A Tale of Two Cities

This remarkable picture was taken at the North Shore Line's Milwaukee terminal in January 1963. for all we know, this may be the last night of operation. If so, the temperature was below zero.

This remarkable picture was taken at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee terminal in January 1963. for all we know, this may be the last night of operation. If so, the temperature was below zero.

Today, we feature color slides taken in Chicago and Philadelphia. Those are the “two cities” in our title, but we also make brief side trips to Los Angeles and Mexico City. Somehow, though A Tale of Four Cities just doesn’t have the same ring.

Come to think of it, some of these pictures were taken in Milwaukee and South Bend, so that’s even more cities.

Chicago’s transit system and Philadelphia’s have shared a few things in common over the years. After the North Shore Line quit in 1963, the two articulated Electroliners (see one in our lead picture) were bought by the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company, better known as the Red Arrow Lines. Rechristened Liberty Liners, they continued in service from 1964 until about 1976.

Dr. Thomas Conway, Jr., who helped modernize the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin interurban in the 1920s, did the same with the Philadelphia & Western, which later became part of Red Arrow.

In the late 1980s, Red Arrow’s successor SEPTA purchased several pairs of used Chicago Transit Authority rapid transit cars (from the 6001-6200 series) to help keep service going, as their existing equipment (Bullets and Strafford cars) was really showing its age.

While the CA&E’s 1953 cutback in service to Forest Park helped speed its demise but a few years later, the P&W Norristown line, which survives today, has never had direct service to downtown Philly.

The CA&E’s 10 curved-sided cars, built in 1945, are often cited as the last “standard” interurbans built in this country. Depending on how you define the word standard, some double-ended cars built for Red Arrow by St. Louis Car Company (they also built the CA&E cars) in 1949 might take the prize instead. These closely resemble PCC cars but don’t qualify as “true” PCCs because they used standard trucks and motors.

The other contenders for last standard interurban are two series built for the Illinois Terminal in the late 1940s. Double-end PCCs were purchased for the St. Louis to Granite City line, and streamliners for longer inter-city use.

For that matter, Pittsburgh Railways used PCC cars (built in the late 1940s) on their interurban lines to Washington and Charleroi. These cars continued in service in Pittsburgh for many years after the last interurban ran in 1953.

Scanning these images was just a starting point. I put in many hours of work in Photoshop to remove imperfections and improve the color. As always, if you have location information you can give us, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

We salute the many fine photographers, whose names are unfortunately not known to us, who took these exceptional pictures. It is important to give credit where credit is due, but in too many cases, when we receive a slide, negative, or print, there isn’t a name associated with it. We wish it were otherwise, but we are grateful that so many fine images have survived the decades in order to be shared with you. Our intentions are always to give these images, and the people who took them, the respect they deserve. When we have such information, we always give proper credit.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

PS- You can see more great night shots in our previous post Night Beat (June 21, 2016).

Chicago Area

South Shore Line car 110 laying over at South Bend, Indiana in July 1963. This was the east end of the line until 1970, when service was cut back to the outskirts of town, and South Bend street running was eliminated. In 1992, service was extended to the South Bend International Airport, 3 miles northwest of downtown South Bend.

South Shore Line car 110 laying over at South Bend, Indiana in July 1963. This was the east end of the line until 1970, when service was cut back to the outskirts of town, and South Bend street running was eliminated. In 1992, service was extended to the South Bend International Airport, 3 miles northwest of downtown South Bend.

Sailors board a North Shore Line train at Great Lakes on June 1, 1962. Car 751 is at rear.

Sailors board a North Shore Line train at Great Lakes on June 1, 1962. Car 751 is at rear.

North Shore Line 731 is at Libertyville on the Mundelein branch. We featured another picture at this location, taken in warmer weather, in Our 150th Post (August 6, 2016).

North Shore Line 731 is at Libertyville on the Mundelein branch. We featured another picture at this location, taken in warmer weather, in Our 150th Post (August 6, 2016).

North Shore Line 723 at the front of a three-car train at an unidentified location. Andre Kristopans: "NSL 723 is on the Evanston L, I would say between Central and Noyes." George Trapp: " I believe the train is Northbound on the Evanston "L" somewhere between the Foster Street and Central Street stations, probably closer to the latter on the last section of the line to be elevated starting in 1928."

North Shore Line 723 at the front of a three-car train at an unidentified location. Andre Kristopans: “NSL 723 is on the Evanston L, I would say between Central and Noyes.” George Trapp: ” I believe the train is Northbound on the Evanston “L” somewhere between the Foster Street and Central Street stations, probably closer to the latter on the last section of the line to be elevated starting in 1928.”

North Shore Line car 773 and train on the Loop "L". The car is signed as a Chicago Express on the Shore Line Route, which was abandoned in July 1955.

North Shore Line car 773 and train on the Loop “L”. The car is signed as a Chicago Express on the Shore Line Route, which was abandoned in July 1955.

We ran another version of this image in a previous post, but this one is better because there is less cropping. A northbound CNS&M Shore Line Route train, headed up by 413, at the downtown Wilmette station in June 1954. The Shore Line was abandoned not much more than one year later. We are looking to the southeast.

We ran another version of this image in a previous post, but this one is better because there is less cropping. A northbound CNS&M Shore Line Route train, headed up by 413, at the downtown Wilmette station in June 1954. The Shore Line was abandoned not much more than one year later. We are looking to the southeast.

An Illinois Central Electric suburban commuter train in 1963. (Fred Byerly Collection)

An Illinois Central Electric suburban commuter train in 1963. (Fred Byerly Collection)

This picture, taken in September 1958, appears to show the back end of a CTA Congress branch train heading east over temporary trackage just east of DesPlaines Avenue, where there was a crossing at grade. Construction work was underway for I290, and the previous June, the new rapid transit line in the Congress expressway median had opened as far west as Cicero Avenue.

This picture, taken in September 1958, appears to show the back end of a CTA Congress branch train heading east over temporary trackage just east of DesPlaines Avenue, where there was a crossing at grade. Construction work was underway for I290, and the previous June, the new rapid transit line in the Congress expressway median had opened as far west as Cicero Avenue.

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4223 on a shoo-fly at Halsted and Congress circa 1952. The Congress expressway was under construction, and the first thing built were the bridges. That is the Garfield Park "L" in the background, which continued to operate until June 1958. The temporary trackage in Van Buren Street was a short distance west of here. We are facing north. Those lines on the car are shadows from nearby telephone wires.

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4223 on a shoo-fly at Halsted and Congress circa 1952. The Congress expressway was under construction, and the first thing built were the bridges. That is the Garfield Park “L” in the background, which continued to operate until June 1958. The temporary trackage in Van Buren Street was a short distance west of here. We are facing north. Those lines on the car are shadows from nearby telephone wires.

A two-car train of CTA 4000s goes up the ramp toward the Laramie station on the Lake Street "L" on July 5, 1960. The portion of the line west of here was relocated onto the nearby Chicao & North Western embankment on October 28, 1962. Earlier that year, power on the ramp was changed from overhead wire to third rail, to facilitate the transition.

A two-car train of CTA 4000s goes up the ramp toward the Laramie station on the Lake Street “L” on July 5, 1960. The portion of the line west of here was relocated onto the nearby Chicao & North Western embankment on October 28, 1962. Earlier that year, power on the ramp was changed from overhead wire to third rail, to facilitate the transition.

CTA Red Pullmans 532 and 153 pass each other on Route 8 - Halsted at Chicago. We are looking north.

CTA Red Pullmans 532 and 153 pass each other on Route 8 – Halsted at Chicago. We are looking north.

A train of CTA 4000s on a fantrip on the Skokie Swift (today's Yellow Line). These were last used in regular service in 1973, but this slide is dated March 1975. (Rex K. Nelson Photo)

A train of CTA 4000s on a fantrip on the Skokie Swift (today’s Yellow Line). These were last used in regular service in 1973, but this slide is dated March 1975. (Rex K. Nelson Photo)

CTA prewar PCC 4018 on Cottage Grove at 13th in February 1955. (William C. Janssen Photo)

CTA prewar PCC 4018 on Cottage Grove at 113th in February 1955. (William C. Janssen Photo)

CTA Red Pullman 109 is heading westbound on Blue Island at Western.

CTA Red Pullman 109 is heading westbound on Blue Island at Western.

CA&E 422 at the head of a four-car train.

CA&E 422 at the head of a four-car train.

CA&E 317 and 316 on an Illini Railroad Club fantrip in the 1950s.

CA&E 317 and 316 on an Illini Railroad Club fantrip in the 1950s.

CA&E 432 in winter.

CA&E 432 in winter.

CA&E 317.

CA&E 317.

CA&E 406 at State Road on the Batavia branch.

CA&E 406 at State Road on the Batavia branch.

To me, this looks like CA&E 419 is approaching the Forest Park terminal at DesPlaines Avenue. CTA Garfield Park "L" trains would loop via the wooden flyover at rear. Construction is underway at the station, which make me wonder if this picture was taken around the time of the September 1953 cutback.

To me, this looks like CA&E 419 is approaching the Forest Park terminal at DesPlaines Avenue. CTA Garfield Park “L” trains would loop via the wooden flyover at rear. Construction is underway at the station, which make me wonder if this picture was taken around the time of the September 1953 cutback.

CA&E 454. Methinks this is Bellwood, near 25th Avenue, where the nearby Chicago Great Western had a freight yard.

CA&E 454. Methinks this is Bellwood, near 25th Avenue, where the nearby Chicago Great Western had a freight yard.

CA&E 430 at Batavia Junction in 1957. (Fred Byerly Collection)

CA&E 430 at Batavia Junction in 1957. (Fred Byerly Collection)

CA&E 319 heads up a train of woods.

CA&E 319 heads up a train of woods.

CA&E 316 and 317 have just departed Forest Park and are heading west in the 1950s. CTA Garfield Park "L" cars would loop using the wooden trestle at rear. This is the approximate location of I290 today.

CA&E 316 and 317 have just departed Forest Park and are heading west in the 1950s. CTA Garfield Park “L” cars would loop using the wooden trestle at rear. This is the approximate location of I290 today.

CA&E 406 on a 1950s fantrip, most likely on the Batavia branch.

CA&E 406 on a 1950s fantrip, most likely on the Batavia branch.

CA&E 314 is at the rear of a two-car train that has just crossed the B&OCT tracks just east of DesPlaines Avenue. The station at left would be DesPlaines Avenue, so we are looking to the west. Note the large gas holder that was a local landmark for years.

CA&E 314 is at the rear of a two-car train that has just crossed the B&OCT tracks just east of DesPlaines Avenue. The station at left would be DesPlaines Avenue, so we are looking to the west. Note the large gas holder that was a local landmark for years.

CA&E 402 and train.

CA&E 402 and train.

CA&E 307 at the Wheaton Shops.

CA&E 307 at the Wheaton Shops.

If I had to guess, I would say this picture of a CTA wooden "L" car and CA&E 422 was taken at DesPlaines Avenue, shortly before the September 1953 cutback in service. The old station was on the east side of DesPlaines Avenue.

If I had to guess, I would say this picture of a CTA wooden “L” car and CA&E 422 was taken at DesPlaines Avenue, shortly before the September 1953 cutback in service. The old station was on the east side of DesPlaines Avenue.

A short CA&E freight train, complete with caboose. Some other interurbans did not use cabooses.

A short CA&E freight train, complete with caboose. Some other interurbans did not use cabooses.

CA&E 408 heads up a train that appears to be heading eastbound, possibly just west of DesPlaines Avenue.

CA&E 408 heads up a train that appears to be heading eastbound, possibly just west of DesPlaines Avenue.

CA&E 316 and 317, possibly on the same Illini Railroad Club fantrip shown in a few other pictures in this post. The location may perhaps be the Mt. Carmel branch, which operated on overhead wire instead of third rail.

CA&E 316 and 317, possibly on the same Illini Railroad Club fantrip shown in a few other pictures in this post. The location may perhaps be the Mt. Carmel branch, which operated on overhead wire instead of third rail.

CA&E 460 is at Fifth Avenue in Maywood on March 6, 1958. This was one of a handful of fantrips that were run after passenger service was abandoned on July 3, 1957. The second car may be 417. This was about as far east as trains could go at this point, as the CA&E's suspension of service had facilitated construction of what we now know as I290 near the DesPlaines River. The CA&E tracks were relocated slightly north of where they had crossed the river, and were ready for service again in 1959, but by then the railroad had abandoned all service and no trains were run on the new alignment.

CA&E 460 is at Fifth Avenue in Maywood on March 6, 1958. This was one of a handful of fantrips that were run after passenger service was abandoned on July 3, 1957. The second car may be 417. This was about as far east as trains could go at this point, as the CA&E’s suspension of service had facilitated construction of what we now know as I290 near the DesPlaines River. The CA&E tracks were relocated slightly north of where they had crossed the river, and were ready for service again in 1959, but by then the railroad had abandoned all service and no trains were run on the new alignment.

A CA&E freight train. Tom writes: "The Unknown CAE with the two freight motors is an Eastbound Freight at Berkeley under the I 294 / Eisenhower Expressway . I grew up a block away from there in Elmhurst."

A CA&E freight train. Tom writes: “The Unknown CAE with the two freight motors is an Eastbound Freight at Berkeley under the I 294 / Eisenhower Expressway . I grew up a block away from there in Elmhurst.”

A pair of curved-sided CA&E cars, headed up by 452.

A pair of curved-sided CA&E cars, headed up by 452.

CA&E 452 at the DesPlaines Avenue Terminal in Forest Park, where passengers could transfer to eastbound CTA trains from 1953 to 1957.

CA&E 452 at the DesPlaines Avenue Terminal in Forest Park, where passengers could transfer to eastbound CTA trains from 1953 to 1957.

CA&E 432 and 459 on the Met "L" just west of the Loop, prior to the September 20, 1953 cutback in service to Forest Park.

CA&E 432 and 459 on the Met “L” just west of the Loop, prior to the September 20, 1953 cutback in service to Forest Park.

This picture may show CA&E 319 and 320 on a December 7, 1958 fantrip. This was the last passenger operation on the railroad. Freight service continued for a few more months before it too was abandoned.

This picture may show CA&E 319 and 320 on a December 7, 1958 fantrip. This was the last passenger operation on the railroad. Freight service continued for a few more months before it too was abandoned.

CA&E electric locos 2001 and 2002 and train.

CA&E electric locos 2001 and 2002 and train.

Looks like CA&E 458 and (I think) 434.

Looks like CA&E 458 and (I think) 434.

A CA&E freight train on the Mt. Carmel branch. I can't quite make out the loco's number (400x).

A CA&E freight train on the Mt. Carmel branch. I can’t quite make out the loco’s number (400x).

Philadelphia Area

SEPTA car 15 picks up a passenger across from the Media Theater (which is showing the film Taxi Driver) in May 1976.

SEPTA car 15 picks up a passenger across from the Media Theater (which is showing the film Taxi Driver) in May 1976.

A close-up of the previous picture. We are facing east.

A close-up of the previous picture. We are facing east.

SEPTA 19 on the Sharon Hill line in May 1976. Kenneth Achtert adds, "SEPTA 19 on the Sharon Hill line is outbound at Drexel Hill Junction."

SEPTA 19 on the Sharon Hill line in May 1976. Kenneth Achtert adds, “SEPTA 19 on the Sharon Hill line is outbound at Drexel Hill Junction.”

SEPTA double-ended car 15, built in 1949, in May 1976. Not sure whether this is the Media or the Sharon Hill line. Kenneth Achtert: "Car 15 is on the Media line at the east end of the Media street-running, crossing Providence Road about to reach Bowling Green station."

SEPTA double-ended car 15, built in 1949, in May 1976. Not sure whether this is the Media or the Sharon Hill line. Kenneth Achtert: “Car 15 is on the Media line at the east end of the Media street-running, crossing Providence Road about to reach Bowling Green station.”

SEPTA 22 near the 69th Street Terminal in May 1976.

SEPTA 22 near the 69th Street Terminal in May 1976.

SEPTA Brilliner 4, signed as an instruction vehicle, in downtown Media in May 1976. These cars continued in service into the early 1980s, when they were replaced by the current fleet of double-ended Kawasaki LRVs.

SEPTA Brilliner 4, signed as an instruction vehicle, in downtown Media in May 1976. These cars continued in service into the early 1980s, when they were replaced by the current fleet of double-ended Kawasaki LRVs.

A SEPTA Bullet car crosses the Schuylkill River in May 1976.

A SEPTA Bullet car crosses the Schuylkill River in May 1976.

SEPTA "Master Unit" 83 (left) and Brilliner 8 meet at Drexel Hill Junction on August 16, 1981. Kenneth Achtert: "The shot of 83 and 8 at Drexel Hill Junction is on a fantrip, with 83 inbound from Media and 8 on the pocket track."

SEPTA “Master Unit” 83 (left) and Brilliner 8 meet at Drexel Hill Junction on August 16, 1981. Kenneth Achtert: “The shot of 83 and 8 at Drexel Hill Junction is on a fantrip, with 83 inbound from Media and 8 on the pocket track.”

SEPTA Strafford car 160 in May 1976. This looks like the Norrsitown Terminal.

SEPTA Strafford car 160 in May 1976. This looks like the Norrsitown Terminal.

One of the Liberty Liners on the Schuylkill River bridge in May 1976.

One of the Liberty Liners on the Schuylkill River bridge in May 1976.

A berthed Liberty Liner in May 1976.

A berthed Liberty Liner in May 1976.

SEPTA Bullet car 7 (207?) in May 1976. Kenneth Achtert adds, "Bullet car 7 in May 1976 is, in fact, #207. The ten bullets were always numbered 200-209, but carried the single last digit on the roof over the ventilation scoop as an aid for the dispatcher located at Bryn Mawr above the track area. (The tracks were in a cut at that location.) The older cars also carried numbers on the roof, but this practice was discontinued on all but the bullets, no doubt since the bullets had no other number visible from the front."

SEPTA Bullet car 7 (207?) in May 1976. Kenneth Achtert adds, “Bullet car 7 in May 1976 is, in fact, #207. The ten bullets were always numbered 200-209, but carried the single last digit on the roof over the ventilation scoop as an aid for the dispatcher located at Bryn Mawr above the track area. (The tracks were in a cut at that location.) The older cars also carried numbers on the roof, but this practice was discontinued on all but the bullets, no doubt since the bullets had no other number visible from the front.”

SEPTA Brill Master Units 82 and 86 in May 1976. This may be the storage tracks near 69th Street Terminal, which are a short vestige of the old West Chester line. Kenneth Achtert: "82 and 86 are indeed on the storage tracks on West Chester Pike west of 69th St. Terminal."

SEPTA Brill Master Units 82 and 86 in May 1976. This may be the storage tracks near 69th Street Terminal, which are a short vestige of the old West Chester line. Kenneth Achtert: “82 and 86 are indeed on the storage tracks on West Chester Pike west of 69th St. Terminal.”

A "railfan seat" view out the front or back window of a Norristown train on the Schuylkill River bridge in May 1976.

A “railfan seat” view out the front or back window of a Norristown train on the Schuylkill River bridge in May 1976.

A Liberty Liner crosses the Schuylkill River on February 16, 1964, about a month after they were put in service on the Norristown line.

A Liberty Liner crosses the Schuylkill River on February 16, 1964, about a month after they were put in service on the Norristown line.

One of the SEPTA Liberty Liners in February 1972. Kenneth Achtert: "The Liberty Liner in February 1972 appears to be southbound leaving Wynnewood Road."

One of the SEPTA Liberty Liners in February 1972. Kenneth Achtert: “The Liberty Liner in February 1972 appears to be southbound leaving Wynnewood Road.”

Red Arrow car 24 at the 69th Street Terminal in August 1960.

Red Arrow car 24 at the 69th Street Terminal in August 1960.

Red Arrow Bullet car 8 on the Norristown High Speed Line. I'm not sure at what point this car was renumbered to 208. This picture may have been taken shortly after the SEPTA takeover in 1970. Kenneth Achtert: "Bullet car 8 was always 208 (see previous), and the picture was definitely after the SEPTA takeover as evidenced by the blue-backed patches for the logos."

Red Arrow Bullet car 8 on the Norristown High Speed Line. I’m not sure at what point this car was renumbered to 208. This picture may have been taken shortly after the SEPTA takeover in 1970. Kenneth Achtert: “Bullet car 8 was always 208 (see previous), and the picture was definitely after the SEPTA takeover as evidenced by the blue-backed patches for the logos.”

The control cab of one of the two Liberty Liners, as it looked in May 1976, near the end of service.

The control cab of one of the two Liberty Liners, as it looked in May 1976, near the end of service.

The interior of a Liberty Liner in May 1976.

The interior of a Liberty Liner in May 1976.

Bullet car 208 (left) and Strafford car 160 (right) in May 1976. I was fortunate to ride both such cars on this line in 1985.

Bullet car 208 (left) and Strafford car 160 (right) in May 1976. I was fortunate to ride both such cars on this line in 1985.

Red Arrow car 13 in downtown Media in May 1976.

Red Arrow car 13 in downtown Media in May 1976.

A SEPTA Bullet car crosses the Schuylkill River in May 1976.

A SEPTA Bullet car crosses the Schuylkill River in May 1976.

Besides the Brilliners and postwar St. Louis cars, older equipment continued in use on Red Arrow into the early 1980s. Here, we see Brill "Master Unit" 80, built in 1932, in SEPTA colors in May 1976 near the 69th Street Terminal.

Besides the Brilliners and postwar St. Louis cars, older equipment continued in use on Red Arrow into the early 1980s. Here, we see Brill “Master Unit” 80, built in 1932, in SEPTA colors in May 1976 near the 69th Street Terminal.

The next two scenes are from medium format transparancies, which were mounted in oversized mounts as seen here. Standard 35mm slide mounts are 2" x 2", and these are 2.75" x 2.75". I don't know if slide projectors were made that could handle these giants. You wouldn't exactly call these "super slides," since that term refers to size 127 or 828 film (which is larger than 35mm) mounted in 2x2 mounts.

The next two scenes are from medium format transparancies, which were mounted in oversized mounts as seen here. Standard 35mm slide mounts are 2″ x 2″, and these are 2.75″ x 2.75″. I don’t know if slide projectors were made that could handle these giants. You wouldn’t exactly call these “super slides,” since that term refers to size 127 or 828 film (which is larger than 35mm) mounted in 2×2 mounts.

SEPTA Brilliner 5 in February 1971. Kenneth Achtert: "Brilliner #5 in the medium format transparency is just past the Naylor’s Run trestle approaching the Congress Ave. stop."

SEPTA Brilliner 5 in February 1971. Kenneth Achtert: “Brilliner #5 in the medium format transparency is just past the Naylor’s Run trestle approaching the Congress Ave. stop.”

SEPTA Brilliners 9 and 3 meet in February 1971. Kenneth Achtert: "Brilliners 9 and 3 are at Lansdowne Ave. (#9 outbound). The teenagers are students from Monsignor Bonner HS (boys) and Archbishop Prendergast HS (girls), out of view to the left. The schools have since been combined."

SEPTA Brilliners 9 and 3 meet in February 1971. Kenneth Achtert: “Brilliners 9 and 3 are at Lansdowne Ave. (#9 outbound). The teenagers are students from Monsignor Bonner HS (boys) and Archbishop Prendergast HS (girls), out of view to the left. The schools have since been combined.”

A close-up of the previous scene.

A close-up of the previous scene.

Angel’s Flight (Los Angeles)

We have posted several pictures of Angel’s Flight before. To find those, type Angel’s Flight in the search window at the top of this page.

The view looking down the Angel's Flight Railway in August 1966. Nearby buildings had already been torn down as part of the redevelopment of this area, which included leveling part of Bunker Hill.

The view looking down the Angel’s Flight Railway in August 1966. Nearby buildings had already been torn down as part of the redevelopment of this area, which included leveling part of Bunker Hill.

A family rides the Angel's Flight funicular in Los Angeles' Bunker Hill neighborhood in May 1969. Service ended later that year, and Angel's Flight was dismantled and put into storage for many years before being reopened a short distance from here.

A family rides the Angel’s Flight funicular in Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill neighborhood in May 1969. Service ended later that year, and Angel’s Flight was dismantled and put into storage for many years before being reopened a short distance from here.

Angel's Flight, May 1969.

Angel’s Flight, May 1969.

Angel's Flight, May 1969.

Angel’s Flight, May 1969.

Angel's Flight, May 1969.

Angel’s Flight, May 1969.

Mexico City

This, and the three pictures that follow, were taken in Mexico City in May 1957, apparently by a pretty good photographer. Mexico's last remaining streetcar line (Tasqueña–Xochimilco) was converted to light rail in 1986. The PCCs were purchased second-hand from North American properties, including Detroit.

This, and the three pictures that follow, were taken in Mexico City in May 1957, apparently by a pretty good photographer. Mexico’s last remaining streetcar line (Tasqueña–Xochimilco) was converted to light rail in 1986. The PCCs were purchased second-hand from North American properties, including Detroit.

2017 Hoosier Traction Meet

Bill Shapotkin writes:

On September 8th-9th, a group of men and women will converge upon Indianapolis, IN for the annual gathering of the Hoosier Traction Meet. Considered by many to be the premier event of its kind, this conference of interested enthusiasts, historians, published authors and rail and transit professions consists of two complete days of audio/visual presentations on the history, operation and technology of electric railway and transit operations throughout the Midwest. In addition to the numerous auditorium events, there is an exhibition of electric rail and transit, where items of interest from transfers and photographs to fare boxes and operating models are for sale.

This year marks the 34th annual Hoosier Traction Meet. Founded by Dr. Howard Blackburn, the Hoosier Traction Meet features, in addition to its auditorium events and exhibition hall, a opportunity for those interested in electric railway and transit to exchange ideas and swap stories with old acquaintances and meet new friends.

Allow me to take this opportunity to cordially invite each and every one of you to this special event — an event which has been the rail and transit highlight of my year for nearly twenty years.

Click here for a Prospectus.

Note that by mailing in your reservation in advance, the admission price is half that paid at the door — now that’s a bargain in anybody’s book! In addition, there are numerous restaurants and shops nearby, allowing plenty of opportunities to and have lunch or supper with your fellow enthusiasts.

Please consider joining us for this year’s event.

Wm Shapotkin
Auditorium Manager
Hoosier Traction Meet

Chicago Trolleys

Work continues on our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys, which is now in the layout and proofreading stage. Lots of work has been done on the text, and the final selection of photos has been made. We will keep you advised as things progress.

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Lost and Found

A close-up of Columbia Park & Southwestern 306 on the "Mobile Home Route."

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.

-David Sadowski

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*:

Baltimore
Boston
Brooklyn
Chicago
Cincinnati
Cleveland
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New York City
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh
Rochester, New York
St. Louis
San Francisco
Seattle
Washington, D.C.


*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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Carawford 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)

An Electroliner at speed near Carawford 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.”

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CTA Red Pullman 144 and Milwaukee streetcar 972 at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago, February 1960.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

Electroliner Restoration Update

This shows the Liner (car 801A) at IRM in 2013 when the campaign began. We held an open house, arranged for special air conditioning, and gave tours/explanations of the planned restoration project. It was towed to and from the barn and displayed at the 50th Ave Platform.

This shows the Liner (car 801A) at IRM in 2013 when the campaign began. We held an open house, arranged for special air conditioning, and gave tours/explanations of the planned restoration project. It was towed to and from the barn and displayed at the 50th Ave Platform.

Today’s post is by guest contributor Tom Sharratt, who gives an update on the ongoing project to restore the Electroliner at the Illinois Railway Museum.  All photos are by Tom, unless otherwise indicated.

ELECTROLINER UPDATE

Progress continued during the cold and snowy winter months, a lot of it in preparation for removing the trucks from the train. In service, this was accomplished by the North Shore Line at Milwaukee’s Harrison Street Shop which built a transfer table specifically to allow removing the articulate trucks from the Liner. IRM does not have a transfer table, although there is a drop pit in the steam shop. A drop pit is not designed to do the same job as a transfer table. Removal of the trucks will mark the first of the “heavy” work projects that need to be done: repair of all motors, as required; inspection and turning or replacement of wheels, as necessary; and inspection and repairs to the trucks themselves.

As reported earlier, the pit in barn 4 has been modified with the addition of makeshift gas heating. After some fine tuning of the heating components to maximize the heat produced and developing a means of keeping the heat in the area where the work is done, volunteers succeeded in removing all electrical leads to the motors, uncoupling all air leads to the brakes, and all ground straps. The trucks are now ready to be removed from the train.

But how to remove them from the articulated train? That has been a question that has caused a lot of brainstorming over the past six months. Several options have been considered. One proposal is to “de-articulate” the cars by replacing each of the three trucks that are between cars with two individual shop trucks thereby allowing each individual car to move independently. The two end trucks would also be replaced with shop trucks. This option would have several advantages, a big one being to open the pit track for other cars that need to be worked on using the pit. The Liner is so long that if it is on the pit track, there is insufficient room for effective work on other equipment. This option, if selected, would allow one or two Liner cars to remain on the stub end of the pit track while interior work is being done, and the other cars would be moved to another barn.

It would also allow some very unique pictures of the Electroliner! When the train was moved from Pennsylvania, it had to be moved several miles over the highway on flatbeds to the nearest active rail line where the cars were mounted in pairs on two TTX cars and shipped to IRM where the train was “reassembled.” We’re not aware of any other time that the cars were separated – if anyone knows of such a case, please let us know.

Because of the difficulty and expected expense of accomplishing this work, the Museum Board decided to get three bids on how to best proceed and the estimated cost. The process of contacting possible contractors is ongoing, and it is hoped that by the end of July a decision can be made and a contract signed. Of course, we have no way of knowing at this time how soon the work may begin or how long it might take, but the process of selecting a contractor has begun.

We are able to move forward with the “heavy” work only because of our success in raising funds – we have the money to do what has been described above. There will be more expensive, specialized work to be done, in particular restoration or replacement of the air conditioning system. Donations continue to come in to support the restoration, and in the first four months of 2015 alone just over $45,000 has been received. The Electroliner campaign has raised over $550,000 since fund raising began just under two years ago!

Your continued help is needed, and you can get a nice authentic piece of the Liner by “Buying a Seat” for a donation of $300! To donate via credit card, call Jan Nunez (she works daily except Thurs/Fri) and talk to her ONLY. The number is: 815-923-4391 #2. Otherwise, use the address below.

Your donation can be made online by visiting the IRM online store.

You can also send a check to:

Campaign for the Electroliner
Illinois Railway Museum
PO BOX 427
Union, IL
60180

Thanks!

-Tom Sharratt

PS- The Electroliner fundraiser also has a Facebook page you can check out.

Editor’s Note: You can contact Tom directly at: tssharratt@mwt.net

Here is a very early picture. Not sure who took the original - not me. The color of the fabric is redder than what we are finding under the seats as we reupholster. Of course, what we are finding is AT LEAST 52 years old, more like at least 60.

Here is a very early picture. Not sure who took the original – not me. The color of the fabric is redder than what we are finding under the seats as we reupholster. Of course, what we are finding is AT LEAST 52 years old, more like at least 60.

This shows some of the work we are doing on the windows. Each is being opened and cleaned, metal repaired as necessary, and the “seal” or gasket replaced. This is probably the first time this work has ever been done - my guess only. The gaskets are all in need of replacement. PROBLEM: It is a non standard seal, therefore we will have to have a die made specially which will be the biggest cost. We’ll then order enough to do all our windows with a 50% overrun to cover mistakes in installation, etc. We have talked with Rockhill Trolley Museum about sharing some of this cost as they will want to do the same thing at some point - but they are a lot further from this stage than we are. Estimated cost: $12 - 15K. We have asked for grants to pay for this work, but none have been approved yet.

This shows some of the work we are doing on the windows. Each is being opened and cleaned, metal repaired as necessary, and the “seal” or gasket replaced. This is probably the first time this work has ever been done – my guess only. The gaskets are all in need of replacement. PROBLEM: It is a non standard seal, therefore we will have to have a die made specially which will be the biggest cost. We’ll then order enough to do all our windows with a 50% overrun to cover mistakes in installation, etc. We have talked with Rockhill Trolley Museum about sharing some of this cost as they will want to do the same thing at some point – but they are a lot further from this stage than we are. Estimated cost: $12 – 15K. We have asked for grants to pay for this work, but none have been approved yet.

This shows the motorman’s seat. Only a few swatches can be made from these - two have been sold already. If anyone is interested, get your order in soon.

This shows the motorman’s seat. Only a few swatches can be made from these – two have been sold already. If anyone is interested, get your order in soon.

This shows the motorman’s cabin gauge.

This shows the motorman’s cabin gauge.

Another shot of the liner on display in 2013.

Another shot of the liner on display in 2013.

This shows the animal illustrations in the lounge car. The Red Arrow lines left these, but replaced the ones in the coaches with Liberty Bells.

This shows the animal illustrations in the lounge car. The Red Arrow lines left these, but replaced the ones in the coaches with Liberty Bells.

This one shows a seat that will be reupholstered. You can see the material (cut) that Red Arrow installed; beneath it is the NSL fabric (I believe it was reupholstered once by the NSL.) A swatch of the red material is what will be given to those who “Buy a Seat” for $300. (Rod Turner Photo)

This one shows a seat that will be reupholstered. You can see the material (cut) that Red Arrow installed; beneath it is the NSL fabric (I believe it was reupholstered once by the NSL.) A swatch of the red material is what will be given to those who “Buy a Seat” for $300. (Rod Turner Photo)

This is one of a number of slides that I bought from Chuck Westerman. I have no idea who took the picture. It shows combine 253 outside the Harrison Street shops. Of special interest are the planks shown in the foreground between the nearest two tracks. These are the southern most of four tracks that went into the shop, and just outside the doors. They cover the transfer table that was built especially for removing the Liners' trucks.

This is one of a number of slides that I bought from Chuck Westerman. I have no idea who took the picture.
It shows combine 253 outside the Harrison Street shops. Of special interest are the planks shown in the foreground between the nearest two tracks. These are the southern most of four tracks that went into the shop, and just outside the doors. They cover the transfer table that was built especially for removing the Liners’ trucks.

(Rod Turner Photo)

(Rod Turner Photo)

An Electroliner at the Milwaukee terminal in 1949. (Trolley Dodger Collection - Photographer Unknown)

An Electroliner at the Milwaukee terminal in 1949. (Trolley Dodger Collection – Photographer Unknown)