Recent Finds and New Releases

A colorized view of the Indianapolis Traction Terminal waiting room, circa 1909.

A colorized view of the Indianapolis Traction Terminal waiting room, circa 1909.

Besides our usual crop of classic traction photos, this time we also have exciting news about two new products related to the Railroad Record Club. Our good friend Ken Gear has been hard at work on collecting all things related to the late William Steventon’s railroad audio recordings and releases.

The result is a new book on disc, A Guide To the Railroad Record Club (see article below). This was quite a project and labor of love on Ken’s part!

Kenneth Gear‘s doggedness and determination resulted in his tracking down and purchasing the surviving RRC master tapes a few years back, and he has been hard at work having them digitized, at considerable personal expense, so that you and many others can enjoy them with today’s technology. We have already released a few RRC Rarities CDs from Ken’s collection.

When Ken heard the digitized version of RRC LP #08, Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, recorded by the late Elwin Purington, he was surprised to find the original tapes were more than twice the length of the 10″ LP. The resulting LP had been considerably edited down to the limited space available, 15 minutes per side.

The scenes were the same, but each was greatly shortened. Now, on compact disc, it is possible to present the full length recordings of this classic LP, which was one of Steventon’s best sellers and an all-around favorite, for the very first time.

Even better, a considerable part of the proceeds of these releases, both available through our Online Store or through the links below, will go to defray some of the thousands of dollars Ken has spent in trying to preserve this history for future generations. Chances are, without his efforts, the Steventon Railroad Record Club collection of tapes and other artifacts would have ended up in a dumpster by now, for lack of interest on anyone’s part in saving them.

For this, Ken deserves the thanks of anyone who enjoys hearing these historic recordings.

-David Sadowski

PS- You might also like our Trolley Dodger Facebook auxiliary, a private group that now has 643 members.

Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for all things related to the Railroad Record Club, and other railroad audio recordings. Again, it is a private group.

Auction for Jim Martin’s North Shore Line Sign

Jim Martin is a great guy, and you may have seen some of the North Shore Line videos he has posted to YouTube, taken from his original color 8mm movies. He recently contacted us, as he wants to sell an original porcelain-on-metal North Shore Line sign he purchased from legendary Chicago bookseller Owen Davies in 1962.  (You can read more about Owen Davies here.)

This must have been from a Shore Line Route station, since the North Shore Line was still in operation at that time. You can find out more about this eBay auction here. Although we are running the auction and providing our “good offices,” 100% of the proceeds will go to Jim.

It ends at 9:02 PM Central Time on Friday, December 17th. Good luck with your bids.

Now Available – A Guide to the Railroad Record Club E-Book:

Price: $19.99

$10 from the sale of each RRC E-Book will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.

As many Trolley Dodger readers are aware David and I have been trying to preserve the legacy of William Steventon’s Railroad Record Club. To that end we have collected all the released LPs and reissued them on CDs. We have posted many RRC traction photographs in this blog, put together a history of the club and gathered biographical information about William Steventon and his recording associates.

We uncovered some interesting information about the techniques and equipment used to make field recordings in the pre-digital age and the process of producing the LPs. I acquired the William Steventon estate and discovered a veritable treasure trove of unreleased audio, master tapes, original artwork commissioned for the album jackets, test pressings, movie films and numerous artifacts from all phases of the record making procedure from field tape to released LP.

Despite all that we accomplished we still had one very important question to answer. Now that we had all this material, how do we make it available to everyone who would be interested.

Much audio has been donated to museums and historical societies and CDs are offered for sale in the online store. The history of the club and the story of my efforts to buy the estate have appeared in this blog, but still, that didn’t seem to be enough. We wanted to do more. This wonderful historical material deserves more.

David finally hit on the perfect idea, he suggested that I write an eBook. This format would allow us to present not only a more detailed history of the club and an updated account of my purchase of the estate, but it could also include audio files, photo scans and movie files. Virtually all the Railroad Record Club archive could be gathered into one place!

I began to put the eBook together over a year ago. I rewrote the RRC history that appeared in this blog adding a lot of newly discovered data. Next, I revised my account of the estate purchase and wrote and entirely new chapter detailing the preservation efforts and the cost it entailed. I made lists of every single object acquired and made notes on condition. I spent many days photographing every item including scores of record jackets, labels, pressing plates and test pressings from the many editions of each LP. Countless hours were spent scanning documents, personal letters, magazine ads and articles. Photographs from the collection needed scanning and retouching. All this had to be cataloged and organized and information from many different sources had to be interpreted and fit into the timeline of RRC milestones. A lot of time and effort went into making the Railroad Record Club archive available on a convenient and inexpensive data disc electronic book.

In addition to all of the above, I have compiled what I think is an invaluable resource for RRC enthusiasts. The eBook has a compendium section that contains details about every released record. Each LP’s entry has all the accumulated information we have so far been able to discover about a particular record. Details such as the original release date, reissue date, differences in the various edition jackets and liner notes, master tape specifics and recording dates are listed. There are photo scans of each of the LP’s jackets, labels, test pressings, print blocks, master tapes, pressing plates and artwork. An “Additional Information” section is included for each record detailing any interesting facts we uncovered about the recordist, railroad equipment or notable incidents occurring during the field recording. Best of all each record’s entry has bonus audio tracks that may include unreleased recordings, audio salvaged from ancient homemade records, radio programs and/or railroad sounds from tapes that were in Steventon’s personal collection. Here are a two sample photos of record labels and the “data sheet” entry for Record Number SP-6.

RAILROAD RECORD CLUB

COMPENDIUM

DATA SHEET

RECORD NUMBER: SP-6

TITLE: THE MILWAUKEE ROAD

Box Cab Locomotives On The Coast Division

RELEASED ON 12 INCH DISC ONLY

NRP MATRIX CODE: NR 15567

YEAR OF FIRST PRESSING: 1983

JACKET ILLUSTRATION NOTES:

1st edition jacket has a drawing of CMSt.P&P box cab locomotive No. 10500 by Marshall (Pat) McMahon.  Caption under drawing reads “No. 10500, later E-25 on Houser Way Renton, WA in the 1930’s. Drawn from a photo by James A. Turner in the warren W. Wing collection.”

Back has liner notes.

2nd edition jacket identical to 1st edition

SURVIVING MASTER TAPE(S):

None in the William Steventon estate.

DOCUMENT/PHOTO FOLDER CONTENTS:

(There may exist other editions and variations then those pictured)

1st edition jacket front and back

1st and 2nd edition labels

NRP test pressing labels side 1 and 2

Cassette card

McMahon CMSt.P&P box cab artwork

SOUND FOLDER CONTENTS:

Short excerpt from the unofficial sampler.

Elwin Purington CMSt.P&P box cab bonus track.

Sound folder notes:

Track 1:

In 1965 William Steventon ceased operating the Railroad Record Club as an actual “club.”

From then on all records were sold individually with no minimum to buy. He also stopped producing the sampler records at this time and no sampler records were made after the 8th year (1964).

To continue where Steventon left off an unofficial special pressings sampler has been made for this eBook.  Excerpts of approximately 3 minutes each have been added to the sounds folders of the special pressings records.

Track 2:

This track was recorded by and is narrated by Elwin Purington. The recordings were made at Black River Junction near Seattle, Washington in 1960. The audio was taken from a tape-recorded letter Purington made to Steventon in 1961. These are some of Purington’s earliest stereo recordings and are very realistic. The air horn on those box cab monsters might blow you right out of your chair!

The scene opens as a long train arrives at Black River Junction powered by a set of the old box cabs. Various switching maneuvers are made in the yard. Then the cars are taken north on the wye and a “flying switch” is made and the caboose is moved over to the head end of the locomotives. The caboose’s high pitched air whistle is heard as the train, caboose now leading, crosses a road. Now heading east the train does more switching work. With all local work completed the caboose is put back where it belongs and the train heads out on the south leg of the wye towards Tacoma.

Total: 15:44

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

On the jacket front this record is advertised as the 30th anniversary issue 1953-1983. Steventon always dated the beginning of the Railroad Record Club to 1953, the year he made his first railroad recordings.

With the exception for two tracks on side 1, this is the only RRC record recorded in true stereo.

This was the last all new Railroad Record Club release.

Steventon first heard these Milwaukee Road box cab recordings in 1961. It would be 22 years before the recordings were finally released on vinyl.

Elsewhere on the eBook are scans of traction photographs that were sold by the Railroad Record Club.

There is a movie file containing William Steventon’s railroad home movies with footage of the PRR, B&O, N&W and NY Central among others. Traction fans will certainly enjoy scenes of the Washington D. C. Capital Transit streetcars and freight operations. A few screenshots follow:

Every known Steventon recording date, location and subject railroad has been collected and organized into a list.

Record ideas that never came to be are discussed and some interesting facts about the records and the people that recorded them are revealed.

For instance:

William Steventon endured health problems from an early age and his father, an engineer on the New York Central, broke company rules by allowing young William in the cab with him for fear that the child may die without them having spent enough time together.

Record Number 9 was recorded by Thomas A. Hosick. He was co-inventor of the low-pollution, Eliptocline automotive steam vapor engine and was featured in a 1966 cover story in Popular Science magazine.

William Steventon had the assistance of an CNS&M train accident victim in securing permission to make recordings on board North Shore trains.

Record SP-6 was the last all new RRC record and the only one recorded in stereo.

Many other previously unknown facts about the 37-year history of the Railroad Record Club have been painstakingly collected and combined with rare audio and video, vintage ads, photographs, catalogs and much more. A more complete look at the Railroad Record Club would be impossible to produce.

Despite all the work and research that went into compiling this archive, profit and return on investment was not the driving force. Preservation was! It is our belief that the best way to ensure that the legacy of the RRC continues to educate and entertain for years to come is to get it into as many hands as possible. That is why we are offering this incredible amount of material for the low price of $19.99. Each part of this eBook is worth that price on its own. Hours of vintage railroad audio, two video programs and scores of traction photos are included for that one low price. The compendium will prove to be a much-used resource to anyone who is a Railroad Record Club devotee. Even if you have little interest in the RRC itself, the audio and video alone is an outstanding bargain. Please consider purchasing a copy and help David and I preserve the work that William Steventon and all his contributors worked so hard to create.

Kenneth Gear

Now Available:

RRC08D
Railroad Record Club #08 Deluxe Edition: Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, Recorded by Elwin Purington
The Complete Recording From the Original Master Tapes
Price: $15.99

Canadian National. Steaming giants pound high iron on mountain trails, rumble over trestles, hit torpedos and whistle for many road crossings. Mountain railroading with heavy power and lingering whistles! Includes locomotives 3566, 4301, 6013, 3560.

Total time – 72:57

$5 from the sale of RRC08D CD will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.

A railfan takes his picture of Philadelphia Transportation Company 5205 on September 14, 1956.

A railfan takes his picture of Philadelphia Transportation Company 5205 on September 14, 1956.

CSL 2802 must have been a fan favorite, as it was used on fantrips both on June 12, 1940 and July 13, 1941. Chances are this trip might be the earlier one, if the Indianapolis sign was correct. Indianapolis Boulevard is in Hammond, on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago line that stopped going into Indiana on June 9, 1940. Of course, fans often used to put all sorts of signs up during trips, even if they weren't going to those places.

CSL 2802 must have been a fan favorite, as it was used on fantrips both on June 12, 1940 and July 13, 1941. Chances are this trip might be the earlier one, if the Indianapolis sign was correct. Indianapolis Boulevard is in Hammond, on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago line that stopped going into Indiana on June 9, 1940. Of course, fans often used to put all sorts of signs up during trips, even if they weren’t going to those places.

Brooklyn-Queens Transit 8258, a Peter Witt, was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1925. The trolley is on Stillwell Avenue at Coney Island.

Brooklyn-Queens Transit 8258, a Peter Witt, was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1925. The trolley is on Stillwell Avenue at Coney Island.

The same location today, courtesy of Mark J. Wolodarsky.

The same location today, courtesy of Mark J. Wolodarsky.

Milwaukee Electric heavyweight cars 1129 and 1135, along with CTA trolley bus 9192, at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago, IL in August 1959. It is now at Union as bus 192, its original number.

Milwaukee Electric heavyweight cars 1129 and 1135, along with CTA trolley bus 9192, at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago, IL in August 1959. It is now at Union as bus 192, its original number.

Illinois Terminal combine 277 was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1913. Here it is at the IERM in North Chicago in August 1959.

Illinois Terminal combine 277 was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1913. Here it is at the IERM in North Chicago in August 1959.

Indiana Railroad car 65 at the IERM site in North Chicago in August 1959. Don Ross: "65 was built by Pullman in 1931, #6399. The lounge section was replaced by a baggage section. 65 was sold to the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City as 120 in 1941. In 1954 it was purchased as the first car of the Illinois Railway Museum, which was known as the Illinois Electric Railway Museum at that time. I put in many enjoyable hours working on that car prior to 1960 when I moved to Peoria." It appears this picture was taken when the car was being repainted from CRANDIC colors to its original IR colors.

Indiana Railroad car 65 at the IERM site in North Chicago in August 1959. Don Ross: “65 was built by Pullman in 1931, #6399. The lounge section was replaced by a baggage section. 65 was sold to the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City as 120 in 1941. In 1954 it was purchased as the first car of the Illinois Railway Museum, which was known as the Illinois Electric Railway Museum at that time. I put in many enjoyable hours working on that car prior to 1960 when I moved to Peoria.” It appears this picture was taken when the car was being repainted from CRANDIC colors to its original IR colors.

This, and the next two pictures, show former Milwaukee Electric work car M-15 at East Troy in August 1959. Don's Rail Photos: "M15 was built at Cold Spring Shops in 1920 as a trailer, but it was motorized almost immediately. It was transferred to the isolated East Troy operation in 1939, and sold to the Municipality of East Troy in 1949. It is sold to WERHS in 1982 and now preserved at the IRM (since) 1989."

This, and the next two pictures, show former Milwaukee Electric work car M-15 at East Troy in August 1959. Don’s Rail Photos: “M15 was built at Cold Spring Shops in 1920 as a trailer, but it was motorized almost immediately. It was transferred to the isolated East Troy operation in 1939, and sold to the Municipality of East Troy in 1949. It is sold to WERHS in 1982 and now preserved at the IRM (since) 1989.”

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at the IERM in North Chicago in August 1959. Don Ross: "354 was built by St Louis Car Co in January 1928, #1453. It became the last car on August 12, 1951. It was purchased by the president of the Chicago Hardware Foundry. It was painted into the green and red of CHF, but the motors were removed. The car was acquired by the Illinois Electric Railway Museum (now IRM). Restoration began in 1958 (I put many hours on the car), and it is now in operation in Union. When I visited the car in 1989, it brought back many happy memories."

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at the IERM in North Chicago in August 1959. Don Ross: “354 was built by St Louis Car Co in January 1928, #1453. It became the last car on August 12, 1951. It was purchased by the president of the Chicago Hardware Foundry. It was painted into the green and red of CHF, but the motors were removed. The car was acquired by the Illinois Electric Railway Museum (now IRM). Restoration began in 1958 (I put many hours on the car), and it is now in operation in Union. When I visited the car in 1989, it brought back many happy memories.”

A two-car Milwaukee Electric interurban train at an unknown location, bound for Milwaukee. (Ray Muller Photo)

A two-car Milwaukee Electric interurban train at an unknown location, bound for Milwaukee.
(Ray Muller Photo)

Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee car 300. Don's Rail Photos: "300 thru 302 were built by Jewett in 1909 as mainline coaches. As the steel cars arrived, they were downgraded to local and school tripper service. In 1936 they became sleet cutters. In 1939 300 was turned over to the Central Electric Railfans Association as a private car. The ownership remained with the CNS&M, but the maintenance was taken over by CERA. During the war, with many members in service, CERA relinquished control, and the car was scrapped in 1947. 301 and 302 were retired in 1939 and scrapped in 1940."

Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee car 300. Don’s Rail Photos: “300 thru 302 were built by Jewett in 1909 as mainline coaches. As the steel cars arrived, they were downgraded to local and school tripper service. In 1936 they became sleet cutters. In 1939 300 was turned over to the Central Electric Railfans Association as a private car. The ownership remained with the CNS&M, but the maintenance was taken over by CERA. During the war, with many members in service, CERA relinquished control, and the car was scrapped in 1947. 301 and 302 were retired in 1939 and scrapped in 1940.”

CNS&M 300 in Highwood, IL, when it was the Central Electric Railfans' Association private car in 1941.

CNS&M 300 in Highwood, IL, when it was the Central Electric Railfans’ Association private car in 1941.

North Shore Line car 300 at an unknown location (somewhere along the Shore Line Route), possibly on the same 1941 fantrip as in the previous picture.

North Shore Line car 300 at an unknown location (somewhere along the Shore Line Route), possibly on the same 1941 fantrip as in the previous picture.

North Shore Line Birney car 336 in Milwaukee in 1946. The city streetcar franchise holder was the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric, predecessor of the CNS&M, so that's how the cars were lettered.

North Shore Line Birney car 336 in Milwaukee in 1946. The city streetcar franchise holder was the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric, predecessor of the CNS&M, so that’s how the cars were lettered.

North Shore Line Birney car 329, built by Cincinnati Car Company in 1922, at the Harrison Street Shops in Milwaukee on June 21, 1947. (Bob McLeod Photo)

North Shore Line Birney car 329, built by Cincinnati Car Company in 1922, at the Harrison Street Shops in Milwaukee on June 21, 1947. (Bob McLeod Photo)

North Shore Line city streetcar 360 in Waukegan, signed to go to the Naval Station.

North Shore Line city streetcar 360 in Waukegan, signed to go to the Naval Station.

North Shore Line wood car 200, probably near the end of its service life in the 1930s.

North Shore Line wood car 200, probably near the end of its service life in the 1930s.

North Shore Line combination car 81, built by American in 1910, was taken out of regular service in 1935, and retired in 1937. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

North Shore Line combination car 81, built by American in 1910, was taken out of regular service in 1935, and retired in 1937. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

Chicago Surface Lines 4008 is eastbound on Madison at Laramie on October 25, 1945, sporting "tiger stripes."

Chicago Surface Lines 4008 is eastbound on Madison at Laramie on October 25, 1945, sporting “tiger stripes.”

The Grand Rapids Railroad did not number their streetcars, giving them names instead. This is the "James W. Ransom," named after an early settler to this area. Buses were substituted for streetcars here in 1935. (Stephen D. Maguire Photo)

The Grand Rapids Railroad did not number their streetcars, giving them names instead. This is the “James W. Ransom,” named after an early settler to this area. Buses were substituted for streetcars here in 1935. (Stephen D. Maguire Photo)

Chicago Surface Lines car 2855, possibly circa 1942, when CSL looked into putting cars like these back into service, after they had been in storage for a decade. Ultimately, it was decided against doing this, and this class of cars ended its days in work service. Don's Rail Photos: "2855 was built by South Chicago City Ry in 1907 as SCCRy 341. It was rebuilt in 1907 and became C&SCRy 841 in 1908. It was renumbered 2855 in 1913 and became CSL 2855 in 1914. It was later converted as a salt car and renumbered AA106 in 1948. It was retired on October 11, 1951." (Charles Able Photo)

Chicago Surface Lines car 2855, possibly circa 1942, when CSL looked into putting cars like these back into service, after they had been in storage for a decade. Ultimately, it was decided against doing this, and this class of cars ended its days in work service. Don’s Rail Photos: “2855 was built by South Chicago City Ry in 1907 as SCCRy 341. It was rebuilt in 1907 and became C&SCRy 841 in 1908. It was renumbered 2855 in 1913 and became CSL 2855 in 1914. It was later converted as a salt car and renumbered AA106 in 1948. It was retired on October 11, 1951.” (Charles Able Photo)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 21, circa 1940. It ran in Wildwood, New Jersey. Streetcars were replaced by buses in this seacoast town in 1945.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 21, circa 1940. It ran in Wildwood, New Jersey. Streetcars were replaced by buses in this seacoast town in 1945.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 21, circa 1940.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 21.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 21, circa 1940.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 21, circa 1940.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 35, circa 1940.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 35, circa 1940.

The Atlantic City and Shore (aka the "Shore Fast Line") ran between Atlantic City and Ocean City until 1948. Here, car 109 is in Atlantic City. It was built by the John Stephenson Company in 1906.

The Atlantic City and Shore (aka the “Shore Fast Line”) ran between Atlantic City and Ocean City until 1948. Here, car 109 is in Atlantic City. It was built by the John Stephenson Company in 1906.

LaMar M. Kelly (1897-1947) was an early, and noted, railfan photographer. He took this picture of Chicago Aurora and Elgin electric loco 3004 at the Wheaton Yard on August 6, 1939.

LaMar M. Kelly (1897-1947) was an early, and noted, railfan photographer. He took this picture of Chicago Aurora and Elgin electric loco 3004 at the Wheaton Yard on August 6, 1939.

LaMar Kelley's large 116-sized negative came in this old Kodak envelope. He took the photo in 1939, but the envelope could be even older than that.

LaMar Kelley’s large 116-sized negative came in this old Kodak envelope. He took the photo in 1939, but the envelope could be even older than that.

SEPTA 160, a Strafford car, is on the Norristown High-Speed Line at top, with an electric commuter rail train below. The bridge crossed the Schuylkill River. This photo was taken on September 6, 1978.

SEPTA 160, a Strafford car, is on the Norristown High-Speed Line at top, with an electric commuter rail train below. The bridge crossed the Schuylkill River. This photo was taken on September 6, 1978.

CSL 6285, called either a Peter Witt or a Sedan, is on Route 22 - Clark-Wentworth, possibly in the 1930s. Car 6285 was built by CSL in 1929.

CSL 6285, called either a Peter Witt or a Sedan, is on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth, possibly in the 1930s. Car 6285 was built by CSL in 1929.

CSL 6208 in Hammond, Indiana in 1940, shortly before service on this line was cut back to the state line. Don's Rail Photos: "6208 (a Multiple Unit car) was built by CSL in 1924. It was rebuilt as one man service in 1932."

CSL 6208 in Hammond, Indiana in 1940, shortly before service on this line was cut back to the state line. Don’s Rail Photos: “6208 (a Multiple Unit car) was built by CSL in 1924. It was rebuilt as one man service in 1932.”

CSL 2615 (known as a Robertson Rebuild) crosses a bridge on 106th Street on June 21, 1941. We are looking west. Don's Rail Photos: "2615 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1901. It was retired on December 4, 1945." (Robert W. Gibson Photo)

CSL 2615 (known as a Robertson Rebuild) crosses a bridge on 106th Street on June 21, 1941. We are looking west. Don’s Rail Photos: “2615 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1901. It was retired on December 4, 1945.” (Robert W. Gibson Photo)

MBTA (Boston) 3344, an ex-Dallas double-ended PCC is at Milton Lower Mills on the Ashmont-Mattapan line on March 24, 1968.

MBTA (Boston) 3344, an ex-Dallas double-ended PCC is at Milton Lower Mills on the Ashmont-Mattapan line on March 24, 1968.

CTA 4000s and 2200s on the Loop "L" in 1973. looking west from Clark and Lake. The train at left is an Evanston Express, with Lake-Dan Ryan on the right.

CTA 4000s and 2200s on the Loop “L” in 1973. looking west from Clark and Lake. The train at left is an Evanston Express, with Lake-Dan Ryan on the right.

CTA red Pullman 863 is running northbound on Stony Island at 72nd, headed towards Navy Pier. A Kaiser-Frazer dealership is in the distance, and a truck dealer at right.

CTA red Pullman 863 is running northbound on Stony Island at 72nd, headed towards Navy Pier. A Kaiser-Frazer dealership is in the distance, and a truck dealer at right.

On May 16, 1954, CTA red Pullman 579 is at the Western and 79th turnaround loop on a CERA fantrip. During this period, streetcars were used on Western during weekdays only, so the fantrip cars did not impede regular traffic. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On May 16, 1954, CTA red Pullman 579 is at the Western and 79th turnaround loop on a CERA fantrip. During this period, streetcars were used on Western during weekdays only, so the fantrip cars did not impede regular traffic. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

North Shore Line car 748 at Lake Bluff, IL on October 19, 1963, several months after abandonment of the line.

North Shore Line car 748 at Lake Bluff, IL on October 19, 1963, several months after abandonment of the line.

No information came with this one, which shows North Shore Line car 732 at, I presume, Highwood in perhaps the 1930s or 40s.

No information came with this one, which shows North Shore Line car 732 at, I presume, Highwood in perhaps the 1930s or 40s.

I recently won this auction for "an unsent Real Photo Postcard. It is titled Heyworth Grading Gang #5 Aug. '06. / C.M.E.R.R. (Horlicsville) (sic) Marshall Photo. CYKO Stamp Box on the reverse. Horlicksville was a place that takes its name from the Horlick family, which had the Horlick malted milk plant in the community. This town was located about two miles north of Racine Wisconsin and this photo would have been taken about the time they were building the Chicago Milwaukee Electric Railroad Line between Racine and Milwaukee."

I recently won this auction for “an unsent Real Photo Postcard. It is titled Heyworth Grading Gang #5 Aug. ’06. / C.M.E.R.R. (Horlicsville) (sic) Marshall Photo. CYKO Stamp Box on the reverse. Horlicksville was a place that takes its name from the Horlick family, which had the Horlick malted milk plant in the community. This town was located about two miles north of Racine Wisconsin and this photo would have been taken about the time they were building the Chicago Milwaukee Electric Railroad Line between Racine and Milwaukee.”

Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation

We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.

Our Latest Book, Now Available:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

From the back cover:

Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.

The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages

Chapters:
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found

Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.

The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.

Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.

It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.

Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.

Total time – 121:22

# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 10-4-2015, Etc.

Updates

We are pleased to present a previously unknown two-color version of a 1936 Chicago Surface Lines brochure about the new streamlined PCC streetcars. This material has been added to our E-book Chicago’ PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available from our Online Store.

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Milwaukee Electric Railway (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co.) car 1137, westbound on the Rapid Transit Line, 68th Street Bridge, July 22, 1949.

Milwaukee Electric Railway (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co.) car 1137, westbound on the Rapid Transit Line, 68th Street Bridge, July 22, 1949.

Photo Updates

FYI, we now have an improved version of the TMER&T photo reproduced above, since we have been fortunate enough to acquire the original 1949 4″ x 5″ negative. This has been added to our recent post Traction In Milwaukee.

Three more photos have been added to our post West Towns Streetcars In Black-and-White. One of them shows a West Towns streetcar making the connection with its Chicago Surface Lines counterpart at Lake and Austin.

Reader Mail

The following question was posted to the Chicagotransit Yahoo Group by robyer2000:

I was looking at the letters in The Trolley Dodger about the construction of the reversing loop in the Howard Yard in 1949. The letter from the man at CTA public affairs indicated that before skip stop service trains that terminated at Howard were usually yard put-ins. That seems unlikely, at least since the opening of the State Street Subway in 1943, after which most Jackson Park trains terminated at Howard, other than during owl hours.

My question is this: before they built the reversing loop, just how did they reverse trains at Howard that weren’t put-ins?‎ In rush hours, they were 8 car trains. Where did they switch ends?

I replied:

You must be referring to our recent post Railfan Ephemera.

There is some circa 1975 correspondence between Tom Buck, then Manager of the CTA’s Public Affairs department, and an individual who had asked about a 1949 photo showing the construction of a turnaround loop in the Howard Yard.

The photo is reproduced, along with a brochure detailing the changes brought about by the adoption of A/B “skip-stop” service on the North-South L in 1949.

Previously, there were many trains that terminated at other places such as Wilson.

As Graham Garfield’s web site notes:

North Side “L” service used to be more commonly through-routed into Evanston, with Evanston trains running through to Jackson Park on what’s now the Green Line, from 1913 to 1949. In 1949, the CTA instituted a North-South service revision, at which time the suburban portion was divorced into its own line, running as a shuttle to meet the new North-South trunk line at Howard. Thus was the modern Evanston Route, with the shuttle service at all times and downtown rush hour express service, born.

Starting in 1949, there were a lot more trains terminating at Howard, both from the north and the south.  Meanwhile, North Shore Line trains continued to pass through via the Skokie Valley and Shore Line Routes.

Around this time, CTA proposed turning over the Evanston/Wilmette service to the North Shore Line, in exchange for having all NSL service terminate at Howard.  As CNS&M already wanted to abandon the Shore Line Route, this proposal went nowhere.

Robyer2000 wrote:

I don’t ever like to doubt Graham, but at least after the State Street Subway opened in 1943, few, if any, day time subway trains went past Howard and‎ fewer still terminated at Wilson unless they were putting in there. Consider there were only 455 steel cars that could operate in the subway and alternate daytime trains ran to Kimball, and assume 10 pct. of the cars were needed for spares, 410 steel cars were available for schedules of which 205 would have been in Howard service.   That would be enough for 25 Howard – Jackson Park trains. If the route took 125 minutes round trip with lay over (remember in one direction it had to make all stops from Indiana to Congress), that would have been a steel train to Howard every 5 minutes, or a total of only 24 trains an hour through the subway. Even if I am wrong with my assumptions or my arithmetic, how wrong can I be?

I have seen many pictures of Howard Street Express Via Subway t:rains over the years, but never one signed Evanston Express via Subway, although I know it was an available route on the sign curtain because I have one.

Additionally, that red brochure the CTA issued on the opening of the subway indicated Jackson Park trains would terminate at Howard, except after midnight.

I know too that after 1943 there were Evanston Express via “L” Loop trains that circled the Loop at least many of which ran express south of Loyola and which presumably had wooden consists.

So the question remains, what was the operation for reversing trains at Howard before the reversing loop was built?

I know that what became the loop track at Howard Yard terminated in a bumping post at the landfill to Evanston before the loop was built by tunneling across the landfill. If they used that track to reverse ends, the trains must have had to go through the yard switches to that track, reverse ends and then return through the yard switches.

I replied:

Hopefully, someone here will know the answer.

If they did in fact use the yard track to change ends, they either would have needed personnel at both ends of the train, ready to reverse course, or the motorman would have had to walk through the train to do so, making it more difficult to maintain tight schedules.

The City realized that operating the subway with the 455 steel cars (there was actually a 456th but it was an older, experimental one, not part of the 4000s fleet) was not the optimal situation, but it was enough to get service going in the State Street subway in 1943.

Of course, they still had the “L” route to the Loop, so there were many additional wood car trains going that way besides.

M. E. answered:

I’m averse to posting in threads, but I want to chime in about the L turnaround at Howard St.

I grew up on Green St. south of 63rd. Between our residence and the L, the city tore down all the houses to make a parking lot for businesses on 63rd St. So I had a bird’s-eye view of the L.

Plus I rode the L a lot, by myself, when I was young. These days that’s a no-no, but back then it was safe.

The timing for all this was the late 1940s, after the State St. subway opened. I don’t remember seeing wooden cars on the Englewood L.

I rode the Englewood/Ravenswood L a lot, all the way to Lawrence and Kimball and back. I don’t think I ever changed to the Jackson Park L to go north past Belmont.

As an aside, I also remember wooden cars on the Kenwood L sharing the track with south side steel cars between Indiana and 18th St.

I distinctly remember that the Jackson Park L went north only to Howard. Not into Evanston.

Also, I remember being surprised one day by seeing that the CTA built a loop north of Howard to reverse direction. I don’t exactly remember when that was, just that I was surprised by it.

Given that the Jackson Park L terminated at Howard, and there was no reversing loop yet, there are several possibilities:

(1) The Rapid Transit system put two crewmen on every Jackson Park train — one at the south end, the other at the north end. This would have made it simple to reverse at Howard (as well as at 63rd and Stony Island). But very expensive to operate. This would also have had to be true of any other stub-ending L line with long trains.

(2) At Howard, trains pulled in from the south, changed crew at the station, and took off again heading south, all within a very short time. This seems not too feasible because it would probably delay Evanston and CNS&M trains from using the station.

(3) Suppose the trains proceeded north of Howard into the yard. Perhaps a new crew boarded the south end of the northbound train (which I want to call Train 1) at the Howard station. Then Train 1 pulled straight into the yard. The new crew at the south end took over and brought Train 1 back into Howard station heading south. Then at Howard the northbound crew got off.

(4) Train 1 arrived from the south at Howard. Its crew got off, and walked to the south end of the platform. Two other crews, assigned only to work at Howard, boarded Train 1 — one crew at the north end of the train, the other crew at the south end. These two crews took the train into the yard, reversed direction, and brought Train 1 south to the Howard station. There, the “road” crew, which had previously walked to the south end of the platform, re-boarded Train 1 and took it south from Howard. After that, the two Howard-only crews repeated to handle subsequently arriving trains from the south.

The more I look at these possibilities, I like #4 the best.

When I use the term “crew”, I mean motorman. That’s because on L trains back then, there were conductors between every car. Yes, really. Apparently there was no central control for opening and closing doors, so one conductor could control only his car’s doors. Also, every conductor from rear to front had to ring a bell twice to indicate all was clear to proceed. Those bells rang in each car, one at a time, from rear to front.

Furthermore, to my recollection, the longest trains through the subway had six cars. Not eight. For six cars there were five conductors. Another reason I say six cars is that station platforms were lengthened to accommodate eight cars. Those longer sections were narrower (not as deep) as the original platforms. In fact, the northmost track at the 63rd and Loomis terminal was extended over Loomis to accommodate eight-car trains. By that time there were no more double-deck buses on Loomis to preclude extending the L structure over the street.

Also, there were no married pairs of steel cars at that time. I remember seeing one-car trains on Sunday mornings. Consider also the Normal Park branch. Before it became a shuttle from 69th to Harvard, the Normal Park car coupled onto the back of an Englewood train. West of Harvard, people on the tracks coupled or uncoupled the Normal Park car, which had its own motorman and conductor. With a maximum of six cars, this means an Englewood train west of Harvard would have had only five cars max, so that the Normal Park car became the sixth car.

I have seen pictures of two-car Normal Park trains, but I never saw that personally.

I concede it’s possible that there were six cars on Englewood trains, plus one Normal Park car, total seven cars. I’m just not sure.

Everything I say here is based on 65-year-old memories. I may have some facts wrong, but I simply don’t know.

Then, robyer2000 wrote:

Thank you for your post. It is fascinating to me to hear your memories.

They in fact used 8 car trains, but due to the door control issues you mentioned, the furthest front and back doors were not used so an 8 car train could berth at a platform which would be a 6 car platform today.

I believe that trains of all 4000 series car only needed what they called a “gateman” every other car because the far doors of a car could be separately controlled at the opposite end of the car. One of the gateman was the conductor, I’m not sure where he stood in a long train. Logically, he would have been at the rear as he had to ascertain the train was properly berthed before opening the doors, but he may have been near the middle if at that time they already had lines drawn on the platform edge to assist the conductor.

Train door control wasn’t instituted until 1952-1954.

Your alternative 2 doesn’t sound possible because of the necessity of moving the train to the Southbound platform at Howard.

And then, M. E. wrote:

Some things I thought of after sending my last note:

Exit doors on 4000-series steel cars were at the ends of the cars. So at any coupled cars, there were exit doors at the rear of the first car and exit doors at the front of the second car. The conductor assigned to that location stood outside, over the coupling, and operated controls for the exit doors immediately to either side of him. The conductor could see the unloading and loading activity at each of the two exit doors, so he knew when all that activity was finished. He then rang the bell twice to indicate that his station was clear. As anyone can imagine, during winter the conductor had a very cold job.

The rearmost conductor was the first to ring the bells twice, then the second rearmost conductor, and so on to the frontmost conductor, who was stationed between cars one and two.

Because there was no conductor at the rear of the train, nor one at the front, passengers could not use the exit doors at the very rear and the very front. At the front, the motorman’s cabin occupied the right-side exit door area. And the motorman did not operate the left-side front exit door.

There was no public address system on those cars. Each conductor had to enter each of the two cars at his station to announce the next stop.

At that time it was permissible to walk between cars. Every car had doors at the ends of the cars that passengers could open to change cars. For safety, over the coupling area there were extended metal plates to walk on, and there were chains at each side of the walkway. (In effect, cars were connected not only with couplers but with chains too.) There were three chains vertically on each side of the walkway, from about knee height up to below chest height.

Unlike in the 6000-series cars, there was no railfan seat at the front opposite the motorman. As I recall, in 4000-series cars the seats closest to the exit doors were side-facing, and there was a solid partition between the seats and the exit door area. The only way to watch the track ahead was to stand at the front, next to the motorman’s cabin, and look through the glass in the end-facing door. Yes, there was a front-facing window in the exit door area, but that window was blocked by the route sign on the front of the train. The sign itself was wooden and was hung onto grillwork that spanned the window.

Earlier I mentioned another cold winter job: Coupling and uncoupling Normal Park cars to the rear of Englewood trains. Not only was it cold, it was also dangerous, because it was close to third rails. I cannot imagine the Environmental Protection Agency ever permitting such work today.

What became of the Normal Park car’s motorman and conductor? After a northbound run from 69th to the Englewood line west of Harvard, the Normal Park motorman likely detrained at Harvard, walked downstairs, across to the other side, and up to the south platform. Then he waited for the next southbound Englewood train, boarded it, and took his position in the last car, the one destined for Normal Park. Meanwhile, the northbound Normal Park conductor would have to stay with the Englewood train to be assigned to the newly coupled cars. In the southbound direction, the conductor assigned between the rearmost two cars on Englewood trains would therefore go to Normal Park after the uncoupling.

CSL Work Car Info

Following up on our earlier series about Chicago Surface Lines Work Cars (Part One here, Part Two there), Andre Kristopans writes:

I am sending you eight scans for your viewing (and distributing) pleasure. Four hand-written ones were copied from Jim Buckley’s notes in Roy Benedict’s possession by me years ago. The two lists of trailers were made from CTA records.You notice it goes back to 1914, and includes cars never r# by CSL.

Here is some more stuff:

Salt Cars
AA1 17266 12/27/55 ex 1430
AA2 17266 12/27/55 ex 1431
AA3 13266 08/02/51 ex 1433
AA4 13266 10/26/51 ex 1435
AA5 13266 07/03/51 ex 1437
AA6 13266 12/17/51 ex 1440
AA7 17266 09/08/55 ex 1441
AA8 19141 05/17/58 ex 1443
AA9 18181 09/27/56 ex 1444
AA10 16283 02/18/55 ex 1445
AA11 13266 10/26/51 ex 1446
AA12 16283 09/09/54 ex 1447
AA13 16283 09/09/54 ex 1448
AA14 16283 10/07/54 ex 1459
AA15 13266 01/07/52 ex 1462
AA16 13266 01/25/52 ex 1474
AA17 13266 10/30/51 ex 1475
AA18 13266 11/06/51 ex 1482
AA19 13266 01/07/52 ex 1483
AA20 16283 10/07/54 ex 1488
AA21 16283 05/26/55 ex 1492
AA22 13266 08/02/51 ex 1493
AA23 16283 09/09/54 ex 1496
AA24 16283 09/09/54 ex 1501
AA25 17266 09/08/55 ex 1502
AA26 19141 05/17/58 ex 1107
AA27 19141 05/17/58 ex 1142
AA28 18181 12/14/56 ex 1145
AA29 18181 12/14/56 ex 1166
AA30 17266 12/27/55 ex 1183
AA31 17266 09/08/55 ex 1198
AA32 18181 12/14/56 ex 1205
AA33 17266 12/27/55 ex 1213
AA34 16283 10/07/54 ex 1215
AA35 12603 02/09/51 ex 1219
AA36 19141 05/17/58 ex 1220
AA37 19141 05/17/58 ex 1224
AA38 18181 09/27/56 ex 1231
AA39 16283 09/23/54 ex 1235
AA40 13266 08/10/51 ex 1239
AA41 13266 11/06/51 ex 1240
AA42 13266 11/21/51 ex 1241
AA43 16283 10/07/54 ex 1243
AA44 13266 10/05/51 ex 1248
AA45 12391 08/24/50 ex 1249
AA46 17266 12/27/55 ex 1250
AA47 13266 10/26/51 ex 1252
AA48 13266 07/20/51 ex 1255
AA49 14175 05/27/52 ex 1259
AA50 17266 12/27/55 ex 1260
AA51 17266 12/27/55 ex 1266
AA52 17266 09/08/55 ex 1277
AA53 19141 05/17/58 ex 1302
AA54 18181 12/14/56 ex 1303
AA55 16283 11/10/54 ex 1304
AA56 17266 12/27/55 ex 1305
AA57 18181 12/14/56 ex 1306
AA58 18181 09/27/56 ex 1307
AA59 18181 09/27/56 ex 1308
AA60 17266 12/27/55 ex 1309
AA61 18181 09/27/56 ex 1310
AA62 18181 09/27/56 ex 1311
AA63 10218 03/11/59 ex 1374 to ERHS
AA64 16283 11/10/54 ex 1451
AA65 15451 04/05/54 ex 1453
AA66 19141 05/17/58 ex 1454
AA67 13266 08/17/51 ex 1455
AA68 13266 12/17/51 ex 1457
AA69 18181 12/14/56 ex 1458
AA70 15451 07/17/54 ex 1463
AA71 13266 08/02/51 ex 1465
AA72 19209 02/28/58 ex 1467 to ERHS
AA73 16283 09/27/56 ex 1468
AA74 16283 11/10/54 ex 1471
AA75 18181 09/27/56 ex 1472
AA76 19141 05/17/58 ex 1477
AA77 18181 09/27/56 ex 1478
AA78 17266 12/27/55 ex 1480
AA79 15451 04/05/54 ex 1481
AA80 16283 09/09/51 ex 1484
AA81 18181 12/14/56 ex 1487
AA82 13266 07/20/51 ex 1489
AA83 16283 10/07/54 ex 1494
AA84 15451 02/17/54 ex 1495
AA85 18181 09/27/56 ex 1497
AA86 18181 12/14/56 ex 1498
AA87 13266 01/25/52 ex 1499
AA88 13266 07/03/51 ex 1500
AA89 16283 09/09/54 ex 1503
AA90 18181 09/27/56 ex 1504
AA91 17266 09/08/55 ex 1545 /48 10143
AA92 17266 12/27/55 ex 2826
AA93 19141 05/17/58 ex 2841
AA94 13266 08/17/51 ex 2842
AA95 10218 06/18/59 ex 2843 to ERHS
AA96 17266 12/27/55 ex 2844
AA97 19141 05/17/58 ex 2845
AA98 10218 12/05/58 ex 2846 to ERHS
AA99 none 08/20/48 ex 2847 (replaced with another retired car from AFR 10412)
AA99 2nd 18181 06/06/56 ex 5031
AA100 13266 07/03/51 ex 2848
AA101 18181 12/14/56 ex 2849
AA102 13266 08/10/51 ex 2851
AA103 15451 02/17/54 ex 2852
AA104 18181 12/14/56 ex 2853
AA105 15451 02/17/54 ex 2854
AA106 13266 10/11/51 ex 2855
AA107 13266 01/25/52 ex 2856
1466 13059 03/09/51
2626 13059 /51
4001 T12 /53 to shed; from Pass 1948 S10143
7001 T12 /53 to shed; from Pass 1948 S10143

AA1-AA52 to salt cars 1930-31, AA53-AA62 01/34, AA6306/33; AA1-AA25 r# 10/1/41, AA26-AA90 r# 04/15/48

additional salt car conversions:
1122 scr 04/23/37
1188 scr 04/30/37
1201 return to passenger 3/6/43
1208 return to passenger 3/4/43
1211 destroyed 1/30/39 111th/Sacramento vs GTW, scr 3/8/39
1212 return to passenger 2/20/43
1223 return to passenger 4/11/43
1225 return to passenger 3/4/43
1226 r# 1357 1937, return to passenger 5/15/43
1228 return to passenger 5/29/43
1229 return to passenger 3/27/43
1234 return to passenger 3/5/43
1238 return to passenger 5/15/43
1244 return to passenger 3/12/43
1245 return to passenger 3/8/43
1251 return to passenger 5/9/43
1253 r# 1257 1937, return to passenger 5/11/43
1254 return to passenger 6/11/43
1257 r# 1253 1937, r# 1385 1937, return to passenger 3/11/43
1280 return to passenger 1/13/44
1286 return to passenger 7/3/43
1466 to instruction car 1/13/13
1486 to instruction car 9/30/12, sold 11/12/17 to Tri-City Ry (IA)

Interestingly, Andre’s information shows that CSL Mail Car H2, pictured as being operable and in its original paint scheme in 1938 (see our post Chicago Surface Lines Work Cars – Part 1), was apparently scrapped in 1942. This explains why H2 was not used in the 1943 parade celebrating the opening of the State Street Subway, or in the one day revival of street railway post office service for a convention in 1946.

Andre also wrote:

You have mentioned several times the B&OCT line that runs along the Eisenhower Xway. A couple of items of note: 1) The B&OCT ownership extends to Madison St, where SOO ownership started. CGW’s started at Desplaines Ave Jct. 2) Note I said B&OCT – this is still the legal owner of all CSX track north and west of Clark Jct in Gary. In fact, B&O still has its own employees, train service and others, and in a really odd twist, is the legal owner of a substantial number of CSX’s new GE locomotives!

Finally, for a while in the late 1950’s, B&OCT used the old L tracks from Desplaines to west of Central while their right-of-way was being dug out. Considering that this was light rail to begin with, and well worn at that, it must have been somewhat frightening to run a freight train thru there!

I replied:

Very interesting information. Wasn’t there some steam train type commuter rail service out to Forest Park along these lines?

I still wonder just why CTA paid the CA&E $1m for their fixed assets between Laramie and DesPlaines Avenue in 1953.

They didn’t buy the land, which I think was bought by the state for the highway project. They didn’t buy the Forest Park terminal, either. CA&E still had at least a partial ownership in this when passenger service was suspended in 1957 (I think Cook County had bought some for the highway project).

So, what did CTA buy other than some worn rail, signals, roadbed, stations, etc. that were all going to be replaced within a few years anyway?

Andre wrote:

Basically they bought the right to continue running to Desplaines after the line was rebuilt. Otherwise, if CA&E still owned it, the state would have been dealing with CA&E, and if CA&E just said “screw it”, the Congress L would have ended at Laramie. Remember, we are dealing with accounting stuff here. What was there then wasn’t worth much, though the ROW was probably CA&E owned, which CTA then bought and sold/traded to the state for where the L is today.

Back in the days of the “primordial ooze” there was service on the B&OCT out to Forest Park. This was part of the Randolph St business and the line out 16th St to Harlem. But it was all gone by early 1900’s, especially after the Met L was built.

SOO did run a more-or-less commuter round trip for many years, actually a local from I think Waukesha that ran at the right time.

We thank all our contributors. Keep those cards and letters coming in.

-David Sadowski

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