Reflections in a Golden Wye

This photo, showing a mirror at the North Shore Line's Milwaukee terminal, was taken on January 21, 1963 (after abandonment) by Allan Y. Scott for the Milwaukee Journal. You can see the photographer in the picture, apparently using a Leica M2 or M3. This picture came from the collection of the late John Horachek. Rather than being a double exposure, it seems like the ghostly image of an Electroliner was applied to the mirror using a stencil and a product known as Glass Wax.

This photo, showing a mirror at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee terminal, was taken on January 21, 1963 (after abandonment) by Allan Y. Scott for the Milwaukee Journal. You can see the photographer in the picture, apparently using a Leica M2 or M3. This picture came from the collection of the late John Horachek. Rather than being a double exposure, it seems like the ghostly image of an Electroliner was applied to the mirror using a stencil and a product known as Glass Wax.

For today’s post, we are going back in time, often even further back in time than we usually do, to feature some important historical images. Each one is like a small ray of light, that form a beacon when taken together, illuminating the past, like the reflections in a mirror.

It’s the earliest, and oldest pictures that are the hardest to find. So, we’ve had to redouble our efforts to seek them out.

In addition, we have important news about our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s. We recently received a small number of “author’s copies” from the publisher, and the book is now a reality. We hope you will like the results.

Our initial order is on the way to us, and we are confident that we will soon begin shipping out books to our contributors and everyone who has ordered one in our pre-sale. All such books should be in the post prior to the July 12 release date.

More information about Chicago’s Lost “L”s, including how to order, can be found at the end of this post, or you can click on the link at the top of this page to go to our Online Store.

We would like to thank Kevin Horachek, Andre Kristopans, and William Shapotkin for their contributions to this post.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

As a practical matter, color photography didn't exist in 1910, which is the postmark date of this postcard showing the Lake Street "L" at ground level in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago's west side. The view looks west from Central Avenue along South Boulevard (or, more appropriately, Lake Street, since the name did not change until the line reached suburban Oak Park). The "L" was extended there in 1901. This colorized photo may date to a bit before 1910, though, as by then, the Chicago & North Western trains, which ran parallel to the "L", had already been raised onto the embankment where the "L" joined them in 1962. This is a westbound train, as Lake Street ran left handed in those days (as did the C&NW).

As a practical matter, color photography didn’t exist in 1910, which is the postmark date of this postcard showing the Lake Street “L” at ground level in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s west side. The view looks west from Central Avenue along South Boulevard (or, more appropriately, Lake Street, since the name did not change until the line reached suburban Oak Park). The “L” was extended there in 1901. This colorized photo may date to a bit before 1910, though, as by then, the Chicago & North Western trains, which ran parallel to the “L”, had already been raised onto the embankment where the “L” joined them in 1962. This is a westbound train, as Lake Street ran left handed in those days (as did the C&NW).

The same location today. This portion of Lake Street was renamed to Corcoran Place in the mid-1960s, to honor the late Chicago Alderman in this area, who was a close friend of Mayor Richard J. Daley. Lake Street used to run north and south of the two railroads here for a few blocks between Pine Avenue and Austin Boulevard. There were no duplicate street numbers.

The same location today. This portion of Lake Street was renamed to Corcoran Place in the mid-1960s, to honor the late Chicago Alderman in this area, who was a close friend of Mayor Richard J. Daley. Lake Street used to run north and south of the two railroads here for a few blocks between Pine Avenue and Austin Boulevard. There were no duplicate street numbers.

I recently purchased this turn-of-the-century photo showing a Chicago Union Traction streetcar on the Lincoln Avenue line. CUT existed from 1899 to 1908, when it was absorbed into Chicago Railways. Sharpshooter's Park is where Riverview Amusement Park opened in 1904, which narrows down the time of this photo to circa 1899-1903. But the car itself looks like the "Matchbox" type, which was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1903. Car 1374 in this series has been restored and is at the Illinois Railway Museum. In 2015, the body of car 1137 was found in Wisconsin, where it had been used as an addition to someone's house. It is now in Grass Lake, MI.

I recently purchased this turn-of-the-century photo showing a Chicago Union Traction streetcar on the Lincoln Avenue line. CUT existed from 1899 to 1908, when it was absorbed into Chicago Railways. Sharpshooter’s Park is where Riverview Amusement Park opened in 1904, which narrows down the time of this photo to circa 1899-1903. But the car itself looks like the “Matchbox” type, which was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1903. Car 1374 in this series has been restored and is at the Illinois Railway Museum. In 2015, the body of car 1137 was found in Wisconsin, where it had been used as an addition to someone’s house. It is now in Grass Lake, MI.

CSL "Sedan" (aka Peter Witt) 6283 appears to be southbound on Clark, just south of downtown, in this circa 1940 photo. Don's Rail Photos: "6283 was built by CSL in 1929." This might seem unusual, that the Surface Lines had the capability or even the desire to build their own streetcars. But CSL was very much involved with the project that eventually created the PCC car just a few years after this, and it was CSL and not the ERPCC that had the two experimental pre-PCCs (4001 and 7001) built in 1934. Eventually, the CTA became the largest stockholder in the Transit Research Corporation, the successor to the ERPCC.

CSL “Sedan” (aka Peter Witt) 6283 appears to be southbound on Clark, just south of downtown, in this circa 1940 photo. Don’s Rail Photos: “6283 was built by CSL in 1929.” This might seem unusual, that the Surface Lines had the capability or even the desire to build their own streetcars. But CSL was very much involved with the project that eventually created the PCC car just a few years after this, and it was CSL and not the ERPCC that had the two experimental pre-PCCs (4001 and 7001) built in 1934. Eventually, the CTA became the largest stockholder in the Transit Research Corporation, the successor to the ERPCC.

Chicago Surface Line experimental pre-PCC 4001 in 1935, running on Route 22 - Clark-Wentworth. 40001 was built in 1934 by Pullman-Standard and was retired in 1944. The body has survived and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Here, it still has the striped trolley pole.

Chicago Surface Line experimental pre-PCC 4001 in 1935, running on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. 40001 was built in 1934 by Pullman-Standard and was retired in 1944. The body has survived and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Here, it still has the striped trolley pole.

Chicago Surface Lines experimental pre-PCC 7001 on Route 22 - Clark-Wentworth in 1935. It was built by Brill in 1934 and retired in 1944, scrapped in 1959. Here, it already appears to have a dent on the front end.

Chicago Surface Lines experimental pre-PCC 7001 on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth in 1935. It was built by Brill in 1934 and retired in 1944, scrapped in 1959. Here, it already appears to have a dent on the front end.

Don's Rail Photos: "51 was built by the SP&S in August 1941. It was purchased by the North Shore in December 1947 and was completed as 459 on November 22, 1948." Here it is at the Portland yard on September 9, 1946.

Don’s Rail Photos: “51 was built by the SP&S in August 1941. It was purchased by the North Shore in December 1947 and was completed as 459 on November 22, 1948.” Here it is at the Portland yard on September 9, 1946.

A two-car train of North Shore Line Silverliners in Milwaukee in 1962. Larry Sakar writes: "The train is northbound at the north end of the 6th Street viaduct (which no longer exists). Below it on the right of the train is what was then Fowler Street. Today, that is St. Paul Ave which in NSL days used to end at 6th St. All of that changed when The Milwaukee Road built their new station at 5th St. Impending construction of the Marquette interchange and the end of the Milwaukee Road's 4th & everett St. station gave the city the opportunity to continue St. Paul Ave. beneath 6th St. to connect with then Fowler St. which then became the continuation of W. St. Paul Ave. The warehouse next to the train is also long gone. If you were standing here today you would be looking at the Milwaukee Intermodal station on the right and the main Post Office immediately next door east. If you look two blocks down on the left that is where the present day HOP Streetcar terminates. The train is northbound at the north end of the 6th Street viaduct (which no longer exists). Below it on the right of the train is what was then Fowler Street. Today, that is St. Paul Ave which in NSL days used to end at 6th St. All of that changed when The Milwaukee Road built their new station at 5th St. Impending construction of the Marquette interchange and the end of the Milwaukee Road's 4th & everett St. station gave the city the opportunity to continue St. Paul Ave. beneath 6th St. to connect with then Fowler St. which then became the continuation of W. St. Paul Ave. The warehouse next to the train is also long gone. If you were standing here today you would be looking at the Milwaukee Intermodal station on the right and the main Post Office immediately next door east. If you look two blocks down on the left that is where the present day HOP Streetcar terminates."

A two-car train of North Shore Line Silverliners in Milwaukee in 1962. Larry Sakar writes: “The train is northbound at the north end of the 6th Street viaduct (which no longer exists). Below it on the right of the train is what was then Fowler Street. Today, that is St. Paul Ave which in NSL days used to end at 6th St. All of that changed when The Milwaukee Road built their new station at 5th St. Impending construction of the Marquette interchange and the end of the Milwaukee Road’s 4th & everett St. station gave the city the opportunity to continue St. Paul Ave. beneath 6th St. to connect with then Fowler St. which then became the continuation of W. St. Paul Ave. The warehouse next to the train is also long gone. If you were standing here today you would be looking at the Milwaukee Intermodal station on the right and the main Post Office immediately next door east. If you look two blocks down on the left that is where the present day HOP Streetcar terminates. The train is northbound at the north end of the 6th Street viaduct (which no longer exists). Below it on the right of the train is what was then Fowler Street. Today, that is St. Paul Ave which in NSL days used to end at 6th St. All of that changed when The Milwaukee Road built their new station at 5th St. Impending construction of the Marquette interchange and the end of the Milwaukee Road’s 4th & everett St. station gave the city the opportunity to continue St. Paul Ave. beneath 6th St. to connect with then Fowler St. which then became the continuation of W. St. Paul Ave. The warehouse next to the train is also long gone. If you were standing here today you would be looking at the Milwaukee Intermodal station on the right and the main Post Office immediately next door east. If you look two blocks down on the left that is where the present day HOP Streetcar terminates.”

A Chicago & North Western train of bi-levels at the Milwaukee station on the Lakefront in 1962.

A Chicago & North Western train of bi-levels at the Milwaukee station on the Lakefront in 1962.

This is how the Chicago & North Western's right-of-way looked in Winnetka in July 1964. We are looking south from Elm Street. This area was grade-separated around 1940, with some financial help from the federal government through the PWA agency, in a similar fashion to how Chicago's Initial System of Subways was built. The North Shore Line's Shore Line Route ran at left until July 1955. (William Shapotkin Collection)

This is how the Chicago & North Western’s right-of-way looked in Winnetka in July 1964. We are looking south from Elm Street. This area was grade-separated around 1940, with some financial help from the federal government through the PWA agency, in a similar fashion to how Chicago’s Initial System of Subways was built. The North Shore Line’s Shore Line Route ran at left until July 1955. (William Shapotkin Collection)

An eastbound Lake Street "L" train is in Oak Park in July 1960, running alongside South Boulevard. (William Shapotkin Collection)

An eastbound Lake Street “L” train is in Oak Park in July 1960, running alongside South Boulevard. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound C&NW commuter train stops in Oak Park in July 1960. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound C&NW commuter train stops in Oak Park in July 1960. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound Chicago & North Western commuter train departs from Oak Park in July 1960. Note the ground-level Lake Street "L" station at Marion Street at left. Just over two years later, the "L" was moved to this embankment. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound Chicago & North Western commuter train departs from Oak Park in July 1960. Note the ground-level Lake Street “L” station at Marion Street at left. Just over two years later, the “L” was moved to this embankment. (William Shapotkin Collection)

An eastbound C&NW "scoot" (commuter train) has just departed the Elmhurst station and is seen crossing York Road. The view looks west. (William Shapotkin Collection)

An eastbound C&NW “scoot” (commuter train) has just departed the Elmhurst station and is seen crossing York Road. The view looks west. (William Shapotkin Collection)

What was billed as Manhattan's last elevated train heads north on the Third Avenue El on May 12, 1955.

What was billed as Manhattan’s last elevated train heads north on the Third Avenue El on May 12, 1955.

CSL 5769 on Route 5 - Cottage Grove-South Chicago circa 1940. According to Don's Rail Photos, Nearside 5769 "was built by Brill Car Co in 1912, (order) #18322, It was retired on November 8, 1948."

CSL 5769 on Route 5 – Cottage Grove-South Chicago circa 1940. According to Don’s Rail Photos, Nearside 5769 “was built by Brill Car Co in 1912, (order) #18322, It was retired on November 8, 1948.”

CSL Pullman 621, signed for Clark and Devon, is apparently running on Route 22 and headed north on Clark, having just passed Lake Street in this circa 1940 scene. The Shreve Building, built in 1875, was located at the northwest corner of Clark and Lake. Its construction was supervised by William Warren Boyington (1818-1898), who designed the landmark Chicago Water Tower. Not sure when it was demolished.

CSL Pullman 621, signed for Clark and Devon, is apparently running on Route 22 and headed north on Clark, having just passed Lake Street in this circa 1940 scene. The Shreve Building, built in 1875, was located at the northwest corner of Clark and Lake. Its construction was supervised by William Warren Boyington (1818-1898), who designed the landmark Chicago Water Tower. Not sure when it was demolished.

CSL pre-war PCC 7024 is eastbound on Madison Street at Mayfield Avenue (5900 W.) circa 1940.

CSL pre-war PCC 7024 is eastbound on Madison Street at Mayfield Avenue (5900 W.) circa 1940.

CSL Pullman 329 is on Route 21 - Cermak Road, possibly at the west end of the line, circa 1940.

CSL Pullman 329 is on Route 21 – Cermak Road, possibly at the west end of the line, circa 1940.

CSL 1801 is signed for Adams-Downtown in this circa 1940 photo. Part of Route 7 - Harrison Street went downtown via Adams Street. A nearby truck is delivering Ogden's Milk.

CSL 1801 is signed for Adams-Downtown in this circa 1940 photo. Part of Route 7 – Harrison Street went downtown via Adams Street. A nearby truck is delivering Ogden’s Milk.

The U.S. Patent Office in Washington, DC in the 1920s, with a streetcar out front, apparently powered by conduit via a electric plow running in a trough between the two rails.

The U.S. Patent Office in Washington, DC in the 1920s, with a streetcar out front, apparently powered by conduit via a electric plow running in a trough between the two rails.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 403 at Laramie Avenue on July 19, 1933. It was described as "red with gold trim." 403 was a Pullman product, built in 1923. Sister car 409 is at the Illinois Railway Museum. The view looks to the northeast.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 403 at Laramie Avenue on July 19, 1933. It was described as “red with gold trim.” 403 was a Pullman product, built in 1923. Sister car 409 is at the Illinois Railway Museum. The view looks to the northeast.

CTA trolley bus 9421 on February 12, 1973. Andre Kristopans adds, "Trolley bus 9421 SB on Pulaski at Sunnyside (4500 N). Old police station, now community center, on right." William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9421 on February 12, 1973. Andre Kristopans adds, “Trolley bus 9421 SB on Pulaski at Sunnyside (4500 N). Old police station, now community center, on right.”
William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9458 on February 10, 1973. (Michael N. Charnota Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Bill Jas: "The pic of the Pulaski trolley bus is just North of Grand. You can see the old streetcar power house on the right. The same building that later collapsed onto Jimmy’s Hot Dog Stand."

CTA trolley bus 9458 on February 10, 1973. (Michael N. Charnota Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Bill Jas: “The pic of the Pulaski trolley bus is just North of Grand. You can see the old streetcar power house on the right. The same building that later collapsed onto Jimmy’s Hot Dog Stand.”

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric

The North Shore Line started out as the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric, before it was reorganized by Samuel Insull in 1916. Here are some early photos that reflect that history.

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric station in Lake Forest. It was torn down around 1970, 15 years after the last North Shore Line trains ran here on the Shore Line Route.

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric station in Lake Forest. It was torn down around 1970, 15 years after the last North Shore Line trains ran here on the Shore Line Route.

A close-up of the previous image, showing Chicago & Milwaukee Electric car 10. It was built by Pullman in 1899.

A close-up of the previous image, showing Chicago & Milwaukee Electric car 10. It was built by Pullman in 1899.

After the North Shore Line abandoned service on the Shore Line Route in 1955, their former Lake Forest station was used as a campaign headquarters in the 1956 presidential election. (Chicago Tribune Photo)

After the North Shore Line abandoned service on the Shore Line Route in 1955, their former Lake Forest station was used as a campaign headquarters in the 1956 presidential election. (Chicago Tribune Photo)

A Chicago & Milwaukee electric buffet observation car, from an undated postcard. Don's Rail Photos: "401 was built by Jewett Car in 1909 as parlor-buffet car. In 1917 it was converted to straight coach and retired in 1935. It was leased to Chicago Aurora & Elgin and renumbered 142 in 1936. It came back for a short time with the CA&E number in 1945 and sold to CA&E in 1946. It was retired in 1953."

A Chicago & Milwaukee electric buffet observation car, from an undated postcard. Don’s Rail Photos: “401 was built by Jewett Car in 1909 as parlor-buffet car. In 1917 it was converted to straight coach and retired in 1935. It was leased to Chicago Aurora & Elgin and renumbered 142 in 1936. It came back for a short time with the CA&E number in 1945 and sold to CA&E in 1946. It was retired in 1953.”

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric's Zion station, from a postcard postmarked 1911. The religious fanatics who started this town made the interurban build a large station, in anticipation of rapid growth that did not occur.

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric’s Zion station, from a postcard postmarked 1911. The religious fanatics who started this town made the interurban build a large station, in anticipation of rapid growth that did not occur.

The Chicago & Milwaukee electric station in Libertyville, from a real photo postcard postmarked 1906.

The Chicago & Milwaukee electric station in Libertyville, from a real photo postcard postmarked 1906.

Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Birney car 334 at 6th and Clybourn in Milwaukee. Don's Rail Photos: "334 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in December 1922, #2625. It was retired in 1947 and scrapped in April 1948." The C&ME name was used on these North Shore Line city streetcars, since that was the franchise holder in Milwaukee.

Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Birney car 334 at 6th and Clybourn in Milwaukee. Don’s Rail Photos: “334 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in December 1922, #2625. It was retired in 1947 and scrapped in April 1948.” The C&ME name was used on these North Shore Line city streetcars, since that was the franchise holder in Milwaukee.

North Shore Line wood car 305 (former Chicago & Milwaukee Electric) in Kenilworth circa 1930, running as a Chicago local on the Shore Line Route. Don's Rail Photos: " 303 thru 305 were built by American Car in 1910 and were almost identical. In 1939 they became sleet cutters and were retired and scrapped in 1940." (Kenilworth Historical Society)

North Shore Line wood car 305 (former Chicago & Milwaukee Electric) in Kenilworth circa 1930, running as a Chicago local on the Shore Line Route. Don’s Rail Photos: ” 303 thru 305 were built by American Car in 1910 and were almost identical. In 1939 they became sleet cutters and were retired and scrapped in 1940.” (Kenilworth Historical Society)

Did Not Win

They say you can’t win ’em all, and we certainly don’t. But while we did not win the auctions for these images, they definitely still worth looking at:

1899 New York City Shopping @ 22nd St & 6th Avenue L Train Glass Photo Negative recently sold for $247.50. Looks like the 6th Avenue line was still using steam power then.

1899 New York City Shopping @ 22nd St & 6th Avenue L Train Glass Photo Negative recently sold for $247.50. Looks like the 6th Avenue line was still using steam power then.

I did not win this auction, but I still think this is a pretty neat picture, of a four-car train of CTA 4000s southbound at Bryn Mawr in 1970. This is a southbound Evanston Express. By then, only freight locos were using the overhead wire here.

I did not win this auction, but I still think this is a pretty neat picture, of a four-car train of CTA 4000s southbound at Bryn Mawr in 1970. This is a southbound Evanston Express. By then, only freight locos were using the overhead wire here.

The following three glass plate negatives were identified as “1915 New York 7th Ave Subway Explosion Collapse 7 Dead.”

The next three glass plate images show women working as streetcar conductors on the New York Railways during World War I:

North Shore Line box motor 230 at the Milwaukee Terminal in 1941. By the late 1950s, the apartment building at rear had been torn down.

North Shore Line box motor 230 at the Milwaukee Terminal in 1941. By the late 1950s, the apartment building at rear had been torn down.

Book Review:

From Garfield ‘L’ to Blue Line Rapid Transit
by David A. Wilson
Dispatch Number 11 of the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society

Congratulations to David Wilson on his excellent new book From Garfield ‘L’ to Blue Line Rapid Transit. I would naturally like this book, since these are subjects I have written about extensively, in my own books and blogs.

Like many other people my age, I became fascinated with the extensive changes going on in the west side during the late 1950s, as construction of the Congress Expressway proceeded west and approached suburban Oak Park. I recall seeing the Garfield Park “L” and Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban trains, but I never rode on them. We mostly took the Lake Street “L” downtown, and until 1962, that still ran on the ground west of Laramie.

I recall seeing “L” cars parked in Lockwood Yard, and I vividly remember our first drives on the new Congress Expressway, which partially opened in 1955, although it only went as far as Laramie Avenue (5200 W.). It was extended in stages in 1960, first to Central Avenue (5600 W.), and then all the way through Oak Park and Forest Park, to connect with existing highways west of there. I have naturally been a frequent rider on the Congress line (today’s Forest Park branch of the Blue Line) my whole life.

So, I have been interested in learning the details of how all this came to be for a long time, and I have been researching this subject ever since I was a small child. This interest culminated in my 2018 Arcadia book Building Chicago’s Subways, which is available from our Online Store and elsewhere.

The approach I took with that book was a comprehensive overview of the entire subject of Chicago Subways, starting with the river tunnels, first opened in 1869, the extensive downtown freight tunnel system, the various subway plans that were hashed out over 40 years, the Initial System of Subways (first started in 1938), and its culmination in the West Side Subway in 1958, as the Congress rapid transit line was originally known.

This is a large topic, and therefore it should hardly be possible for anyone to have the “last word” on these matters. Chances are, after we are all long gone, others will still find new things to say.

Dave Wilson has lived in Oak Park for a long time, and is also fascinated with this history.  His new book concentrates on just the transition from the Garfield “L” to the current Blue Line setup, and therefore it goes into greater detail than it was possible to do in my book. It will answer just about any questions that anyone might have had about how this all happened, excepting fanatics like me, who are constantly trying to learn more. (In fact, I bring up a few additional related topics later on in this post.)

Now that I have a few volumes under my belt, I tend to pay close attention to editorial decisions that others make, in their own works. This book packs a lot of information into its pages, and it should be no surprise that a few compromises had to be made.  There are only so many pages to fill in any book, something I know from personal experience.

Unfortunately there is no biographical information about the author, and I wish there were. I have known Dave Wilson for a long time, and he has been an avid railfan photographer since his teenage years. He has scanned thousands of his images, and has posted them to Flickr, for all to enjoy. You would do well to check them out.

For a time he worked for the Wisconsin Central railroad, and later, in bus planning for the Chicago Transit Authority.

The maps in this new book are excellent, and were made by Dennis McClendon, who always does fine work. In fact, he also did the book layout, which is attractive and skillfully done.

The photo selection is excellent. While there are a few images that also appear in Building Chicago’s Subways, they are great images in both books.

Another editorial decision was to include some lo-res images in the book. One in particular is rather pixilated, but in general when the image quality suffers, those images are made smaller in turn, so this is less noticeable. I am probably the only person who would notice this, though.  Any author has to collect the best images that are available, and they are not all going to be of the same resolution.

There is yet another book I can recommend, if you are still interested in learning why it was not possible to save the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, despite the best efforts of three powerful Illinois politicians (Mayor Richard J. Daley, Governor William Stratton, and Cook County Board President Dan Ryan): Political Influence by Edward C. Banfield, originally published in 1961 by the Free Press of Glencoe.  I covered that book extensively in a 2015 blog post that you can read here.

In the meantime, I can wholeheartedly recommend David Wilson’s book, which is available anywhere that Shore Line products are sold. They are called Dispatches, even though the North Shore Line used the unusual spelling “despatch” back in the day.

Garfield Park, Where Are You?

A portion of a CTA track map dated October 1955. The tracks curved south west of Lockwood, unlike the way it appears here.

A portion of a CTA track map dated October 1955. The tracks curved south west of Lockwood, unlike the way it appears here.

As you can see here, the Garfield "L" ran straight east and west through Laramie Yard between Laramie (5200 W.) and Lavergne (5000 W.). (From a CTA track map dated October 1955.)

As you can see here, the Garfield “L” ran straight east and west through Laramie Yard between Laramie (5200 W.) and Lavergne (5000 W.). (From a CTA track map dated October 1955.)

For many years, I have been interested in just where the old Garfield Park “L” once ran. By 1960, it was completely replaced by the current Forest Park branch of the Blue Line (formerly the Congress line), most of which runs in the median of I-290.

The Chicago Tribune reported on June 4, 1928 that the Chicago Rapid Transit Company wanted to expand the Garfield Park “L” from two tracks to four between Marshfield and Cicero Avenues. The article states that CRT had already purchased 60% of the necessary land for expansion via private sale.

This expansion never took place (perhaps due to the Great Depression), but naturally the idea behind it may have been a factor in planning for the Congress median line, which has space for four tracks in approximately the same locations as the 1928 CRT plan, in addition to the section east of Marshfield, which leads to four subway portals near Halsted, only two of which have ever been used.

As noted in my book Building Chicago’s Subways (Arcadia Publishing, 2018), when the highway plans were being formulated, the idea was to relocate the Lake Street “L” into the median of the expressway, via a connection either at 4600 West, or near Kedzie (3200 W.).  Lake trains would have then run next to, but separate from, regular Congress rapid transit trains.

At the subway portal, Lake trains would have continued into a new Clinton Street Subway, which would have formed a subway “Loop,” connecting with the sections on Lake, Dearborn, and Congress.  Presumably, Lake trains were intended to circle this subway Loop before heading back out towards the west side.

The City of Chicago’s goal in all this was to tear down the Loop “L”, inspired by New York City’s gradual elimination of all the elevated lines in Manhattan.  This remained the City’s plan until Mayor Jane Byrne decided the Loop “L” was worth saving after all.  Chicago eventually built a new “L” line, the Orange Line, which opened in 1993 and connects to the Loop.

I traced the old right-of-way of the Garfield Park “L” on Google Street View recently, and came to a few interesting conclusions.  Although the “L” ran pretty much in a straight line between Kedzie Avenue (3200 W.) and Lockwood Avenue (5300 W.), heading west, at times, the “L’ is south of the adjacent alleyway, and at other times, it is north of it.

In general, the Garfield line was built mid-block, but at times, the location is about 620 South, and at other times, it is more like 650 South.  Maps seem to show a slight jog just west of Tripp Avenue (4232 W.), but this doesn’t seem like a definitive explanation for the change in alignment relative to the alleys.

The “L” crossed a railroad at around 4600 West, and it’s likely that the areas west of there were not yet developed when the “L” was built.  Early photos seem to show a rather barren area.  Perhaps the alleys preceded the “L” east of here, while they were built after the “L” in the western section.

Interestingly, there weren’t alleys for the entire stretch between Kedzie and Lockwood, because Fifth Avenue, an angle street that was once an important thoroughfare, crossed through near Pulaski Road (4000 W.).  The block narrows near that location, and alleys come to an end.

In general, it seems as though the “L” ran mostly south of the alley east of Cicero Avenue (4800 W.), which was the original end-of-the-line starting in 1895.  It was extended to Laramie (5200 W.) in 1902, and west of Cicero, the “L” seems to run north of the alley.  But of course, there were no alleys in the Laramie Yard area until after the “L” was demolished and the yard removed.  There is an alley where parts of Lockwood Yard once were, but it’s possible there were still tracks in place there for perhaps a year or so after the Congress line opened in June 1958.

Here are some pictures from Google Street View:

649 S. Homan (3400 W.), looking east. Here, the "L" was definitely south of the alley.

649 S. Homan (3400 W.), looking east. Here, the “L” was definitely south of the alley.

649 S. Homan (3400 W.), looking west, showing the area south of the alley, once occupied by the Garfield Park "L".

649 S. Homan (3400 W.), looking west, showing the area south of the alley, once occupied by the Garfield Park “L”.

648 S. St. Louis (3500 W.), looking west. The "L" was south of the alley here.

648 S. St. Louis (3500 W.), looking west. The “L” was south of the alley here.

617 S. Pulaski, looking east. The cross street is Fifth Avenue, which is at an angle running northeast/southwest. The Garfield Park "L" ran east-west here, and crossed Pulaski and Fifth at the same time. The "L" ran right over the area occupied by the building near the mailbox. Not sure if it was the same building then, but parts of it do look similar. There is no alley here, due to the narrowing of this block, as Fifth Avenue approaches from the north.

617 S. Pulaski, looking east. The cross street is Fifth Avenue, which is at an angle running northeast/southwest. The Garfield Park “L” ran east-west here, and crossed Pulaski and Fifth at the same time. The “L” ran right over the area occupied by the building near the mailbox. Not sure if it was the same building then, but parts of it do look similar. There is no alley here, due to the narrowing of this block, as Fifth Avenue approaches from the north.

614 S. Karlov (4100 W.), looking west. The "L" ran south of the alley here.

614 S. Karlov (4100 W.), looking west. The “L” ran south of the alley here.

This is around 650 S. Kilbourn (4500 W.), looking southwest. There was a Garfield Park "L" station at Kilbourn, and it appears to have been south of the alley.

This is around 650 S. Kilbourn (4500 W.), looking southwest. There was a Garfield Park “L” station at Kilbourn, and it appears to have been south of the alley.

At approximately 650 S. Kolmar (4532 W.), the Chicago Transit Authority has a building. Not sure what it is used for, or if the Garfield Park "L" ran over head. It's possible that the "L" ran in the area just north of the alley here. This view looks west.

At approximately 650 S. Kolmar (4532 W.), the Chicago Transit Authority has a building. Not sure what it is used for, or if the Garfield Park “L” ran over head. It’s possible that the “L” ran in the area just north of the alley here. This view looks west.

At around 620 S. Kilpatrick (4700 W.), the Garfield Park "L" ran south of the alley. This view looks east.

At around 620 S. Kilpatrick (4700 W.), the Garfield Park “L” ran south of the alley. This view looks east.

At 650 S. Lavergne (5000 W.), the Garfield Park "L" ran just north of the alley. Laramie Yard was just west of here, and the "L" at this point was descending to ground level from the Cicero Avenue "L" station, two blocks east. This view looks east.

At 650 S. Lavergne (5000 W.), the Garfield Park “L” ran just north of the alley. Laramie Yard was just west of here, and the “L” at this point was descending to ground level from the Cicero Avenue “L” station, two blocks east. This view looks east.

The Garfield Park "L" tracks crossed Lockwood at about 650 South. A short distance west of here, they made a sweeping curve and went a bit to the south, and ran parallel to the B&OCT railroad tracks through Oak Park and Forest Park.

The Garfield Park “L” tracks crossed Lockwood at about 650 South. A short distance west of here, they made a sweeping curve and went a bit to the south, and ran parallel to the B&OCT railroad tracks through Oak Park and Forest Park.

The view looking south at 646 S. Lockwood Avenue (5300 W.), showing the hump where the Garfield Park "L" crossed here. There was no alley to the right until after the "L" was removed, as that was where Lockwood Yard had been.

The view looking south at 646 S. Lockwood Avenue (5300 W.), showing the hump where the Garfield Park “L” crossed here. There was no alley to the right until after the “L” was removed, as that was where Lockwood Yard had been.

And here are some additional clues from the CTA Transit News, reporting on the demolition of the Garfield Park (and Metropolitan main line) “L” after the Congress line opened in June 1958. They show that the “L” ran south of the alley at Kilpatrick Avenue (4700 W.) but at Lavergne Avenue (5000 W.), it was north of the alley.

The Garfield Park "L" crossed over railroad tracks at about 4600 West. Interestingly, note that between the two sides of the railroad embankment, the alley between Harrison and Flournoy is not quite in the same location.

The Garfield Park “L” crossed over railroad tracks at about 4600 West. Interestingly, note that between the two sides of the railroad embankment, the alley between Harrison and Flournoy is not quite in the same location.

Recent Correspondence

We recently wrote to fellow historian Andres Kristopans:

It has been my understanding for many years that the CTA right-of-way between the Lotus Tunnel (5400 W.) and Forest Park was planned for three tracks.

This is a self-evident fact; the tunnel has portals on both sides, there is room for a third track north of the existing two west of there, and the bridge over DesPlaines Avenue was obviously designed for three tracks.

The question of what this third track was intended for recently came up in a discussion on the Facebook Chicago Elevated group. My source on that point, that the third track was intended for use by the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, was my discussions and correspondence with George Krambles some 40 years ago).

But that did get me interested in looking into the matter further.

By 1940, planning for the new Congress expressway envisioned replacing the Garfield Park “L” with a line in the expressway median to Laramie Avenue (5200 W.), at least according to the film Streamlining Chicago.

This raises the question, when was the Lotus Tunnel planned, and why are there three tunnels?

The Congress median right-of-way was, to some extent, based on the existing Garfield setup. Garfield had four tracks as far as Paulina (1700 W.), although there had been plans to add two more tracks west of there in the late 1920s.

The three branches of the Met came together at Marshfield Junction, and this was undoubtedly seen as an undesirable situation, one that should be avoided in the future. By routing abandoning the Humboldt Park branch, and re-routing Logan Square into the new Milwaukee-Dearborn subway, this problem was solved.

But another goal of city planners was the gradual elimination of all the “L”s and their replacement by subways. The Lake Street “L” was targeted for this process, first with a plan to connect it to the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway just west of the Loop, and later by diverting it to the Congress median via a mile-long subway or elevated connection, either at Kedzie (3200 W.) or later, at 4600 W.

The Lake Street tracks were to be kept separate from other Congress line trains, therefore requiring a four-track right-of-way all the way to the subway portals just east of Halsted Street. The two unused portals were intended for a Clinton Street subway, a north-south branch that would have created a downtown subway loop in conjunction with the portions on Lake, Dearborn, and Congress.

Lake Street trains could have circled this loop, since otherwise, there was no obvious way to through-route them with another line at that time. It was thought that this change would have made it possible to tear down half of the Loop “L”, namely the Lake Street and Wabash Avenue legs, the exact opposite of what the City hoped to do in the 1970s.

So, the Congress median line, in the planning stages, had space enough for four tracks from Halsted to wherever the Lake line could have been brought in, which could have been as far as 4600 W.

This still does not explain why planners thought there should be three tracks starting at the Lotus Tunnel (5400 W.) and heading west.

As far back as 1945, it was expected that the CA&E tracks running through Forest Park, and the B&OCT, would run in an open cut in the expressway through suburban Oak Park. There are Cook County plans with such illustrations.

CRT leased CA&E’s tracks west of Laramie, and CA&E leased CRT’s tracks east of there, an arrangement that largely resulted in a wash financially for both companies (and, later, CRT’s successor, the CTA).

In the stretch between Forest Park and Laramie, the CA&E operated what amounted to an express service, and CRT, locals. There was a passing track at Gunderson, where express trains could pass slower locals.

That was the “old” way of operating a railroad, one increasingly at odds with the more modern way of doing things. It was labor-intensive and required a high level of competence; split-second timing, in fact.

IMHO, the solution to this in the new plan was simply to keep the locals and expresses separated. There would be two tracks for the CRT locals and one for the CA&E expresses.

As the highway plans neared fruition, the CA&E reported in 1950 that they lacked the funds to build new tracks in a highway right-of-way west of Austin Boulevard. CA&E owned the current trackage west of Laramie Avenue. The City of Chicago only had responsibility to build the Congress expressway as far as the city limits (Austin, 6000 W.).

The Lotus Tunnel was needed all along, because there needed to be some way to connect the CA&E tracks with CRT’s, and it made sense to have the new track alignment run on the south side of the highway footprint, parallel to the B&OCT. It must have been planned early on, perhaps as far back as 1945.

The CTA proposed taking over the right-of-way to Forest Park in 1952, as a way to solve the problems with CA&E. By then, the interurban had already decided not to run downtown on CTA’s tracks. The CTA had abandoned the Westchester branch in December 1951, as a means of saving money. So, CA&E no longer had income to offset the cost of using CTA’s tracks. Continuing operations into the City would be a drain of CA&E’s coffers, whatever the merits pro and con would have been for running on the Van Buren Street temporary trackage.

The highway planners, in the early 1950s, understood that if CA&E had been unable to connect with the CTA somewhere, this would have immediately put them out of business. Hence the county was very much interested in a solution to this problem. CA&E said they could not afford to build new tracks and facilities in the two miles or so of the relocated right-of-way between Austin Boulevard and DesPlaines Avenue.

All the more reason not to change the plans, likely made circa 1945, for three tracks in the new section. Cook County government did not want to be the cause of CA&E’s demise.

It was fortunate that the CTA stepped in and offered a creative solution to this problem, which also allowed them, as a result, to continue operating service to Forest Park.

So, in 1953 CA&E sold their right-of-way to the county as far west as DesPlaines Avenue (but not the river crossing, not until 1957), and the CTA purchased their fixed assets, the tracks, signals, stations, etc., which would all need to be replaced anyway.

This gave the CTA “skin in the game” to continue operating service to Forest Park. The plan to hand off CA&E riders to the CTA at DesPlaines Avenue did not come about until 1953. This is evidenced both in contemporary newspaper reports, and in how the Forest Park Terminal was hurriedly altered at practically the last minute to adopt the new arrangements.

Until then, it was expected that this handoff would take place at Laramie Avenue, where CA&E’s tracks ended and CTA’s began. There was also an intermediate plan to make Central Avenue the changeover point instead, as the CTA briefly considered building a bus-rail facility there instead of Forest Park. CTA made an artist’s rendering of this, which I have seen.

So, in sum, the plan for three tracks west of Laramie probably dated as far back as 1945, when engineering was being done for the expressway extension into the western suburbs. This plan was not changed when the facilities were built. The Lotus Tunnel has three tunnels, the right-of-way has space for three tracks (north of the existing two), and the steel bridge over the DesPlaines Avenue underpass was designed for three tracks.

By the time the final design work was done for the stations in this section, in the late 1950s, the CA&E was no longer an issue. The CTA had built what they needed built, and did the minimum that was necessary just in case it might have been possible for the CA&E to resume operations downtown.

And this is something that CA&E went back and forth on. Both CTA and CA&E seemed perfectly happy to separate their tracks from each other in 1953. It is my belief that, early on, the CA&E decided on a policy of a gradual or piecemeal abandonment, selling off parts of their line, and distributing the proceeds to their shareholders, instead of using it to buy new equipment.

This is based on the notion that the new highway itself had doomed the interurban, which in an era where there were no government subsidies, was likely the only logical conclusion.

The CTA still had to figure out where their yard would be for the new Congress service. In the late 1950s, they were still considering using Laramie Yard, which would need to be connected to the median line by an elevated connection, estimated to cost $1m.

Building a new yard at DesPlaines Avenue was a cost-saving alternative. But there was still the question of who owned the terminal there, as CA&E hadn’t sold it as part of the 1953 deal. It wasn’t part of the highway project, and in fact, in 1957, CA&E had filed suit to evict the CTA from the Forest Park terminal, as a way of putting pressure on the powers-that-be to get more money for the river crossing (which they did) and get the courts to agree to a “temporary” abandonment of passenger service (which they did).

That those two events happened almost simultaneously makes one wonder if perhaps there was a “quid pro quo” involved, although at this stage, there is probably no way to prove it.

Andre replies:

I will go along with your analysis. The whole problem was a lack of money. CTA in 1945 was set up on the premise of taking over all local transportation in the metro area, but there was a fatal flaw in that CTA had no outside income except by selling bonds. When the suburban bus and rail lines were found to be more highly valued than expected, CTA could not come up with enough money to buy them out. There were ideas to take over CA&E to Wheaton and North Shore to Waukegan, but nothing came of them because the various towns along the lines could not agree on financial assistance. Those directly on line demanded those further, especially along CA&E, kick in as they would also benefit, but places like Addison and Bloomingdale refused, so nothing could be agreed to and the idea died. It took until RTA in 1982 to finally do this, with federal money.

In many ways, CTA was an idea way ahead of its time. Remember CTA was the very first “transit authority”. Before you had municipal operations like Cleveland where city took over failing private operations, but this was the first “independent governmental body” with jurisdiction not based on municipal boundaries. Too bad nobody thought to give it taxing authority at the time, as everyone thought once relieved of regulation and duplication, transit would be profitable again, and in fact the idea was that CTA would only be a “temporary” owner, who after restructuring Chicago area transit into profitability would then sell the system to a private operator and use the proceeds to retire the bonds sold to buy and modernize the system. But because nothing could be done with the suburban operators, CTA became the permanent owner of the city system, for 74 years now.

There was the negative example of municipal ownership in New York City, where building the IND subway practically bankrupted the city. So it is no wonder that Chicago had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into it.

The City of Chicago resisted the idea of public ownership for years, until all the various schemes for unifying CSL and CRT had failed, and there was no other viable option (by 1943). The situation might have festered, but the city had pledged to push through transit unification as a condition of accepting federal funds to pay for 45% of the Initial System of Subways (which ended up being more like 33% by the time the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway opened).

When WWII ended, the City resumed work on the unfinished Dearborn-Milwaukee subway, and soon work began in earnest on building the Congress superhighway. But there was no more federal money in the offing, and it was a struggle just to get the subway open by 1951.

The City had to float a $25m bond issue, which in essence reimbursed the transit improvement fund for monies that were taken from it during the Great Depression.

The scope of projects had to be scaled back. It seems as though the idea of re-routing Lake onto Congress was still alive as of 1948, but got put off into an indefinite future, due to the cost of building a mile long connection between the two lines, plus the Clinton subway.

Once CTA was in charge, they quickly identified the Lake Street “L”s problem area as the grade-level outer end, and not the elevated portion. And service was speeded up by using A/B skip-stop service, which became a model for the rest of the system.

The ultimate solution to Lake’s problems was not realized until 1962, when the line was elevated onto the Chicago & North Western embankment, followed by a proper yard west of Harlem.

The Van Buren temporary trackage gummed things up on Garfield for a few years, but inadvertently helped turn the eventual Congress line into something more like an express service. The CTA responded to the slow running times on Van Buren by closing some of the more minor stations on the line west of there, to the point where Garfield travel times in 1958 were largely the same as they had been prior to the September 1953 change.

This, in turn, influenced the locations of stations on the new Congress line. Whereas at first, plans called for merely replacing the old Garfield stations with new ones on Congress, over time, fewer new stations were planned.

The one glaring exception, of course, was Kostner, which was mandated by the City Council for political reasons, as there were three Aldermen lobbying for it (their wards were nearby). This one example of the “old” way of doing things turned out to be a dismal failure, and the station barely lasted a decade.

Andre:

Actually since 1913 CSL was a strange situation of private ownership but municipal operation. Chicago Surface Lines Joint Board of Management and Operation (the full name) was a city agency that directed day to day operations while CRys, CCRy, C&SCRys, all stock companies, were the actual owners. Probably only such arrangement anywhere. So in fact in 1945 city ceded control to an independent agency, though ownership transfer of assets took two more years to arrange.

CSL was not in trouble per se. Bankruptcy was more to keep franchise from expiring than any real financial collapse, whereas CRT was basically barely able to make payroll, with nothing left over for maintenance, etc. If CRT could not be foisted off on CSL, it would have been abandoned soon.

The Dean of Chicago Railfans

Raymond DeGroote, Jr. waits for DC Transit pre-PCC streetcar 1053 to descend a viaduct in Washington, DC on October 15, 1961, so he can get his picture. Streetcars in portions of the District of Columbia were forbidden to use overhead wire, and were powered by an underground conduit instead. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

Raymond DeGroote, Jr. waits for DC Transit pre-PCC streetcar 1053 to descend a viaduct in Washington, DC on October 15, 1961, so he can get his picture. Streetcars in portions of the District of Columbia were forbidden to use overhead wire, and were powered by an underground conduit instead. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

My friend Raymond DeGroote, Jr. will turn 91 years old on July 15th. He has been very active in Chicago’s railfan community since the 1940s. He was most likely a first-day rider when Chicago’s first subway opened on October 17, 1943, over 77 years ago.

He has taken thousands of photos over the years, starting in about 1948 with black-and-white, and color slides since 1954. Ray is a world traveler, has written numerous articles, and has given numerous presentations on a wide range of railfan subjects. His work has appeared in many books, and he has been a mentor to me in this field since we first met in the late 1970s.  He has worked tirelessly for many of the leading railfan organizations over the years.

Thanks to Ray, I became part of what he likes to call the “intelligence network” of railfans, in an era before the Internet made it possible to have a world of information at your fingertips.

Therefore, when I started work on my new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, I could not think of anyone more deserving to dedicate the book to than Ray, who I consider the Dean of Chicago railfans. Once I received a small number of “author’s copies,” I sent one to him.

Here is his reply:

Thank you very much for my copy of Chicago’s Lost “L”s. The book is much appreciated and will provide many hours of pleasure reading and looking at the pictures.

I already found several very interesting ones. For example, I had never seen a picture of Willow or Calvary, the latter going even before my time, and the former just as I was becoming interested in the hobby. Also the view of Lower Level Wilson looking southeast (interesting angle) before the structure was above it, and Merchandise Mart under construction. Both must be relatively rare pictures.

On page 17 you had a view of a Robertson streetcar at 63rd. I remember those cars on South Side lines such as Riverdale, but we also had them up north on Riverview-Larrabee– slow cars, but with a commanding presence.

I am glad you included the Lost Interurbans section and also the Lost Terminals section. I vaguely remember Market Street, but know I rode out of Congress Street a few times, and many times out of North Water. That was even used as a display area to introduce and show off the new North Shore Silverliner paint scheme.

This is another good book to your credit. Keep up the good work.

Apparently, he did not initially notice that the book is dedicated to him, so I had to bring that to his attention.

He then wrote:

I am terribly embarrassed that I did not notice my name on the dedication page. I remember looking at the top of the page and seeing the Library of Congress data, and then going right to the Table of Contents. When I saw Northwestern “L” I turned right there to see what pictures you had included.

This is the first time anyone has dedicated a book to me, and I am very surprised and honored. It was totally unexpected. Thank you very much for this recognition, although I do not think I merit the title of “Dean”. “Old Man” might have been more appropriate as there are many others who deserve to be called “Dean.”

So, thank you again for the book dedication. It is a fine book, and I hope it will generate many sales.

Sincerely, Ray

When I can slip a few pictures in there that Ray DeGroote hasn’t seen before, I think I have done pretty well, because Ray has seen just about everything before.  And, he is characteristically modest about his accomplishments.  I can only hope for a small fraction of his wisdom, if I am lucky enough to reach his years.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

Our Latest Book, Now Available for Pre-Order:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

Arcadia Publishing will release our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s on July 12, 2021. Reserve your copy today!

From the back cover:

Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.

The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages

Chapters:
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found

Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.

The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.

Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.

It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time.  The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.

Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.

Total time – 121:22

# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

This is our 269th 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 777,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.
You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.
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Lost and Found

A close-up of Columbia Park & Southwestern 306 on the "Mobile Home Route."

A close-up of Columbia Park & Southwestern 306 on the “Mobile Home Route.”

Today’s post ties a number of photos together under the heading “Lost and Found.” There are images from the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, the North Shore Line, and various early preservation efforts. Two of the three great Chicago-area interurbans are lost to history.

Interestingly, among the “saved” equipment shown in these early photos, none of these cars is still at the same location where the pictures were taken. In the case of Milwaukee Electric car 882, it was still in use at a Wisconsin electric power plant as late as 1961, three years after the last Milwaukee streetcar ran on the streets. Yet, oddly enough, it does not appear to have been preserved.

While many of these early museum-type operations such as Trolleyville USA* are no longer with us, they should not be regarded as failures. They played a crucial role in saving many electric railcars from the dustbin of history, and provided a “bridge” to a welcome home in some of today’s more durable institutions.

So, while much of our transit history has been lost, thanks to a few dedicated individuals, not all of it was lost. And despite all the travails and convoluted ways that various cars were saved, there is still a rich history that survives to be found by future generations.

-David Sadowski

PS- Trolleyville USA in Olmstead Township, Ohio, which I visited in 1984, was part trolley museum, and part common carrier. It provided much-needed transportation between a trailer park and general store, both of which were owned by the late Gerald E. Brookins. It is thanks to him that many unique pieces of equipment were saved.

Let me take this opportunity to clear up a Trolleyville “factoid” that has circulated.

Cleveland was where Peter Witt developed his namesake streetcar design, but it is one of the ironies of history that none were saved. A solitary Cleveland Peter Witt car lasted until 1962 before it too was unfortunately scrapped.

Don’s Rail Photos reports, “4144 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in August 1929, (order) #951. It was retired in 1954 and sold to an individual in Lorain. It was lettered as Arlington Traction Co 4144.” Owner Norman Muller had the car in his yard with an organ installed inside.

Some have pondered why Gerald E. Brookins did not save the car. Some have speculated that he was tapped out after purchasing four of the curved-side CA&E cars or that Mrs. Brookins would not let him buy another car.

In 2014, author Blaine Hays told me the real story. He says Brookins had plenty of money and could easily have afforded to purchase the 4144. However, in general his interest in trolley cars was limited to purchasing ones that could be readily run on his short railroad. By 1962, the 4144 did not fit into this category and after having been changed around and stored outside for years, would have required a substantial amount of restoration work, in any case a lot more than Brookins wanted to do.

Thanks to Brookins, four of the ten Ca&E St. Louis-built cars from 1945 were saved. But of fate had turned a different way, all ten cars might have ended up in service on the Cleveland rapid on the airport extension. In the early 1960s, Cleveland transit officials were planning to build this extension “on the cheap,” using local funds. If they had, the CA&E cars would likely have provided the original rolling stock. As things turned out, the project got put off for a few years until Federal funds were available. It opened in 1968 with new equipment.

Ironically, at least one CA&E car (303) did eventually run on the Cleveland system. The Lake Shore Electric Railway was a short-lived successor to Trolleyville that planned to operate in Cleveland. Ultimately, the effort failed due to lack of funding, and the cars in the Brookins collection were sold at auction. Some ended up at the Illinois Railway Museum and the Fox River Trolley Museum, but I have seen pictures of the 303 running in Cleveland in the early 21st century with a pantograph installed.

Who’da thunk it?


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 119th 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 123,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a donation there as well.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.


img994srpo1

American Streetcar R.P.O.s

Mainline Railway Post Offices were in use in the United States from 1862 to 1978 (with the final year being operated by boat instead of on rails), but for a much briefer era, cable cars and streetcars were also used for mail handling in the following 15 cities*:

Baltimore
Boston
Brooklyn
Chicago
Cincinnati
Cleveland
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New York City
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh
Rochester, New York
St. Louis
San Francisco
Seattle
Washington, D.C.


*As noted by some of our readers, this list does not include interurban RPOs.

Our latest E-book American Streetcar R.P.O.s collects 12 books on this subject (nearly 1000 pages in all) onto a DVD data disc that can be read on any computer using Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is free software. All have been out of print for decades and are hard to find. In addition, there is an introductory essay by David Sadowski.

The rolling stock, routes, operations, and cancellation markings of the various American street railway post office systems are covered in detail. The era of the streetcar R.P.O. was relatively brief, covering 1893 to 1929, but it represented an improvement in mail handling over what came before, and it moved a lot of mail. In many places, it was possible to deposit a letter into a mail slot on a streetcar or cable car and have it delivered across town within a short number of hours.

These operations present a very interesting history, but are not well-known to railfans. We feel they deserve greater scrutiny, and therefore we are donating $1 from each sale of this item to the Mobile Post Office Society, in support of their efforts.

# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.95


CA&E 423 and 433 have just passed each other just west of the Forest Park terminal at DesPlaines Avenue in October 1953. Concordia cemetery is to the left. This is now the site of I-290.

CA&E 423 and 433 have just passed each other just west of the Forest Park terminal at DesPlaines Avenue in October 1953. Concordia cemetery is to the left. This is now the site of I-290.

Don's Rail Photos says CA&E 18 was "built by Niles Car in 1902. It was modernized in March 1941 and retired in 1955." Here it is at Wheaton on March 15, 1952.

Don’s Rail Photos says CA&E 18 was “built by Niles Car in 1902. It was modernized in March 1941 and retired in 1955.” Here it is at Wheaton on March 15, 1952.

Curved-sided CA&E car 455, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945, at Wheaton on July 7, 1954.

Curved-sided CA&E car 455, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945, at Wheaton on July 7, 1954.

Don's Rail Photos says CA&E merchandise express car 9 was "built by Niles Car in 1907. It was scrapped in 1959." It is shown here at Wheaton in August 1948.

Don’s Rail Photos says CA&E merchandise express car 9 was “built by Niles Car in 1907. It was scrapped in 1959.” It is shown here at Wheaton in August 1948.

CA&E 427 parked at Laramie Avenue in August 1948. It was built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927.

CA&E 427 parked at Laramie Avenue in August 1948. It was built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927.

The view looking south towards the Wilmette station on the CNS&M Shore Line Route, which was abandoned in 1955. For a view from the other end of the same station, look here. Northbound trains began street running on Greenleaf Avenue here.

The view looking south towards the Wilmette station on the CNS&M Shore Line Route, which was abandoned in 1955. For a view from the other end of the same station, look here. Northbound trains began street running on Greenleaf Avenue here.

The same location today, where the North Shore Line curved to the right to head west on Greenleaf.

The same location today, where the North Shore Line curved to the right to head west on Greenleaf.

Once the North shore Line entered Greenleaf, the street widened. We are looking west.

Once the North shore Line entered Greenleaf, the street widened. We are looking west.

Perhaps one of our keen-eyed readers can tell us if this photo of car 158 was also taken along Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette.

Perhaps one of our keen-eyed readers can tell us if this photo of car 158 was also taken along Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette.

Don's Rail Photos says that North Shore Line caboose 1003 "was built by American Car & Foundry Co in 1926. It was rebuilt without a cupola but restored when it was acquired by IRM." There was some discussion recently on a Yahoo group concerning CNS&M cabooses. Someone was interested in making a model, and this nice side view should help determine the dimensions.

Don’s Rail Photos says that North Shore Line caboose 1003 “was built by American Car & Foundry Co in 1926. It was rebuilt without a cupola but restored when it was acquired by IRM.” There was some discussion recently on a Yahoo group concerning CNS&M cabooses. Someone was interested in making a model, and this nice side view should help determine the dimensions.

An Electroliner at speed near Crawford looking west. This picture was taken from a passing train in 1960, three years before the North Shore Line quit. CTA's Skokie Swift began running in 1964. (Richard H. Young Photo)

An Electroliner at speed near Crawford looking west. This picture was taken from a passing train in 1960, three years before the North Shore Line quit. CTA’s Skokie Swift began running in 1964. (Richard H. Young Photo)

Today's CTA Yellow Line looking west from Crawford.

Today’s CTA Yellow Line looking west from Crawford.

CNS&M Silverliner 738 heads up a four-car special train making a station stop at Northbrook during a snowstorm in February 1960. (Richard H. Young Photo)

CNS&M Silverliner 738 heads up a four-car special train making a station stop at Northbrook during a snowstorm in February 1960. (Richard H. Young Photo)

CNS&M 150 in a night scene at Waukegan on January 26, 1962.

CNS&M 150 in a night scene at Waukegan on January 26, 1962.

Electroliner 804-803 at the CTA Roosevelt Road "L" station in Chicago on February 17, 1957.

Electroliner 804-803 at the CTA Roosevelt Road “L” station in Chicago on February 17, 1957.

CNS&M Electroliner 803-804 at Deerpath, Illinois, February 17, 1957. Could be the photographer boarded the train in the previous picture at Roosevelt road and got off here.

CNS&M Electroliner 803-804 at Deerpath, Illinois, February 17, 1957. Could be the photographer boarded the train in the previous picture at Roosevelt road and got off here.

Columbia Park and Southwestern 306, ex-Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric, ex-Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, at Gerald E. Brookins' Trolleyville USA in 1962. Electric operations appear to be underway already, or nearly so.

Columbia Park and Southwestern 306, ex-Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric, ex-Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, at Gerald E. Brookins’ Trolleyville USA in 1962. Electric operations appear to be underway already, or nearly so.

Don's Rail Photos says, "306 was built by St Louis Car in 1924, #1306. In 1936 it was sold to CI/SHRT as 306 and in 1954 it was sold to CP&SW as 306. It was transferred to the Illinois Railway Museum in 1984 where it is being restored as AE&FRECo 306."

Don’s Rail Photos says, “306 was built by St Louis Car in 1924, #1306. In 1936 it was sold to CI/SHRT as 306 and in 1954 it was sold to CP&SW as 306. It was transferred to the Illinois Railway Museum in 1984 where it is being restored as AE&FRECo 306.”

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CTA Red Pullman 144 and Milwaukee streetcar 972 at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago, February 1960.

CTA Red Pullman 144 and Milwaukee streetcar 972 at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago, February 1960.

A snowy view of the 144 in February 1960, less than two years after this car last ran on the streets of Chicago (in a May 1958 fantrip).

A snowy view of the 144 in February 1960, less than two years after this car last ran on the streets of Chicago (in a May 1958 fantrip).

Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed interurban car 65 at IERM in February 1960.

Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed interurban car 65 at IERM in February 1960.

Don's Rail Photos says Milwaukee electric car 882 "was built by St Louis Car Co in 1920, (order) #1239. It was one manned in 1926 and rebuilt in 1954 with a plow on one end and a pilot on the other for use at the Lakeside Power Plant of WEPCo. It also had interurban headlights added. It ran until May 8, 1961." Unfortunately, it does not appear this car was saved.

Don’s Rail Photos says Milwaukee electric car 882 “was built by St Louis Car Co in 1920, (order) #1239. It was one manned in 1926 and rebuilt in 1954 with a plow on one end and a pilot on the other for use at the Lakeside Power Plant of WEPCo. It also had interurban headlights added. It ran until May 8, 1961.” Unfortunately, it does not appear this car was saved.

The two North Shore Line Electroliner sets had a second life for a while as Liberty Liners on the Red Arrow line between Philadelphia and Norristown. Red Arrow President Merritt H. Taylor Jr. (1922-2010) was a closet railfan, and the pride he took in saving these fine streamlined cars is clearly evident in the picture on this 1964 timetable, when they were put into service. This was a morale booster for both the railroad and its riders after enduring a 34-day strike in 1963, the only one in its history.

The two North Shore Line Electroliner sets had a second life for a while as Liberty Liners on the Red Arrow line between Philadelphia and Norristown. Red Arrow President Merritt H. Taylor Jr. (1922-2010) was a closet railfan, and the pride he took in saving these fine streamlined cars is clearly evident in the picture on this 1964 timetable, when they were put into service. This was a morale booster for both the railroad and its riders after enduring a 34-day strike in 1963, the only one in its history.

CNS&M 162 at the American Museum of Electricity in Schenectady, New York in 1968. Don's Rail Photos says, "162 was built by Brill in 1915, #19605. It was acquired by American Museum of Electricity in 1963 and resold to Connecticut Trolley Museum."

CNS&M 162 at the American Museum of Electricity in Schenectady, New York in 1968. Don’s Rail Photos says, “162 was built by Brill in 1915, #19605. It was acquired by American Museum of Electricity in 1963 and resold to Connecticut Trolley Museum.”

This 1968 photo presents a bit of a mystery. The only other North Shore car owned by the American Museum of Electricity was 710, sold along with the 162 to the Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1971. But there are other cars shown in this line-up, and the partial number for this one looks like it's in the 750-series. Stephen B. Rudolph adds, "I just dug up an identical print of the photo of the boarded-up CNS&M 755. The back of my print is machine-dated by the photofinisher "JUNE 64." This wasn't somebody's rubber date stamper, so I think it's correct. Consequently, I believe the 1968 date stated above is incorrect."

This 1968 photo presents a bit of a mystery. The only other North Shore car owned by the American Museum of Electricity was 710, sold along with the 162 to the Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1971. But there are other cars shown in this line-up, and the partial number for this one looks like it’s in the 750-series. Stephen B. Rudolph adds, “I just dug up an identical print of the photo of the boarded-up CNS&M 755. The back of my print is machine-dated by the photofinisher “JUNE 64.” This wasn’t somebody’s rubber date stamper, so I think it’s correct. Consequently, I believe the 1968 date stated above is incorrect.”

The CSL Sedans

CSL 3375 northbound on Clark just south of Wacker Drive in 1934. In fact, that's a 1934 Ford, possibly a V-8, at left. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 3375 northbound on Clark just south of Wacker Drive in 1934. In fact, that’s a 1934 Ford, possibly a V-8, at left. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

Thanks to the generosity of George Trapp, here is a Christmas Eve helping of classic Chicago Surface Lines streetcar photos from his wonderful collection. (To see additional photos he has already shared with us, just type “George Trapp” into the search window at the top of this page. Several other posts will come up.)

Today we feature the 100 “Sedans” (aka Peter Witts) that ran in Chicago from 1929 to 1952.

As always, if you can help identify locations, or have interesting facts or reminiscences to add, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. You can leave comments on this post, or write us directly at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

FYI there will be additional posts in this series coming up in the near future, so watch this space.

The Peter Witts in Chicago

A Peter Witt streetcar (also known here as a “Sedan”), a very popular car type, was introduced in many North American cities around 1915 to 1930. Peter Witt himself (1869-1948) was a commissioner of the Cleveland Railway Company, and developed the design of these cars there.

The advantage of the Witts was to reduce dwell time at stops. Passengers boarded at the front of these two-man cars and exited at the center door after paying on their way out. Peter Witt received U. S. Patent 1,180,900 for this improvement in streetcar design.

Witt cars were popular in large cities like Cleveland and Toronto. They are still in use in Milan, Italy.

As Railroad Model Craftsman magazine noted:

The Chicago Surface Lines Peter Witt cars were known locally as “Sedans” and were 49′ long. These 100 cars were numbered 3322-3381 and 6280-6319. They had three folding doors at the front and three sliding doors, separated by a window for the conductor’s station, at the center. The front-end dash was rounded.

The Chicago order was split between Cummings, Brill, and CSL as follows:

3322-3341, 6280-6293 – CSL (34 cars)

3342-3361, 6294-6306 – Brill (33 cars)

3362-3381, 6307-6319 – Cummings Car (33 cars)

I’m not sure whether all three batches had the same trucks and motors. A list of Brill work orders indicates theirs had Brill 76E2 trucks.

It wasn’t that unusual back then for transit operators to build some of their own cars. Starting in 1929, CSL was a very active participant in the Electric Railway Presidents’ Conference Committee, whose work developed the standardized PCC car, which soon dominated the industry.

The PCC patents were assigned to the Transit Research Corporation, whose stock was owned by the various transit operators who took part in the program. CSL apparently owned the largest amount of stock, which in turn was owned by the Chicago Transit Authority starting in 1947. Eventually Walter J. McCarter, first general manager of CTA, became the head of TRC, which I think has since been disbanded.

The Witts were speedy and attractive cars with leather seats, certainly the most modern things CSL had prior to the two experimental units and the PCCs. When considered with these, Chicago had a total of 785 modern cars.

The Sedans were mainly used on the busy Clark-Wentworth line. After the 83 prewar PCCs came on the scene in 1936-37, they also helped fill out schedules on Madison. After World War II, they eventually made their way to Cottage Grove before being retired in 1952.

They certainly could have been used longer than 23 years. Toronto had 350 Witts, built between 1921 and 1923, and the last of these was retired in 1965– more than 40 years of service.

To this day, Toronto still has one Peter Witt (#2766) on the property in operable condition, and it is brought out for special occasions.

Once the Chicago Transit Authority took over the surface and rapid transit lines in 1947, the mantra became, “get rid of all the old red streetcars.” And since the Witts were not PCCs, they got lumped into that category as well. Some were slated for conversion to one-man around 1951, but I am not certain whether any were operated in this way prior to retirement. I have seen photos showing how the door configuration on at least one car was so changed.

All 100 Sedans were scrapped in 1952. None were saved for museums, which is a real shame. Unfortunately, the Sedans were scrapped just before a museum movement started here. The Illinois Electric Railway Museum was founded in 1953, and their first purchase was Indiana Railroad car 65. The first Chicago streetcar acquired by the museum was red Pullman 144.

Likewise, the preservation efforts of the Electric Railway Historical Society did not begin until a few years later. Ultimately, ERHS saved several Chicago trolleys, all of which made their way to IRM in 1973. Additional cars were saved by CTA and made their way to IRM and the Fox River Trolley Museum in the mid-1980s.

J. G. Brill was the preeminent American streetcar manufacturer before the PCC era. While they were involved in the development of the PCC, and built experimental car 7001 for Chicago in 1934, they made a fateful decision not to pay royalties on the PCC patents, and their attempts to compete with the PCC were largely a failure. Fewer than 50 “Brilliners” (their competing model) were built, the last in 1941.

Around 1930, Brill promoted another type of standardized car called a Master Unit. However, as built, I don’t believe any two orders of Master Units were exactly the same.

There is some dispute as to whether Baltimore’s Peter Witts also qualify as Master Units. However, what defines a Witt is the manner of fare collection, and not the overall style of the car or its mechanical equipment.

As the same magazine referenced above explains:

Peter Witt was the very efficient city clerk in the administration of Cleveland, OH mayor Tom Johnson in the 1900s. In 1912, subsequent mayor Newton Baker appointed him as Street Railway Commissioner. Witt became concerned with the inefficiencies of fare collection in streetcars. Many systems still relied on the old horse car era scheme of having the conductor squeeze through the crowded car to collect fares from newly boarded passengers. After 1905, many systems adopted the “pay-as-you-enter” (PAYE) car design, with the conductor stationed at a fixed location on the rear platform to collect fares as passengers boarded and moved forward to find seats in the car interior. On busy lines, this resulted in delays while enough new passengers paid their fares to allow the last waiting passenger to find room on the rear platform so the doors could be closed and the conductor could give a two-bell signal for the motorman to proceed.

Peter Witt’s innovation was the “pay-as-you-pass” fare collection system, using a front entrance and center exit streetcar configuration. The section of the car forward of the center doors had longitudinal “bowling alley” seats to allow abundant space for newly boarded standees. The conductor was stationed just ahead of the center exit doors, and collected fares while the car was in motion either as patrons prepared to exit the car, or as they moved aft to find more comfortable seating in the rear section of the car. This greatly expedited the loading process at busy stops, and improved efficiency. The first Cleveland cars modified to Witt’s design entered service in December 1914, and were an immediate success, resulting in orders for new cars built to this design in Cleveland and in many other cities. The Peter Witt type of car remained very popular until the advent of the PCC streetcar in the 1930’s. The standard PCC used the same proven front entrance-center exit configuration, and many two-man PCCs used the Peter Witt fare collection scheme.

Before the PCC, most streetcar systems ordered unique cars specified to meet local needs and traditions. While many cities used Peter Witt type streetcars, the cars were not of the same design from city to city…

In doing the research for this review, one question remains unanswered: were the Baltimore Peter Witts Master Units? The Seashore Trolley Museum website describes the Baltimore #6144 in their collection as a “Brill Master Unit Peter Witt”. In “PCC – The Car That Fought Back”, Carlson and Schneider describe the 90 Indianapolis cars as Master Units. The Brill Master Unit was intended to be a flexible design based on standardized components, including single or double-ended single or double truck cars. The Master Unit product line also included a double truck front entrance-center exit design shown in an artist’s illustration in a Brill advertisement in the February 9, 1929 Electric Railway Journal. On the other hand Debra Brill in her History of the J.G. Brill Company states that only 78 Master Units were constructed (20 for Lima Peru, 20 for Brazil, 20 for Lynchburg, 13 for Youngstown, 3 for Yakima, 1 for Louisville, and 1 single trucker for TARS in New York). Ms. Brill does not count the 32 similar cars for Wilmington ordered before the official introduction of the Master Unit, or the single car built for a cancelled Lynchburg order and used by Brill for testing. She recognizes that the TARS and Louisville cars were the only ones that fully conformed to Brill’s Master Unit design.

Likewise, the definition of what constitutes a PCC streetcar is also a bit fluid, as detailed by noted transit historian Dr. Harold E. Cox in this article.

Several models of the Chicago Peter Witts have been produced by various firms, including the excellent St. Petersburg Tram Collection.

Each year, the holiday season creates a warm and generous feeling towards other people, and this year is no exception. Now that we are truly at our “Witt’s End,” we hope that you will enjoy these photographic gifts in the spirit in which they are intended.

Happy Holidays!

-David Sadowski


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Updates

Our E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available through our Online Store, has been updated with the addition of about 12 minutes of public domain color video showing Chicago PCCs in action. These films were mainly taken on route 36 – Broadway, with a date of October 9, 1956. However, some portions of the film may have been shot earlier, since there are a couple of prewar cars seen. These were last used on route 49 – Western on June 17, 1956.

This video portion can be viewed on any computer using media player software.

PS- Several additional photos have been added to our previous post Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part Five (December 11th).


Fred J. Borchert

Fred J. Borchert (1889-1951), some of whose work appears on this blog, was an early railfan photographer in Chicago. His work predated other early fans such as Edward Frank, Jr. (1911-1992). There are Ed Frank pictures here from as early as 1934, but Borchert’s work goes back even further than that.

I haven’t been able to find much information on Borchert, but I do know that during WWI, he drove a taxicab, and later, worked for the US Post Office. Ed Frank must have acquired at least some of Borchert’s negatives after his death, since he made prints. If anyone can provide further information on either of these gentlemen, I would appreciate it. I did at least meet Ed Frank since he used to sell his black-and-white photos at CERA meetings many years ago.


CSL Sedan 6315 is southbound on Clark at Wells on January 21, 1945. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL Sedan 6315 is southbound on Clark at Wells on January 21, 1945. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CTA 6309 is southbound on Cottage Grove at Cermak on August 1, 1950. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CTA 6309 is southbound on Cottage Grove at Cermak on August 1, 1950. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 6307 and crew at the Clark-Devon loop. (Krambles-Peterson Archive) One of our readers writes, "Where was this photo taken? It says Clark-Devon Loop. That was the designation for the Clark-Arthur Loop, but this photo does not appear to be taken there. The reason that I say that is because of all of the tracks in the foreground. Too many to be Clark-Arthur Loop. My guess is that it really was taken at the back of the 77th Street Station (west end of the barn) because the tracks are set in paving blocks and appear to be curved for entering the bays of the barn. The street was called "Wentworth Avenue" even though it was not a dedicated street to the public."

CSL 6307 and crew at the Clark-Devon loop. (Krambles-Peterson Archive) One of our readers writes, “Where was this photo taken? It says Clark-Devon Loop. That was the designation for the Clark-Arthur Loop, but this photo does not appear to be taken there. The reason that I say that is because of all of the tracks in the foreground. Too many to be Clark-Arthur Loop. My guess is that it really was taken at the back of the 77th Street Station (west end of the barn) because the tracks are set in paving blocks and appear to be curved for entering the bays of the barn. The street was called “Wentworth Avenue” even though it was not a dedicated street to the public.”

CSL 6308 southbound on Clark at Armitage. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 6308 southbound on Clark at Armitage. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 6297 at Vincennes and 78th.

CSL 6297 at Vincennes and 78th.

CSL 6296 on Vincennes at 79th. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 6296 on Vincennes at 79th. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 6295 at Vincennes and 80th. (Fred J. Borchert Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)

CSL 6295 at Vincennes and 80th. (Fred J. Borchert Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)

CSL 6301, southbound on Clark Street north of Randolph. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 6301, southbound on Clark Street north of Randolph. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 6307.

CSL 6307.

From the numbers on this photo, I'd say it shows one of the CSL Sedan frames at the J. G. Brill factory in 1929.

From the numbers on this photo, I’d say it shows one of the CSL Sedan frames at the J. G. Brill factory in 1929.

The interior of CSL 6294 as new, in a 1929 photo at the J. G. Brill plant. Brill built 33 of the 100 "Sedans," aka Peter Witts.

The interior of CSL 6294 as new, in a 1929 photo at the J. G. Brill plant. Brill built 33 of the 100 “Sedans,” aka Peter Witts.

Presumably another interior photo of 6294. These cars had leather seats. The "bucket" seats remind me a bit of those on Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed interurban car 65, built two years after this car.

Presumably another interior photo of 6294. These cars had leather seats. The “bucket” seats remind me a bit of those on Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speed interurban car 65, built two years after this car.

CSL 6305 shiny and new at the Brill plant in Philadelphia. (J. G. Brill Photo, Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection)

CSL 6305 shiny and new at the Brill plant in Philadelphia. (J. G. Brill Photo, Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection)

As delivered, the 33 Sedans made for Chicago by J. G. Brill came with 76E2 trucks. However, that was job #22768, which does not match the number in this photo. The Brill list of work orders I consulted does not have a job #22770 on it.

As delivered, the 33 Sedans made for Chicago by J. G. Brill came with 76E2 trucks. However, that was job #22768, which does not match the number in this photo. The Brill list of work orders I consulted does not have a job #22770 on it.

CSL 6294, built for the Chicago City Railway, at the Brill plant in 1929. Surface Lines was an "umbrella" that presented a unified transit operator to the public, but it was actually made up of constituent companies. Of the 33 Brill Sedans, 20 were purchased by Chicago Railways and 13 by the Chicago City Railway. This balkanized arrangement continued until the Chicago Transit Authority took over in 1947.

CSL 6294, built for the Chicago City Railway, at the Brill plant in 1929. Surface Lines was an “umbrella” that presented a unified transit operator to the public, but it was actually made up of constituent companies. Of the 33 Brill Sedans, 20 were purchased by Chicago Railways and 13 by the Chicago City Railway. This balkanized arrangement continued until the Chicago Transit Authority took over in 1947.

CSL 6280 southbound at Clark and Southport. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 6280 southbound at Clark and Southport. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CTA 3381 at Cottage Grove and 111th, near the south end of route 4, on February 2, 1952. The landmark Hotel Florence is in the background, in Chicago's Pullman neighborhood. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CTA 3381 at Cottage Grove and 111th, near the south end of route 4, on February 2, 1952. The landmark Hotel Florence is in the background, in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CTA 3381 at Cottage Grove and 115th, south end of route 4, on April 2, 1952. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CTA 3381 at Cottage Grove and 115th, south end of route 4, on April 2, 1952. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 3377 is southbound on Clark north of Huron in the 1936 scene. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 3377 is southbound on Clark north of Huron in the 1936 scene. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

A southbound Sedan has just passed CSL car 5250 on Clark just south of Wacker Drive in 1935. According to Don's Rail Photos, "1st 5201 thru 5250 were built by Brill-American Car Co in 1906, #15365, for CCRy as 5201 thru 5250, but it was shipped to United Railroads of San Francisco due to the earthquake. 2nd 5201 thru 5250 were built by Brill-American Car Co in 1906, #15365, to replace the orignal order. They were rebuilt in 1909 to bring them up to the standard of the later cars."

A southbound Sedan has just passed CSL car 5250 on Clark just south of Wacker Drive in 1935. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “1st 5201 thru 5250 were built by Brill-American Car Co in 1906, #15365, for CCRy as 5201 thru 5250, but it was shipped to United Railroads of San Francisco due to the earthquake. 2nd 5201 thru 5250 were built by Brill-American Car Co in 1906, #15365, to replace the orignal order. They were rebuilt in 1909 to bring them up to the standard of the later cars.”

CSL 3375 at Kedzie Station on February 14, 1946. Besides Clark-Wentworth, the Sedans helped fill out schedules on Madison, since the 83 prewar PCCs were not enough for the route, which probably needed about 100 cars at the time. The speedy Witts were able to keep up with the PCCs. (Robert W. Gibson Photo)

CSL 3375 at Kedzie Station on February 14, 1946. Besides Clark-Wentworth, the Sedans helped fill out schedules on Madison, since the 83 prewar PCCs were not enough for the route, which probably needed about 100 cars at the time. The speedy Witts were able to keep up with the PCCs. (Robert W. Gibson Photo)

CSL 3371. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 3371. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

Clark Street north of LaSalle circa 1930. (Fred J. Borchert Photo, Edward J. Frank Collection)

Clark Street north of LaSalle circa 1930. (Fred J. Borchert Photo, Edward J. Frank Collection)

CSL 5209 and 3367 pass on Clark just north of Madison in 1935. That is the famous Clark Theatre in the background, later made famous in the song "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 5209 and 3367 pass on Clark just north of Madison in 1935. That is the famous Clark Theatre in the background, later made famous in the song “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 3365 in the "open air" portion of Devon car barn, which was damaged in a 1922 fire. They never did put a roof back on. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 3365 in the “open air” portion of Devon car barn, which was damaged in a 1922 fire. They never did put a roof back on. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 3367 on Clark at Armitage. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 3367 on Clark at Armitage. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 3356 at the Devon car barn (station). (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 3356 at the Devon car barn (station). (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

One of our readers writes, "The reason that this is Wentworth & 65th rather than Devon and Ravenswood is for two reasons. The first is because the railroad viaduct in the background is at an angle as it passed over the street which was the Rock Island RR, probably looks the same today although now Metra. Also, the curb on the west side of the street is raised, whereas Devon is flat at Ravenswood with no raised curbs."

Here we have a real difference of opinion. On the back of this photo, it says that CSL 3354 is at Wentworth and 65th. We have another opinion that says it’s Devon and Ravenswood. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)
One of our readers writes, “The reason that this is Wentworth & 65th rather than Devon and Ravenswood is for two reasons. The first is because the railroad viaduct in the background is at an angle as it passed over the street which was the Rock Island RR, probably looks the same today although now Metra. Also, the curb on the west side of the street is raised, whereas Devon is flat at Ravenswood with no raised curbs.”

Wentworth and 65th today. As you can see, this matches the view in the previous picture.

Wentworth and 65th today. As you can see, this matches the view in the previous picture.

A southbound Sedan at Clark and Rogers. (George Krambles Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

A southbound Sedan at Clark and Rogers. (George Krambles Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 3342 at the Clark-Arthur loop, looking east from the second floor of Devon Station. (Chicago Surface Lines Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive) We posted a very similar (but not identical) photo here: http://thetrolleydodger.com/2015/11/03/chicago-surface-lines-photos-part-one/

CSL 3342 at the Clark-Arthur loop, looking east from the second floor of Devon Station. (Chicago Surface Lines Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive) We posted a very similar (but not identical) photo here: http://thetrolleydodger.com/2015/11/03/chicago-surface-lines-photos-part-one/

CSL 3337 at Devon Station (car barn). (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 3337 at Devon Station (car barn). (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

CSL 3349 at Vincennes and 80th. (Fred J. Borchert Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)

CSL 3349 at Vincennes and 80th. (Fred J. Borchert Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)

Looking north from Clark and Van Buren circa 1930. (Fred J. Borchert Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)

Looking north from Clark and Van Buren circa 1930. (Fred J. Borchert Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)

Bill Robb writes:

Toronto had 350 Peter Witt cars and 225 similar trailers. The motor cars had even numbers and the trailers had odd numbers.

Attached is a Ray F Corley TTC document on the Peter Witt design.

But Philadelphia had a larger fleet. Philadelphia also had 535 Peter Witt cars purchased in three orders during the 1920s, which were locally known as Eighty Hundreds. The last PTC 8000s ran in December 1957. More on the Philadelphia orders:

https://archive.org/stream/electricrailwayj612mcgrrich#page/433/mode/1up

https://archive.org/stream/electricrailwayj61mcgrrich#page/1073/mode/1up

Chicago Streetcars In Color

This must be car 3142, which was saved by ERHS and is now in operating condition at the Illinois Railway Museum. In this September 10, 1959 scene, there are still a few PCCs left on the property at South Shops, including car 4400. (Clark Frazier Photo)

This must be car 3142, which was saved by ERHS and is now in operating condition at the Illinois Railway Museum. In this September 10, 1959 scene, there are still a few PCCs left on the property at South Shops, including car 4400. (Clark Frazier Photo)

Following up on our earlier post Chicago Streetcars in Black-and-White, here are nearly 40 more pictures in color.  Because they are in color, they naturally skew towards the last 10 years or so of service, leading up to that fateful morning on June 21, 1958, when the last Chicago streetcar ran:

We hope that you enjoy these glimpses of a bygone era. We have provided what information we have on the locations and circumstances. If you can help fill in some additional details, let us know.

-David Sadowski

Pullman PCC 4090 heads west on Monroe on route 20 - Madison.

Pullman PCC 4090 heads west on Monroe on route 20 – Madison.

Pullman PCC 4063, on route 22 – Clark-Wentworth, meets red car 6118, signed for route 42 at Clark and Halsted.  Route 42 was an incorrect designation for this location, and the sign should read 8 instead.

Pullman PCC 4063, on route 22 – Clark-Wentworth, meets red car 6118, signed for route 42 at Clark and Halsted. Route 42 was an incorrect designation for this location, and the sign should read 8 instead.

“Sedan” 6296 on route 4 – Cottage Grove. The Chicago Surface Lines built one-third of this 100-car order themselves in 1929, not an unusual practice at the time. Bob Lalich says we are “just south of 95th St. The Rock Island, C&WI and BRC elevation can be seen in the background.”

Red Pullman 322 at an unidentified location.

Red Pullman 322 at an unidentified location.

Unless my eyes are failing me, this looks like work car X-3 at South shops.

Unless my eyes are failing me, this looks like work car X-3 at South shops.

An older streetcar being used as a snow sweeper.

An older streetcar being used as a snow sweeper.

Car 3345 by the Illinois Central on route 4 - Cottage Grove.

Car 3345 by the Illinois Central on route 4 – Cottage Grove.

4019 on route 4 - Cottage Grove.

4019 on route 4 – Cottage Grove.

Red Pullman 697 on Roosevelt Road.

Red Pullman 697 on Roosevelt Road.

Car 7217, just prior to being scrapped, at South Shops on September 10, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)

Car 7217, just prior to being scrapped, at South Shops on September 10, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)

This appears to be the temporary end of the line for route 73 - Armitage, as the bridge is out behind car 3297.

This appears to be the temporary end of the line for route 73 – Armitage, as the bridge is out behind car 3297.

Work car F-305 at South Shops on September 10, 1959. This was purchased by the Electric Railway Historical Society and soon moved to their site in Downers Grove. (Clark Frazier Photo)

Work car F-305 at South Shops on September 10, 1959. This was purchased by the Electric Railway Historical Society and soon moved to their site in Downers Grove. (Clark Frazier Photo)

An 8000-series trailer from the 1920s, being used as a storage shed.

An 8000-series trailer from the 1920s, being used as a storage shed.

Here, we are at about 4600 west 63rd street looking west. Car 4013, heading east, wears the CSL "tiger stripes" introduced in 1945. Bill Shapotkin adds, "That caption is correct. I might add that "is" at 4600 West and the tracks are those of the BRC. By the way, as an aside, if you ride the Rt #63 bus, the stop here is called out as "4600 West." No street name (which would otherwise be Kenton) is given."

Here, we are at about 4600 west 63rd street looking west. Car 4013, heading east, wears the CSL “tiger stripes” introduced in 1945. Bill Shapotkin adds, “That caption is correct. I might add that “is” at 4600 West and the tracks are those of the BRC. By the way, as an aside, if you ride the Rt #63 bus, the stop here is called out as “4600 West.” No street name (which would otherwise be Kenton) is given.”

Although car 4410 appears to be going uphill, this is Chicago and not Pittsburgh. It's the photographer who is tilted in this October 1956 view.

Although car 4410 appears to be going uphill, this is Chicago and not Pittsburgh. It’s the photographer who is tilted in this October 1956 view.

A nice shot of 4388 pulling out of Limits on July 24, 1957.

A nice shot of 4388 pulling out of Limits on July 24, 1957.

7018 heading south on Wabash at Balbo in the early 1950s.

7018 heading south on Wabash at Balbo in the early 1950s.

Car 5105 in the Burnside yard.

Car 5105 in the Burnside yard.

Peter Witt car 6285, built in 1929, on Cottage Grove at 115th. Some called them “Sedans.”

Prewar PCC heads south on route 49 - Western on June 13, 1956, shortly before the line was converted to bus.

Prewar PCC heads south on route 49 – Western on June 13, 1956, shortly before the line was converted to bus.

It appears that car 4406is making a backup move in this October 21, 1956 photo. That may indicate we are at the south end of route 22, where there was a “wye” in traffic.

Car 585 on route 56 - Milwaukee near Downtown. Bill Shapotkin adds, "This pic of a Milwaukee Ave streetcar is at the Milwaukee Ave bridge over the MILW/PRR near Des Plaines St. Believe the view looks N/W. Note the long-standing MILW freight house on the right."

Car 585 on route 56 – Milwaukee near Downtown. Bill Shapotkin adds, “This pic of a Milwaukee Ave streetcar is at the Milwaukee Ave bridge over the MILW/PRR near Des Plaines St. Believe the view looks N/W. Note the long-standing MILW freight house on the right.”

PCC 7175 is southbound at Clark and Glenlake in this wintry scene.

PCC 7175 is southbound at Clark and Glenlake in this wintry scene.

Red Pullman 473, on the famous May 16, 1954 CERA fantrip, turns back at Lake and Austin.

Red Pullman 473, on the famous May 16, 1954 CERA fantrip, turns back at Lake and Austin.

Car 1780 runs under the Lake Street “L” at Karlov on route 16.

Car 3144, a sister of the 3142 preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum, runs parallel to the outer end of the Lake Street “L” where it ran on the ground prior to 1962. Streetcar service on route 16 ended in May 1954. A CTA 4000 is visible at rear. Both cars are using overhead wire.

Prewar PCC 4029 running parallel to the Illinois Central electric on the south end of route 4 (Cottage Grove).

Prewar PCC 4029 running parallel to the Illinois Central electric on the south end of route 4 (Cottage Grove).

Postwar PCC 4377 heads south on Clark in the mid-1950s. The Clark Theatre, the Bamboo Inn, and the Blue Note are visible on the next block.

Postwar PCC 4377 heads south on Clark in the mid-1950s. The Clark Theatre, the Bamboo Inn, and the Blue Note are visible on the next block.

7038 heads south at Western and 14th. A “Qunoset hut” is at left. This is a type of prefabricated building that was in wide use during and after WWII.

Prewar PCC 4029 is shown heading south on a section of Cottage Grove between 33rd and 35th that had already been sold by the city to developers and was already off-limits to car and truck traffic. CTA was given six-month extensions on streetcar service through this area before the route was bussed in June 1955.

Prewar PCC 4029 is shown heading south on a section of Cottage Grove between 33rd and 35th that had already been sold by the city to developers and was already off-limits to car and truck traffic. CTA was given six-month extensions on streetcar service through this area before the route was bussed in June 1955.

From the address on the Edward Don warehouse at rear, we can tell this picture of PCC 4115 was taken on Clark just north of Cermak.

From the address on the Edward Don warehouse at rear, we can tell this picture of PCC 4115 was taken on Clark just north of Cermak.

Prewar PCC 4027 at an unknown location. Likely possibilities are routes 4, 49, or 63. Tony Waller writes, "Image 243 is on 63rd St. Look at the pre-war PCC. It’s door arrangement is that of two-man car. Cottage Grove and Western only had pre-war PCCs in one man operation."

Prewar PCC 4027 at an unknown location. Likely possibilities are routes 4, 49, or 63. Tony Waller writes, “Image 243 is on 63rd St. Look at the pre-war PCC. It’s door arrangement is that of two-man car. Cottage Grove and Western only had pre-war PCCs in one man operation.”

It's not the best slide, and hard to make out, but the signs say car 4406 is chartered and it is signed for Devon and Ravenswood.

It’s not the best slide, and hard to make out, but the signs say car 4406 is chartered and it is signed for Devon and Ravenswood.

6148 at Halsted and Clark. The car is signed for route 42, Halsted-Downtown.

6148 at Halsted and Clark. The car is signed for route 42, Halsted-Downtown.

Postwar PCC 7142 pulls into the Clark-Howard loop in the mid-1950s. The white line indicates the swing of the car.

Postwar PCC 7142 pulls into the Clark-Howard loop in the mid-1950s. The white line indicates the swing of the car.

West Chicago Street Railway #4 was pulled out for pictures on May 25, 1958, the occasion of the final fantrip on Chicago's streetcar system.

West Chicago Street Railway #4 was pulled out for pictures on May 25, 1958, the occasion of the final fantrip on Chicago’s streetcar system.

Car 3220 on the 67th Street line. Bill Shapotkin adds, "This picture is E/B in 67th St, having just x/o under the IC. View looks W-N/W."

Car 3220 on the 67th Street line. Bill Shapotkin adds, “This picture is E/B in 67th St, having just x/o under the IC. View looks W-N/W.”

Not a streetcar, but an old trolley bus being used as a shed at South Shops on September 10, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)

Not a streetcar, but an old trolley bus being used as a shed at South Shops on September 10, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)