Reader Showcase

On this Thanksgiving Day weekend, we here at the Trolley Dodger have many things to be thankful for… chiefly among them, our readers. This seems like a good time to feature recent correspondence with our very knowledgeable and astute readers.  We thank all our contributors.

I wish you the best in this upcoming holiday season.

-David Sadowski

Kim Bolan writes:

Just came across The Trolley Dodger and what a great and detailed work. It reminds me of my youth in Milwaukee riding No. 10 Line in Tosa (Wauwautosa) and also Speedrail. I have a question regarding #978. I lived in San Francisco but never saw this car in operation. Is it part of Muni’s heritage collection?

Just received this 35mm transparency (Kodak film and processing) from an unknown photographer taken September 1984 of car 978 at San Francisco, CA (see above).

Car 978 was loaned to San Francisco in the mid-1980s, intended for use in the SF Trolley Festival, but my understanding is it was damaged somehow and never operated there. As far as I know, the car is now at the East Troy Electric Railroad in Wisconsin, where it is stored inoperable.

There is a picture of it in SF in this post.

Here is the full story on what happened to 978, thanks to Larry Sakar:

Regarding the question about TM streetcar 978 in San Francisco, I know all about it. MUNI and TWERHS* worked out a deal whereby 978 was to be sent to San Francisco to participate in the very first Historic Streetcar Festival in 1983. It was not in the best of condition to begin with. En route, one of the truck bolsters (the 900’s were notorious for having bad bolsters) gave way and came through the floor (it was being trucked out there.) It was unloaded and brought to Geneva upper yard where it was parked in among some Boeing LRV’s. It made its way back to East Troy probably at the end of the festival in September and was never a part of the historic fleet. Now, here’s some additional info about it.

The 978 was saved by Mr. Al Buetschle, then of Milwaukee but since 1960 or 61 a resident of Oakley, CA. Oakley is in Contra Costa County about 60 miles NE of San Francisco. Oakley is a little “one-horse town” in what is known as the Tri-Delta region.

The streetcar was initially saved on behalf of the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club who gave Al the money to buy it. It would take pages for me to provide all of the details of the day he bought it. Frederick J. Johnson head of M&STC personally handled the sale. Al had told them he wanted a 900 and one from that group of 10 because they were the only ones with that metal sun shade over the center window.

When he got to Col Spring shops sure enough they had an 800 waiting. He refused to accept it. The car he really wanted was the 975 but it was too far back in the scrap line in lower Cold Spring yard. To get the 978 meant moving 3 cars ahead of it. Johnson was plenty mad about having to do that. So they get on the first car to be moved. Johnson puts a fuse in the fuse box. But then he stupidly cranks up the controller and blows the fuse.

This happens a second time so Al says, “Here, I’ll show you what to do!” Johnson immediately wants to know, “How do you know how to operate a streetcar?” Al tells him he was friendly with a motorman who taught him to run a car on the Rt. 10 West Allis branch between Calvary Cemetery cut and 67th St. Murray, the motorman would then take it from there since it involved descending from the former Rapid Transit line and making a safety stop before crossing 68th St.

Well, Dave, Johnson has an absolute fit!! *&%%^( (expletives deleted) I want his name.” Al says, “No. He has retired now that streetcars are gone so it doesn’t matter “In the end he got the 978 and Johnson even gave him his money back admiring him for his tenacity. Al had a friend who had access to a flatbed truck. Johnson let him drive 978 up from lower Cold Spring. The car was loaded onto the flatbed truck and taken to a piece of track adjacent to the C&NW and a lumber company at North 91st Street and West Flag Avenue on Milwaukee’s northwest side.

By this time the Kiwanis Club decided they didn’t want it so Al now owned it. He took out all the seats and repainted the interior before putting them back. He would work on 978 as his time permitted. The Kiwanis Club had the “brainy” idea of displaying the car in Hart Park in Wauwatosa. Hart Park is just down the private right-of-way (now a driveway) parallel to West State Street, east of the Harwood Avenue streetcar terminal at Harwood and State Streets (long gone).

In 1961, Al got a job as a controller for a company and moved to the Bay Area. No, he didn’t take 978 with him. It then ended up at the Mid-Continent Railway museum in North Freedom. In the mid to late ’60’s the group that is now TWERHS was formed and the car went with them to their first home in North Lake, WI. In 1972 they opened the East Troy Trolley Museum which is now under a different organization.

None of us are really sure where 978 is. It is in need of major restoration. At one time the rumor was that it was going to be sent to Brookville Equipment out east. They’re the company that does all the refurbishing of MUNI’s historic PCC fleet.

Did Al see it when it was in San Francisco? Yes he did. He has a fantastic picture he took with 978 and his red sports car (convertible). He is putting the trolley pole on the wire. I f I recall correctly his red car was a T-Bird. It was totaled about 10 years ago when he was hit by a group of teenagers out joy riding and who as you can probably guess were not insured.

I snapped a picture of it sitting in among the Boeing cars in 1983. I had to climb up on a narrow cement ledge and shot thru the openings in a cyclone fence. I’ll have to see if I still have it and if I do I will scan it and send it.

By the way, as a little boy of maybe 9 or 10 my grandparents came over one day. They said they were taking me to see something but wouldn’t tell me what. It was a surprise. Yes, it was the 978 at the lumber company. The Milwaukee Journal had run a small story about it with a picture. It had to be when Al was doing the repainting because I remember looking thru the glass in the door (I came up about as far as the bottom of the glass in the door. All of the seats were piled at that end of the car and I thought they were going to junk it.

My grandmother who had taken me on my streetcar rides on RT. 10 between about 1955 and 3-1-58 said she didn’t know. Who could ever have imagined that 30 years later I would meet the person who saved 978. One other coincidence, David. From 1978 to 1997 I worked for Security Savings & Loan Association on 2nd and Wisconsin downtown. The Corporate Secretary was a man named Walter Bruno. As it happens he was Al’s Godfather!

Thanks, Larry, for sharing the complete story.  There is a database of saved North American electric railcars, last updated in 2014, and that is my source for saying that, as far as I know, the 978 is at East Troy.

*The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society

Here’s more from Larry Sakar:

Here is the photo of 978 I took in September, 1983. The picture that follows was the Geneva car house which suffered severe damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. I think I took this in 1987 because that is a train with MUNI’s then new BREDA cars. Now they have new ones which I’ve only seen in pictures in Trains and Railfan & Railroad. The Market Street subway for MUNI was closed when I was there in 2017 because they were testing the new cars. If you look at the right hand side of the picture there’s that concrete wall I mentioned having to climb on top of and the fence I had to shoot thru.

The most popular cars during the Trolley Festival and in the event they hold for one day in September of every year (forgot its name) are the two Blackpool, England boat trams #’s 228 and 232. Here are some shots I took while riding it in 1983. Last, here is an Al Buetschle shot. It was taken at the site of the Speedrail 9-2-50 accident post Speedrail abandonment. Those are remnants from duplex 39-40 that was demolished by 1192-93.

The Milwaukee Electric Rapid Transit Freight Terminal

Larry Sakar writes:

It stood for 76 years, had four different owners and was razed in 2006 as part of the Marquette Interchange reconstruction project. I am talking about the Rapid Transit freight terminal building constructed by TM and opened in 1930 at 940 W. St. Paul Avenue.

TM fully expected that freight would play an important role in operations over the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line. Unfortunately, like the Rapid Transit Line itself which opened on Sept. 22, 1930 the timing couldn’t have been worse! As part of its planned freight operations TM acquired Motor Transport Company in 1930 from Yellow Trucking.

A decade later, TMER&T turned its back on all rail operations. Motor Transport Company was sold back to Yellow Trucking. Its trucks had a Transport Company orange cab and a silver trailer with the Transport Company diamond logo. But instead of saying The Transport Company, as the logo on busses and streetcars did, it said Motor Transport Company. I vividly recall seeing those trucks around Milwaukee. I always wondered how they could get away with using The Transport Company’s logo not knowing until years later that it had once been a part of the company.

TMER&T occupied offices on two floors of the eight-story terminal. Its successor, The Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. which succeeded it in late 1952 continued to have its corporate offices there until 1962 when they moved to 4212 W. Highland Blvd. The former Cold Spring shops buildings still stand, and have been sold for adaptive reuse. MCTS corporate offices are on North 17th St. & West Fond du Lac Avenue.

I took the “Now” photos in 2003. In 1940, in addition to selling off Motor Transport Co. TMER&T sold the Rapid Transit freight terminal building to GE Holdings. Sometime after `1938, the electric sign on the roof was changed to read “The Transport Company”. GE owned the building until 1971 when they sold it to Aldrich Chemical. The electric sign was removed altogether after M&STC moved out in 1962. When GE took over in 1940, “General Electric Building” was painted on just below the roof. Looking at my 2003 photos it would appear that they sand blasted that off when Aldrich Chemical took over in 1971.

I bought this photo from Don Ross a few years back. It is from the collection of Tom Manz. I don’t know if he is the person who took the picture but I kind of doubt it. I’ve no idea who did or why. It could be that they were plotting out the area so they could determine where they wanted the ramps to and from the soon to be built “High Rise Bridge” over the Menomonee River Valley would be constructed.

These are the ramps that take you from eastbound I-94 either north on I-43 or south on I-94. I-94 turns south to cross the valley so from this point east the road becomes I-794 which takes you east and then south over the Hoan Bridge. The High Rise bridge was built over a three-year period beginning in the summer of 1966. I know because my brother got a job working on its construction during summer break from college (Michigan State U. in East Lansing). I vividly remember my mother having an absolute fit about him working up there.

The view is looking south and slightly east. The former freight terminal is on the right hand side of the picture about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of the picture. Just put a finger on the right hand corner of the picture at the bottom and move it up and a bit left. That first visible street is North 10th Street. The Rapid Transit freight terminal is right at that corner. The factory directly across the street with the connecting pedestrian overpass is the Cutler-Hammer Company, still there today. The railroad tracks belong to the Milwaukee Road.

OK. Follow the street in front of the terminal to the left (east). Right where it dog-legs there is an open space. That is where Motor Transport Company was located. The intersection above and to the left is North 8th & W. St. Paul. Move your finger down slightly and that’s where the so called “temporary ramp” over the portal of the never completed subway had been. I’m not certain if any of that dark space beneath the 8th Street bridge could have been part of the unfinished subway. The street in the foreground with all of the traffic is Clybourn Street, which has been converted to the on and on ramp to I-94 which didn’t begin until 13th Street.

I have printed a copy of the first scan and with a ruler and magic marker put in the approximate route of the Rapid Transit from the turn off of Clybourn Street to the crossing of North 10th Street. The Hibernia Street one-block L began on the west side of North 10th Street. -Larry

More from Larry:

While browsing around on the “Net” recently I ran across this great picture credited to your Trolley Dodger website. I was wondering when it ran on your site as I don’t recall having seen it. Do you know where this is? I can tell you if you don’t. This is a northbound Port Washington train at the intersection of North 3rd and West Wells Streets. This is former dining car duplex 1196-97, which unlike its mate 1198-99 was never repainted in the yellow with green stripes paint scheme. The two trains were hated by both motormen and conductors alike, because their single door made them slow to load and unload passengers. Both became mainstays on the Port Washington line until it was abandoned in the KMCL ownership era on 3-28-48. The Port Washington destination sign dates the picture to sometime between 1940 and 1948. I do not recall the exact date but in 1940 service north of Port Washington was abandoned and a new loop installed in Port Washington west of the downtown area. Typical of TM’s notorious frugality, the bridge over Pike Creek just outside the new Port Washington Loop was the one that had once crossed the White River in Burlington.

I took these pictures in 1989 showing the ex TM Port Washington Station sitting on what little was left of the former loop. A Wisconsin Telephone Company building had been built over most of the loop. I’m not sure if it’s still there but the last picture I saw of it the building had undergone a complete remodeling and bore no resemblance to its original appearance.

Thanks for sharing the pictures and information. I am sure our readers will appreciate it.

The picture in question appeared here.

Don's Rail Photos says, "1196-1197 was built at Cold Spring in 1929. The second car was equipped with small dining facilities but it was shortly rebuilt with a baggage compartment at the rear end. It was stored at West Allis Station after a few years. In 1942 it was rebuilt with all coach and scrapped in 1952." This car is shown in downtown Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.

Don’s Rail Photos says, “1196-1197 was built at Cold Spring in 1929. The second car was equipped with small dining facilities but it was shortly rebuilt with a baggage compartment at the rear end. It was stored at West Allis Station after a few years. In 1942 it was rebuilt with all coach and scrapped in 1952.” This car is shown in downtown Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.

Steven G. writes:

Can anyone at Trolley Dodger help me out? I want to find photos of all FOUR sides of any of the Insull inspired Spanish stations. Don’t laugh… but I am actually going to have a 26′ x 70′ station built. I have a good photo of the Briergate station… but the other 3 sides: no present photos to look at.
THANKS!!!

I will look into this and see what I can do, thanks.

Dave…. Luck has it and I’m pretty happy with what I have for photos now. From the GEM (Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical publication)… I have a photo now of the back side of the Deeprpath station. Wasn’t sure what the “cube” on the back side was. Turns out – the Beverly Shores (Indiana) South Shore station has a sketch in it’s National Historic designation paperwork that shows the “cube” is the enclosure linking the back of the station with a basement under the station. (For some reason, none of the Insull Station’s had indoor stairs to their basements).

Anyway… with some Google earth street shots, I have the side of the station I was missing. Sooo… yes, I now have a view “all the way around” and can see what all four corners of the station looked like. Sadly, in comparing the Beverly Shores station with Briergate: the chimney at Briergate is gone and I suspect where that ugly red garage was placed took out the passenger side of the station. I can also see where Briergate no longer has the arched front door. The door frame has been altered for a rectangular storm door.

As I live about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Beverly Shores, I am going to drive my car from north of Detroit to Michigan City, hop on the South Shore, hop off at Beverly Shores with my camera, measuring tape, pencil and paper & I will then get ‘hands’ on measurements of windows, doors, etc. By the time I finish – I can hop on the train back to Michigan City. This will take less then half a day to do all this. But… I can put some serious numbers into these ‘station sketches’, & push onto actually putting together a construction blueprint!!!

You may already know this: photo set 1 is Deerpath (frt) Deerpath (bk) & below is the parking lot side of Beverly Shores sta. Photo set 2 is Beverly Shores (top) and Briergate (below).

This is great, thank you! I am sure others will enjoy seeing these pictures.

Steve G. replies:

Here’s the floor plan at all the Insull stations had… and a better photo of the station front door. Not sure WHY the residents installed a neon light sign over the passenger station… but it is still there and it’s lit each night at dusk (smiles)

Mitch Markovitz adds:

The neon sign at Beverly Shores Depot was not installed by the residents. It came with the depot when it was new in 1929. Touting the new development by Bartlett who had the railroad and Post Construction build the building. The Venango (River) guys had the neon sign repaired by Jeff Jolley back in ’85. It then had to be re-done again.

Recent Finds

Here are some of our own recent photo finds. These include some unrealized plans, dated December 9, 1970, showing how the City of Chicago intended to replace the Loop “L” with subways in stages. This was eventually abandoned as being too expensive, and the “L” looks to be here to stay as an iconic part of Chicago.

-David Sadowski

Wacker Drive construction at Madison Street on September 19, 1951. The view is looking north. An eastbound CTA PCC is on shoo-fly trackage. Note how dirty the Civic Opera House building is at left, most likely due to the widespread use of coal for heating in this era.

Wacker Drive construction at Madison Street on September 19, 1951. The view is looking north. An eastbound CTA PCC is on shoo-fly trackage. Note how dirty the Civic Opera House building is at left, most likely due to the widespread use of coal for heating in this era.

A close-up of the previous picture, showing the construction of Lower Wacker Drive.

A close-up of the previous picture, showing the construction of Lower Wacker Drive.

A City of Chicago rendering of the Wells Street Plaza, just east of the old Main Post Office, dated January 25, 1956.

A City of Chicago rendering of the Wells Street Plaza, just east of the old Main Post Office, dated January 25, 1956.

A photo of this "street car waiting room," located at 38th and Western, appeared in Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans' Association. Here is another view by Bob Selle, taken on January 30, 1954. This amenity was provided by a local merchant and, due to a fire, did not last long after the end of streetcar service in 1956.

A photo of this “street car waiting room,” located at 38th and Western, appeared in Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association. Here is another view by Bob Selle, taken on January 30, 1954. This amenity was provided by a local merchant and, due to a fire, did not last long after the end of streetcar service in 1956.

CTA 6165 is at 51st and Indiana Avenue on August 18, 1952, in this photo by Bob Selle.

CTA 6165 is at 51st and Indiana Avenue on August 18, 1952, in this photo by Bob Selle.

A Blast From the Past

Sean Hunnicutt writes:

I thought this might be a nice thing to revisit in Trolley Dodger or Chicago L Facebook page. Well done!

This was my attempt, long ago, in a galaxy far far away, to get Chicago to have a “circulator” streetcar of the type that several other cities have since built. From the Chicago Tribune, August 1, 1982.

Mystery Photo

A picture appeared in Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association (page 301), credited to Charles Thorpe, from the Wien-Criss Archive, showing a Chicago PCC streetcar at Clark and Wells. Someone posted this image to Facebook, and in response, another writer questioned the accuracy of the location, since Wells does not run into Clark today. This prompted some correspondence between me and Andre Kristopans.

CTA PCC 7201 is heading northbound at Clark and Wells on February 16, 1957, in this photo by Charles H. Thorpe, from the Wien-Criss Archive. It was the last streetcar to operate on the State-Broadway portion of Route 36.

CTA PCC 7201 is heading northbound at Clark and Wells on February 16, 1957, in this photo by Charles H. Thorpe, from the Wien-Criss Archive. It was the last streetcar to operate on the State-Broadway portion of Route 36.

The same location today.

The same location today.

Me:

When did the CTA put a bus turnaround where Lincoln, Clark, and Wells meet? When was it removed? (I assume, when Route 11 ended?)

Wells dead ends now, and doesn’t actually meet Clark. But did they meet at one time, and was Wells truncated?

Andre:

Close but no banana. Until the 1960s, Wells continued straight north until it merged into Clark. There was double track on Wells that joined tracks on Clark. Lincoln dead ended into Clark pretty much as it does today. The only part of Lincoln that had track in this area was a single track coming off the southbound Clark track that joined the northbound Wells track, roughly 50 feet long. This was erroneously referred to by CTA as “Menominee” in Armitage route descriptions. Menominee is actually a half block south and never had tracks. The hundred odd feet of Wells between Clark and Lincoln is the only thing missing.

Now the CTA built a terminal at Clark and Wisconsin, a block north, in the 70s. There was continuous and vehement opposition from the owner of the adjacent house from day one, and as a result in the 90s CTA gave up and closed it down. Armitage, Ogden, and some Lincoln buses used it. Look at the Armitage route history on the Irm-cta website for exact dates.

Thanks for the information… and we thank all our readers! Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

-David Sadowski

Recent Correspondence

Don Ross writes:

I thought your readers might enjoy seeing this photo from my collection. It shows a westbound 800 on the private right-of-way heading for the Harwood Avenue terminal. (The way to tell an 800 from a 900 is by the front center window. 800s had a much narrower center window than the 900s.) It’s hard to make out but State Street is to the left of the poles in this picture (where you see the jumble of white colored buildings. The RR tracks to the right of it belonged to the Milwaukee Road back then. This stretch of private right-of-way was a favorite for photographers.

Just east of this point the streetcars made an “S” turn to the right (south, cut across a roughly 3/4 block patch of r.o.w. and then emerged on a street called Motor Avenue where they ran east for a little over a block to North 68th Street. At 68th they turned right, crossed the Menomonee River for the second time, and climbed the hill to West Wells Street. Here they turned left to head east on Wells all the way to downtown Milwaukee. Before getting there, the cars would cross the Menomonee River a third time on the famous Wells Street streetcar trestle.

Never has a bridge terrified so many people! My first streetcar rides in Milwaukee occurred when I was about 5 and ended on the last day 3-1-58. My grandmother and I got off the car on each end of the trestle and rode across several times so, as she said, “You’ll always remember it” and I do. She would always prep me as the car was about to cross, “Now, don’t be afraid.” Are you kidding? I loved every minute of it and yes, I never forgot the experience. Actually, Dave, I think she was the one who was afraid. It was remarkable to watch how people either stared straight ahead or kept their eyes on the magazine or newspaper they were reading.

After streetcars quit on 3-1-58 the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. donated the trestle to the city of Milwaukee. The city debated for two years as to what to do with it but in the end it was dismantled in 1960. In all the years that trestle served the streetcars, and in the earliest days interurban trains, there was never an accident or derailment of any kind. However, the bridge was notorious for drivers who had imbibed a bit too much of the product “that made Milwaukee famous,” some of which was brewed by Miller Brewing at the east end of the trestle, tried driving across. If bouncing along the ties and rails didn’t sober them up the damage to their tires and front end suspension sure did along with the traffic citation, and a bill from the Transport Co. for removal of their car and any damage done to the trestle.

The late Lew Martin, a member of the Railroad Historical Foundation also known as the “607 gang” for Milwaukee streetcar 607 which they purchased in March of 1949 and were in the process of restoring a Hibernia St. yards just east of the Rapid Transit freight terminal at 940 W. St. Paul Ave. told me that he and a group of his friends would wait at the end of the Wells Street trestle usually the west end. That was a stop. They would climb onto the back end while holding on to the trolley rope and ride across. Lew commented, “Boy, if my mother had ever found out what I’d been doing I’d have been in a lot of trouble!”

Another former Milwaukeean, Mr. “Pete” Rogers who by the 1980’s when I got to know him was living in Bullhead City, AZ told the story of a school trip on the streetcar from his high school, Juneau High, which was a few blocks north of the Rapid Transit line when the line was there to the Milwaukee Public Museum downtown on 8th and Wisconsin. The Central Library and Public Museum used to occupy the same building. Today, the museum has its own building on 8th and Wells. Anyway, boys will be boys. Streetcars had bars across the lower part of the windows to prevent kids from sticking their hands out. One of his buddies discovered that a set of the bars below the window at which they were seated were loose. They managed to work an entire panel of bars loose and thinking it would be great fun, lifted it up and sent it sailing over the railing of the viaduct where it came crashing down in the parking lot of the Hilty-Forster Lumber Company 80 feet below. They thought it was a great prank until the next day. The class was called to the school auditorium. Up on stage stood the principal and a Transport Company supervisor. Oh, Oh! No one would admit who did it so the whole class got punished and had to pay for repairs to the streetcar and damages to the parking lot. What seemed like a great prank could have had serious consequences if that set of bars had hit someone.

My father told me that as kids they used to put these big firecrackers he called “Salutes” on the streetcar tracks and watch as the trucks went over them causing them to lift off the rails.

In the days prior to 1937, Rt 10 cars continued past the Harwood terminal and climbed the hill on the way out to the Muirdale Sanitorium. Streetcars carried a destination sign that read Rt 10 WAUCOBLDG. That was TM shorthand for Wauwatosa County Buildings.

TM 905, looking west at the Harwood Avenue terminal.

TM 905, looking west at the Harwood Avenue terminal.

Same location ca. 1990's. Larry Sakar photo

Same location ca. 1990’s. Larry Sakar photo

Looking east on Motor Avenue in Wauwautosa. Note evidence of tracks in the pavement.

Looking east on Motor Avenue in Wauwautosa. Note evidence of tracks in the pavement.

A 900-series car (953?), eastbound entering Motor Avenue on Route 10. (Don Ross Photo)

A 900-series car (953?), eastbound entering Motor Avenue on Route 10. (Don Ross Photo)

An 800-series car near 71st and State, heading westbound on route 10.

An 800-series car near 71st and State, heading westbound on route 10.

Now Available On Compact Disc
CDLayout33p85
RRCNSLR
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99

Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14
[/caption]


Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 3Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 2Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 1Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 2Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 1Tape 2 Mundeline pic 3Tape 2 Mundeline pic 2Tape 2 Mundeline pic 1Tape 1 ElectrolinerTape 1 Electroliner pic 3Tape 1 Electroliner pic 2Notes from tape 4Note from tape 2

RRC-OMTT
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Price: $24.99


Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes

Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include:

Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern
$5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere.
Disc One
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick):
01. 3:45 Box motor #5
02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953
03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954
04. 4:13 Loco #12
Capital Transit:
05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953
06. 1:43
Altoona & Logan Valley:
07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit:
08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953
09. 4:04
10. 1:39
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s:
11. 4:35 August 27, 1954
12. 4:51
Illinois Terminal:
13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955
14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955
Baltimore Transit:
15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954
16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto:
17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954
18. 5:20 #80, October 1954
Total time: 79:30
Disc Two
St. Louis Public Service:
01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953
Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City):
02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954
03. 5:17
Third Avenue El (New York City):
04. 5:07 December 31. 1954
05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954
Southern Iowa Railway:
06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955
07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9
IND Subway (New York City):
08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954
Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick:
09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr.
Total time: 61:31
Disc Three
Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction:
01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953)
Cincinnati Street Railway:
02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951)
Toledo & Eastern:
03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958)
Capital Transit:
04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s)
Total time: 74:02
Total time (3 discs) – 215:03



The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938-- Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.

While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!

Bibliographic information:
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960
Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:

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Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo) Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 242nd post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 568,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

Holiday Spirit

Here's Eric Bronsky's 2017 holiday card. Alluding to some Comments that were made about a different picture in our last post (Reader Showcase, 12-11-2017), we are certain that this image of the new Chicago Transit Authority "L" station at Washington and Wabash has been worked over in Photoshop. But such is our desire to see North Shore Line trains running again, that we freely admit we believe it must be true!*

Here’s Eric Bronsky’s 2017 holiday card. Alluding to some Comments that were made about a different picture in our last post (Reader Showcase, 12-11-2017), we are certain that this image of the new Chicago Transit Authority “L” station at Washington and Wabash has been worked over in Photoshop. But such is our desire to see North Shore Line trains running again, that we freely admit we believe it must be true!*

Christmas Eve is here once again, and we’re sharing some holiday joy from our readers. Thanks to everyone who let us use their pictures. Whatever your beliefs, we hope for a joyous holiday season for all.

-David Sadowski

From John F. Bromley:

From Kenneth Gear:

From Alan Wickens:

Alan Wickens produces a monthly magazine about Wellington, New Zealand’s (now former) trolleybus system. This was the November ‘special’ to mark the very last day of trolleybus operation there. Click this link to read it.

From Bob Carroll:

Pittsburgh, 1975.

Pittsburgh, 1975.

From Charles Seims:

Jack Bejna writes:

Here’s an early Xmas present for the blog. My favorite CA&E cars are by far the original several orders of woodies, especially before they lost their original window configuration. It’s too bad we didn’t have modern cameras to capture these wooden beauties in all their original configuration. Merry Christmas and a great New Year as well.

And I know I join our readers in wishing the same to you as well, thanks!

CA&E 12 was built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 12 was built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 14, built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 14, built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 24, built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 24, built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 26, built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 26, built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 30, built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 30, built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 34, built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 34, built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 46, built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 46, built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 48 as new. It was built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 48 as new. It was built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 54 was built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 54 was built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 103, a trailer, was built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 103, a trailer, was built by Stephenson in 1902.

Recent Finds

Here are three Red Border Kodachrome slides we recently acquired, plus one circular:

A train of CTA 4000s prepares to head east at DesPlaines Avenue, west end of the Garfield Park "L", on May 26, 1956.

A train of CTA 4000s prepares to head east at DesPlaines Avenue, west end of the Garfield Park “L”, on May 26, 1956.

A two-car Chicago Aurora & Elgin train loops at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park on May 26, 1956, while a CTA Route 17 bus waits in the background. That was the replacement service for the Westchester branch of the "L", which uit in 1951.

A two-car Chicago Aurora & Elgin train loops at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park on May 26, 1956, while a CTA Route 17 bus waits in the background. That was the replacement service for the Westchester branch of the “L”, which uit in 1951.

On July 4, 1953, we are looking north from the stairway to the CTA's "L" station at State and Van Buren. Streetcars are still running on State Street, via tracks laid in concrete about ten years before when the State Street subway was built. The nearby subway entrances are in their original configuration. State did not get those "preying mantis" street lights until 1959.

On July 4, 1953, we are looking north from the stairway to the CTA’s “L” station at State and Van Buren. Streetcars are still running on State Street, via tracks laid in concrete about ten years before when the State Street subway was built. The nearby subway entrances are in their original configuration. State did not get those “preying mantis” street lights until 1959.

Unfortunately, one tour that you can't take via interurban any longer...

Unfortunately, one tour that you can’t take via interurban any longer…

Santa Is Coming…

The Santa Maria Valley Railroad, that is, in vintage 1959 recordings prepared for the Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, Wisconsin, but previously unissued, now digitally remastered for your enjoyment on compact disc:

From the introduction to the record:

This is Pete Brett. What you are about to hear is a recording of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad in 1959. Engine number 21, Mikado type, 2-8-2, oil burning.

Regular service in 1959, on the Santa Maria Valley, freight only. My recording depicts a composite of different recordings, of different operations. Our train switches in Santa Maria, some switching operation at the John Inglis Frozen Food Company, just outside Santa Maria, which we’ll hear some sounds of mechanical reefers, along with whistles.

Some on-line recordings, as the train proceeds to Betteravia Junction. There, some of the cars are cut out, the engine backs up to Betteravaia, switches, drops off some cars, picks some up, goes back to Betteravia Junction, picks up the rest of the train; we proceed on to Guadalupe, and our junction with the Southern Pacific. There, some switching operations, as some cars are dropped off, others picked up. Later on, the train returns to Betteravaia Junction. Once again, the train splits in two, part of it going to Betteravia, the switching operation there, the train then proceeding on to Santa Maria.

Santa Maria Valley Railroad, 1959.

The remainder of the CD includes 14 additional steam railroad tracks recorded by William A. Steventon, for use in a presentation he gave, demonstrating various types of sounds involved in basic railroad operations.

Total Time: 70:26

A History of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad

From the railroad’s website:

The Santa Maria Valley Railroad (SMVRR.com) has a rich and interesting history, and can be credited, at least in large part, with the Santa Maria Valley becoming an economic powerhouse by building up primarily the agricultural and industrial segments of its economy.

The Santa Maria Valley Railroad commenced construction on July 11, 1911 by an English oil syndicate to haul oil and asphalt from Roadamite to Guadalupe. The SMVRR reached Santa Maria on October 7, 1911 and was completed to Roadamite on November 5, 1911. The SMVRR took over switching operations for Union Sugar Plant. The railroad was initially successful but in the 1920s the sugar plant closed and the railroad drifted into bankruptcy in 1925.

Captain G. Allan Hancock purchased the railroad in 1925 in a bankruptcy auction on the steps of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and proceeded to build many industries which complemented the railroad. Captain Hancock built a state of the art, fully-equipped engine house to maintain his locomotives and equipment. He invested heavily in the railroad, installing new ties and new rail, and buying locomotives. Captain Hancock developed agriculture in the Santa Maria Valley, introducing new irrigation methods, and invested heavily in packing sheds, an ice plant, and Rosemary Farms. By the mid 1930s the SMVRR was hauling many carloads of sugar beets to the Union Sugar Plant in Betteravia, and crude oil and vegetables out of the valley. The SMVRR was one of the busiest shortline railroads on the west, hauling over 20,000 carloads per year.

At the start of World War II, the SMVRR purchased the old Pacific Coast (narrow gauge) Railroad right-of-way to the Airbase, now the location of the Santa Maria Airport. The Airbase Branch is actually the oldest railroad right-of-way on the SMVRR system, originally constructed in April 1882. In fact, the Airbase Branch is the only Pacific Coast right-of-way still in operation as a railroad.

Roadamite ceased operations in the late 1940s and the line was abandoned from Sisquoc to Roadamite in 1949. The last major track construction was in 1950 when the Battles Branch was built to service a refinery.

The SMVRR was one of the last railroads on the West Coast to run main line steam locomotives. On February 24, 1962, the last run of steam engine 21, with Captain Hancock at the throttle and Walt Disney in the cab, occurred. The SMVRR had purchased its first diesel-electric locomotives, the GE 70-tonners, in 1948. The GE 70-tonners proved to be excellent work horses for the SMVRR and they eventually displaced the steam locomotives.

Captain Hancock passed away in 1965. Two Hancock family trusts took over the SMVRR: the Marian Mullen Trust, controlled by Hancock’s third wife Marian Hancock; and the Rosemary Trust, the descendants of Rosemary, Hancock’s only daughter. Through the years many of the loose carload merchandise business went to trucking and by the late 1970s the fresh vegetable market was gone. Oil produced in the valley eventually left the rails. In August 1993, Holly Sugar closed down the sugar plant in Betteravia. This resulted in the loss of 90% of the railroad’s remaining traffic. The Hancock Trusts eventually concentrated on their more lucrative real estate holdings and the railroad continued to lose its customer base.

The Rosemary Trust took complete control of the railroad in 1999 and worked to turn the fortunes around for the railroad. An intense marketing campaign brought some new customers aboard. The railroad divested its right-of-way east of Highway 101 in Santa Maria and the main line trackage was reduced to 14 miles.

In October 2006 the SMVRR was purchased by the Coast Belle Rail Corporation from the descendants of the Hancock family, ending more than 80 years of control by the Hancock Family. New ownership embarked on a daunting task of rebuilding the line and rebuilding the customer base. To raise public and customer awareness and to raise much needed capital, the SMVRR hosted special events and dinner excursions.

On November 9, 2006 the SMVRR chartered the private car Silver Lariat for a freight customer appreciation excursion. That night was the first public excursion since 1962. On December 9, 2006 the SMVRR held its first ever public open house, the first of several events to reintroduce the public to the railroad. On the weekend of April 5, 2008 the former SMVRR Railbus No. 9 made a cameo appearance during a Motorcar Operators West excursion.

In September 2008 the SMVRR moved its yard and office facilities out of downtown Santa Maria and relocated at the former sugar plant in Betteravia. The new location offers full transload services with team track, dock track and ramp track as well as many acres of on-ground storage.

In July 2016, the SMVRR Headquarters relocates to its new Osburn Yard.

Today, history continues to be made. The past two years were the busiest since the sugar beet plant closed in 1993. New customers have come on board as well as current customers increasing their carloadings. The SMVRR is now a full-service shortline railroad company, performing contract switching, contract track repairs and inspections, and car repairs.

Friends of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad

The Friends of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad (Friends-SMVRR.org) was formed in 2007 to preserve the history of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad and to educate its members on the current railroad industry. Tours and lectures cover the current railroad business, railroad safety, as well as the history of the railroad.

On May 13, 2017, the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum opened an exhibit entitled, “Two Centuries…One Dream”, the story of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad.

Here are some pictures taken on the occasion of the last steam operation on the Santa Maria Valley on February 24, 1962. I would expect that the “Ward” in one picture was Ward Kimball (1914-2002), one of Disney’s “Nine Old Men”:

A dream that fortunately did not come true: CHICAGO'S LOOP ELEVATED TRACKS TO GO January 4, 1974 - This is a view looking south of the Elevated tracks of Chicago's CTA system on Wabash Avenue. This section along with other portions that formed "The Loop" is scheduled to be taken down sometime in the future with the building of a subway that is to take its place.

A dream that fortunately did not come true:

CHICAGO’S LOOP ELEVATED TRACKS TO GO
January 4, 1974 – This is a view looking south of the Elevated tracks of Chicago’s CTA system on Wabash Avenue. This section along with other portions that formed “The Loop” is scheduled to be taken down sometime in the future with the building of a subway that is to take its place.

*Here’s the original message Eric sent out with his card:

40 years ago, who would have imagined that Chicago’s Loop ‘L,’ long reviled as an eyesore and a deterrent to urban revitalization, would one day be viewed as an iconic landmark? The turnaround began soon after the city axed a harebrained scheme to tear down the ‘L’ and replace it with a single subway route under Franklin Street. Property values adjacent to the structure have since risen, and in mild weather you can even dine at a sidewalk café in the shadow of the ‘L’ (Mort’s Deli once offered “‘L’-egant dining under the cars”).

To date, the 120-year-old Loop ‘L’ structure has been restored and all except two of the aging stations have been renovated or replaced. Most recently, Washington/Wabash, a completely new and accessible ‘L’ station with wide platforms beneath a striking glass-and-steel canopy with LED lighting replaced two historic but obsolete stations at Randolph and Madison Streets.

In the spirit of CTA’s annual Holiday Train and Elves’ Workshop Train, and also the “Heritage Fleet,” we digitally enhanced the new Washington/Wabash station with some red-and-green stuff. The North Shore train is grafted from an original photo by William E. Robertson. The elf (someone you know?) is waiting for the train to Santa’s workshop. You might need to enlarge the image to spot some of the other oddities. It’s sort of like a “What’s wrong with this picture” … or should we say, “What’s right with this picture?”

— Eric

Chicago Trolleys

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

Check out our new book Chicago Trolleys. Signed copies are available through our Online Store.

HOLIDAY SPECIAL! This book makes an excellent gift. For a limited time only, we have reduced the price to just $17.99 plus shipping. That’s $4.00 off the regular price.

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 203rd post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 351,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.