The photographer (possibly Emery Gulash) had but one chance to press the shutter button at precisely the right moment, and he nailed it with this classic view of westbound Electroliner train 803 at Lake Bluff in January 1963. This is what noted photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson had in mind when he wrote about the “decisive moment.” Douglas Noble: “Northbound crossing Rockland Road / IL 176 in Lake Bluff.”
This is our first post in nearly two months. We have been hard at work on our next book, The North Shore Line. In addition, I worked 16 straight days as an election judge during the recent primary here.
Each of these posts involves a tremendous amount of hard work that may not be apparent to the causal observer. First, we have to scan the negatives, prints, and slides that you see here. Then, they have to be worked over in Photoshop to get the color and density right, and remove any scratches, crud, and other blemishes that have accumulated over the decades since these pictures were taken. This can take hours for just a single photograph, but we think the results are well worth it.
Our goal is to present definitive versions of these classic photos in an online archive for all to enjoy. We see our stuff showing up all over Facebook and other parts of the Internet all the time, and, recently, even in books and magazines put out by others.
It would be nice if, in all cases, we received some credit for our contributions. When people ask permission to use our work, it is freely granted, but all we ask is that we are properly credited, that the original photographer is credited, and that the small watermark we place on these images is not cropped out.
We don’t think this is too much to ask. Meanwhile, we hope you will enjoy this latest batch of classic photographs.
Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.
Work on our North Shore Line book is ongoing. Donations are needed in order to bring this to a successful conclusion. You will find donation links at the top and bottom of each post. We thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
The Chicago Surface Lines had a collection of historic streetcars, starting in the 1920s. These were used for parades and the opening of new lines. Some of the restoration work, such as this car, was more fanciful than authentic, as this car was never part of the West Chicago Street Railway, nor was it #4. Don’s Rail Photos: “4 was built by Pullman in 1895, #840, as North Chicago Street RR 922. It became Chicago Union Traction Co 4022 in 1899 and became Chicago Surface Lines 4022 in 1914. It was rebuilt as WCStRy 4 in 1933. It went to Illinois Railway Museum in 1985.” The CTA inherited this collection, and various cars were trotted out during shops tours in the 1950s. Once streetcar service ended in 1958, these cars were put into storage, and were finally donated to museums in the mid-1980s.
Brooklyn-Queens Transit PCC 1066 is signed for Coney Island in the early 1950s.
A train of CTA curved-door 6000s is at Howard Street in June 1977.
A southbound North Shore Line train, with 711 in the lead, is at Morse on the “L” in June 1959.
North Shore Line cars 157 and 252 are on a June 16, 1962 fantrip. Here, we see the train at the Root River bridge near Racine, Wisconsin. (Richard H. Young Photo)
This is a South Shore Line portable substation at Michigan City, Indiana on July 10, 1977.
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) cars 16 and 20 in May 1965, signed for the Media line. Kenneth Achtert: “Appears to be outbound at Springfield Rd. I would assume this is on a fantrip from the number of random individuals around the right-of-way (most likely a run-by since they are scattered about); also, the Media destination would not be standard operating procedure for two-car trains. The trains were typically scheduled to Springfield (Woodland Ave.) with only single cars going all the way to Media.” Jeff Didlake says, “I agree with Ken Achtert’s thoughts that this is a fan trip, but I believe the location is the Scenic Rd. station on the Media Line. The track is on a slight curve and a hint of the red brick high rise Drexelline Apts. is in the background. I know this station well as I managed to ruin a good tire and wheel while pulling into the parking lot there on a poorly maintained Springfield Twp. sewer inlet grate.”
On June 11, 1962, a two-car North Shore Line train, headed by 731, is bound for Mundelein near Lake Bluff. (Richard H. Young Photo)
North Shore Line combine 251 is near Racine, Wisconsin on February 6, 1962.
The interior of Queensborough Bridge Railway car 601 in the mid-1950s. This was an Electromobile, built around 1929 by Osgood-Bradley.
North Shore Line car 733 awaiting scrapping at South Upton Junction on October 26, 1963, several months after abandonment.
North Shore Line Silverliner 758 is at Edison Court in Waukegan during the summer of 1958. This was an important station, where cars were routinely added and cut from trains.
Philadelphia PCC 2142 is signed for Route 6 on September 15, 1957. Mark A. Jones writes, “That picture is of the northbound terminus of route 6 across from Willow Grove Park. 2142 is headed south to Broad and Olney.” Kenneth Achtert adds, “2142 is at Willow Grove Park, the end of the Route 6. The amusement park is hidden behind the trees.”
North Shore Line loco 455 is working the Niles Gas Spur in the Weber Industrial District, Skokie, Illinois, probably in the late 1950s. (Bob Geis Photo)
Chicago Surface Lines one-man car 6241 is at the east end of Route 43 in the 1940s. You can see a pedestrian bridge leading to the nearby Illinois Central Electric commuter station behind the streetcar.
A North Shore Line train at Winnetka Road on the Skokie Valley Route. The business at left is John H. Davies and Son, general contractors.
A three-car North Shore Line train heads south over the 6th Street Bridge, probably in the 1940s.
North Shore Line cars 716 and 409 at Highwood, possibly in the early 1940s. 409 started out as a dining car motor before it was converted to coach in 1942.
North Shore Line loco 455 heads up a freight train that is crossing over to the northbound track near Oakton on the Skokie Valley Route.
A three-car train of North Shore Line Silverliners prepares to cross the North Shore Channel, probably in the 1950s.
To get a shot like this in the 1940s, a photographer had to be extremely lucky, patient, or both. While a two-car CRT Lake Street “L” train heads east, going up the ramp towards Laramie, it passes a westbound CSL Route 16 streetcar. Two conductors on the “L” are lowering the trolley poles, as this was the switchover point to third rail. Streetcar service on Lake Street ended in 1954, and the outer portion of the Lake Street “L” was shifted over to the nearby C&NW embankment in 1962.
CTA PCC 7148 is at 71st and Ashland in June 1953. (Vic Wagner Photo) Our resident south side expert M. E. notes, “I don’t doubt this photo is at 71st and Ashland. (The street sign says Ashland.) So this photo is near the 69th and Ashland carbarn. I think this streetcar had been heading south on Ashland to 71st, and here it is turning west on 71st St. for what would be a short distance. Then it will turn north and into the carbarn.”
CTA one-man streetcar 3228 is on 79th Street at the crossing with the Illinois Central in April 1951. (Vic Wagner Photo)
The view looking north along State Street at 63rd in April 1953. The PCCs are running on Route 36, while the red Pullman is eastbound on Route 63. This was near the end of streetcar service on 63rd Street, and older red cars had replaced newer PCCs, which were shifted to run on Route 4 – Cottage Grove. At right, you can see where some buildings were destroyed by fire on May 25, 1950, after a PCC collided with a gasoline truck. 34 people were killed. The photographer was standing on a railroad viaduct and probably wanted to document the intersection of two streetcar lines before one of them changed to buses. (Vic Wagner Photo)
About the image above, M. E. adds:
Your caption reads: “This was near the end of streetcar service on 63rd Street, and older red cars had replaced newer PCCs, which were shifted to run on Route 4 – Cottage Grove.” My hangup is with the term “newer PCCs”. Yes, they were newer than the red cars, but they were not newer than the PCCs on State St. in the photo. The PCCs that ran on 63rd St. were those that Chicago Surface Lines acquired in 1936 to run on Madison St. Those PCCs were also called “pre-war PCCs”. So perhaps your caption might better say “older red cars had replaced the pre-war PCCs, which were shifted …”
I give you credit for pointing out where a State St. PCC car collided with a gasoline truck. I remember that like it happened yesterday. I also credit the photographer for a terrific action photo.
Also, about this photo:
(1) In the distance is the State St. station on the Englewood L, situated south of 59th St. I spy two more State St. PCC cars at or near the L station. This illustrates how busy the north/south PCC car lines were. The Chicago Surface Lines, then the CTA, ordered a total of 600 post-war PCCs, and they were all needed on just five north/south lines — 36 Broadway/State, 22 Clark/Wentworth, 8 Halsted, 42 Halsted/Archer/Clark, and 49 Western. (The pre-war PCCs were still on 20 Madison.)
(2) You mentioned that the photographer was standing on a railroad viaduct. That viaduct spanned State St. just south of 63rd St. The photographer was at the eastern edge of a big freight yard paralleling the New York Central right of way. It is this same freight yard that was used, three blocks east, to deliver new PCC cars, then (later) L cars, to the CTA. The L cars were transferred to the CTA via the L track that ran from the southbound Jackson Park line south past 63rd St. and then down into a ground-level freight yard.
(3) That freight yard also spanned 63rd St., so the westbound red car shown in the photo is about to go underneath the freight yard until it emerges past the New York Central (and Nickel Plate) passenger train tracks, adjacent to the entrance to Englewood Union Station. Past the station, 63rd St. ran under more tracks, first the Rock Island, then the Pennsylvania, both of which also served Englewood Union Station. All told, the trip between State St. and almost to Wentworth Av. was mostly dark 24 hours a day.
(4) The billboard at the left in the photo advertises the ’53 Ford. Assuming this photo was taken in late spring or early summer of 1953 (judging by the clothing on pedestrians and the green foliage), I don’t see any ’53 Fords in the photo.
Buses replaced streetcars on 63rd Street on May 24, 1953, so the picture can’t be from after that, thanks.
The CTA off-street loop on Halsted Street, just south of 79th, in August 1953. Pullman PCC 4368 is operating on Route 8, while the red Pullman is signed for Halsted-Downtown (Route 42). By this stage, the Pullman PCCs, although no more than seven years old, were being retired and sent to St. Louis Car Company for scrapping and parts re-use in new PCC “L” cars. Service was being supplemented by older red cars. Streetcar service on Halsted ended in May 1954. (Vic Wagner Photo) Our resident south side expert M. E. adds, “Notice how busy this terminal was. I count at least four streetcars, and perhaps a fifth if I detect another trolley pole behind the last PCC car. This terminal also served South Halsted and Halsted / Vincennes / 111th St. buses, which used the paved lane in the terminal.”
CTA one-man streetcar 3261 is at the east end of Route 79, at 79th and Brandon near Chicago’s lakefront, in September 1951. (Vic Wagner Photo)
Milwaukee Electric (Speedrail) car 1121 operated on a North Shore Line fantrip on December 4, 1949. Here it is with one of the Electroliners near Racine, Wisconsin.
The pass for Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip #36, which used freight equipment on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin on August 10, 1941.
The Chicago and North Western station at Lake Forest in the early 1900s, from a real photo postcard. The Chicago and Milwaukee electric (which became the North Shore Line in 1916) ran just beyond those large trees, and had a handsome station of its own just out of view to the right.
This picture was taken during Fall 1962, in the waning days of the ground-level operation of the Lake Street “L”. The new elevated station on the nearby C&NW embankment has been built and the changeover took place on October 28th of that year. This view looks west along South Boulevard at Marion Street in Oak Park. Crossing gates were manually operated.
On February 19, 1956, a northbound Electroliner has stopped at Kenosha and is presumably on a fantrip. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Speedrail curved-side car 61 is on Michigan at 6th Street in Milwaukee on September 2, 1950, passing by the north side of the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Milwaukee and Suburban Transport streetcar 954 is westbound on Route 10 at 68th and Fairview in August 1957.
The same location in 2015. The streetcar tracks were just to the right of this alley.
On June 12, 1955, Milwaukee and Suburban Transport streetcar 999 is on a bridge over the Chicago & North Western Railway at Howell Avenue. This was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
North Shore Line Silverliner 766 is about to cross the Glencoe gauntlet, a short single-track section on the otherwise double-tracked Shore Line Route. The occasion was an August 9, 1953 fantrip. This short bridge over a ravine was not deemed strong enough to support the weight of two trains passing each other, so it was made single-tracked. This also permitted a tight curve to be straightened out a bit. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
North Shore Line car 155 is on the tail end of a fantrip train, turning onto Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette, heading east on a July 24, 1955 Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
North Shore Line freight loco 456 and caboose 1002 are at the scale house in Rondout during January 1963. (Photo attributed to Emery Gulash)
North Shore Line freight loco 456 and caboose 1002 are at the scale house in Rondout during January 1963. (Photo attributed to Emery Gulash)
North Shore Line cars 157 and 252 are on a June 16, 1962 fantrip. We have posted pictures from this trip before. There is another in this post, taken by Richard H. Young, but this one may be by Emery Gulash.
Don’s Rail Photos: “1796 was built by American Car & Foundry in 1907 as NEWRy 287, #5098, as trailer. It was renumbered 1287 in 1913 and rebuilt as motor 1796. It became CRT 1796 in 1923 and was sold to Gaylord Container in Louisiana…” One side of this “L” car was removed, and it was used to transport large rolls of paper. Although Don’s says this car was scrapped in 1966, that is incorrect and the date was actually 1973. Parts were salvaged from this car to help restore sister car 1797 at the Illinois Railway Museum. 1796 could not be saved since the body was no longer structurally sound. I have July 1958 as the date when the CTA sold this car, and this picture was taken by William C. Hoffman in October 1963.
This was scanned from an original North Shore Line 8×10″ nitrate negative, taken circa 1930, and in the collections of Robert Heinlein. Determining the location presented many challenges, yet this has now been determined with the aid of other fans. The car is 714, and it is signed as a Chicago Local on the Shore Line Route. Since the North Shore tracks are not adjacent to the Chicago and North Western, we must be north of North Chicago Junction. We cannot be south of Highland Park, as there is freight present here. A sign on the high-level platform indicates that freight trains have to come to a stop, most likely to make sure part of the platform gets flipped up for the sake of clearances. A similar arrangement existed at high-level stations of the Chicago Aurora and Elgin. As all the Shore Line tracks in Waukegan ran on the street, that pretty much narrows it down to North Chicago. The Thomas J. Killian Plumbing Supply company building at left clinches it, and the location is between 16th and 17th Streets, looking north. The Chicago and North Western’s tracks were a short distance east of here, to the right out of view of this photo. (Courtesy of Kevin Heinlein)
A close-up view of car 714, which seems to be painted orange.
The freight siding for the Thomas J. Killian Plumbing Supply Company.
This was also scanned from an original North Shore Line 8×10″ nitrate negative in the collections of Robert Heinlein, and was taken at the same time as the previous photo and shows a slightly different view of the same scene. (Courtesy of Kevin Heinlein)
Ray DeGroote Turns 92
Ray DeGroote celebrated his 92nd birthday on July 15th. Here he is about two weeks earlier, at our celebratory lunch.
I dedicated my last book Chicago’s Lost “L”s to my friend Raymond DeGroote, Jr., as the “Dean of Chicago Railfans.” He turned 92 recently. Ray has traveled the world, and has taken thousands of great photos, many of which have been used in books, magazines, and in his excellent slideshows over the years.
And he’s still at it– Ray recently returned from a trip to San Diego for the Electric Railroaders’ Association annual convention. Since returning, other friends have treated him to lunch, and he reports he is “well fed.”
Here are a few of Ray’s classic photos of the North Shore Line:
We are at Indian Hill on the Shore Line Route on July 24, 1955, just prior to abandonment. Cars 175 and 413 are in regular service, while 155 is on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip, and has temporarily been shunted to a siding. The tracks in this area were grade-separated circa 1938-43 by a project partially funded by the Federal government. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
A fantrip train made up of Silverliners is on Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette on February 20, 1955. This trip was sponsored by the Illini Railroad Club. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
North Shore Line loco 459 and caboose 1006 are at Lake Bluff on January 19, 1963. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
The “KX” here most likely refers to Kodachrome X, first released by Kodak in 1962, with a film speed of 64. The original Kodachrome had a film speed of ASA/ISO 10, which was bumped up to 25 in 1961 with the release of Kodachrome II.
The unrestored interior of North Shore Line car 151 on September 4, 1961. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
The interior of North Shore Line car 160 on January 12, 1963. Interestingly, it had been refurbished in November 1962, even though abandonment was at hand. This car was purchased by the Illinois Railway Museum, where it remains today. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
North Shore Line car 714’s interior on June 17, 1962. This car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
The interior of North Shore Line Silverliner 755 on September 4, 1961. After abandonment, this car went to the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
Max Hensley sent us this scan of a 1890 specimen $1,000 bond for the West Chicago Street Railroad Tunnel Company. This cable car tunnel was built in 1893 and crossed the Chicago River near Van Buren Street. Like the other river tunnels, it was eventually enlarged and dug deeper around 1911 for streetcar use. But of the three such tunnels (the others being on Washington and LaSalle Streets), Van Buren was used the least, and does not seem to have seen much action after 1924, except for training use. These tunnels still exist but the approaches have been filled in.
The river tunnels are also discussed at length in my book Building Chicago’s Subways.
We were in Milwaukee on July 13th to help a friend move some things. We did stop by Burns Commons for a few minutes to catch a few pictures (and one video) of Milwaukee’s modern streetcar at its northern terminus:
Did Not Win
Try as we might, our resources are limited. Here are some interesting items that we were not able to purchase, but are still worth a second look:
This desktop ink blotter dates to circa 1919-20, as the North Shore Line is already running via the “L”, but had not yet opened their new Milwaukee Terminal. The line to Mundelein is shown, as it had been extended there as of 1905. But prior to 1925, it was called Rockefeller, and later, the area was known rather generically as “Area.” When using a fountain pen, you would wipe off excess ink on the backside of blotters such as this, which measured about 6″ wide.
This real photo postcard view of the Elgin and Belvedere Electric Company was most likely taken on its inaugural run in early 1907. Mike Franklin has identified the location as Belvedere, as that is the First M. E. Church at rear. Car 201 was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1906. (Thanks to J. J. Sedelmaier for tweaking this image.)
Here is what the late Don Ross wrote about the Elgin and Belvedere:
This line was built in 1906 and opened in 1907 between Elgin and Belvidere, 36 miles, to connect the Rockford lines with the Chicago lines. It was under the management of Bion J. Arnold, who was the most distinguished expert in city transit between 1900 and 1925. In 1927 the Rockford to Belvidere segment of the Rockford & Interurban was merged to form the Elgin Belvidere & Rockford. Rockford lightweight interurbans were used, but this was not financially satisfactory. The cars were returned to Rockford Public Service, and the old E&B cars were remodeled for one man service. But it was too late. Competition from the parallel Chicago & North Western and from the automobile caused the line to quit service on March 9, 1930. Arnold purchased two Manhattan Elevated steam locomotives and scrapped the line by himself. It was not completed until the mid to late 1930s.
In 1956, I was checking on ownership of an abandoned C&NW right-of-way for the Illinois Railway Museum, and I stopped in the county clerk’s office in Woodstock. The clerk became curious and then suggested that we might be interested in a piece of property which was on the delinquent tax rolls. It was 50 feet wide and 7 miles long. After paying the taxes for two years, a quit claim was filed and this has become the home of the IRM at Union, IL.
We ran some Elgin and Belvedere photos in a previous post, taken in the mid-1930s by the late Edward Frank, Jr., showing the interurban’s rolling stock in dead storage, waiting for buyers that never materialized.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
Stan Griffith Audio Recordings of the North Shore Line
# of Discs – 1
The late Stanwood C. Griffith (1926-2013) was an interesting character who is probably best known for building the two-foot gauge Rock River Valley Traction, a miniature electric railway that is large enough to ride on. He began building it on private property in a mysterious wooded area somewhere near Rockford, IL around 1950. Work continues on it to this day, and there are several videos of it on YouTube.
We only recently found out that he recorded some North Shore Line audio. Even better, what he did record is different than the other known recordings by William A. Steventon and Brad Miller.
Mr. Griffith made the only known recordings of the Shore Line Route, which quit in 1955. Steventon didn’t record NSL until the following year, and the Miller recordings are circa 1960.
This recording has some occasional narration. At one point, Griffith notes that the trolley bus wires in Kenosha are gone. Trolley buses ran there until 1952, so this dates the recordings to circa 1952-55.
He also recorded North Shore Line street running in Milwaukee, which is also unique as far as I am aware. There are also recordings of Milwaukee streetcars on this CD.
Total time – 52:36
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.
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It’s July 1969, and the original Tower 18 at Lake and Wells is being demolished to permit a new track connection to be put in on the Loop “L”. This was necessary so the CTA Lake Street “L” could be through-routed with the new Dan Ryan line that opened on September 28 of that year. The new tower is at left and has itself since been replaced. Prior to this, trains ran counter-clockwise in the same direction on both sets of Loop tracks. Henceforth, they became bi-directional. This is a Richard Hofer photo, from the David Stanley collection. The view looks north, and that is a southbound Ravenswood (today’s Brown Line) train at left.
I recently traveled to Milwaukee and visited David Stanley, and while I was there, he generously allowed me to scan some of his extensive collection of traction slides. Today we are featuring a small part of that collection, some classic photos of the Chicago “L” system, taken by the late Richard R. Hofer (1941-2010). Many of you may recall him from railfan meetings in years past. These pictures show he was an excellent photographer.
You can read Mr. Hofer’s obituary here, and you will note he was a proud Navy veteran. There are also some pictures of him on his Find-A-Grave page.
Scanning a photo, negative, or slide is just the starting point in obtaining the best possible version of that image. Each of these images represents my interpretation of the original source material, which often exhibits a lot of fading or color shift. For many of these images, we are also posting the uncorrected versions, just to show the substantial amount of work that goes into “making things look right.”
In addition, we have some recent photo finds of our own, as well as picture from our Milwaukee sojourn. As always, of you can provide any additional information on what you see in these pictures, do not hesitate to drop us a line.
We also have a new CD collection of rare traction audio from a variety of cities. These were recently digitized from original master tapes from the collections of William A. Steventon, of the Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. You will find more information about that towards the end of our post.
Richard R. Hofer Photos From the David Stanley Collection:
On April 20, 1964, CTA and local officials cut the ribbon at Dempster, commencing service on the new five-mile-long Skokie Swift line. This represented but a small portion of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee interurban that abandoned service on January 21, 1963. The Chicago Transit Authority had to purchase about half of the Swift route anyway, as their connection to Skokie Shops went over NSL tracks. The CTA decided to offer an express service between Dempster and Howard stations, and put in a large parking lot. Service was put into place using existing equipment at the lowest possible cost. The late George Krambles was put in charge of this project, which received some federal funding as a “demonstration” service, at a time when that was still somewhat unusual. But CTA officials at the time indicated that they would still have started the Swift, even without federal funds. I was nine years old at the time, and rode these trains on the very first day. I can assure you they went 65 miles per hour, as I was watching the speedometer. Needless to say, the experiment was quite successful, and service continues on what is now the Yellow Line today, with the addition of one more stop at Oakton.
The Skokie Swift on April 20, 1964.
The Skokie Swift on April 20, 1964. Note the old tower at right near Dempster, which had been used when “L” service ran on the Niles Center branch here from 1925-48. This tower remained standing for many years.
The Swift on opening day, April 20, 1964.
The Swift strikes a dramatic post on May 10, 1965. The slide identifies this as Main Street.
This car sports an experimental pantograph in October 1966.
A 5000-series articulated train, renumbered into the 51-54 series, at Dempster in October 1966.
In October 1966, we see one of the four articulated 5000s (this was the original 5000-series, circa 1947-48) at Dempster, after having been retrofitted for Swift service, where they continued to run for another 20 years or so.
The Skokie Swift in September 1964.
From 1925 until 1948, the Niles Center line provided local “L” service between Howard and Dempster on tracks owned by the North Shore Line. There were several stations along the way, and here we see one of them, as it appeared in September 1964 before it was removed to improve visibility at this grade crossing. I would have to check to see just which station this was, and whether the third track at left was simply a siding, or went to Skokie Shops. Miles Beitler says this is the “Kostner station looking east. The third track on the left was simply a siding, a remnant of North Shore Line freight service.”
Here is a nice view of the relatively spartan facilities at Dempster terminal on the Skokie Swift in September 1964. Service had been running for five months. This has since been improved and upgraded.
In October 1966, a southbound Howard train has just left Howard terminal, and a single-car Evanston shuttle train has taken its place. After its riders depart, it will change ends on a siding just south of the station, and then head north after picking up passengers at the opposite platform.
A Skokie Swift single-car unit at Howard in December 1968.
An Evanston train of 4000s at Howard in December 1968.
Two Swift trains at Howard, December 1968.
At left, a northbound Skokie Swift car, and at right, a southbound Howard “A” train at the Howard terminal in October 1966.
Two single car units in October 1966, both equipped for overhead wire, but for different purposes. In the foreground, an Evanston shuttle car has trolley poles, while the Skokie Swift car at rear uses pantographs. Evanston was converted to third rail in 1973, and the Swift about 30 years after that.
Same as the previous picture, this overhead shot from the transfer bridge, taken in October 1966, shows the difference in current collection on two of the CTA’s 50 single car units.
A southbound Evanston shuttle train approaches the Howard terminal. Third rail was banned in Evanston by local ordinance until 1973.
In September 1964, a four-car Evanston Express train approaches (I think) the old station at State and Van Buren. All four cars are single car units equipped with trolley poles, for use in Evanston where local laws did not permit use of third rail for current collection. In the early 1970s, this station was closed and removed, but was eventually put back, to serve the Harold Washington Library. This leg of the Loop “L” had a continuous platform for some time, which is visible here. George Trapp: “The September 1964 photo of four single unit cars 25-28, 39-50 on the Evanston Express are at Madison & Wells not State & Van Buren. Note crossover at Washington where non rush Ravenswood and late AM Evanston Expresses crossed over to the Inner Loop after stopping at Randolph & Wells on the Outer Loop. There was also a long continuous platform from Randolph to Madison.”
In September 1964, at a time when the Loop “L” had uni-directional service (counter-clockwise), a Ravenswood “A” train approaches Clark and Lake. On the other hand, George Trapp says we are “at Madison & Wells, notice the clocktower for Grand Central Station with B&O in distance. At that time many more cars is series 6001-6130 still had their original headlight arrangement.”
Logan Square yard in December 1966.
The tail end of a Congress-Milwaukee “A” train at the Logan Square terminal in September 1964. As you can see, space here was at a premium. George Trapp adds, “Tail end of freshly painted 6592-6591 at Logan Square in Sept. 1964. This set was in builder’s photos by St. Louis Car around June 1957. When new were originally assigned to North-South route as were all high 6000’s until mid 1960, although some 6600’s were on Ravenswood in 1959-60. I always though the old Logan Square terminal was neat, certainly had more character than present one.”
A southbound Howard “A” train is on the center track. and served stations that either had a center platform or (like Wilson) had two sets of platforms. “B” trains (and the Evanston Express) used the outer tracks and served stations with side platforms. This picture was taken in May 1968. Note the southbound outer track has overhead wire in addition to third rail, for use by freight trains that ran at night until 1973. George Trapp: “Southbound Howard to Englewood “A” train has two cars of 6511-6550 series on head end. This series was split between the North-South and West-Northwest in the 1960’s with cars up to 6550 and 6551-6558 from next series being on North-South in winter months. Note that track 4 was being redone at that time and is missing.”
In August 1963, a four-car Douglas-Milwaukee “B” train prepares to leave Logan Square terminal. Until 1970, this was as far into the northwest side of the city that “L” service went. By 1984, the “L” had been extended all the way to O’Hare airport. This train sports a fire extinguisher on its front, a practice that did not last, apparently because some of them were stolen. While this elevated station was replaced by a nearby subway, the building underneath the “L” actually still exists, although it has been so heavily modified that you would never know it is the same structure. The Logan Square terminal was always my favorite “L” station when I was a kid.
Workers are removing the old Tower 18 structure in this July 1969 view. When service on the Loop “L” was made bi-directional, due to the through-routing of the Lake Street “L” and the new Dan Ryan line, the old tower was in the way of new tracks that needed to be installed.
The same basic scene as the last photo, from July 1969. We can tell that this picture was taken prior to the opening of the Dan Ryan line (September 28, 1969) because the train making the turn here is simply signed for Lake. Prior to the through-routing, Lake Street trains went around the Loop, and all traffic went counter-clockwise. The new track connection that allowed bi-directional operation had not yet been installed here.
A Lake-Dan Ryan train in October 1969, and what appears to be left-hand running.
It’s October 1969, and this westbound Lake-Dan Ryan train appears to be running on the “wrong” track, perhaps due to weekend track work on the Loop. This train has just left State and Lake and is heading towards Clark and Lake. Through-routing Lake and the new Dan Ryan line, which happened in September 1969, meant the end of unidirectional operations on the Loop.
Track work near Tower 18, July 1969. A work train of 4000-series “L” cars is most likely parked here.
This picture was taken in April 1973 at one of the Howard line stations near the north end of the line. The two outer tracks are used for express trains, and the inner tracks for locals.
The southbound express track on the northern portion of the Howard line had overhead wire equipped, for use by freight trains that the CTA was obliged to operate for customers along this line north of Irving Park Road. This was a holdover of service that originally had been offered by the Milwaukee Road, which leased this line to the Chicago Rapid Transit Company. The Chicago Transit Authority purchased it in the early 1950s, and freight service ended right around the time this picture was taken.
Wilson Avenue, April 1973.
An Englewood-Howard train at Wilson Avenue in April 1973. This station has since been completely redone.
In the late 1950s, a fourth track was added to a small portion of the Howard line that previously only had three tracks. This platform was added at that time, and was used by southbound North Shore Line trains. I was actually on a southbound Howard train one day when it unexpectedly stopped here, so I got off and took a look around, just to see what it was like. This has all been removed now, of course. The overhead wire was used by freight trains that ran at night. This picture was taken in April 1973.
The view looking the other way from the platform at Wilson that opened around 1960 (this picture taken in April 1973).
CTA’s Tower 18 at Lake and Wells in July 1971, looking north.
A work train of 4000s is southbound just north of the Loop in July 1971.
Here, we are looking north from the old Randolph and Wells station in May 1971, looking to the junction of Wells and Lake. This station has since been replaced by Washington and Wells.
In May 1971, we see the rear of a northbound Evanston Express train of 4000s, just leaving the old Randolph and Wells station.
If I had to guess the location of this July 1971 picture, taken on Chicago’s north side, it would be between Wilson and Sheridan.
This Howard “A” train is heading southbound in July 1971, under a section that still had overhead wire for use by freight trains that ran at night. The Howard train, of course, used third rail for current collection exclusively. Perhaps one of our readers can help identify which station this is.
This picture was taken at Granville on the Howard line in May 1971.
Again, Granville on the Howard line in May 1971.
The rest of the work train, in July 1971.
This July 1971 photo shows either the Halsted or Racine station on the Congress line. The train is heading west, away from the photographer. In those days, many stations had these “pay on train” signs, and when illuminated, that meant there was no ticket agent on duty, and the conductor would collect your fare on the train. There are no more conductors now, so this practice ended a long time ago. There were large grassy areas on each side of the tracks along portions of the right-of-way, because plans originally called for four tracks here. There had been four tracks when this was part of the Metrolpolitan “L” main line. In the new arrangement, two tracks would have been used by Lake Street “L” trains, which were at one time intended to be re-routed onto the Congress line.
If this is the same location as the last picture, this is the Racine station, this time looking to the east. Again, this is July 1971. This is a westbound Congress-Milwaukee “A” train.
Finally, here is the uncorrected version of the picture at the top of this post.
Here are some photos I took in Milwaukee on May 3rd. They show the new Milwaukee streetcar circulator line, which began service last November, and memorabilia from the Dave Stanley collection. On the way up, I stopped in Kenosha and snapped a few pictures of the tourist PCC line there.