas built car but rather a Southern Car Company car built in 1914. Starting in 1914, all of the car bodies appeared the same starting with car #400 even though they were not all built by Perley-Thomas.” It was part of a group of 50 cars, numbered 400-449. Behind the streetcar, you can see part of the marquee for the Loew’s State Theatre (also known as the State Palace), at 1108 Canal Street. It opened in 1926, but is currently closed and awaiting restoration. You can see some pictures of that theater’s interior here.
A bus crosses Canal.
Loew’s State circa 1930. From the Wikipedia: “The Rogue Song is a 1930 romantic musical film which tells the story of a Russian bandit who falls in love with a princess, but takes his revenge on her when her brother rapes and kills his sister. The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production was directed by Lionel Barrymore and released in two versions, with and without sound. Hal Roach wrote and directed the Laurel and Hardy sequences and was not credited. The film stars Metropolitan Opera singer Lawrence Tibbett— who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance— and Catherine Dale Owen. Laurel and Hardy were third-billed; their sequences were filmed at the last minute and interspersed throughout the film in an attempt to boost its potential box office appeal. This film, which was MGM’s first all-talking (two-color) Technicolor film, is partially lost, as there are no known complete prints of this film. Fragments do exist.”
Loew’s circa 1940, showing I Love You Again, an MGM comedy starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, directed by W. S. Van Dyke. All three were associated with the Thin Man series of films, which were very popular.
A postcard view of Canal Street, showing the same general area as the 1940 slide, but looking from the opposite direction.
Chicago & West Towns
A Chicago & West Towns route map, from April 1942. By this time, only three streetcar lines were left: LaGrange, Lake, and Madison. The owner of the map crossed out (with has marks) some routes that were abandoned later. There was, by 1942, no track connection between the two north side lines and the LaGrange line. When the Lake and Madison lines were finally bustituted, the remaining streetcar fleet was moved at night in 1947 on a circuitous route via Chicago Surface Lines trackage.
The Chicago & West Towns was a major streetcar operator in Chicago’s western suburbs until April 1948, when the last line was converted to bus. Bus operation continues today as part of Pace, a public agency.
C&WT 127 and 104 in Maywood. The grade crossing at rear may be a clue as to the exact location. Don’s Rail Photos notes: “104 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948.” The 127 looks to be the older of the pair, built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Joe writes: “The photo of C&WT cars 127 and 104 is in Maywood at 19th and Railroad Avenue looking north.”
C&WT 135, making a turn, is signed for Melrose Park, possibly on the Lake or Madison lines. Don’s Rail Photos: “135 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1919. It was scrapped in 1947.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Joe writes: “The photo of C&WT car 135 is looking east at Madison and 19th in Maywood. The apartment building is still there.” Andre Kristopans: “CWT 135 turning from W on Madison to N on 19th Ave.”
C&WT 134 at the North Riverside barn. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 153, 140 and 119 on the LaGrange line. Comparison with some other photos in this series shows this location is DesPlaines Avenue just south of 26th Street in Riverside. We are looking north. Don’s Rail Photos: “153 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was scrapped in 1948. 140 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924. It was rebuilt in 1939 and scrapped in 1948. 119 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1912. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 116, 115, and 158 at Cermak and Kenton, east end of the LaGrange line. Riders heading east could change here for Chicago Surface Lines route 21 streetcars like the one shown at rear. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 152 is heading east on private right-of-way on the busy LaGrange route. The exact location is about 82 Park Place in Riverside. Car 152 has just crossed the DesPlaines River, passing through the Forest Preserves after stopping at the Brookfield Zoo. From here, it will turn north on Woodside Drive, which changes into DesPlaines Avenue, before heading east on 26th Street. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
The same location today.
C&WT 112 crosses the Indiana Harbor Belt on the LaGrange line, with a steam train off in the distance. Don’s Rail Photos: “112 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1912. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 101 is turning from 26th Street onto DesPlaines Avenue in Riverside on the LaGrange line. Don’s Rail Photos: “101 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 134 and 124 meet at Madison and Harlem. Note how Madison took a jog when crossing between Oak Park and Forest Park. We are looking east. Don’s Rail Photos: “124 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914. It was rebuilt in 1936 and scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Madison and Harlem today. A route 318 Pace bus is turning from Harlem onto Madison. Pace is the successor to the West Towns. At some point, it appears that Madison was widened to eliminate the jog seen in the earlier photo.
C&WT 101 is at Lake and Austin in Oak Park, the east end of its route. Two Chicago Surface Lines streetcars, including 1743, are across Austin Boulevard at the west end of route 16. Don’s Rail Photos: “101 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948. 1743 was built by CSL in 1923. It was rebuilt as one-man in 1949.” The car at left looks like a 1941 Packard model One Twenty– very stylish. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
A 1941 Packard One Twenty sedan.
C&WT 136 and 132 on Lake Street just west of Austin Boulevard in suburban Oak Park. This was the east end of the line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Lake Street just west of Austin Boulevard today.
Here, C&WT 119 appears to be crossing the Illinois Central at 26th Street, since that is an IC caboose at the rear of the passing freight train. Don’s Rail Photos: “119 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1912. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Here, we are looking north along DesPlaines Avenue just south of 26th Street in Riverside. Cars from the LaGrange line turned east on 26th to Harlem, where they continued north to Cermak Road. Cars may be operating on a single track here due to track work. Southbound C&WT 107 waits for 161 to cross over to the northbound track, while a work car is on 26th. Don’s Rail Photos: “107 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1912. It was scrapped in 1948. 161 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
A close-up of the previous image. This may be C&WT work car 12. Don’s Rail Photos says, “12 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1912. It was scrapped in 1948.”
The top of this building, on 26th Street just east of DesPlaines Avenue in North Riverside, has been altered, but it is still recognizable as the same building in the previous picture.
C&WT 152 on the LaGrange line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 144 at the North Riverside car barn. Don’s Rail Photos: “144 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924. It was scrapped in 1947.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 164 on Lake Street just west of Austin Boulevard in Oak Park. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 107 and a work car (12 or 13, hard to tell) plus a flat car on DesPlaines Avenue just south of 26th Street in Riverside. Don’s Rail Photos: “107 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1912. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 158 crossing the Illinois Central at 26th Street in Riverside. I believe the car is heading east. If it was heading west, the sign on the front of the car would probably advertise service direct to the Brookfield Zoo. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 158 and 157 cross on the bridge over the DesPlaines River (LaGrange line). I believe we are looking south. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 100, most likely at the North Riverside car barn. Car 130 is at right. Don’s Rail Photos: “100 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948. 130 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 141 at the North Riverside car barn. Don’s Rail Photos: “141 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924. It was rebuilt in 1939 and the body sold as a shed in 1948. It was purchased by Electric Railway Historical Society in 1958. It went to Illinois Railway Museum in 1973 and began restoring.” The 141 is now in operating condition. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 157 and 155 meet on DesPlaines Avenue and 26th street. Single track operation is in effect due to track work. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT line car 15 at an undetermined location. Don’s Rail Photos: “15 was built by Pullman Car in 1897 as Suburban RR 512. It was renumbered 515 and rebuilt as 15 in 1927. It was rebuilt in 1940 and scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 156 is on Cermak at Cicero Avenue. The Pinkert State Bank (built in 1919) at rear was located at 4810-12 W. Cerak (22nd Street) in Cicero. It featured prominently in the government’s tax evasion cases against Al and Ralph Capone. Don’s Rail Photos: “156 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was rebuilt in 1942 and scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 140 on the LaGrange line. Don’s Rail Photos: “140 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924. It was rebuilt in 1939 and scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 136 and 132 are eastbound on one of the lines that terminated at Austin Boulevard (either Lake or Madison). (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Joe writes: “The photo of C&WT cars 132 and 136 may have been taken at Lake and 25th, the west end of the Lake Street line.” Andre Kristopans: “CWT 132, 136 at west end of Lake St line at 25th Ave.”
Three C&WT streetcars, including 103 and 104, are on Lake Street at Austin Boulevard. We are looking to the east, which explains why the head car is signed for Maywood. According to Don’s Rail Photos, both 103 and 104 were built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917 and scrapped in 1948. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
The laundry in the previous photo is now a beauty parlor.
C&WT 141 is westbound, crossing the DesPlaines River on the LaGrange line. This car, sole survivor of the fleet, has been restored and you can ride it at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 128, on either the Madison or Lake lines, is signed for Melrose Park. Not sure which railroad that tower belongs to. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans: “CWT 128 is crossing the Soo Line on Madison west of Jackson (a half mile west of Desplaines Av.).”
C&WT snow sweepers 9 and 5 in their element at the North Riverside car barn. Don’s Rail Photso: “5 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1913. It was scrapped in 1948. 9 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1928. It was sold to Sand Springs Ry in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 156 is eastbound on Cermak at Ridgeland in front of the old Berwyn Theatre, which opened in 1924. It was damaged by fire in 1990 and demolished. This picture was probably taken not long after the theatre was modernized in 1936. Don’s Rail Photos: “156 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was rebuilt in 1942 and scrapped in 1948.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
C&WT 151 on the Lake line, possibly at the west end. Don’s Rail Photos: “151 was built by McGuire and Cummings in 1924. It was scrapped in 1947.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
C&WT 151 on the Lake Street line. Don’s Rail Photos: “151 was built by McGuire and Cummings in 1924. It was scrapped in 1947.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
South Shore Line
CSS&SB 10, signed for South Bend. (Photo by Anderson)
CSS&SB 24. Don’s Rail Photos: “24 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947.” (Photo by Anderson)
CSS&SB 109 in the yard at Chicago in the mid-1960s. Don’s Rail Photos: “109 was built by Pullman in 1926. It was lengthened in 1944. Air conditioning and picture windows came in 1949.” (Walter Broschart Photo)
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.
CSS&SB cars 2 and 504 at the Michigan City station on August 30, 1960 (note the 1960 Ford at left). Don’s Rail Photos: “2 was built by Pullman in 1926.” Frank Hicks writes: “This interurban freight trailer has a more unusual history than most. It was built for ISC as an interurban combine, and ran on that system’s lines in Indiana for five years until ISC became part of the great Indiana Railroad system. IR rebuilt the three cars of the 375-377 series into railway post office cars and put them to use in this unusual capacity. The three RPO’s survived on IR until the end of interurban service in 1941, at which time all three were sold to the only other interurban line then operating in Indiana: the South Shore. The South Shore converted 376 into a line car while 375 and 377 became express package trailers. These cars were designed to run in passenger trains and had control lines so that they could be run mid-train; they were often used to transport newspapers. Car 504 was retired in 1975 and acquired by IRM, which has repainted it and put it on display.” (Photo by Meyer)
Chicago Lake Shore & South Bend Ry. (predecessor of the South Shore Line) car 68 at an unknown location near a wooden Chicago “L” car. This photo is a real mystery, since, as far as I know, this car has not been preserved (although car 73 is being restored). Joe writes: “Car 68 is Lake Shore Electric, not CLS&SB, built by Brill in 1903. The car behind it is one of the LSE’s Barney & Smith interurban cars.” That clears up the mystery. The information that came with this negative was incorrect.
CSS&SB 27 near the Art Institute of Chicago on May 7, 1963. (Photo by Anderson)
CSS&SB 111 at Randolph Street Terminal in downtown Chicago in May 1953. This station has since been rebuilt and is now underneath Millennium Park.
A three-car CSS&SB train, including car 31, makes a photo stop on an early Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip near Wilson, Indiana.
CSS&SB 105 heads up a six-car train near Miller, Indiana on June 1, 1939. This appears to be a photo stop on a fantrip. (Photo by Anderson)
Chicago, South Shore & South Bend freight locos 902 and 903 in Michigan City, Indiana. (Photo by Anderson)
Even the city trolley lines of Gary Railways, operating between 1908 and 1947, had an interurbanish character. Industrial development in the area meant there were large tracts of land reserved for future use. In 1938-39, Central Electric Railfans’ Association (CERA) ran three fantrips on Gary Railways interurbans in their waning days. We have run pictures from some of those trips in previous posts.
Here is a timeline of transit developments in the Gary area.
Gary Railways 101. The sign says street railway service in Gary was inaugurated 21 years ago with this car. If service began in 1912, that would date this photo to 1933.
Gary Railways 24.
Gary Railways 128.
Gary Railways 120.
Gary Railways 15 at Kennedy siding on the Hammond line on March 9, 1941. According to the photo information, this car was built by Cummings in 1926.
Gary Railways 16, signed for Hammond.
Gary Railways 14, at a loop on the Hammond line, on October 27, 1940. According to the photo information, it was built by Cummings in 1926.
Gary Railways 19 at Tolleston, with both poles up. This lightweight safety car was built by Cummings Car & Coach in 1927. This car body, sole survivor of the fleet, is now at the Illinois Railway Museum.
Gary Railways 27.
Gary Railways 22 on May 16, 1940. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
Gary Railways 20 on July 21, 1946.
Gary Railways 22.
Gary Railways 12. Don’s Rail Photos: “12 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was scrapped in 1946.” (Jack Beers Photo)
Gary Railways car 19, the only car preserved, on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. This matches a picture we previously published in our previous post More Hoosier Traction (September 2, 2015). Bill Shapotkin said that other picture was taken “taken on March 19, 1939 — the day AFTER the last day of service on the Indiana Harbor (and Hobart) lines.” The difference in tonality between the two pictures may simply be the difference between panchromatic and orthochromatic film.
A close-up of the previous picture.
Gary Railways 9 at Hobart, Indiana in 1934.
Gary Railways cars 12 and 9.
Gary Railways 14.
Gary Railways 19.
Gary Railways 17 at the North Broadway loop.
Gary Railways 51.
Johnston Traction 311, a double-truck Birney car (ex-Bangor, Maine) on June 24, 1956. Don’s Rail Photos: ” 307 thru 311 came from Bangor Hydro Electric in 1941 where they were 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18. They were scrapped in 1957 except for 311 which was preserved at Rockhill Trolley Museum which acquired it in 1960.” Audio recordings of car 311 in service in Johnstown are included on Railroad Record Club LP #23.
Fort Collins Municipal Railway Birney car 25 in October 1950. Don’s Rail Photos: “2nd 25 was built by Brill Car Co in December 1922, #21530, as VR&P 1520. It was sold as FCM 25 in 1946. It was sold to James Stitzel in 1953 and resided next to the former Midland Terminal depot in Victor, CO, until it was sold to a South Carolina party about 1980. It was cosmetically restored. In 1998 it was sold to the Charlotte Trolley painted as South Carolina Public Service Co 407. It was sold to Fort Colins Municipal in 2008 and is being restored as 25.” (Robert C. Gray Photo)
Fort Collins Municipal Railway 24 on the Mountain Street line in October 1950. Don’s Rail Photos: “2nd 24 was built by Brill Car Co in December 1922, #21530, as Virginia Railway & Power Co 1530 It was sold as FCM 24 in 1946 but seldom operated. Parts kept second Car 25 operating.” (Robert C. Gray Photo)
Fort Collins Municipal Railway 26 in 1946. Don’s Rail Photos: “26 was built by American Car Co. in November 1922, #1324 as CERy 7. It was sold as FCM 26 it in 1924. It was sold to Henry Ford Museum and moved to Michigan in 1953 where it is on static display. It was operated several times on the trackage of the Department of Street Railways.” (Richard H. Young Photo)
Lehigh Valley Transit 702 and 812 on a fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos: “702 was built by Southern Car Co in 1916. It was rebuilt on August 8, 1931 and scrapped on January 8, 1952. 812 was built by St Louis Car in 1901 as 159. It was rebuilt as 999 in 1914 and rebuilt as 812 in 1921. It was scrapped in November 1951.”
Lehigh Valley Transit 702 and 812 on a Liberty Bell route fantrip, probably not long before service ended in 1951. Ed Skuchas adds, “The LVT fan trip cars are sitting on the spur at the LVT station in Perkasie at Walnut and Penn St.”
The former LVT station in Perkasie is now the headquarters for the local historical society.
Not sure offhand where this picture was taken, along the LVT Liberty Bell interurban route between Philadelphia and Allentown. Ed Skuchas: “The “tunnel” photo is the underpass in Perkasie under the Reading tracks. Location is Walnut and 7th. The photo was taken from a block back at about 6th and Walnut.”
A close-up of the previous picture.
The former LVT underpass in Perkasie today.
The ramp you see is at Norristown, and shows how Lehigh Valley Transit interurban cars descended to street level to continue north to Allentown. Service on the Liberty Bell Limited ended in September 1951. Service between Philadelphia and Norristown, started by the Philadelphia & Western, continues today under SEPTA.
Philadelphia & West Chester Traction (later Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co.) cars 86, 73 and 83 at 69th Street Terminal in 1936. Don’s Rail Photos: “73 was built by Brill Car Co in April 1927, #22212. It became SEPTA 73 in 1970 and sold to Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in 1990. 83 was built by Brill Car Co in March 1932, #22980. It became SEPTA 83 in 1970 and sold to Middletown & Hummelstown in 1982.”
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation car 84, a 1932 Brill “Master Unit,” on the West Chester line. This long line was mainly single-track with occasional passing siidngs such as this one.
Philadelphia Suburban double-end cars 14 and 18 on West Chester Pike, April 25, 1954. Buses replaced trolley cars in June so that West Chester Pike could be widened.
Brilliner 10 is on side-of-the-road trackage on the Philadelphia Suburban’s West Chester line, which was bustituted in 1954.
A close-up of the previous photo.
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co. double-ended car 12 at 69th Street and Garrett Road on April 14, 1951. It is outbound on the Ardmore line.
Lehigh Valley Transit high-speed, lightweight interurban car 1000 at the 69th Street Terminal in 1947. This car, formerly Cincinnati & Lake Erie 125, was sold to LVT in 1938 for use on the Liberty Bell Limited line between Philadelphia and Allentown, and was scrapped in 1952. (Cliff Scholes Photo)
The double-end Bullet cars on the Philadelphia & Western were not the only Bullets. There were also some single-ended cars such as Bamberger 125, shown here in Ogden, Utah. Don’s Rail Photos: “125 was built by Brill in 1932, #22961, as Fonda Johnstown & Gloversville 125. It was sold as Bamberger 125 in 1939 and retired in 1952. The body was sold to Utah Pickle Co.”
Boston double-end PCC 3327, signed for Heath on the MBTA Green Line “E” branch (formerly called Arborway), is heading up the Northeastern Incline from the Huntington Avenue Subway in this March 1974 view.
MBTA double-end PC 3346 at Mattapan on March 31, 1978. These cars were painted red, since the Ashmont-Mattapan branch line is considered an extension of the Red Line subway.
Outbound double-end PCC 3345 at Ashmont in August 1968.
3345 at Ashmont in August 1968 with a standing room crowd. Despite the roll sign, the Ashmont-Mattapan tracks are separate from Boston’s Green Line system.
3330 at Ashmont in August 1968.
MBTA 3296, operated in multiple units, at the old North Station on September 28, 1970.
Boston stretcar 5202 at Valley Road on the Ashmont-Mattapan line on February 11, 1935. This “light rail” line continues in service with PCC cars. (M. L. Young Photo)
Odds and Ends
A view of the Seattle monorail at its downtown terminal in 1975. The monorail was built to serve the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. (Walter Broschart Photo)
This 1958 picture shows the old Garfield Park “L” crossing the area now occupied by the Kennedy expressway. The “L” was replaced by the Congress Expressway median line on June 22, 1958, after which these tracks were removed. But prior to that, they had to be shored up with new supports due to excavation work for the new highway, which opened on November 5, 1960. We ran another picture taken at this location in our previous post Some Thoughts on “Displaced” (August 30, 2016). You can also see a 1957 Chevy in the picture, plus an early Volkswagen. The last year for the split rear window Beetles was 1953, so this one is later.
This picture of various Chicago, Aurora & Elgin trains was taken around September 1953 at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park. Construction is underway to reconfigure the terminal for a new track arrangement, where CA&E trains will no longer head downtown, but will terminate and loop here. The wooden ramp in the background was built so that CTA trains could loop without crossing CA&E tracks, which were no longer going to be connected to the CTA. This new arrangement continued until the CA&E quit operating passenger service on July 3, 1957.
The three Chicago Rapid Transit cars shown here are at 22nd and Mannheim, the end of the Westchester branch. The occasion was a February 12, 1939 Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. We have posted other photos from this excursion in previous posts. There was a photo stop scheduled at this location from 1:15 to 1:30 p.m.
Illinois Terminal 273 in Springfield. (Walter Broschart Photo)
Illinois Terminal 274 in Decatur at 9:25 a.m. on August 10, 1954. This interurban combine car was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1913. This was westbound train #61. This picture was taken using Kodak Super-XX film (4″ x 5″ size). (John A. Rehor Photo)
Jack Bejna writes:
Hi David, Here are two images that I think you’ll like. First, an eastbound CA&E train passes the tower at Laramie. In the left background is the CA&E freight station (I think), and the CA&E storage yard. The second image is a shot of CA&E 304 at the freight station after quite a bit of creative Photoshopping to improve an otherwise so so image taken in the 1920s. Enjoy, Jack
PS- My never ending search for CA&E was rewarded with this route map (circa 1940) that I had never seen before.
We are pleased to report that hi-resolutions scans for 12 more issues* of Surface Service, the Chicago Surface Lines emplyee magazine, have been added to our E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story (available in our Online Store). This totals 200 additional pages of information.
*October and November 1942, February and March 1943, October, November and December 1944, May, July and August 1945, April and May 1946
Work continues on our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys, which is now in the layout and proofreading stage. The expected publication date is September 25th of this year. We will keep you advised as things progress.
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A close-up of Columbia Park & Southwestern 306 on the “Mobile Home Route.”
Today’s post ties a number of photos together under the heading “Lost and Found.” There are images from the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, the North Shore Line, and various early preservation efforts. Two of the three great Chicago-area interurbans are lost to history.
Interestingly, among the “saved” equipment shown in these early photos, none of these cars is still at the same location where the pictures were taken. In the case of Milwaukee Electric car 882, it was still in use at a Wisconsin electric power plant as late as 1961, three years after the last Milwaukee streetcar ran on the streets. Yet, oddly enough, it does not appear to have been preserved.
While many of these early museum-type operations such as Trolleyville USA* are no longer with us, they should not be regarded as failures. They played a crucial role in saving many electric railcars from the dustbin of history, and provided a “bridge” to a welcome home in some of today’s more durable institutions.
So, while much of our transit history has been lost, thanks to a few dedicated individuals, not all of it was lost. And despite all the travails and convoluted ways that various cars were saved, there is still a rich history that survives to be found by future generations.
PS- Trolleyville USA in Olmstead Township, Ohio, which I visited in 1984, was part trolley museum, and part common carrier. It provided much-needed transportation between a trailer park and general store, both of which were owned by the late Gerald E. Brookins. It is thanks to him that many unique pieces of equipment were saved.
Let me take this opportunity to clear up a Trolleyville “factoid” that has circulated.
Cleveland was where Peter Witt developed his namesake streetcar design, but it is one of the ironies of history that none were saved. A solitary Cleveland Peter Witt car lasted until 1962 before it too was unfortunately scrapped.
Don’s Rail Photos reports, “4144 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in August 1929, (order) #951. It was retired in 1954 and sold to an individual in Lorain. It was lettered as Arlington Traction Co 4144.” Owner Norman Muller had the car in his yard with an organ installed inside.
Some have pondered why Gerald E. Brookins did not save the car. Some have speculated that he was tapped out after purchasing four of the curved-side CA&E cars or that Mrs. Brookins would not let him buy another car.
In 2014, author Blaine Hays told me the real story. He says Brookins had plenty of money and could easily have afforded to purchase the 4144. However, in general his interest in trolley cars was limited to purchasing ones that could be readily run on his short railroad. By 1962, the 4144 did not fit into this category and after having been changed around and stored outside for years, would have required a substantial amount of restoration work, in any case a lot more than Brookins wanted to do.
Thanks to Brookins, four of the ten Ca&E St. Louis-built cars from 1945 were saved. But of fate had turned a different way, all ten cars might have ended up in service on the Cleveland rapid on the airport extension. In the early 1960s, Cleveland transit officials were planning to build this extension “on the cheap,” using local funds. If they had, the CA&E cars would likely have provided the original rolling stock. As things turned out, the project got put off for a few years until Federal funds were available. It opened in 1968 with new equipment.
Ironically, at least one CA&E car (303) did eventually run on the Cleveland system. The Lake Shore Electric Railway was a short-lived successor to Trolleyville that planned to operate in Cleveland. Ultimately, the effort failed due to lack of funding, and the cars in the Brookins collection were sold at auction. Some ended up at the Illinois Railway Museum and the Fox River Trolley Museum, but I have seen pictures of the 303 running in Cleveland in the early 21st century with a pantograph installed.
Who’da thunk it?
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American Streetcar R.P.O.s
Mainline Railway Post Offices were in use in the United States from 1862 to 1978 (with the final year being operated by boat instead of on rails), but for a much briefer era, cable cars and streetcars were also used for mail handling in the following 15 cities*:
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New York City
Rochester, New York
*As noted by some of our readers, this list does not include interurban RPOs.
Our latest E-book American Streetcar R.P.O.s collects 12 books on this subject (nearly 1000 pages in all) onto a DVD data disc that can be read on any computer using Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is free software. All have been out of print for decades and are hard to find. In addition, there is an introductory essay by David Sadowski.
The rolling stock, routes, operations, and cancellation markings of the various American street railway post office systems are covered in detail. The era of the streetcar R.P.O. was relatively brief, covering 1893 to 1929, but it represented an improvement in mail handling over what came before, and it moved a lot of mail. In many places, it was possible to deposit a letter into a mail slot on a streetcar or cable car and have it delivered across town within a short number of hours.
These operations present a very interesting history, but are not well-known to railfans. We feel they deserve greater scrutiny, and therefore we are donating $1 from each sale of this item to the Mobile Post Office Society, in support of their efforts.
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.95
CA&E 423 and 433 have just passed each other just west of the Forest Park terminal at DesPlaines Avenue in October 1953. Concordia cemetery is to the left. This is now the site of I-290.
Don’s Rail Photos says CA&E 18 was “built by Niles Car in 1902. It was modernized in March 1941 and retired in 1955.” Here it is at Wheaton on March 15, 1952.
Curved-sided CA&E car 455, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945, at Wheaton on July 7, 1954.
Don’s Rail Photos says CA&E merchandise express car 9 was “built by Niles Car in 1907. It was scrapped in 1959.” It is shown here at Wheaton in August 1948.
CA&E 427 parked at Laramie Avenue in August 1948. It was built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927.
The view looking south towards the Wilmette station on the CNS&M Shore Line Route, which was abandoned in 1955. For a view from the other end of the same station, look here. Northbound trains began street running on Greenleaf Avenue here.
The same location today, where the North Shore Line curved to the right to head west on Greenleaf.
Once the North shore Line entered Greenleaf, the street widened. We are looking west.
Perhaps one of our keen-eyed readers can tell us if this photo of car 158 was also taken along Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette.
Don’s Rail Photos says that North Shore Line caboose 1003 “was built by American Car & Foundry Co in 1926. It was rebuilt without a cupola but restored when it was acquired by IRM.” There was some discussion recently on a Yahoo group concerning CNS&M cabooses. Someone was interested in making a model, and this nice side view should help determine the dimensions.
An Electroliner at speed near Crawford looking west. This picture was taken from a passing train in 1960, three years before the North Shore Line quit. CTA’s Skokie Swift began running in 1964. (Richard H. Young Photo)
Today’s CTA Yellow Line looking west from Crawford.
CNS&M Silverliner 738 heads up a four-car special train making a station stop at Northbrook during a snowstorm in February 1960. (Richard H. Young Photo)
CNS&M 150 in a night scene at Waukegan on January 26, 1962.
Electroliner 804-803 at the CTA Roosevelt Road “L” station in Chicago on February 17, 1957.
CNS&M Electroliner 803-804 at Deerpath, Illinois, February 17, 1957. Could be the photographer boarded the train in the previous picture at Roosevelt road and got off here.
Columbia Park and Southwestern 306, ex-Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric, ex-Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, at Gerald E. Brookins’ Trolleyville USA in 1962. Electric operations appear to be underway already, or nearly so.
Don’s Rail Photos says, “306 was built by St Louis Car in 1924, #1306. In 1936 it was sold to CI/SHRT as 306 and in 1954 it was sold to CP&SW as 306. It was transferred to the Illinois Railway Museum in 1984 where it is being restored as AE&FRECo 306.”
CTA Red Pullman 144 and Milwaukee streetcar 972 at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago, February 1960.
A snowy view of the 144 in February 1960, less than two years after this car last ran on the streets of Chicago (in a May 1958 fantrip).
Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed interurban car 65 at IERM in February 1960.
Don’s Rail Photos says Milwaukee electric car 882 “was built by St Louis Car Co in 1920, (order) #1239. It was one manned in 1926 and rebuilt in 1954 with a plow on one end and a pilot on the other for use at the Lakeside Power Plant of WEPCo. It also had interurban headlights added. It ran until May 8, 1961.” Unfortunately, it does not appear this car was saved.
The two North Shore Line Electroliner sets had a second life for a while as Liberty Liners on the Red Arrow line between Philadelphia and Norristown. Red Arrow President Merritt H. Taylor Jr. (1922-2010) was a closet railfan, and the pride he took in saving these fine streamlined cars is clearly evident in the picture on this 1964 timetable, when they were put into service. This was a morale booster for both the railroad and its riders after enduring a 34-day strike in 1963, the only one in its history.
CNS&M 162 at the American Museum of Electricity in Schenectady, New York in 1968. Don’s Rail Photos says, “162 was built by Brill in 1915, #19605. It was acquired by American Museum of Electricity in 1963 and resold to Connecticut Trolley Museum.”
This 1968 photo presents a bit of a mystery. The only other North Shore car owned by the American Museum of Electricity was 710, sold along with the 162 to the Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1971. But there are other cars shown in this line-up, and the partial number for this one looks like it’s in the 750-series. Stephen B. Rudolph adds, “I just dug up an identical print of the photo of the boarded-up CNS&M 755. The back of my print is machine-dated by the photofinisher “JUNE 64.” This wasn’t somebody’s rubber date stamper, so I think it’s correct. Consequently, I believe the 1968 date stated above is incorrect.”