Twilight Time

This slide, taken in March 1959, is marked as showing the first train (a diesel) that went east of the DesPlaines River via the bridge that had been relocated during expressway construction. As we now know, CA&E passenger service did not resume, and eventually this new track connection was cut back to east of the river, and became the tail track for the CTA yard. The bridge remained in place for many years, but was eventually removed. This picture appears to have been taken west of the river, by the Commonwealth Edison facilities. The ballast appears fresh. (Zaiman Gaibel Photo)

This slide, taken in March 1959, is marked as showing the first train (a diesel) that went east of the DesPlaines River via the bridge that had been relocated during expressway construction. As we now know, CA&E passenger service did not resume, and eventually this new track connection was cut back to east of the river, and became the tail track for the CTA yard. The bridge remained in place for many years, but was eventually removed. This picture appears to have been taken west of the river, by the Commonwealth Edison facilities. The ballast appears fresh. (Zalman Gaibel Photo)

Most of the pictures in today’s post come from the collection I inherited from my late friend Jeffrey L. Wien and feature the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin interurban in its twilight days.

Some 30 of these images show some late electric freight moves in March 1959, nearly two years after the abandonment of passenger service, and just a few months before the CA&E gave up the ghost. I don’t recall ever seeing any photos of such late operations on the CA&E, much less this many of them.

Once passenger service ended, the bulk of CA&E employees were let go, but some were retained on the basis of seniority. This means only the oldest of the “old timers” remained, and some of them were well past what is now considered retirement age.

There are also views of the former passenger stations at 17th Avenue in Maywood, Bellwood, and Wheaton.

There is one other remarkable photo, showing what is said to be the first train on the newly rebuilt CA&E tracks leading to the DesPlaines Avenue CTA Terminal in March 1959. While this is a diesel train, it does show that at least one train ran on the new tracks, which were relocated during expressway construction.

Apparently, part of the deal that CA&E made when they sold their right of way crossing the DesPlaines River, was that their tracks would be “made whole” so that it could be possible to restore running passenger service. Although the tracks were restored, service never resumed. The assumption has been that “no trains ever ran on them,” but the photo shown above indicates otherwise.

These historic photos, plus some others taken in August and September 1959 (after the final abandonment) at Wheaton were taken by the late Zalman Gaibel (1943-1995). I wasn’t able to find much information about him online, other than that he graduated from MIT in 1963. There is a slide show tribute that you can see here.

We have rounded these CA&E photos with a few others, taken in the latter days of interurban service over the “L”, most by William C. Hoffman, and one by Truman Hefner.

We are also featuring many wonderful photos, both black and white and color, taken by John V. Engleman in the late 1950s and early 1960s, mostly in Boston, but some in Chicago.

We hope that you will enjoy them, and we than Mr. Engleman for his generosity in sharing them with our readers.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

-David Sadowski

PS- You might also like our Trolley Dodger Facebook auxiliary, a private group that now has 800 members.

Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.

Work on our North Shore Line book is ongoing. Donations are needed in order to bring this to a successful conclusion. You will find donation links at the top and bottom of each post. We thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

CA&E Freight Moves in March 1959

All the photos in this section were taken by Zalman Gaibel.

17th Avenue.

17th Avenue.

Eastbound at Mannheim.

Eastbound at Mannheim.

Bellwood Station.

Bellwood Station.

Bellwood.

Bellwood.

Bellwood/Mannheim, looking west.

Bellwood/Mannheim, looking west.

Bellwood Interchange.

Bellwood Interchange.

Bellwood/Mannheim.

Bellwood/Mannheim.

Bellwood/Mannheim.

Bellwood/Mannheim.

Bellwood/Mannheim.

Bellwood/Mannheim.

Westbound at Bellwood/Mannheim.

Westbound at Bellwood/Mannheim.

Southbound into Cook County.

Southbound into Cook County.

Southbound into Cook County.

Southbound into Cook County.

Mannheim Interchange.

Mannheim Interchange.

Mannheim Interchange.

Mannheim Interchange.

Bellwood/Mannheim.

Bellwood/Mannheim.

Bellwood Station.

Bellwood Station.

Mannheim-Cook County.

Mannheim-Cook County.

Bellwood/Mannheim.

Bellwood/Mannheim.

The CA&E Wheaton Yards in August and September 1959

All the photos in this section were taken by Zalman Gaibel.

The lineup at Wheaton.

The lineup at Wheaton.

Cars 407, 411, and 417. Don's Rail Photos: "Pullman Cars 400-419. These 20 cars were the first steel cars on the Roaring Elgin and were built by Pullman in 1923."

Cars 407, 411, and 417. Don’s Rail Photos: “Pullman Cars 400-419. These 20 cars were the first steel cars on the Roaring Elgin and were built by Pullman in 1923.”

Car 301. Don's Rail Photos: "301 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in December 1940."

Car 301. Don’s Rail Photos: “301 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in December 1940.”

Car 307. Don's Rail Photos: "307 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906, It was modernized in July 1939."

Car 307. Don’s Rail Photos: “307 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906, It was modernized in July 1939.”

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

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

Cars 456, 455, 452, and 460. Don's Rail Photos: "St. Louis Cars 451-460. These 10 cars were the last cars and were built by St. Louis Car in October 1945. They had been ordered in 1941 but were held up by World War II. They had to be able to operate with older equipment, and this precluded any radical design. They were highly improved over earlier cars." Of the ten cars, only four were saved, all originally purchased by Trolleyville USA (cars 451, 453, 458, and 460). Of these, 458 is at the Fox River Trolley Museum, and the rest are at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Cars 456, 455, 452, and 460. Don’s Rail Photos: “St. Louis Cars 451-460. These 10 cars were the last cars and were built by St. Louis Car in October 1945. They had been ordered in 1941 but were held up by World War II. They had to be able to operate with older equipment, and this precluded any radical design. They were highly improved over earlier cars.” Of the ten cars, only four were saved, all originally purchased by Trolleyville USA (cars 451, 453, 458, and 460). Of these, 458 is at the Fox River Trolley Museum, and the rest are at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Car 603. Don's Rail Photos: "In 1937, the CA&E needed additional equipment. Much was available, but most of the cars suffered from extended lack of maintenance. Finally, 5 coaches were found on the Washington Baltimore & Annapolis which were just the ticket. 35 thru 39, built by Cincinnati Car in 1913, were purchased and remodeled for service as 600 thru 604. The ends were narrowed for service on the El. They had been motors, but came out as control trailers. Other modifications included drawbars, control, etc. A new paint scheme was devised. Blue and grey with red trim and tan roof was adopted from several selections. They entered service between July and October in 1937. 603 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1913 as WB&A 38. It was sold as CA&E 603 in September 1937."

Car 603. Don’s Rail Photos: “In 1937, the CA&E needed additional equipment. Much was available, but most of the cars suffered from extended lack of maintenance. Finally, 5 coaches were found on the Washington Baltimore & Annapolis which were just the ticket. 35 thru 39, built by Cincinnati Car in 1913, were purchased and remodeled for service as 600 thru 604. The ends were narrowed for service on the El. They had been motors, but came out as control trailers. Other modifications included drawbars, control, etc. A new paint scheme was devised. Blue and grey with red trim and tan roof was adopted from several selections. They entered service between July and October in 1937. 603 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1913 as WB&A 38. It was sold as CA&E 603 in September 1937.”

Car 20.

Cars 603, 604, 410, and 424. Don's Rail Photos: "424 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1927, #2055."

Cars 603, 604, 410, and 424. Don’s Rail Photos: “424 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1927, #2055.”

Wheaton station. It was demolished in May 1966, and we ran some pictures showing that in a previous post.

Wheaton station. It was demolished in May 1966, and we ran some pictures showing that in a previous post.

Car 600.

Line car 11. Don's Rail Photos: "11 was built by Brill in 1910, #16483. It was rebuilt to a line car in 1947 and replaced 45. It was acquired by Railway Equipment Leasing & Investment Co in 1962 and became Fox River Trolley Museum in 1984. It was lettered as Fox River & Eastern."

Line car 11. Don’s Rail Photos: “11 was built by Brill in 1910, #16483. It was rebuilt to a line car in 1947 and replaced 45. It was acquired by Railway Equipment Leasing & Investment Co in 1962 and became Fox River Trolley Museum in 1984. It was lettered as Fox River & Eastern.”

Caboose 1004, the same one seen in action in a different photo.

Caboose 1004, the same one seen in action in a different photo.

Cars 402 and 600.

Tool car 7, plus cars 458, 459, 306, 318, and 317, among others. Don's Rail Photos: "7 was built by Jewett Car in 1906. In 1941 it was rebuilt as a tool car."

Tool car 7, plus cars 458, 459, 306, 318, and 317, among others. Don’s Rail Photos: “7 was built by Jewett Car in 1906. In 1941 it was rebuilt as a tool car.”

Cars 451, 458, 459, 306, 318, and 317. Don's Rail Photos: "306 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in July 1941. 317 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1913. It was sold to RELIC in 1962 and transferred as FRT in 1984. 318 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It had steel sheathing and was modernized in 1944. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Raiway Historical Society in 1962. It was wrecked in transit and the parts were sold to IRM to restore 321."

Cars 451, 458, 459, 306, 318, and 317. Don’s Rail Photos: “306 was built by Niles Car & Mfg Co in 1906. It was modernized in July 1941. 317 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1913. It was sold to RELIC in 1962 and transferred as FRT in 1984. 318 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It had steel sheathing and was modernized in 1944. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Raiway Historical Society in 1962. It was wrecked in transit and the parts were sold to IRM to restore 321.”

Car 307.

Car 417.

Car 417.

Car 318.

Car 318.

Cars 603 and 604.

Cars 603 and 604.

The Wheaton Yards.

The Wheaton Yards.

Car 307.

Car 307.

Miscellaneous CA&E Photos

The view looking west from the Western Avenue "L" platform on the Garfield Park line on June 9, 1953. An eastbound "L" train approaches, while passing a westbound CA&E train. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view looking west from the Western Avenue “L” platform on the Garfield Park line on June 9, 1953. An eastbound “L” train approaches, while passing a westbound CA&E train. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view looking west from Marshfield Avenue on August 23, 1953 shows a westbound three-car CA&E train. It appears that the ground at left is being prepared for the construction of a new "L" span, running north and south at this point. Once the Garfield Park structure was removed, after September 27, 1953, this new span allowed Douglas Park trains to go to the Loop via the Lake Street "L" about one mile north of here. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view looking west from Marshfield Avenue on August 23, 1953 shows a westbound three-car CA&E train. It appears that the ground at left is being prepared for the construction of a new “L” span, running north and south at this point. Once the Garfield Park structure was removed, after September 27, 1953, this new span allowed Douglas Park trains to go to the Loop via the Lake Street “L” about one mile north of here. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

CA&E 319 is at the back end of a westbound five-car train at Marshfield Avenue on November 30, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

CA&E 319 is at the back end of a westbound five-car train at Marshfield Avenue on November 30, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

CA&E 426 is at the back end of a westbound four-car train just west of Western Avenue on August 9, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

CA&E 426 is at the back end of a westbound four-car train just west of Western Avenue on August 9, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

CA&E 48 heads up an eastbound five-car train near Western Avenue on August 9, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

CA&E 48 heads up an eastbound five-car train near Western Avenue on August 9, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

We have run a different version of this same image a couple times before, but this was scanned from a duplicate slide made in the 1950s, and has less cropping than the later versions. CA&E 460 heads up a westbound train at Sacramento Avenue in January 1952. The other cars are 422 and 428. (Truman Hefner Photo)

We have run a different version of this same image a couple times before, but this was scanned from a duplicate slide made in the 1950s, and has less cropping than the later versions. CA&E 460 heads up a westbound train at Sacramento Avenue in January 1952. The other cars are 422 and 428. (Truman Hefner Photo)

It's hard to make out the number. Is this car 26, or 28? Don's Rail Photos: "28 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was modernized at an unknown date and retired in 1959." Not sure who took this photo, but it was not part of the Zalman Gaibel batch.

It’s hard to make out the number. Is this car 26, or 28? Don’s Rail Photos: “28 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was modernized at an unknown date and retired in 1959.” Not sure who took this photo, but it was not part of the Zalman Gaibel batch.

Wells Street Terminal Photo

While we are on the subject of the CA&E, I finally got a better quality version of this excellent photo thanks to Rex Butler. It which appeared in the August 1927 issue of the North Shore Bulletin. It shows the newly renovated Wells Street Terminal. While North Shore trains were only occasional visitors there, Insull owned the CA&E, North Shore Line, and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company, so one hand washes the other. The terminal remained in use until the CA&E stopped using it in September 1953.

Photos by John V. Engleman

Car 3283 and PCC 3187. Don's Rail Photos: "3179 thru 3196 were built by Pullman-Standard in 1945, #W6710B."

Car 3283 and PCC 3187. Don’s Rail Photos: “3179 thru 3196 were built by Pullman-Standard in 1945, #W6710B.”

This is on the Blue Line.

This is on the Blue Line.

PCC 3056. Don's Rail Photos: "3055 thru 3062 were built by Pullman-Standard in 1944, #W6697."

PCC 3056. Don’s Rail Photos: “3055 thru 3062 were built by Pullman-Standard in 1944, #W6697.”

The end of the Ashmont-Mattapan line.

The end of the Ashmont-Mattapan line.

PCC 3304. This is a "picture window" PCC, built in 1951 by Pullman-Standard. Starting in 1959, these cars were assigned to the new Riverside branch.

PCC 3304. This is a “picture window” PCC, built in 1951 by Pullman-Standard. Starting in 1959, these cars were assigned to the new Riverside branch.

PCC 3208, among others, at the end of the Ashmont-Mattapan line.

PCC 3208, among others, at the end of the Ashmont-Mattapan line.

PCC 3210.

PCC 3210.

PCC 3018. This was part of the first batch of PCCs ordered for Boston in 1940. Don's Rail Photos: "3018 was built by Pullman-Standard in 1940, #W6629. It was scrapped in 1974."

PCC 3018. This was part of the first batch of PCCs ordered for Boston in 1940. Don’s Rail Photos: “3018 was built by Pullman-Standard in 1940, #W6629. It was scrapped in 1974.”

Service car 6321.

Service car 6321.

Snow plow 5164.

Snow plow 5164.

PCC 3197.

PCC 3197.

PCC 3004. Don's Rail Photos: "3004 was built by Pullman-Standard in 1940, #W6629. It was scrapped in 1991."

PCC 3004. Don’s Rail Photos: “3004 was built by Pullman-Standard in 1940, #W6629. It was scrapped in 1991.”

Test car 396.

Test car 396.

The interior of a PCC.

The interior of a PCC.

CTA trolley bus 9510,

CTA trolley bus 9510,

Unfortunately, this medium format negative was partially light struck. I made another version in black-and-white so this wouldn't be so noticeable.

Unfortunately, this medium format negative was partially light struck. I made another version in black-and-white so this wouldn’t be so noticeable.

PCC 3338, an ex-Dallas double-ended "Texas Ranger." Don's Rail Photos: 3338 was built by Pullman-Standard in 1945, #W6699, as DR&T 603. It was sold as MTA 3338 in 1959 and acquired by Trolley Inc in 1983. It was purchased by Seashore Trolley Museum in 1994." This is at the old surface station at North Station. This line has since been relocated into a subway. There was also an elevated platform at this station.

PCC 3338, an ex-Dallas double-ended “Texas Ranger.” Don’s Rail Photos: 3338 was built by Pullman-Standard in 1945, #W6699, as DR&T 603. It was sold as MTA 3338 in 1959 and acquired by Trolley Inc in 1983. It was purchased by Seashore Trolley Museum in 1994.” This is at the old surface station at North Station. This line has since been relocated into a subway. There was also an elevated platform at this station.

PCC 3014.

PCC 3014.

PCC 3198.

PCC 3198.

PCC 285 is running heads a two-car train, headed for Cleveland Circle on what is now the MBTA Green Line "C" branch.

PCC 285 is running heads a two-car train, headed for Cleveland Circle on what is now the MBTA Green Line “C” branch.

Chicago in the early-to-mid 1960s. Note the Marina Towers are under construction.

Chicago in the early-to-mid 1960s. Note the Marina Towers are under construction.

Chicago in the early-to-mid 1960s. The Prudential Building was never Chicago's tallest, being slightly shorter than the Board of Trade building, but it did have a popular observation deck in the 1960s, before being eclipsed by the Hancock building and Sear Tower.

Chicago in the early-to-mid 1960s. The Prudential Building was never Chicago’s tallest, being slightly shorter than the Board of Trade building, but it did have a popular observation deck in the 1960s, before being eclipsed by the Hancock building and Sear Tower.

CTA trolley bus 9521.

CTA trolley bus 9521.

CTA trolley bus 9221. This is on North Avenue at Humboldt Park.

CTA trolley bus 9221. This is on North Avenue at Humboldt Park.

CTA 6205-6206, among the first "curved door" PCCs.

CTA 6205-6206, among the first “curved door” PCCs.

CTA trolley bus 9448 is running on Route 52 - Kedzie.

CTA trolley bus 9448 is running on Route 52 – Kedzie.

A Guide to the Railroad Record Club E-Book

William A. Steventon recording the sounds of the North Shore Line in April 1956. (Kenneth Gear Collection)

William A. Steventon recording the sounds of the North Shore Line in April 1956. (Kenneth Gear Collection)

Our good friend Ken Gear has been hard at work on collecting all things related to the late William Steventon’s railroad audio recordings and releases. The result is a new book on disc, A Guide To the Railroad Record Club. This was quite a project and labor of love on Ken’s part!

Kenneth Gear has written and compiled a complete history of William Steventon‘s Railroad Record Club, which issued 42 different LPs of steam, electric, and diesel railroad audio, beginning with its origins in 1953.

This “book on disc” format allows us to present not only a detailed history of the club and an updated account of Kenneth Gear’s purchase of the William Steventon estate, but it also includes audio files, photo scans and movie files. Virtually all the Railroad Record Club archive is gathered in one place!

Price: $19.99

$10 from the sale of each RRC E-Book will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.

Now Available on Compact Disc:

RRC08D
Railroad Record Club #08 Deluxe Edition: Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, Recorded by Elwin Purington
The Complete Recording From the Original Master Tapes
Price: $15.99

Kenneth Gear‘s doggedness and determination resulted in his tracking down and purchasing the surviving RRC master tapes a few years back, and he has been hard at work having them digitized, at considerable personal expense, so that you and many others can enjoy them with today’s technology. We have already released a few RRC Rarities CDs from Ken’s collection.

When Ken heard the digitized version of RRC LP #08, Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, recorded by the late Elwin Purington, he was surprised to find the original tapes were more than twice the length of the 10″ LP. The resulting LP had been considerably edited down to the limited space available, 15 minutes per side.

The scenes were the same, but each was greatly shortened. Now, on compact disc, it is possible to present the full length recordings of this classic LP, which was one of Steventon’s best sellers and an all-around favorite, for the very first time.

Canadian National. Steaming giants pound high iron on mountain trails, rumble over trestles, hit torpedos and whistle for many road crossings. Mountain railroading with heavy power and lingering whistles! Includes locomotives 3566, 4301, 6013, 3560.

Total time – 72:57

$5 from the sale of RRC08D CD will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.

Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation

We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.

Our Latest Book, Now Available:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

From the back cover:

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

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

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

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

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

Total time – 121:22

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

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

This is our 288th 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 869,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.
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Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.


Along the North Shore

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric had two car 10s, purchased in 1898 and 1899. Not sure which one this is, but it is named the Highland Park. Service to Highland Park began on June 23, 1898. (Rex Butler Collection)

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric had two car 10s, purchased in 1898 and 1899. Not sure which one this is, but it is named the Highland Park. Service to Highland Park began on June 23, 1898. (Rex Butler Collection)

It continually amazes me when we are able to find so much out about the lives of people who lived more than one hundred years ago. We recently were in touch with Rex Butler, whose grandfather Frank H. Butler worked as a conductor on the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric from 1898 to 1900. The photos in this post are from his collection, and shed some light on the early history of the North Shore Line interurban that eventually ran between Chicago and Milwaukee. It started out in Waukegan.

We are very thankful Mr. Butler has shared these wonderful photos with our readers. We also thank Diana Koester for her genealogy research.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

-David Sadowski

PS- You might also like our Trolley Dodger Facebook auxiliary, a private group that now has 771 members.

Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.

Work on our North Shore Line book is ongoing. Donations are needed in order to bring this to a successful conclusion. You will find donation links at the top and bottom of each post. We thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Butler Photos and Family History

George Butler. (Rex Butler Collection)

George Butler. (Rex Butler Collection)

Frank H. Butler.

Frank H. Butler.

Frank H. Butler learned photography from his uncle, who had a studio in the Dakotas.

Frank H. Butler learned photography from his uncle, who had a studio in the Dakotas.

Frank H. Butler eventually owned a stationary store in Waukegan that also sold books and typewriters. (Rex Butler Collection)

Frank H. Butler eventually owned a stationary store in Waukegan that also sold books and typewriters. (Rex Butler Collection)

Chicago & Milwaukee electric car #1 was built by Brill in 1896, and eventually became a line car. (Rex Butler Collection)

Chicago & Milwaukee electric car #1 was built by Brill in 1896, and eventually became a line car. (Rex Butler Collection)

The man at left certainly looks like Frank H. Butler. (Rex Butler Collection)

The man at left certainly looks like Frank H. Butler. (Rex Butler Collection)

(Rex Butler Collection)

(Rex Butler Collection)

The Republic Construction Company was owned by A. C. Frost, head of the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric, and built much of the North Shore Line up until 1908. (Rex Butler Collection)

The Republic Construction Company was owned by A. C. Frost, head of the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric, and built much of the North Shore Line up until 1908. (Rex Butler Collection)

Caleb Butler (1792-1870) was born in Vermont, and became an early settler in the Waukegan area around 1841. His sons were George Butler (1840-1927) and Henry Butler (1836-1918), who both served on the Union side during the Civil War.

Frank Henry Butler (1871-1963) was George’s son. He married Eva Celestine Browne (1892-1976) in 1917. Her father was Walter Browne (1862-1931), who added an “e” to the end of their last name because there was a town drunkard named Walter Brown, who got into all sorts of trouble. He did not want to be confused with him.

Frank H. Butler worked as a conductor on the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric for two years (1898-1900) and the 1900 census lists his occupation as a photographer. He learned the trade from his uncle.

Later, he worked at W. F. Wandel’s bookstore at 137 N. Genesse Street in Waukegan. The store sold stationary and typewriters as well, and also rented typewriters. The 1910 census says he was a salesman.

Eventually, he took over Wandel’s store and ran it until November 1921, when he sold it. The family moved to Florida for his wife’s health (she had asthma). While in Florida, he owned a candy store and later, a pharmacy. From 1931 to 1950, he worked as a janitor at a school.

Rex Butler is Frank H. Butler’s grandson.

From The Waukegan Weekly Sun, July 8, 1898, page 6 (“Waukegan Happenings”):

The new street cars are now running in this city. They are as described in this paper Saturday. The new trailers are “away out of sight.” Conductors now run on every car and fare boxes have been abandoned. Among the new conductors are Frank Butler, Mr. Goss, of North Chicago and Mr. Nellis of this city. The two new cars and four trailers for the South end of the line will probably not be running before the tracks are connected. Work of connecting them progresses slowly. On Monday, the Fourth, 3000 passengers at five cents a piece were carried. As no passes whatever are honored, the receipts for the day were about $150. Ivan and Dan Jardins, the new men have assumed charge in their respective positions of General Superintendent and Cashier. The new cars are thirty feet long and weigh 28,000 pounds. They are lighted and heated with the electric power…

A general rumor for several days has been that the Northwestern road had bought or was negotiating for the Chicago and Milwaukee electric railway. While there may be some indications as to the probability of such a transaction, as to facts there is nothing whatever to be learned in regard to it. Several prominent parties who know considerable of the business of both corporations had heard nothing of the rumors and could tell nothing. One said “I would not be surprised to hear it,” and another remarked “It seems to me a very likely project. That street railway franchise will in a few year, be a very valuable piece of property and a great thing for the Northwestern road or anyone else to own. It would be a good move for the Northwestern road to make.” Several have thought the fact that the Northwestern road was building the viaduct at North Chicago for the electric road was an indication. It is not, however, as the Northwestern prefers to supervise all construction which interfere with its right of way, and that the street railway has contracted to pay the sum of $15,000 to the Northwestern for the work, was assured to a reporter today by a man who was one of the signers of the contract.

Note: the “Northwestern road” mentioned here is the Chicago & North Western, and not the Northwestern “L”. The viaduct in North Chicago was needed so the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric could cross the North Western. The steam railroad refused to allow the upstart interurban to have a grade crossing there.

Waukegan Power Plant Explosion

Around 11:30 pm on April 22, 1908, the belt that turned a flywheel at the North Shore Electric power house in Waukegan caught fire, and this spread to the other equipment. While firemen were trying to put it out, there was an explosion, and the flywheel went through a wall, causing massive destruction. Two people were killed, and many more injured. All of Waukegan lost power as a result.

The North Shore Electric was a Samuel Insull utility, but Insull did not take control of the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric interurban until 1916, at which time it became the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee, aka the North Shore Line. Streetcars and interurbans were major customers of electric utilities, and also helped bring electric power to many rural areas.

The photos in this section are believed to have been taken by Frank H. Butler, and are courtesy of Rex Butler.

Page 1 of The Waukegan Daily Sun for April 23, 1908.

Page 1 of The Waukegan Daily Sun for April 23, 1908.

Page 4 of The Waukegan Daily Sun for April 23, 1908.

Page 4 of The Waukegan Daily Sun for April 23, 1908.

Along the North Shore

This extremely rare promotional brochure, here from Rex Butler’s collection, was produced some time between 1899 and 1902. Although the map shows service to Milwaukee, this did not come to fruition until 1908.

A Guide to the Railroad Record Club E-Book

William A. Steventon recording the sounds of the North Shore Line in April 1956. (Kenneth Gear Collection)

William A. Steventon recording the sounds of the North Shore Line in April 1956. (Kenneth Gear Collection)

Our good friend Ken Gear has been hard at work on collecting all things related to the late William Steventon’s railroad audio recordings and releases. The result is a new book on disc, A Guide To the Railroad Record Club. This was quite a project and labor of love on Ken’s part!

Kenneth Gear has written and compiled a complete history of William Steventon‘s Railroad Record Club, which issued 42 different LPs of steam, electric, and diesel railroad audio, beginning with its origins in 1953.

This “book on disc” format allows us to present not only a detailed history of the club and an updated account of Kenneth Gear’s purchase of the William Steventon estate, but it also includes audio files, photo scans and movie files. Virtually all the Railroad Record Club archive is gathered in one place!

Price: $19.99

$10 from the sale of each RRC E-Book will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.

Now Available on Compact Disc:

RRC08D
Railroad Record Club #08 Deluxe Edition: Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, Recorded by Elwin Purington
The Complete Recording From the Original Master Tapes
Price: $15.99

Kenneth Gear‘s doggedness and determination resulted in his tracking down and purchasing the surviving RRC master tapes a few years back, and he has been hard at work having them digitized, at considerable personal expense, so that you and many others can enjoy them with today’s technology. We have already released a few RRC Rarities CDs from Ken’s collection.

When Ken heard the digitized version of RRC LP #08, Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, recorded by the late Elwin Purington, he was surprised to find the original tapes were more than twice the length of the 10″ LP. The resulting LP had been considerably edited down to the limited space available, 15 minutes per side.

The scenes were the same, but each was greatly shortened. Now, on compact disc, it is possible to present the full length recordings of this classic LP, which was one of Steventon’s best sellers and an all-around favorite, for the very first time.

Canadian National. Steaming giants pound high iron on mountain trails, rumble over trestles, hit torpedos and whistle for many road crossings. Mountain railroading with heavy power and lingering whistles! Includes locomotives 3566, 4301, 6013, 3560.

Total time – 72:57

$5 from the sale of RRC08D CD will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.

Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation

We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.

Our Latest Book, Now Available:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

From the back cover:

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

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

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

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

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

Total time – 121:22

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

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

This is our 287th 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 864,000 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.


Seven Years of Good Luck

Now here's something you don't see every day... the 69th Street station on the Normal Park "L", in color. This short branch closed in 1954.

Now here’s something you don’t see every day… the 69th Street station on the Normal Park “L”, in color. This short branch closed in 1954.

For most Chicago-area railfans, January 21, 1963 is a day, to paraphrase Franklin D. Roosevelt, that will “live in infamy,” for that is when the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee, the North Shore Line, breathed its last.

But January 21 is also the date when we started this blog in 2015. This is our seventh anniversary, and I think we have had seven full years of good luck.

In that time, our posts have received 841,000 page views, and over time we have become more and more of a resource for those who are interested in the history of electric traction.

As this is our anniversary post, we pulled out all the stops, and have lots of classic images for you to enjoy. As the 21st is also the 59th anniversary of the North Shore Line abandonment, we have plenty of pictures that pay tribute to that lost interurban.

As we have shared our images with you, you in turn have shared many things with us. We have learned a lot by working together. It has been a great ride here so far, and we can only hope that the next seven years will turn out as well.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

-David Sadowski

PS- You might also like our Trolley Dodger Facebook auxiliary, a private group that now has 689 members.

Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.

Our Next Book

FYI, I recently made a new book proposal to my publisher and it has been accepted. I signed the agreement on the 18th, and with any luck, it will come out later this year.

There is still a lot of hard work to be done, but I will do my best to produce something that is new and different than that which is already out there, and makes a real contribution to our understanding of the past.

One thing working in my favor is there are plenty of great pictures to choose from, and the subject is already legendary.

Here is a summary:

The North Shore Line

As late as 1963, you could take a high-speed streamlined train from Chicago’s Loop elevated, 90 miles north to Milwaukee. This was the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee, commonly known as the North Shore Line.

From humble beginnings in the 1890s, as a streetcar line in Waukegan, Illinois, the North Shore Line grew to become, in the words of historian William D. Middleton, a “super interurban.” It reached its peak in the 1920s, under Samuel Insull, when the railroad won the prestigious Charles A. Coffin medal no less than three times.

Besides connecting Milwaukee and Chicago, the North Shore Line served Racine, Kenosha, Waukegan, Lake Bluff, Winnetka, Wilmette, and Evanston. A new Skokie Valley Route, built by Insull, opened in 1926 and helped establish Skokie, Glenview, Northfield, and Northbrook.

The railroad had a branch line serving Libertyville and Mundelein, city streetcars in Waukegan and Milwaukee, and was a pioneer in offering “piggyback” freight service.

Hobbled by the Depression and forced into bankruptcy, the North Shore Line rebounded during the war years with two fast new trains called “Electroliners.” It was finally done in by the automobile, highways, and a lack of government subsidies—but it left a remarkable legacy.

Our Annual Fundraiser

Since we started this blog in 2015, we have posted over 13,500 images. This is our 284th post.

Each year, around this time, we must renew our WordPress subscription, our domain registration, and pay other bills associated with maintaining this site, so it is time for our Annual Fundraiser.

The Trolley Dodger blog can only be kept going with the help of our devoted readers. Perhaps you count yourself among them.

If you have already contributed in the past, we thank you very much for your help. Meanwhile, our goal for this fundraiser is just $700, which is only a fraction of what it costs us each year. The rest is made up from either the profits from the items we sell, which are not large, or out of our own pocket, which is not very large either.

There are links at the top and bottom of this page, where you can click and make a donation that will help us meet our goal again for this coming year, so we can continue to offer you more classic images in the future, and keep this good thing we have going.

We thank you in advance for your time and consideration. To date, we have raised $350, which is halfway to our goal. We will also have considerable expenses coming up relating to research for our next book.

Recent Finds

On May 11, 1958, William C. Hoffman took this picture looking north along Halsted at the (then) Congress Expressway. Service on the Garfield Park "L" would continue until June 22nd, when it was replaced by the new Congress rapid transit line at left. A passerby admires the new, as-yet unopened station entrance. The Met "L" here had been four tracks, but two were removed by the time this picture was taken, as they were in the highway footprint. The expressway opened in late 1955 in this area.

On May 11, 1958, William C. Hoffman took this picture looking north along Halsted at the (then) Congress Expressway. Service on the Garfield Park “L” would continue until June 22nd, when it was replaced by the new Congress rapid transit line at left. A passerby admires the new, as-yet unopened station entrance. The Met “L” here had been four tracks, but two were removed by the time this picture was taken, as they were in the highway footprint. The expressway opened in late 1955 in this area.

The old and the new are on display in this 1958 view of the Halsted station on the CTA's Congress median line. In the background, the old Met "L" is still standing, but would soon be demolished.

The old and the new are on display in this 1958 view of the Halsted station on the CTA’s Congress median line. In the background, the old Met “L” is still standing, but would soon be demolished.

North Shore Line 458 heads up a southbound freight train, probably in the early-to-mid 1950s. At first, I thought this location was in Skokie, from the sign on the building. But further research shows this picture was taken in Waukegan, between Washington and Cornelia Streets. The building at right was a former North Shore Line merchandise dispatch (they spelled it "despatch") station, by this time being rented out to a produce dealer. Don's Rail Photos: "458 was built by the Spokane Portland & Seattle in January 1941 as Oregon Electric Ry. 50. It was purchased by the North Shore in December 1947 and was completed as 458 on January 27, 1948."

North Shore Line 458 heads up a southbound freight train, probably in the early-to-mid 1950s. At first, I thought this location was in Skokie, from the sign on the building. But further research shows this picture was taken in Waukegan, between Washington and Cornelia Streets. The building at right was a former North Shore Line merchandise dispatch (they spelled it “despatch”) station, by this time being rented out to a produce dealer. Don’s Rail Photos: “458 was built by the Spokane Portland & Seattle in January 1941 as Oregon Electric Ry. 50. It was purchased by the North Shore in December 1947 and was completed as 458 on January 27, 1948.”