The conductor on this gate car, on a westbound Douglas Park train at Western Avenue, is waiting to receive the bell signal from the next car, so he can pass it along. Before “L” trains had door control wired up between cars, this is how the system worked. There were many more conductors– a three car train of wooden “L” cars had two conductors, plus the motorman. The date was February 9, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Andre Kristopans: “One detail – each train had one motorman and one conductor. Conductor worked between first two cars (or in only car if there was only one). The rest of the men were classified as “guards” and had a slightly lower pay rate. Motorman and conductor stayed together all day, guards worked dependent on train length that trip. They were apparently mostly part timers that only worked the longer rush trains, though for instance on North-South where trains were four cars midday at least one guard worked all day.”
Spring is finally here, and the temps are gradually getting warmer. But here at the Trolley Dodger, we feel we’re getting warmer in other ways as well– in the sense that we’re on to something.
After more than six years, we’re getting closer to what I hoped this site could be when it started. Maybe we’re finally realizing some of our true potential, I don’t know. I will leave such determinations to our readers.
But when I started my first transit blog (this is actually the second), someone opined it was long on potential, and short on execution. And I had to agree that this was so. Hey, nobody knows everything about a subject, and we learn as we go along.
And in six plus years, I feel we have improved both the content of this site (our image library) and the information that we provide. And it does seem to fill a need that was out there. I base that on how often our own articles and pictures come up when I do Internet searches on subjects, and the number of times we see our own pictures re-shared on Facebook.
When folks do share our images on Facebook, though, there are a few things that I would ask. First, do not crop out the watermark on our images that identifies them as having come from here. Second, please provide the correct caption information. Too many times, I have seen either partial, or sometimes even incorrect captions placed on our photos when shared.
Finally, please credit the original photographer, when the name of that person is known.
Today, we have a large number of outstanding classic photos for your consideration. Even better, all of them are from our own collections. Some we purchased, and others are scans of original 35mm slides taken by the late William C. Hoffman.
We recently received the Hoffman collection as part of an overall gift of photographs collected and shot by the late Jeffrey L. Wein, a friend for over 40 years. We thank him for his generosity.
You may have seen duplicate slides over the years from some of these Hoffman shots. Bill Hoffman was an avid photographer, and while not always the best from a technical standpoint, he got many shots that are unique and were either missed, or overlooked, by others.
Bill Hoffman’s strong suit was in documenting things that were fast disappearing, those scenes of everyday life that others took for granted. While many of his pictures are not tack-sharp, at least here, we are working with the “best evidence,” the original slides themselves, and not duplicates.
I don’t know what kind of camera equipment he used back in the day, but after he passed away in the late 1980s, a friend gave me Bill Hoffman’s last camera, which was a screw-mount Leica IIIg, a model from 1957.
Meanwhile, after taking a pause due to the pandemic, work will soon resume on our next book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, scheduled to appear on July 12. It has now reached the proofing stage, and there are still a few changes that need to be made.
Arcadia Publishing has priced this at $23.99, and we are doing our best to make sure that you, the reader, will get an excellent value for your money. We will begin our pre-sale at the beginning of June, and each copy purchased from our Online Store will also include a bonus item, as well as being autographed.
PS- If you want to see even more transit-related content than we can share here, check out our Trolley Dodger Facebook group, which currently has 242 members.
CTA 3156, seen here on the Stock Yards branch in the early 1950s, was built by Brill in 1909 for the Lake Street “L”. After it was no longer needed there, it was used on this shuttle operation in the early-to-mid 1950s, still sporting at least one trolley pole. I am not sure of the exact location here, but it is nearby Agar’s Meats and on a section of “L” that was double-tracked. The men in the foreground were either on the roof of a nearby building, or perhaps on the Chicago Junction Railway embankment, if that was close by. (Wendell E. Grove Photo)
On June 6, 1954, the National Railway Historical Society held a fantrip to say goodbye to trolley service on the Red Arrow interurban to West Chester, PA. Cars 14, 20, and 68 were used, and after 20 broke down, it was towed by 68. This was a photo stop, and the slide identifies the location as either “Milltown” or “Mill farm,” the handwriting is hard to make out.
We actually ran another picture from the same photo stop in a previous post:
Cars 14, 20 and 68 at a photo stop along the West Chester line on the June 6, 1954 NRHS fantrip.
Red Arrow Brill-built “Master Unit” 77, signed for the Sharon Hill line, in the early 1950s. This car, built in 1932, has been preserved, but the last report I have is that it is stored inoperable by the Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad.
Ardmore junction was a favorite spot for photographers on the Red Arrow Lines, as the Norristown High-Speed Line crossed over the trolley line to Ardmore. Many photos such as this were posed on fantrips, up until the end of 1966, when buses replaced rail on the Ardmore branch. The date and circumstances of this photo are not known, other than that it was taken in 1961. Car 66 was built by Brill in 1927, and has been preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum since 1970.
Over the years, Boston has phased out nearly all the street running on its Green Line trolley system, except for a bit of the E line, which now terminates at Heath. Here, on October 30, 1982, Clark Frazier captured this view of MBTA “picture window” PCC 3314, built by Pullman-Standard in 1951, on Huntington Avenue, going by Mission Park on its way to Arborway as part of a two-car train. Although service on the E line was truncated to Heath, trolleys still run at this location today.
Here is a view of the Lake Street “L” looking north from Garfield Park in September 1963. This was a time between the elevation of the west portion of the line in 1962, and the arrival of the new 2000-series “L” cars in 1964. The line was operated using 4000s, which by then had their trolley poles removed, as Lake was now operated with third rail only. These cars are in mid-day storage on a third track. The following year, a new yard opened in Forest Park, making this kind of storage unnecessary.
Johnstown, PA was the smallest city to operate PCC cars, and was a favorite of photographers, but I don’t recall seeing a lot of winter pictures. Here, Johnstown Traction 412, with its distinctive Pepsi bottlecap advertising on the front, is at the Roxbury Loop on March 14, 1959. Streetcar service ended the following year. (Bill Volkmer Photo)
Officials from Skokie and the CTA cut the ribbon at Dempster Street on April 20, 1964, inaugurating Skokie Swift service on file miles of trackage formerly owned by the North Shore Line interurban, which had quit service just over a year before. This is today’s Yellow Line and is now operated using third rail power rather than overhead wire.
We ran a different picture from this event in a previous post:
On April 20, 1964, CTA and local officials cut the ribbon at Dempster, commencing service on the new five-mile-long Skokie Swift line. This represented but a small portion of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee interurban that abandoned service on January 21, 1963. The Chicago Transit Authority had to purchase about half of the Swift route anyway, as their connection to Skokie Shops went over NSL tracks. The CTA decided to offer an express service between Dempster and Howard stations, and put in a large parking lot. Service was put into place using existing equipment at the lowest possible cost. The late George Krambles was put in charge of this project, which received some federal funding as a “demonstration” service, at a time when that was still somewhat unusual. But CTA officials at the time indicated that they would still have started the Swift, even without federal funds. I was nine years old at the time, and rode these trains on the very first day. I can assure you they went 65 miles per hour, as I was watching the speedometer. Needless to say, the experiment was quite successful, and service continues on what is now the Yellow Line today, with the addition of one more stop at Oakton. (Richard Hofer Photo, David Stanley Collection)
A two-car South Shore Line train, made up of cars 103 and 24, has made it to downtown Chicago during a blizzard in January 1979.
This is the back end of a westbound two-car train of 2000s on the Douglas Park “L” in July 1966, approaching the Laramie Avenue station in Cicero. Laramie was closed in 1992, but was reopened in 2002-2003, while the nearby 54th Avenue station was being redone. The station house at Laramie has been declared historic and is the last remaining one of its type, and has been preserved, although no longer used.
A close-up of the previous picture, giving a better view of the Laramie Avenue station, with 54th Avenue off in the distance.
A remnant of the Laramie station, as it looks today.
Pittsburgh PCC 1646 on Arlington Avenue in Pittsburgh on April 25, 1974. This trackage serves as a bypass route for a nearby transit tunnel, and I actually have rode on it twice– the first time was in 1985, when for a short time, it became an actual route, and then again in 2014, on a fantrip. (Joseph Saitta Photo)
North Shore Line combine car 255 on June 1, 1962. Note the variations in paint color on this car, ranging from a dark green to a bluish green. That should be enough to drive would-be modelers crazy in their quest for authenticity. Don’s Rail Photos: “255 was built by Jewett in 1917. It had all of the seats removed in the 1920s to provide a full length baggage car which ran in passenger trains. It was used for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to move equipment to Ravinia. On July 2, 1942, the 40 seats were replaced. Then on December 1, 1946, the seats were again removed. In addition to the Symphony, the car was used for sailors’ baggage from Great Lakes.”
A train of CTA 2000s on the then-new Dan Ryan line in November 1969 at 79th Street. (Rick Burn Photo)
A South Shore Line train at 130th and the under construction Calumet Superhighway in April 1952. (James P. Shuman Photo)
Since this shows a Logan Square “L” train on the Met main line, just west of the Loop, it must have been taken between August 1950 (when the 6000s were introduced) and February 1951 (when the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway opened).
This June 1975 photo of a pair of derelict CTA 4000s was, and remains, somewhat of a mystery. The location is marked as “Forest Glen Yard,” which is actually the name of a bus yard on Chicago’s northwest side. I posted this to our Facebook group, in hopes someone might help identify the location. Three possibilities were suggested: CTA Skokie Shops, Michigan City on the South Shore Line, and Joliet. The nearby freight yard and the orange caboose are clues. According to Andre Kristopans, that’s Chuck Tauscher at right. In his prime, he was an excellent photographer. (S. Downey Photo)
A close-up of the late Charles Tauscher, from the previous photo.
I really have no information about this photo, other than that it might be Mexico City. If I had to guess a date, I would say the early 1960s. What attracted me to it is that you don’t see a lot of photos showing a streetcar and a trolley bus together.
In a previous post, we ran a photo of the Logan Square interlocking tower, taken by the late Roger Puta on April 9, 1966, shortly before this tower was replaced by a new one that continued in use until the line was extended in 1970. Another, similar photo turned up recently, and I bought it. Imagine my surprise when it turns out to have been taken mere minutes after the first one! Although I cannot say for certain, this one may also have been taken by Roger Puta. I believe the man at left is his friend Rick Burn, whose name is written on the back of the slide. However, if that is him, he could hardly have taken the picture, and due to the great similarity with the other shot, it’s entirely possible that Roger Puta took this one as well.
Here is the other photo by Roger Puta:
CTA interlocking tower at Logan Square Terminal, Chicago, IL on April 9, 1966 Roger Puta photograph Roger wrote, “The last mechanical interlocking on the CTA and will be replaced with a new tower.”
South Shore Line trains at the Randolph Street Terminal in August 1965. This terminal has since been completely redone and is now underground, beneath Millennium Park.
On May 25, 1958 there was a fantrip on Chicago’s last remaining streetcar line (Wentworth), less than a month before the final run. This included a tour of South Shops at 77th and Vincennes, and the CTA Historical Collection was trotted out one last time for photos, of which there are many circulating. This batch was taken by J. W. Vigrass. The collection was eventually moved to the Lawndale car barn, where it languished until the 1980s, when it was parsed out to various museums.
CTA PCC 7207 is on Ravenswood near Devon Station (car barn) in the 1950s.
This is the third “L” photo I have, taken at this location, which at first was a mystery, but eventually turned out to be an annex (since demolished) just north of the Merchandise Mart. All three photos may have been taken at the same time, and by the same photographer, in the 1930s. This one shows North Shore Line cars 768 and 769.
This is a Brooklyn PCC car, one of a hundred in use from 1936 to 1956. It is signed for Route 68 and could be heading to the Brooklyn Bridge. Other than that, I have no information.
Stereo images were popular around 1900, and when placed in the proper viewer (sometimes called a “stereopticon”) provided a 3-D effect. This is the left picture from a stereo pair, showing cable cars on Madison Street in downtown Chicago. Some say that the Loop got its name from the paths taken by downtown cable cars, but research has shown the term came into popular use because of the “L’ and the Union Loop, completed in 1897. There are no overhead wires in view here, and none were permitted downtown until 1906. The tracks at left may have been used by horse car lines, since there is no trough for a cable.
The right image of the stereo pair.
This picture shows a Chicago PCC at the Pullman plant in Massachusetts. Chances are excellent that this is car 4062, the first of 310 that Pullman would build for Chicago, starting in 1946.
This is a rare agent’s stub for what is known as an “Interline ticket,” used for one trip involving two different railroads. In this case, it seems the trip involved the Monon Railroad and the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee, aka the North Shore Line. The passenger may have been a new recruit during World War II, as this ticket was apparently requested by the US government.
CRT 4096 is part of a Normal Park Express. This picture may have been taken on the south side. This car was part of the original order of 4000s, which came with a center door that was never actually used in service. It was closed off to provide more seating. These cars were known as “Baldies,” as opposed to the second 4000s order, the “Plushies.” Our resident south side expert M.E. writes: “This picture must have been taken underneath the pedestrian bridge at the Indiana Ave. station when the shoppers’ specials were running express from 43rd St. into the Loop. The shoppers’ specials ran only northbound. Returning southbound, they were local trains using the local southbound track, which is the track next to the platform at Indiana Ave.. This is the only circumstance I can think of in which a sign would say “Express Normal Pk”. Notice that the Normal Park car is the last car in the train. West of the Harvard station on the Englewood line, Normal Park cars were always attached as the last car of northbound mainline Englewood trains and detached from being the last car on southbound mainline Englewood trains. That arrangement lasted until 1949.”
CRT wood car 1136 is part of a Howard Street Express. The location might be the same as the previous picture.
CRT 4415, a “Plushie,” is part of a Howard Street Express. The nickname came from the plush seats used on these cars. “L” cars wore flags on certain holidays such as the 4th of July.
North Shore Line Electroliner set 801-802 is heading northbound at Loyola on Chicago’s north side “L”. If the train had been southbound, there would be overhead wire, then in use by freight locomotives. This Electroliner set is currently undergoing restoration at the Illinois Railway Museum.
North Shore Line 743 in a pocket track at Edison Court.
Photos showing North Shore Line trains being scrapped after the 1963 abandonment are rare– and this is not one of them. This is car 416, built in 1916 by Cincinnati Car Company, and rebuilt in 1942. It was scrapped shortly after this picture was taken at North Chicago on January 21, 1956, after the car had been damaged in a fire.
Atlantic City once had an interurban known as the Shore Fast Line. Interestingly, it inspired one of the four railroad names in the game Monopoly, the “Short Line.” In the early 1930s, Charles Todd, an early Monopoly player, got tired of trying to fit Shore Fast Line on his handmade Monopoly board, and “shortened” it as a joke. Charles Darrow copied it verbatim, and began to market this version of Atlantic City Monopoly commercially, and the rest is history.
South Shore Line car 100 wore patriotic colors during World War II, and helped promote the sale of War Bonds. A different picture of this car appeared in my 2017 book Chicago Trolleys.
CRT Shopper’s Specials Timetables, 1923-24
Chicago’s “L” system started out as four separate companies, that gradually came together as a single system. This evolution reached its fruition in 1924, when all four entities were combined into the Chicago Rapid Transit Company as part of the Samuel Insull empire.
From about 1913 on, the “L” had been operated more or less as a single unit, but the four underlying companies were still there. As part of this unification process, new all-steel state of the art rapid transit cars were ordered, the 4000-series, in two distinct batches. These were the first “L” cars intended for use on all lines– previously, all cars had been at least partially made from wood, and were ordered for use on one of the four independent “L” lines.
The first 4000s were built circa 1913-15, and the second group from 1923-24. When the later 4000s were put into service, the Insull interests instituted a mid-day “Shopper’s Special” express service on five lines in time for the 1923 Christmas season.
We were fortunate recently to be able to purchase three rare 1923-24 timetables for this service. This type of service was most successful on the Evanston line over the years. The Chicago Transit Authority re-introduced a “Shopper’s Special” as a mid-day Evanston Express in the late 1950s, and this lasted into the early 1990s.
Photos by William C. Hoffman
Bill Hoffman used a Leica iiig camera similar to this for many years.
On October 22, 1953, work was far along on dismantling the former CTA Garfield Park “L” station at Western and Congress. Remarkably, trains ran on this line less than a month before this picture was taken. The tracks at ground level were a bypass route for Western Avenue streetcars, to facilitate construction of a new bridge over the eventual Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway. The view looks to the north. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An interior view of CTA wood car 1813, built by ACF in 1907. This picture was taken on a May 1, 1955 fantrip, while the train was on the Van Buren Street temporary ground level trackage, where the Garfield Park “L” ran from 1953 to 1958 during construction of the nearby Congress rapid transit line. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
In a previous post, we ran a picture of car 1813 (not by Bill Hoffman), probably taken on the same May 1, 1955 fantrip:
CRT 1813 is part of a two-car train at Sedgwick. The flags may indicate this was a fantrip. (George Trapp Collection)
Bill Hoffman took this picture on July 8, 1954, to compare “old” (left) and “new” types of third rail collection shoes on CTA 6000-series “L” cars. This photo was taken at 43rd Street.
Steel wheels, trolley poles, and coupling detail of CTA high performance cars 6129-6130 at Sedgwick on December 11, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On July 21, 1950, a CTA Grafield Park “L” train approaches Marshfield from the west, while a westbound Chicago Aurora & Elgin train is at the station. The tracks curving off to the left are for the Douglas Park branch (today’s Pink Line), (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Chicago Rapid Transit 3023 is southbound at Chicago Avenue on April 6, 1946. Note the tower behind the train, which controlled switching. North of here there were four tracks instead of two. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On December 2, 1946, Chicago Rapid Transit car 3024 heads up a southbound two-car train at Chicago Avenue. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This is the view looking east at the CTA 40th and Indiana Avenue station on November 10, 1957. There is a single car Kenwood shuttle train in the pocket track, and Kenwood had less than three weeks to go before abandonment. The sign shows the routing of lines at this station, and there is a sticker over where the Stock Yards line had been, as that branch had already been abandoned not long before (October 6, 1957). (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A close-up of the sign, and an early example of “cancel culture.” The replacement bus was a new #43 Stock Yards Limited, which continued in service until March 26, 1962. Both “L” and bus did not last due to the Stock Yards being in an irreversible decline, and this Chicago landmark closed for good in 1971. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This is the view looking west along the Congress expressway construction site on December 30, 1954, showing an eastbound four-car Garfield Park “L” train on temporary trackage in Van Buren Street. The highway opened in this area the following year. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A southbound 6-car train of CTA woods is at 18th Street on the Douglas Park “L” on March 7, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The Chicago Transit Authority logo on a new substation under the Harvard “L” station on April 23, 1962. This Englewood branch station closed in 1992, and was demolished during the 1994-96 Green Line reconstruction. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On August 15, 1954, a four-car CTA train of 6000s heads northbound into the State Street Subway at the south portal at 13th and State. The section of “L” to the left was then not being used by CTA trains on a regular basis. Now the situation is reversed– the “L” is used by regular trains, but the subway portal is not, since Howard trains are connected to the Dan Ryan line via a different tunnel. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A two car CTA train of 6000s descends into the south portal of the State Street Subway on April 1, 1956. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Here. we see the tail end of a northbound four-car train of CTA 6000s on the Douglas Park “L” at 18th Street. The date was March 7, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On September 15, 1957, a southbound CTA train on the north-south “L” passes by a North Shore Line train (lead car 420) on a fantrip. The lower level tracks were an interchange connection between the “L” and the Milwaukee Road, and were used for freight until 1973. They had once been part of a commuter rail line that the “L” took over north of Wilson Avenue that originally ran at ground level to Evanston. The lower level area is now occupied by Challenger Park. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
When the Lake Street “L” ran at ground level west of Laramie, it ran parallel with the Lake Street streetcar line for a few blocks, before the latter crossed over to the north side of the railroad embankment at Pine Avenue. On May 8, 1954, about three weeks before buses replaced streetcars on CTA Route 16, westbound car 3163 passes an eastbound “L” train made up of 4000s. Note the trolley wires for both used a common support. The “L” was relocated onto the embankment on October 28, 1962. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An eastbound CTA three-car train of woods passes a westbound CA&E train near Western Avenue on August 9, 1950. This is approximately the same view as a different photo in this post, taken on October 19, 1953, by which time the “L” structure here was being demolished to make way for the Congress expressway. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On October 19, 1953, we are looking west along the old Garfield Park “L” at Western Avenue, as it was being demolished as part of the Congress expressway construction project. Behind the photographer, the Western Avenue “L” station was already being dismantled, which you can see in a different photo in this post. Remarkably, trains ran on these tracks as late as September 27 in one direction, only about three weeks before this picture was taken by William C. Hoffman. Soon, the Western Avenue streetcar tracks were re-routed in this area, so it could be excavated and the bridge that now goes over the expressway could be built.
When Bill Hoffman tool this picture on August 7, 1954, looking east along Randolph Street at the “L” station on Wabash, it was about to be renovated with, among other things, a large metal CTA logo and a new waiting room. The new station opened in 1957 and included a direct entrance to the second floor of Marshall Field’s. Randolph and Wabash was replaced by a new station at Washington and Wabash (which also replaced Madison) in 2017. This picture is a bit blurry, probably because Hoffman had only a few seconds to take it before getting out of the way from oncoming traffic. I guess you could call it a “grabshot.”
I used a black-and-white version of this image, made from a duplicate slide, in my 2018 book Building Chicago’s Subways. I had tried to borrow the original from Jeff, but he said he had no idea where to find it. So I had to guess at the date, and assumed it was from 1954. But actually, the date was October 19, 1953. Apparently, they were in a rush to get the old Garfield Park “L” structure out of the way here at Western Avenue, so expressway work could proceed. The view looks to the northeast on Western at Congress. Since this was scanned from the original slide, now I can make out that the PCC streetcar at left is 4390, which was still in service in June 1958, when the last Chicago streetcar ran on Wentworth. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Now here is an amazing photograph. To catch both an eastbound CTA Jackson Park “L” train on the bridge, and a southbound Illinois Central Electric commuter train, is nothing short of fortuitous. But that’s exactly what Bill Hoffman did on August 3, 1958. The bridge is now gone, as CTA “L” service has been cut back to Cottage Grove, and the IC is now Metra Electric.
Bill Hoffman’s notes: “October 25, 1954. View northwest – Halsted Street station – Englewood “L” line – (63rd Place). Old Chicago & Interurban Traction terminal in foreground.” Our resident south side expert M.E. adds: “Lots of things to say about this picture. (1) The first car has the old Rapid Transit System paint job. It seems to me that, when the CTA formed married pairs of L cars, they would have repainted the CRT car in current CTA livery. So I think the cars on this train were not married pairs. (2) Notice the eastbound train, which is stopped, extends past the platform. I think the rear of the train also extends past the rear of the platform. Why? Until 1949, Normal park L cars were attached or detached from mainline Englewood trains at Harvard. Therefore, Englewood trains west of Harvard had one less car than trains had east of Harvard. But after 1949, when Normal Park service became a shuttle to and from Harvard, all Englewood trains had the same number of cars both west and east of Harvard. I think the train shown has 7 cars. One reason, of course, is the CRT paint on only one car. A second reason is that, as I recall, platform lengths back then accommodated 6 cars. Therefore the first and seventh cars would extend past the platform. A third factor would be if there were still multiple conductors who stood between cars to open and close entry and exit doors. There would be no conductor at the rear of the train, and no conductor at the front. So the train could extend past the platform at both ends. But if, by then, there were indeed married pairs and only one conductor who controlled all the doors, then why is only the first car still painted in CRT colors? Too bad we can’t count the cars. (3) The bus shown belonged to the South Suburban Safeway Lines, which essentially replaced the Chicago & Interurban Traction Co. and kept the same route along Halsted St. into Chicago, ending on the south side of the 63rd and Halsted L station. But in the meantime, the bus company started a second route north of Harvey that used Dixie Highway, Western Ave., and 63rd St., and ended at the 63rd/Halsted L. So the SSL bus shown could be on either the Halsted line or the Western line. The other bus line that served 63rd/Halsted was the Suburban Transit System, based in Oak Lawn. All this bus service came to Englewood because the shopping district centered around 63rd and Halsted was the largest outside the Loop. (4) Landmark buildings in the picture: (a) The Sears store was on the northeast corner of 63rd and Halsted. (b) The tower at the far left was atop the Wieboldt store on the southwest corner of 63rd and Green (a half-block west of Halsted). (5) West of the interurban building, and just past the tree, is the Rapid Transit station entrance from 63rd Place. There was also an entrance on Halsted St. (6) The red neon sign at the left seems to say “Ambulances”. I don’t know what that was about. (7) This picture was made possible because the buildings on the south side of 63rd Place had been razed, leaving a mound of dirt and rocks.” Andre Kristopans adds: “You are correct the shot at 63/Halsted has odd number of cars, and therefore can’t be consecutive numbers. As I understand, the plushies were paired up starting in 1950s, but baldies never really were. There was an effort made circa 1949, but until the end there were mismates. It was only after the plushies came off Lake and went to Ravenswood 1964 was there really an effort to keep pairs together. Remember there were trailers around until about 1960, so you had to pair a trailer with a motor both on Lake and Evanston. Also, “CTA”ing 4000s was a multi-part process. Install MUDC, convert from line to battery control, add permanent markers, add headlights, repaint. Not all at same time. Have seen photos of cars in brown with marker boxes and headlights and cars in green without. Another item – how were train splits handled? There were at least three locations where in-service trains were split. Harvard on Englewood, Laramie on Garfield, Damen on Logan Square. I assume a fresh crew of two handled the cut section, shuttling Harvard to 69, Laramie to 22/Mannheim (or Roosevelt) and Damen to Lawndale, with one guard going off duty at the cut location and going back on aboard the next inbound train. Also there were cuts and adds at midroute yards, but that was simply the guards on the cut or add ending there. Finally, there were thru Jackson Park trains to Linden rush hours until the reorganization. Probably only part of train went thru, with rest being added to a southbound at Howard? Howard was not a major yard until 1950s apparently, Wilson was.”
From September 20, 1953, until July 3, 1957, Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban train service terminated in Forest Park, and commuters had to change trains to ride the CTA Garfield Park “L” if they wanted to continue downtown. They had to pay a regular CTA fare (packs of tokens were available at a discount) and portions of the ride were slow, at least on the 2.3 miles where Garfield was temporarily running on surface trackage in Van Buren street. The CTA and CA&E did their best to coordinate service, however, as evidenced by these signs lined up at Laramie Avenue on August 7, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
While this is not the greatest picture, from a technical standpoint (it is blurred), it does show CTA streetcar 1749, one of a few that had been painted green, running under the Lake Street “L”. The view looks east at Central Park Boulevard, by Garfield Park. I am not sure why the streetcar is signed for Route 21, which was Cermak Road. The “L” cars up top are midday storage on a third track. The Lake “L” did not have a proper storage yard until 1964, when a new one opened west of Harlem Avenue in Forest Park. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
In the Red
Bill Hoffman didn’t just shoot Kodachrome slide film. Sometimes he used Ektachrome, and occasionally, Agfachrome. Ektachrome had a higher film speed than Kodachrome (32 vs. 10) in the 1950s. Unfortunately, time has proven that the dyes used in early Ektachrome film were unstable and subject to fading.
I scanned some of these faded slides, and took a stab at color correcting them. They appear almost entirely red, due to the extreme fading of the other color layers. Years ago, it was felt there was little that could be done with these images, except convert them to black-and-white.
With computers, it is now possible to do a better job at repairing some of these images.
So, first here are the red versions, and then the versions that are not so red. Unfortunately, only one of them really looks “right.” Sometimes, there is only so much you can do.
The view looking west at 41st Street on the “L” as of June 28, 1962. The freight cars are on Chicago Junction Railway tracks. The old Stock Yards “L” branch would have run to the west just south of the CTA main line. East of here, the former Kenwood branch ran on CJR’s embankment. The “L” turned north here via “Powerhouse Curve.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
CTA riders enter the “L” station at 63rd and Loomis after a snow storm on April 17, 1961. This station was built in 1907, and was the terminal for the Englewood branch until it was extended about two blocks west to Ashland Avenue in 1969. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On September 13, 1959, the Chicago White Sox were in first place in the American League, but had not yet clinched the pennant. That happened on September 22 in Cleveland, after which Fire Commissioner Robert Quinn ordered the air raid sirens to blow here for five minutes. But the CTA was already encouraging baseball fans to take the “L” to Comiskey Park for the upcoming World Series, which the pale hose lost in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is the north face of the CTA “L” station at State and Van Buren, which appears largely unchanged since it was built in 1897. This station closed in 1973 and was removed two years later. It was replaced by a new station serving the Harold Washington Library in 1997. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Our resident south side expert M.E. adds: “My eagle eye says the destination sign on the bus reads “42 Halsted- Downtown”, which ran along State St. north of Archer Ave. Also: The US flag in the picture is a brand-new, 50-state flag that took effect on 20 August 1959 when Hawaii became the 50th state. The tall building at the left would be the Sears store on the southeast corner of State and Van Buren.”
On August 24, 1958, we are looking to the southeast at the State Street Subway’s south portal at 13th and State. A northbound CTA train heads into the tunnel, while North Shore Line cars are sitting up on the nearby “L”. Between 1949 and the 1963 abandonment, NSL trains had exclusive use of the Roosevelt Road “L” station, just north of here, and used the nearby tracks for storage. Now, those tracks are used by the CTA Green Line, while this subway portal only sees use when Red Line trains are diverted to the “L”. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On June 15, 1956, just two days before streetcars were replaced by buses on Western Avenue, two CTA PCCs meet a Garfield Park “L” train running on temporary trackage on Van Buren Street. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On March 25, 1962, a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip used North Shore Line cars 771-415-753-251 on the Evanston branch, where NSL cars had last run in 1955 (when the Shore Line Route was abandoned). Here, the train is at Isabella. This lightly used station closed in 1973 and was removed soon after. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A CTA rapid transit sign at Randolph and Wells on May 12, 1961. This was a difficult one to correct, as I really have no idea what color this sign was. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The late Jeffrey L. Wien would have celebrated his 80th birthday on April 3rd. We were all young once. Somehow I ended up with photos of him as a child. I will try to get them to his sister. Mom wrote: “May 1944. My new outfit– navy overalls and red jacket and beret. Mama likes to dress me in red– the better to keep her eyes on me.”
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
RGTS Rio Grande to Silverton: A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading Price: $14.99
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago: 60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958) 75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943) 80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938) To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways. While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages Chapter Titles: 01. The River Tunnels 02. The Freight Tunnels 03. Make No Little Plans 04. The State Street Subway 05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway 06. Displaced 07. Death of an Interurban 08. The Last Street Railway 09. Subways and Superhighways 10. Subways Since 1960 Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author. The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere:
Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo) Help Support The Trolley Dodger This is our 265th 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 752,000 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. As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.” We thank you for your support. DONATIONS In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty. Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.
“I can spend several hours poring over the guide, so engrossed I am unable to put it down,” he said.
Railroad time tables are only one of Davies’ weaknesses. Actually, he is just as partial, if not more so, to railroad passes– the kind which the old railroad barons used to hand out, with a flourish, to each other.
One gaudy fellow, the owner of several railroads in Colorado, issued his passes on paper, buckskin, and silver. Davies once had a fancy solid silver one made out to Jay Gould.
Davies paid $100 for it “just because I wanted it.” But a week later he sold it for $125 to a fellow who never owned a railroad but wrote about and rode them a lot– the late Lucius Bebee.
The transaction, tho hardly anticipated by Davies, was really what the business of railroad time tables, passes, and other Davies collections is all about. It’s business. And then again, it’s genuine, deep down, sheer unadulterated pleasure.
Some Are Too Prized
You can feel that when you walk into the chock-full “casual” (his own description) Owen Davies Bookstore, 1214 N. LaSalle st. Some items are too prized ever to be sold– such as a personal collection of Colorado annual passes, 1880s to 1920s.
But some that are for sale are not likely to move either, Davies has surmised. He is not sure of the exact count, tho it is obvious he has several thousand passes from 600 to 700 railroads.
“I have been fascinated by them,” Davies related. “I’ll never get my money back. I bought too many. I’m just greedy.”
It’s the same way with books. The little shop is divided into three sections. The cluttered first room contains 3,000 books about ships and the sea. The crowded middle room houses 1,500 to 2,000 books about airplanes and 700 to 800 about automobiles, and the jammed third room has about 5,000 railroad books and pamphlets, 15,000 time tables, and the passes.
Likened to “Disease”
“Buying books is a disease, like alcohol or dope,” Davies reflected. “You may take the pledge, but you never really shake it.”
So Davies, admittedly addicted, strays sometimes from his field of transportation. That is why he has, upstairs, a “department of utter chaos,” a room full of books totally unrelated to his business specialty but acquired in spite of that.
Davies, 56, figures he has been a bookseller longer than most others in the city. He opened his first shop when he was 18. That was after he had quit school to work for his widowed mother in her gift shop and rental library.
“I persuaded her to sell her Insull stock and give me $3,000,” Davies recalled. “I didn’t have the experience or the books but I took over a shop at 1352 N. Clark st.
Had Courage of Youth
“What does an 18-year-old know? I had nerve. I was fearless. I wouldn’t have the courage today.”
Books, Davies said, were “just something I gravitated to.” He had always been a reader. So where else would you expect him to meet his wife, Dorothy, but in the public library? Married in 1931, they have twin sons, Jordan and Bevan, 25.
Davies did not begin his pursuit of transportation until the late 1930s, when he had a store at 346 N. Clark st. He bought a “big bunch” of time tables, pre-1900, and shortly afterward, “another bunch” of Pacific railroad pamphlets, around 1860.
From then on, customers kept asking and Davies kept providing railroad material. When he went into war factory work in 1944, he sold his entire stock of 30,000 volumes, but kept all the railroad books. That provided the nucleus for the future.
Has Only One Fear
Now, he says, his stock is unique in Chicago and can be matched by only one other bookstore in the United States (in Carson City, Nev.).
Davies does not concern himself much with the reasons why so many people are devoted to railroad lore.
“It’s not complex,” he said. “There are so many simple things.”
Editor’s Note: This makes a “baker’s dozen” of posts this month. We are grateful to have received over 12,000 page views in June, a new record for us. Trolley Dodger Press has made one of the public domain books that Davies reprinted available once again on a DVD data disc that you can read on any computer with Adobe Acrobat Reader installed. It’s paired with another vintage book put out by the old Chicago Tunnel Company, and also includes a tribute to Owen Davies. You will find that in our online store.
The “Westchester-Maywood” route, from a 1948 CTA map.
This 1943 map shows where the Westchester branch ran.
Today’s photo essay features pictures of the former Chicago Rapid Transit/Chicago Transit Authority Westchester branch, which ran from 1926 to 1951. You can find an excellent track map here. (You can also read our follow-up post, showing what traces of the old line are still visible here.)
It’s always interesting to speculate on what “might have been,” especially in the case of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, whose trains ran from 1902 to 1957 in Chicago’s western suburbs. What could have been saved? What should have been saved? And, what can we learn today?
As you may know, ultimately nothing was saved, except the portion between DesPlaines Avenue and Laramie, which was taken over by the CTA in the early 1950s. That operates today as the outer portion of the Chicago Transit Authority‘s Forest Park branch of the Blue Line.
Speculation usually centers on whether the entire railroad could have been saved, bought by the State of Illinois, or at least, the portion to Wheaton. But in general, this section, the most viable part of the interurban, ran parallel to the Chicago & North Western‘s West Line, which continues to operate today under the aegis of Metra.
The State of Illinois made an offer to buy CA&E in 1956, and then backed out of the deal for various reasons. The only public entity that could have operated any portion of the railroad would have been the CTA, and yet their operating area was limited to most of Cook County.
Still, the CTA did some engineering studies.* In the short run, the idea was to put third rail shoes on some of the remaining PCC streetcars, and run a shuttle service between Forest Park and Wheaton. Just as with the CA&E operations between 1953-57, this would not have been a “one-seat ride” to the Loop. (Some say these studies were made to demonstrate the impracticality of CTA actually doing it.)
In the long run, CTA would have ordered more new rapid transit cars, high speed versions of the single car units 1-50 that were built in 1960. These type of cars would also have been used if the CTA had been able to take over larger portions of the North Shore Line than the five miles that became the Skokie Swift (today’s Yellow Line) in 1964.
In retrospect, the opening of the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway would have depressed ridership, so there is no way of knowing if such a CTA shuttle service would have been successful. But there was no way to pay for it, in the political context of the time, and therefore these plans were unrealized. But, if it had happened, most likely such a service would today be a treasured part of Chicagoland’s transit infrastructure.
But if we go back a little further in time, incredibly, there was rapid transit service operated by the CTA that ran to Mannheim and 22nd Street as late as 1951. This was the 5.6 mile long Westchester branch, a victim of budget cuts and expressway construction.
The Westchester branch was part of an ambitious mid-1920s Insull plan to create a high-speed CA&E bypass, similar to the North Shore Line’s Skokie Valley Route. However, there was less of a need for it, and by the time the Depression hit and Samuel Insull‘s empire collapsed, only 2.2 miles of it had been built off the CA&E main line, and local service was being provided by the Chicago Rapid Transit Company.
The Depression also put a stop to the pace of housing development in Bellwood and Westchester, as it had in Niles Center, where the CRT ran local service in a similar fashion. The “build it, and they will come” strategy was not unusual at the time, and had been successfully followed some years earlier when rapid transit service was extended to the Ravenswood neighborhood.
With the CRT in receivership, things remained “status quo” until the creation of the Chicago Transit Authority, which took over operations on October 1, 1947. In these heady early days, it was thought that modernization would reaped quick benefits, and there were efforts by the CTA to improve service to outlying areas, with the creation of extension bus lines and express buses.
Within a few years, however, there was nothing but red ink, and without taxing authority, the cash-strapped CTA had no choice but to cut unprofitable services wherever possible. The lightly-used Westchester branch was an obvious target for elimination, since CTA was a tenant, paying rent to the CA&E, who owned the tracks.
From CTA’s point of view, they saved money by eliminating rapid transit service west of DesPlaines Avenue, and tried to retain whatever ridership was there with replacement bus service, creating the #17 route, which continued to run for decades (and has now been completely replaced by parallel Pace suburban bus service, the #317).
Expressway construction was also a factor. The CA&E and CTA shared each other’s tracks, and compensated each other in turn. By the early 1950’s, these payments totaled about $250,000 per year and largely cancelled each other out. But a 2.5 mile section of the CTA’s Garfield Park/Met “L” would need to be relocated for five years, since it ran smack dab in the middle of where the Congress expressway would be built.
After nearly 50 years of joint operation on Chicago’s west side, coordinating the plethora of daily CTA and CA&E trains was difficult at best, and required near split-second timing. Schedules were complicated and there were various passing sidings, where expresses would be routed ahead of locals.
The CTA (and the City of Chicago’s) original idea for relocating Garfield service was for a wooden “L” structure along Van Buren Street. Presumably this grade separated service would have been fine with the CA&E, but the local alderman objected, and rather than face a lawsuit, which would have delayed the project, the City Council turned to Plan B– grade level rapid transit service, bisected by several cross streets.
This was originally promoted as a “street railway” service, which may be how they justified not using crossing gates. At first, it was thought that overhead wire could be used, but the Met cars did not have trolley poles, and this would have involved shifting around a lot of equipment. So, ultimately, the Van Buren Street temporary trackage used third rail without any more crossing protection than stop lights.
In 1951, CA&E management decided that this plan was unworkable for them, and would cause too many problems for efficient and safe operation. In a letter to their shareholders, CA&E proposed elimination of rail service on the interurban (presumably, freight service would continue), to be replaced by buses that would take riders from the western suburbs to the CTA Lake Street and Douglas Park “L”s.
CTA, for their part, anticipating that CA&E would soon become a bus operator only, began planning for a bus-to-rail transfer point between CA&E and CTA. At first, it was thought this would take place at Central Avenue, a point just west of where CTA’s own rails ended. But by 1953, this transfer point was moved west to DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park.
Meanwhile, existing bus operators in the western suburbs had successfully blocked CA&E’s plans to substitute bus service for rail. Therefore, they had no real alternative to cutting back rail service to DesPlaines Avenue. This is how service was operated from September 1953 to July 1957. By then, CA&E ridership had been decimated, adn the railroad successfully petitioned to “temporarily” abandon rail service.
The abandonment actually helped facilitate expressway construction near the DesPlaines River, since no temporary service would need to be built. The railroad, in a sense, was still “made whole,” since by 1959 new rails were put in place for a connection to the CTA DesPlaines terminal. These are plainly visible in an aerial view in the 1961 CTA Annual Report, but they were never used, and the CA&E did not resume regular passenger service, and was liquidated in 1961. Attempts to save the interurban were too little, too late, and the suburbs that would have benefited from continuing service refused to contribute with tax revenue.
Between 1948 and 1957, the CTA eliminated about 25% of the rapid transit system it had inherited from CRT. This was mainly by slashing lightly-used branch lines (Stockyards, Kenwood, Humboldt Park, Normal Park, Niles Center, and Westchester). At one point, the CTA even proposed turning over the Evanston branch to the North Shore Line, but this did not happen.
By 1964, it seems the CTA had changed its mind about branch lines, for in April of that year, the phenomenally successful Skokie Swift service began running between Dempster and Howard, over five miles of former CNS&M right-of-way. By this time, some federal funding was available through a pilot program. CTA had to buy half of the Swift trackage anyway, just to access Skokie Shops.
Here, the CTA used fast, frequent service and a large park-and-ride lot to attract riders. And although it scarcely seems possible that the Westchester branch could have been saved in 1951, it would really fill a need today.
Imagine a west side corollary to the Skokie Swift.
By the early 50s, Bellwood and Westchester were prime areas for the postwar housing boom. This is especially true since these areas would soon have access to an important new highway. Growth in Westchester was being held back, however, since the same developer that had owned much of the property since the 1920s wanted to build all the housing themselves, thereby limiting construction somewhat.
After the CTA abandoned the Westchester branch, the CA&E liquidated the property, and the proceeds were distributed to the shareholders, instead of being reinvested in the money-losing railroad. This was the first of CA&E’s large-scale liquidations, where various portions of the railroad were sold to benefit the stockholders.
Getting back to what “might have been,” imagine how well the CTA would be doing today, if it had built a large park-and-ride lot at Mannheim and 22nd Street in the 1950s and kept the Westchester branch. As the area boomed in the mid-1950s, this service would have had tremendous potential.
And while this did not come to pass, the need persists, and something like a replacement for the Westchester branch may still be in CTA’s future. The Illinois Department of Transportation is working on plans for expanding and improving I-290 in the western suburbs, as the Chicago Tribune reported on February 27, 2013:
State transportation officials presented a narrowed list of four proposals that they say will improve travel on the Eisenhower Expressway, all of which include adding a lane to the highway and also extending the CTA Blue Line.
The four proposals, all of which include widening the highway between Austin Boulevard and Mannheim Road, extending the Blue Line to Mannheim and express bus service extending westward from Mannheim, were presented to a community task force. They will be further evaluated by state transportation officials as they study ways to make Interstate Highway 290 more efficient, said a manager of the project, Peter Harmet, bureau chief of programming for the Illinois Department of Transportation.
So, what “might have been,” may still be yet. We shall see.
PS- Christopher J. Lemm writes:
After reading your January 2015 story on the CTA Westchester Branch, the picture of the train crossing Madison street in Bellwood brought back some great memories. I grew up in that house, my grandfather was Clarence Lemm, track foreman for the Aurora and Elgin Railroad, he died in 1936. My father followed in grandpa’s footsteps, he worked at CTA 43 years, he started as a clerk and retired as the head of insurance and pensions. When my brother and I were very young my dad would take us for rides on the Aurora and Elgin, he used grandpa’s Sunset Lines employee pin and we all road free of charge. Thank you for some great memories!
According to transit historian Art Peterson:
CTA prepared studies for operation of both the CA&E (from Wheaton to Desplaines Av.) and for the North Shore from the Loop to Waukegan. The CA&E study was based on use of the pre-War PCCs; for the North Shore it would have been higher-performance rapid transit PCC cars and an A/B service pattern up the Skokie Valley. Both went no place, for lack of suitable funding sources. CTA was prepared to accommodate CA&E in the Congress-Dearborn-Milwaukee subway (the west side connection to that opened on June 22, 1958, by which time CA&E was freight only.)
Some knowledgeable sources reported that CTA retained a section of the Humboldt Park Branch after the “L” shuttle service quit running in the E50s, to use as a CA&E turnback/layup facility. Humboldt Park was the “L” line that ran parallel and to the north of North Avenue, joining the Milwaukee Avenue “L” line at the North/Damen station.
I believe we are looking east near Central Avenue, where the line curved around the south end of Columbus Park. This is approximately where the CTA Blue Line goes through the Lotus Tunnel. A small portion of Columbus Park soon gave way to the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway.
An eastbound single car near Central Avenue, at the south end of Columbus Park, now the site of the Eisenhower expressway.
The passing tracks in this photo are a clue that we are near the Gunderson Avenue station in Oak Park. The Forest Park gas tank is at rear, so we are looking west.
Looking west where the rapid transit crossed the B&OCT. Behind the car, the freight line branched off in two directions, to the CGW and Soo Line.
A pair of Met cars crosses the B&OCT heading east. This has since been grade separated. The gas tank in the background was a Forest Park landmark for many years.
Here the the same crossing, but now we are looking east. This is now where I-290 runs through.
CTA 6051-6052 at the DesPlaines Avenue terminal in the 1950s. The Acme Feeds (7715 W. Van Buren) towers at are at the background. Among other things, they sold a product called Acme Worm Bouncer. After being abandoned for many years, the towers caught fire in 1980 and were demolished.
This is one of my favorite shots. An eastbound single car passes cemeteries in Forest Park, having just crossed over the DesPlaines River. This is the approximate location of the Eisenhower expressway today. The train is curving towards the DesPlaines Avenue station. The iconic gas tank was removed many years ago.
An eastbound Westchester car passes by Concordia Cemetery at right, having just crossed the DesPlaines River. This is where the Eisenhower expressway runs today.
This picture presents somewhat of a mystery. Car 2311, signed for Westchester, is identified as being in Maywood on July 21, 1934, with a 4000-series car behind it. There were some storage tracks east of First Avenue, but I am not sure whether CRT used these. Or perhaps these cars are near DesPlaines Avenue.
Here, we are just east of First Avenue, with an eastbound train approaching. You can just make out the sign on the Refiner’s Pride gas station behind the car. We are looking northwest. Commonwealth Edison occupies this site today.
A westbound Westchester car crosses First Avenue in Maywood. East of here (right), the line ran at an angle before crossing the DesPlaines River. This is where the Illinois Prairie Path starts today. The “Refiner’s Pride” gas station at left was part of a chain run by “Montana Charlie” Reid, who also owned a restaurant in Villa Park. An oil change business now occupies the site of the former gas station. Reid also owned Montana Charlie’s Flea Market in Bolingbrook, along historic Route 66, which is still in operation.
On December 7, 1958, CA&E wood cars 319 and 320 operated the last passenger train on that venerable railroad as a charter. Here, we are at Fifth Avenue station looking east. After the CTA abandoned the Westchester branch, this station was repainted in CA&E colors, and the interurban took over all service here from 1951-57.
While I’m not sure of the exact location, we are looking to the northwest along that portion of the CA&E main line, where it ran parallel to the CGW through Bellwood and Maywood.
We are looking west, with the IHB crossing in the background. 25th Avenue would be behind us, and Madison Street is to our left. Here, the CA&E ran parallel to the CGW. The Illinois Prairie Path runs here now.
A westbound Westchester car passing under the Indiana Harbor Belt. The two lines were grade separated in 1930-31. This is now the site of the Illinois Prairie Path.
A southbound Westchester train crosses Madison Street in Bellwood, where Marshall Avenue begins today. The house at right is still standing. The Bellwood station was just north of here, near where the line merged back into the CA&E main line. We are just west of Bellwood Avenue.
A northbound train at Harrison Street, with new postwar housing in the background. In the foreground, sidewalks that were already about 20 years old go past an empty lot.
Westchester car 2814 heading south at Harrison. A small child in blue jeans waits for the train to pass.
A southbound single car passes storage tracks just north of Roosevelt Road, which was the original terminal before the line was extended in 1930.
A single Westchester car passes under the Illinois Central near the Roosevelt Road station.
A two car train passes under the Illinois Central near the Roosevelt Road station.
Here we see the south end of the Roosevelt Road station.
A single car at the Roosevelt Road station.
Here, we are just south of Roosevelt Road, at the beginning of double track.
We are just south of the Roosevelt Road station looking north. From here to Mannheim and 22nd, it was single track.
The Chicago & West Towns Railways also had some private right-of-way in the western suburbs. Car 160 is shown near LaGrange in December 1945.
PS- You can read more about Acme Worm Bouncer here. You can also see some additional pictures of the Westchester branch here.