This January 1960 view, looking northeast, shows the temporary Central Avenue side platform station during construction of the Congress expressway. The CTA Congress median line had opened as far west as Cicero Avenue in June 1958, but farther west, used a series of temporary ground level alignments while highway work continue. The temporary station here was in use from October 1959 until October 1960, when the permanent center platform station opened. You can see a stairway for the new platform, built into the concrete wall of the Central Avenue underpass. The side platforms allowed for simultaneous construction of the new station. The expressway originally ended at Laramie Avenue (5200 W.), but was extended to Central (5600 W. ) in early 1960, and finally opened to Oak Park, Forest Park, and Maywood in October 1960. Newly delivered single car unit 22 heads up this westbound Congress-Milwaukee “A” train. East of here, the tracks curve off to go into the Lotus Tunnel, taking the line into the expressway median. Ultimately, this station did not develop much ridership, and closed in 1973, although it is still extant. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
I was thinking about the expression “living on borrowed time” recently. I guess all of us are doing that, in a sense, but it occurred to me that when we look at old photographs, they can transport us back into the past. It’s almost as if by looking at them, we can borrow back some of the past.
Here are lots of photos that do just that. We also have some pictures from our recent trip to the East Troy Railroad Museum in Wisconsin. This was our first chance to see North Shore Line car 761 since it was restored by the museum.
I can’t say enough good things about the museum and its volunteers. We were treated to a tour of the barn where 761 and several other cars are stored. Even better, we ran into the Heinlein family who just happened to be there that day.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. And thanks for lending us some of your time.
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.
New York Central loco 5287, a 4-6-4, heads south at Roosevelt Road on August 24, 1954. (David R. Sweetland Photo)
I recently purchased this “real photo postcard,” and the seller said this was the Harvard station on the Englewood branch of the “L”. However, closer inspection of the photo shows that this is actually the Princeton station, which opened in 1905, and closed in 1949 as part of the CTA’s restructuring of north-south service.
Electroliner 803-804 at Red Arrow’s 69th Street Shops on November 10, 1963, shortly after arriving from Chicago. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
Liberty Liner “Valley Forge,” formerly North Shore Line Electroliner 801-802, being put into service on Red Arrow’s Norristown line on January 26, 1964. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
SEPTA Liberty Liner “Valley Forge” crosses the Schuylkill River in September 1976, near the end of service on the Red Arrow line to Norristown. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
Liberty Liner “Valley Forge,” formerly North Shore Line Electroliner 801-802, just after delivery to the Illinois Railway Museum on May 9, 1982. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
Liberty Liner “Valley Forge,” aka Electroliner 801-802, at the Illinois Railway Museum on October 2, 1982. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
North Shore Line wood car 134 is on a siding, and may be possibly be in New Trier school tripper service on the Shore Line Route, before the late 1930s Winnetka Grade Separation project. Don’s Rail Photos: “134 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1907 as C&ME 134. It was rebuilt in 1914 retired in 1948. In 1936, the CA&E leased 11 surplus cars from the CNS&M. These cars were modified for service by raising the coupler height, installing electric heat instead of the coal-fired hot water heaters, modifying the control, and adding jumper receptacles and other minor fittings to allow them to train with the other CA&E cars. Since these were 50 mile per hour cars, and the CA&E cars were 60 MPH cars, they were soon operated only in trains of their own kind rather than mixed in with other cars. In 1945 they were returned to the North Shore where they operated briefly. They were purchased in 1946 and last ran in regular service in September, 1953.”
CTA gate car 390. Don’s Rail Photos: “390 was built by American Car & Foundry Co in 1905 as SSRT 390. It became CERy 390 in 1913 and became CRT 390 in 1923. It was retired on June 20, 1957.” Andre Kristopans: “390 I think is at North/Halsted. At first thought Sedgwick, but background does not match.”
On March 29, 1943, the first official Chicago Rapid Transit Company train heads into the north portal of the new State Street Subway, then still under construction. Only one track was in service, and the south portal was still being built. Test rides were being given to servicemen and war bond buyers. The official opening was on October 17th.
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit car 302, formerly of the Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric, is inbound at Woodhill Road on September 6, 1951. Don’s Rail Photos: “302 was built by St Louis Car in 1924, #1308. In 1936 it was sold to CI/SHRT as 302 and in 1954 it was sold to Gerald Brookins for the Columbia Park & Southwestern aka Trolleyville.” Sounds like it was scrapped there for parts.
North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at the Illinois Railway Museum in September 1972.
The conventional view of the North Shore Line station in Lake Forest.
A different view of the large North Shore Line station in Lake Forest that served the Shore Line Route. This can’t be later than 1916, as the railroad is identified by its previous name, the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric. The station survived the 1955 Shore Line abandonment, but was torn down around 1970.
I believe we are looking north at the Chicago and North Western commuter train station in Highland Park. If so, the North Shore Line’s tracks for the Shore Line Route would be at right in the adjacent street. Apparently the station footprint here did not allow for sufficient space to locate the NSL tracks on private right-of-way.
Another view of the C&NW Highland Park station, again looking north with the NSL Shore Line tracks in the street at right.
The entrance to Ravinia Park around 1915. It was built by the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric to help generate more ridership.
This shows the wooden “L” ramp under construction for the CTA’s Garfield Park temporary trackage that ran east of here in Van Buren Street during construction of the Congress expressway. You can see where the temporary structure was going to turn and head south, to rejoin the existing Garfield Park “L” near Sacramento Boulevard. The new alignment was used starting in September 1953, so this is some time before then. (Henryk Shafer Photo)
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) cars 77 and 8 in Media, PA on April 25, 1954. Brilliner 8 is still in its original 1941 paint scheme. (Russell E. Jackson Photo)
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) car 83 on the West Chester line in 1954. Buses replaced trolleys on this long route the same year, as part of a highway widening project. Don’s Rail Photos: “83 was built by Brill Car Co in March 1932, #22980. It became SEPTA 83 in 1970 and sold to Middletown & Hummelstown in 1982.” The M&H actually purchased car 86 in 1982, which was found to have some damage. So car 83 was renumbered as 86 by SEPTA and sold to them that way. The original car 86 also went along and was scrapped for parts. M&H is a diesel-powered tourist operation and the Red Arrow car is in storage there.
Laurel Line (Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad) cars 38, 114, and 35. I assume this is in Scranton, PA. Interurban passenger service quit on December 31, 1952.
Laurel Line car 32.
Laurel Line car 32.
Laurel Line car 19 looks like it has seen better days.
Laurel Line car 35.
Laurel Line car 32.
Another view of Laurel Line car 19.
CTA single car units 41 and 42, equipped with trolley poles for use on the Evanston branch, are posed at Sedgwick on the Ravenswood line. The date may be June 26, 1960. Sunday fantrips were popular, when Ravenswood trains only went as far as Armitage, and the fans could have lengthy photo stops without interfering with regular service. North Shore Line trains were routed via the outer tracks at this time. (Richard J. Anderson Photo)
A CTA single car unit heads south just north of South Boulevard in Evanston on May 26, 1963.
A train of 4000s at Armitage.
4000s at Wellington.
6000s at Wellington.
CTA 2041 at Hamlin on the Lake Street “L”, signed as a “B” train, sometime between 1964 and 1969.
6000s at Wellington.
6000s at Wellington.
CTA single car unit #2 at the Skokie Swift terminal at Dempster, some time in the 1960s.
4000s at Wellington.
Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC 1070 is at Park Circle on November 11, 1955, running on the 68-C 1 Ave line.
Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC 1001 is at the Bristol Street loop on line 35 – Church on May 30, 1956. The auto at right is in the “bathtub” style that was briefly popular around 1950.
Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC 1031 in May 30, 1956. This is a Church Avenue car entering the underpass at Ocean Parkway.
Chicago Surface Lines work car S-53 on October 21, 1940. Don’s Rail Photos: “S53, supply car, was built by Chicago Railways in 1909 as 10. It was renumbered S53 in 1913 and became CSL S53 in 1914. It was retired on November 25, 1949.”
Chicago Transit Authority snow plow S-319 (ex-3146) at Skokie Shops in April 1955. Don’s Rail Photos: “3146 was built by St. Louis Car in 1901 as Lake Street Elevated RR 146. It was renumbered 3146 in 1913 and became CRT 3146 in 1923.” Not sure when it was converted into a work car.
North Shore Line city streetcar 357 is in Waukegan in 1946, signed for the Naval Station. Streetcar service ended the following year. Don’s Rail Photos: “357 was built by St Louis Car Co in January 1928, #1453. It was retired in 1948 and scrapped in 1950. The last city cars purchased new by the North Shore were cars 351 thru 360. They came from St. Louis Car in 1927 and 1928 and were designed to operate as one or two man cars. 351 thru 358 went to Milwaukee, and 359 and 360 went to Waukegan. In 1942, 353 thru 358 were sent to Waukegan for wartime service. It is said that 351 and 352 were also sent to Waukegan, but if so, their stay was short. In 1947, with the abandonment of the Waukegan lines, the entire group was sent to Milwaukee to replace the Birneys. They ran until abandonment on August 12, 1951.”
NSL loco 458 at the Pettibone Yard in North Chicago on July 16, 1960. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
A North Shore Line freight train, headed by loco 456, at North Chicago Junction on March 2, 1946. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
The North Shore Line headquarters in Highwood, IL. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
NSL Silverliner756 at Highwood on April 15, 1950. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
A three-car North Shore Line train on the “L”. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
NSL 411 at Highwood on June 12, 1949. Don’s Rail Photos: “411 was built as a trailer observation car by Cincinnati Car in June 1923 #2640. It was out of service in 1932. It was rebuilt on February 25, 1943 as a two motor coach by closing in the open platform and changing the seating, and was sold to Trolley Museum of New York in 1963. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway & Historical Society in 1973 and sold to the Escanaba & Lake Superior in 1989.” (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
A four-car NSL train on Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette on February 11, 1939. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
We have several pictures from this fantrip, which covered the Shore Line Route and then continued north to Milwaukee. I bought this, as I thought it might shed some light on the photo stops. But this “timetable” only gives the starting time of the trip. It does list points of interest, route mileage, safety rules, and has a complete roster of the equipment as of late 1954… including which 15 cars had already been converted to Silverliners by that time. (I think the total had reached 30 by 1963.)
Original 1920s artwork for four North Shore Line posters… in the collection of David A. Myers, who bought them when the railroad was going out of business in 1963.
The North Shore Line Mundelein Terminal in December 1962.
The same location today, looking east. The old terminal was located just to the right of that telephone pole. You can see where the old right-of-way was in that clearing at rear.
A North Shore Line train heads north at North Chicago Junction in June 1961. The tracks at left led to the old Shore Line Route. After the 1955 abandonment, one track was kept in service to connect with the headquarters at Highwood (and also for freight use). (William Shapotkin Collection)
The late William C. Hoffman took this picture of an Electroliner menu on November 12, 1962.
The East Troy Railroad Museum
Milwaukee streetcar 846 at East Troy. Don’s Rail Photos: “846 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1920, #1239. It was one-manned in 1925 and was donated to the Kentucky Railway Museum in 1958. After two floods it went to the Appleton Trolley Museum in 1983. It was found to be severely damaged and was finally restored in 1998. In October 2002, the ATM merged with the East Troy Electric Railroad Museum and 846 was the first car moved.”
South Shore Line car 24. Don’s Rail Photos: “24 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947.” East Troy has turned it into a dining car.
South Shore Line car 33. Don’s Rail Photos: “33 was built by Standard Car in 1929, #P-3340. It was air-conditioned and sold to National Park Service in 1983.”
These stickers were applied to South Shore Line cars in the mid-1970s and became a rallying cry against abandonment.
South Shore Line car 9. Don’s Rail Photos: “9 was built by Pullman in 1926.”
South Shore Line car 13. Don’s Rail Photos: “13 was built by Pullman in 1926 and was rebuilt in 1946.”
CTA 4453. Don’s Rail Photos: “4453 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1924, #2860. It was acquired by Indiana Transportation Museum in 1974 and sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1995.” George Trapp adds: “Enjoyed your latest post, but have a correction on the build dates for CRT/CTA 4420 and 4453 at East Troy. This order #2860 for cars 4356-4455 was placed in December of 1924 but the cars were actually built in 1925, being delivered in late summer, August and September. Car #4422 was photographed on September 4, 1925 by Cincinnati Car. The only cars built in 1924 were 4351-4355, order #2715 ordered in 1923 by Chicago Elevated prior to merger of January, 1924 of Northwestern, Metropolitan and South Side into CRT. Bankrupt Chicago & Oak Park purchased at foreclosure later in January, 1924.”
Sheboygan Light, Power and Railway Company car 26. Don’s Rail Photos: “Sheboygan 26 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1908, #835. It was converted to one man operation. It later was used as a lake cabin for many years and was given full restoration to its original condition.” This car was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company locomotive L-9. Don’s Rail Photos: “L9 was built at Cold Spring in 1944. It became WEPCo L9 in 1963 and was acquired by WERHS in 1979. It became East Troy Electric Ry L9 in 1989.”
South Shore Line car 30. Don’s Rail Photos: “30 was built by Standard Car in 1929, #P-3340. It was air conditioned and sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway Museum in 1984. It was sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1984. It was later rebuilt without the humps and renumbered 1130.”
South Shore Line car 25. Don’s Rail Photos: “25 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947.” East Troy has turned it into a dining car.
North Shore Line car 761 has recently been restored by East Troy and looks beautiful. Don’s Rail Photos: “761 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930. It was modernized in 1949 and rebuilt as a Silverliner in October 11, 1957.” It has had a number of owners since 1963 but came to East Troy from the Michigan Transit Museum in 2001.
Watch your step. The car could board on either high-level or low-level platforms.
761’s cab area.
This would have been the smoking compartment back in the day.
The museum is justifiably proud of their restoration work.
The ticket booth at East Troy.
Bob Heinlein and his brother at East Troy.
CTA 4420 at the Elegant Farmer store in Mukwonago. Don’s Rail Photos: “4420 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1924, #2860. It was acquired by Wisconsin Electric Historical Society on February 11, 1975, and sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1988.” George Trapp adds: “Enjoyed your latest post, but have a correction on the build dates for CRT/CTA 4420 and 4453 at East Troy. This order #2860 for cars 4356-4455 was placed in December of 1924 but the cars were actually built in 1925, being delivered in late summer, August and September. Car #4422 was photographed on September 4, 1925 by Cincinnati Car. The only cars built in 1924 were 4351-4355, order #2715 ordered in 1923 by Chicago Elevated prior to merger of January, 1924 of Northwestern, Metropolitan and South Side into CRT. Bankrupt Chicago & Oak Park purchased at foreclosure later in January, 1924.”
We recently received these two photos from our good friend David Harrison:
CTA 3311 on June 19, 2006 charter, paying tribute to the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox. (Bruce C. Nelson Photo, courtesy of David Harrison)
David Harrison in his CTA uniform, near Loomis, in a photo taken by his mother. I couldn’t quite make the processing date out on the slide– it was either December ’65 or ’66, although this picture was obviously taken at a different time of the year.
North Shore Line Mystery Photo
If anyone knows who took this picture, taken at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal, please let me know. I checked with the Center for Railroad Photography and Art, and it apparently was not taken by the late John E. Gruber, although it does look similar to his work.
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.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
For Shipping to Canada:
For Shipping Elsewhere:
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
This is our 289th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 879,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.
You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.
As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”
We thank you for your support.
In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.
Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.
Photographer Richard H. Young took this picture of North Shore Line car 157 at the Milwaukee Terminal on June 16, 1962 during a fantrip. It must have been taken at nearly the exact same time as a photo we ran some time ago, which was somewhat controversial, and shows the same scene from a different angle, with the Milwaukee Road train shed off in the distance, behind car 157.
The same location today.
The other slide, also from the same June 16, 1962 fantrip.
Looking east along Clybourn today.
Most of today’s post is by guest author and historian Larry Sakar, who takes us on a journey following the North Shore Line interurban’s former path through Milwaukee. We hope that you will enjoy it.
Larry is the author of Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit? published in 1991 by Interurbans Press. Used copies are available through Amazon and other booksellers.
Larry was inspired, in part, by some of the Milwaukee photos we ran in our recent post Trick or Treat (October 31 2021). We will have more such pictures in future posts.
Auction for Rare North Shore Line Ticket Cabinet From Dempster Street Station, Skokie
FYI, much as I would like to think otherwise, you can’t keep everything. And thus I have reluctantly decided to part with the original North Shore Line ticket cabinet from the Dempster Street Station in Skokie, which was willed to me earlier this year by my late friend Jeffrey L. Wien. The proceeds will help to underwrite the cost of the Trolley Dodger blog.
From sometime in 1920 until January 21 1963, the downtown (main) station of the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad was on the southeast corner of North 6th and West Sycamore Streets. In the 1930 renaming of Milwaukee streets West Sycamore became West Michigan Streets. The first photo shows a train laying over at the station in the evening. Date and photographer unknown.
After the North Shore Line abandoned operations on January 21 1963, the former station sat vacant until late May into early June 1964 when it was razed to make way for another downtown Milwaukee parking lot. This Tom Manz aerial photo shows the southwest corner of track 1 or where track 1 used to be. You are looking west at the intersection of North 6th Street and West Clybourn Street. Note the start of the 6th Street viaduct at bottom left. The overhead catenary bridges stood for many years post-abandonment. West Clybourn Avenue continues across the intersection with North 6th Street. The angled street seen branching odd immediately left of Clybourn Avenue is the start of West Saint Paul Ave. In North Shore’s day Saint Paul Avenue did not go east of North 6th Street, nor did it cross beneath the 6th Street viaduct. The street that is today Saint Paul Avenue east of North 6th Street was known as West Fowler Street in North Shore Line’s day and contained nothing but warehouses. Saint Paul Avenue continued east of North 6th Street starting in 1965 when the new Milwaukee Road passenger station opened on now West Saint Paul Avenue and North 5th Street. Today it has become the Milwaukee Intermodal station serving Amtrak and several bus lines. Today (2021) the site of the Milwaukee North Shore line Station is occupied by Secura Insurance Company.
North Shore trains leaving the 6th & Michigan Streets Milwaukee station cut across the intersection of North 6th Street and West Clybourn Avenue, made a curve to the left and entered the north approach to the 6th Street viaduct. There are four viaducts across the Menomonee River Valley in Milwaukee. All of them run north-south. They are 6th Street, 16th Street, 27th Street, and 35th Street. The North Shore line had exclusive access to the 6th Street viaduct. North Shore Line’s competitor The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company operated streetcars over both the 16th and 27th Street viaducts. The 35th Street viaduct was the last of the four to be built. The Route 35 streetcar line ended at West Mount Vernon Avenue and did not cross the viaduct. After Route 35 was converted to Trackless trolley wire was erected and trolleybuses ran across the viaduct. Today Route 35 diesel buses of the Milwaukee County Transit System operate across all four viaducts. Post-NSL abandonment the North Shore Line’s rails remained intact but the overhead catenary bridges were removed in later years. The condition of the bridge in the 1990s had become so bad that buses and trucks were banned. Traffic was confined to the inner two lanes. Pieces of the 6th Street viaduct were actually falling off. (1951 Don Ross Photo)
The 6th Street viaduct was torn down in 2000. The scrappers nwere selling sections of North Shore Line rail to anyone willing to pay their exorbitant asking price. It has been rebuilt into two separate bridges which meet at ground level at West Canal Street. The decision to make it into two bridges which meet at Canal Street was likely influenced by the opening of the Potawatomi Hotel and Bingo Casino at North 17th and West Canal Streets. (Christopher N. Barney Photo)
North Shore Line tracks on the 6th St. viaduct. (1989 Christopher N. Barney Photo)
North Shore Line trains continued south on South 6th Street until West Scott Street. Here they made a left turn and followed West Scott Street south for one block on a curvy part of the right-of-way for one block east to South Fifth Street where they turned right onto South Fifth Street. Their next stop was West Greenfield Avenue.
The city of Milwaukee or the county (I’m not sure which) purchased that one block. Today southbound traffic on South 6th Street turns onto what is left of that one block and makes the nearly identical turn to get to West Greenfield Avenue which is the first ramp to southbound Interstate Highway 94 south of downtown Milwaukee. The former factory seen in many photos of North Shore Line trains at this location still stands and is in use for low income housing. (Christopher N. Barney Photo)
As our train continues plodding along on South Fifth Street we pass West Chase Avenue. where we see this rather odd shaped building. In the days of the North Shore Line, South 5th Street was a beautiful south side neighborhood all the way south to West Harrison Avenue. When the I-94 freeway was built every home and business along the east side of South Fifth Street was torn down to accommodate the expressway on and off ramps. Several homes and businesses on the street’s west side also suffered the same fate. (1955 Don Ross Photo)
The same location in 2016. A Chris Barney Photo.
At South Fifth and West Mitchell Streets we stop to pick-up passengers on the northwest corner. Our train passes Notre Dame Catholic High School and Saint Stanislaus Church. (Frank Butts Photo, January 1963)
Notre Dame Catholic High School and Saint Stanislaus Church are still there today, and look just as they did in North Shore’s day. The automobiles are different, but nothing remains to show that North Shore Line trains once stopped here. (Christopher N. Barney Photo)
Let’s begin the rest of our southbound trip on the North Shore Line at Harrison Avenue (the NSL called it Harrison Street). Harrison Avenue marked the end of street running and the start of the private right-of-way. The Harrison Street shops building and yards sat along the east side of the property.
After the North Shore Line was abandoned in 1963, the track and wire was removed but the building remained standing. As the years went by its appearance worsened. All of the windows had the glass removed and were boarded up. But the front of the building continued to display its heritage. Above the door that opened into the shops was the original stone letterboard which said Chicago and Milwaukee Electric Railway 1908. According to TWERHS president Chuck Westerman, TWERHS obtained the letterboard and brought it with them when they moved out to East Troy in 1972. (This was the original East Troy Trolley Museum.) While lifting it to be moved one day it was accidentally dropped and shattered into pieces.
I vividly recall coming home from school one day in 1968. I would always read the Milwaukee Journal before dinner. The “Journal” as we called it for short was Milwaukee’s evening newspaper.
On the editorial page was a drawing of a decrepit looking building with the caption (as best I can recall) that read North Shore Line shops. The editorial urged the demolition of the building because it was located directly above Interstate 94. Southbound drivers did not see it because the highway is sort of “tucked-in” beneath a cement retaining wall. However, northbound drivers got a full view. The editorial said that this gave a bad impression to anyone coming into Milwaukee on I94 from the south.
Up to that point, I was not aware that the Harrison shops building was still standing. Armed with that information I went there that weekend. The building looked every bit as bad as the editorial cartoon had depicted it. The former right-of-way was just bare ground. There wasn’t a trace of any of the tracks that had been there.
The building was torn down but I don’t know when. If you looked in a Milwaukee City Directory from 1963 on, the shops complex was not even listed. It was as if it had vanished into thin air. I had expected the address to be listed with “Vacant” shown after.
In 2017 the former Harrison Street shops property was redeveloped into Saint Augustine’s Academy, a Christian college preparatory school complete with stadium and playing field. Chris Barney, who took the present day pictures, thought the shops were on the southbound side of the right-of-way and did not take any pictures of the stadium and playing field which now occupies the site of the Harrison Street shops.
Notice the houses in the background. You see the corner of the school in the left corner (upper corner) of Chris’ photo. Now look to the right just slightly and on the northwest corner of 5th & Harrison you see a house with a window kind of dead center in the upper story. Also note the row of houses along S. 5th on the right side of the picture. Now look at the shots of the Electroliner arriving at 5th & Harrison before it. Every one of those houses, including the one on the northwest corner is still there. The only thing besides the shops that isn’t was that one story building on the right with cars parked against it. It was some sort of machine shop but I don’t think it was related to the North Shore Line. Those houses may not be there for much longer. The school is proposing to buy that entire block of S. 5th for one block north of Harrison Avenue. They want to construct a quad with a movie theater, an athletic building and other amenities for their students. The proposal including drawings of what it might look like appeared in the Milwaukee Journal about two or so months ago.
Next Stop: Oklahoma Avenue
For many years, TMER&L’s Route 16 streetcar line South 6th Street operated between North 60th and West Vliet Streets, all the way across town, via various routings. From downtown Milwaukee south, TM streetcars operated out of the downtown area via various streets to North Third Street and West Plankinton Avenue.
Here they turned south on and followed Plankinton Avenue, which becomes south Second Street after crossing the Menomonee River. Second Street was used as far as West Greenfield Avenue, where cars turned left and went one block east to South First Street. Another right turn took Route 16 streetcars to the intersection of S. Kinnickinnic Avenue and West Mitchell Streets.
This was and to this day is the location of MCTS’ (then TM’s) Kinnickinnic Avenue car [now bus] station. Streetcars turned west on West Mitchell Street and traveled west to its intersection with South Sixth Street. Cars turned left (southbound) and ran on South Sixth Street (South First Avenue before 1930) to West Euclid Street, where they turned west to South Ninth Place to reach the end of the line at West Morgan Avenue.
The “convoluted” route out of downtown Milwaukee was due to one factor- The North Shore Line. The 6th Street viaduct across the Menomonee River Valley was the exclusive property of the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric Railway and was used by both southbound and northbound North Shore Line interurbans, as well as the Birney cars and later St. Louis-built 350 series city cars on North Shore’s beloved “Nickel Dinky Line.”
TM streetcars had South Sixth Street all to themselves from West Mitchell Street south, because the North Shore’s cars operated on South Fifth Street. After getting onto the private right-of-way at Harrison Street the North Shore cars ran on an embankment high above South Sixth Street.
The “Dinky Line” ended at West Oklahoma Avenue, then traveled one block farther south to West Euclid Avenue, where they changed ends and laid over at a tiny platform just north of the Oklahoma Avenue crossing. It’s hard to believe that anyone would hike up the steep stairs from Sixth Street to the platform, but they did, many after walking blocks out of their way just to save five cents. TM streetcar fare was ten cents vs. the “Dinky” line which was a nickel. South side Milwaukeeans were notoriously frugal!
Today South Sixth Street and West Oklahoma Avenue is the one spot on the abandoned North Shore right of way that shows a hint on what used to be here.
A list of the ways in which the North Shore’s “Nickel Dinky Line” beat TM’s Route 16 streetcar line:
1. The “Dinky Line” was faster. TM streetcars on Route 16 had to stop every two blocks. The “Dinky Line” stopped only at major intersections, i.e. Fifth and Mitchell, Fifth and Greenfield and Fifth and National. 2. Between Harrison Avenue and Sixth and Oklahoma, the “Dinky” was on private right-of-way. 3. The North Shore “Dinky Line’s fare was a nickel for its entire life. TMER&L was steadily increasing fares. 4. The North Shore “Dinky Line” only crossed two short bridges on the Sixth Street viaduct. The one nearest the Sixth and Clybourn Streets end of the NSL station was over the Menomonee River, and the other just past W. Canal Street, (which as the name implies was the Menomonee River canal) a branch off the river. TM streetcars had to contend with crossings of the Milwaukee River, the Menomonee River and the Kinnickinnic River.
6th & Oklahoma in the 1940s. (Don Ross Photo)
The remains of the abandoned right-of-way at 6th and Oklahoma. (Christopher N. Barney Photo)
The End of the North Shore Line Right-of-Way
Continuing south on the private right-of-way above South Sixth Street, North Shore Line trains crossed over West Holt Avenue. In addition, the Milwaukee Road trains coming out of downtown Milwaukee and heading for points south such as Chicago or Bensenville crossed at grade. I do not have any pictures of that area.
After the North Shore Line was abandoned in 1963, the area saw a significant change in 1965. West of South Sixth Street, Holt Avenue was connected to West Morgan Avenue at South Ninth Street. This was done to expedite traffic heading to the entrance ramp to either southbound or northbound Interstate Highway 94.
The Milwaukee Road was grade separated by a long bridge across South Sixth Street. Seeking to take advantage of this, The Milwaukee and Suburban Transport Company (aka “The Transport Company ”) added a “Park ‘n’ Ride lot along the east side of the abandoned North Shore Line right-of-way. This lot is for riders on Bus Route 40- the Holt-College Freeway Flyer line.
Buses do not enter the parking lot, but stop on a bus-only section of the off ramp to pick-up or discharge passengers. As best as I have been able to tell, this ramp occupies at least part, if not all of the North Shore line’s northbound track. This could easily have been transformed into a Rapid Transit line between Mitchell International Airport and downtown Milwaukee.
Just before the abandoned right-of-way gets to its present day end at West Bolivar Avenue, it passes through what was once the Sixth Street cut. The cut began at West Howard Avenue and continued south to TMER & L’s Rapid Transit Line to Hales Corners at Greenwood Junction Lakeside Belt Line, which carried coal from Powereton Junction (approximately South 13th Street and West Waterford Avenue) to the Lakeside Power Plant.
This was strictly a freight line except for a 1939 CERA fan trip, which operated over it all the way west to the connection with TM’s Hales Corners Rapid Transit line at Greenwood Junction (South 100th Street one block south of West Howard Avenue.
North Shore trains emerged from the cut after crossing beneath West Waterford Avenue. CERA Bulletin 107, Route of the Electroliners states that the cut was three miles long. That is incorrect. It was three blocks long. The cut was filled in by the city of Milwaukee in March 1989. This area had once been the Town of Lake.
The tall, round tower seen across South Sixth Street is the former Town of Lake water tower which no longer holds water. The tower has been used for all sorts of things since being replaced by the water treatment plant almost next to its north face on the southwest corner of South Sixth Street and West Howard Avenue.
One additional piece of information that may be of interest to Trolley Dodger readers. You can now purchase a garden plot on the filled-in 6th Street cut and grow what you line. Quite a few people seem to have done just that. I do not know what it costs.
Finally, we come to the end of the North Shore Line’s abandoned right-of-way within the city of Milwaukee at West Bolivar Avenue. The high embankment ends suddenly and goes no further south. This is where present day I-94 coming from downtown and heading west to the Mitchell Interchange crosses over South 6th Street.
From the south side of I-94 south, the right-of-way is completely gone. The land is occupied by restaurants, hotels from the former crossing of West Layton Avenue to the Airport Business Park. If you weren’t previously aware of the wonderful interurban line that passed this way you would never know it now.
No trace of the North Shore exists anywhere south of this point, except for a tiny spot where it crossed beneath the intersection of South Howell and West Rawson Avenues. I end with a Then and Now view at Howell and Rawson. Post-abandonment the bridges above the NSL were removed and the grades of both streets lowered.
In case you might be wondering, the abandoned NSL right-of-way is posted in spots ‘NO TRESPASSING PROPERTY OF MILWAUKEE COUNTY EXPRESSWAY COMMISSION.”
A North Shore Line two-car train is southbound in the 6th Street cut at Norwich Ave. (Bob Genack Photo)
The Old Town of Lake water tower at S. 6th & W. Norwich in 1989 (Christopher N. Barney Photo)
North Shore Line 749 and three others, northbound at Bolivar Avenue in 1955. (Don Ross Photo)
The abandoned North Shore Line right-of-way at West Bolivar Ave. This is where the abandoned right-of-way now comes to an abrupt end within the city limits of Milwaukee.
North Shore Line 758 is northbound at Howell and Rawson in 1955. (Don Ross Photo)
Howell and Rawson, looking south on Howell (present day) (Christopher N. Barney Photo)
Howell and Rawson, looking southeast (present day) (Christopher N. Barney Photo)
I thought you’d enjoy these two NSL pics. The first one is what we’ve been discussing about TM and NSL competing at 6th and Oklahoma. You have an 800-series car on TM route 16 northbound, and a Birney up on the embankment laying over ready to return to downtown Milwaukee. I don’t know who took it. The fact that the NSL car is a Birney and because you have a streetcar on Route 16 places this picture sometime before July 1947.
The second photo shows one of the “Liners” at full speed one block farther south at 6th and Euclid. It is southbound passing the Heil Company. Heil made things like garbage trucks and other types of municipal vehicles. The building is still there, next to the abandoned right-of-way, but the Heil Company is gone. The building now houses corporate offices for Aurora Health Care. If you look to the left, you get a pretty good idea of just how high up that right-of-way was above South Sixth Street. Don Ross took this picture. He must have had someone holding on to him because a “Liner” coming past you at full speed would have tossed you down to 6th Street. I don’t think I’d have ever tried anything like this!
Thanks, Larry! Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
CTA PCC 7202 is southbound on Clark Street near 15th Street and the St. Charles Air Line, possibly around 1956.
CTA PCCs 7195 and 7180 at 81st and Halsted, south end of Route 22, possibly circa 1956.
CTA PCCs 7175 and 7160 at 81st and Halsted.
CTA red Pullman 863 is northbound on Stony Island at 72nd Street, headed towards Navy Pier. Stuart B. Slaymaker: “Big Kaiser-Frazer dealer in the right background.”