The Great Chicago Interurbans – Part Two (CNS&M)

This remarkable very early color picture shows NSL Birney car 332 and a variety of interurban cars in Milwaukee. In back, that’s car 300 in fantrip service. It was used by CERA as a club car circa 1939-42, which helps date the photo. Don’s Rail Photos: “332 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in December 1922, #2625. It was retired in 1947 and scrapped in April 1948… 300 thru 302 were built by Jewett in 1909 as mainline coaches. As the steel cars arrived, they were downgraded to local and school tripper service. In 1936 they became sleet cutters. In 1939 300 was turned over to the Central Electric Railfans’ Association as a private car. The ownership remained with the CNS&M, but the maintenance was taken over by CERA. During the war, with many members in service, CERA relinquished control, and the car was scrapped in 1947. 301 and 302 were retired in 1939 and scrapped in 1940.” CERA bulletins of the time say that fantrips, being non-essential travel were not allowed for much of the war, starting in 1942. By the time the war ended, car 300 had been stripped of some parts in order to keep other wood cars running. Several were sold to the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin in 1946. The North Shore Line had decided it no longer wanted to run wood cars in passenger service. Then, the 300 was vandalized and some windows were smashed. It was scrapped by CNS&M.

Today, we continue our look at the great Chicago interurbans* by featuring the North Shore Line. The Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee last ran on January 21, 1963, just over 54 years ago.

This is widely considered the end of the Interurban Era.

But wait, there’s much more on offer in this, our 175th post. All of today’s black-and-white photos are scanned from the original negatives. This includes an original medium format neg taken by Edward Frank, Jr., which he traded with another collector. I don’t know what became of the rest of his negatives.

-David Sadowski

See our last post (January 28, 2017) for part one.

North Shore Line

<img class="size-large wp-image-9191" src="https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/dave588.jpg?w=665" alt="On a June 17, 1962 CERA fantrip, we see NSL car 744 posing for pictures on a section of track that was once part of the old Shore Line Route, abandoned in 1955. Don's Rail Photos: "744 was built by Pullman in 1928. It was modernized in 1940." We previously featured another picture taken at this location in our post More Color Restorations (August 9, 2016).” width=”665″ height=”407″ /> On a June 17, 1962 CERA fantrip, we see NSL car 744 posing for pictures on a section of track that was once part of the old Shore Line Route, abandoned in 1955. Don’s Rail Photos: “744 was built by Pullman in 1928. It was modernized in 1940.” We previously featured another picture taken at this location in our post More Color Restorations (August 9, 2016).

CNS&M wooden interurban car 303 in its days as a sleet cutter. 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.”

CNS&M 704 getting washed at the Milwaukee terminal. Don’s Rail Photos: “704 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in May 1923, #2635.” (Walter Broschart Photo)

The information I received with this negative says that CNS&M 169 is a Special on the Shore Line Route in Wilmette in 1954. On the other hand, one of our long-time readers says this is actually Mundelein terminal on that branch line. Since this is apparently a fantrip car, the Shore Line Route sign may be incorrect. Don’s Rail Photos: “169 was built by Jewett in 1917.”

A not too sharp picture of a southbound train on the Shore Line Route at Wilmette.

A not too sharp picture of a southbound train on the Shore Line Route at Wilmette.

Richard H. Young took this picture on June 2, 1960 from the back of a moving North Shore car somewhere near Mundelein. We see a line car at work on the other track. One of our regular readers says that we are looking east toward South Upton tower, with Rt. 176 at left (north).

Richard H. Young took this picture on June 2, 1960 from the back of a moving North Shore car somewhere near Mundelein. We see a line car at work on the other track. One of our regular readers says that we are looking east toward South Upton tower, with Rt. 176 at left (north).

A close-up of the line car. Not sure whether this is the 604 or the 606.

A close-up of the line car. Not sure whether this is the 604 or the 606.

The same location today.

The same location today.

CNS&M 774 at the Milwaukee terminal. Don’s Rail Photos: “774 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930, It was rebuilt as (a) Silverliner on May 9, 1950.” This photo appears to predate that.

CNS&M 761 at the Milwaukee terminal on May 29, 1950. Don’s Rail Photos: “761 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930. It was modernized in 1949 and rebuilt as Silverliner in October 11, 1957.”

One of the two Electroliners passes a train of older cars in this wintry scene. Not sure of the exact location. The Electroliners entered service in 1941. Don Ross: “The Electroliner in the snow was at North Chicago. I have one similar from a different angle and no snow.” Jerry Wiatrowski: “The picture of the Southbound Electroliner is entering the curve to North Chicago Junction. The photographer is looking Northwest from North Chicago Junction. The bypass line continues South to the left.”

The same location today. We are looking north at about 2225 Commonwealth Avenue in North Chicago, IL. The cross-street, which was 22nd Street, is now Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr.

The same location today. We are looking north at about 2225 Commonwealth Avenue in North Chicago, IL. The cross-street, which was 22nd Street, is now Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr.

North Shore steeple cab 459 looks like it is backing up to connect with a couple of stalled cars. The information I got with this negative says this is Cudahy, Wisconsin in April 1954. That is just south of Milwaukee. However, it’s been pointed out to me that this municipality was a couple miles west of the right-of-way and the station in the picture looks more like Waukegan. Don’s Rail Photos: “459 was built by the SP&S in August 1941 as OERy 51. It was purchased by the North Shore in December 1947 and was completed as 459 on November 22, 1948.”

North Shore Birney car 335 in July 1947. Don’s Rail Photos: “335 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in December 1922, #2625. It was retired in 1947 and scrapped in April 1948.” The car is signed for Oklahoma Avenue in Milwaukee.

Car 409 on an early CERA fantrip, which may have been on June 4, 1939. It appears to be coupled to 716. The car at left may be 168. Car 255 is also supposed to have been used on that 1939 fantrip, but at that time, it was a full-length baggage car that had no seats and was often used to move musician’s instruments to and from Ravinia Park. The seats were not put in again until 1942. Don’s Rail Photos: “409 was built by Cincinnati Car in May 1923, #2465, as a dining car motor. In 1942 it was rebuilt as a coach and rebuilt as a Silverliner on March 30, 1955. Since it had no bulkhead between smoking and non-smoking sections, it was our favorite car to be used for meetings of the Milwaukee Division of the Electric Railroaders Association in Milwaukee. The North Shore was very cooperative in making sure that the car was in the location shown on meeting nights.”

I received no information with this negative, but this may show a bunch of North Shore Line cars in dead storage after the 1963 abandonment. Notice the destination sign is missing from combine 254. This car was not saved. Don’s Rail Photos: “254 was built by Jewett in 1917. The seating was changed to 28 on August 26, 1955.”

CNS&M 759 and train at South Upton on June 15, 1947. Don’s Rail Photos: “759 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930. It was modernized in 1949.”

CNS&M 737 at Highwood in 1950. Don’s Rail Photos: “737 was built by Pullman in 1928. It was modernized in 1940 and rebuilt as Silverliner on June 30, 1950.” (Richard S. Short Photo)

CNS&M 739 near Glencoe. The date given is June 21, 1941; however, there was a CERA fantrip the following day, so the date may actually be June 22. The car is signed for charter service on the Shore Line Route. June 22, 1941 was also the day that Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. Don’s Rail Photos: “739 was built by Pullman in 1928. It was modernized in 1940 and rebuilt as (a) Silverliner on August 31, 1950.”

CNS&M 155 is a Skokie Valley Route Special at North Chicago on April 17, 1952. Don’s Rail Photos: “155 was built by Brill in 1915, #19605. It was damaged by fire at Highwood on August 11, 1955, and scrapped. One end from it was used to repair 735.”

South Shore Line

The other great Chicago interurban, of course, is the South Shore Line, which continues to operate between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana. We have just a couple vintage photos to show you today, but are sure to have more soon.

CSS&SB car 1 heads up a train at Randolph Street in downtown Chicago in 1946. Don’s Rail Photos: “1 was built by Pullman in 1926. It was later air-conditioned. It went to National Park Service in 1983 and (was) loaned to (the) Southern Michigan RR.” Spence Ziegler says, “The photo of CSS&SB #1 was more likely 1950-52; I have a slide from the Interurbans Slide set from 1983 showing #1 leaving Kensington in 1949 (on the rear of a train) still with the destination sign and train number sign on it’s end, though both were disused. Bill Wasik: “The CSS&SB car 1 at Randolph Street in downtown Chicago photo dated 1946 instead likely was taken between July 1952, when the giant Pabst sign on Randolph was dismantled, and mid-1953, when steel going up for the Prudential Building would have been visible in this view.”

CSS&SB freight motor 903 at Michigan City on July 17, 1956. Don’s Rail Photos: “903 was built by Baldwin-Westinghouse in September 1929, #61047, as IC 10001. It became CSS&SB 903 in July 1941.”

Chicago & West Towns Railways

The Chicago & West Towns Railways operated streetcars in Chicago’s western suburbs. But a 1942 Chicago guidebook referred to it as an “interurban,” probably referring to its longest and busiest line, which ran from Cicero to LaGrange and had sections of private right-of-way. Starting in 1934, it went to the Brookfield Zoo.

C&WT 163 at the Oak Park car barn on April 23, 1939. There was a CERA fantrip on the West Towns on this date. 163 was built by the Cummings Car Company in 1927. (LaMar M. Kelley Photo)

C&WT 163 at the Oak Park car barn on April 23, 1939. There was a CERA fantrip on the West Towns on this date. 163 was built by the Cummings Car Company in 1927. (LaMar M. Kelley Photo)

C&WT line car 15 at the Harlem and Cermak car barn. Don’s Rail Photos: “15 was built by Pullman Car in 1897 as Suburban RR 512. It was renumbered 515 and rebuilt as 15 in 1927. It was rebuilt in 1940 and scrapped in 1948.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

Edward Frank, Jr.'s famous bicycle, which appears in many of his pictures.

Edward Frank, Jr.’s famous bicycle, which appears in many of his pictures.

C&WT 146 at Lake and Austin, east end of the line. Riders could change across the street for a Chicago car. The Park Theater, at right, was showing Sutter's Gold, starring Edward Arnold. That film was released in 1936, which may be the date of this photo. This car was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924.

C&WT 146 at Lake and Austin, east end of the line. Riders could change across the street for a Chicago car. The Park Theater, at right, was showing Sutter’s Gold, starring Edward Arnold. That film was released in 1936, which may be the date of this photo. This car was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924.

C&WT 105, described as being tan in color, in front of the North Riverside car barn on April 28, 1939. (However, if the date was actually the 23rd, there was a CERA fantrip.) Don’s Rail Photos: “105 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1915.” (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo) Gordon E. Lloyd grew up in the Chicago area and would have been 14 years old at the time. He later became a well-known railfan photographer and authored some books. He died aged 81 in 2006. Pretty good picture for a teenager!

C&WT 105 at Cermak and Kenton, probably in the late 1930s. This was the east end of the long LaGrange line and this car is signed for the Brookfield Zoo. Note the CSL car at rear. Riders could change here to go east on route 21 – Cermak. Don’s Rail Photos: “105 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1915.”

Angel’s Flight

The Angel’s Flight Railway is a narrow gauge funicular in the Bunker Hill neighborhood in Los Angeles. A funicular is somewhat like an elevator that goes up the side of a hill; when one car goes up, the other goes down. I’ve been on three of these myself– two in Pittsburgh and one in Dubuque, Iowa.

Most of these have operated for over a century without major incidents, but Angel’s Flight has been plagued by bad luck for a long time. First, starting in the early 1960s, the area around it was slated for redevelopment, and the surrounding buildings were torn down. The hill it was on was partly leveled.

Fortunately, Angel’s Flight was disassembled after it stopped running in 1969, and put into storage. It was moved a half block south and reopened in 1996.

Unfortunately, there were some problems with how the thing was engineered as reconstructed, which led to some accidents. While Angel’s Flight has not run for a few years, these safety concerns have been addressed one by one, and now all that stands in the way of its reopening is the installation of an emergency walkway in case the thing breaks down on its 298-foot journey. Meanwhile, the not-for-profit group that operates it has to pay thousands of dollars each month for insurance.

Still, Angel’s Flight is an LA landmark and we hope that it will operate once again, and safely.

In the meantime, I was surprised to find it featured in a brief scene in the film La La Land. The two leads (Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone) are shown riding and kissing on the funicular.

Although Angel’s Flight is closed to the public, the operators thought it would be OK to use it in a film, and I’m sure they benefit a great deal from the publicity. But while they have been reprimanded (right now, no one is supposed to ride except employees), I am glad it appears in the film.

Angel’s Flight has been appearing in movies for nearly 100 years now. You can read an article about this here.

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Angel's Flight at its original location (3rd and Hill Streets) on July 5, 1962, before nearby buildings were torn down. (Leo Callos Photo)

Angel’s Flight at its original location (3rd and Hill Streets) on July 5, 1962, before nearby buildings were torn down. (Leo Callos Photo)

A view of Angel's Flight in 1964, showing the building at left demolished.

A view of Angel’s Flight in 1964, showing the building at left demolished.

A side view of Angel's Flight in 1964, after nearby buildings were being demolished. (Leo Callos Photo)

A side view of Angel’s Flight in 1964, after nearby buildings were being demolished. (Leo Callos Photo)

The Angel's Flight funicular on June 13, 1961. (George Basch Photo)

The Angel’s Flight funicular on June 13, 1961. (George Basch Photo)

Recent Correspondence

Jack Bejna writes:

I enjoy the Trolley Dodger immensely, especially anything CA&E! I grew up in Broadview and walked to Proviso High School every day along the CA&E right of way from 9th avenue to 5th Avenue. This month’s CA&E images are some that I haven’t seen before and are great, especially since they’re medium format images. I have a request….I would like to see a good image of the old dispatcher’s office (before it was repainted and the upper windows covered over. I’m sure someone took pictures of the office but I’ve never seen one.

Thanks for all you do; it sure makes my day!

I post these images practically as soon as I can buy them, but I can put this request in my next post, in hopes that someone might be able to help.

Glad you enjoy the blog.

Thanks David, I’ll be looking and hoping for a good shot. Again, thanks for all you do for us CA&E fanatics!

Bill Shapotkin writes:

Dave — in your January 2015 posting, this photo was included:

CTA 78 is shown at the east end of the Madison-Fifth shuttle in February, 1954. But wait-- wouldn't car 78 be on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago? According to Alan R. Lind's CSL book, the CTA renumbered car 1780 to 78 in the waning days of red car service, in order to free up numbers in the 1780s for some buses. This was the only time a CSL streetcar was given a two-digit number, except for work cars. That's one school of thought. On the other hand, the number on the side of this car looks like 1781, and according to Andre Kristopans, it was still 1781 when scrapped. It may in fact not be a renumbering at all, just a case where either the car's paint got touched up and obscured part of the number, or part of the number fell off and did not get replaced, since red car service was ending in a few months anyway. At left in the background you can see Fohrman Motors, a Chicago car dealer from 1912 to 1979. Three people were killed at the dealership by a disgruntled customer on January 7, 1966. The neighborhood, not far from the construction site for the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway, is already showing signs of urban decay. We discuss this in our post Some Thoughts on “Displaced” (August 30, 2016).

CTA 78 is shown at the east end of the Madison-Fifth shuttle in February, 1954. But wait– wouldn’t car 78 be on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago? According to Alan R. Lind’s CSL book, the CTA renumbered car 1780 to 78 in the waning days of red car service, in order to free up numbers in the 1780s for some buses. This was the only time a CSL streetcar was given a two-digit number, except for work cars.
That’s one school of thought. On the other hand, the number on the side of this car looks like 1781, and according to Andre Kristopans, it was still 1781 when scrapped. It may in fact not be a renumbering at all, just a case where either the car’s paint got touched up and obscured part of the number, or part of the number fell off and did not get replaced, since red car service was ending in a few months anyway.
At left in the background you can see Fohrman Motors, a Chicago car dealer from 1912 to 1979. Three people were killed at the dealership by a disgruntled customer on January 7, 1966. The neighborhood, not far from the construction site for the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway, is already showing signs of urban decay. We discuss this in our post Some Thoughts on “Displaced” (August 30, 2016).

Your caption read (in part):

“CTA 78 is shown at the east end of the Madison-Fifth shuttle in February, 1954. But wait– wouldn’t car 78 be on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago? In actuality, I think this is car 1781. Perhaps part of the number has fallen off”

Well, I have an explanation (courtesy of Roy Benedict — who seems to recall that he heard this from Glen Anderson). It JUST SO HAPPENED, both car #1781 AND bus #1781 were assigned to Kedzie station at the time. To avoid confusion, the decals for the digit”1″ were removed off the streetcar — thus avoiding any confusion. Roy had ridden car #78 on the Fifth Ave Shuttle on at least two occasions (and noticed the strange two-digit car number) — only to find out years later (again, he recalls that it was via Glen) as to the reason.

That’s great to know, thanks. I recently bought another copy of the Lind book, and while it does mention the renumbering, offers no explanation. (I have owned several copies of Chicago Surface Lines, An Illustrated History over the years, but have given some of them away, and other copies are in storage.)

The only thing that would need to be double-checked is whether there really was a bus 1781 working out of the Kedzie car house. I suppose Andre would know that.

Andre Kristopans writes:

There was a bus 1781 in 1954, but not at Kedzie. 1700’s at the time were at North Av, North Park, and Limits. Best explanation I can give is that when 1781 was last repainted, they didn’t have any “1” decals, and so out it went as “78”, and the problem was never corrected. Note it does appear the side number is 78 also! However, CTA’s streetcar retirements documentation show 1781, both in the AFR and the scrap ledger.

Gina Sammis wrote us a while back, looking for information on Gustav Johnson, a longtime Chicago Surface Lines employee (born June 23, 1855 – died November 23, 1946). He retired around 1925, after having worked on streetcars for 35 years.

As it happens, I recently purchased a copy of the December 1946 Surface Service, the CSL employee magazine. These do not often come up for sale, in comparison with the later CTA Transit News.

Mr. Johnson is mentioned in two places. There is the one you already know about on page 15, in a section titled In Memoriam.

But there are also reports from individual car houses (barns), and on page 8 it says,”Retired Motorman Gus Johnson passed away November 24.”

So, at least that tells you that he was driving the streetcars, and not just the conductor taking fares.

I took the liberty of writing to George Trapp, in order to find out just what streetcar lines would have been operating out of Devon Station (car house) in the early 1900s. Here is his reply:

I would guess the Evanston cars before 1913 or so before the barn on Central Street in Evanston was built and after 1901 when the Devon barn was built. The North Shore & Western dinkey may also have been stored there in the Winter when the golf club was closed. The Devon shuttle and the Lawrence Avenue lines as well and possibly the North Western line before being through routed with Western which also used the barn for part of the service from sometime in the 1930’s and half the service in the PCC era.

His answer needs a bit of further explaining.  I did some additional research,  From 1901, when the Devon car house opened, until 1913, Evanston streetcars would have used the facility. After that, they had their own barn.

You need to consider that this area was just getting built up around this time. So, there were a lot of changes. In general, the dates of the changes will give you a clue to about when development was happening.

Here is what the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society says about the North Shore and Western Railway:

The North Shore & Western Railway Company was formed and owned by the members of the Glen View Club in Golf, Illinois. It comprised two pieces of equipment, one streetcar and a snow plow. There were two employees, a motorman and conductor. The hours of operation were set for the convenience of the members of the golf club.

It operated from the golf club through a portion of Harms Woods crossing the North Branch of the Chicago River in the woods and ran straight east on what is now known as Old Orchard Road to Evanston, where the street becomes Harrison Street. It was nicknamed the Toonerville Trolley and a piece of a rail is on display at the Skokie Historical Society.

The membership tired of the trolley’s ownership and sold the line to the Evanston Railway Company.

George Trapp refers to their sole streetcar as a “dinky,” meaning it was small.

The “Devon Avenue Shuttle” would have run east-west. According to Alan R. Lind on page 254 of Chicago Surface Lines, An Illustrated History (Third Edition):

This short North Side shuttle started operation May 20, 1917 from Clark to Western. One-man cars took over the service March 13, 1921. A west extension opened December 14, 1925 from Western to Kedzie, and an east extension opened from Clark to Magnolia January 30, 1928. When Broadway cars began to run to Devon and Kedzie on July 10, 1932, the Devon shuttle car was discontinued.”

North Western Avenue is covered in the same book on page 312:

This extension of the regular Western route began October 18, 1915 between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr. Extensions brought the line to Devon on December 11, 1915, and to Howard on December 16, 1916. The line was through-routed with Western on May 1, 1923.

The busiest route working out of Devon station would have always been Clark, which started running downtown (from Howard) on October 21, 1906. It was through-routed with the south side Wentworth line on March 17, 1908.

Here is what Lind says about the Broadway route on page 231:

In 1906 this North Side trunk route ran from Clark and Howard at the city limits to a loop in downtown Chicago via Cark, Devon, Broadway, Clark, Randolph, LaSalle, Monroe, Dearborn, and Randolph. At this time streetcars to north suburban Evanston also ran on the Broadway route from the old Limits carbarn at Drummond and Clark to Central and Bennett in Evanston. The route was the same as the Broadway cars to Howard, then via Chicago, Dempster, Sherman, and Central to Bennett.

On July 24, 1907 the Evanston line was extended west from Bennett to Lincolnwood Dr. On the same day a single track extension line known as the North Shore & Western Railway began service via Lincolnwood and Harrison to the Glenview Golf Club west of the Chicago River.

The local Broadway cars and the Evanston service to Lincolnwood Dr. were operated by the Chicago Union Traction Company, a Yerkes property. The track north of Irving Park was owned by the Chicago Consolidated Traction Company. (The North Shore & Western was owned by some men with a stake in the golf club.) On February 25, 1908 CUT was reorganized as Chicago Railways Company. On December 27, 1910 Chicago Railways sold its suburban lines to the County Traction Company. At midnight on that date the track connection between the Broadway line, still under CRYs, and the Evanston line was cut at Clark and Howard. Through passengers had to walk across a 30-foot gap in the track from the Evanston cars, now in local Evanston service only under County Traction, to the Broadway cars, still under Chicago Railways.

Because of a franchise requirement of one of the underlying companies,, free transfers from Evanston to Broadway cars were issued starting December 31, 1910. County Traction was split into two companies on August 5, 1913: Evanston Traction and Chicago & West Towns Railway Co. Evanston Traction became (the Evanston Railways Company and in 1936) Evanston Bus Company.

In sum, if your relative worked at Devon station in the early 1900s, chances are most of his work would have been on the Clark and Broadway lines. On my blog, if you do a search on the words Clark or Broadway, you will turn up lots of photos showing service on those lines.

Gina replied:

You have been so helpful and I am very appreciative. Thank you David.

We have added a complete scan of the December 1946 Surface Service to our E-book Chicago's PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available in our Online Store.

We have added a complete scan of the December 1946 Surface Service to our E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available in our Online Store.

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Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. But better yet, why not write us at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

Thanks.

-David Sadowski

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This is our 175th 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 248,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

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Trolley Dodger Mailbag, 10-4-2015, Etc.

Updates

We are pleased to present a previously unknown two-color version of a 1936 Chicago Surface Lines brochure about the new streamlined PCC streetcars. This material has been added to our E-book Chicago’ PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available from our Online Store.

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Milwaukee Electric Railway (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co.) car 1137, westbound on the Rapid Transit Line, 68th Street Bridge, July 22, 1949.

Milwaukee Electric Railway (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co.) car 1137, westbound on the Rapid Transit Line, 68th Street Bridge, July 22, 1949.

Photo Updates

FYI, we now have an improved version of the TMER&T photo reproduced above, since we have been fortunate enough to acquire the original 1949 4″ x 5″ negative. This has been added to our recent post Traction In Milwaukee.

Three more photos have been added to our post West Towns Streetcars In Black-and-White. One of them shows a West Towns streetcar making the connection with its Chicago Surface Lines counterpart at Lake and Austin.

Reader Mail

The following question was posted to the Chicagotransit Yahoo Group by robyer2000:

I was looking at the letters in The Trolley Dodger about the construction of the reversing loop in the Howard Yard in 1949. The letter from the man at CTA public affairs indicated that before skip stop service trains that terminated at Howard were usually yard put-ins. That seems unlikely, at least since the opening of the State Street Subway in 1943, after which most Jackson Park trains terminated at Howard, other than during owl hours.

My question is this: before they built the reversing loop, just how did they reverse trains at Howard that weren’t put-ins?‎ In rush hours, they were 8 car trains. Where did they switch ends?

I replied:

You must be referring to our recent post Railfan Ephemera.

There is some circa 1975 correspondence between Tom Buck, then Manager of the CTA’s Public Affairs department, and an individual who had asked about a 1949 photo showing the construction of a turnaround loop in the Howard Yard.

The photo is reproduced, along with a brochure detailing the changes brought about by the adoption of A/B “skip-stop” service on the North-South L in 1949.

Previously, there were many trains that terminated at other places such as Wilson.

As Graham Garfield’s web site notes:

North Side “L” service used to be more commonly through-routed into Evanston, with Evanston trains running through to Jackson Park on what’s now the Green Line, from 1913 to 1949. In 1949, the CTA instituted a North-South service revision, at which time the suburban portion was divorced into its own line, running as a shuttle to meet the new North-South trunk line at Howard. Thus was the modern Evanston Route, with the shuttle service at all times and downtown rush hour express service, born.

Starting in 1949, there were a lot more trains terminating at Howard, both from the north and the south.  Meanwhile, North Shore Line trains continued to pass through via the Skokie Valley and Shore Line Routes.

Around this time, CTA proposed turning over the Evanston/Wilmette service to the North Shore Line, in exchange for having all NSL service terminate at Howard.  As CNS&M already wanted to abandon the Shore Line Route, this proposal went nowhere.

Robyer2000 wrote:

I don’t ever like to doubt Graham, but at least after the State Street Subway opened in 1943, few, if any, day time subway trains went past Howard and‎ fewer still terminated at Wilson unless they were putting in there. Consider there were only 455 steel cars that could operate in the subway and alternate daytime trains ran to Kimball, and assume 10 pct. of the cars were needed for spares, 410 steel cars were available for schedules of which 205 would have been in Howard service.   That would be enough for 25 Howard – Jackson Park trains. If the route took 125 minutes round trip with lay over (remember in one direction it had to make all stops from Indiana to Congress), that would have been a steel train to Howard every 5 minutes, or a total of only 24 trains an hour through the subway. Even if I am wrong with my assumptions or my arithmetic, how wrong can I be?

I have seen many pictures of Howard Street Express Via Subway t:rains over the years, but never one signed Evanston Express via Subway, although I know it was an available route on the sign curtain because I have one.

Additionally, that red brochure the CTA issued on the opening of the subway indicated Jackson Park trains would terminate at Howard, except after midnight.

I know too that after 1943 there were Evanston Express via “L” Loop trains that circled the Loop at least many of which ran express south of Loyola and which presumably had wooden consists.

So the question remains, what was the operation for reversing trains at Howard before the reversing loop was built?

I know that what became the loop track at Howard Yard terminated in a bumping post at the landfill to Evanston before the loop was built by tunneling across the landfill. If they used that track to reverse ends, the trains must have had to go through the yard switches to that track, reverse ends and then return through the yard switches.

I replied:

Hopefully, someone here will know the answer.

If they did in fact use the yard track to change ends, they either would have needed personnel at both ends of the train, ready to reverse course, or the motorman would have had to walk through the train to do so, making it more difficult to maintain tight schedules.

The City realized that operating the subway with the 455 steel cars (there was actually a 456th but it was an older, experimental one, not part of the 4000s fleet) was not the optimal situation, but it was enough to get service going in the State Street subway in 1943.

Of course, they still had the “L” route to the Loop, so there were many additional wood car trains going that way besides.

M. E. answered:

I’m averse to posting in threads, but I want to chime in about the L turnaround at Howard St.

I grew up on Green St. south of 63rd. Between our residence and the L, the city tore down all the houses to make a parking lot for businesses on 63rd St. So I had a bird’s-eye view of the L.

Plus I rode the L a lot, by myself, when I was young. These days that’s a no-no, but back then it was safe.

The timing for all this was the late 1940s, after the State St. subway opened. I don’t remember seeing wooden cars on the Englewood L.

I rode the Englewood/Ravenswood L a lot, all the way to Lawrence and Kimball and back. I don’t think I ever changed to the Jackson Park L to go north past Belmont.

As an aside, I also remember wooden cars on the Kenwood L sharing the track with south side steel cars between Indiana and 18th St.

I distinctly remember that the Jackson Park L went north only to Howard. Not into Evanston.

Also, I remember being surprised one day by seeing that the CTA built a loop north of Howard to reverse direction. I don’t exactly remember when that was, just that I was surprised by it.

Given that the Jackson Park L terminated at Howard, and there was no reversing loop yet, there are several possibilities:

(1) The Rapid Transit system put two crewmen on every Jackson Park train — one at the south end, the other at the north end. This would have made it simple to reverse at Howard (as well as at 63rd and Stony Island). But very expensive to operate. This would also have had to be true of any other stub-ending L line with long trains.

(2) At Howard, trains pulled in from the south, changed crew at the station, and took off again heading south, all within a very short time. This seems not too feasible because it would probably delay Evanston and CNS&M trains from using the station.

(3) Suppose the trains proceeded north of Howard into the yard. Perhaps a new crew boarded the south end of the northbound train (which I want to call Train 1) at the Howard station. Then Train 1 pulled straight into the yard. The new crew at the south end took over and brought Train 1 back into Howard station heading south. Then at Howard the northbound crew got off.

(4) Train 1 arrived from the south at Howard. Its crew got off, and walked to the south end of the platform. Two other crews, assigned only to work at Howard, boarded Train 1 — one crew at the north end of the train, the other crew at the south end. These two crews took the train into the yard, reversed direction, and brought Train 1 south to the Howard station. There, the “road” crew, which had previously walked to the south end of the platform, re-boarded Train 1 and took it south from Howard. After that, the two Howard-only crews repeated to handle subsequently arriving trains from the south.

The more I look at these possibilities, I like #4 the best.

When I use the term “crew”, I mean motorman. That’s because on L trains back then, there were conductors between every car. Yes, really. Apparently there was no central control for opening and closing doors, so one conductor could control only his car’s doors. Also, every conductor from rear to front had to ring a bell twice to indicate all was clear to proceed. Those bells rang in each car, one at a time, from rear to front.

Furthermore, to my recollection, the longest trains through the subway had six cars. Not eight. For six cars there were five conductors. Another reason I say six cars is that station platforms were lengthened to accommodate eight cars. Those longer sections were narrower (not as deep) as the original platforms. In fact, the northmost track at the 63rd and Loomis terminal was extended over Loomis to accommodate eight-car trains. By that time there were no more double-deck buses on Loomis to preclude extending the L structure over the street.

Also, there were no married pairs of steel cars at that time. I remember seeing one-car trains on Sunday mornings. Consider also the Normal Park branch. Before it became a shuttle from 69th to Harvard, the Normal Park car coupled onto the back of an Englewood train. West of Harvard, people on the tracks coupled or uncoupled the Normal Park car, which had its own motorman and conductor. With a maximum of six cars, this means an Englewood train west of Harvard would have had only five cars max, so that the Normal Park car became the sixth car.

I have seen pictures of two-car Normal Park trains, but I never saw that personally.

I concede it’s possible that there were six cars on Englewood trains, plus one Normal Park car, total seven cars. I’m just not sure.

Everything I say here is based on 65-year-old memories. I may have some facts wrong, but I simply don’t know.

Then, robyer2000 wrote:

Thank you for your post. It is fascinating to me to hear your memories.

They in fact used 8 car trains, but due to the door control issues you mentioned, the furthest front and back doors were not used so an 8 car train could berth at a platform which would be a 6 car platform today.

I believe that trains of all 4000 series car only needed what they called a “gateman” every other car because the far doors of a car could be separately controlled at the opposite end of the car. One of the gateman was the conductor, I’m not sure where he stood in a long train. Logically, he would have been at the rear as he had to ascertain the train was properly berthed before opening the doors, but he may have been near the middle if at that time they already had lines drawn on the platform edge to assist the conductor.

Train door control wasn’t instituted until 1952-1954.

Your alternative 2 doesn’t sound possible because of the necessity of moving the train to the Southbound platform at Howard.

And then, M. E. wrote:

Some things I thought of after sending my last note:

Exit doors on 4000-series steel cars were at the ends of the cars. So at any coupled cars, there were exit doors at the rear of the first car and exit doors at the front of the second car. The conductor assigned to that location stood outside, over the coupling, and operated controls for the exit doors immediately to either side of him. The conductor could see the unloading and loading activity at each of the two exit doors, so he knew when all that activity was finished. He then rang the bell twice to indicate that his station was clear. As anyone can imagine, during winter the conductor had a very cold job.

The rearmost conductor was the first to ring the bells twice, then the second rearmost conductor, and so on to the frontmost conductor, who was stationed between cars one and two.

Because there was no conductor at the rear of the train, nor one at the front, passengers could not use the exit doors at the very rear and the very front. At the front, the motorman’s cabin occupied the right-side exit door area. And the motorman did not operate the left-side front exit door.

There was no public address system on those cars. Each conductor had to enter each of the two cars at his station to announce the next stop.

At that time it was permissible to walk between cars. Every car had doors at the ends of the cars that passengers could open to change cars. For safety, over the coupling area there were extended metal plates to walk on, and there were chains at each side of the walkway. (In effect, cars were connected not only with couplers but with chains too.) There were three chains vertically on each side of the walkway, from about knee height up to below chest height.

Unlike in the 6000-series cars, there was no railfan seat at the front opposite the motorman. As I recall, in 4000-series cars the seats closest to the exit doors were side-facing, and there was a solid partition between the seats and the exit door area. The only way to watch the track ahead was to stand at the front, next to the motorman’s cabin, and look through the glass in the end-facing door. Yes, there was a front-facing window in the exit door area, but that window was blocked by the route sign on the front of the train. The sign itself was wooden and was hung onto grillwork that spanned the window.

Earlier I mentioned another cold winter job: Coupling and uncoupling Normal Park cars to the rear of Englewood trains. Not only was it cold, it was also dangerous, because it was close to third rails. I cannot imagine the Environmental Protection Agency ever permitting such work today.

What became of the Normal Park car’s motorman and conductor? After a northbound run from 69th to the Englewood line west of Harvard, the Normal Park motorman likely detrained at Harvard, walked downstairs, across to the other side, and up to the south platform. Then he waited for the next southbound Englewood train, boarded it, and took his position in the last car, the one destined for Normal Park. Meanwhile, the northbound Normal Park conductor would have to stay with the Englewood train to be assigned to the newly coupled cars. In the southbound direction, the conductor assigned between the rearmost two cars on Englewood trains would therefore go to Normal Park after the uncoupling.

CSL Work Car Info

Following up on our earlier series about Chicago Surface Lines Work Cars (Part One here, Part Two there), Andre Kristopans writes:

I am sending you eight scans for your viewing (and distributing) pleasure. Four hand-written ones were copied from Jim Buckley’s notes in Roy Benedict’s possession by me years ago. The two lists of trailers were made from CTA records.You notice it goes back to 1914, and includes cars never r# by CSL.

Here is some more stuff:

Salt Cars
AA1 17266 12/27/55 ex 1430
AA2 17266 12/27/55 ex 1431
AA3 13266 08/02/51 ex 1433
AA4 13266 10/26/51 ex 1435
AA5 13266 07/03/51 ex 1437
AA6 13266 12/17/51 ex 1440
AA7 17266 09/08/55 ex 1441
AA8 19141 05/17/58 ex 1443
AA9 18181 09/27/56 ex 1444
AA10 16283 02/18/55 ex 1445
AA11 13266 10/26/51 ex 1446
AA12 16283 09/09/54 ex 1447
AA13 16283 09/09/54 ex 1448
AA14 16283 10/07/54 ex 1459
AA15 13266 01/07/52 ex 1462
AA16 13266 01/25/52 ex 1474
AA17 13266 10/30/51 ex 1475
AA18 13266 11/06/51 ex 1482
AA19 13266 01/07/52 ex 1483
AA20 16283 10/07/54 ex 1488
AA21 16283 05/26/55 ex 1492
AA22 13266 08/02/51 ex 1493
AA23 16283 09/09/54 ex 1496
AA24 16283 09/09/54 ex 1501
AA25 17266 09/08/55 ex 1502
AA26 19141 05/17/58 ex 1107
AA27 19141 05/17/58 ex 1142
AA28 18181 12/14/56 ex 1145
AA29 18181 12/14/56 ex 1166
AA30 17266 12/27/55 ex 1183
AA31 17266 09/08/55 ex 1198
AA32 18181 12/14/56 ex 1205
AA33 17266 12/27/55 ex 1213
AA34 16283 10/07/54 ex 1215
AA35 12603 02/09/51 ex 1219
AA36 19141 05/17/58 ex 1220
AA37 19141 05/17/58 ex 1224
AA38 18181 09/27/56 ex 1231
AA39 16283 09/23/54 ex 1235
AA40 13266 08/10/51 ex 1239
AA41 13266 11/06/51 ex 1240
AA42 13266 11/21/51 ex 1241
AA43 16283 10/07/54 ex 1243
AA44 13266 10/05/51 ex 1248
AA45 12391 08/24/50 ex 1249
AA46 17266 12/27/55 ex 1250
AA47 13266 10/26/51 ex 1252
AA48 13266 07/20/51 ex 1255
AA49 14175 05/27/52 ex 1259
AA50 17266 12/27/55 ex 1260
AA51 17266 12/27/55 ex 1266
AA52 17266 09/08/55 ex 1277
AA53 19141 05/17/58 ex 1302
AA54 18181 12/14/56 ex 1303
AA55 16283 11/10/54 ex 1304
AA56 17266 12/27/55 ex 1305
AA57 18181 12/14/56 ex 1306
AA58 18181 09/27/56 ex 1307
AA59 18181 09/27/56 ex 1308
AA60 17266 12/27/55 ex 1309
AA61 18181 09/27/56 ex 1310
AA62 18181 09/27/56 ex 1311
AA63 10218 03/11/59 ex 1374 to ERHS
AA64 16283 11/10/54 ex 1451
AA65 15451 04/05/54 ex 1453
AA66 19141 05/17/58 ex 1454
AA67 13266 08/17/51 ex 1455
AA68 13266 12/17/51 ex 1457
AA69 18181 12/14/56 ex 1458
AA70 15451 07/17/54 ex 1463
AA71 13266 08/02/51 ex 1465
AA72 19209 02/28/58 ex 1467 to ERHS
AA73 16283 09/27/56 ex 1468
AA74 16283 11/10/54 ex 1471
AA75 18181 09/27/56 ex 1472
AA76 19141 05/17/58 ex 1477
AA77 18181 09/27/56 ex 1478
AA78 17266 12/27/55 ex 1480
AA79 15451 04/05/54 ex 1481
AA80 16283 09/09/51 ex 1484
AA81 18181 12/14/56 ex 1487
AA82 13266 07/20/51 ex 1489
AA83 16283 10/07/54 ex 1494
AA84 15451 02/17/54 ex 1495
AA85 18181 09/27/56 ex 1497
AA86 18181 12/14/56 ex 1498
AA87 13266 01/25/52 ex 1499
AA88 13266 07/03/51 ex 1500
AA89 16283 09/09/54 ex 1503
AA90 18181 09/27/56 ex 1504
AA91 17266 09/08/55 ex 1545 /48 10143
AA92 17266 12/27/55 ex 2826
AA93 19141 05/17/58 ex 2841
AA94 13266 08/17/51 ex 2842
AA95 10218 06/18/59 ex 2843 to ERHS
AA96 17266 12/27/55 ex 2844
AA97 19141 05/17/58 ex 2845
AA98 10218 12/05/58 ex 2846 to ERHS
AA99 none 08/20/48 ex 2847 (replaced with another retired car from AFR 10412)
AA99 2nd 18181 06/06/56 ex 5031
AA100 13266 07/03/51 ex 2848
AA101 18181 12/14/56 ex 2849
AA102 13266 08/10/51 ex 2851
AA103 15451 02/17/54 ex 2852
AA104 18181 12/14/56 ex 2853
AA105 15451 02/17/54 ex 2854
AA106 13266 10/11/51 ex 2855
AA107 13266 01/25/52 ex 2856
1466 13059 03/09/51
2626 13059 /51
4001 T12 /53 to shed; from Pass 1948 S10143
7001 T12 /53 to shed; from Pass 1948 S10143

AA1-AA52 to salt cars 1930-31, AA53-AA62 01/34, AA6306/33; AA1-AA25 r# 10/1/41, AA26-AA90 r# 04/15/48

additional salt car conversions:
1122 scr 04/23/37
1188 scr 04/30/37
1201 return to passenger 3/6/43
1208 return to passenger 3/4/43
1211 destroyed 1/30/39 111th/Sacramento vs GTW, scr 3/8/39
1212 return to passenger 2/20/43
1223 return to passenger 4/11/43
1225 return to passenger 3/4/43
1226 r# 1357 1937, return to passenger 5/15/43
1228 return to passenger 5/29/43
1229 return to passenger 3/27/43
1234 return to passenger 3/5/43
1238 return to passenger 5/15/43
1244 return to passenger 3/12/43
1245 return to passenger 3/8/43
1251 return to passenger 5/9/43
1253 r# 1257 1937, return to passenger 5/11/43
1254 return to passenger 6/11/43
1257 r# 1253 1937, r# 1385 1937, return to passenger 3/11/43
1280 return to passenger 1/13/44
1286 return to passenger 7/3/43
1466 to instruction car 1/13/13
1486 to instruction car 9/30/12, sold 11/12/17 to Tri-City Ry (IA)

Interestingly, Andre’s information shows that CSL Mail Car H2, pictured as being operable and in its original paint scheme in 1938 (see our post Chicago Surface Lines Work Cars – Part 1), was apparently scrapped in 1942. This explains why H2 was not used in the 1943 parade celebrating the opening of the State Street Subway, or in the one day revival of street railway post office service for a convention in 1946.

Andre also wrote:

You have mentioned several times the B&OCT line that runs along the Eisenhower Xway. A couple of items of note: 1) The B&OCT ownership extends to Madison St, where SOO ownership started. CGW’s started at Desplaines Ave Jct. 2) Note I said B&OCT – this is still the legal owner of all CSX track north and west of Clark Jct in Gary. In fact, B&O still has its own employees, train service and others, and in a really odd twist, is the legal owner of a substantial number of CSX’s new GE locomotives!

Finally, for a while in the late 1950’s, B&OCT used the old L tracks from Desplaines to west of Central while their right-of-way was being dug out. Considering that this was light rail to begin with, and well worn at that, it must have been somewhat frightening to run a freight train thru there!

I replied:

Very interesting information. Wasn’t there some steam train type commuter rail service out to Forest Park along these lines?

I still wonder just why CTA paid the CA&E $1m for their fixed assets between Laramie and DesPlaines Avenue in 1953.

They didn’t buy the land, which I think was bought by the state for the highway project. They didn’t buy the Forest Park terminal, either. CA&E still had at least a partial ownership in this when passenger service was suspended in 1957 (I think Cook County had bought some for the highway project).

So, what did CTA buy other than some worn rail, signals, roadbed, stations, etc. that were all going to be replaced within a few years anyway?

Andre wrote:

Basically they bought the right to continue running to Desplaines after the line was rebuilt. Otherwise, if CA&E still owned it, the state would have been dealing with CA&E, and if CA&E just said “screw it”, the Congress L would have ended at Laramie. Remember, we are dealing with accounting stuff here. What was there then wasn’t worth much, though the ROW was probably CA&E owned, which CTA then bought and sold/traded to the state for where the L is today.

Back in the days of the “primordial ooze” there was service on the B&OCT out to Forest Park. This was part of the Randolph St business and the line out 16th St to Harlem. But it was all gone by early 1900’s, especially after the Met L was built.

SOO did run a more-or-less commuter round trip for many years, actually a local from I think Waukesha that ran at the right time.

We thank all our contributors. Keep those cards and letters coming in.

-David Sadowski

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