A Chicago Traction Valentine

This "red border" Kodachrome shows CTA salt car AA-104 at South Shops on January 4, 1956. Don's Rail Photos says, "AA104, salt car, was built by South Chicago City Ry in 1907 as SCCRy 339. It was rebuilt in 1907 and became C&SCRy (Calumet and South Chicago Railway) 838 in 1908. It was renumbered 2853 in 1913 and became CSL 2853 in 1914. It was later converted as a salt car and renumbered AA104 in 1948. It was retired on December 14, 1956." This was one of the few railroad-roof cars on the Chicago system. The main color here is Pullman Green. (James J. Buckley Photo)

This “red border” Kodachrome shows CTA salt car AA-104 at South Shops on January 4, 1956. Don’s Rail Photos says, “AA104, salt car, was built by South Chicago City Ry in 1907 as SCCRy 339. It was rebuilt in 1907 and became C&SCRy (Calumet and South Chicago Railway) 838 in 1908. It was renumbered 2853 in 1913 and became CSL 2853 in 1914. It was later converted as a salt car and renumbered AA104 in 1948. It was retired on December 14, 1956.” This was one of the few railroad-roof cars on the Chicago system. The main color here is Pullman Green. (James J. Buckley Photo)

After our recent forays to the East Coast, part of a series by guest contributor Kenneth Gear, we are back in Sweet Home Chicago for this one. Watch this space for additional posts in Ken’s series.

Although we are a few days late for Valentine’s Day, we nonetheless have many photographic gifts for Chicago-area traction fans in today’s post, that constitute a virtual Valentine to our readers. First, we have some recent finds. Next, a few color slides courtesy of William Shapotkin. Then, a bevy of classic black-and-white images taken by the late Robert Selle, one of the greatest railfan photographers.

We also have a book review, and there are two new audio CD collections in our ongoing efforts to digitize 1950s steam railroad audio for the 21st Century.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

When the CTA opened the five-mile long Skokie Swift branch in April 1964 (over a small portion of the former North Shore Line) ridership far exceeded expectations. So the four articulated 5000-series cars were quickly renovated and adapted for Swift service. These were experimental when built in 1947-48 and became "oddballs" on the CTA system. Here, we see car 51 (renumbered from 5001) in October 1964 at Kostner. These cars continued to run into the 1980s. Two of the four sets were saved, and this set is now at the Fox River Trolley Museum. (Color correction by J. J. Sedelmaier)

When the CTA opened the five-mile long Skokie Swift branch in April 1964 (over a small portion of the former North Shore Line) ridership far exceeded expectations. So the four articulated 5000-series cars were quickly renovated and adapted for Swift service. These were experimental when built in 1947-48 and became “oddballs” on the CTA system. Here, we see car 51 (renumbered from 5001) in October 1964 at Kostner. These cars continued to run into the 1980s. Two of the four sets were saved, and this set is now at the Fox River Trolley Museum. (Color correction by J. J. Sedelmaier)

Three CTA trains of 6000-series "L"/Subway cars are lined up by the old Tower 18 in the early 1950s. As you can see, with the tower in the middle of the junction, not all moves could be made. For example, eastbound trains coming from Lake Street could not go straight east, but had to turn south. At this time, traffic on both the inner and outer Loop tracks went in the same direction (counter-clockwise). This arrangement was changed in 1969 when the CTA wanted to through-route Lake with the new Dan Ryan line. The tower was moved and replaced with a new one, and new eastbound trackage was built where the old tower was. That was also the beginning of bi-directional operations on the Loop, which continue to this day.

Three CTA trains of 6000-series “L”/Subway cars are lined up by the old Tower 18 in the early 1950s. As you can see, with the tower in the middle of the junction, not all moves could be made. For example, eastbound trains coming from Lake Street could not go straight east, but had to turn south. At this time, traffic on both the inner and outer Loop tracks went in the same direction (counter-clockwise). This arrangement was changed in 1969 when the CTA wanted to through-route Lake with the new Dan Ryan line. The tower was moved and replaced with a new one, and new eastbound trackage was built where the old tower was. That was also the beginning of bi-directional operations on the Loop, which continue to this day.

One-man CSL 3117 is eastbound on 18th Street at Carpenter (approx. 1100 West) in the 1940s. Don's Rail Photos: "3117 was built by CSL in 1922. It was scrapped in 1948." This was part of a series known as CSL Safety Cars, aka "Sewing Machines." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

One-man CSL 3117 is eastbound on 18th Street at Carpenter (approx. 1100 West) in the 1940s. Don’s Rail Photos: “3117 was built by CSL in 1922. It was scrapped in 1948.” This was part of a series known as CSL Safety Cars, aka “Sewing Machines.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The same location today.

The same location today.

Two CTA PCCs (4064 and 4115) and red car 368, all Pullmans, at Kedzie Station (Fifth and Kedzie) on August 22, 1953. The main portion of Route 20 - Madison was converted to bus on December 13 of that year, and the Fifth Avenue branch continued for a few more months as a shuttle operation. The PCC at left is in its original colors (Mercury Green, Croydon Cream and Swamp Holly Orange), while the one in the center has been repainted in Everglade Green and Alpine White. (Robert Selle Photo)

Two CTA PCCs (4064 and 4115) and red car 368, all Pullmans, at Kedzie Station (Fifth and Kedzie) on August 22, 1953. The main portion of Route 20 – Madison was converted to bus on December 13 of that year, and the Fifth Avenue branch continued for a few more months as a shuttle operation. The PCC at left is in its original colors (Mercury Green, Croydon Cream and Swamp Holly Orange), while the one in the center has been repainted in Everglade Green and Alpine White. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA Postwar PCC 7200, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, at 81st and Halsted on January 2, 1954. This was the south end of Route 22, Clark-Wentworth. It's been pointed out to me that fans took a lot of pictures at this location, but here we had the opportunity to purchase the original medium-format neg, and not just a print. Notice the dents on the front of 7200. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA Postwar PCC 7200, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, at 81st and Halsted on January 2, 1954. This was the south end of Route 22, Clark-Wentworth. It’s been pointed out to me that fans took a lot of pictures at this location, but here we had the opportunity to purchase the original medium-format neg, and not just a print. Notice the dents on the front of 7200. (Robert Selle Photo)

"One-man PCC 4021, now northbound on the (private right-of-way) portion of the South Cottage Grove line." This was on May 30, 1955. 4021 is now the only preserved prewar PCC, and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert Selle Photo)

“One-man PCC 4021, now northbound on the (private right-of-way) portion of the South Cottage Grove line.” This was on May 30, 1955. 4021 is now the only preserved prewar PCC, and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert Selle Photo)

Color Slides, Courtesy of William Shapotkin:

"Looking westbound on (North) Lake Street toward Austin Boulevard., cars 3153 and 1757, woring CTA Lake Street line, lay over at west end-of-line. In distance (SW corner of Lake and Austin in Oak Park), a bus working the Chicago & West Towns Lake Street line takes its layover. May 15, 1954." (About two weeks before the end of streetcar service on Route 16).

“Looking westbound on (North) Lake Street toward Austin Boulevard., cars 3153 and 1757, woring CTA Lake Street line, lay over at west end-of-line. In distance (SW corner of Lake and Austin in Oak Park), a bus working the Chicago & West Towns Lake Street line takes its layover. May 15, 1954.” (About two weeks before the end of streetcar service on Route 16).

"Chicago, IL. CTA car #3153, working an eastbound trip on Route 16 - Lake, is eastbound in (North) Lake Street, having just crossed over Central Avenue. View looks west/northwest from the Chicago & North Western embankment. May 15, 1954."

“Chicago, IL. CTA car #3153, working an eastbound trip on Route 16 – Lake, is eastbound in (North) Lake Street, having just crossed over Central Avenue. View looks west/northwest from the Chicago & North Western embankment. May 15, 1954.”

CTA 1812 at Lake and Pine in February 1953, heading west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L", which was elevated onto the adjacent embankment in 1962. Pine is where Route 16 streetcars crossed the "L" to go from what was then called South Lake Street to North Lake Street. In 1964, the South Lake Street portion in this area was renamed Corcoran Place, after the death of the local alderman. (Thanks to J. J. Sedelmaier for twerking, er "tweaking" this one to make it look better.)

CTA 1812 at Lake and Pine in February 1953, heading west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”, which was elevated onto the adjacent embankment in 1962. Pine is where Route 16 streetcars crossed the “L” to go from what was then called South Lake Street to North Lake Street. In 1964, the South Lake Street portion in this area was renamed Corcoran Place, after the death of the local alderman. (Thanks to J. J. Sedelmaier for twerking, er “tweaking” this one to make it look better.)

The same location today (Lake and Pine). This is where Lake Street takes a jog to the north side of the former Chicago & North Western embankment, and the CSL/CTA Route 16 streetcar went along with it. Since Lake Street pretty much split in two at this point, the section west of here (behind the photographer) was referred to as either North Lake or South Lake, depending on which side of the embankment you were on. This was a reasonable system, since there were no duplicate street numbers. But in 1964, the south portion between Pine and Austin (a distance of just over half a mile) was renamed Corcoran Place, after the local alderman, an ally of then-Mayor Richard J. Daley's, who died suddenly from a heart attack. The "L" was relocated onto the embankment in 1962 and the street it was in (either Lake Street, South Lake Street aka Corcoan Place, or South Boulevard in Oak Park) made wider, or made into parking lots.

The same location today (Lake and Pine). This is where Lake Street takes a jog to the north side of the former Chicago & North Western embankment, and the CSL/CTA Route 16 streetcar went along with it. Since Lake Street pretty much split in two at this point, the section west of here (behind the photographer) was referred to as either North Lake or South Lake, depending on which side of the embankment you were on. This was a reasonable system, since there were no duplicate street numbers. But in 1964, the south portion between Pine and Austin (a distance of just over half a mile) was renamed Corcoran Place, after the local alderman, an ally of then-Mayor Richard J. Daley’s, who died suddenly from a heart attack. The “L” was relocated onto the embankment in 1962 and the street it was in (either Lake Street, South Lake Street aka Corcoan Place, or South Boulevard in Oak Park) made wider, or made into parking lots.

"Chicago, IL. CTA car #4333 brings up the rear of an eastbound Lake Street "L" train. View looks east from Lake/Laramie station. Note pull-offs for overhead trolley wire, used west from Laramie station. June 23, 1959,"

“Chicago, IL. CTA car #4333 brings up the rear of an eastbound Lake Street “L” train. View looks east from Lake/Laramie station. Note pull-offs for overhead trolley wire, used west from Laramie station. June 23, 1959,”

"Chicago, IL. Looking westbound on CTA's Lake Street "L" at (South) Lake Street (now Corcoran Place), at Menard Avenue. Line car #S200 is seen doing wire work. In distance is the Austin/Lake "L" station. At right (on embankment) is one-time "Boulevard" Chicago & North Western station (located at Austin Boulevard). May 27, 1960." Don Ross: "S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1924."

“Chicago, IL. Looking westbound on CTA’s Lake Street “L” at (South) Lake Street (now Corcoran Place), at Menard Avenue. Line car #S200 is seen doing wire work. In distance is the Austin/Lake “L” station. At right (on embankment) is one-time “Boulevard” Chicago & North Western station (located at Austin Boulevard). May 27, 1960.” Don Ross: “S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1924.”

"Oak Park, IL. A pair of 4000s, working a westbound trip on CTA's Lake Street "L", are on South Boulevard at Kenilworth Avenue. Visible in distance (on embankment) is one-time "Avenue" Chicago & North Western passenger station, located at Oak Park Avenue. View looks east on January 18, 1962."

“Oak Park, IL. A pair of 4000s, working a westbound trip on CTA’s Lake Street “L”, are on South Boulevard at Kenilworth Avenue. Visible in distance (on embankment) is one-time “Avenue” Chicago & North Western passenger station, located at Oak Park Avenue. View looks east on January 18, 1962.”

In the center, we see the portal at the north end of the State Street subway, just south of Armitage. The two middle "L" tracks were moved to the outer edge of the structure when the subway was built. The "L" continued south from this point with four tracks to Chicago Avenue. In recent years, the two outer tracks have been removed, and just a siding remains at this point.

In the center, we see the portal at the north end of the State Street subway, just south of Armitage. The two middle “L” tracks were moved to the outer edge of the structure when the subway was built. The “L” continued south from this point with four tracks to Chicago Avenue. In recent years, the two outer tracks have been removed, and just a siding remains at this point.

Chicago, Burlington & Qunict locomotive 4978 in Mendota, IL on September 2, 2010 with a Metra Electric (ex-Illinois Central "Highliner" at left. Both are at the Union Depot Railroad Museum. (Mike Sosalla Photo)

Chicago, Burlington & Qunict locomotive 4978 in Mendota, IL on September 2, 2010 with a Metra Electric (ex-Illinois Central “Highliner” at left. Both are at the Union Depot Railroad Museum. (Mike Sosalla Photo)

Classic Bob Selle Images

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know that the late Robert Selle (1929-2013) was an excellent photographer who specialized in black-and-white. As with many other railfan photographers, his extensive collection of images got scattered after his death.

Now and again, some of them pop up on eBay, but not always identified as his work in the auction listings. Fortunately, Selle is one of those few photographers whose work can be recognized at a glance, as it is often a cut above the rest.

Over the years, we have purchased a few Bob Selle negatives, which have been featured on this blog (including three in today’s post).

In 2011, Jeff Wien and the late Bradley Criss visited Mr. Selle in Florida, and he generously allowed them to scan some of his negatives. Tragically, Bradley Criss passed away in 2016 (you can read an appreciation of him here). He would have been 55 years old on February 4th.

As a tribute to both Bob Selle and Bradley Criss, here is a selection from the images they scanned, courtesy of Jeff Wien and the Wien-Criss Archive.

CTA Pullman 495 at Limits Station (car barn), so named because it was once at the north end of the city limits when first built. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 495 at Limits Station (car barn), so named because it was once at the north end of the city limits when first built. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 581 at Milwaukee and Clinton, in front of Chicago & North Western steam loco 1564. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 581 at Milwaukee and Clinton, in front of Chicago & North Western steam loco 1564. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4200 northbound on Clark near Montrose. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4200 northbound on Clark near Montrose. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA postwar PCC 4224 (a Pullman) at the Limits car barn. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA postwar PCC 4224 (a Pullman) at the Limits car barn. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The group photo from the last Chicago streetcar fantrip on May 25, 1958. This was less than a month before the end of streetcar service in Chicago. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The group photo from the last Chicago streetcar fantrip on May 25, 1958. This was less than a month before the end of streetcar service in Chicago. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6136 on the Museum Loop in Grant Park, just east of the Illinois Central Electric. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6136 on the Museum Loop in Grant Park, just east of the Illinois Central Electric. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA snow sweeper E223 was saved from destruction by Dick Lukin, and it is shown here in 1958, on its way to the Illinois Electric Railway Museum site in North Chicago. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA snow sweeper E223 was saved from destruction by Dick Lukin, and it is shown here in 1958, on its way to the Illinois Electric Railway Museum site in North Chicago. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A young (and shiirtless) Nick Kallas at the ERHS (Electric Railway Historical Society) site in Downers Grove, where streetcars such as Chicago & West Towns 141, shown here, were stored between 1959 and 1973, when the collection went to the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A young (and shiirtless) Nick Kallas at the ERHS (Electric Railway Historical Society) site in Downers Grove, where streetcars such as Chicago & West Towns 141, shown here, were stored between 1959 and 1973, when the collection went to the Illinois Railway Museum. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 433, built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927. The tower, just barely visible at rear, was part of Wheaton Yard. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 433, built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927. The tower, just barely visible at rear, was part of Wheaton Yard. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CA&E 453, a 1945 product of St. Louis Car Company, at the Wheaton station. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CA&E 453, a 1945 product of St. Louis Car Company, at the Wheaton station. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A six-car CA&E train westbound at the Halsted curve. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A six-car CA&E train westbound at the Halsted curve. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CA&E 458 heads a three-car train westbound at Western Avenue. The CTA bus on Van Buren indicates that this picture was taken no earlier than August 12, 1951. The Van Buren Street temporary trackage appears to be in place already, but testing has not started yet, as there are barriers in place. "L" service shifted to the temporary trackage in September 1953 and the CA&E cut back service to Forest Park. At left you can see the imposing structure of Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School, otherwise known as Crane Tech. We are looking to the east. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CA&E 458 heads a three-car train westbound at Western Avenue. The CTA bus on Van Buren indicates that this picture was taken no earlier than August 12, 1951. The Van Buren Street temporary trackage appears to be in place already, but testing has not started yet, as there are barriers in place. “L” service shifted to the temporary trackage in September 1953 and the CA&E cut back service to Forest Park. At left you can see the imposing structure of Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School, otherwise known as Crane Tech. We are looking to the east. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Two North Shore Line trains pass at Ravinia on a 1953 Shore Line Route fantrip. This is not the same stop as Ravinia Park, which is some distance away. The area taken up by the NSL tracks is now a parking lot for the Metra station (former Chicago & North Western), whose tracks are at left. We are looking southeast. Presumably the Silverliner at right is the fantrip train as the other train is not flying flags. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Two North Shore Line trains pass at Ravinia on a 1953 Shore Line Route fantrip. This is not the same stop as Ravinia Park, which is some distance away. The area taken up by the NSL tracks is now a parking lot for the Metra station (former Chicago & North Western), whose tracks are at left. We are looking southeast. Presumably the Silverliner at right is the fantrip train as the other train is not flying flags. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The building just visible in the previous picture, located at 514 Roger Williams Avenue in Highland Park.

The building just visible in the previous picture, located at 514 Roger Williams Avenue in Highland Park.

Chicago & North Western loco 505 heads up at train at Kinzie Street. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Chicago & North Western loco 505 heads up at train at Kinzie Street. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

C&NW loco 531 and train at Edison Park. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

C&NW loco 531 and train at Edison Park. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

C&NW 545 and train in Edison Park on Chicago's northwest side. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

C&NW 545 and train in Edison Park on Chicago’s northwest side. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 291 at 63rd and Narragansett, possibly during the period just before Route 63 was converted to bus on May 24, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 291 at 63rd and Narragansett, possibly during the period just before Route 63 was converted to bus on May 24, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 475, running on Route 56 - Milwaukee Avenue, emerges from the east portal of the Washington streetcar tunnel at Franklin Street, having traveled under the Chicago River. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 475, running on Route 56 – Milwaukee Avenue, emerges from the east portal of the Washington streetcar tunnel at Franklin Street, having traveled under the Chicago River. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 384 at Roosevelt and Paulina. Cars on Route 9 - Ashland took a jog here, as streetcars were not allowed to run on boulevards. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 384 at Roosevelt and Paulina. Cars on Route 9 – Ashland took a jog here, as streetcars were not allowed to run on boulevards. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 124 at Division and Wells on Route 6 - Van Buren. The latest this photo could have been taken is 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 124 at Division and Wells on Route 6 – Van Buren. The latest this photo could have been taken is 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 265 is northbound at State and Archer on Route 45 (Ashland-Downtown). At left, we see a Route 44 CTA bus. This helps date the picture to between July 7, 1951 (when 44 converted to bus) and February 14, 1954 (when routes 9 and 45 were converted). (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 265 is northbound at State and Archer on Route 45 (Ashland-Downtown). At left, we see a Route 44 CTA bus. This helps date the picture to between July 7, 1951 (when 44 converted to bus) and February 14, 1954 (when routes 9 and 45 were converted). (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 276 is eastbound at 63rd and Paulina on Route 63, probably in 1953 near the end of streetcar service on this line. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 276 is eastbound at 63rd and Paulina on Route 63, probably in 1953 near the end of streetcar service on this line. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 377, also at 63rd and Paulina. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 377, also at 63rd and Paulina. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 289 is eastbound on Grand near Milwaukee on Route 65. This route was converted to bus on April 1, 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 289 is eastbound on Grand near Milwaukee on Route 65. This route was converted to bus on April 1, 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 452 is on Southport at Clark, the north end of Route 9 - Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 452 is on Southport at Clark, the north end of Route 9 – Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 453 is heading west on diversion trackage on Route 8 - Halsted at Chicago Avenue in 1953. I believe the PCC at the rear is 7228, a product of the St. Louis Car Company. The diversion was between Division and Chicago, and was used when work was being done on the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River. The two streetcars are about to turn from eastbound Chicago Avenue onto southbound Halsted. PCCs were being phased out on Halsted during this period, as CTA had begun shipping the 310 Pullmans to the St. Louis Car Company for scrapping and parts reuse on a like number of 6000-series rapid transit cars. By the time streetcar service ended on Halsted in 1954, service was being provided entirely by the older red cars. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 453 is heading west on diversion trackage on Route 8 – Halsted at Chicago Avenue in 1953. I believe the PCC at the rear is 7228, a product of the St. Louis Car Company. The diversion was between Division and Chicago, and was used when work was being done on the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River. The two streetcars are about to turn from eastbound Chicago Avenue onto southbound Halsted. PCCs were being phased out on Halsted during this period, as CTA had begun shipping the 310 Pullmans to the St. Louis Car Company for scrapping and parts reuse on a like number of 6000-series rapid transit cars. By the time streetcar service ended on Halsted in 1954, service was being provided entirely by the older red cars. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The note that came with this image of CTA Pullman 469 says it is on Kedzie near Chicago Avenue. But the sign on the streetcar says route 66, which is Chicago and not Kedzie. So perhaps we are on Chicago Avenue near Kedzie. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive) Patrick Cunningham adds: "The Pullman 469 photo is on Chicago Ave. looking east from the CNW viaduct towards Sacramento. The building in the far background still exists."

The note that came with this image of CTA Pullman 469 says it is on Kedzie near Chicago Avenue. But the sign on the streetcar says route 66, which is Chicago and not Kedzie. So perhaps we are on Chicago Avenue near Kedzie. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive) Patrick Cunningham adds: “The Pullman 469 photo is on Chicago Ave. looking east from the CNW viaduct towards Sacramento. The building in the far background still exists.”

The view looking east from about 3037 West Chicago Avenue, which is probably just a bit east of where the above photo was taken. You can see that the same building is at rear on Sacramento Boulevard.

The view looking east from about 3037 West Chicago Avenue, which is probably just a bit east of where the above photo was taken. You can see that the same building is at rear on Sacramento Boulevard.

CTA Pullman 381 at 63rd Place and Narragansett, the west end of Route 63. This picture may have been taken early in 1953, after PCCs had been replaced by older cars on this line, shortly before it was converted to bus. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 381 at 63rd Place and Narragansett, the west end of Route 63. This picture may have been taken early in 1953, after PCCs had been replaced by older cars on this line, shortly before it was converted to bus. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 409 is on Southport at Clark, the north end of Route 9 - Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 409 is on Southport at Clark, the north end of Route 9 – Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman n 504 exiting the Washington Street tunnel, operating on Route 56 - Milwaukee Avenue. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman n 504 exiting the Washington Street tunnel, operating on Route 56 – Milwaukee Avenue. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 523 at the same location. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 523 at the same location. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 540 at Southport and Clark, ready to head south on another trip on Route 9 - Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 540 at Southport and Clark, ready to head south on another trip on Route 9 – Ashland. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 610, an Ashland car, heads south on Clark at School Street. There is a similar photo on page 104 in my book Chicago Trolleys, showing car 144 at the same location. That picture is dated May 7, 1953 which may be when this picture was taken. That car was a pull-in to the Limits car barn, which may also be the case here. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 610, an Ashland car, heads south on Clark at School Street. There is a similar photo on page 104 in my book Chicago Trolleys, showing car 144 at the same location. That picture is dated May 7, 1953 which may be when this picture was taken. That car was a pull-in to the Limits car barn, which may also be the case here. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 669 at 63rd and Paulina, probably in early 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 669 at 63rd and Paulina, probably in early 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 675 is westbound on Chicago Avenue at Grand Avenue on Route 66. Note the cool Bowman Dairy truck. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 675 is westbound on Chicago Avenue at Grand Avenue on Route 66. Note the cool Bowman Dairy truck. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 839 is on Ashland at Chicago on Route 9. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA Pullman 839 is on Ashland at Chicago on Route 9. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Ther motorman of CTA Pullman 879 waves at the photographer as he rounds the turn from Wells onto Division, running Through Route 3 - Lincoln-Indiana, which was discontinued on March 11, 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Ther motorman of CTA Pullman 879 waves at the photographer as he rounds the turn from Wells onto Division, running Through Route 3 – Lincoln-Indiana, which was discontinued on March 11, 1951. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today. Things have sure changed a lot!

The same location today. Things have sure changed a lot!

CTA 171 on Ogden at Ashland, operating on Route 58. The white stripe indicates that this is a one-man car. 1721 was part of a series known as "169" or Broadway-State cars. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 171 on Ogden at Ashland, operating on Route 58. The white stripe indicates that this is a one-man car. 1721 was part of a series known as “169” or Broadway-State cars. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 173 is on Chicago Avenue near Ashland, on Route 66. Note the Goldblatt's nearby. Goldblatt's was a local department store chain that operated from 1914 until 2000. In 1946, they had 15 local stores, with annual sales of $62m. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 173 is on Chicago Avenue near Ashland, on Route 66. Note the Goldblatt’s nearby. Goldblatt’s was a local department store chain that operated from 1914 until 2000. In 1946, they had 15 local stores, with annual sales of $62m. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 1765 is at the west end of Route 16 - Lake, at Austin Boulevard, the city limits, in 1952. The old Park Theater is behind the streetcar. It closed around this time, although it may still have been open when this picture was taken. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 1765 is at the west end of Route 16 – Lake, at Austin Boulevard, the city limits, in 1952. The old Park Theater is behind the streetcar. It closed around this time, although it may still have been open when this picture was taken. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Another view, a "roster shot," showing 1765 by the Park Theater. Note the movie theater is not boarded up, which probably means it was still open when this picture was taken in 1952. Chances are, it fell victim to competition from television. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Another view, a “roster shot,” showing 1765 by the Park Theater. Note the movie theater is not boarded up, which probably means it was still open when this picture was taken in 1952. Chances are, it fell victim to competition from television. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 17778 is on Route 66 - Chicago Avenue at Ashland, passing by a Woolworth's dime store. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 17778 is on Route 66 – Chicago Avenue at Ashland, passing by a Woolworth’s dime store. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 1781 at the same location. The white stripe on the front let riders know that this was a one-man car, and therefore they should enter at the front, instead of the rear, as they would on a two-man car. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 1781 at the same location. The white stripe on the front let riders know that this was a one-man car, and therefore they should enter at the front, instead of the rear, as they would on a two-man car. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

Book Review: Chicago Streetcar Memories

Chicago Streetcar Memories
By Kenneth C. Springirth
Publisher: ???? (2018)
Softcover, 128 pages

A new Chicago streetcar book is always a welcome addition to one’s library. Someone recently gave me a copy of Chicago Streetcar Memories by Kenneth C. Springirth, which came out last month.

As the author of Chicago Trolleys (see below), and co-author of a Chicago PCC book, I probably have a different perspective on this type of work than many people who will read it. I’ll put in my two cents for what it’s worth, but feel free to make up your own mind on these matters.

Mr. Springirth, who is about 78 years old and lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, has written numerous traction picture books over the years. Looking him up on Amazon, I found at least two dozen titles going back to 1968, although, for whatever reason, I did not see this new one listed there. Another source credits him with 35 books.

This new volume does not have any ISBN information, and no publisher is listed. So, in the absence of knowledge to the contrary, I am going to assume that it is a self-published work. In recent years, Springirth has been prolific, putting out a few such picture books per year.

Usually an author collects a royalty, if he or she is lucky, from a publisher who is willing to take a chance on their work. This generally involves an editor, who works with the author. There is back-and-forth until both parties are satisfied they have done their best, and then the book is published. It is a partnership.

Self-publishing, by my way of looking at it, is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, for those authors with deep enough pockets to finance the production costs, there is the chance to keep a lot more of the profits– as long as you can find a way to sell your books in sufficient quantities to create a profit.

Having absolute creative control over your book can be the ideal situation. On the other hand, an editor is a useful sounding board, and can also elevate the quality of your writing by asking you to revise your work and do better. An editor tries to get your best work out of you. The goal of a publisher should be to take what the author has done and improve it, to make a better book.

Whether by coincidence or otherwise, this book has the same name as a DVD put out some years back by Chicago Transport Memories, LLC. However, titles cannot be copyrighted (although sometimes they may be trademarked), and any way you look at it, this is a good title. The same author also has a recent book out called Baltimore Streetcar Memories, so perhaps he envisions this as part of a series.

It is worth noting that there is no connection between the DVD put out by Chicago Transport Memories, LLC and this new book, even though they have the same exact title.  Complicating matters even further, the Chicago Streetcar Memories DVD was included along with copies of Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, Bulletin 146 from the Central Electric Railfans’ Association, which I co-authored.

All the pictures in this new book, except for the cover, are black-and-white. The overall effect, at 128 pages, is somewhat like an oversized Arcadia book in their Images of Rail series, perhaps not surprising as Mr. Springirth has written a few of those also.

Unfortunately, the larger format was not put to best use, as the images in general are not very sharp and a few are downright fuzzy. I do not know if this is due to the choice of dpi (dots per inch) when the original images were scanned, or whether this somehow relates to the printing process used, or both.  In general, it would be fair to say that the images in Chicago Trolleys are sharper and more detailed than those in the Chicago Streetcar Memories book, even though our book is somewhat smaller in overall dimensions.

I don’t know why this should be the case, but it is true.

Except for a few pictures taken by the author, the bulk of images between the covers come from a single source– the collections of the late Clifford R. Scholes (1927-2018), who died less than a month ago. For that reason, it practically makes Scholes a co-author of the book, although he is not named as such, for the book inevitably reflects Scholes’ viewpoint as much as Springirth’s.

Getting all your images from a single source makes writing such a book a lot more convenient, I am sure, but it is a practice that I do not subscribe to for my own book projects. My philosophy is to leave no stone unturned, making a thorough and exhaustive search for images that will provide the reader with enough variety to make things interesting.

I keep digging into a subject until I feel I have a foundation for a book, and then I keep digging deeper. There is always the chance that if you dig deep enough, you will reach a deeper understanding of your subject than you started with.

There is a danger in using photos from a single source, and that is they reflect a singular point of view. You run the risk of having too many similar-looking types of pictures, and miss out on different perspectives.

Having such a large collection to draw upon may be useful to an author who is trying to put out several books a year. But everyone is different, and as an author, it is not the path I have chosen for myself.

When you stop searching for new material, you run the risk that you also stop learning.  And there is a temptation to stop looking when you say, “I have enough material to make a book,” even though there still might be better information out there.

I notice that in this book, there is not one picture showing the interior of a streetcar. My own book Chicago Trolleys has several such interior shots. I based my own work on the idea that history is the story of people, so I made it a point to show the motormen, conductors and riders in various situations, including paying their fares on a two-man PCC.

Although the title would tell you this is a streetcar book, the final chapter features Chicago trolley buses (although, inexplicably, they are referred to as “trackless trolleys,” a term that may have been popular in other places, but was never commonly used by Chicagoans).

One of the first rules of writing is to write what you know.  I know Chicago, having lived my entire life here.  Therefore, I wouldn’t dream of writing a book about Erie, Pennsylvania or some other city, because that is not what I know the best.  But that is just me.

Perhaps inspired by some recent Dispatches from the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society, this book goes into some detail on various streetcar routes. But since this is mainly a picture book, a single page of text at the start of several chapters is not sufficient space to cover seven routes apiece, as the author tries to do.  The overall effect here is confusing, as the author tries to do too much in the limited amount of space available.

Personally, I found the maps in this book to be somewhat amateurish. They are hand-drawn, and scanned in such a way as to not be very sharp. In fact, you could say they are downright pixilated.

I chose not to use maps in Chicago Trolleys, since there were so many streetcar lines at one time that a Surface Lines map would look like a plate of spaghetti.  My book did not try to be a route history per se. But there are several maps in the book project I am working on now, and I had to look long and hard to find ones that will be easy to read, and convey the information I want the reader to have. It is not easy to do.

In my humble opinion, the text in such books should be more than a mere recitation of facts.  There are numerous sources for transit facts, such as how the Chicago Transit Authority took over operations of the “L” and surface systems on October 1, 1947 or that the last Chicago streetcar ran on June 21, 1958.  It is an author’s responsibility to provide insight as well as facts.  Yes, these things happened, but why did they happen?  What were the circumstances and influences that made this so?

Whether by sheer coincidence, or otherwise, the last two pictures in Chicago Streeetcar Memories are very similar to the ones that conclude Chicago Trolleys, and show a Chicago PCC and a Chicago trolley bus at the Illinois Railway Museum.

All in all, I was somewhat disappointed in the Chicago Streetcar Memories book. But far be it from me to discourage anyone from buying it, since a book about Chicago streetcars is better than no book at all. Reading is always something to be encouraged, and authors applauded for their efforts at preserving history for the benefit of future generations.

If you are looking for detailed Chicago route histories, I would suggest getting a copy of the third edition of the late Alan R. Lind’s Chicago Surface Lines: An Illustrated History, which will probably remain for all time the best-ever Chicago streetcar book, and the standard by which all others are judged. Since it was published four decades ago, important contributions have been made to route histories by some of the Shore Line Dispatches.

If you are interested in Chicago PCC cars, CERA B-146 is the ne plus ultra, and our intention in writing it was to provide, at least for this aspect, a kind of updated color descendant of the Lind book, which is only black-and-white.

Chicago’s streetcar system was once so vast that no single book could do full justice to it, but we authors must continue to try.

That being said, my own recent work Chicago Trolleys provides an overview, which in my case was anything electric that ran in the Chicago area and used overhead wire instead of third rail. I also cover horsecars and cable cars, which preceded electric streetcars. My intention was to introduce the novice to the subject, while at the same time provide enough new material and previously unseen photographs to entertain even the most diehard railfan. We will leave it to our readers to tell us whether we succeeded.

Whatever my own reservations might be about it, the fact remains that you may still enjoy this new book.

While Chicago Streetcar Memories is not available (yet) on Amazon, you can purchase a copy from either Ron’s Books or the Seashore Trolley Museum.  Expect to pay about 50% more for a copy, compared to Chicago Trolleys.

-David Sadowski

New 1950s Steam Train Audio CDs:

HF-123
The Howard Fogg Steam Train Collection
# of Discs- 3
Price: $24.99


The Howard Fogg Steam Train Collection

Howard Fogg (1917-1996) was a renaissance man, the dean of American railroad illustrators. But it is not as well-known that he recorded the sounds of steam trains in their waning mainline days starting in 1954.

These recordings were released on four LPs by the long-defunct Owl Records label between 1959 and 1969. They have since become collector’s items.

They are excellent recordings. Fogg knew everybody in the railroad industry, so he had access to railroad towers and places ordinary folks could not get to. In addition, he did his own narration, and had a great voice for it.

The four Fogg LPs are widely regarded as being classics, and the equal of anything put out by the Railroad Record Club. The titles were Power of the Past!, The Talking Giants, All Steamed Up! and The Big Steam…, Union Pacific.

These “orphan works” have been digitally remastered for the 21st century and are now available on a three-CD set for your listening pleasure. Railroads covered include the Baltimore & Ohio, Grand Trunk Western, Nickel Plate, Detroit Toledo & Ironton, Illinois Central, New York Central, Pennsylvania Railroad, Colorado & Southern, Rio Grande, and Union Pacific.

Total time – 174:59


HD
Highball
Doubleheader
# of Discs- 1
Price: $14.99

Highball, narrated by Jim Ameche (Don Ameche’s brother), was originally issued in 1959 on LP by a long-defunct record label. Railroads featured include Colorado & Southern, Great Western, Santa Maria Valley, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific. Bonus tracks feature the Denver and Rio Grande Western, Canadian Pacific, and Pennsylvania Railroad.

Total time: 77:08

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.

This book makes an excellent gift and costs just $17.99 plus shipping. That’s $4.00 off the list price.

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 209th 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 373,000 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.

Recent Finds, 10-14-2017

You would be forgiven if you think this is CTA red Pullman 144 heading north on Wentworth Avenue at Cermak Road in Chicago's Chinatown neighborhood. But it is actually car 225 with its number hidden by a piece of red oilcloth. This was a fantrip organized by the late Maury Klebolt in 1955. He had promised the fans that car 144 would be used. Car 225 was built in 1908 and was sold to Seashore Trolley Museum in 1957. I previously wrote a post about this fantrip in 2013.

You would be forgiven if you think this is CTA red Pullman 144 heading north on Wentworth Avenue at Cermak Road in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood. But it is actually car 225 with its number hidden by a piece of red oilcloth. This was a fantrip organized by the late Maury Klebolt in 1955. He had promised the fans that car 144 would be used. Car 225 was built in 1908 and was sold to Seashore Trolley Museum in 1957. I previously wrote a post about this fantrip in 2013.

This close-up of the previous picture shows how the "144" is on an oilcloth patch over the actual number 225.

This close-up of the previous picture shows how the “144” is on an oilcloth patch over the actual number 225.

Today, we are featuring many rare transit photographs that we recently collected. Most are from the Chicagoland area, but some are from Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

What they all have in common is I think they are interesting. I hope that you will agree.

October 17 is the 74th anniversary of the opening of Chicago’s first subway. We have included a few subway pictures to help commemorate that historic event.

-David Sadowski

PS- I will be making a personal appearance at 1:00 pm on Saturday, October 21, 2017 at The Museums at Lisle Station Park in Lisle, IL. This presentation is for my new book Chicago Trolleys, from Arcadia Publishing. You can purchase an autographed copy via our Online Store. We look forward to seeing you there.

Recent Finds

This is a very unusual picture. At first, I thought it might show the ramp at Sacramento on the Garfield Park "L", where the line descended to temporary trackage in Van Buren Street. Then, I noticed that this is single track. This makes it the loop at the west end of the line at DesPlaines Avenue, as it was configured in 1953 to allow the CA&E (not seen here) to pass underneath. There are lots of pictures showing this ramp taken from the ground. But to take this picture, the photographer either had to be in another railcar, or was standing on the walkway. At left, you can see the Altenhiem building, described in the next picture. The DesPlaines Avenue yard was reconfigured again in 1959 and this ramp was eliminated. We previously posted another picture of this crossover here.

This is a very unusual picture. At first, I thought it might show the ramp at Sacramento on the Garfield Park “L”, where the line descended to temporary trackage in Van Buren Street. Then, I noticed that this is single track. This makes it the loop at the west end of the line at DesPlaines Avenue, as it was configured in 1953 to allow the CA&E (not seen here) to pass underneath. There are lots of pictures showing this ramp taken from the ground. But to take this picture, the photographer either had to be in another railcar, or was standing on the walkway. At left, you can see the Altenhiem building, described in the next picture. The DesPlaines Avenue yard was reconfigured again in 1959 and this ramp was eliminated. We previously posted another picture of this crossover here.

Altenhiem, described here as an "old people's home," is still in business today.

Altenhiem, described here as an “old people’s home,” is still in business today.

Once CA&E trains were cut back to Forest Park in September 1953, joint timetables were issued for the benefit of passengers who wanted to continue to the Loop. These schedules were changed several times over the nearly four years before the CA&E abandoned passenger service. This is the 14th, and perhaps last such timetable. Over time, I assume there were fewer CA&E trains as ridership was declining. We previously posted timetable #7 here.

Once CA&E trains were cut back to Forest Park in September 1953, joint timetables were issued for the benefit of passengers who wanted to continue to the Loop. These schedules were changed several times over the nearly four years before the CA&E abandoned passenger service. This is the 14th, and perhaps last such timetable. Over time, I assume there were fewer CA&E trains as ridership was declining. We previously posted timetable #7 here.

WORK ON CHICAGO'S SUBWAY STARTED Chicago, Ill.: Above photo shows crowd on North State Street at Chicago Avenue during ceremonies marking the start of work on the new subway, which will run under State Street. Mayor Edward Kelly and Secy. of the Interior Harold Ickes used pneumatic spades to start the project. (Acme Press Photo, December 17, 1938)

WORK ON CHICAGO’S SUBWAY STARTED
Chicago, Ill.: Above photo shows crowd on North State Street at Chicago Avenue during ceremonies marking the start of work on the new subway, which will run under State Street. Mayor Edward Kelly and Secy. of the Interior Harold Ickes used pneumatic spades to start the project. (Acme Press Photo, December 17, 1938)

STREET CARS CRASH IN TUNNEL; 7 INJURED Chicago - Its brakes failing to hold as it attempted up-grade run in Chicago street car tunnel, trolley at left slid backward down incline, crashed into front end of following car. Seven passengers were taken to hospital, 100 others shaken up. (Acme Press Photo, November 6, 1941)

STREET CARS CRASH IN TUNNEL; 7 INJURED
Chicago – Its brakes failing to hold as it attempted up-grade run in Chicago street car tunnel, trolley at left slid backward down incline, crashed into front end of following car. Seven passengers were taken to hospital, 100 others shaken up. (Acme Press Photo, November 6, 1941)

AT LAST -- THE CHICAGO SUBWAY All-steel cars from the elevated lines enter the tubes on the north side near Armitage and Sheffield Avenues, about 2 1/2 miles north of the Loop. Overhead is the existing elevated structure still used by local trains. Hard rubber plates have been placed between the ties and the steel rails to cushion the subway ride. (Acme Press Photo, October 21, 1943)

AT LAST — THE CHICAGO SUBWAY
All-steel cars from the elevated lines enter the tubes on the north side near Armitage and Sheffield Avenues, about 2 1/2 miles north of the Loop. Overhead is the existing elevated structure still used by local trains. Hard rubber plates have been placed between the ties and the steel rails to cushion the subway ride. (Acme Press Photo, October 21, 1943)

NO AN ART GALLERY--BUT PART OF MOSCOW'S SUBWAY LINE Moscow, Russia-- Beautiful inverted bowls throw light to the paneled ceiling of this archway part of the lighting system of the Sokolniki station of Moscow's new subway. Indirect light is used in many parts of the system. The subway, thrown open to the public amidst scenes of great jubilation, is called the "Metro." All Moscow went joy riding on opening day. (Acme Press Photo, May 17, 1935) What interested me about his photo was how the general configuration looks a lot like the Chicago subway, which was built a few years later. Is it possible that the design was influenced by Moscow's?

NO AN ART GALLERY–BUT PART OF MOSCOW’S SUBWAY LINE
Moscow, Russia– Beautiful inverted bowls throw light to the paneled ceiling of this archway part of the lighting system of the Sokolniki station of Moscow’s new subway. Indirect light is used in many parts of the system. The subway, thrown open to the public amidst scenes of great jubilation, is called the “Metro.” All Moscow went joy riding on opening day. (Acme Press Photo, May 17, 1935) What interested me about his photo was how the general configuration looks a lot like the Chicago subway, which was built a few years later. Is it possible that the design was influenced by Moscow’s?

The interior of DC Transit car 766, during an October 8, 1961 fantrip just a few months before Washington's streetcar system was abandoned. This car is now preserved at the National Capital Trolley Museum as Capital Traction Company 27 (its original umber). We have an excellent CD featuring audio recordings of 766 in operation in Washington, DC in our Online Store.

The interior of DC Transit car 766, during an October 8, 1961 fantrip just a few months before Washington’s streetcar system was abandoned. This car is now preserved at the National Capital Trolley Museum as Capital Traction Company 27 (its original umber). We have an excellent CD featuring audio recordings of 766 in operation in Washington, DC in our Online Store.

This picture was taken on the Wells leg of Chicago's Loop on April 16, 1926. If this is Quincy and Wells, the scaffolding at left may be related to work being done on the nearby Wells Street Terminal, which started at this time. The terminal got a new facade and was expanded, reopening on August 27, 1927.

This picture was taken on the Wells leg of Chicago’s Loop on April 16, 1926. If this is Quincy and Wells, the scaffolding at left may be related to work being done on the nearby Wells Street Terminal, which started at this time. The terminal got a new facade and was expanded, reopening on August 27, 1927.

This picture shows the old Wells Street bridge, carrying the "L" across the Chicago River as it heads north-south in the early 1900s.

This picture shows the old Wells Street bridge, carrying the “L” across the Chicago River as it heads north-south in the early 1900s.

This is Racine Avenue on the Metropolitan "L" main line. The autos below the "L" would suggest this picture was taken in the 1940s.

This is Racine Avenue on the Metropolitan “L” main line. The autos below the “L” would suggest this picture was taken in the 1940s.

"L" trains at the north State Street subway portal, probably in the 1940s.

“L” trains at the north State Street subway portal, probably in the 1940s.

The view looking north from the Howard "L" station. We ran a very similar picture to this in a previous post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Eight (November 16, 2016), where George Trapp suggested in was taken in the late 1920s or 1930s. This photo is dated December 17, 1930.

The view looking north from the Howard “L” station. We ran a very similar picture to this in a previous post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Eight (November 16, 2016), where George Trapp suggested in was taken in the late 1920s or 1930s. This photo is dated December 17, 1930.

Michael Franklin has identified this picture as showing the Armour station on the Stock Yards branch. He notes, "(the) clue was a station on one side but not one on the other." See below for another view of the same station.

Michael Franklin has identified this picture as showing the Armour station on the Stock Yards branch. He notes, “(the) clue was a station on one side but not one on the other.” See below for another view of the same station.

The above image is from Graham Garfield’s excellent web site, and looks to the northeast. The original www.chicago-l.org caption reads:

Looking north on September 28, 1957, ex-Metropolitan Elevated car 2906 has left Armour station (seen at right) and it about to rejoin the Stock Yards main line to head east to its terminal at Indiana. The Sock Yards branch is only a week away from abandonment at this time. (Photo from the IRM Collection, courtesy of Peter Vesic)

This picture was taken on the Evanston branch of the "L", and the wooden "L" car is signed "Howard Only," which suggests this was taken during the CTA era. Previously, all Evanston trains continued south into the city. The nearby curve would indicate that this picture was taken just north of Howard, and may show the viaduct where the line crossed Chicago Avenue, which is a continuation of Clark Street.

This picture was taken on the Evanston branch of the “L”, and the wooden “L” car is signed “Howard Only,” which suggests this was taken during the CTA era. Previously, all Evanston trains continued south into the city. The nearby curve would indicate that this picture was taken just north of Howard, and may show the viaduct where the line crossed Chicago Avenue, which is a continuation of Clark Street.

This picture is identified as showing Chicago streetcar conductors and motormen, and probably dates to the early 1900s.

This picture is identified as showing Chicago streetcar conductors and motormen, and probably dates to the early 1900s.

Here, we have a westbound train of wooden Met cars at Laramie on the old Garfield Park line. This was replaced by the Congress line in 1958.

Here, we have a westbound train of wooden Met cars at Laramie on the old Garfield Park line. This was replaced by the Congress line in 1958.

Chicago Surface Lines 2779 at Cicero and Montrose in 1934. This was the north end of the Cicero Avenue line. This car is part of a series known as "Robertson Rebuilds," and was built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1903. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

Chicago Surface Lines 2779 at Cicero and Montrose in 1934. This was the north end of the Cicero Avenue line. This car is part of a series known as “Robertson Rebuilds,” and was built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1903. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 970 on Waveland between Broadway and Halsted in 1936. This was the north end of the Halsted line. 970 was part of a series known as the "little" Pullmans, since they were slightly shorter than cars 101-750. It was built in 1910. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 970 on Waveland between Broadway and Halsted in 1936. This was the north end of the Halsted line. 970 was part of a series known as the “little” Pullmans, since they were slightly shorter than cars 101-750. It was built in 1910. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL experimental pre-PCC car 7001 is shown heading south on Clark Street at North Avenue, across the street from the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum). This picture was probably taken in the 1930s. 7001 went into service in 1934 and was repainted in 1941 before being retired around 1944. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL experimental pre-PCC car 7001 is shown heading south on Clark Street at North Avenue, across the street from the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum). This picture was probably taken in the 1930s. 7001 went into service in 1934 and was repainted in 1941 before being retired around 1944. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

The view looking east at Lake Street and Ridgeland, when the Lake Street "L" ran on the ground. Many years ago, the Rapid Transit Company put advertisements on the steps leading into such ground-level stations. The "L" was relocated onto the nearby C&NW embankment in 1962. This picture may be circa 1930.

The view looking east at Lake Street and Ridgeland, when the Lake Street “L” ran on the ground. Many years ago, the Rapid Transit Company put advertisements on the steps leading into such ground-level stations. The “L” was relocated onto the nearby C&NW embankment in 1962. This picture may be circa 1930.

The north end of the Merchandise Mart "L" station. This has since been rebuilt and the curved area of the platform has been eliminated.

The north end of the Merchandise Mart “L” station. This has since been rebuilt and the curved area of the platform has been eliminated.

We are looking west along Harrison at Wabash on November 12, 1928. In 2003, the Chicago Transit Authority straightened out this jog with a section of new "L" structure, occupying the area where the building at left once was.

We are looking west along Harrison at Wabash on November 12, 1928. In 2003, the Chicago Transit Authority straightened out this jog with a section of new “L” structure, occupying the area where the building at left once was.

Oakton Street in Skokie on December 11, 1931. The tracks with overhead wire were used by the North Shore Line and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company's Niles Center branch. Both were running on the NSL's Skokie Valley Route, built in 1925. The other set of tracks belong to the Chicago & North Western and were used for freight.

Oakton Street in Skokie on December 11, 1931. The tracks with overhead wire were used by the North Shore Line and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company’s Niles Center branch. Both were running on the NSL’s Skokie Valley Route, built in 1925. The other set of tracks belong to the Chicago & North Western and were used for freight.

CSL 2601 was a Robertson Rebuild car built in 1901 by St. Louis Car Company. In this wintry scene, it is signed for the 111th Street route, presumably in the 1940s. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 2601 was a Robertson Rebuild car built in 1901 by St. Louis Car Company. In this wintry scene, it is signed for the 111th Street route, presumably in the 1940s. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Here is an unusual view. This shows the ramp taking the Garfield Park "L" down to grade level between Cicero Avenue and Laramie. It must be an early picture, since the area around the "L" seems largely unbuilt. The Laramie Yard would be to the right just out of view. This "L" was torn down shortly after the CTA opened the Congress line in 1958.

Here is an unusual view. This shows the ramp taking the Garfield Park “L” down to grade level between Cicero Avenue and Laramie. It must be an early picture, since the area around the “L” seems largely unbuilt. The Laramie Yard would be to the right just out of view. This “L” was torn down shortly after the CTA opened the Congress line in 1958.

The old Cermak Road station on the south Side "L". Note there are three tracks here. This station was closed in 1977 and removed. A new station replaced it in 2015.

The old Cermak Road station on the south Side “L”. Note there are three tracks here. This station was closed in 1977 and removed. A new station replaced it in 2015.

Here. a wooden "L" car train descends the ramp near Laramie on the Lake Street "L". This must be an early photo, as it looks like Lake Street is unpaved. Streetcar service was extended west to Harlem Avenue here by the Cicero & Proviso in 1891. Chicago Railways took over the city portion in 1910. Service west of Austin Boulevard was provided by the West Towns Railways.

Here. a wooden “L” car train descends the ramp near Laramie on the Lake Street “L”. This must be an early photo, as it looks like Lake Street is unpaved. Streetcar service was extended west to Harlem Avenue here by the Cicero & Proviso in 1891. Chicago Railways took over the city portion in 1910. Service west of Austin Boulevard was provided by the West Towns Railways.

Wooden gate car 3105 and train in the Loop. This was originally built for the Lake Street "L". Don's Rail Photos says, "3103 thru 3118 were built by McGuire-Cummings in 1893 as LSERR 103 thru 118. In 1913 they were renumbered 3103 thru 3118 and became CRT 3103 thru 3118 in 1923."

Wooden gate car 3105 and train in the Loop. This was originally built for the Lake Street “L”. Don’s Rail Photos says, “3103 thru 3118 were built by McGuire-Cummings in 1893 as LSERR 103 thru 118. In 1913 they were renumbered 3103 thru 3118 and became CRT 3103 thru 3118 in 1923.”

The view looking west along the Douglas Park "L" at 49th Avenue in Cicero on February 4, 1944. The station we see in the background is 50th Avenue. After it closed in 1978, this station was moved to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, where it is used to board the museum's fleet of retired "L" cars.

The view looking west along the Douglas Park “L” at 49th Avenue in Cicero on February 4, 1944. The station we see in the background is 50th Avenue. After it closed in 1978, this station was moved to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, where it is used to board the museum’s fleet of retired “L” cars.

Here, we are looking south from Garfield (55th Street) on the South Side "L".

Here, we are looking south from Garfield (55th Street) on the South Side “L”.

61st Street on the South Side "L", looking north on November 13, 1944.

61st Street on the South Side “L”, looking north on November 13, 1944.

Photos of the old Humboldt Park "L" branch are quite rare. This photo looks west from Western Avenue on January 26, 1931. This branch closed in 1952, although portions of the structure remained into the early 1960s.

Photos of the old Humboldt Park “L” branch are quite rare. This photo looks west from Western Avenue on January 26, 1931. This branch closed in 1952, although portions of the structure remained into the early 1960s.

This picture looks south from Randolph and Wells on the Loop "L". The date is not known, but the construction of the building at right may provide a clue. Andre Kristopans writes, "The overhead shot on Wells showing platform construction is early 20’s, when platforms were extended to accommodate longer trains. For instance Randolph/Wells and Madison/Wells were once separate platforms, after the early 20’s they were a continuous platform. Also at that time, LaSalle/Van Buren and State/Van Buren were connected and the separate station at Dearborn/Van Buren became an auxiliary entrance to State, until a building next to it blew up in the very early 60’s and destroyed the Outer Loop side."

This picture looks south from Randolph and Wells on the Loop “L”. The date is not known, but the construction of the building at right may provide a clue. Andre Kristopans writes, “The overhead shot on Wells showing platform construction is early 20’s, when platforms were extended to accommodate longer trains. For instance Randolph/Wells and Madison/Wells were once separate platforms, after the early 20’s they were a continuous platform. Also at that time, LaSalle/Van Buren and State/Van Buren were connected and the separate station at Dearborn/Van Buren became an auxiliary entrance to State, until a building next to it blew up in the very early 60’s and destroyed the Outer Loop side.”

North Shore Line 156 and several others at Waukegan in December 1962. Since there are about a dozen cars visible, they are being stored on a siding which you will note is outside the area of the catenary. (George Niles, Jr. Photo)

North Shore Line 156 and several others at Waukegan in December 1962. Since there are about a dozen cars visible, they are being stored on a siding which you will note is outside the area of the catenary. (George Niles, Jr. Photo)

This shows TMER&T 1121 running on a 1949 fantrip on the North Shore Line at the Kenosha station. We ran a similar picture in our previous post Traction in Milwaukee (September 16, 2015).

This shows TMER&T 1121 running on a 1949 fantrip on the North Shore Line at the Kenosha station. We ran a similar picture in our previous post Traction in Milwaukee (September 16, 2015).

Speedrail car 60 at the Waukesha Quarry, date unknown but circa 1949-51.

Speedrail car 60 at the Waukesha Quarry, date unknown but circa 1949-51.


Larry Sakar
writes:

The photo of Speedrail car 60 in your latest postings at the Waukesha Gravel pit was taken on 10-16-49. The occasion was the inaugural fan trip using a 60-series curved side car. It was sponsored by the short lived Milwaukee Division of the Electric Railroaders Association and was run by Milwaukeean James P. Harper who authored CERA Bulletin 97, “The Electric Railways of Wisconsin” published in 1952.

At the start of the private right-of-way at 8th St., the motors on the rear truck began having problems. At Waukesha, the car pulled onto one of the 2 side tracks leading back into the gravel pit. George Krambles accessed the rear trucks via a panel in the floor and disconnected the motor leads to the troublesome rear trucks. From that point forward the car ran on only 2 motors for the remainder of the fan trip. Car 65 had been the car originally intended to do the trip, but it was down with mechanical problems of its own. This caused the trip to be postponed for a week and the substitution of car 60.

When the car pulled into gravel pit siding one of the fans on board remarked, “Wow, look at this. They’ve got it in the scrap line already!”.

In addition to George Krambles, Al Kalmbach was on the trip, as was well-known railfan and photographer Barney Neuberger. He can be seen siting in about the 4th row of the car on the left side wearing a pork pie hat.

I’ve attached a few items related to that fan trip including a photo of Jay Maeder walking alongside car 60. This was taken at the first photo stop which was 44th St. where Milwaukee County Stadium would be built starting a year later. Car 60 was doing a photo run-by by backing down the line. The fans formed a photo line facing the car.

Philadelphia Stories

Philadelphia Peter Witt 8534 in July 1996. Don's Rail Photos: "8534 was built by Brill Car in 1926, #22353." It is part of the Electric City Trolley Museum collection in Scranton, PA. Here, it is shown in Philadelphia, during the time it was leased to SEPTA for trolley tours.

Philadelphia Peter Witt 8534 in July 1996. Don’s Rail Photos: “8534 was built by Brill Car in 1926, #22353.” It is part of the Electric City Trolley Museum collection in Scranton, PA. Here, it is shown in Philadelphia, during the time it was leased to SEPTA for trolley tours.

SEPTA 2750 and 8534 on a fantrip in August 1996. Apparently 8534 has broken down and is being towed.

SEPTA 2750 and 8534 on a fantrip in August 1996. Apparently 8534 has broken down and is being towed.

SEPTA 2785 in November 2002.

SEPTA 2785 in November 2002.

SEPTA 2750 and 8534 in August 1996.

SEPTA 2750 and 8534 in August 1996.

Three generations of Philadelphia streetcars in May 1999.

Three generations of Philadelphia streetcars in May 1999.

2785 in November 2002.

2785 in November 2002.

SEPTA 2785 in November 2002, with a commuter train nearby. Kenneth Achtert writes, "The shot of SEPTA #2785 with the commuter train that you presumed to be in Chestnut Hill is actually approaching 11th and Susquehanna,southbound, a cut-back location for which the car is signed in the picture. The commuter train would be inbound toward Center City."

SEPTA 2785 in November 2002, with a commuter train nearby. Kenneth Achtert writes, “The shot of SEPTA #2785 with the commuter train that you presumed to be in Chestnut Hill is actually approaching 11th and Susquehanna,southbound, a cut-back location for which the car is signed in the picture. The commuter train would be inbound toward Center City.”

SEPTA 2785 in November 2002.

SEPTA 2785 in November 2002.

SEPTA PCC 2785 on the truncated route 23 in November 2002.

SEPTA PCC 2785 on the truncated route 23 in November 2002.

8534 in August 1996. Kenneth Achtert: "The view of #8534 being “manually switched” three photos later shows 8534 being coupled to its leader (2750) after apparently becoming disabled. Several of your other photos show the subsequent towing operation."

8534 in August 1996. Kenneth Achtert: “The view of #8534 being “manually switched” three photos later shows 8534 being coupled to its leader (2750) after apparently becoming disabled. Several of your other photos show the subsequent towing operation.”

The fantrip train is having trouble clearing this auto in August 1996.

The fantrip train is having trouble clearing this auto in August 1996.

Looks like an attempt was made to move the offending car out of the way. August 1996.

Looks like an attempt was made to move the offending car out of the way. August 1996.

Recent Correspondence

Kenneth Gear writes:

Look who is in the new HISTORIC RAIL & ROADS catalog!

Thanks!

In case you missed it, here is Kenneth Gear’s review of the book:

I just finished reading your book and I enjoyed it very much. Good, clear, concise, and informative writing.

I must compliment you on the choice and presentation of the photographs. It is obvious that you spent much time and effort to present these wonderful photos as perfectly restored as possible.

So many times the authors of books that are primarily “picture books” seem to have a complete disregard for the condition of the photos reproduced. I’ve often seen photos that are yellowed with age, water stained, ripped, folded, and scratched. Other times a book might contain photos that are not properly exposed, are crooked, out of focus, or the composition could have been easily corrected with a little cropping.

The photos in your book are absolutely fantastic! They are pristine, sharp, and have absolutely no blemishes at all. You also packed a lot of information into the captions as well. It’s a fine book and you should be proud, as I’m sure you are, to have your name on the cover.

Another reader writes:

Your book arrived and it is JUST AWESOME. I am completely taken by some of the imagery, and of course enjoy the way you seem to simplify historical writing. VERY nice work!! THANK YOU!!!

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 197th 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 329,000 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.

More Chicago Rapid Transit Photos

A two-car Garfield Park train, including car 2848, on the Loop “L”. (George Snyder Photo)

Our last major post on Chicago’s rapid transit lines was on April 28, so we figure it’s time for another look. In newspaper parlance, -30- means “the end,” (there was even a 1959 film by that title directed by Jack Webb) but here, we present 30 classic Chicago “L” photos that we think are the living end.

While we have some information for these pictures, if you can share something interesting about them that we might have missed, do not hesitate to contact us. You can leave a comment to this post, or write us directly at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

-David Sadowski

A Ravenswood Local made up of “Baldy” 4000s (including car 4200) on the Loop “L”. (George Snyder Photo)

A Douglas Park Cicero-Berwyn Express on the Loop “L”. This picture must date to before December 9, 1951, when A/B service began on Douglas. (George Snyder Photo)

Articulated “Doodlebug” 5001 at Laramie Yard on the Garfield Park “L”, when this car was new (late 1940s). (George Snyder Photo)

The location of this photo would be hard to identify, if not for the presence of overhead wire instead of third rail. That makes it Isabella on the Evanston line. This station closed on July 16, 1973.

The location of this photo would be hard to identify, if not for the presence of overhead wire instead of third rail. That makes it Isabella on the Evanston line. This station closed on July 16, 1973.

Niles Center train 1045 in the pocket at the Dempster station, with North Shore Line track in the foreground. The Skokie Swift never used this terminal arrangement.

Niles Center train 1045 in the pocket at the Dempster station, with North Shore Line track in the foreground. The Skokie Swift never used this terminal arrangement.

A rare shot of the lower Wilson Avenue station on the north side “L”. This was once the terminal before the “L” was extended north. This station opened on March 5, 1907. The intent was to alleviate crowding at the upper Wilson station, already in use. Lower Wilson closed on August 1, 1949, early in the CTA era.

Skokie Shops, date unknown. Probably early in the CTA era.

Skokie Shops, date unknown. Probably early in the CTA era.

A single car Niles Center train in the open cut in Evanston.

A single car Niles Center train in the open cut in Evanston.

A six-car CRT “L” train on the Niles Center branch. Service on this line quit on March 26, 1948. This was part of the North Shore Line’s Skokie Valley Route. After the interurban quit in 1963, the CTA bought the line to Dempster and the Skokie Swift (today’s Yellow Line) was born. Service did not generally warrant the use of a six-car train in the 1940s when this picture was taken, but sometimes CRT trains were used on the North Shore Line to haul the military.

A two car CRT "L" train in December 1935. The location is given as Austin, but the photo does not indicate whether this is the Douglas Park branch or Garfield. Bill Shapotkin writes: "I can't tell you where this pic was actually taken, but I can tell you where is was NOT taken. This photo is NOT on Garfield Pk/Westchester. If it were anywhere on that line, the third rail chairs would be the CA&E's wooden third rail chairs -- the chairs shown in this photo are rapid transit third rail chairs. Additionally, if it were "Austin" (on Garfield Pk), we should see the B&OCT next door (and it is not). Now, as for where I think this photo was taken -- there appears to be an interlocking nearby (notice the piping next to outside rail). Thus, I believe the train is WB on DOUGLAS approaching Oak Park Ave (where, if I recall correctly) there was an interlocking. Therefore we would be looking east. At least that is my best guess."

A two car CRT “L” train in December 1935. The location is given as Austin, but the photo does not indicate whether this is the Douglas Park branch or Garfield.
Bill Shapotkin writes: “I can’t tell you where this pic was actually taken, but I can tell you where is was NOT taken. This photo is NOT on Garfield Pk/Westchester. If it were anywhere on that line, the third rail chairs would be the CA&E’s wooden third rail chairs — the chairs shown in this photo are rapid transit third rail chairs. Additionally, if it were “Austin” (on Garfield Pk), we should see the B&OCT next door (and it is not).
Now, as for where I think this photo was taken — there appears to be an interlocking nearby (notice the piping next to outside rail). Thus, I believe the train is WB on DOUGLAS approaching Oak Park Ave (where, if I recall correctly) there was an interlocking. Therefore we would be looking east. At least that is my best guess.”

The east end of the CTA’s Jackson Park “L” in July 1959. The “L” has been truncated west of here since and no longer crosses the Illinois Central (now Metra) Electric.

The DesPlaines Avenue terminal at the west end of the CTA Congress line in November 1959. Wooden “L” cars were no longer being used for passenger service by time, and the three cars were probably being used here for offices as the station was being somewhat reconfigured. Note the lack of a canopy.

A Kenwood shuttle car at 42nd Place terminal on June 12, 1957. November 30 was the last day of service on this branch. Andre Kristopans notes, "The Kenwood car at Indiana is actually laid up and not in service. The old NB track was where a spare car would be put away." (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)

A Kenwood shuttle car at 42nd Place terminal on June 12, 1957. November 30 was the last day of service on this branch. Andre Kristopans notes, “The Kenwood car at Indiana is actually laid up and not in service. The old NB track was where a spare car would be put away.” (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)

A downtown-bound train at the old Logan Square “L” station on May 10, 1958, about 6 weeks before service on the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway was connected up with the Congress and Douglas branches. (Laurence H. Boehuring Photo)

Six old wooden “L” cars, including 1784, in the Linden Avenue yard in Wilmette on June 12, 1957. (Laurence H. Boehuring Photo)

The view looking south from the platform at the Linden Avenue station in Wilmette on June 12, 1957, showing two old wooden “L” cars in the yard, including 1793 and 3156(?). In the distance, we can see one of the four articulated 5001-5004 series cars. (Laurence H. Boehuring Photo)

The arcade at the old Logan Square “L” terminal on May 10, 1958. About a dozen years later, this station was replaced by a subway as part of the extension of this line to Jefferson Park. (Laurence H. Boehuring Photo)

Kedzie and Linden, the site of the old Logan Square "L" terminal, as it looks today. Andre Kristopans says,"The old Logan square station is still under there under the new façade. There is a substantial gap between the inside ceiling and roof of this building because of the supports for the shop above the north half of the building were part of the structure and were not removed, and for aesthetic reasons the high walls were extended all the way around."

Kedzie and Linden, the site of the old Logan Square “L” terminal, as it looks today. Andre Kristopans says,”The old Logan square station is still under there under the new façade. There is a substantial gap between the inside ceiling and roof of this building because of the supports for the shop above the north half of the building were part of the structure and were not removed, and for aesthetic reasons the high walls were extended all the way around.”

The view looking north at the Linden Avenue terminal in Wilmette, showing wooden “L” cars (including 1770 and 1736). A poster at right advertises Waterman fountain pens. The date is June 12, 1957. (Laurence H. Boehuring Photo)

A view looking east towards the Marion Street station on the Lake Street “L” on June 7, 1957. (Laurence H. Boehuring Photo)

A Kenwood shuttle car at the Indiana Avenue station on June 12, 1957. November 30 was the last day of service on this branch. (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)

A Kenwood shuttle car at the Indiana Avenue station on June 12, 1957. November 30 was the last day of service on this branch. (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)

This picture was taken at the Oak Park Avenue terminal along the outer end of the Douglas Park “L”, looking west. The apartment building at right is still standing. The line was cut back to 54th Avenue 1952. The train is a Cicero-Berwyn Express, ready to head downtown. It must be before December 9, 1951, when A/B skip-stop service was instituted. Note the Burma Shave sign at right.

CRT/CTA snow plow S220 at Laramie on the Garfield Park "L" in 1948.

CRT/CTA snow plow S220 at Laramie on the Garfield Park “L” in 1948.

A CTA Met “L” train crosses the Chicago River in 1950, on the double Scherzer rolling lift bridge that was there at the time. Now, just south of here, the CTA Blue Line passes underneath the river.

CTA 2703-2753 at the east side of Skokie Shops on May 1, 1955. This was a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip that included a shops tour.

CTA 2703-2753 at the east side of Skokie Shops on May 1, 1955. This was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip that included a shops tour.

An open platform/vestibule two-car Douglas Park train at Van Buren and Wells in September 1949. One of the cars is 2775. Contrast this with the later photo taken at this same location, after the removal of the “L” structure west of here for the construction of Lower Wacker Drive.

The same location as the last photo, but no earlier than 1955. The “L” structure and tower west of here have been removed. The Garfield Park “L’ connection to the Loop was moved slightly north of here via a new connection through the old Wells Street Terminal. The sign on the train says that the last stop is Clinton. The Insurance Exchange building is at right.

The Pulaski station on the Douglas Park “L” on May 10, 1958. There was a yard there at the time. (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)

Laramie Yard on the Garfield Park “L”, looking east. A few blocks back, the “L” went up a ramp onto steel structure. Today, the Eisenhower expressway would be somewhere off to the right.

CTA Met car 2819, signed for Garfield Park, at Laramie Yard in August, 1954.

CTA Met car 2819, signed for Garfield Park, at Laramie Yard in August, 1954.

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

This is our 80th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a donation there as well.

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

We thank you for your support.

The CTA, the CA&E, and “Political Influence”

CA&E 453 in a winter scene on the old Met “L” main line. Here, we are looking east from Halsted. (Truman Hefner Photo)

Always on the lookout for new sources of information about electric railway history, I recently stumbled on one in an unlikely place- a book about politics.

Political Influence by Edward C. Banfield, originally published in 1961 by the Free Press of Glencoe, “examines the structures and dynamics of influence in determining who actually makes the decisions on vital issues in a large metropolitan area.”  The book takes an in-depth look at how political influence was applied in the Chicagoland area during the 1950s.

In his introduction to the 2003 edition, James Q. Wilson writes:

Banfield wanted to know how concrete issues were really decided, and so he studied six major controversies in Chicago and drew his conclusions about influence from his detailed account of who did what for (or to) whom.

Civic disputes in Chicago, he concluded, did not result from struggles for votes, competing ideologies, or the work of a shadowy power elite; they rose instead from the maintenance and enhancement needs of large organizations.  One organization (say, a hospital) wanted something, another organization (say, a rival hospital) opposed it.  The resulting conflict had to be managed by an outside authority if it were to be settled at all, and in Chicago, politicians did most of the managing.  But that management was hardly dictatorial.  Though Chicago politics was organized around a powerful political machine, the machine did not simply impose its will.  Instead, the mayor let every interest get its say, postponed decisions until some common ground could be found, and then nudged the contestants in the right direction.

Banfield devotes chapter 4 (pages 91-125) to the Chicago Transit Authority and attempts to convince the state legislature to subsidize it circa 1956-57.  According the the author, these efforts were intertwined with trying to save the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin interurban.

The CA&E lost both riders and money due to construction of the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway, starting in 1953.  The project was expected to take five years, and CTA service in the expressway median opened on June 22, 1958.  But by 1956, the railroad’s management wanted out, and the choices were either to sell or abandon service and liquidate.

At the time, the only public agency that could have operated “The Great Third Rail” was the Chicago Transit Authority, itself only about a decade old.  Formed by combining the Chicago Rapid Transit Company and the Chicago Surface Lines, the CTA had started out with high hopes that an aggressive program of modernization would yield cost savings that would eventually make it possible to lower fares for their so-called “OWNERiders.”

Unfortunately, things did not turn out that way.  The new CTA bus routes in outlying areas lost money, and over its first decade, ridership declined by nearly 50%.  There were various reasons for the decline, including the rise in automobile ownership, fewer people working on Saturdays, the effects of several fare increases, and service reductions.

Unlike the New York transit system, which received a government subsidy of $100m per year during the 1950s, Chicago got none, and had to sink or swim out of the farebox.

CTA fares had increased gradually, but this also brought ridership losses.  The main way CTA saved money was through reductions in personnel, mainly by replacing two-man streetcars with buses.  But the last of the old red cars ran on May 30, 1954, and the governing Chicago Transit Board did not expect to see any additional savings from the elimination of PCC streetcars.

Banfield noted:

The heads of CTA’s operating divisions reported to a general manager, who in turn reported to Gunlock.  Gunlock and the general manager (Walter J. McCarter) together prepared the agenda for board meetings.  Although the board played an active role in the determination of general policy, it was Gunlock and the manager who ran the organization.

CTA Chairman Virgil E. Gunlock realized that government subsidies were needed, or CTA would risk going into an irreversible decline.  His opinions are summarized in Chicago’s Mass Transportation Dilemma, a presentation he gave to the Illinois Road Builders Association at the Palmer House in December 1957.

The CTA rapid transit system had contracted about 25% by the mid-1950s, and wanted to extend service through the medians of the planned Northwest (Kennedy) and South (Dan Ryan) expressways.  Shortly after Mayor Richard J. Daley took office in 1955, he asked Gunlock to prepare a “wish list” of potential new projects, so they could be prioritized, in the hope that new ways could be found to pay for them.

Chicago’s four major daily newspapers were in favor of subsidies, and so were most civic leaders.  But the CTA was not universally liked by the public, especially by those who used it, which tended to undermine prospects for government aid, since opinions were divided.

It was into this mix that CA&E threw in the towel and offered to put the entire railroad up for sale.

Daley and Gunlock hoped to use this to their advantage.  If the CTA could take over CA&E service, it was thought, this could win over crucial suburban support, resulting in government funding that could help transit in both the city and suburbs.

As we now know, things did not work out this way.

Mayor Daley had a good working relationship with Republican Governor William Stratton.  They tried to help each other out politically by supporting each others projects in their respective “spheres of influence.”

However, while Stratton supported state funding to purchase the CA&E (reported price: $6m), and was willing to exempt the CTA from paying certain taxes and fees, he backed off on additional tax revenues for CTA once it became clear that DuPage and Kane County officials did not support it.

So while Daley, Gunlock, Stratton and even County Board President Dan Ryan Jr. were all on friendly terms in their discussions on this issue, and generally agreed on what to do, in the political climate of 1957, nothing could be done.

Banfield cites four main reasons for this failure to act in time to save the “Roarin’ Elgin,” which I will list in brief:

1. The “country towns”– that part of Cook County which lay outside of Chicago proper– opposed being taxed to support a transportation system which did not serve them directly.

2. Organized highway users were another important class of opponents.  They had been trying for years to establish the principle that gasoline tax receipts should never be used for other than highway purposes.

3. The commuters of Kane and DuPage counites, although favoring measures to keep CA&E running, were very much opposed to paying a tax for that purpose.  Politicians from those counties met with Governor Stratton one evening in the Executive Mansion to tell him that their constituents “just won’t sit still for a tax increase of any kind.”  The state, they said, would be responsible for any suspension of passenger service and, therefore, it should provide any subsidy that might be needed.

The Governor expressed surprise.  He had supposed that continuing CA&E service was a matter of great importance to Kane and DuPage counties.  If it were so important, he said, surely the local people would be willing to contribute one cent a gallon toward it.

CTA supporters had hoped that Kane and DuPage counties’ interest in CA&E would lead them to support a plan for the general improvement of CTA.  It was clear now that this was not the case and that, in fact, if it cost them a few dollars, the western suburbs would not support even that part of the plan which would serve only them.

Some observers believed that the Governor had interested himself in CTA only because he wanted to help the CA&E commuters.  If this was so, his interest would probably now cease since it was apparent that the commuters were not really vitally concerned.

4. Many weekly newspapers in the more than eighty communities into which Chicago was divided opposed any kind of subsidy for CTA.

As a result, these legislative efforts failed.  As a result, the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin was allowed to “temporarily” suspend passenger service at midday on July 3, 1957, stranding thousands of riders downtown, without a way to get home.

This served the short-term purposes of the railroad, the state, and the county, since it allowed quick removal of the CA&E tracks in the vicinity of the DesPlaines river, which was necessary for construction of a vital link in the Congress expressway connecting the city and suburban sections.

Within a short period of weeks, Cook County gave CA&E a check for $1.2m just for this short section of right-of-way between DesPlaines and First Avenues.  Most probably, this amount was inflated to account for the $700k in losses from 1953 to 1957 that CA&E wanted to be reimbursed for.

Legislative efforts resumed in 1959, and again it seemed that CA&E was close to being saved.  The railroad had been kept largely intact, and freight service continued.  CTA anticipated a takeover, and even went so far as to put in a new track connection at the DesPlaines avenue terminal, where CA&E trains would exchange passengers with Congress “A” trains.  You can see pictures of that unused connection here.

The 1961 CTA Annual Report includes an aerial view of the DesPlaines yard, and the completed track connection to what could have been a restored CA&E service is clearly visible– but never used.  With the final abandonment of the railroad in 1961, all this was scrapped and removed, except for a short stretch of right-of-way that now serves CTA as a “tail track” for storing “L” cars.

All reminders of “what might have been.”

Mr. Banfield sums things up on page 271:

In the Transit Authority case, the Mayor, the Governor and the President of the County Board acted as agents of the affected interests in arranging the compromise; they did not try to impose a solution of their own upon these interests, and when the Governor found out that the compromise was not popular with his suburban supporters, he immediately dropped it.

In other words, even these notables could not muster enough “political influence” to save the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin.  Much of the CA&E right-of-way west of Maywood has been preserved as the Illinois Prairie Path.

Fortunately, the lessons learned from its demise helped pave the way for saving the transit system we have today, which would not be possible without your tax dollars and mine.

-David Sadowski

PS- You will also find a very thorough and informative discussion of how McCormick Place came to be in this book.  I recommend it.

Brand-new "flat door" cars 6003-6004 are shown to good advantage at the North Water Terminal in 1950. (Clark Equipment Co. Photo)

Brand-new “flat door” cars 6003-6004 are shown to good advantage at the North Water Terminal in 1950. (Clark Equipment Co. Photo)

In this view, from the 1961 CTA annual Report, we see the western end of the DesPlaines terminal, and the relocated, never used CA&E tracks behind it.

In this view, from the 1961 CTA annual Report, we see the western end of the DesPlaines terminal, and the relocated, never used CA&E tracks behind it.

Looking west from Halsted, CA&E 458 heads up a four car train of postwar units.

Looking west from Halsted, CA&E 458 heads up a four car train of postwar units.

CA&E 318 at Glen Oak on a fantrip. According to Don's Rail Photos, "318 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It had steel sheating and was modernized in 1944. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Raiway Historical Society in 1962. It was wrecked in transit and the parts were sold to IRM to restore 321."

CA&E 318 at Glen Oak on a fantrip. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “318 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It had steel sheating and was modernized in 1944. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Raiway Historical Society in 1962. It was wrecked in transit and the parts were sold to IRM to restore 321.”

141 at Batavia Junction. CA&E purchased this car from the North Shore Line in 1946. According to Don's Rail Photos, "141 was built by American Car Co in March 1910, #844, as Chicago &Milwaukee Electric 141. It was rebuilt in 1914 and retired in 1954.

141 at Batavia Junction. CA&E purchased this car from the North Shore Line in 1946. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “141 was built by American Car Co in March 1910, #844, as Chicago &Milwaukee Electric 141. It was rebuilt in 1914 and retired in 1954.”

CA&E 418 in Batavia on March 15, 1952.

CA&E 418 in Batavia on March 15, 1952.

CA&E 318 near Whaton on a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip, October 24, 1940.

CA&E 318 near Whaton on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip, October 24, 1940.

CA&E 425 at Glen Oak on a September 2, 1940 CERA fantrip.

CA&E 425 at Glen Oak on a September 2, 1940 CERA fantrip.

A pass from an early CERA fantrip.

A pass from an early CERA fantrip.

CA&E 460 in Elgin on May 14, 1953. This car is preserved in operating condition at the Illinois Railway Museum.

CA&E 460 in Elgin on May 14, 1953. This car is preserved in operating condition at the Illinois Railway Museum.