Larry Sakar, TM, and Speedrail

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don's Rail Photos: "1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952." It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don’s Rail Photos: “1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952.” It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Today, we are featuring some recent correspondence with Larry Sakar, author of the 1991 book Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?. This has long been a collector’s item– try finding a copy at a reasonable price, and you will see what I mean.

Larry has continued his research in the 26 years since this book came out, and has a new book in the works. Larry is very outspoken, and doesn’t pull any punches. Perhaps that is because he knows his subject so well.

Meanwhile, this Wednesday, I sent off the corrected proofs of our own book Chicago Trolleys to the publisher. That means our part in it is now pretty much done, except perhaps for answering any questions that the proofreaders might have. Then it will go to press and the publication date is September 25.

If any of you have ever written a book, you may know that it is something akin to wrestling an alligator. However, now I believe I’ve got the alligator wrestled to the ground, and am very happy with the finished product. Chances are, you will be too.

-David Sadowski

Larry A. Sakar writes:

I just discovered your site and saw the 3 color photos of LVT 1100 & 1102 loaded onto flat cars for the trip to Milwaukee (Odds and Ends, May 5, 2017). The Feb., 1948 date is not correct. Speedrail did not exist in 1948. It began on 9/2/49 after Jay Maeder bought the Waukesha line from Northland Greyhound for $110!

I know because I’m Larry Sakar, author of “Speedrail Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?” published by Interurban Press in 1991.

Cars 1100 & 1102 were purchased sometime in late October by Jay Maeder who went to Allentown for the purpose of buying additional Cincinnati Curved side lightweight cars to go with the 6 purchased by Ed Tennyson, Speedrail’s VP of operations in Sept. 1949 from Shaker Heights Rapid Transit (cars 60-65). SHRT sold Tennyson the 6 cars for $500 each and he leased them back to Speedrail. The sale was supposed to be contingent on Mr. Maeder putting up the additional $2300 for spare parts. Whether or not he did I have never been able to find out.

Maeder paid $750 each for 1100 & 1102 which were supposedly the best 2 of the 4 cars (1100-1103). You are absolutely correct about the refurbishing of 1102 into MRT car 66 which premiered on 3/31/51 and served only for 3 months before Speedrail ended all operations on 6/30/51. As part of the rehabilitation it exchanged trucks with car 64 which was wrecked in the collision with e-TM 1121 serving as Speedrail’s freight motor. That happened just 3 days after the terrible and fatal accident on the NMRA fan trip of 9/2/50. The 3 man crew on 1121 finished switching the C&NW Ry. interchange just south of West Jct. early that day and were in a hurry to get home so they ignored the proper procedure for entering the mainline from the C&NW interchange and smacked into car 64 bashing in a significant portion of the front platform. They did not have to worry about getting home early after that. All 3 were terminated. But it caused Travelers Insurance to pull the plug on Speedrail’s liability insurance because of 2 serious accidents in 3 days and also because Maeder was 6 months behind in paying the premiums. He had used money set aside for insurance to buy Shaker Heights cars 300 & 301! As President and sole stockholder he could do what he wanted. The money was used to buy equipment and not for any personal purposes thus making it perfectly legal but also perfectly stupid!

To the best of my knowledge Maeder never intended to use car 1100 for spare parts. That only happened because it was dead on arrival in Milwaukee and would not run period. 1102 blew a motor on arrival and had to be sent to TMER&T’s Cold Spring shops for repair. Cold Spring was marking up costs by 100%! The small shops facility in the Public Service building terminal could not do major repairs.

I don’t know if you would be interested but I have just completed a new manuscript entitled, “The Complete History of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line from TMER&L to Speedrail.” There are 146 pages of text plus an additional 160 pages of photos and documents. Of these there are 37 pages of color photos.

The money to pay for refurbishing 1102 into 66 came from the sale of 14 surplus ex-TM 1100 series cars to Afram Brothers Scrap Metal Company in Milwaukee. This all took place several months after Bruno V. Bitker the federal bankruptcy trustee dismissed Jay Maeder. The seats put in what became car 66 came from some of those 1100’s. It also switched trucks with the damaged car 64.

I think if Maeder had remained in charge he would never have sold those surplus 1100’s. He had a sentimental attachment to TM which he first discovered in 1926 when he attended St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin for his senior year of high school. Delafield was a stop on the Milwaukee-Watertown line.

Thanks and continue the great work. You have a fantastic website.

Thanks for writing, and also for all this wonderful information. As you are well aware I am sure, the information people write on slides, prints, negs, etc. is not always 100% accurate. I appreciate your corrections.

Lehigh Valley Transit purchased four Cincinnati curved-side cars second-hand in 1938 for the Easton Limited interurban line. Unfortunately, these cars were underpowered, and not really up to the task of working this hilly route. They were sharp-looking cars as LVT renovated them, but could not maintain the schedules of the cars they replaced. So it is no great surprise that by the time Speedrail got two of them in 1949, they were in bad shape.

Larry replied:

Yes, I do know that incorrect info often turns up in both pics and books. My 1991 Speedrail book has errors but when I wrote it in 1988 it was based on the best information I had at the time. I never dreamed that after it came out I’d be contacted by Jay Maeder’s daughter Jane and would be the recipient of several boxes of documents her father left behind. She and her late brother Jay Jr. decided that I should have them as they would never do anything with them. Neither of them knew much about Speedrail other than that their father once “owned a railroad”.

That reminds me. I saw the discussion as to whether Jay Maeder ever lived in Texas. No he didn’t but his daughter Jane Maeder Walsh lives in Houston. And Jay Sr. is survived by a lot of grandchildren. I didn’t know Jay Jr. drew that cartoon but I’m not surprised. He was an authority on the Dick Tracy comic strip having authored two books on the subject. I only spoke to him one time while he was working for the New York Daily News and was writing a column called “Lounge Lizard” which reviewed NYC lounge acts. I’ve had a lot of contact with Jane.

I wanted to scream when I got the last shipment of documents in 2012. At the bottom of the box was a scrapbook – the kind with the brown pages like many of us had as kids where we glued things in with Muselix glue. That’s what I expected to see when I opened it but instead found blank pages. Then I looked again. What he did, David, was rip out newspaper clippings related to Speedrail. Then he’d rip out the date and using a nail like the ones you get with picture hooks, would attach it to the clipping. But instead of placing the clippings on the pages he literally shoved them into the spines of each page. Well, after 60 years as I’m sure you know the newsprint deteriorated and the dates fell off as the paper deteriorated. Newsprint is notorious for that. Consequently, I ended up with about 25 clippings where the event could have happened anytime in the 22 months Speedrail existed.

You’re 100% right that the 9-2-50 accident is still controversial. I would say that in terms of blame 80% goes to Maeder and 20% to Tennyson. The Maeder/Tennyson working relationship had been deteriorating ever since the fall of 1949 when Maeder bought the Local Rapid Transit line (Milwaukee-West Junction-Hales Corners) without ever bringing the matter before the Speedrail Board (such as it was). Tennyson was opposed. He told me that when he went to Cleveland on 9/12/49 and met with Maeder’s Cleveland Attorney, Frank Taplin, Taplin told him, “Ed, whatever you do do not let Jay buy that Local Rapid Transit line. He will lose his shirt!” Tennyson was there to buy the 6 Shaker Heights curved side cars. Anyway, according to what he told me, when he found out what Maeder had done he went to the third member of the board, Oliver A. Grootemaat Speedrail’s general counsel and secretary. He said Grootemaat told him, “Maeder owns all the stock. He can do whatever he wants.!”

As for 9-2-50 Tennyson told me Maeder had asked him to draw up a schedule and rules for the 5 NMRA fan trips which he did. On the morning of 9/2 he discovered the trains were running late and that’s when he called the so-called dispatcher, Joe Bellon at the Public Service Building to find out what was going on. It was then that he found out that Maeder and one of the senior motormen, Gerald Greer had spent the night before drawing up “anticipatory train orders” that required every train to call from every siding. Also, the rules were that photo stops were to be made southbound to Hales Corners only. And anyone who did not come when time was up for the photo stop would be left behind. When Maeder’s train got to Hillcrest loop in Hales Corners the fans asked for a photostop going back to Milwaukee. Maeder should have said “NO” but he went along with it. So Tennyson called Bellon and told him to go back to the original orders where trains were to operate by schedule and timetable and only call if they ran into trouble. Maeder had called from Hillcrest to report they’d be stopping for a photostop northbound but from that point on he wasn’t heard from again. In order to allow the regularly scheduled southbound Hales Corners pass Maeder pulled in to Greenwood Jct., a siding never used which was the connection to the Lakeside Belt Line. It was seldom if ever used and once the M-R-K (Milwaukee-Racine Kenosha Line) was abandoned in Dec. of 1947 it was useless.

As a result of the reversal of orders Equitz assumed Maeder would hold at Oklahoma Ave. for him to pass. Maeder, still operating under his revised orders expected the dispatcher would tell Equitz he’d cleared Maeder’s train all the way to West Jct. The end result was that 10 people were killed because two guys didn’t get along. I do think Maeder went thru a red signal. And I also feel he had no business running the train especially since it was discovered he was color blind. If he’d been familiar with the Nachod signals that should not have made a difference. The position of the lights would have shown if the signal was red or white. Maeder was too occupied by all of the railfans gathered around him and he didn’t give the signal more than a quick glance, something you could not do with Nachod signals.

Maeder made an idiot of himself at the Coroner’s inquest. When the DA asked him why his train was running late he objected. the DA asked why he objected to his train being labeled as late and he replied, “My train was an extra train. Extra trains cannot be late. They can only be behind schedule.” HUH?? What’s the difference? Isn’t being behind schedule being late? He also testified that he and the regular motorman George Wolter weren’t relying on the signals. “They were a help but we weren’t relying on them”, is what he testified. Yes, Maeder was exonerated in court but only because the law on 4th Degree Manslaughter required it to be a deliberate act. I seriously doubt if he would be as lucky today not to mention that he personally would face a ton of lawsuits. And though he was exonerated in court he could and did not fare as well in the one court he could do nothing about, the court of public opinion. Bitker clearly didn’t want him around anymore. Tennyson said Bitker banned Maeder from the property but I don’t know if that’s true.

The Rapid Transit book I’ve completed contains photos you’ve never seen before. One of my sources is John Schoenknecht the head of the Waukesha County Historical Society and he has supplied me with some really great photos.

I see Bill Shapotkin comments quite regularly. I’ve known Bill since 1986. Great guy!

This is all great stuff. Who is publishing your book? I see that Interurbans Press put out your Speedrail volume.

Larry:

Interurbans Press did put out the Speedrail book. They published one or two books after that and went out of business. Mac Sebree, the owner retired and sold the company to video producer PENTREX. PENTREX had no interest in selling or publishing books. They bought Interurban Press for one thing and one thing only – their videos. And even if they were still around I’d be extremely reluctant to deal with them again! At the time they accepted the book they had purchased PTJ Publications which was in Waukesha. PTJ as you may know was the original publisher of Passenger Train Journal.

 In 1988 home computers and the Internet did not exist. But since they had the office in Waukesha I begged and pleaded for them to do the book there even though the normally did all books in Glendale, CA. Mike Schaefer was part of PTJ Publications and he was the person I wanted to edit and layout the book. I pointed out that it would be much easier for all concerned should any problems arise. I couldn’t hop a plane to Glendale, CA.  just like that. I was working. But driving out to Waukesha would be no problem. What I didn’t know until later was that “bad blood” existed between Mike and this Paul Hammond who ran things in Glendale. Interurban Press interpreted my request as taking sides. I was trying to do what I felt would be best especially since I knew Mike knew the subject which the California people did not. Interurban Press refused.

The book was to have been published in 1989 but a tragedy at the Waukesha office delayed it by two years. A young staff member was engaged to be married. Something happened and the engagement was called off. He become despondent and went out to Butler and killed himself by stepping in front of an on-coming C&NW train. Horrible! Anyway they resumed work on it and things seemed to go well from there. I don’t know how it works today but back then you received 3 final drafts. The first two showed the space where the photos would be and the caption but not the actual photo. The final proof was called the blue line. So the blue line arrives in the mail and I absolutely exploded. What was supposed to be a photo of the 9-2-50 Speedrail wreck was a photo of the 8-24-49 Soldiers Home wreck. I probably didn’t even need long distance I was so angry. Their excuse: “Well, we just assumed that the wrecks were one and the same.” YOU ASSUMED?? So I had to quickly run out to Waukesha. They had the Milwaukee Journals for the day of and days after the 9-2-50 wreck. With the space already dedicated we had to choose that really bad picture that appears in the book. It was the only one that fit.

There were any number of other things that happened over those 2-3 years (1988-1991). I can’t tell you how many times they told me they “expected to take a loss” on the book and discouraging things like that. Loss nothing! It sold out all of the first printing in 18 months. I had thought about pitching it to Kalmbach but didn’t think I’d stand much of a chance being an unknown at the time. I was right. In 1999 a couple of years after the video, “Rapid Transit in Milwaukee From TMER&L to Speedrail” was put out by TMER&THS of which I was Secretary and Treasurer we decided to write a companion book to the video. Jack Gervais was co-authoring it with me. He was handling everything up to Speedrail and I was writing from Speedrail to the end. When we finished it in 2000 I tried pitching it to Kalmbach now that I had a book published. They turned it down. They were full of compliments about it being well written and all but felt it was too limited as a subject and would not sell the way a book on a more popular subject like the Milwaukee Road would. Gervais then contacted Larry Plachno. I did not want to deal with him as I’d heard a great deal of negative things about him from Bill Shapotkin. Well we did end up driving all the way to Polo, Illinois only to have Plachno open the binder, look at a few pages and go, “Tsk, Tsk, Tsk! I have a problem with you people already” HUH? “All this quoting. Don’t you know a good historian never quotes. He paraphrases.” I politely took the binder, shut it, said, “Thank you for your time, Mr. Plachno. That may be your philosophy for writing books but it isn’t mine!” In the intro to the new book I address that. I don’t believe in paraphrasing because that puts my interpretation on what was said. I quote and I let my readers decide how to interpret what was said. 

So in terms of a publisher I don’t have one and I’ve no idea of who I could give it to. I’m not looking to make money from this. The Maeder family designated me “Keeper of the Flame” where Speedrail is concerned. They entrusted what Jay left behind because they feel I would know best how to make use of it. I take that both as a compliment and a responsibility to preserve this history. That is my goal, here. Norm Carlson is a perfect example of someone who understands that. I have worked with him quite a few times and enjoyed it. He’s a professional and “First & Fastest” is the high quality publication it is because of his dedication. Browsing thru your site I see much the same thing, David. You obviously have a real feel for preserving this history and those are the type of people I like to work with. I really enjoy the Trolley Dodger site.

The Speedrail book was written as a way to promote TMER&THS Inc. I quit the group 14 years ago so this book has absolutely no connection to them or any other group. I am a member of Shore Line. Norm has been very gracious in publishing my articles. I’m also writing for “Landmark,” the publication of the Waukesha County Historical Society. My goal is to leave behind a historical record so that someday someone can come along and view this history. 

I saw your comment that maybe if things had been just a little different Speedrail might still be around today. Actually, David, sad to say, Speedrail was dead before it began. The following chapters from my book and  a page from a city of Milwaukee subcommittee in March, 1945 will show you what Milwaukee thought of the Rapid Transit. Once the city caught what I call “expressway fever” and they decided the Rapid Transit line west from downtown was the place for the East-West Freeway they stopped at nothing to get it. Maeder owned the track, overhead wire, cars and bridges but not the land on which those tracks sat. That remained Wisconsin Electric Power Co. property. Shaker Heights did not have that problem. Maeder wrongly assumed that Milwaukee would rally to support his efforts to save the Rapid Transit as happened in Shaker Heights. It was the Waukesha riders who rallied to support it. Milwaukee could’ve card less except for Mayor Zeidler, of course. More to follow soon.

The photo I sent you earlier today which shows a guy up on a stage addressing a crowd of people goes with the chapter”The First Public Pledge Meeting.” The date is 6-27-51. The place was Kuney’s dance hall in the Town of Calhoun. I think the man on stage is Edwin Knappe but am not sure. You’ll read about him and the Calhoun Farms Riders Group in the chapter about them. Kuney’s is still there today if you think I should put in a present day picture. There’s nothing special about it. Calhoun Farms was to the north and west of the Calhoun Road stop on the Waukesha line. There’s a historical marker which explains about it and the area of Calhoun which is east of Waukesha. It even mentions the Rapid Transit. I have pictures of that too.

One of the people you’ll see quoted in the Speedrail section fairly often is former Speedrail motorman Don Leistikow. I’d say that at least 50% of what I learned about Speedrail over the years came from Don. I’m attaching his famous “Skunk” story. I think you” get a laugh out of it. Don was quite a story teller. He passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 85 and is sorely missed.

While I never actually met Don L. Leistikow, I did correspond with him a bit, and I almost met him once.  I went out to East Troy onetime and took some pictures, and after I posted them to the web, someone identified him in one of the pictures.  What a nice man.

Larry:

NSL fans may be interested to know that after being vacant for the last 47 years the site of the North Shore’s Harrison St. shops at S. 5th St. and W. Harrison Ave. (remember NSL called it “street” but Harrison is actually an avenue) is finally being redeveloped. Sadly, not for traction purposes. A private charter school whose name I can’t remember is building on the property all the way to where it dead-ends above the KK River and Cleveland Ave. and extending west on Harrison Ave. to the southeast corner of S. 6th St. It’s a huge, multi-story facility. Back in 2005 when I visited the site of the shops with Norm Carlson of the Shore Line interurban Historical Society and Walter Keevil of CERA I noticed that the city of Milwaukee had paved S. 5th St. from the point where the private right-of-way began on the south side of the street all the way to the fence and concrete barrier that mark where the NSL’s bridge over the river began. Let’s face it. Vacant lots do not generate property tax revenue. The dilapidated shops building stood until about 1970. I remember a Milwaukee Journal editorial cartoon and article in 1968 urging its demolition because it presented a bad image of Milwaukee to drivers coming in (northbound) on I-94 which sits below the east end of the property. The school is supposed to open for the fall 2018-2019 semester next year.

I’m sure most NSL fans don’t know this. After the 6th and Michigan station in downtown Milwaukee was razed in May or June of 1964 somebody came up with the ideas of building a tourist tower on the south end of the property at about the point where NSL trains entered and left the elevated platforms that were attached to the south end of the terminal. Here is an artists rendering of what it was going to look like from the Milwaukee Journal of 11-22-64. Of course it ever happened. What did happen was this. In the summer of 1965 the church whose denomination I have forgotten that was on the north side of Wisconsin Ave. between N. 10th & N. 11th Sts. was being forced to move. The entire block on both sides of the street was disappearing, literally. The I-43 freeway was and does cross beneath the “Avenue” at this point. So the church spent almost $2 million to buy the entire 4 square blocks where the NSL station had stood. That encompassed W. Michigan St. on the north. W. Clybourn St. on the south. N. 5th St. on the east and N. 6th St. on the west. The plan was to build the church and some sort of shopping area around it. I say the “plan” because that too never happened. I remember a wooden sign erected on the station site facing W. Michigan St. that said, “Future home of…” and it named the congregation. For the next 33 years the property sat vacant. Then in 1998 Time Insurance Co. which had been located on the corner of N. 5th St. and W. Wells St. downtown built their new corporate headquarters on the site. A check of the Milwaukee city directory shows the building there as of 1998. The Wells St. building was sold to make way for Milwaukee’s first downtown convention center which was called “MECCA – the Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center and Arena.” It was judged as the boxiest and ugliest building ever built in Milwaukee and it too fell to the wrecking ball when the new, and very underused, downtown convention center was constructed along Wisconsin Ave. between N. 4th & N. 6th Sts. Why the church was never built and how Time Insurance acquired the property (sale, foreclosure??) is something I have been unable to find out. The congregation disappears from the Milwaukee city directory in 1966. Perhaps they moved to one of the suburbs or merged with another congregation. If any of the NSL fans know I’d be very interested in the details. Time Insurance has since been thru all kinds of mergers and the building now says Securant Insurance.

In the summer of 1971 I went to the site of Ryan Tower on the abandoned NSL r.o.w. I didn’t drive back then so it meant to very lengthy bus rides from my home on Milwaukee’s northwest side. and a long walk up Ryan Rd. from the end of the Rt. 66 bus line. I knew I was at the right spot when I got to the crossing with the C&NW’s new line. And that was the only way I knew. The NSL was gone with nary a trace. I had to walk a block or so north before I came across the abandoned NSL r.o.w. As I continued north there much to my surprise was the NSL’s Carrollville substation still standing 8 years after the abandonment. I took this picture of it on 8-17-71 using a Polaroid camera I’d gotten for Christmas the previous year. My ANSCO 8-shot box camera took better pictures than that Polaroid! And then you always had the chore of having to spread this smelly fixer on the photo to keep it from curling up. So please forgive the quality of the pictures.

Larry’s Human Interest Stories

I’ll be glad to write this. There are four of them, all involving people who had they been where they had planned to be might not have lived another day.

What I have found in the 52 years I have been studying and researching the Rapid Transit and Speedrail is that fate and coincidence seem to play a major role. For example, take how I got to know Jane Maeder Walsh, Jay’s daughter. In 1991 when the Speedrail book came out she had a daughter who was a student at Carroll College (now University) in Waukesha. Jane was living in Atlanta at the time but decided to come to Waukesha for a visit. While there she decided to go to the Waukesha Public Library and see what she could find out about “the railroad that my father owned.” At first, all the librarian was able to find was a folder containing a few newspaper clippings from the Waukesha Freeman, Waukesha’s daily newspaper. Then she remembered that the library had just received a new book about Speedrail. She gave it to Jane to browse through there since she obviously would not be able to borrow it.

A short time later, on a Saturday morning my phone rang. The lady on the other end asked if I was the person who wrote the Speedrail book. I said I was. She said, “My name is Jane Walsh. I know that name doesn’t mean anything to you until I tell you my maiden name. It is Maeder and Jay Maeder was my father.” I kind of held my breath for a second thinking the next thing I’d hear was that she didn’t like the things Tennyson said about her father and she was going to sue me. Quite to the contrary she wanted to know where she could go to buy copies of the book. I put her in touch with one of the local hobby shops that I knew was carrying it and she bought half a dozen copies for her family. I didn’t hear from her for quite a while after that until the day she and her brother discovered a box of material relating to Speedrail, long forgotten, left behind by her father. She said that she and her brother had no interest in it and asked if I would want it? Are you kidding? Over the course of the next few years they found other boxes of things. She e-mailed Jay Jr. and asked if he wanted it. He replied, “Are we still in touch with that Sakar guy?” Jane said she had talked to me about it and I’d said I wanted it if her brother didn’t. Jay Jr. then replied, “Let’s face it… neither you nor I will ever make anything out of this stuff. I say, let’s make him keeper of the flame. Larry will know what to do with it.” That was a great honor that they had confidence that I could make use of the material.

We still keep in touch by e-mail from time to time. My friend and colleague Chris Barney and I paid to have copies made of that picture of her father walking alongside car 60 flagging it on the inaugural Speedrail fan trip of 10-16-49. We sent them to her and she was thrilled. It’s the only picture she has of her father with “his railroad.”

You might remember that on the 9-2-50 the motorman of the 1192-93 heavy duplex that collided with Maeder’s train (39-40) was LeRoy Equitz. In the fall of 1971, I got a job as a student library aide at the main library in downtown Milwaukee. One night I was sitting in the lunchroom on break with a brother and sister who also worked there. Terry, the brother struck up a conversation with me. “We hear you like trains.” I said, “Well yes. I do like trains but my main interest is streetcars and interurbans.” They had no clue as to what either of those were. Terry said, “Our uncle was a train engineer.” I said, Oh really, where?” He said, “Right here in Milwaukee.” I asked which railroad he worked for, thinking it had to be either the Milwaukee Road or the C&NW. Terry said neither one sounded like the one their uncle had mentioned. I asked when he worked as an engineer and he said, “In the ’50’s.” Then he continued. “Our uncle was involved in an accident and ended up losing a foot because of it.” Suddenly, my curiosity was on high, so to speak.” So I said, “This accident. Could it have been in 1950 itself?” Terry said, “Come to think of it, yes. He did say 1950.” So I continued, “And this accident, could it possibly have been on Labor Day weekend in 1950?” BINGO! He said that it was. That’s when I said, “Don’t tell me your uncle’s name. Let me guess it. Is it LeRoy Equitz?” The brother and sister sat there for a second in amazement. “Yes. How on earth did you know that?” Of course I explained about Speedrail and told them which newspaper and dates to look at if they wanted more information. As I recall, LeRoy was still living but he had moved away some years earlier. I don’t recall to where so I never had an opportunity to talk to him.

You ask yourself what were the odds that I’d end up working with the niece and nephew of LeRoy Equitz. And I have found that to be the case so often in this hobby. So call it fate, destiny, coincidence. There are times when you can’t help but feel this was meant to be.

Thanks for taking the time to write this and your other reminiscences. I’d like to share these with my readers.

Naturally, I won’t use any of the material you sent me from your upcoming book, but is there anything else that you would not want me to run in my blog?

Larry:

Please feel free to use any of the material I’ve sent you for the Trolley Dodger. Anything and everything I write is for the enjoyment and/or information of others. What’s the point of keeping what I’ve learned over the years to myself? That benefits no one!

I saw the piece in The Trolley Dodger on the late Maury Klebolt. From 1983 to 1987 I went out to SFO every September for the Historic Market Street streetcar festival. I used to see Maury at the Market and Duboce storage facility below the former San Francisco mint. He was very involved with that Market Street Railway group. I seem to recall that he acquired a couple of streetcars for them. I wasn’t acquainted with him but had stories about his fan trips from the late Jack Gervais who apparently knew him. Bill Shapotkin also told me some stories about him.

By the way I kind of chuckle every time I see a Joe L. Diaz photo of a CSL “Sedan”. My good friend Dave Stanley knew Joe very well, along with a number of other well-known Chicago fans like the late Bob Gibson. I met both Dave and Bill Shapotkin in 1986. Both Dave and Bill told me Joe would have a fit when someone called those cars “Sedans.” It would provoke an “Ooh, they weren’t called that” response. I knew him by sight but I didn’t actually know him as such. I remember seeing him at CERA meetings in the back of the room selling books. That was back in the days when CERA met at the old Midland Hotel. I believe that’s now called the Blackhawk Hotel. I was a CERA member in the ’90’s but didn’t keep up my membership. Going to meetings meant having to drive to either Kenosha and take METRA which also meant leaving the meeting early to catch the 9:00pm train back to Kenosha and then an 11:00pm one hour drive back to Milwaukee. I never cared for night driving. Then in 2009 I lost all of the sight in my left eye as a result of diabetic retinopathy, which I didn’t know I had until it was too late. Since then I have been advised not to drive at night or on the highway or expressway. I no longer have the necessary depth perception and bright light, especially headlights coming at me blind me. Amtrak experimented with a late night (first 11:00pm then changed to 10:30pm) train to Milwaukee but they never promoted it so the ridership never materialized. Now the last train to Milwaukee leaves Chicago at 8:45pm.

I knew a lot of really nice guys in Chicago all of whom I have not seen nor spoken with in at least 15 years. Bruce Moffat and Ray DeGroote are two who come to mind. I always called Ray the Rick Steeves of the traction world. In any Ray DeGroote program you could always count on a money lesson, a geography lesson and a culture lesson. When I was the program director for TMER&THS from 1989 to 1995, I used to refer to Ray as “our world traveler”. The last time I saw Bruce was on a CERA fan trip on METRA Electric in the ’90’s. Bill Shapotkin was the trip director. At the first photo stop GK wanted a photo with the other car host and myself. Bruce took the picture but to this day I’ve never seen it.

I haven’t seen all of the issues of The Trolley Dodger but here are some Milwaukee streetcar photos from my collection that I think readers might enjoy.

Every now and then you get a photo that really has you stumped trying to figure out where it was taken. That’s what happened with this photo given to me by Bob Genack. I saw the RT 35 Route sign and stupidly assumed this had to be somewhere on the 35th Street route. But what really threw me a curve was the “35th St.” sign in the destination sign box below the big roof Route sign. If this was a northbound car it should have said “Burleigh,” and if southbound “St. Paul”. After puzzling over it I looked it over with a magnifying glass to see if I could detect any business names. And there in the left background was the solution. This is a time exposure so it’s a “ghosted” image. But if you look closely you will see a TM heavy duplex. OK. Now I see what this was all about. This is a TM posed, company photo. The 943 isn’t on 35th St. It’s on Michigan Street. You can’t see it but the Public Service Building is just out of the right hand side of the picture. The duplex is inbound from Sheboygan on N. 3rd St. It will turn left onto Michigan St. go one block east and then turn right onto N. 2nd St. to enter the PSB terminal. Those aren’t passengers standing waiting for the streetcar. They are TM company employees posing for the picture. The 943 looks brand new so I’m thinking this was taken in about 1928 or 1929. OK TM, you fooled me.

Streetcar advertising was a frequent occurrence on TM. But unlike the buses of today where the advertising is put on mylar sheets and then attached to the bus with a heat gun, and it is simply peeled off when the time is up, in streetcar days the car was actually repainted. Here’s one of the all-time classic examples of a repainted Milwaukee streetcar that is from the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. days. M&STC bought TMER&T at the end of 1952 and took over operation of the system on Jan. 1, 1953. They continued to use “The Transport Company” as their shortened name. M&STC lasted until July, 1975 when Milwaukee finally municipalized its transit system when M&STC was purchased by Milwaukee County. That is when the present-day Milwaukee County Transit System was born. But the “Transport Company” name had become so ingrained in the minds of Milwaukeeans that many continued to call it “The Transport Company” for quite some time after the county took over. Now everyone refers to it as MCTS.

Anyway, in 1955, car 943 was chosen to be repainted with a “safety message” from the Milwaukee Safety Commission. Isn’t it a bit ironic that the car advertising safety was involved in an accident downtown at 4th and Wells Streets in a collision with a city garbage truck? I guess the car didn’t heed its own message! The close-up b&w shot was taken at the Farwell Ave. terminal where Rt. 10 streetcars and Rt. 21-North Ave. trolleybuses laid over. The trolley bus service on Rt. 21 North Ave. lasted until 1961 or 1962 when it was converted to diesel bus operation using the new 1500 series GM new look fishbowl buses M&STC had purchased for that purpose. A portion of Rt. 10 east of Jackson & Wells Sts. downtown was eventually abandoned and most of the route from Jackson & Wells Strees east covered by Rt. 30 Sherman Blvd. buses.

Next up are 2 beautiful color photos of 943 in its “safety commission” paint job taken by Don Ross (Don’s Rail Photos. In the close-up shot, the car is on a fan trip at S. 81st St. and W. Greenfield Ave. which was Route 18-National Ave. That line ended at S. 92nd St. & W. Lapham Ave. Before West Junction was rebuilt Rt. 10 cars ran all the way out there via the private right-of-way which continued all the way out there. Prior to the construction of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line between 1925 & 1930, interurbans also used that r.o.w. Today the r.o.w. is still there going west from 92nd & Lapham and is used by We Energies vehicles to get to West Jct. so that the power lines can be serviced. In the second, more distant photo 943 is crossing W. Wisconsin Ave. on the p.r.o.w. that paralleled N. 52nd St. from Wells to the entrance to the Calvary Cemetery cut, later the stop for Milwaukee County Stadium from 1953 to 1957. Streetcars were gone by the opening of the baseball season in 1958.

The TM 900-series streetcars were an updated version of the 800-series built in 1920. The earliest 900’s were identical to the 800’s in all respects except one. The center motorman’s window on an 800 is narrower than on a 900. Other than that there was little if any difference. But by the time the group of cars from 976 seen here at Cold Spring shops to 985 were built, the interiors now had leather seats vs. rattan for all previous cars, and this group of 10 was unique in that they had that sort of visor/sun shield over the center window. One car in this group survives today. Car 978 was saved by former Milwaukeean Al Buetschle on behalf of the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club. They wanted a streetcar for outdoor display in Hart Park which is just to the east of the Wauwatosa end of the No. 10 line at Harwood Ave. and State Streets. Al loved the cars with the front visor and that is why he chose the 978. The car is now the property of the East Troy Electric RR and is currently undergoing an extensive rehabilitation. There is a very involved history of how the car was acquired and what happened to it over the years which I wrote for a fan publication in 1998. Al now lives in Oakley, Ca. a city in Contra Costa, County 60 miles northeast of San Francisco.

As I mentioned the 800’s had a narrower center window than the 900’s. You can see that in this photo of car 870 at the end of Rt. 40 at Kinnickinnic & St. Francis Aves. in St. Francis. The area doesn’t look much different today save for the absence of the streetcar. St. Francis is a suburb of Milwaukee on the southeast side.

Here’s a second shot of an 800 seen at the end of Rt. 11 at Howell & Howard Aves. probably in the 1950’s. Rt. 11 was converted to bus operation in 1956 and was Milwaukee’s second to last streetcar line.

At the start I mentioned “mystery” photos, and to close out here is one such example. I know where this is and I think this is probably in the 20’s or 30’s. What I can’t figure out is what a 600 series car (at least that’s what it looks like with that roof destination sign in the middle) is doing on Rt. 12 – 12th St. or why the destination sign says Center. Center is Center St. which was home to the Rt. 22 streetcar line. Rts. 21 & 22 were some of the earliest conversions from streetcar to trackless trolley. I question the destination because Rt. 12 cars usually operated all the way to 27th & Hopkins Streets. In the late 1920’s a transfer station was constructed here. It was a smaller version of the one at Farwell & North Aves. When Rt. 12 was converted to diesel bus operation the building was torn down and became a parking lot for the nearby A.O. Smith Corp. At last report the streetcar tracks are still in the pavement.

Thanks so much for this and your other recent messages. You have given me plenty of material to work with here. I am sure our readers, especially those in the Milwaukee area, will love reading this.

Who knows, it might even help you find a publisher!

This excerpt from a 1945 Milwaukee freeway report shows how even then, planners intended to take the Rapid Transit Line right-of-way for highway use.  The bottom photo, of course, was a composite.

This excerpt from a 1945 Milwaukee freeway report shows how even then, planners intended to take the Rapid Transit Line right-of-way for highway use.The bottom photo, of course, was a composite.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified this photo. Here, M&DSTC car 943 is going eastbound on the famous Wells Street trolley viaduct on a 1955 fantrip.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified this photo. Here, M&DSTC car 943 is going eastbound on the famous Wells Street trolley viaduct on a 1955 fantrip.

Book Review:

The Street Railways of Grand Rapids
By Carl Bajema and Tom Maas
Bulletin 148 of Central Electric Railfans’ Association*
Hardcover with dust jacket, 304 pages

The authors present a fascinating and very thorough account of street railway service in Grand Rapids, Michigan, covering the years up to 1935, when the system was abandoned in favor of buses. There was quite a variety of service in the area, including horse cars, cable cars, steam dummies, streetcars of various types, and interurbans connecting to other cities such as Holland. The authors coverall these ably and thoroughly.

This book has just been issued in a very limited edition, and chances are it will not be reprinted once the first edition has sold out, which I am sure it will. CERA Bulletins have a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and this book does not disappoint.

Having had a few discussions about this book with Mr. Bajema myself, when it was in its early stages, I can attest that it presented a considerable challenge. After all, Grand Rapids streetcar service ended in 1935, and anyone old enough to have ridden one, and remember it, would be close to 90 years old by now.

Color photography was still in its infancy in 1935. Fortunately, there are ways to add color to such a book, including color postcards, yellowed newspaper clippings, and maps. All these are present in abundance.

Another challenge is the lack of corporate records for the operator. And then, there is the matter of a roster, which is pretty much de rigueur for a book such as this.

Complicating matters, the Grand Rapids system used names for their cars instead of numbers, which makes it very difficult to put forward a complete roster.

The names of all such cars as of 1927 are given. Interestingly, though, the one Grand Rapids photo we have posted on this blog is not included in the book. It shows the F. W. Wurtzburg, named after a local department store. Since this photo probably dates to the 1930s, perhaps the name was applied after 1927.

This book should interest anyone who likes streetcars in general, or lives in Michigan in particular. It is available from the publisher. At 304 pages, it is also somewhat larger than the typical 224-page CERA length.

The general approach the authors have taken here could also be applied to other subjects of a similar vintage, such as the Chicago, Ottawa and Peoria, an Illinois interurban which quit in 1934.

It is somewhat ironic that Grand Rapids was at the forefront of innovation in the 1920s, but just a decade later, was also among the first cities of its size to completely replace streetcars with buses.  But there is a connection– the need to innovate was born out of necessity.

Read the book, and you’ll find out why.

-David Sadowski

The "F. W. Wurtzburg," built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

The “F. W. Wurtzburg,” built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

*Please note that The Trolley Dodger is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

Product Review

This picture shows the lightbox with the light turned off.

This picture shows the lightbox with the light turned off.

Tracing Light box Dbmier A4S USB Powered Light Pad Artcraft Tracing LED Light Board for Drawing, Tracing, Sketching, Animation Active Area 8.27″ X 12.20″

Here is a new product that should interest anyone who works with photographic negatives or transparencies. It is a modern version of a lightbox, using LED technology. It is powered by a USB cord that can connect to a computer. I expect you can get an adapter that will allow you to use AC power. Otherwise, you would be limited to using it in the vicinity of your computer.

In years past, there have been various lightboxes on the market. Some had conventional light bulbs, and others used florescent lighting. All were somewhat problematic and all were also bulkier than this ultra-thin model, which has three levels of brightness and puts out white light (which many of the older lightboxes did not).

The old type lightboxes also put out a lot of heat, which this one does not.  It’s a 21st century solution to a 20th century problem, but better late than never!

It is available for a very attractive price. I highly recommend it, and gain nothing financially if anyone does buy one. I only wish a product like this had been available 30 years ago.

-David Sadowski

Recent Correspondence

Bruce Fastow writes:

Perhaps you can guide me. I own a Johnson fare box similar to the one attached. Can you tell me how I can take the top off so I can clean out the hopper? My kids put paper in the unit.

 

Chances are, one of our readers knows the answer and can help, thanks.

Pre-Order Our New Book Chicago Trolleys

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 221 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans Under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping. Shipping within the US is included in the price. Shipping to Canada is just $5 additional, or $10 elsewhere.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

We are pleased to report that selected images from our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will be available on September 25th in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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street-railwayreview1895-002

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 189th 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 305,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

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Under Our Tree

Here are some Christmas colors for you. On January 23, 1954, CTA 1782 passes 1774 at the west end of the Lake Street line near Austin Boulevard. Since 1782 has already been repainted green, it most likely could not have been the car in the 1780 series that was oddly renumbered as "78" on the Madison-Fifth shuttle a short time later (see a picture on our previous post Chicago Streetcars in Black-and-White (January 23, 2015). The Park Theater, by then already shuttered, was behind the two streetcars.

Here are some Christmas colors for you. On January 23, 1954, CTA 1782 passes 1774 at the west end of the Lake Street line near Austin Boulevard. Since 1782 has already been repainted green, it most likely could not have been the car in the 1780 series that was oddly renumbered as “78” on the Madison-Fifth shuttle a short time later (see a picture on our previous post Chicago Streetcars in Black-and-White (January 23, 2015). The Park Theater, by then already shuttered, was behind the two streetcars.

I'm having difficulty identifying this car. But note it has a "continental" spare tire, implying it is not one of the cheaper models. The newest it could be is a 1954. The 1955 models wouldn't have been on the market until some months after streetcars quit on Lake Street. So far, my best guess is this may be a 1953 Dodge Coronet. Gary Kleinedler: I believe that the CTA 1782 & 1774 photo shows a 1953 Dodge Coronet Diplomat 2-door hardtop. All 1952 Dodge models had separate, bolted-on rear fenders; the photo shows a straight fender sideline. The 1953 Coronet series was the top trim line (Meadowbrook--Coronet; Wayfarer models were discontinued after 1952), and a Coronet 2-door hardtop would have a three-piece wraparound rear window and V-8 Hemi engine. The 1954 Dodge Coronet (and new top-line Royal) models had the model name in script on the rear fenders, which doesn't seem to be present in the photo. A Continental spare wheel kit and wire wheels (which appear to be present) were both offered as factory options in 1953. I took the above info from the Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1974, John Gunnel, ed.

I’m having difficulty identifying this car. But note it has a “continental” spare tire, implying it is not one of the cheaper models. The newest it could be is a 1954. The 1955 models wouldn’t have been on the market until some months after streetcars quit on Lake Street. So far, my best guess is this may be a 1953 Dodge Coronet.
Gary Kleinedler:

I believe that the CTA 1782 & 1774 photo shows a 1953 Dodge Coronet Diplomat 2-door hardtop. All 1952 Dodge models had separate, bolted-on rear fenders; the photo shows a straight fender sideline. The 1953 Coronet series was the top trim line (Meadowbrook–Coronet; Wayfarer models were discontinued after 1952), and a Coronet 2-door hardtop would have a three-piece wraparound rear window and V-8 Hemi engine. The 1954 Dodge Coronet (and new top-line Royal) models had the model name in script on the rear fenders, which doesn’t seem to be present in the photo. A Continental spare wheel kit and wire wheels (which appear to be present) were both offered as factory options in 1953. I took the above info from the Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1974, John Gunnel, ed.

A 1953 Dodge Coronet.

A 1953 Dodge Coronet.

dodge-coronet-1953-7


There are lots of great photos under the Trolley Dodger tree this year. Besides the color shots, we have many rare, classic black-and-whites, which came out of one railfan’s scrapbook and were taken in the early-to-mid 1930s. Many of these were taken by one Earl W. McLaughlin of Chicago. There was a man by the same name who worked for the CTA in 1958 (and did some reporting for the Transit News, their employee publication), but I am not yet sure if they are one and the same.

Some railfans like to ride, and others prefer to take pictures. Edward Frank, Jr., whose work we have featured on many occasions, was in the latter category– he rode his bicycle everywhere instead of taking the streetcar, in order to save up money for film. Given the number of shots Mr. McLaughlin took at ends of various lines, I’d say he liked to ride as well as photograph.

As always, if you have any interesting tidbits of information to add to the discussion, after seeing these pictures, don’t hesitate to drop us a line at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

Happy Holidays!

-David Sadowski

PS- So far, I have determined that Earl W. McLaughlin was born in 1915 and died in 1969. For much of his life, he lived on the north side of Chicago, and died in Des Plaines. In 1940, his profession was grading furs.

Illinois Central Electric car 1210 heads up a Randolph St. Express on September 9, 1959. Don's Rail Photos adds, "1100 thru 1239 were built by Pullman in 1929. 1198 went to Illinois Railway Museum in 1972." (Clark Frazier Photo) Andre Kristopans: "IC 1210 – arriving at 91st/South Chicago. Tracks on right were B&O. Note trailers were always at the NORTH end of an IC Electric train, as only a trailer would fit under the old South Water St entrance to Randolph St Station, so in order to use the full track length, trailers always had to lead north." Daniel Gornstein adds, "I'm not sure if anyone else has replied on the IC 91st St. photo yet, but the unquestionable answer is on the catenary pole. If you look closely on the macro view you will see, arranged vertically, this: "SC4-33," meaning South Chicago Subdistrict, located at MP 4.33. The 2 branches used to have independent MP's, but are now shown on Engineering Dept. files as the same distance to South Water St., as the Univ. Pk. mainline does. To the photographer's rear is 91st St. and in the distance, just north of 90th St., is NB signal 420, or approx. MP 4.2. IRM's operable "Suburban Unit" is motor 1198, as noted, and trailer 1380."

Illinois Central Electric car 1210 heads up a Randolph St. Express on September 9, 1959. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “1100 thru 1239 were built by Pullman in 1929. 1198 went to Illinois Railway Museum in 1972.” (Clark Frazier Photo) Andre Kristopans: “IC 1210 – arriving at 91st/South Chicago. Tracks on right were B&O. Note trailers were always at the NORTH end of an IC Electric train, as only a trailer would fit under the old South Water St entrance to Randolph St Station, so in order to use the full track length, trailers always had to lead north.” Daniel Gornstein adds, “I’m not sure if anyone else has replied on the IC 91st St. photo yet, but the unquestionable answer is on the catenary pole. If you look closely on the macro view you will see, arranged vertically, this: “SC4-33,” meaning South Chicago Subdistrict, located at MP 4.33. The 2 branches used to have independent MP’s, but are now shown on Engineering Dept. files as the same distance to South Water St., as the Univ. Pk. mainline does. To the photographer’s rear is 91st St. and in the distance, just north of 90th St., is NB signal 420, or approx. MP 4.2. IRM’s operable “Suburban Unit” is motor 1198, as noted, and trailer 1380.”

This picture, showing a Skokie Swift single car unit at the Dempster terminal, was taken on August 11, 1964. We see an interesting variety of 1960s cars in the parking lot, including a first-generation Corvair. The slide says this is car #30, but under magnification, the number looks more like 39. However, as far as I know, car 39 was then being used in Evanston service with trolley poles. So perhaps 30 is correct. That car is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Douglas N. Brotjahn Photo)

This picture, showing a Skokie Swift single car unit at the Dempster terminal, was taken on August 11, 1964. We see an interesting variety of 1960s cars in the parking lot, including a first-generation Corvair. The slide says this is car #30, but under magnification, the number looks more like 39. However, as far as I know, car 39 was then being used in Evanston service with trolley poles. So perhaps 30 is correct. That car is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Douglas N. Brotjahn Photo)

Here, we see MBTA (Boston) double-end PCC 3346 at the Ashmont end of the Ashmont-Mattapan line in November 1977. This picture has special significance to me, as I rode these cars for the first and only time just three months earlier. They were nearing the end of their service lives, however, and by the time I revisited, had been replaced by single-ended PCCs. Over time, the terminals at both ends of this feeder line have been changed, and I don't believe the cars run here any longer. I recall there was a sign somewhere in the vicinity, probably from the 1920s, calling this the "High Speed Trolley." I hope someone managed to save that sign.

Here, we see MBTA (Boston) double-end PCC 3346 at the Ashmont end of the Ashmont-Mattapan line in November 1977. This picture has special significance to me, as I rode these cars for the first and only time just three months earlier. They were nearing the end of their service lives, however, and by the time I revisited, had been replaced by single-ended PCCs. Over time, the terminals at both ends of this feeder line have been changed, and I don’t believe the cars run here any longer. I recall there was a sign somewhere in the vicinity, probably from the 1920s, calling this the “High Speed Trolley.” I hope someone managed to save that sign.

I have wondered for some time where this picture of CTA 4389 was taken. I had a gut feeling it was somewhere on the south side. Turns out, this is Wentworth and 59th. There is a picture taken at this location on page 217 of CERA B-146. All the buildings on the left are gone now, as this is where the Dan Ryan expressway now runs. As for the date, that truck appears to have a 1955 Illinois license plate. M. E. writes: "When compared with the photo on p. 217 of B-146, this is indeed 59th and Wentworth. What confuses me is the trackage turning from westbound 59th onto southbound Wentworth. Lind says the 59th St. streetcar line converted to bus in 1948. So my guess is that the CTA wanted to keep trackage open on 59th between Wentworth and State St., and the CTA built the turning trackage at Wentworth after 59th went to bus."

I have wondered for some time where this picture of CTA 4389 was taken. I had a gut feeling it was somewhere on the south side. Turns out, this is Wentworth and 59th. There is a picture taken at this location on page 217 of CERA B-146. All the buildings on the left are gone now, as this is where the Dan Ryan expressway now runs. As for the date, that truck appears to have a 1955 Illinois license plate. M. E. writes: “When compared with the photo on p. 217 of B-146, this is indeed 59th and Wentworth. What confuses me is the trackage turning from westbound 59th onto southbound Wentworth. Lind says the 59th St. streetcar line converted to bus in 1948. So my guess is that the CTA wanted to keep trackage open on 59th between Wentworth and State St., and the CTA built the turning trackage at Wentworth after 59th went to bus.”

Here is an enlargement of part of the 1952 CTA Surface System track map. It does show a track connection between Wentworth and State. Possibly some of these connections were kept for bypass use in case of flooded viaducts, such as the one that resulted in the infamous 1950 crash between a PCC car and a gasoline truck. M. E. writes: "The enlarged map you added of the 59th-Wentworth trackage made me think about how the 4 Cottage Grove cars got to the 69th and Ashland barn. Try this: Cottage Grove to 61st, west to State, north to 59th, west to Wentworth, south to 63rd, west to Ashland, south to 69th. You suggested that all this trackage was kept open (at least as late as 1952) to bypass flooded viaducts such as the one on State south of 63rd. This theory would also apply to the viaducts on the 63rd St. line. Much of that line between Wentworth and State consisted of viaducts for four passenger railroads (New York Central + Nickel Plate; Pennsylvania; and Rock Island), as well as Englewood Union Station. In fact, between the station and State St. there was a big yard for New York Central freight, which accounted for the majority of the viaduct over 63rd St. So, if the 63rd St. viaducts were to flood, the 63rd St. cars (let's say heading east) would turn north on Wentworth to 59th, east to State, south to 63rd, then east on 63rd.

Here is an enlargement of part of the 1952 CTA Surface System track map. It does show a track connection between Wentworth and State. Possibly some of these connections were kept for bypass use in case of flooded viaducts, such as the one that resulted in the infamous 1950 crash between a PCC car and a gasoline truck. M. E. writes: “The enlarged map you added of the 59th-Wentworth trackage made me think about how the 4 Cottage Grove cars got to the 69th and Ashland barn. Try this: Cottage Grove to 61st, west to State, north to 59th, west to Wentworth, south to 63rd, west to Ashland, south to 69th. You suggested that all this trackage was kept open (at least as late as 1952) to bypass flooded viaducts such as the one on State south of 63rd. This theory would also apply to the viaducts on the 63rd St. line. Much of that line between Wentworth and State consisted of viaducts for four passenger railroads (New York Central + Nickel Plate; Pennsylvania; and Rock Island), as well as Englewood Union Station. In fact, between the station and State St. there was a big yard for New York Central freight, which accounted for the majority of the viaduct over 63rd St. So, if the 63rd St. viaducts were to flood, the 63rd St. cars (let’s say heading east) would turn north on Wentworth to 59th, east to State, south to 63rd, then east on 63rd.

The same location today.

The same location today.

You might think, at first glance, that this picture of CSL 453 was taken downtown, but you would be wrong. This is the east end of the Lawrence line at Broadway in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. The motorman and conductor are talking before making the trip west to Austin on August 4, 1934. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

You might think, at first glance, that this picture of CSL 453 was taken downtown, but you would be wrong. This is the east end of the Lawrence line at Broadway in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. The motorman and conductor are talking before making the trip west to Austin on August 4, 1934. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

The same location today.

The same location today.

On a foggy day in December 1932, we see CSL "maximum traction" car 6109 southbound at State and Wacker.

On a foggy day in December 1932, we see CSL “maximum traction” car 6109 southbound at State and Wacker.

This photo of CSL 6170 heading northbound, was taken at State and Wacker, probably also in December 1932.

This photo of CSL 6170 heading northbound, was taken at State and Wacker, probably also in December 1932.

This damaged photo of CSL 581 was taken at the Imlay Loop at the outer end of route 56 - Milwaukee, on August 4, 1935. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

This damaged photo of CSL 581 was taken at the Imlay Loop at the outer end of route 56 – Milwaukee, on August 4, 1935. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

Here, we see CSL 6176 on Broadway at Berwyn (5300 N.). This Broadway-Wabash car is going direct to the World's Fair gates at 18th and 23rd Streets on August 4, 1934. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

Here, we see CSL 6176 on Broadway at Berwyn (5300 N.). This Broadway-Wabash car is going direct to the World’s Fair gates at 18th and 23rd Streets on August 4, 1934. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

The same location today.

The same location today.

This picture of CSL 335 may have been taken on route 65 - Grand. If so, it is heading east.

This picture of CSL 335 may have been taken on route 65 – Grand. If so, it is heading east.

CSL 1333, built in 1908.

CSL 1333, built in 1908.

CSL 5383 is laying over at the north end of the Ashland line, at Southport and Clark, on August 4, 1934. Since the Ashland bridge over the Chicago River was not opened until 1936, this car would have crossed the river via Southport. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

CSL 5383 is laying over at the north end of the Ashland line, at Southport and Clark, on August 4, 1934. Since the Ashland bridge over the Chicago River was not opened until 1936, this car would have crossed the river via Southport. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

CSL 381. Andre Kristopans: "Probably somewhere in Devon Carbarn yard. Lawrence and Broadway/Wabash both ran out of there." George Trapp adds, "I am pretty sure the location is at the Devon Depot, the east end of the South open yard, the ladder track curves out into Schreiber Avenue behind the photographer. Car 381 is signed for Cottage Grove-Broadway TR#1. Car 3201 to it's left is signed for Lawrence which operated out of Devon in the 1930's, it is one of the two original MU cars, 3200-3201 with 4 motors. These cars operated on Broadway during the daytime as two man cars and as night cars on Lawrence as one man. The car barn structure also looks like Devon Depot."

CSL 381. Andre Kristopans: “Probably somewhere in Devon Carbarn yard. Lawrence and Broadway/Wabash both ran out of there.” George Trapp adds, “I am pretty sure the location is at the Devon Depot, the east end of the South open yard, the ladder track curves out into Schreiber Avenue behind the photographer. Car 381 is signed for Cottage Grove-Broadway TR#1. Car 3201 to it’s left is signed for Lawrence which operated out of Devon in the 1930’s, it is one of the two original MU cars, 3200-3201 with 4 motors. These cars operated on Broadway during the daytime as two man cars and as night cars on Lawrence as one man. The car barn structure also looks like Devon Depot.”

Caption: "Chicago Surface Lines #3284. i man car built by Lightweight Noiseless Car Co. in 1925. Taken: Chicago, Ill., 8-4-34. Former two-man (car) also in MU (multiple unit) service. Now equipped with stop light and foot brakes." The car is shown at the east end of the Montrose line, just west of Broadway. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

Caption: “Chicago Surface Lines #3284. i man car built by Lightweight Noiseless Car Co. in 1925. Taken: Chicago, Ill., 8-4-34. Former two-man (car) also in MU (multiple unit) service. Now equipped with stop light and foot brakes.” The car is shown at the east end of the Montrose line, just west of Broadway. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

This photo of CSL Sedan (Peter Witt) 3325, taken August 4, 1935, was a challenge to identify. These cars were being used exclusively on the Clark-Wentworth line then. The sign for the Heinsen Photo Studio (located at 6221 N. Clark) provided the necessary clue to ID this as Clark and Granville. The car is heading south. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

This photo of CSL Sedan (Peter Witt) 3325, taken August 4, 1935, was a challenge to identify. These cars were being used exclusively on the Clark-Wentworth line then. The sign for the Heinsen Photo Studio (located at 6221 N. Clark) provided the necessary clue to ID this as Clark and Granville. The car is heading south. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

Clark and Granville today. The building that once had a photo studio is still there.

Clark and Granville today. The building that once had a photo studio is still there.

CSL 1984, built by the Chicago Railways Company in 1913-1914, is shown at the east end of the North Avenue line on November 24, 1934. That's Clark Street in the rear. When route 72 was changed to trolley bus in 1949, buses continued to a new turnaround loop east of Clark. The building at rear is the old Plaza Hotel. To see it from another angle, check out our post Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 2-28-2016. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

CSL 1984, built by the Chicago Railways Company in 1913-1914, is shown at the east end of the North Avenue line on November 24, 1934. That’s Clark Street in the rear. When route 72 was changed to trolley bus in 1949, buses continued to a new turnaround loop east of Clark. The building at rear is the old Plaza Hotel. To see it from another angle, check out our post Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 2-28-2016. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

North and Clark today.

North and Clark today.

Here is an interesting photo of CSL one-man car 3110, taken on August 4, 1934. The location is Ashland and Irving Park Road, and the large building at rear is Lake View High School, where my mother graduated in 1946. Since this was two years before the north and south portions of Ashland were connected by a new bridge over the Chicago River, this is a North Ashland Shuttle car, running the two miles between Irving Park (4000 N.) and Fullerton (2400 N.). (Actually, the sign says the car is going to Clybourn, which is just south of Fullerton.) We ran another North Ashland Shuttle photo in our post Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part Eleven (September 2, 2016). (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

Here is an interesting photo of CSL one-man car 3110, taken on August 4, 1934. The location is Ashland and Irving Park Road, and the large building at rear is Lake View High School, where my mother graduated in 1946. Since this was two years before the north and south portions of Ashland were connected by a new bridge over the Chicago River, this is a North Ashland Shuttle car, running the two miles between Irving Park (4000 N.) and Fullerton (2400 N.). (Actually, the sign says the car is going to Clybourn, which is just south of Fullerton.) We ran another North Ashland Shuttle photo in our post Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part Eleven (September 2, 2016). (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

Ashland and Irving Park today.

Ashland and Irving Park today.

It's not easy to determine just where this picture of CSL 1589 was taken on August 4, 1934. The car is signed for Irving Park and Neenah, and with the track configuration, you would expect we are at the east end of the Irving Park line. However, according to my CSL track maps, the crossover was just west of Broadway. If so, that doesn't explain the traffic signal in the picture. Perhaps Irving Park cars turned back just east of Broadway? (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo) Andre Kristopans: "More likely Irving and Clark. Note cemetery behind car."

It’s not easy to determine just where this picture of CSL 1589 was taken on August 4, 1934. The car is signed for Irving Park and Neenah, and with the track configuration, you would expect we are at the east end of the Irving Park line. However, according to my CSL track maps, the crossover was just west of Broadway. If so, that doesn’t explain the traffic signal in the picture. Perhaps Irving Park cars turned back just east of Broadway? (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo) Andre Kristopans: “More likely Irving and Clark. Note cemetery behind car.”

Irving Park and Broadway today.

Irving Park and Broadway today.

CSL 6042 on the State route on November 24, 1934. The Broadway-State through-route did not start until August 19, 1937, so this is likely to be somewhere on the south side. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo) Andre Kristopans: "I’d bet at the north end of the line, on Division east of Wells. Note car is switching back."

CSL 6042 on the State route on November 24, 1934. The Broadway-State through-route did not start until August 19, 1937, so this is likely to be somewhere on the south side. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo) Andre Kristopans: “I’d bet at the north end of the line, on Division east of Wells. Note car is switching back.”

Chicago and West Towns car 156 on 22nd Street (or was it already called Cermak road) in Cicero, 1936. The car is heading west and we can just see a glimpse of the Douglas Park "L", which runs just north of Cermak. The car is signed to go to Riverside. Don's Rail Photos: "156 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was rebuilt in 1942 and scrapped in 1948."

Chicago and West Towns car 156 on 22nd Street (or was it already called Cermak road) in Cicero, 1936. The car is heading west and we can just see a glimpse of the Douglas Park “L”, which runs just north of Cermak. The car is signed to go to Riverside. Don’s Rail Photos: “156 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was rebuilt in 1942 and scrapped in 1948.”

Don's Rail Photos says Chicago & West Towns car 106 "was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1915. It was dismantled in 1943." Here, we see it heading north on Harlem and Stanley in 1936, having just crossed the Burlington RR.

Don’s Rail Photos says Chicago & West Towns car 106 “was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1915. It was dismantled in 1943.” Here, we see it heading north on Harlem and Stanley in 1936, having just crossed the Burlington RR.

C&WT 101 at the same location in 1936. Note the Harlem stop on the Burlington commuter line at right. Don's Rail Photos adds, "101 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948."

C&WT 101 at the same location in 1936. Note the Harlem stop on the Burlington commuter line at right. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “101 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948.”

Harlem and Stanley in Berwyn today. The Harlem stop on the Burlington has been updated, but is still in the same location as the 1936 picture.

Harlem and Stanley in Berwyn today. The Harlem stop on the Burlington has been updated, but is still in the same location as the 1936 picture.

This is not a very good picture, technically (it appears to be a double exposure) but it does show the North Shore Line in Milwaukee in 1934.

This is not a very good picture, technically (it appears to be a double exposure) but it does show the North Shore Line in Milwaukee in 1934.

South Shore Line cars 33, 24 and ? near Chicago's Art Institute on August 17, 1931.

South Shore Line cars 33, 24 and ? near Chicago’s Art Institute on August 17, 1931.

Caption: "Chicago, South Shore and South Bend trailer 207. Although this car has no motors, it has controls, and can be used as (the) head car in (a) train. These trains make the 90 miles to South Bend in 2 hours and go over 100 to keep up schedule, and they go through city streets in several cities, among them Gary. They use tracks of the Illinois Central out and in Chicago. Builder- Pullman."

Caption: “Chicago, South Shore and South Bend trailer 207. Although this car has no motors, it has controls, and can be used as (the) head car in (a) train. These trains make the 90 miles to South Bend in 2 hours and go over 100 to keep up schedule, and they go through city streets in several cities, among them Gary. They use tracks of the Illinois Central out and in Chicago. Builder- Pullman.”

Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee dining car 417 at Highwood. Don's Rail Photos: "417 were built by Cincinnati Car in June 1924, #2905 as dining car trailer. It was rebuilt as a tavern-lounge on November 8, 1940. It was out service by 1951, retired on December 31, 1955, and scrapped in 1959."

Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee dining car 417 at Highwood. Don’s Rail Photos: “417 were built by Cincinnati Car in June 1924, #2905 as dining car trailer. It was rebuilt as a tavern-lounge on November 8, 1940. It was out service by 1951, retired on December 31, 1955, and scrapped in 1959.”

This picture of CSS&SB 109 has been restored. The original was not properly fixed in development, and the print has continued to develop over the last 80 years. Eventually, it will fade out completely. Don's Rail Photos adds, "109 was built by Pullman in 1926. It was lengthened in 1944. Air conditioning and picture windows came in 1949." (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

This picture of CSS&SB 109 has been restored. The original was not properly fixed in development, and the print has continued to develop over the last 80 years. Eventually, it will fade out completely. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “109 was built by Pullman in 1926. It was lengthened in 1944. Air conditioning and picture windows came in 1949.” (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

This is another photo that was not properly fixed in development. Don's Rail Photos: "1126 was a work motor built by Niles in 1908 as CLS&SB 73. In 1927 it was rebuilt into work motor 1126. In 1941 it was sold and converted to a house. In 1994 it was purchased for restoration from a buyer who had picked it up the month before for back taxes. He really did not want the car, just the land. Bob Harris began restoration in 2005 and plans to complete it in 2009." (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

This is another photo that was not properly fixed in development. Don’s Rail Photos: “1126 was a work motor built by Niles in 1908 as CLS&SB 73. In 1927 it was rebuilt into work motor 1126. In 1941 it was sold and converted to a house. In 1994 it was purchased for restoration from a buyer who had picked it up the month before for back taxes. He really did not want the car, just the land. Bob Harris began restoration in 2005 and plans to complete it in 2009.” (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

South Shore Line car 37. Don's Rail Photos: "37 was built by Standard Car in 1929,, #P-3380. It was air conditioned and sold to IRM in 1983."

South Shore Line car 37. Don’s Rail Photos: “37 was built by Standard Car in 1929,, #P-3380. It was air conditioned and sold to IRM in 1983.”

Here is a rare picture. Don's Rail Photos notes, "222 was built by Kuhlman in 1908 for the CLS&SB and was numbered between 101 and 110. It was rebuilt in 1927 to a deluxe coach and numbered 222. Shortly afterwards, when the 200s arrived, it was used by the Way & Structures Dept. Later it was used as a newspaper car, and it was scrapped in 1941." It is identified in this picture as a maintenance of way car.

Here is a rare picture. Don’s Rail Photos notes, “222 was built by Kuhlman in 1908 for the CLS&SB and was numbered between 101 and 110. It was rebuilt in 1927 to a deluxe coach and numbered 222. Shortly afterwards, when the 200s arrived, it was used by the Way & Structures Dept. Later it was used as a newspaper car, and it was scrapped in 1941.” It is identified in this picture as a maintenance of way car.

Here is another rare photo of CSS&SB wooden combine car 1126.

Here is another rare photo of CSS&SB wooden combine car 1126.

Illinois Terminal car 121, as it appeared at Granite City on June 7, 1936. It was then being used in local service on the route between St. Louis and Alton. Don's Rail Photos adds, "121 was built by East St Louis & Suburban in 1924 as 5. It became StL&ARy 5 in 1930 and IT 121 in January 1931. It was sold for scrap to Hyman Michaels Co on July 23, 1953." (Glenn Niceley Photo)

Illinois Terminal car 121, as it appeared at Granite City on June 7, 1936. It was then being used in local service on the route between St. Louis and Alton. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “121 was built by East St Louis & Suburban in 1924 as 5. It became StL&ARy 5 in 1930 and IT 121 in January 1931. It was sold for scrap to Hyman Michaels Co on July 23, 1953.” (Glenn Niceley Photo)

Illinois Terminal car 273 in Bloomington in March 1936. (Robert M. Hanft Photo)

Illinois Terminal car 273 in Bloomington in March 1936. (Robert M. Hanft Photo)

Another rare photo. This is Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric "Birney" city car #72 in May 1934. Caption: "Color: Orange. 2 Motors. This system, which operated local cars in Aurora and Elgin, as well as an interurban line between those two cities, abandoned April 1, 1935." Actually, a small portion of the AE&FRE did survive in South Elgin as a freight line, which has now morphed into the Fox River trolley Museum. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

Another rare photo. This is Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric “Birney” city car #72 in May 1934. Caption: “Color: Orange. 2 Motors. This system, which operated local cars in Aurora and Elgin, as well as an interurban line between those two cities, abandoned April 1, 1935.” Actually, a small portion of the AE&FRE did survive in South Elgin as a freight line, which has now morphed into the Fox River trolley Museum. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

Again, a rare picture. This is AE&FRE car #206 in Aurora in May 1934. Color: Brown. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

Again, a rare picture. This is AE&FRE car #206 in Aurora in May 1934. Color: Brown. (Earl W. McLaughlin Photo)

Chicago, Aurora & Elgin car 107 under trolley wire in downtown Aurora in 1936. Within a short period of time, the street running in Aurora was eliminated and replaced by a new terminal with private right-of-way. Don's Rail Photos: "107 was built by Stephenson in 1903. It was wrecked in 1914 and rebuilt as an express trailer. It was retired in 1937." I'm not sure if this is really car 107 (as the photo says it is), since this car looks like it can run under its own power, which an express trailer could not do. Andre Kristopans: "CAE car in Aurora – probably 407. 107 was a woodie to begin with!" Don's Rail Photos says, "407 was built by Pullman in 1923." Bill Shapotkin adds, "This pic is indeed in Broadway at the CB&Q overcrossing (just south of Benson). When the streetcars quit in Aurora, the car tracks (which had at one time gone under the CB&Q) were cut-back to this point. The view looks N/E."

Chicago, Aurora & Elgin car 107 under trolley wire in downtown Aurora in 1936. Within a short period of time, the street running in Aurora was eliminated and replaced by a new terminal with private right-of-way. Don’s Rail Photos: “107 was built by Stephenson in 1903. It was wrecked in 1914 and rebuilt as an express trailer. It was retired in 1937.” I’m not sure if this is really car 107 (as the photo says it is), since this car looks like it can run under its own power, which an express trailer could not do. Andre Kristopans: “CAE car in Aurora – probably 407. 107 was a woodie to begin with!” Don’s Rail Photos says, “407 was built by Pullman in 1923.” Bill Shapotkin adds, “This pic is indeed in Broadway at the CB&Q overcrossing (just south of Benson). When the streetcars quit in Aurora, the car tracks (which had at one time gone under the CB&Q) were cut-back to this point. The view looks N/E.”

Caption: "Chicago, Aurora & Elgin trailer 209. This car has controls (like CSS&SB 207) but no motors. Built by Niles." Don's Rail Photos: ""Carolyn" was built by Niles Car in 1904. It was rebuilt as 209, a trailer coach, in 1924 and rebuilt in May 1939. It was retired in 1959."

Caption: “Chicago, Aurora & Elgin trailer 209. This car has controls (like CSS&SB 207) but no motors. Built by Niles.” Don’s Rail Photos: “”Carolyn” was built by Niles Car in 1904. It was rebuilt as 209, a trailer coach, in 1924 and rebuilt in May 1939. It was retired in 1959.”

Caption: "Chicago, Aurora & Elgin 433, geared for 95 miles an hour." 433 was built by Cincinnati Car Co. in 1927. There is some debate as to just how fast CA&E cars ran. The general consensus is they could do at least 60 mph but that close proximity to nearby buildings might have inflated the "illusion of speed" relative to, say, the North Shore Line, which was in more open areas.

Caption: “Chicago, Aurora & Elgin 433, geared for 95 miles an hour.” 433 was built by Cincinnati Car Co. in 1927. There is some debate as to just how fast CA&E cars ran. The general consensus is they could do at least 60 mph but that close proximity to nearby buildings might have inflated the “illusion of speed” relative to, say, the North Shore Line, which was in more open areas.

Don's Rail Photos says CA&E car 20 "was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was preserved by Railway Electric Leasing & Investing Corp in 1962. It was then transferred to Fox River Trolley Museum in 1984. It is the oldest operating interurban in the United States."

Don’s Rail Photos says CA&E car 20 “was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was preserved by Railway Electric Leasing & Investing Corp in 1962. It was then transferred to Fox River Trolley Museum in 1984. It is the oldest operating interurban in the United States.”


Recent Correspondence

csl-5990-at-carbarn

John Smatlak writes:

I picked up this interesting shot of CSL 5990 at a swap meet. I was intrigued by the transfer table pit and the apartment buildings alongside; it’s obviously at one of the carbarns / shops, any idea of which one?

Before I could post this, John solved his own riddle:

Mystery solved, the photo was taken at West Shops.

That’s incredible detective work… how did you figure it out?

Just looking at the B&W photo one day and got the idea that I’d seen the location in another one of my photos, and upon checking, sure enough that was it.

Always enjoy the Trolley Dodger site, keep up the good work!

Thanks!

cta-west-shops-yesterday-and-7-88


Book Review

The book's cover shows the Hagerstown & Frederick, a Maryland interurban. Ironically, considering the title, it had very few riders.

The book’s cover shows the Hagerstown & Frederick, a Maryland interurban. Ironically, considering the title, it had very few riders.

Electric Interurbans and the American People
By H. Roger Grant, with an introduction by Norman Carlson
Published by Indiana University Press

Here his how the publisher describes this book:

One of the most intriguing yet neglected pieces of American transportation history, electric interurban railroads were designed to assist shoppers, salesmen, farmers, commuters, and pleasure-seekers alike with short distance travel. At a time when most roads were unpaved and horse and buggy travel were costly and difficult, these streetcar-like electric cars were essential to economic growth. But why did interurban fever strike so suddenly and extensively in the Midwest and other areas? Why did thousands of people withdraw their savings to get onto what they believed to be a “gravy train?” How did officials of competing steam railroads respond to these challenges to their operations? H. Roger Grant explores the rise and fall of this fleeting form of transportation that started in the early 1900s and was defunct just 30 years later. Perfect for railfans, Electric Interurbans and the American People is a comprehensive contribution for those who love the flanged wheel.

At its core, the word “interurban” means between cities. The definition of an interurban railway has always been a bit difficult to pin down. Some say it should not include suburbs, or lines that were shorter than 15 miles, or that originated with steam railroads.

No matter what definition you might accept, however, you are likely to find exceptions to all of these rules that still seem “interurban-ish” in character. The Philadelphia & Western is not quite 15 miles long, and yet it was always considered an interurban. The Erie Lackawanna’s Gladstone Branch began life as a steam railroad, yet has always seemed like an interurban at heart.

George Hilton and John Due, in their book The Electric Interurban Railways in America, first published in 1964, declared the interurban era at an end with the demise of the Pacific Electric and North Shore Line. Yet while there are remnants of that era all over this country, they are no longer considered “interurbans.”

Everyone agrees that the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend (now operated by NICTD) is the last surviving major interurban in America. But I would bet that 90% or more of its riders think of it as a commuter rail line today.

Likewise, there is the Blue Line, which runs 22 miles between Los Angeles and Long Beach, much of it in the exact same right-of-way that a Pacific Electric interurban line used until 1961. But the Blue Line is not considered an interurban– it is “light rail.”

There are other latter-day interurbans, such as BART, which runs between San Francisco, Oakland, and other places. In any other era, the PATCO Speedline, which runs between Philadelphia and New Jersey, would likewise be called an interurban and not “rapid transit.”

With all this in mind, I welcome the publication of Electric Interurbans and the American People by H. Roger Grant, simply because its focus is largely on people, and people have often been left out of many such previous books on this subject.* Investing in an interurban railway was always a very risky and speculative venture. But for a time in the early 1900s, thousands of miles of such lines were built.

While Hilton and Due considered the interurban era to have been practically an accident of history, noting that had autos and paved roads been available just a few short years earlier, it might not have happened at all, its effects on America were beneficial and long-lasting. While interurban stockholders may have been caught short in the long run, the connections that these railroads made between cities and communities have been permanent and long-lasting.

With the development of new rail lines, whether called rapid transit, light rail, or high-speed rail, interurbans have made a bit of a comeback in the US, and this seems likely to continue into the future.

The best parts of this book are the ones that deal with various interurban abandonments. I am particularly fond of how the late Maurice Klebolt organized the last passenger trip on the Illinois Terminal interurbans in 1956. Entire towns along the way turned out to pay tribute, many dressed in period costume. We ran a picture of Mr. Klebolt in a recent post.

At just 192 pages, this book, while a welcome addition, just scratches the surface in examining the sociological dimensions of the interurban era. I highly recommend this book to anyone with such an interest. We can only hope that this rich historical vein will continue to be mined by other authors in the future.

-David Sadowski

*I can think of many books where the author seemed to think that people just get in the way of a good photo of an empty railcar.


Marx Trains

Louis Marx and Company was a major toymaker when I was growing up, but they went out of business in 1980. They made a number of metal train sets, and during the 1990s, another firm (Marx Trains) made some interesting O-scale tribute vehicles that I’ve just recently learned about.

These trains aren’t easy to find now, and they don’t come cheap– expect to pay somewhere in the range of $500-750 a set.

This is one car from a three-car CTA "4500s" powered train set that will actually operate on a layout and has sound effects and lights. This was obviously patterned after the 6000s but with only one set of "blinker" doors.

This is one car from a three-car CTA “4500s” powered train set that will actually operate on a layout and has sound effects and lights. This was obviously patterned after the 6000s but with only one set of “blinker” doors.

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