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.
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I have been interested in historic preservation for a long time, and it’s not every day that anyone comes across original material such as this. Suddenly, out of nowhere it seems, previously unknown, unissued audio recordings have emerged for some long-vanished steam and electric railroads, along with 16mm motion picture film, and various artifacts related to the Railroad Record Club’s 42 issued LPs, in their various forms. It seems like a miracle that somehow, it all survived to be rescued from oblivion.
Getting this done involved a tremendous financial sacrifice on Ken’s part, as he is of modest means. I hope that he will be able to recoup at least some of his substantial investment in the future. I am sure he will appreciate any contributions you may be able to offer him, towards the cost of transferring some of these reel-to-reel tapes and 16mm movie films to digital.
PS- Our new book Building Chicago’s Subways is now available for immediate shipment. If you already pre-ordered it, your copy is already on its way to you. We are excited to have had the opportunity to tell the story of this exciting chapter in Chicago history. Details on how to order are at the end of this post.
Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt, Part 2
It’s been over a year since I acquired a large portion of the William Steventon estate. The Railroad Record Club items that I purchased last year have enabled David and I to piece together a fairly complete history of the RRC and to more fully appreciate the time and effort Mr. Steventon put into producing these records. The homemade 78rpm records alone proved to be an invaluable resource. Not only did they provide us with some wonderful recordings, most of which hadn’t been heard in over fifty years, they revealed the pre-history of the club and offered a glimpse into the infancy of railroad field recording.
We were able to hear the very first railroad recording Steventon made– B&O trains at Riverdale, Maryland in 1953. We also finally completed our quest to get a copy of every single released RRC record digitized and put on CDs. We are now only in need of two samplers, the 5th and 6th years. More interesting information was garnered from examining original record jacket artwork and paste up boards, as well as the metal print blocks. We were also able to compile a list of records re-issued on 12″ stock and find out what was necessary for it to happen and the cost of doing it.
Photographs from his personal collection were scanned and published in the Trolley Dodger for all to enjoy. I think the effort that went into keeping all this material from ending up in a dumpster was well worth the time and expense and I’m happy to have been involved.
In spite of this, I knew the job was only half finished. There was much more that needed to be saved and time was running out. Those tapes I wrote about under the heading “what I left behind” in the first treasure hunt story needed to be preserved. There were still a big box of photos, reams of correspondence, the metal master discs for the 12″ reissues and lots and lots of sealed records.
The estate dealer was quite adamant that this stuff had to go…and quickly! I purchased all that I could, but I certainly could not afford to buy anything else and asked for some time to raise the money. As I tried to come up with the extra cash needed, months went by and the emails ceased. For a while it seemed that all this great material would be lost. Still, I squirreled away what money I could when I could and slowly, much too slowly, I approached his asking price. With the funds in hand, I emailed the estate dealer putting in the subject line that I HAD the money for the remaining Steventon estate items. Even as I composed that email I couldn’t be sure that the entire lot wasn’t already in some land fill rotting away. He answered me the next day, but it seemed a lot longer then that to me. His first two sentences were a relief:
Ken, good to hear from you. Yes, it is all as we left it a year ago.
There was one complication that needed to be addressed. I could not make the trip up to him in Wisconsin this year as I had done before. All the items would have to be shipped to me in New Jersey.
The estate dealer was agreeable to packing up the items and doing the weighing and making the transportation arrangements, but again there was a complication. This was his busy season and he would be working extensively out of town. He would not be able to devote much time to this effort for the next few weeks. A little progress was made here and there through the rest of June and I purchased boxes and packing material in July. I was a little apprehensive about shipping old open reel tapes and vinyl records during the hottest part of the summer anyway, so I just had to be patient. In early August progress was made and on the 13th I received the long-awaited email:
The last box is packed. You’ll have a pallet coming that’s right around 400 pounds, perhaps a touch over. Nine boxes to be delivered to the YRC terminal.
Several more delays would still be encountered, not the lest of which was the local hardware store’s forklift needing repairs. The hardware store, for a $20 fee, would be used to lift the pallet onto the truck. At last, in early September, with all hurdles cleared, a newly-repaired forklift placed the shipment on to the truck. Finally, the second half of the Steventon estate’s Railroad Record Club items were on their way to me.
A few days later I heading to the local YRC terminal to receive the long-awaited shipment. After some paperwork in the office, I backed a borrowed ¾-ton pick-up truck to the indicated bay. Soon a forklift lowered the last of the Railroad Record Club items from the Steventon estate into the truck bed. I now had a night of treasure hunting to look forward to!
I had sort of “cherry picked” the first half of the estate, so I knew that a great unexpected find was rather doubtful, but I did come across a few surprises.
2 Tapes appear to be in good condition
3 Tape with hand written track listing
4 More unreleased Steventon audio
5 Lots of interesting material on these tapes
6 Still more intersting tapes
7 Unreleased audio this is why I bought the whole lot
8 Steventon tapes
9 More Stevnton tapes
10 Even more tapes
11 Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records
12 Another view of the Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records
13 A box full of the Small reels -the master tapes for the 78rpm records
14 Close up of the 78rpm record master tapes
15 Another Close up of the 78rpm record master tapes
16 78rpm master tapes showing condition of tapes-not too bad
17 close up of 78rpm master tape showing condition
18 BC Electric and Montreal & South Counties tapes with Steventon letter
19 Montreal & South Counties tape with Steventon letter
20 BC Electric tape with Steventon letter
21 Close up of the BC Electric and Montreal & South Counties tapes
22 Railroad Record Club Master tapes
23 Master tape for record 26
24 A stack of 22 Railroad Record Club Master tapes
25 master tape Railroad Record Club number 16
26 master tape Railroad Record Club number 15
27 master tape Railroad Record Club with memo
28 master tape Railroad Record Club number 17
29 master tape Railroad Record Club number 18
30 Note on box containing master tape Railroad Record Club number 18
31 Two master tapes for record number 3
32 Two master tapes for record number 3 showing condition
33 master tape Railroad Record Club number 7
34 master tapes Railroad Record Club number 10
35 master tape Railroad Record Club number 23 with memo
36 master tape Railroad Record Club number 17
The reel to reel tapes that I had left behind last year were the real reason I went to all this trouble and expense to acquire the rest of the estate. I’m sure I did not get any of the tapes that were actually in Steventon’s recorder when he was trackside, but they may no longer exist. Perhaps he transferred these “field tapes” to newer tape stock, in an effort to preserve them and some of these duplicates are what I received. There is at least one recording I know he made that is not among my tapes. In the liner notes of Record Number 20, Steventon writes that the cab ride onboard NYC # 1441 with his father at the throttle was edited down from over two hours of tape. I would have been very happy to find 4 or 5 reels of tape marked “cab ride with Dad” but it was not to be. What I did find, however, is some very good and interesting stuff, most of which has never been released on a Railroad Record Club LP.
One tape that was a bit of a surprise was a 4″ reel of tape marked NYS&W. Of all the railroads in the New York area, why the Susquehanna? If he recorded this tape while in New York to ride and record the Queensboro Bridge trolley, which had to be prior to April 1957 when that line shut down, then why not record PRR K-4s on the New York & Long Branch which lasted until October of that year? Or all those electric locomotives on the NYC and NYNH&H? Perhaps he did record some or all these railroads and I just don’t have the tapes. Anything is possible, but I have found no evidence that he ever did. I’ll just have to wait until I have the NYS&W tape put on CD to find out just what the attraction may have been.
Other interesting finds include three 5″ reels of a fan trip operated by the Northern Pacific Railroad on June 20, 1957. 4-8-4 # 2686 pulled the train from St. Paul, MN to Staples. One tape is labeled “NP 2686-LV MPLS,” the second NP 2686 coal dock stop,” and the last, “NP 2686 LV Staples.” There was also a negative of the NP 2686 at Staples found among the photographs. Other steam and/or diesel tapes are labeled “CPR,” “NKP Ft. Wayne,” “N&W,” and “Soo Line.”
The traction fans among us will be happy to know there is plenty for them. The CNS&M has several tapes devoted to it. One tape is marked “CNS&M switching at Rondout and Mundelein”. There is a cut on Record 26 of locomotive # 459 switching at Rondout, but not at Mundelein. Another North Shore tape is marked “Mundelein Run” and another simply ” Mundelein”. One more CNS&M tape has “Electroliner” written on the box.
There is a tape marked “ITS 202”, apparently Steventon preferred Illinois Traction System to Illinois Terminal. On Record 25 Steventon wrote in the liner notes, “We had just arrived (at Harristown, IL) on interurban No. 202 where we had made an “on train” recording east from Springfield. We alighted and watched the 202 fade into the distance. This was the last sight and sound we had of the Illinois Terminal as an interurban. The “on train” recording of 202 and a streamliner is scheduled for release at a later date.” It never was. I don’t know about the streamliner recording, I may or may not have it, but I will consider it a privilege to be involved with releasing the 202 recording for him.
There are also tapes of the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City (CRANDIC), Charles City Western, Toledo & Eastern, and Capital Transit. Canadian traction fans are not overlooked either. There is a 5″ reel of the Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. There are also two 5″ reels, one each, of the BC Electric and the Montreal & Southern Counties. These two tapes were recorded by Eugene Van Dusen, and the accompanying letter to Steventon, plus a copy of it sent to Elwin Purington, were found among some RRC papers I have. Another reel of tape not recorded by Steventon is “Cincinnati Street Railway Car 187 12/13/51.” Finding this was a nice surprise. I don’t know who did record it, but Steventon did not start making recordings until 1953.
Here is the entire list of the tape reels, excluding 21/2″ reels which I’ll list separately, and the master tapes for the LPs,
REEL TO REEL TAPES
INFORMATION MARKED ON TAPE BOXES
1. CPR-J. Van Brocklin 2. Soo Line 3. T&E NKP Diesel-NKP Ft. Wayne 4. N&W 5. N&W from Salem 6. N&W Billy + Larry on end 7. NP 2686 Lv Mpls-6/20/57 8. NP 2686 coal dock stop 9. NP 2686 Lv Staples 10. B. C. Electric 11. Montreal & Southern Counties 12. Potomac Edison #5 13. Potomac Edison H&F last run radio program 14. CNS&M -switching at Rondout and Mundelein 15. Mundelein Run 16. Capital Transit co 1151 17. ITS car 202 18. Cedar Rapids and Iowa City 5/31/53 19. CCW 5/18/54* 20. CCW CC to Colwell 21. Toledo & Eastern 22. PRR GG-1s
1. Railroading in Spooner Wisconsin 2. CNS&M Electroliner 3. N. St. C & Toronto 4. Johnstown Traction and Altoona & Logan Valley 5. Cincinnati Street Railway car 187 12/13/51
The next bunch of tapes are smaller reels. These 21/2″ reels are in their original manufacture’s boxes and are marked only with a Railroad name and a catalog number. The catalog numbers correspond with the catalog numbers on the 10″ 78rpm acetate records that I acquired with the first half of the estate. As producing these records was a very time-consuming task, Steventon saved time by making a master tape for each record. The master tape would contain his spoken introductions followed by the train sounds. I bought over sixty of these small master tapes, and a large number have never been put on the regular Railroad Record Club releases. They contain sounds of railroads I was completely unaware Steventon ever recorded, such as L&N, Southern, and Virginian. This collection also contains the Queensboro Bridge trolley, the IND subway, and the Third Avenue EL recordings Steventon made in New York City.
This is not a complete set of all the master tapes made for the 78rpm records to be sure, but it’s most of them. I consider it a small miracle that any survive at all! I am not an audio expert, but in my opinion, uninformed as it may be, these tapes appear to be in reasonably good condition. I would think that the tapes would be able to withstand a few more plays, enough to be digitized at least. Neither David nor I have the equipment to attempt this and I think it would be ill advised of us to try anyway. The tapes are old and were not stored in archival conditions. I’m sure the prudent course of action is to entrust any work on them to a professional.
The last batch of tapes are the master tapes made for the released Railroad Record Club LPs. There are different size reels, some tapes are only of one side of the LP while others have both sides on the same reel. Some are in good condition and some are not. Some I have multiple copies of and a few of the LPs I have no tapes for, Rather then make a complete list of every reel I will simply list the few LPs I have NO master tapes for.
Most of these reels are 7″ with only a few smaller or larger. The most interesting master tapes are the reels for RRC 3 EBT/D&RGW. There are two 7″ reels that most likely have the original release version of the record, the one with William Steventon’s narration. There are also two 5″ reels, one marked “sounds only” and the other labeled “Narrative.” Since Steventon removed his voice from the 12″reissue of the record, the “Narrative” tape must contain just the voice of Elwin Purington doing the new narration.
I’m not sure just what to do with these master tapes. Some are in rough shape and all these sounds are on the released Railroad Record Club LPs. It certainly would be a considerable expense to digitize them all and no new sounds would be gained. For now, I’ll store them in the best possible conditions that I can provide and perhaps one day a clear path of action will present itself.
1 Steventon Film that should be all trains
2 Capital Transit B&W Night Film
3 Steventon film
4 Pennsy and B&O film
5 Back of Kodachrome box
6 Front of kodachrome box
I found several rolls of 16mm movie film within the boxes of audio tapes. Fortunately, Steventon was very good at labeling everything. He inserted little slips of paper into the film boxes listing the contents of the films. Unfortunately, the majority are family home movies. Most are of Steventon’s son Seth. His first day of school, Christmases, and birthday parties. There were six 100-foot reels that should be all trains.
1. 100-foot reel but only about 50 feet of film. Labeled “Pennsy Fan Trip and B&O near Riverdale.” 2. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “Canada Term”. I’m not sure what that is supposed to indicate. I unspooled a few feet of film and the first few frames are without a doubt a steeple cab locomotive. 3. 100-foot reel, full, B&W, labeled “Cap Transit Night Film.” 4. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “EBT Reel 1.” 5. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “EBT Reel 2.” 6. 100-foot reel, full, labeled “Negative 1R Freight” Also written on box “bad footage.”
1 Selection of print blocks
2 More print blocks
3 Still more print blocks
4. Print block for very early RRC traction logo
5. Railroad Record Club logo print block
6 Another style Railroad Record Club logo print block
7 Interurban car fron LP Sound Scrapbook-Traction
8 Interurban car fron LP Sound Scrapbook-Traction in two sizes
9 PRR steamer from 1st edition of RRC 10 in two sizes
10 D&RGW locomotive from the 1st edition of the LP the Siverton Train
11A Print block for NKP LP
12 Ad for RRC 25
13 Ad for RRC 25 reversed
14 Print block for large ad
15 Print block for large ad reversed
16 Ad for traction watch fobs
17 Ad for steam LPs
18 Ad for steam LPs reversed
19 Strange RRC ad
20 Strange RRC ad printed version
I also acquired a good number of print blocks, which are mostly quite small and were used in the RRC advertisements. I have a bunch of print blocks of the LP covers, all about the size of a postage stamp. They were used in ads and in the catalogs. There are a few complete ads that mostly feature a single record release. One large ad of interest is a very 1960’s, almost psychedelic illustration of a steam locomotive looming over a record player. Smoke is shooting from it’s stack and entwined within the billows of smoke are such things as a whistle blowing, a box cab electric locomotive, and a steam train. LPs are seen flying through the air and the words “steam and electric recordings” in twisted snake-like lettering fills the upper portion. Wild and unexpected. I would certainly like to know if this ad ever appeared anywhere in print.
I did not make a list of these small print blocks, there are just too many. I did photograph a representative selection of them. These photos will give a good idea of what is in the collection.
1 41 copies of RRC 3
2 18 copies of RRC 5
3 RCA test pressing for Sound Scrapbook Steam showing notation on upper left of sleeve
4 RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal one of only 3 good discs
5 Back of RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal
6 Close up of RCA test pressing for Illinois Terminal
7 Close up of RCA test pressing for NKP
8 RCA test pressing for CN showing damage
9 Metal press stamp
10 Metal press stamp with cardboard sleeve
11 RRC Nashville Metal press stamp
12 Metal press stamps in cardboard sleeves for RRC4 B&O