The photographer (possibly Emery Gulash) had but one chance to press the shutter button at precisely the right moment, and he nailed it with this classic view of westbound Electroliner train 803 at Lake Bluff in January 1963. This is what noted photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson had in mind when he wrote about the “decisive moment.” Douglas Noble: “Northbound crossing Rockland Road / IL 176 in Lake Bluff.”
This is our first post in nearly two months. We have been hard at work on our next book, The North Shore Line. In addition, I worked 16 straight days as an election judge during the recent primary here.
Each of these posts involves a tremendous amount of hard work that may not be apparent to the causal observer. First, we have to scan the negatives, prints, and slides that you see here. Then, they have to be worked over in Photoshop to get the color and density right, and remove any scratches, crud, and other blemishes that have accumulated over the decades since these pictures were taken. This can take hours for just a single photograph, but we think the results are well worth it.
Our goal is to present definitive versions of these classic photos in an online archive for all to enjoy. We see our stuff showing up all over Facebook and other parts of the Internet all the time, and, recently, even in books and magazines put out by others.
It would be nice if, in all cases, we received some credit for our contributions. When people ask permission to use our work, it is freely granted, but all we ask is that we are properly credited, that the original photographer is credited, and that the small watermark we place on these images is not cropped out.
We don’t think this is too much to ask. Meanwhile, we hope you will enjoy this latest batch of classic photographs.
Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.
Work on our North Shore Line book is ongoing. Donations are needed in order to bring this to a successful conclusion. You will find donation links at the top and bottom of each post. We thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
The Chicago Surface Lines had a collection of historic streetcars, starting in the 1920s. These were used for parades and the opening of new lines. Some of the restoration work, such as this car, was more fanciful than authentic, as this car was never part of the West Chicago Street Railway, nor was it #4. Don’s Rail Photos: “4 was built by Pullman in 1895, #840, as North Chicago Street RR 922. It became Chicago Union Traction Co 4022 in 1899 and became Chicago Surface Lines 4022 in 1914. It was rebuilt as WCStRy 4 in 1933. It went to Illinois Railway Museum in 1985.” The CTA inherited this collection, and various cars were trotted out during shops tours in the 1950s. Once streetcar service ended in 1958, these cars were put into storage, and were finally donated to museums in the mid-1980s.
Brooklyn-Queens Transit PCC 1066 is signed for Coney Island in the early 1950s.
A train of CTA curved-door 6000s is at Howard Street in June 1977.
A southbound North Shore Line train, with 711 in the lead, is at Morse on the “L” in June 1959.
North Shore Line cars 157 and 252 are on a June 16, 1962 fantrip. Here, we see the train at the Root River bridge near Racine, Wisconsin. (Richard H. Young Photo)
This is a South Shore Line portable substation at Michigan City, Indiana on July 10, 1977.
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) cars 16 and 20 in May 1965, signed for the Media line. Kenneth Achtert: “Appears to be outbound at Springfield Rd. I would assume this is on a fantrip from the number of random individuals around the right-of-way (most likely a run-by since they are scattered about); also, the Media destination would not be standard operating procedure for two-car trains. The trains were typically scheduled to Springfield (Woodland Ave.) with only single cars going all the way to Media.” Jeff Didlake says, “I agree with Ken Achtert’s thoughts that this is a fan trip, but I believe the location is the Scenic Rd. station on the Media Line. The track is on a slight curve and a hint of the red brick high rise Drexelline Apts. is in the background. I know this station well as I managed to ruin a good tire and wheel while pulling into the parking lot there on a poorly maintained Springfield Twp. sewer inlet grate.”
On June 11, 1962, a two-car North Shore Line train, headed by 731, is bound for Mundelein near Lake Bluff. (Richard H. Young Photo)
North Shore Line combine 251 is near Racine, Wisconsin on February 6, 1962.
The interior of Queensborough Bridge Railway car 601 in the mid-1950s. This was an Electromobile, built around 1929 by Osgood-Bradley.
North Shore Line car 733 awaiting scrapping at South Upton Junction on October 26, 1963, several months after abandonment.
North Shore Line Silverliner 758 is at Edison Court in Waukegan during the summer of 1958. This was an important station, where cars were routinely added and cut from trains.
Philadelphia PCC 2142 is signed for Route 6 on September 15, 1957. Mark A. Jones writes, “That picture is of the northbound terminus of route 6 across from Willow Grove Park. 2142 is headed south to Broad and Olney.” Kenneth Achtert adds, “2142 is at Willow Grove Park, the end of the Route 6. The amusement park is hidden behind the trees.”
North Shore Line loco 455 is working the Niles Gas Spur in the Weber Industrial District, Skokie, Illinois, probably in the late 1950s. (Bob Geis Photo)
Chicago Surface Lines one-man car 6241 is at the east end of Route 43 in the 1940s. You can see a pedestrian bridge leading to the nearby Illinois Central Electric commuter station behind the streetcar.
A North Shore Line train at Winnetka Road on the Skokie Valley Route. The business at left is John H. Davies and Son, general contractors.
A three-car North Shore Line train heads south over the 6th Street Bridge, probably in the 1940s.
North Shore Line cars 716 and 409 at Highwood, possibly in the early 1940s. 409 started out as a dining car motor before it was converted to coach in 1942.
North Shore Line loco 455 heads up a freight train that is crossing over to the northbound track near Oakton on the Skokie Valley Route.
A three-car train of North Shore Line Silverliners prepares to cross the North Shore Channel, probably in the 1950s.
To get a shot like this in the 1940s, a photographer had to be extremely lucky, patient, or both. While a two-car CRT Lake Street “L” train heads east, going up the ramp towards Laramie, it passes a westbound CSL Route 16 streetcar. Two conductors on the “L” are lowering the trolley poles, as this was the switchover point to third rail. Streetcar service on Lake Street ended in 1954, and the outer portion of the Lake Street “L” was shifted over to the nearby C&NW embankment in 1962.
CTA PCC 7148 is at 71st and Ashland in June 1953. (Vic Wagner Photo) Our resident south side expert M. E. notes, “I don’t doubt this photo is at 71st and Ashland. (The street sign says Ashland.) So this photo is near the 69th and Ashland carbarn. I think this streetcar had been heading south on Ashland to 71st, and here it is turning west on 71st St. for what would be a short distance. Then it will turn north and into the carbarn.”
CTA one-man streetcar 3228 is on 79th Street at the crossing with the Illinois Central in April 1951. (Vic Wagner Photo)
The view looking north along State Street at 63rd in April 1953. The PCCs are running on Route 36, while the red Pullman is eastbound on Route 63. This was near the end of streetcar service on 63rd Street, and older red cars had replaced newer PCCs, which were shifted to run on Route 4 – Cottage Grove. At right, you can see where some buildings were destroyed by fire on May 25, 1950, after a PCC collided with a gasoline truck. 34 people were killed. The photographer was standing on a railroad viaduct and probably wanted to document the intersection of two streetcar lines before one of them changed to buses. (Vic Wagner Photo)
About the image above, M. E. adds:
Your caption reads: “This was near the end of streetcar service on 63rd Street, and older red cars had replaced newer PCCs, which were shifted to run on Route 4 – Cottage Grove.” My hangup is with the term “newer PCCs”. Yes, they were newer than the red cars, but they were not newer than the PCCs on State St. in the photo. The PCCs that ran on 63rd St. were those that Chicago Surface Lines acquired in 1936 to run on Madison St. Those PCCs were also called “pre-war PCCs”. So perhaps your caption might better say “older red cars had replaced the pre-war PCCs, which were shifted …”
I give you credit for pointing out where a State St. PCC car collided with a gasoline truck. I remember that like it happened yesterday. I also credit the photographer for a terrific action photo.
Also, about this photo:
(1) In the distance is the State St. station on the Englewood L, situated south of 59th St. I spy two more State St. PCC cars at or near the L station. This illustrates how busy the north/south PCC car lines were. The Chicago Surface Lines, then the CTA, ordered a total of 600 post-war PCCs, and they were all needed on just five north/south lines — 36 Broadway/State, 22 Clark/Wentworth, 8 Halsted, 42 Halsted/Archer/Clark, and 49 Western. (The pre-war PCCs were still on 20 Madison.)
(2) You mentioned that the photographer was standing on a railroad viaduct. That viaduct spanned State St. just south of 63rd St. The photographer was at the eastern edge of a big freight yard paralleling the New York Central right of way. It is this same freight yard that was used, three blocks east, to deliver new PCC cars, then (later) L cars, to the CTA. The L cars were transferred to the CTA via the L track that ran from the southbound Jackson Park line south past 63rd St. and then down into a ground-level freight yard.
(3) That freight yard also spanned 63rd St., so the westbound red car shown in the photo is about to go underneath the freight yard until it emerges past the New York Central (and Nickel Plate) passenger train tracks, adjacent to the entrance to Englewood Union Station. Past the station, 63rd St. ran under more tracks, first the Rock Island, then the Pennsylvania, both of which also served Englewood Union Station. All told, the trip between State St. and almost to Wentworth Av. was mostly dark 24 hours a day.
(4) The billboard at the left in the photo advertises the ’53 Ford. Assuming this photo was taken in late spring or early summer of 1953 (judging by the clothing on pedestrians and the green foliage), I don’t see any ’53 Fords in the photo.
Buses replaced streetcars on 63rd Street on May 24, 1953, so the picture can’t be from after that, thanks.
The CTA off-street loop on Halsted Street, just south of 79th, in August 1953. Pullman PCC 4368 is operating on Route 8, while the red Pullman is signed for Halsted-Downtown (Route 42). By this stage, the Pullman PCCs, although no more than seven years old, were being retired and sent to St. Louis Car Company for scrapping and parts re-use in new PCC “L” cars. Service was being supplemented by older red cars. Streetcar service on Halsted ended in May 1954. (Vic Wagner Photo) Our resident south side expert M. E. adds, “Notice how busy this terminal was. I count at least four streetcars, and perhaps a fifth if I detect another trolley pole behind the last PCC car. This terminal also served South Halsted and Halsted / Vincennes / 111th St. buses, which used the paved lane in the terminal.”
CTA one-man streetcar 3261 is at the east end of Route 79, at 79th and Brandon near Chicago’s lakefront, in September 1951. (Vic Wagner Photo)
Milwaukee Electric (Speedrail) car 1121 operated on a North Shore Line fantrip on December 4, 1949. Here it is with one of the Electroliners near Racine, Wisconsin.
The pass for Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip #36, which used freight equipment on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin on August 10, 1941.
The Chicago and North Western station at Lake Forest in the early 1900s, from a real photo postcard. The Chicago and Milwaukee electric (which became the North Shore Line in 1916) ran just beyond those large trees, and had a handsome station of its own just out of view to the right.
This picture was taken during Fall 1962, in the waning days of the ground-level operation of the Lake Street “L”. The new elevated station on the nearby C&NW embankment has been built and the changeover took place on October 28th of that year. This view looks west along South Boulevard at Marion Street in Oak Park. Crossing gates were manually operated.
On February 19, 1956, a northbound Electroliner has stopped at Kenosha and is presumably on a fantrip. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Speedrail curved-side car 61 is on Michigan at 6th Street in Milwaukee on September 2, 1950, passing by the north side of the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Milwaukee and Suburban Transport streetcar 954 is westbound on Route 10 at 68th and Fairview in August 1957.
The same location in 2015. The streetcar tracks were just to the right of this alley.
On June 12, 1955, Milwaukee and Suburban Transport streetcar 999 is on a bridge over the Chicago & North Western Railway at Howell Avenue. This was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
North Shore Line Silverliner 766 is about to cross the Glencoe gauntlet, a short single-track section on the otherwise double-tracked Shore Line Route. The occasion was an August 9, 1953 fantrip. This short bridge over a ravine was not deemed strong enough to support the weight of two trains passing each other, so it was made single-tracked. This also permitted a tight curve to be straightened out a bit. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
North Shore Line car 155 is on the tail end of a fantrip train, turning onto Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette, heading east on a July 24, 1955 Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
North Shore Line freight loco 456 and caboose 1002 are at the scale house in Rondout during January 1963. (Photo attributed to Emery Gulash)
North Shore Line freight loco 456 and caboose 1002 are at the scale house in Rondout during January 1963. (Photo attributed to Emery Gulash)
North Shore Line cars 157 and 252 are on a June 16, 1962 fantrip. We have posted pictures from this trip before. There is another in this post, taken by Richard H. Young, but this one may be by Emery Gulash.
Don’s Rail Photos: “1796 was built by American Car & Foundry in 1907 as NEWRy 287, #5098, as trailer. It was renumbered 1287 in 1913 and rebuilt as motor 1796. It became CRT 1796 in 1923 and was sold to Gaylord Container in Louisiana…” One side of this “L” car was removed, and it was used to transport large rolls of paper. Although Don’s says this car was scrapped in 1966, that is incorrect and the date was actually 1973. Parts were salvaged from this car to help restore sister car 1797 at the Illinois Railway Museum. 1796 could not be saved since the body was no longer structurally sound. I have July 1958 as the date when the CTA sold this car, and this picture was taken by William C. Hoffman in October 1963.
This was scanned from an original North Shore Line 8×10″ nitrate negative, taken circa 1930, and in the collections of Robert Heinlein. Determining the location presented many challenges, yet this has now been determined with the aid of other fans. The car is 714, and it is signed as a Chicago Local on the Shore Line Route. Since the North Shore tracks are not adjacent to the Chicago and North Western, we must be north of North Chicago Junction. We cannot be south of Highland Park, as there is freight present here. A sign on the high-level platform indicates that freight trains have to come to a stop, most likely to make sure part of the platform gets flipped up for the sake of clearances. A similar arrangement existed at high-level stations of the Chicago Aurora and Elgin. As all the Shore Line tracks in Waukegan ran on the street, that pretty much narrows it down to North Chicago. The Thomas J. Killian Plumbing Supply company building at left clinches it, and the location is between 16th and 17th Streets, looking north. The Chicago and North Western’s tracks were a short distance east of here, to the right out of view of this photo. (Courtesy of Kevin Heinlein)
A close-up view of car 714, which seems to be painted orange.
The freight siding for the Thomas J. Killian Plumbing Supply Company.
This was also scanned from an original North Shore Line 8×10″ nitrate negative in the collections of Robert Heinlein, and was taken at the same time as the previous photo and shows a slightly different view of the same scene. (Courtesy of Kevin Heinlein)
Ray DeGroote Turns 92
Ray DeGroote celebrated his 92nd birthday on July 15th. Here he is about two weeks earlier, at our celebratory lunch.
I dedicated my last book Chicago’s Lost “L”s to my friend Raymond DeGroote, Jr., as the “Dean of Chicago Railfans.” He turned 92 recently. Ray has traveled the world, and has taken thousands of great photos, many of which have been used in books, magazines, and in his excellent slideshows over the years.
And he’s still at it– Ray recently returned from a trip to San Diego for the Electric Railroaders’ Association annual convention. Since returning, other friends have treated him to lunch, and he reports he is “well fed.”
Here are a few of Ray’s classic photos of the North Shore Line:
We are at Indian Hill on the Shore Line Route on July 24, 1955, just prior to abandonment. Cars 175 and 413 are in regular service, while 155 is on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip, and has temporarily been shunted to a siding. The tracks in this area were grade-separated circa 1938-43 by a project partially funded by the Federal government. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
A fantrip train made up of Silverliners is on Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette on February 20, 1955. This trip was sponsored by the Illini Railroad Club. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
North Shore Line loco 459 and caboose 1006 are at Lake Bluff on January 19, 1963. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
The “KX” here most likely refers to Kodachrome X, first released by Kodak in 1962, with a film speed of 64. The original Kodachrome had a film speed of ASA/ISO 10, which was bumped up to 25 in 1961 with the release of Kodachrome II.
The unrestored interior of North Shore Line car 151 on September 4, 1961. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
The interior of North Shore Line car 160 on January 12, 1963. Interestingly, it had been refurbished in November 1962, even though abandonment was at hand. This car was purchased by the Illinois Railway Museum, where it remains today. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
North Shore Line car 714’s interior on June 17, 1962. This car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
The interior of North Shore Line Silverliner 755 on September 4, 1961. After abandonment, this car went to the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine. (Raymond DeGroote, Jr. Photo)
Max Hensley sent us this scan of a 1890 specimen $1,000 bond for the West Chicago Street Railroad Tunnel Company. This cable car tunnel was built in 1893 and crossed the Chicago River near Van Buren Street. Like the other river tunnels, it was eventually enlarged and dug deeper around 1911 for streetcar use. But of the three such tunnels (the others being on Washington and LaSalle Streets), Van Buren was used the least, and does not seem to have seen much action after 1924, except for training use. These tunnels still exist but the approaches have been filled in.
The river tunnels are also discussed at length in my book Building Chicago’s Subways.
We were in Milwaukee on July 13th to help a friend move some things. We did stop by Burns Commons for a few minutes to catch a few pictures (and one video) of Milwaukee’s modern streetcar at its northern terminus:
Did Not Win
Try as we might, our resources are limited. Here are some interesting items that we were not able to purchase, but are still worth a second look:
This desktop ink blotter dates to circa 1919-20, as the North Shore Line is already running via the “L”, but had not yet opened their new Milwaukee Terminal. The line to Mundelein is shown, as it had been extended there as of 1905. But prior to 1925, it was called Rockefeller, and later, the area was known rather generically as “Area.” When using a fountain pen, you would wipe off excess ink on the backside of blotters such as this, which measured about 6″ wide.
This real photo postcard view of the Elgin and Belvedere Electric Company was most likely taken on its inaugural run in early 1907. Mike Franklin has identified the location as Belvedere, as that is the First M. E. Church at rear. Car 201 was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1906. (Thanks to J. J. Sedelmaier for tweaking this image.)
Here is what the late Don Ross wrote about the Elgin and Belvedere:
This line was built in 1906 and opened in 1907 between Elgin and Belvidere, 36 miles, to connect the Rockford lines with the Chicago lines. It was under the management of Bion J. Arnold, who was the most distinguished expert in city transit between 1900 and 1925. In 1927 the Rockford to Belvidere segment of the Rockford & Interurban was merged to form the Elgin Belvidere & Rockford. Rockford lightweight interurbans were used, but this was not financially satisfactory. The cars were returned to Rockford Public Service, and the old E&B cars were remodeled for one man service. But it was too late. Competition from the parallel Chicago & North Western and from the automobile caused the line to quit service on March 9, 1930. Arnold purchased two Manhattan Elevated steam locomotives and scrapped the line by himself. It was not completed until the mid to late 1930s.
In 1956, I was checking on ownership of an abandoned C&NW right-of-way for the Illinois Railway Museum, and I stopped in the county clerk’s office in Woodstock. The clerk became curious and then suggested that we might be interested in a piece of property which was on the delinquent tax rolls. It was 50 feet wide and 7 miles long. After paying the taxes for two years, a quit claim was filed and this has become the home of the IRM at Union, IL.
We ran some Elgin and Belvedere photos in a previous post, taken in the mid-1930s by the late Edward Frank, Jr., showing the interurban’s rolling stock in dead storage, waiting for buyers that never materialized.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
Stan Griffith Audio Recordings of the North Shore Line
# of Discs – 1
The late Stanwood C. Griffith (1926-2013) was an interesting character who is probably best known for building the two-foot gauge Rock River Valley Traction, a miniature electric railway that is large enough to ride on. He began building it on private property in a mysterious wooded area somewhere near Rockford, IL around 1950. Work continues on it to this day, and there are several videos of it on YouTube.
We only recently found out that he recorded some North Shore Line audio. Even better, what he did record is different than the other known recordings by William A. Steventon and Brad Miller.
Mr. Griffith made the only known recordings of the Shore Line Route, which quit in 1955. Steventon didn’t record NSL until the following year, and the Miller recordings are circa 1960.
This recording has some occasional narration. At one point, Griffith notes that the trolley bus wires in Kenosha are gone. Trolley buses ran there until 1952, so this dates the recordings to circa 1952-55.
He also recorded North Shore Line street running in Milwaukee, which is also unique as far as I am aware. There are also recordings of Milwaukee streetcars on this CD.
Total time – 52:36
Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation
We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s Images of America Author David Sadowski Edition illustrated Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021 ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007 Length 128 pages
Chapters: 01. The South Side “L” 02. The Lake Street “L” 03. The Metropolitan “L” 04. The Northwestern “L” 05. The Union Loop 06. Lost Equipment 07. Lost Interurbans 08. Lost Terminals 09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
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This remarkable Kodachrome image was taken on Canal Street in New Orleans on June 19, 1940. It was shot on size 828 film, which has an image area of 28x40mm, about 30% larger than 35mm. (828 film, which Kodak introduced in the late 1930s, was essentially 35mm film without sprocket holes, but with a paper backing like other roll film formats.) One of our regular readers writes, “The 4 tracks were taken out about 1948 when a number of the car lines that operated off of Canal were converted to trolley bus.” The location is the intersection of Canal and St. Charles. Car 444 is looping at the end of the St. Charles route and will be turning to the left in the picture. WSMB (now WWWL) was an AM radio station at 1350 on the dial. Its old call letters reflect its original ownership by the Saenger theater chain and Maison Blanche department store. Its studios were located in the Maison Blanche department store building at right, now the Ritz-Carlton hotel. The Saenger Theatre, another local landmark, is also on the right side of the picture. In the days before air conditioning, men used to wear white suits, as you see here, since white reflects more heat than darker clothing. When this picture was taken, France had just fallen to Nazi Germany. The US did not enter World War II directly until 18 months later.
Our theme today is points east, west, and south. We’re going off in three directions, every which way but north.
The West Towns map and photos of other properties come from our own collections. As always, to see a larger version of each photo, just click on it with your mouse. And, if you have useful information to add, please be sure to contact us.
A streamlined Kodak Bantam camera, using size 828 roll film, of a type that may have taken the New Orleans picture.
The same location today. The St. Charles line still loops as it did in the 1940 picture. Streetcars were absent from Canal Street for 40 years starting in 1964, but have returned. There is a crossover track, visible in this picture, connecting the two lines.
This close-up shows New Orleans Public Service car 444. One of our regular readers says, “It is not a Perley-Thomas built car but rather a Southern Car Company car built in 1914. Starting in 1914, all of the car bodies appeared the same starting with car #400 even though they were not all built by Perley-Thomas.” It was part of a group of 50 cars, numbered 400-449. Behind the streetcar, you can see part of the marquee for the Loew’s State Theatre (also known as the State Palace), at 1108 Canal Street. It opened in 1926, but is currently closed and awaiting restoration. You can see some pictures of that theater’s interior here.
A bus crosses Canal.
Loew’s State circa 1930. From the Wikipedia: “The Rogue Song is a 1930 romantic musical film which tells the story of a Russian bandit who falls in love with a princess, but takes his revenge on her when her brother rapes and kills his sister. The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production was directed by Lionel Barrymore and released in two versions, with and without sound. Hal Roach wrote and directed the Laurel and Hardy sequences and was not credited. The film stars Metropolitan Opera singer Lawrence Tibbett— who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance— and Catherine Dale Owen. Laurel and Hardy were third-billed; their sequences were filmed at the last minute and interspersed throughout the film in an attempt to boost its potential box office appeal. This film, which was MGM’s first all-talking (two-color) Technicolor film, is partially lost, as there are no known complete prints of this film. Fragments do exist.”
Loew’s circa 1940, showing I Love You Again, an MGM comedy starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, directed by W. S. Van Dyke. All three were associated with the Thin Man series of films, which were very popular.
A postcard view of Canal Street, showing the same general area as the 1940 slide, but looking from the opposite direction.
Chicago & West Towns
A Chicago & West Towns route map, from April 1942. By this time, only three streetcar lines were left: LaGrange, Lake, and Madison. The owner of the map crossed out (with has marks) some routes that were abandoned later. There was, by 1942, no track connection between the two north side lines and the LaGrange line. When the Lake and Madison lines were finally bustituted, the remaining streetcar fleet was moved at night in 1947 on a circuitous route via Chicago Surface Lines trackage.
The Chicago & West Towns was a major streetcar operator in Chicago’s western suburbs until April 1948, when the last line was converted to bus. Bus operation continues today as part of Pace, a public agency.
C&WT 127 and 104 in Maywood. The grade crossing at rear may be a clue as to the exact location. Don’s Rail Photos notes: “104 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948.” The 127 looks to be the older of the pair, built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Joe writes: “The photo of C&WT cars 127 and 104 is in Maywood at 19th and Railroad Avenue looking north.”
C&WT 135, making a turn, is signed for Melrose Park, possibly on the Lake or Madison lines. Don’s Rail Photos: “135 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1919. It was scrapped in 1947.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Joe writes: “The photo of C&WT car 135 is looking east at Madison and 19th in Maywood. The apartment building is still there.” Andre Kristopans: “CWT 135 turning from W on Madison to N on 19th Ave.”
C&WT 134 at the North Riverside barn. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 153, 140 and 119 on the LaGrange line. Comparison with some other photos in this series shows this location is DesPlaines Avenue just south of 26th Street in Riverside. We are looking north. Don’s Rail Photos: “153 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was scrapped in 1948. 140 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924. It was rebuilt in 1939 and scrapped in 1948. 119 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1912. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 116, 115, and 158 at Cermak and Kenton, east end of the LaGrange line. Riders heading east could change here for Chicago Surface Lines route 21 streetcars like the one shown at rear. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 152 is heading east on private right-of-way on the busy LaGrange route. The exact location is about 82 Park Place in Riverside. Car 152 has just crossed the DesPlaines River, passing through the Forest Preserves after stopping at the Brookfield Zoo. From here, it will turn north on Woodside Drive, which changes into DesPlaines Avenue, before heading east on 26th Street. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
The same location today.
C&WT 112 crosses the Indiana Harbor Belt on the LaGrange line, with a steam train off in the distance. Don’s Rail Photos: “112 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1912. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 101 is turning from 26th Street onto DesPlaines Avenue in Riverside on the LaGrange line. Don’s Rail Photos: “101 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 134 and 124 meet at Madison and Harlem. Note how Madison took a jog when crossing between Oak Park and Forest Park. We are looking east. Don’s Rail Photos: “124 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914. It was rebuilt in 1936 and scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Madison and Harlem today. A route 318 Pace bus is turning from Harlem onto Madison. Pace is the successor to the West Towns. At some point, it appears that Madison was widened to eliminate the jog seen in the earlier photo.
C&WT 101 is at Lake and Austin in Oak Park, the east end of its route. Two Chicago Surface Lines streetcars, including 1743, are across Austin Boulevard at the west end of route 16. Don’s Rail Photos: “101 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948. 1743 was built by CSL in 1923. It was rebuilt as one-man in 1949.” The car at left looks like a 1941 Packard model One Twenty– very stylish. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
A 1941 Packard One Twenty sedan.
C&WT 136 and 132 on Lake Street just west of Austin Boulevard in suburban Oak Park. This was the east end of the line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Lake Street just west of Austin Boulevard today.
Here, C&WT 119 appears to be crossing the Illinois Central at 26th Street, since that is an IC caboose at the rear of the passing freight train. Don’s Rail Photos: “119 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1912. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Here, we are looking north along DesPlaines Avenue just south of 26th Street in Riverside. Cars from the LaGrange line turned east on 26th to Harlem, where they continued north to Cermak Road. Cars may be operating on a single track here due to track work. Southbound C&WT 107 waits for 161 to cross over to the northbound track, while a work car is on 26th. Don’s Rail Photos: “107 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1912. It was scrapped in 1948. 161 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
A close-up of the previous image. This may be C&WT work car 12. Don’s Rail Photos says, “12 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1912. It was scrapped in 1948.”
The top of this building, on 26th Street just east of DesPlaines Avenue in North Riverside, has been altered, but it is still recognizable as the same building in the previous picture.
C&WT 152 on the LaGrange line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 144 at the North Riverside car barn. Don’s Rail Photos: “144 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924. It was scrapped in 1947.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 164 on Lake Street just west of Austin Boulevard in Oak Park. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 107 and a work car (12 or 13, hard to tell) plus a flat car on DesPlaines Avenue just south of 26th Street in Riverside. Don’s Rail Photos: “107 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1912. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 158 crossing the Illinois Central at 26th Street in Riverside. I believe the car is heading east. If it was heading west, the sign on the front of the car would probably advertise service direct to the Brookfield Zoo. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 158 and 157 cross on the bridge over the DesPlaines River (LaGrange line). I believe we are looking south. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 100, most likely at the North Riverside car barn. Car 130 is at right. Don’s Rail Photos: “100 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917. It was scrapped in 1948. 130 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914. It was scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 141 at the North Riverside car barn. Don’s Rail Photos: “141 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924. It was rebuilt in 1939 and the body sold as a shed in 1948. It was purchased by Electric Railway Historical Society in 1958. It went to Illinois Railway Museum in 1973 and began restoring.” The 141 is now in operating condition. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 157 and 155 meet on DesPlaines Avenue and 26th street. Single track operation is in effect due to track work. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT line car 15 at an undetermined location. Don’s Rail Photos: “15 was built by Pullman Car in 1897 as Suburban RR 512. It was renumbered 515 and rebuilt as 15 in 1927. It was rebuilt in 1940 and scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 156 is on Cermak at Cicero Avenue. The Pinkert State Bank (built in 1919) at rear was located at 4810-12 W. Cerak (22nd Street) in Cicero. It featured prominently in the government’s tax evasion cases against Al and Ralph Capone. Don’s Rail Photos: “156 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was rebuilt in 1942 and scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 140 on the LaGrange line. Don’s Rail Photos: “140 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924. It was rebuilt in 1939 and scrapped in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 136 and 132 are eastbound on one of the lines that terminated at Austin Boulevard (either Lake or Madison). (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Joe writes: “The photo of C&WT cars 132 and 136 may have been taken at Lake and 25th, the west end of the Lake Street line.” Andre Kristopans: “CWT 132, 136 at west end of Lake St line at 25th Ave.”
Three C&WT streetcars, including 103 and 104, are on Lake Street at Austin Boulevard. We are looking to the east, which explains why the head car is signed for Maywood. According to Don’s Rail Photos, both 103 and 104 were built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917 and scrapped in 1948. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
The laundry in the previous photo is now a beauty parlor.
C&WT 141 is westbound, crossing the DesPlaines River on the LaGrange line. This car, sole survivor of the fleet, has been restored and you can ride it at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 128, on either the Madison or Lake lines, is signed for Melrose Park. Not sure which railroad that tower belongs to. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans: “CWT 128 is crossing the Soo Line on Madison west of Jackson (a half mile west of Desplaines Av.).”
C&WT snow sweepers 9 and 5 in their element at the North Riverside car barn. Don’s Rail Photso: “5 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1913. It was scrapped in 1948. 9 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1928. It was sold to Sand Springs Ry in 1948.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
C&WT 156 is eastbound on Cermak at Ridgeland in front of the old Berwyn Theatre, which opened in 1924. It was damaged by fire in 1990 and demolished. This picture was probably taken not long after the theatre was modernized in 1936. Don’s Rail Photos: “156 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1927. It was rebuilt in 1942 and scrapped in 1948.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
C&WT 151 on the Lake line, possibly at the west end. Don’s Rail Photos: “151 was built by McGuire and Cummings in 1924. It was scrapped in 1947.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
C&WT 151 on the Lake Street line. Don’s Rail Photos: “151 was built by McGuire and Cummings in 1924. It was scrapped in 1947.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
South Shore Line
CSS&SB 10, signed for South Bend. (Photo by Anderson)
CSS&SB 24. Don’s Rail Photos: “24 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947.” (Photo by Anderson)
CSS&SB 109 in the yard at Chicago in the mid-1960s. Don’s Rail Photos: “109 was built by Pullman in 1926. It was lengthened in 1944. Air conditioning and picture windows came in 1949.” (Walter Broschart Photo)
The way to distinguish South Shore Line street running photos from one city to another usually includes counting the number of tracks. Only East Chicago was double tracked. However, this is Michigan City, as there are two tracks for a short distance near the station seen at rear, since many runs begin and end here. This picture, showing car 105 and train, was taken on August 6, 1948. The station building still exists but is no longer in use.
CSS&SB cars 2 and 504 at the Michigan City station on August 30, 1960 (note the 1960 Ford at left). Don’s Rail Photos: “2 was built by Pullman in 1926.” Frank Hicks writes: “This interurban freight trailer has a more unusual history than most. It was built for ISC as an interurban combine, and ran on that system’s lines in Indiana for five years until ISC became part of the great Indiana Railroad system. IR rebuilt the three cars of the 375-377 series into railway post office cars and put them to use in this unusual capacity. The three RPO’s survived on IR until the end of interurban service in 1941, at which time all three were sold to the only other interurban line then operating in Indiana: the South Shore. The South Shore converted 376 into a line car while 375 and 377 became express package trailers. These cars were designed to run in passenger trains and had control lines so that they could be run mid-train; they were often used to transport newspapers. Car 504 was retired in 1975 and acquired by IRM, which has repainted it and put it on display.” (Photo by Meyer)
Chicago Lake Shore & South Bend Ry. (predecessor of the South Shore Line) car 68 at an unknown location near a wooden Chicago “L” car. This photo is a real mystery, since, as far as I know, this car has not been preserved (although car 73 is being restored). Joe writes: “Car 68 is Lake Shore Electric, not CLS&SB, built by Brill in 1903. The car behind it is one of the LSE’s Barney & Smith interurban cars.” That clears up the mystery. The information that came with this negative was incorrect.
CSS&SB 27 near the Art Institute of Chicago on May 7, 1963. (Photo by Anderson)
CSS&SB 111 at Randolph Street Terminal in downtown Chicago in May 1953. This station has since been rebuilt and is now underneath Millennium Park.
A three-car CSS&SB train, including car 31, makes a photo stop on an early Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip near Wilson, Indiana.
CSS&SB 105 heads up a six-car train near Miller, Indiana on June 1, 1939. This appears to be a photo stop on a fantrip. (Photo by Anderson)
Chicago, South Shore & South Bend freight locos 902 and 903 in Michigan City, Indiana. (Photo by Anderson)
Even the city trolley lines of Gary Railways, operating between 1908 and 1947, had an interurbanish character. Industrial development in the area meant there were large tracts of land reserved for future use. In 1938-39, Central Electric Railfans’ Association (CERA) ran three fantrips on Gary Railways interurbans in their waning days. We have run pictures from some of those trips in previous posts.
Here is a timeline of transit developments in the Gary area.
Gary Railways 101. The sign says street railway service in Gary was inaugurated 21 years ago with this car. If service began in 1912, that would date this photo to 1933.
Gary Railways 24.
Gary Railways 128.
Gary Railways 120.
Gary Railways 15 at Kennedy siding on the Hammond line on March 9, 1941. According to the photo information, this car was built by Cummings in 1926.
Gary Railways 16, signed for Hammond.
Gary Railways 14, at a loop on the Hammond line, on October 27, 1940. According to the photo information, it was built by Cummings in 1926.
Gary Railways 19 at Tolleston, with both poles up. This lightweight safety car was built by Cummings Car & Coach in 1927. This car body, sole survivor of the fleet, is now at the Illinois Railway Museum.
Gary Railways 27.
Gary Railways 22 on May 16, 1940. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
Gary Railways 20 on July 21, 1946.
Gary Railways 22.
Gary Railways 12. Don’s Rail Photos: “12 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was scrapped in 1946.” (Jack Beers Photo)
Gary Railways car 19, the only car preserved, on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. This matches a picture we previously published in our previous post More Hoosier Traction (September 2, 2015). Bill Shapotkin said that other picture was taken “taken on March 19, 1939 — the day AFTER the last day of service on the Indiana Harbor (and Hobart) lines.” The difference in tonality between the two pictures may simply be the difference between panchromatic and orthochromatic film.
A close-up of the previous picture.
Gary Railways 9 at Hobart, Indiana in 1934.
Gary Railways cars 12 and 9.
Gary Railways 14.
Gary Railways 19.
Gary Railways 17 at the North Broadway loop.
Gary Railways 51.
Johnston Traction 311, a double-truck Birney car (ex-Bangor, Maine) on June 24, 1956. Don’s Rail Photos: ” 307 thru 311 came from Bangor Hydro Electric in 1941 where they were 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18. They were scrapped in 1957 except for 311 which was preserved at Rockhill Trolley Museum which acquired it in 1960.” Audio recordings of car 311 in service in Johnstown are included on Railroad Record Club LP #23.
Fort Collins Municipal Railway Birney car 25 in October 1950. Don’s Rail Photos: “2nd 25 was built by Brill Car Co in December 1922, #21530, as VR&P 1520. It was sold as FCM 25 in 1946. It was sold to James Stitzel in 1953 and resided next to the former Midland Terminal depot in Victor, CO, until it was sold to a South Carolina party about 1980. It was cosmetically restored. In 1998 it was sold to the Charlotte Trolley painted as South Carolina Public Service Co 407. It was sold to Fort Colins Municipal in 2008 and is being restored as 25.” (Robert C. Gray Photo)
Fort Collins Municipal Railway 24 on the Mountain Street line in October 1950. Don’s Rail Photos: “2nd 24 was built by Brill Car Co in December 1922, #21530, as Virginia Railway & Power Co 1530 It was sold as FCM 24 in 1946 but seldom operated. Parts kept second Car 25 operating.” (Robert C. Gray Photo)
Fort Collins Municipal Railway 26 in 1946. Don’s Rail Photos: “26 was built by American Car Co. in November 1922, #1324 as CERy 7. It was sold as FCM 26 it in 1924. It was sold to Henry Ford Museum and moved to Michigan in 1953 where it is on static display. It was operated several times on the trackage of the Department of Street Railways.” (Richard H. Young Photo)
Lehigh Valley Transit 702 and 812 on a fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos: “702 was built by Southern Car Co in 1916. It was rebuilt on August 8, 1931 and scrapped on January 8, 1952. 812 was built by St Louis Car in 1901 as 159. It was rebuilt as 999 in 1914 and rebuilt as 812 in 1921. It was scrapped in November 1951.”
Lehigh Valley Transit 702 and 812 on a Liberty Bell route fantrip, probably not long before service ended in 1951. Ed Skuchas adds, “The LVT fan trip cars are sitting on the spur at the LVT station in Perkasie at Walnut and Penn St.”
The former LVT station in Perkasie is now the headquarters for the local historical society.
Not sure offhand where this picture was taken, along the LVT Liberty Bell interurban route between Philadelphia and Allentown. Ed Skuchas: “The “tunnel” photo is the underpass in Perkasie under the Reading tracks. Location is Walnut and 7th. The photo was taken from a block back at about 6th and Walnut.”
A close-up of the previous picture.
The former LVT underpass in Perkasie today.
The ramp you see is at Norristown, and shows how Lehigh Valley Transit interurban cars descended to street level to continue north to Allentown. Service on the Liberty Bell Limited ended in September 1951. Service between Philadelphia and Norristown, started by the Philadelphia & Western, continues today under SEPTA.
Philadelphia & West Chester Traction (later Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co.) cars 86, 73 and 83 at 69th Street Terminal in 1936. Don’s Rail Photos: “73 was built by Brill Car Co in April 1927, #22212. It became SEPTA 73 in 1970 and sold to Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in 1990. 83 was built by Brill Car Co in March 1932, #22980. It became SEPTA 83 in 1970 and sold to Middletown & Hummelstown in 1982.”
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation car 84, a 1932 Brill “Master Unit,” on the West Chester line. This long line was mainly single-track with occasional passing siidngs such as this one.