Milwaukee Rapid Transit

SR 60 laying over @ Waukesha loop Spring, 1950

SR 60 laying over @ Waukesha loop Spring, 1950

With construction well underway on the new Milwaukee streetcar, and Milwaukee Transit Day (October 7th) fast approaching at the Illinois Railway Museum, this seems like an opportune time for guest contributor Larry Sakar to share more of his research with us.

Larry is the author of Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit? We thank him for his generosity in sharing these pictures and information with our readers.

-David Sadowski

PS- FYI, all copies of Chicago Trolleys that were purchased during the pre-order have been mailed. Yesterday was the official release date for the book, and it is now in stock and autographed copies are available for immediate shipment. We hope that you will enjoy this new work (more information at the end of this post).

Larry Sakar writes:

The Trolley Dodger is getting a lot of notice. A friend of mine who does not have a computer has heard about it, most likely from Bill Shapotkin or Andre Kristopans. When something is well done, people notice, so I’m not surprised.

I promised you some pictures of the former TM station in Kenosha at 8th Ave. & 55th St. These 2 photos were taken by Ray DeGroote in September 1963 probably just days before the building was torn down. The passageway beneath the portico was where TM interurbans pulled in. They then curved to the right in the photo, on their way back to Milwaukee crossed Sheridan Rd. on the long elevated trestle, and then came parallel to the C&NW RR’s mainline between Chicago & Milwaukee. From around 1952 or ’53 to the end in Sept.’63 the former waiting room was a pizza restaurant – Vena’s Pizzeria.

Former TM Kenosha station 9-63 Ray DeGroote

Former TM Kenosha station 9-63 Ray DeGroote

Former TM Kenosha Station 9-63 Ray DeGroote note freight tracks.

Former TM Kenosha Station 9-63 Ray DeGroote note freight tracks.

When Speedrail acquired the 6-60 series curved side lightweight cars from Shaker Heights Rapid Transit in October 1949, they were shipped to Milwaukee via the Nickel Plate Road (CMSTP&STL) to Chicago, where the NKP flat cars were interchanged with the Milwaukee Road. The MILW brought them to The Transport Co.’s. Cold Spring shops where they were unloaded and given a thorough inspection. First to arrive was car 65 on 10-6-49. Shaker Heights had painted it in an experimental green and yellow paint scheme to improve visibility at grade crossings. Sometime between 10-7-49 and 10-23-49 someone repainted the front end of car 65 in an obvious effort to emulate the “Liberty Bell Limited” design on the LVT 1000 series high speed cars. No one knows who did it or when. First we see 65 coming down the Michigan St. hill eastbound on the shakedown runs over both the Waukesha & Hales Corners lines on 10-7-49. In the second shot, note that the front has been repainted white with the quasi-LVT design and air horns placed where they are on an LVT 1000 series car. The second shot is in the 25th St. curve next to the tanks of the Milwaukee Gas Light Co. Today I-94 the East-West Freeway occupies the r.o.w.

SHRT60 arriving from Cleveland 10-49 Lew Martin

SHRT60 arriving from Cleveland 10-49 Lew Martin

SR 65 @ 6th & Michigan on 10-7-49 shakedown trip.

SR 65 @ 6th & Michigan on 10-7-49 shakedown trip.

SR 65 @ 25th St, curve 10-23-49

SR 65 @ 25th St, curve 10-23-49

Harper SR fan trip 10-49 schedule

Harper SR fan trip 10-49 schedule

I believe car 60 was the last to arrive from Shaker Heights. First we see it on the Milwaukee Division ERA fan trip of 10-16-49 crossing Brookdale Dr. In 2016 my friend and colleague Chris Barney took these 2 photos of Brookdale Dr. as it looks today.

SR 60 inaugural fan trip Brookdale 10-16-49

SR 60 inaugural fan trip Brookdale 10-16-49

Brookdale Dr xing on H.C. line in 2016 C.N.Barney

Brookdale Dr xing on H.C. line in 2016 C.N.Barney

Lots of absolutely fantastic material in this collection I just inherited. Look at these 2 documents. Without saying a word, there’s a very clear picture of the way things were being run at Speedrail in April of 1950! Owing $8000+ to TMER&T was definitely not the way to go!

Collection Letter from TMER&T attys against MRT&S 4-5-50

Collection Letter from TMER&T attys against MRT&S 4-5-50

Dunning letter to MRT&S from TMER&T re: overdue payments 3-8-50

Dunning letter to MRT&S from TMER&T re: overdue payments 3-8-50

Talk about valuable information, in this collection I just inherited was a list, no actually there were 2 lists. A railfan but not too likely the friend who gave me the collection walked down the scrap line out at the Waukesha gravel pit on March 1, 1952 and again two weeks later March 16, 1952. He wrote down the number of every car in the scrap line. This info is valuable because a year earlier the trustee sold 13 of the TM 1100 series heavy interurban cars to Afram Brothers Scrap Metal Co. in Milwaukee. Obviously, Speedrail was desperate for money so why not sell off what was no longer being used? $2,000 (approximate figure) went to pay for the transformation of LVT 1102 into Milwaukee Rapid Transit 66, the so-called, “last hope car.”

Notice, I did not say Speedrail 66. Legally, it was still The Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail Company but when Bruno V. Bitker took over as the court-appointed trustee, he ordered the Speedrail name painted out on the curved-side lightweight (60 series) car as well as removed from all timetables and tickets. He made it very clear that the Speedrail name immediately brought to mind the 9-2-50 fatal accident. That is also one of the reasons Jay Maeder was dismissed. From then on everything just said “Rapid Transit 234 W. Everett St.”

You may notice, by the way, that when I write the Speedrail corporate name I always capitalize “THE.” Maeder insisted on it because “The” in TMER&L was always capitalized and anything TM did was what he wanted to do as well. There is no better evidence of that than the first Speedrail timetable dated `10-16-49 which said “TM Speedrail”. Here are the covers of Speedrail’s very first and very last timetables, and for the Waukesha Transit Lines bus which replaced it, a fact you’ll notice they made sure to put on their timetable. Waukesha Transit Lines eventually became Wisconsin Coach Lines. They are still in business but are now part of the Coach USA system.

TM SR Timetable 10-16-49

TM SR Timetable 10-16-49

Rapid Transit TT West Jct. 6-4-51

Rapid Transit TT West Jct. 6-4-51

WTL Replacing the SR 7-1-51

WTL Replacing the SR 7-1-51

WTL Bus schedule 7-1-51

WTL Bus schedule 7-1-51

Here are the pictures I took at both the TM and North Shore stations on 4-5-72. I mentioned in a previous post that for many years after the TM M-R-K – Milwaukee-Racine-Kenosha was abandoned in 1947 the freight tracks used by Motor Transport Co. were still embedded in pavement. Here they are on 4-5-72.

TM Kenosha Station looking north 4-5-72

TM Kenosha Station looking north 4-5-72

Motor Transport Co. tracks TM Kenosha Sta. 4-5-72

Motor Transport Co. tracks TM Kenosha Sta. 4-5-72

The next 2 photos at the TM Kenosha station site show the point where the long elevated bridge over Sheridan Rd. began. The large building to the left was the Barr Furniture Co. which has since been torn down. The very last photo I just scanned shows the sign created by Kenosha radio broadcaster Lou Rugani to commemorate where TM’s Kenosha station used to stand at 8th Ave. & 55th St. Just one problem with the sign. The Don Ross photo on the sign shows the Racine, not the Kenosha station.

TM Kenosha Station next to Barr Furniture 4-5-72

TM Kenosha Station next to Barr Furniture 4-5-72

Sign commemorating TM Kenosha station

Sign commemorating TM Kenosha station

From the TM station I walked out to the North Shore Line’s Kenosha station which is on 22nd Ave & 63rd St. if I recall correctly. I knew it was still standing but I didn’t expect it to be behind a stockade fence. I do not know why it was fenced off on 3 sides.

The first photo shows the northbound platform looking northeast. You can see the fence. The track area had been paved with asphalt but other than that the station appeared unchanged in the 9 years since abandonment.

NSL Kenosha Station 4-5-72 northbound platform

NSL Kenosha Station 4-5-72 northbound platform

I then snapped a series of 3 pictures of the southbound platform starting at it’s north end, then the middle of it and last the south end of that southbound platform. All of that changed some years later when the station became a restaurant. They added a banquet room to the north end of the station which ruined its historic Arthur U. Gerber appearance. Then they extended the restaurant over the track area and removed the southbound platform entirely.

NSL Kenosha Station south end southbound platform 4-5-72

NSL Kenosha Station south end southbound platform 4-5-72

NSL Kenosha Station Southbound platform 4-5-72

NSL Kenosha Station Southbound platform 4-5-72

NSL Kenosha Station 4-5-72 Southbound platform

NSL Kenosha Station 4-5-72 Southbound platform

The last NSL picture shows the abandoned NSL r.o.w. just north of Ryan Rd. I had just taken the picture when I noticed a large building in the distance. It turned out to be the Carrollville substation.

Abandoned NSL r.o.w. north of Ryan Road Carrollville substation distant 1971

Abandoned NSL r.o.w. north of Ryan Road Carrollville substation distant 1971

Here is something I think you will enjoy. This picture appeared in a much smaller version in the Speedrail book. This is a much larger, more detailed print. These seats were installed by Shaker Heights when they acquired the curved side cars from Inter City Rapid Transit in 1940. They had purchased some of the very first Cincinnati curved side lightweights built from Kentucky Traction & Terminal but never placed them in service because their small motors made them unable to maintain the speed necessary for the 2 SHRT lines. They were kept on a storage track at Shaker’s Kingsbury Run shops and used for spare parts when the ICT cars arrived. That included these seats.

Interior SR 63

Interior SR 63

But there was one exception. Car 64 had green plush seats according to several people I spoke to who rode these cars on Speedrail. The Speedrail riders did not like these cars. They were glad Jay Maeder had saved the Waukesha line from the impending abandonment being sought by Northland-Greyhound but they wanted the TM 1100’s to remain in service.

Maeder became quite angry when he found out the Waukesha riders were complaining about the 60 series cars and he ran this ad in the Waukesha Freeman. Somebody should have told him you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. You never start off a communication with, “We all know…” Yes, he knew, and the railfans knew, but the average everyday rider thought these were new cars when they first saw them. One look at the interiors told them otherwise.

Maeder response to 60 series cars complaints

Maeder response to 60 series cars complaints

To give you an example of just how much the 60’s were disliked, the late Len Garver told me that one day he and his friend Jerry Fisher were riding a 60-series car to Waukesha. A lady getting off the car near Waukesha East Limits turned to the motorman and said, “Do all of these cars ride this way? I feel like I’ve just ridden over Niagara Falls in a barrel!”

Much of it had to do with car weight and height of the car above the rail. This photo from the collection of Herb Danneman illustrated the problem. Note the height of car 1138 at left with car 60 at right. This photo was taken on the Milwaukee Division ERA fan trip of 10-16-49 and is at 46th St.

TM 1138 & SR 60 meet @ 46thSt. 10-16-49. Herb Danneman coll.

TM 1138 & SR 60 meet @ 46thSt. 10-16-49. Herb Danneman coll.

Two of these pictures are ones I sent previously, but they were not the best quality. Two are ones you might never have seen before. One is pretty dramatic. Lew Martin took a picture as car 39 was rolling down the embankment of the r.o.w. after the 9-2-50 wreck. The other is of 1192 as it looked after the accident. Note how badly the front end was caved in. The photo was taken at the Waukesha Gravel pit. The car was towed out there once the investigation of the crash had been completed.

SR39 rolling off embankment 9-2-50 Lew Martin

SR39 rolling off embankment 9-2-50 Lew Martin

SR 40 after push off embankment 9-2-50

SR 40 after push off embankment 9-2-50

SR 1192 at Wauk. Grvl pit after 9-50 wreck

SR 1192 at Wauk. Grvl pit after 9-50 wreck

Remains of SR 39 dumped off r.o.w. 9-2-50 (color)

Remains of SR 39 dumped off r.o.w. 9-2-50 (color)

The one picture of the Speedrail crash that I did have showed the wreck before the cars were rolled off the right-of-way. How long was it before the tracks were cleared? A few hours, perhaps?

I don’t recall any of the newspapers giving specifics as to how long it took to clear the wreck, much less to cut apart what was left of car 39 and all of car 40. I believe one account did say the tracks had been cleared by late afternoon which to me means about 4:00 or 5:00 pm. The biggest problem they had was trying to get the cars separated. Trip #5, the last one of the day with duplex 1184-85 hooked up to 1193, the rear car of the heavy duplex, attempted to pull them apart but couldn’t. A heavy duty National Guard wrecker was then brought in and it was able to do it. Ironic, isn’t it that when Hyman-Michaels was scrapping the cars at the gravel pit in 1952 they used 1184-85 as their office car. It’s the one with the sign saying attached to its front that said “No Trespassing. Property of Milwaukee Rapid Transit and Speed Rail Co.”  Someone recently asked me why they separated the Speedrail name into two words. I guess only Hyman-Michaels Co. would have known.

Firemen trying to pry wrecked SR cars apart on 9-2-50 from MJ 9-3-50

Firemen trying to pry wrecked SR cars apart on 9-2-50 from MJ 9-3-50

I know they were serious about prosecuting anyone caught trespassing on the property. Al Buetschle, whom I mentioned in a recent post as the person who saved Milwaukee streetcar 978 went out to the gravel pit soon after scrapping began. He tried to get close enough to where the scrappers were working so he could get some good pictures. He tried hiding in the brush and weeds close to the tracks and they caught him. He was warned that if they ever caught him again he would be turned over to the Waukesha County Sheriff. After that, he discovered that walking up the C&NW RR tracks west from Springdale Rd. which were adjacent to the gravel pit was the “safe” way to gain entry without detection. The other was by going out there on Sundays. The scrappers did not work on Sundays and the place was pretty much deserted. It was on one of these “hunts” that he “saved” the roll sign from Car 66 as well as an Ohio Brass trolley retriever. The problem with the retriever was that it was rather cumbersome. He did not drive a car in 1952 so he had to take the replacement for Speedrail “Waukesha Transit Lines” bus to and from. He was afraid if the bus driver saw it he would report him so he hid the retriever under a log. Regrettably, it wasn’t there the next time he came back. When he moved to California in 1961 the roll sign found its way to someone else and from him to the person who owns it today. I have a color slide of it taken at a train show where it was on display back in the ’80’s or ’90’s.

Springdale Road. on Waukesha Line looking east in TM days Ed Wilson

Springdale Road. on Waukesha Line looking east in TM days Ed Wilson

Abandoned TM ROW Looking east to Springdale Rd. 4-14-71 LAS

Abandoned TM ROW Looking east to Springdale Rd. 4-14-71 LAS

We have a new TM/Speedrail mystery on our hands. This is a photo of a TM or Speedrail 1100 series car eastbound on the Waukesha line at Sunny Slope Rd. The date of the photo is unknown as is the photographer. My friend and colleague Chris Barney obtained this from the Waukesha Freeman newspaper. The car is headed east on the eastbound track but look at the car. It’s running backwards!

The "mystery photo." A TM or Speedrail 1100 poss. 1142 is running backwards EB on the eastbound track at Sunny Slope Rd. J.G. Van Holten plant at right. Collection of C.N. Barney.

#1 – The “mystery photo.” A TM or Speedrail 1100 poss. 1142 is running backwards EB on the eastbound track at Sunny Slope Rd. J.G. Van Holten plant at right. Collection of C.N. Barney.

The streamlined modern type building to the right was the J.G. Van Holten Vinegar works along the westbound track. TM had a siding into the plant and delivered a brine car at least once a month. That continued into the Speedrail era. There were 2 crossover tracks both west of the crossing which the grainy quality of the photo makes impossible to see. That was where the Speedrail accident of 2-8-50 took place.

I’d like to ask my fellow TM fans for any information as to why a car would be running backwards. The switch into the plant was from the westbound track so even if the car had been switching a car in or out there would be no reason for it to be running backwards on the eastbound track.

Chris’ and my friend, Herb Danneman came up with what may be the explanation. On 2-29-52 Hyman-Michaels, the scrapper who dismantled Speedrail moved all of the cars in storage in Milwaukee to the Waukesha gravel pit for scrapping. We know for a fact that the cars operated in trains of 2 or 3 cars. TM 1142 which had been Speedrail’s freight motor from 12/50 to the end of service hauled a number of out of service 1100’s to the gravel pit. The “scrap trains” were operated westbound on the eastbound track as demonstrated in this photo by George Gloff. This is car 66 being towed by car 63. 1100’s could not couple onto curved side cars because of the difference in floor heights. That might be what’s going on here. It might have been easier just to run backwards to Milwaukee than wyeing at the gravel pit if they still could. We tried enlarging the photo to 8x`10 to see if the person standing on the rear platform is wearing a uniform which he would if this was some sort of unusual TM or Speedrail move but it only made him a shadow. We can’t tell.

The photo of 66 being towed is at Calhoun Rd. Some present-day photos at Sunny Slope and one I took there in 1971 are also included. J.G. Van Holten moved to Waterloo, Wisconsin in 1956 after a dispute with the then Town of New Berlin (now city). Seems the Van Holten company was disposing of its waste (they made both pickles and sauerkraut) in a retention pond west of the plant. That must have been a smell you’d never forget!

#2 - The Sunny Slope Rd. xing lkg. west in 5/71. Former J.G. Van Holten plant @ right. Note: power lines not in same place as #1.

#2 – The Sunny Slope Rd. xing lkg. west in 5/71. Former J.G. Van Holten plant @ right. Note: power lines not in same place as #1.

#3 - Speedrail 1142 arr. @ Wauk. Gravel pit poss. 2-29-52. C. N. Barney collection.

#3 – Speedrail 1142 arr. @ Wauk. Gravel pit poss. 2-29-52. C. N. Barney collection.

#4 - SR 66 being towed to Wauk. Gravel Pit passing Kuney's at Calhoun Rd. 2-29-52 George Gloff photo.

#4 – SR 66 being towed to Wauk. Gravel Pit passing Kuney’s at Calhoun Rd. 2-29-52 George Gloff photo.

#5 - Calhoun Rd. xing lkg west. Part of Kuney's bldg. at left. 2013 photo by C.N. Barney

#5 – Calhoun Rd. xing lkg west. Part of Kuney’s bldg. at left. 2013 photo by C.N. Barney

#6 - Sunny Slope Rd. xing lkg west 2013. That's me in the photo. C.N. Barney photo

#6 – Sunny Slope Rd. xing lkg west 2013. That’s me in the photo. C.N. Barney photo

#7 - Lkg. east from west of Sunny Slope Rd. xing 2013. C;N. Barney

#7 – Lkg. east from west of Sunny Slope Rd. xing 2013. C;N. Barney

#8 - Ex J.G. Van Holten plant hidden in the brush as seen from the U.P. RR (ex C&NW) r.o.w. 2013 C. N. Barney photo

#8 – Ex J.G. Van Holten plant hidden in the brush as seen from the U.P. RR (ex C&NW) r.o.w. 2013 C. N. Barney photo

#9 - Literal end of track on Lincoln Ave. (Waukesha East Limits), 9-26-52. Note track has been cut. John Schoenknecht collection.

#9 – Literal end of track on Lincoln Ave. (Waukesha East Limits), 9-26-52. Note track has been cut. John Schoenknecht collection.

#10 - Newspaper clipping showing 2-8-50 Speedrail accident at Sunny Slope Rd. Larry Sakar collection.

#10 – Newspaper clipping showing 2-8-50 Speedrail accident at Sunny Slope Rd. Larry Sakar collection.

Have you ever studied a picture and not noticed something obvious? I was thinking of the “mystery” photo I just sent you and that’s when it hit me. This can’t be any kind of normal passenger run. Because the car is running backwards on the eastbound track the entry door is on the wrong side. How would they board or discharge passengers? The left side of the 1100’s didn’t have any doors!

If this car was heading back to 25th St. to pick up more 1100’s for transport to the Waukesha Gravel pit, you’d want it to be backwards so you could couple to another set of cars. Then you’d be position correctly for the reverse trip to Waukesha. Running backwards like that there was absolutely no place to turn the car around except West Junction loop. They’d have run backwards to the switch that took cars from the Waukesha to the Hales Corners line which was a short distance north of the West Jct. station, then switched to the Hales Corners line where they’d now be facing south, gone around the loop and then you’d be facing north frontwards). They could not have gone all the way to the Public Service Building. First, there was no way to turn a car around there and second by Feb. 29 of 1952 the rails had tar put over them and the trolley wire had been removed from the trainshed.

I think Herb Danneman was right. This is 2-29-52 and that is car 1142.

-Larry Sakar

Postscript

Scott Greig (see Comments section below) was wondering if there was any sort of listing of which Speedrail cars went to the Waukesha Gravel Pit for scrapping. He is in luck. Among the many great documents I found in that collection Herb Danneman so generously gave me were 2 lists of cars that were in the scrap line and elsewhere on the Speedrail property on March 1, 1952 and March 16, 1952. The list was written in pencil and hard to read so I typed it up and scanned in both lists

Thanks Scott, Charles and Robert for the great comments and superb information.

-Larry

Recent Finds

CTA PCC 7199, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is eastbound on 120th near Halsted circa 1952-55. This was the south end of Route 36 - Broadway-State. (Eugene Van Dusen Photo)

CTA PCC 7199, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is eastbound on 120th near Halsted circa 1952-55. This was the south end of Route 36 – Broadway-State. (Eugene Van Dusen Photo)

CTA 6148, and "Odd 17" car, was built by the Surface Lines in 1919. Here we see it southbound, turning from Clark onto Halsted.

CTA 6148, and “Odd 17” car, was built by the Surface Lines in 1919. Here we see it southbound, turning from Clark onto Halsted.

CTA 1750 heads west on Randolph Street, signed for Route 16 - Lake Street, circa 1952-54. In the background, we see the Sherman House Hotel, the old Greyhound Bus Terminal, and the Garrick Television Center.

CTA 1750 heads west on Randolph Street, signed for Route 16 – Lake Street, circa 1952-54. In the background, we see the Sherman House Hotel, the old Greyhound Bus Terminal, and the Garrick Television Center.

CTA 1775 heads west on Cermak Road at Kostner circa 1952-54. This photo gives you a good view of a Chicago safety island.

CTA 1775 heads west on Cermak Road at Kostner circa 1952-54. This photo gives you a good view of a Chicago safety island.

CTA 1728 and 3127 on Route 21 - Cermak, just east of Kenton, circa 1952-54.

CTA 1728 and 3127 on Route 21 – Cermak, just east of Kenton, circa 1952-54.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 310 and follower (309?) are on the west side of Mannheim road near Roosevelt Road on a 1950s fantrip.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 310 and follower (309?) are on the west side of Mannheim road near Roosevelt Road on a 1950s fantrip.

CA&E 310 on a 1955 fantrip on the Mt. Carmel branch.

CA&E 310 on a 1955 fantrip on the Mt. Carmel branch.

Marion (Indiana) Railways Birney car 8. It was probably built by St. Louis Car Company circa 1922-23, and scrapped in 1947.

Marion (Indiana) Railways Birney car 8. It was probably built by St. Louis Car Company circa 1922-23, and scrapped in 1947.

Marion Railways 8 circa World War II.

Marion Railways 8 circa World War II.

New Washington and Wabash “L” Station

The new Chicago Transit Authority “L” station at Washington and Wabash recently opened. It replaces two stations, at Madison and Randolph. Having one station instead of two speeds up service on the Loop. The Madison station was closed at the beginning of the project, while Randolph remained open until the new one was ready.

This new station is very attractive and seems designed well to handle large crowds. The old Randolph station was already being cut up for scrap when I took these pictures. Not sure what happened to the large CTA logo that was added when that station was renovated in 1954.

Washington and Wabash is conveniently located near Millennium Park, and also provides easy transfer to CTA buses heading east and west.

-David Sadowski

Charlie On the M.T.A.

A period illustration for the M.T.A. song (aka Charlie on the M.T.A.).

A period illustration for the M.T.A. song (aka Charlie on the M.T.A.).

After purchasing a “Charlie Ticket” on our recent trip to Boston (see Back in Boston, September 15, 2017), that got us to thinking about the song that inspired it, generally known as Charlie On the M.T.A. We spent some time recently looking into the origins of this iconic song.

It all started in 1949, when the late Walter O’Brien ran for Mayor of Boston on the Progressive Party ticket. He had no money for advertising, but he did have some folksinging friends, who recorded several songs for his campaign, including The People’s Choice, The O’Brien Train, We Want Walter A. O’Brien, and The M.T.A. Song.

These had new lyrics set to old melodies that the folksingers, who included Bess Lomax Hawes, Al Katz, Sam Berman, Al Berman, and Jackie Steiner, were already familiar with. The M.T.A. song was set to the tune of The Ship That Never Returned, written in 1865 by Henry Clay Work.

The same song also inspired The Wreck of the Old 97.

Fare hikes were a reason to protest the newly formed M.T.A. The Massachusetts legislature had allowed the Boston Elevated Railway Company to absorb its competitors in 1922, creating a monopoly. When the company went bankrupt in 1947, the legislature bought the company, bailing out the shareholders, and formed the Massachusetts Transportation Authority (now called the MBTA).

As a result, a five cent surcharge was added to the existing ten cent fare. Since it was not easy to adapt existing fare collection equipment, riders had to pay an extra nickel when getting off the train– hence the theme of the song.

Bess Lomax Hawes, who had been in the Almanac Singers, picked the tune, while most of the new lyrics were written by Jackie Steiner. It was Hawes, however, who wrote the memorable verse about how Charlie’s wife brought him a sandwich every day and handed it to him through the window of the train as it rumbled by.

The newly recorded song made its debut on October 24, 1949. O’Brien hired a truck with a PA system and had it drive around the city, playing his campaign songs. Of these, M.T.A. was by far the most popular and enduring.

O’Brien got very few votes, but Charlie gained Boston immortality in the process.

Cut to 1955. Folksinger Richard “Specs” Simmons taught the song to Will Holt, who recorded his own version in 1957. This was on its way toward being a hit when his record company began getting complaints from the Boston area, accusing Holt of promoting a radical.

Not knowing the true origin of the song, Holt had no idea that Walter A. O’Brien was a real person.

An edited version was issued, but the damage was done. It was left to the Kingston Trio to record the best and by far most famous version of the song in 1959. They avoided controversy by changing the name of the mayoral candidate to the fictional George O’Brien.

Reportedly, when Will Holt recorded his version, he cut in Richard “Specs” Simmons for one-third of the publishing, which eventually provided him the cash to purchase a bar in San Francisco’s North Beach area, now known as Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Cafe. He died at age 86 in October 2016.

Most other people involved with the song are no longer with us. Walter O’Brien has died. Bess Lomax Hawes, sister of Alan Lomax and daughter of John Lomax, passed away in 2009. However, Sam Berman, who sang lead on the original 1949 version, lives in Lexington and is in his early 90s. His brother Arnold, also in his 90s, may still be alive. Lyricist Jackie Steiner is also still with us.

You can listen to several versions of the song, including the 1949 original and Will Holt’s, here.

-David Sadowski

Recent Correspondence

A model of GM&O 1900.

A model of GM&O 1900.

Charles Harris of New Zealand writes:

In 1946 Ingalls Iron Works manufactured the one and only Ingalls 4-S diesel loco, tested on several railroads and then sold to GM&O. Used until 1966 and then scrapped. Used a Superior marine engine, with apparently a distinctive sound.

Do any of your recordings feature the Ingalls 4-S? and or film etc.


Kenneth Gear
replies:

I am unaware of any sound recordings of the Ingalls 4-S diesel locomotive. Since it was a one of a kind loco and surely sought out by fans, and considering it lasted to the mid-sixties, the possibility exists that someone recorded it. I’ll keep an eye (and ear) out for it, I would watch for DVDs of vintage GM&O Diesels, perhaps it was filmed at some point with a sound movie camera. If so, the footage and sound track may have ended up on a DVD release.

You might also contact the Meridian Railroad Museum in Meridian, Mississippi: 1805 Front Street, Meridian, MS 39301, phone: (601) 485-7245.

GM&O was one of the local railroads here and the staff there my know of something.

By the way, on the Yahoo Group RAILROAD RECORD FANCLUB I’ve conversed with a person named Doug Harris who also lives in New Zealand. Any relation?

Our New Book Chicago Trolleys— Now In Stock!

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys was released on September 25, 2017 by Arcadia Publishing. You can order an autographed copy through us (see below). Chicago Trolleys is also available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 230 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans Under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping.

We appreciate your business!

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Praise for Chicago Trolleys

Kenneth Gear writes:

I just finished reading your book and I enjoyed it very much. Good, clear, concise, and informative writing.

I must compliment you on the choice and presentation of the photographs. It is obvious that you spent much time and effort to present these wonderful photos as perfectly restored as possible.

So many times the authors of books that are primarily “picture books” seem to have a complete disregard for the condition of the photos reproduced. I’ve often seen photos that are yellowed with age, water stained, ripped, folded, and scratched. Other times a book might contain photos that are not properly exposed, are crooked, out of focus, or the composition could have been easily corrected with a little cropping.

The photos in your book are absolutely fantastic! They are pristine, sharp, and have absolutely no blemishes at all. You also packed a lot of information into the captions as well. It’s a fine book and you should be proud, as I’m sure you are, to have your name on the cover.

NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

Selected images from Chicago Trolleys are now available in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

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Larry Sakar, TM, and Speedrail

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don's Rail Photos: "1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952." It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Lehigh Valley Transit 1100 on a New York Central flat car at Riverside Yard in Allentown PA. Don’s Rail Photos: “1100 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 201. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to LVT as 1100. In 1949 it was sold to Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail. It was in such bad condition that it was not rehabilitated and was scrapped in 1952.” It seems likely that the 1100 was sold to Speedrail for use as a parts car. The photo date is given as February 14, 1948, but this may be wrong, as this was more than a year prior to the abandonment of the Easton Limited interurban line, where this car ran. However, it may have been out of service for some time.

Today, we are featuring some recent correspondence with Larry Sakar, author of the 1991 book Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?. This has long been a collector’s item– try finding a copy at a reasonable price, and you will see what I mean.

Larry has continued his research in the 26 years since this book came out, and has a new book in the works. Larry is very outspoken, and doesn’t pull any punches. Perhaps that is because he knows his subject so well.

Meanwhile, this Wednesday, I sent off the corrected proofs of our own book Chicago Trolleys to the publisher. That means our part in it is now pretty much done, except perhaps for answering any questions that the proofreaders might have. Then it will go to press and the publication date is September 25.

If any of you have ever written a book, you may know that it is something akin to wrestling an alligator. However, now I believe I’ve got the alligator wrestled to the ground, and am very happy with the finished product. Chances are, you will be too.

-David Sadowski

Larry A. Sakar writes:

I just discovered your site and saw the 3 color photos of LVT 1100 & 1102 loaded onto flat cars for the trip to Milwaukee (Odds and Ends, May 5, 2017). The Feb., 1948 date is not correct. Speedrail did not exist in 1948. It began on 9/2/49 after Jay Maeder bought the Waukesha line from Northland Greyhound for $110!

I know because I’m Larry Sakar, author of “Speedrail Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?” published by Interurban Press in 1991.

Cars 1100 & 1102 were purchased sometime in late October by Jay Maeder who went to Allentown for the purpose of buying additional Cincinnati Curved side lightweight cars to go with the 6 purchased by Ed Tennyson, Speedrail’s VP of operations in Sept. 1949 from Shaker Heights Rapid Transit (cars 60-65). SHRT sold Tennyson the 6 cars for $500 each and he leased them back to Speedrail. The sale was supposed to be contingent on Mr. Maeder putting up the additional $2300 for spare parts. Whether or not he did I have never been able to find out.

Maeder paid $750 each for 1100 & 1102 which were supposedly the best 2 of the 4 cars (1100-1103). You are absolutely correct about the refurbishing of 1102 into MRT car 66 which premiered on 3/31/51 and served only for 3 months before Speedrail ended all operations on 6/30/51. As part of the rehabilitation it exchanged trucks with car 64 which was wrecked in the collision with e-TM 1121 serving as Speedrail’s freight motor. That happened just 3 days after the terrible and fatal accident on the NMRA fan trip of 9/2/50. The 3 man crew on 1121 finished switching the C&NW Ry. interchange just south of West Jct. early that day and were in a hurry to get home so they ignored the proper procedure for entering the mainline from the C&NW interchange and smacked into car 64 bashing in a significant portion of the front platform. They did not have to worry about getting home early after that. All 3 were terminated. But it caused Travelers Insurance to pull the plug on Speedrail’s liability insurance because of 2 serious accidents in 3 days and also because Maeder was 6 months behind in paying the premiums. He had used money set aside for insurance to buy Shaker Heights cars 300 & 301! As President and sole stockholder he could do what he wanted. The money was used to buy equipment and not for any personal purposes thus making it perfectly legal but also perfectly stupid!

To the best of my knowledge Maeder never intended to use car 1100 for spare parts. That only happened because it was dead on arrival in Milwaukee and would not run period. 1102 blew a motor on arrival and had to be sent to TMER&T’s Cold Spring shops for repair. Cold Spring was marking up costs by 100%! The small shops facility in the Public Service building terminal could not do major repairs.

I don’t know if you would be interested but I have just completed a new manuscript entitled, “The Complete History of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line from TMER&L to Speedrail.” There are 146 pages of text plus an additional 160 pages of photos and documents. Of these there are 37 pages of color photos.

The money to pay for refurbishing 1102 into 66 came from the sale of 14 surplus ex-TM 1100 series cars to Afram Brothers Scrap Metal Company in Milwaukee. This all took place several months after Bruno V. Bitker the federal bankruptcy trustee dismissed Jay Maeder. The seats put in what became car 66 came from some of those 1100’s. It also switched trucks with the damaged car 64.

I think if Maeder had remained in charge he would never have sold those surplus 1100’s. He had a sentimental attachment to TM which he first discovered in 1926 when he attended St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin for his senior year of high school. Delafield was a stop on the Milwaukee-Watertown line.

Thanks and continue the great work. You have a fantastic website.

Thanks for writing, and also for all this wonderful information. As you are well aware I am sure, the information people write on slides, prints, negs, etc. is not always 100% accurate. I appreciate your corrections.

Lehigh Valley Transit purchased four Cincinnati curved-side cars second-hand in 1938 for the Easton Limited interurban line. Unfortunately, these cars were underpowered, and not really up to the task of working this hilly route. They were sharp-looking cars as LVT renovated them, but could not maintain the schedules of the cars they replaced. So it is no great surprise that by the time Speedrail got two of them in 1949, they were in bad shape.

Larry replied:

Yes, I do know that incorrect info often turns up in both pics and books. My 1991 Speedrail book has errors but when I wrote it in 1988 it was based on the best information I had at the time. I never dreamed that after it came out I’d be contacted by Jay Maeder’s daughter Jane and would be the recipient of several boxes of documents her father left behind. She and her late brother Jay Jr. decided that I should have them as they would never do anything with them. Neither of them knew much about Speedrail other than that their father once “owned a railroad”.

That reminds me. I saw the discussion as to whether Jay Maeder ever lived in Texas. No he didn’t but his daughter Jane Maeder Walsh lives in Houston. And Jay Sr. is survived by a lot of grandchildren. I didn’t know Jay Jr. drew that cartoon but I’m not surprised. He was an authority on the Dick Tracy comic strip having authored two books on the subject. I only spoke to him one time while he was working for the New York Daily News and was writing a column called “Lounge Lizard” which reviewed NYC lounge acts. I’ve had a lot of contact with Jane.

I wanted to scream when I got the last shipment of documents in 2012. At the bottom of the box was a scrapbook – the kind with the brown pages like many of us had as kids where we glued things in with Muselix glue. That’s what I expected to see when I opened it but instead found blank pages. Then I looked again. What he did, David, was rip out newspaper clippings related to Speedrail. Then he’d rip out the date and using a nail like the ones you get with picture hooks, would attach it to the clipping. But instead of placing the clippings on the pages he literally shoved them into the spines of each page. Well, after 60 years as I’m sure you know the newsprint deteriorated and the dates fell off as the paper deteriorated. Newsprint is notorious for that. Consequently, I ended up with about 25 clippings where the event could have happened anytime in the 22 months Speedrail existed.

You’re 100% right that the 9-2-50 accident is still controversial. I would say that in terms of blame 80% goes to Maeder and 20% to Tennyson. The Maeder/Tennyson working relationship had been deteriorating ever since the fall of 1949 when Maeder bought the Local Rapid Transit line (Milwaukee-West Junction-Hales Corners) without ever bringing the matter before the Speedrail Board (such as it was). Tennyson was opposed. He told me that when he went to Cleveland on 9/12/49 and met with Maeder’s Cleveland Attorney, Frank Taplin, Taplin told him, “Ed, whatever you do do not let Jay buy that Local Rapid Transit line. He will lose his shirt!” Tennyson was there to buy the 6 Shaker Heights curved side cars. Anyway, according to what he told me, when he found out what Maeder had done he went to the third member of the board, Oliver A. Grootemaat Speedrail’s general counsel and secretary. He said Grootemaat told him, “Maeder owns all the stock. He can do whatever he wants.!”

As for 9-2-50 Tennyson told me Maeder had asked him to draw up a schedule and rules for the 5 NMRA fan trips which he did. On the morning of 9/2 he discovered the trains were running late and that’s when he called the so-called dispatcher, Joe Bellon at the Public Service Building to find out what was going on. It was then that he found out that Maeder and one of the senior motormen, Gerald Greer had spent the night before drawing up “anticipatory train orders” that required every train to call from every siding. Also, the rules were that photo stops were to be made southbound to Hales Corners only. And anyone who did not come when time was up for the photo stop would be left behind. When Maeder’s train got to Hillcrest loop in Hales Corners the fans asked for a photostop going back to Milwaukee. Maeder should have said “NO” but he went along with it. So Tennyson called Bellon and told him to go back to the original orders where trains were to operate by schedule and timetable and only call if they ran into trouble. Maeder had called from Hillcrest to report they’d be stopping for a photostop northbound but from that point on he wasn’t heard from again. In order to allow the regularly scheduled southbound Hales Corners pass Maeder pulled in to Greenwood Jct., a siding never used which was the connection to the Lakeside Belt Line. It was seldom if ever used and once the M-R-K (Milwaukee-Racine Kenosha Line) was abandoned in Dec. of 1947 it was useless.

As a result of the reversal of orders Equitz assumed Maeder would hold at Oklahoma Ave. for him to pass. Maeder, still operating under his revised orders expected the dispatcher would tell Equitz he’d cleared Maeder’s train all the way to West Jct. The end result was that 10 people were killed because two guys didn’t get along. I do think Maeder went thru a red signal. And I also feel he had no business running the train especially since it was discovered he was color blind. If he’d been familiar with the Nachod signals that should not have made a difference. The position of the lights would have shown if the signal was red or white. Maeder was too occupied by all of the railfans gathered around him and he didn’t give the signal more than a quick glance, something you could not do with Nachod signals.

Maeder made an idiot of himself at the Coroner’s inquest. When the DA asked him why his train was running late he objected. the DA asked why he objected to his train being labeled as late and he replied, “My train was an extra train. Extra trains cannot be late. They can only be behind schedule.” HUH?? What’s the difference? Isn’t being behind schedule being late? He also testified that he and the regular motorman George Wolter weren’t relying on the signals. “They were a help but we weren’t relying on them”, is what he testified. Yes, Maeder was exonerated in court but only because the law on 4th Degree Manslaughter required it to be a deliberate act. I seriously doubt if he would be as lucky today not to mention that he personally would face a ton of lawsuits. And though he was exonerated in court he could and did not fare as well in the one court he could do nothing about, the court of public opinion. Bitker clearly didn’t want him around anymore. Tennyson said Bitker banned Maeder from the property but I don’t know if that’s true.

The Rapid Transit book I’ve completed contains photos you’ve never seen before. One of my sources is John Schoenknecht the head of the Waukesha County Historical Society and he has supplied me with some really great photos.

I see Bill Shapotkin comments quite regularly. I’ve known Bill since 1986. Great guy!

This is all great stuff. Who is publishing your book? I see that Interurbans Press put out your Speedrail volume.

Larry:

Interurbans Press did put out the Speedrail book. They published one or two books after that and went out of business. Mac Sebree, the owner retired and sold the company to video producer PENTREX. PENTREX had no interest in selling or publishing books. They bought Interurban Press for one thing and one thing only – their videos. And even if they were still around I’d be extremely reluctant to deal with them again! At the time they accepted the book they had purchased PTJ Publications which was in Waukesha. PTJ as you may know was the original publisher of Passenger Train Journal.

 In 1988 home computers and the Internet did not exist. But since they had the office in Waukesha I begged and pleaded for them to do the book there even though the normally did all books in Glendale, CA. Mike Schaefer was part of PTJ Publications and he was the person I wanted to edit and layout the book. I pointed out that it would be much easier for all concerned should any problems arise. I couldn’t hop a plane to Glendale, CA.  just like that. I was working. But driving out to Waukesha would be no problem. What I didn’t know until later was that “bad blood” existed between Mike and this Paul Hammond who ran things in Glendale. Interurban Press interpreted my request as taking sides. I was trying to do what I felt would be best especially since I knew Mike knew the subject which the California people did not. Interurban Press refused.

The book was to have been published in 1989 but a tragedy at the Waukesha office delayed it by two years. A young staff member was engaged to be married. Something happened and the engagement was called off. He become despondent and went out to Butler and killed himself by stepping in front of an on-coming C&NW train. Horrible! Anyway they resumed work on it and things seemed to go well from there. I don’t know how it works today but back then you received 3 final drafts. The first two showed the space where the photos would be and the caption but not the actual photo. The final proof was called the blue line. So the blue line arrives in the mail and I absolutely exploded. What was supposed to be a photo of the 9-2-50 Speedrail wreck was a photo of the 8-24-49 Soldiers Home wreck. I probably didn’t even need long distance I was so angry. Their excuse: “Well, we just assumed that the wrecks were one and the same.” YOU ASSUMED?? So I had to quickly run out to Waukesha. They had the Milwaukee Journals for the day of and days after the 9-2-50 wreck. With the space already dedicated we had to choose that really bad picture that appears in the book. It was the only one that fit.

There were any number of other things that happened over those 2-3 years (1988-1991). I can’t tell you how many times they told me they “expected to take a loss” on the book and discouraging things like that. Loss nothing! It sold out all of the first printing in 18 months. I had thought about pitching it to Kalmbach but didn’t think I’d stand much of a chance being an unknown at the time. I was right. In 1999 a couple of years after the video, “Rapid Transit in Milwaukee From TMER&L to Speedrail” was put out by TMER&THS of which I was Secretary and Treasurer we decided to write a companion book to the video. Jack Gervais was co-authoring it with me. He was handling everything up to Speedrail and I was writing from Speedrail to the end. When we finished it in 2000 I tried pitching it to Kalmbach now that I had a book published. They turned it down. They were full of compliments about it being well written and all but felt it was too limited as a subject and would not sell the way a book on a more popular subject like the Milwaukee Road would. Gervais then contacted Larry Plachno. I did not want to deal with him as I’d heard a great deal of negative things about him from Bill Shapotkin. Well we did end up driving all the way to Polo, Illinois only to have Plachno open the binder, look at a few pages and go, “Tsk, Tsk, Tsk! I have a problem with you people already” HUH? “All this quoting. Don’t you know a good historian never quotes. He paraphrases.” I politely took the binder, shut it, said, “Thank you for your time, Mr. Plachno. That may be your philosophy for writing books but it isn’t mine!” In the intro to the new book I address that. I don’t believe in paraphrasing because that puts my interpretation on what was said. I quote and I let my readers decide how to interpret what was said. 

So in terms of a publisher I don’t have one and I’ve no idea of who I could give it to. I’m not looking to make money from this. The Maeder family designated me “Keeper of the Flame” where Speedrail is concerned. They entrusted what Jay left behind because they feel I would know best how to make use of it. I take that both as a compliment and a responsibility to preserve this history. That is my goal, here. Norm Carlson is a perfect example of someone who understands that. I have worked with him quite a few times and enjoyed it. He’s a professional and “First & Fastest” is the high quality publication it is because of his dedication. Browsing thru your site I see much the same thing, David. You obviously have a real feel for preserving this history and those are the type of people I like to work with. I really enjoy the Trolley Dodger site.

The Speedrail book was written as a way to promote TMER&THS Inc. I quit the group 14 years ago so this book has absolutely no connection to them or any other group. I am a member of Shore Line. Norm has been very gracious in publishing my articles. I’m also writing for “Landmark,” the publication of the Waukesha County Historical Society. My goal is to leave behind a historical record so that someday someone can come along and view this history. 

I saw your comment that maybe if things had been just a little different Speedrail might still be around today. Actually, David, sad to say, Speedrail was dead before it began. The following chapters from my book and  a page from a city of Milwaukee subcommittee in March, 1945 will show you what Milwaukee thought of the Rapid Transit. Once the city caught what I call “expressway fever” and they decided the Rapid Transit line west from downtown was the place for the East-West Freeway they stopped at nothing to get it. Maeder owned the track, overhead wire, cars and bridges but not the land on which those tracks sat. That remained Wisconsin Electric Power Co. property. Shaker Heights did not have that problem. Maeder wrongly assumed that Milwaukee would rally to support his efforts to save the Rapid Transit as happened in Shaker Heights. It was the Waukesha riders who rallied to support it. Milwaukee could’ve card less except for Mayor Zeidler, of course. More to follow soon.

The photo I sent you earlier today which shows a guy up on a stage addressing a crowd of people goes with the chapter”The First Public Pledge Meeting.” The date is 6-27-51. The place was Kuney’s dance hall in the Town of Calhoun. I think the man on stage is Edwin Knappe but am not sure. You’ll read about him and the Calhoun Farms Riders Group in the chapter about them. Kuney’s is still there today if you think I should put in a present day picture. There’s nothing special about it. Calhoun Farms was to the north and west of the Calhoun Road stop on the Waukesha line. There’s a historical marker which explains about it and the area of Calhoun which is east of Waukesha. It even mentions the Rapid Transit. I have pictures of that too.

One of the people you’ll see quoted in the Speedrail section fairly often is former Speedrail motorman Don Leistikow. I’d say that at least 50% of what I learned about Speedrail over the years came from Don. I’m attaching his famous “Skunk” story. I think you” get a laugh out of it. Don was quite a story teller. He passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 85 and is sorely missed.

While I never actually met Don L. Leistikow, I did correspond with him a bit, and I almost met him once.  I went out to East Troy onetime and took some pictures, and after I posted them to the web, someone identified him in one of the pictures.  What a nice man.

Larry:

NSL fans may be interested to know that after being vacant for the last 47 years the site of the North Shore’s Harrison St. shops at S. 5th St. and W. Harrison Ave. (remember NSL called it “street” but Harrison is actually an avenue) is finally being redeveloped. Sadly, not for traction purposes. A private charter school whose name I can’t remember is building on the property all the way to where it dead-ends above the KK River and Cleveland Ave. and extending west on Harrison Ave. to the southeast corner of S. 6th St. It’s a huge, multi-story facility. Back in 2005 when I visited the site of the shops with Norm Carlson of the Shore Line interurban Historical Society and Walter Keevil of CERA I noticed that the city of Milwaukee had paved S. 5th St. from the point where the private right-of-way began on the south side of the street all the way to the fence and concrete barrier that mark where the NSL’s bridge over the river began. Let’s face it. Vacant lots do not generate property tax revenue. The dilapidated shops building stood until about 1970. I remember a Milwaukee Journal editorial cartoon and article in 1968 urging its demolition because it presented a bad image of Milwaukee to drivers coming in (northbound) on I-94 which sits below the east end of the property. The school is supposed to open for the fall 2018-2019 semester next year.

I’m sure most NSL fans don’t know this. After the 6th and Michigan station in downtown Milwaukee was razed in May or June of 1964 somebody came up with the ideas of building a tourist tower on the south end of the property at about the point where NSL trains entered and left the elevated platforms that were attached to the south end of the terminal. Here is an artists rendering of what it was going to look like from the Milwaukee Journal of 11-22-64. Of course it ever happened. What did happen was this. In the summer of 1965 the church whose denomination I have forgotten that was on the north side of Wisconsin Ave. between N. 10th & N. 11th Sts. was being forced to move. The entire block on both sides of the street was disappearing, literally. The I-43 freeway was and does cross beneath the “Avenue” at this point. So the church spent almost $2 million to buy the entire 4 square blocks where the NSL station had stood. That encompassed W. Michigan St. on the north. W. Clybourn St. on the south. N. 5th St. on the east and N. 6th St. on the west. The plan was to build the church and some sort of shopping area around it. I say the “plan” because that too never happened. I remember a wooden sign erected on the station site facing W. Michigan St. that said, “Future home of…” and it named the congregation. For the next 33 years the property sat vacant. Then in 1998 Time Insurance Co. which had been located on the corner of N. 5th St. and W. Wells St. downtown built their new corporate headquarters on the site. A check of the Milwaukee city directory shows the building there as of 1998. The Wells St. building was sold to make way for Milwaukee’s first downtown convention center which was called “MECCA – the Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center and Arena.” It was judged as the boxiest and ugliest building ever built in Milwaukee and it too fell to the wrecking ball when the new, and very underused, downtown convention center was constructed along Wisconsin Ave. between N. 4th & N. 6th Sts. Why the church was never built and how Time Insurance acquired the property (sale, foreclosure??) is something I have been unable to find out. The congregation disappears from the Milwaukee city directory in 1966. Perhaps they moved to one of the suburbs or merged with another congregation. If any of the NSL fans know I’d be very interested in the details. Time Insurance has since been thru all kinds of mergers and the building now says Securant Insurance.

In the summer of 1971 I went to the site of Ryan Tower on the abandoned NSL r.o.w. I didn’t drive back then so it meant to very lengthy bus rides from my home on Milwaukee’s northwest side. and a long walk up Ryan Rd. from the end of the Rt. 66 bus line. I knew I was at the right spot when I got to the crossing with the C&NW’s new line. And that was the only way I knew. The NSL was gone with nary a trace. I had to walk a block or so north before I came across the abandoned NSL r.o.w. As I continued north there much to my surprise was the NSL’s Carrollville substation still standing 8 years after the abandonment. I took this picture of it on 8-17-71 using a Polaroid camera I’d gotten for Christmas the previous year. My ANSCO 8-shot box camera took better pictures than that Polaroid! And then you always had the chore of having to spread this smelly fixer on the photo to keep it from curling up. So please forgive the quality of the pictures.

Larry’s Human Interest Stories

I’ll be glad to write this. There are four of them, all involving people who had they been where they had planned to be might not have lived another day.

What I have found in the 52 years I have been studying and researching the Rapid Transit and Speedrail is that fate and coincidence seem to play a major role. For example, take how I got to know Jane Maeder Walsh, Jay’s daughter. In 1991 when the Speedrail book came out she had a daughter who was a student at Carroll College (now University) in Waukesha. Jane was living in Atlanta at the time but decided to come to Waukesha for a visit. While there she decided to go to the Waukesha Public Library and see what she could find out about “the railroad that my father owned.” At first, all the librarian was able to find was a folder containing a few newspaper clippings from the Waukesha Freeman, Waukesha’s daily newspaper. Then she remembered that the library had just received a new book about Speedrail. She gave it to Jane to browse through there since she obviously would not be able to borrow it.

A short time later, on a Saturday morning my phone rang. The lady on the other end asked if I was the person who wrote the Speedrail book. I said I was. She said, “My name is Jane Walsh. I know that name doesn’t mean anything to you until I tell you my maiden name. It is Maeder and Jay Maeder was my father.” I kind of held my breath for a second thinking the next thing I’d hear was that she didn’t like the things Tennyson said about her father and she was going to sue me. Quite to the contrary she wanted to know where she could go to buy copies of the book. I put her in touch with one of the local hobby shops that I knew was carrying it and she bought half a dozen copies for her family. I didn’t hear from her for quite a while after that until the day she and her brother discovered a box of material relating to Speedrail, long forgotten, left behind by her father. She said that she and her brother had no interest in it and asked if I would want it? Are you kidding? Over the course of the next few years they found other boxes of things. She e-mailed Jay Jr. and asked if he wanted it. He replied, “Are we still in touch with that Sakar guy?” Jane said she had talked to me about it and I’d said I wanted it if her brother didn’t. Jay Jr. then replied, “Let’s face it… neither you nor I will ever make anything out of this stuff. I say, let’s make him keeper of the flame. Larry will know what to do with it.” That was a great honor that they had confidence that I could make use of the material.

We still keep in touch by e-mail from time to time. My friend and colleague Chris Barney and I paid to have copies made of that picture of her father walking alongside car 60 flagging it on the inaugural Speedrail fan trip of 10-16-49. We sent them to her and she was thrilled. It’s the only picture she has of her father with “his railroad.”

You might remember that on the 9-2-50 the motorman of the 1192-93 heavy duplex that collided with Maeder’s train (39-40) was LeRoy Equitz. In the fall of 1971, I got a job as a student library aide at the main library in downtown Milwaukee. One night I was sitting in the lunchroom on break with a brother and sister who also worked there. Terry, the brother struck up a conversation with me. “We hear you like trains.” I said, “Well yes. I do like trains but my main interest is streetcars and interurbans.” They had no clue as to what either of those were. Terry said, “Our uncle was a train engineer.” I said, Oh really, where?” He said, “Right here in Milwaukee.” I asked which railroad he worked for, thinking it had to be either the Milwaukee Road or the C&NW. Terry said neither one sounded like the one their uncle had mentioned. I asked when he worked as an engineer and he said, “In the ’50’s.” Then he continued. “Our uncle was involved in an accident and ended up losing a foot because of it.” Suddenly, my curiosity was on high, so to speak.” So I said, “This accident. Could it have been in 1950 itself?” Terry said, “Come to think of it, yes. He did say 1950.” So I continued, “And this accident, could it possibly have been on Labor Day weekend in 1950?” BINGO! He said that it was. That’s when I said, “Don’t tell me your uncle’s name. Let me guess it. Is it LeRoy Equitz?” The brother and sister sat there for a second in amazement. “Yes. How on earth did you know that?” Of course I explained about Speedrail and told them which newspaper and dates to look at if they wanted more information. As I recall, LeRoy was still living but he had moved away some years earlier. I don’t recall to where so I never had an opportunity to talk to him.

You ask yourself what were the odds that I’d end up working with the niece and nephew of LeRoy Equitz. And I have found that to be the case so often in this hobby. So call it fate, destiny, coincidence. There are times when you can’t help but feel this was meant to be.

Thanks for taking the time to write this and your other reminiscences. I’d like to share these with my readers.

Naturally, I won’t use any of the material you sent me from your upcoming book, but is there anything else that you would not want me to run in my blog?

Larry:

Please feel free to use any of the material I’ve sent you for the Trolley Dodger. Anything and everything I write is for the enjoyment and/or information of others. What’s the point of keeping what I’ve learned over the years to myself? That benefits no one!

I saw the piece in The Trolley Dodger on the late Maury Klebolt. From 1983 to 1987 I went out to SFO every September for the Historic Market Street streetcar festival. I used to see Maury at the Market and Duboce storage facility below the former San Francisco mint. He was very involved with that Market Street Railway group. I seem to recall that he acquired a couple of streetcars for them. I wasn’t acquainted with him but had stories about his fan trips from the late Jack Gervais who apparently knew him. Bill Shapotkin also told me some stories about him.

By the way I kind of chuckle every time I see a Joe L. Diaz photo of a CSL “Sedan”. My good friend Dave Stanley knew Joe very well, along with a number of other well-known Chicago fans like the late Bob Gibson. I met both Dave and Bill Shapotkin in 1986. Both Dave and Bill told me Joe would have a fit when someone called those cars “Sedans.” It would provoke an “Ooh, they weren’t called that” response. I knew him by sight but I didn’t actually know him as such. I remember seeing him at CERA meetings in the back of the room selling books. That was back in the days when CERA met at the old Midland Hotel. I believe that’s now called the Blackhawk Hotel. I was a CERA member in the ’90’s but didn’t keep up my membership. Going to meetings meant having to drive to either Kenosha and take METRA which also meant leaving the meeting early to catch the 9:00pm train back to Kenosha and then an 11:00pm one hour drive back to Milwaukee. I never cared for night driving. Then in 2009 I lost all of the sight in my left eye as a result of diabetic retinopathy, which I didn’t know I had until it was too late. Since then I have been advised not to drive at night or on the highway or expressway. I no longer have the necessary depth perception and bright light, especially headlights coming at me blind me. Amtrak experimented with a late night (first 11:00pm then changed to 10:30pm) train to Milwaukee but they never promoted it so the ridership never materialized. Now the last train to Milwaukee leaves Chicago at 8:45pm.

I knew a lot of really nice guys in Chicago all of whom I have not seen nor spoken with in at least 15 years. Bruce Moffat and Ray DeGroote are two who come to mind. I always called Ray the Rick Steeves of the traction world. In any Ray DeGroote program you could always count on a money lesson, a geography lesson and a culture lesson. When I was the program director for TMER&THS from 1989 to 1995, I used to refer to Ray as “our world traveler”. The last time I saw Bruce was on a CERA fan trip on METRA Electric in the ’90’s. Bill Shapotkin was the trip director. At the first photo stop GK wanted a photo with the other car host and myself. Bruce took the picture but to this day I’ve never seen it.

I haven’t seen all of the issues of The Trolley Dodger but here are some Milwaukee streetcar photos from my collection that I think readers might enjoy.

Every now and then you get a photo that really has you stumped trying to figure out where it was taken. That’s what happened with this photo given to me by Bob Genack. I saw the RT 35 Route sign and stupidly assumed this had to be somewhere on the 35th Street route. But what really threw me a curve was the “35th St.” sign in the destination sign box below the big roof Route sign. If this was a northbound car it should have said “Burleigh,” and if southbound “St. Paul”. After puzzling over it I looked it over with a magnifying glass to see if I could detect any business names. And there in the left background was the solution. This is a time exposure so it’s a “ghosted” image. But if you look closely you will see a TM heavy duplex. OK. Now I see what this was all about. This is a TM posed, company photo. The 943 isn’t on 35th St. It’s on Michigan Street. You can’t see it but the Public Service Building is just out of the right hand side of the picture. The duplex is inbound from Sheboygan on N. 3rd St. It will turn left onto Michigan St. go one block east and then turn right onto N. 2nd St. to enter the PSB terminal. Those aren’t passengers standing waiting for the streetcar. They are TM company employees posing for the picture. The 943 looks brand new so I’m thinking this was taken in about 1928 or 1929. OK TM, you fooled me.

Streetcar advertising was a frequent occurrence on TM. But unlike the buses of today where the advertising is put on mylar sheets and then attached to the bus with a heat gun, and it is simply peeled off when the time is up, in streetcar days the car was actually repainted. Here’s one of the all-time classic examples of a repainted Milwaukee streetcar that is from the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. days. M&STC bought TMER&T at the end of 1952 and took over operation of the system on Jan. 1, 1953. They continued to use “The Transport Company” as their shortened name. M&STC lasted until July, 1975 when Milwaukee finally municipalized its transit system when M&STC was purchased by Milwaukee County. That is when the present-day Milwaukee County Transit System was born. But the “Transport Company” name had become so ingrained in the minds of Milwaukeeans that many continued to call it “The Transport Company” for quite some time after the county took over. Now everyone refers to it as MCTS.

Anyway, in 1955, car 943 was chosen to be repainted with a “safety message” from the Milwaukee Safety Commission. Isn’t it a bit ironic that the car advertising safety was involved in an accident downtown at 4th and Wells Streets in a collision with a city garbage truck? I guess the car didn’t heed its own message! The close-up b&w shot was taken at the Farwell Ave. terminal where Rt. 10 streetcars and Rt. 21-North Ave. trolleybuses laid over. The trolley bus service on Rt. 21 North Ave. lasted until 1961 or 1962 when it was converted to diesel bus operation using the new 1500 series GM new look fishbowl buses M&STC had purchased for that purpose. A portion of Rt. 10 east of Jackson & Wells Sts. downtown was eventually abandoned and most of the route from Jackson & Wells Strees east covered by Rt. 30 Sherman Blvd. buses.

Next up are 2 beautiful color photos of 943 in its “safety commission” paint job taken by Don Ross (Don’s Rail Photos. In the close-up shot, the car is on a fan trip at S. 81st St. and W. Greenfield Ave. which was Route 18-National Ave. That line ended at S. 92nd St. & W. Lapham Ave. Before West Junction was rebuilt Rt. 10 cars ran all the way out there via the private right-of-way which continued all the way out there. Prior to the construction of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line between 1925 & 1930, interurbans also used that r.o.w. Today the r.o.w. is still there going west from 92nd & Lapham and is used by We Energies vehicles to get to West Jct. so that the power lines can be serviced. In the second, more distant photo 943 is crossing W. Wisconsin Ave. on the p.r.o.w. that paralleled N. 52nd St. from Wells to the entrance to the Calvary Cemetery cut, later the stop for Milwaukee County Stadium from 1953 to 1957. Streetcars were gone by the opening of the baseball season in 1958.

The TM 900-series streetcars were an updated version of the 800-series built in 1920. The earliest 900’s were identical to the 800’s in all respects except one. The center motorman’s window on an 800 is narrower than on a 900. Other than that there was little if any difference. But by the time the group of cars from 976 seen here at Cold Spring shops to 985 were built, the interiors now had leather seats vs. rattan for all previous cars, and this group of 10 was unique in that they had that sort of visor/sun shield over the center window. One car in this group survives today. Car 978 was saved by former Milwaukeean Al Buetschle on behalf of the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club. They wanted a streetcar for outdoor display in Hart Park which is just to the east of the Wauwatosa end of the No. 10 line at Harwood Ave. and State Streets. Al loved the cars with the front visor and that is why he chose the 978. The car is now the property of the East Troy Electric RR and is currently undergoing an extensive rehabilitation. There is a very involved history of how the car was acquired and what happened to it over the years which I wrote for a fan publication in 1998. Al now lives in Oakley, Ca. a city in Contra Costa, County 60 miles northeast of San Francisco.

As I mentioned the 800’s had a narrower center window than the 900’s. You can see that in this photo of car 870 at the end of Rt. 40 at Kinnickinnic & St. Francis Aves. in St. Francis. The area doesn’t look much different today save for the absence of the streetcar. St. Francis is a suburb of Milwaukee on the southeast side.

Here’s a second shot of an 800 seen at the end of Rt. 11 at Howell & Howard Aves. probably in the 1950’s. Rt. 11 was converted to bus operation in 1956 and was Milwaukee’s second to last streetcar line.

At the start I mentioned “mystery” photos, and to close out here is one such example. I know where this is and I think this is probably in the 20’s or 30’s. What I can’t figure out is what a 600 series car (at least that’s what it looks like with that roof destination sign in the middle) is doing on Rt. 12 – 12th St. or why the destination sign says Center. Center is Center St. which was home to the Rt. 22 streetcar line. Rts. 21 & 22 were some of the earliest conversions from streetcar to trackless trolley. I question the destination because Rt. 12 cars usually operated all the way to 27th & Hopkins Streets. In the late 1920’s a transfer station was constructed here. It was a smaller version of the one at Farwell & North Aves. When Rt. 12 was converted to diesel bus operation the building was torn down and became a parking lot for the nearby A.O. Smith Corp. At last report the streetcar tracks are still in the pavement.

Thanks so much for this and your other recent messages. You have given me plenty of material to work with here. I am sure our readers, especially those in the Milwaukee area, will love reading this.

Who knows, it might even help you find a publisher!

This excerpt from a 1945 Milwaukee freeway report shows how even then, planners intended to take the Rapid Transit Line right-of-way for highway use.  The bottom photo, of course, was a composite.

This excerpt from a 1945 Milwaukee freeway report shows how even then, planners intended to take the Rapid Transit Line right-of-way for highway use.The bottom photo, of course, was a composite.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified this photo. Here, M&DSTC car 943 is going eastbound on the famous Wells Street trolley viaduct on a 1955 fantrip.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified this photo. Here, M&DSTC car 943 is going eastbound on the famous Wells Street trolley viaduct on a 1955 fantrip.

Book Review:

The Street Railways of Grand Rapids
By Carl Bajema and Tom Maas
Bulletin 148 of Central Electric Railfans’ Association*
Hardcover with dust jacket, 304 pages

The authors present a fascinating and very thorough account of street railway service in Grand Rapids, Michigan, covering the years up to 1935, when the system was abandoned in favor of buses. There was quite a variety of service in the area, including horse cars, cable cars, steam dummies, streetcars of various types, and interurbans connecting to other cities such as Holland. The authors coverall these ably and thoroughly.

This book has just been issued in a very limited edition, and chances are it will not be reprinted once the first edition has sold out, which I am sure it will. CERA Bulletins have a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and this book does not disappoint.

Having had a few discussions about this book with Mr. Bajema myself, when it was in its early stages, I can attest that it presented a considerable challenge. After all, Grand Rapids streetcar service ended in 1935, and anyone old enough to have ridden one, and remember it, would be close to 90 years old by now.

Color photography was still in its infancy in 1935. Fortunately, there are ways to add color to such a book, including color postcards, yellowed newspaper clippings, and maps. All these are present in abundance.

Another challenge is the lack of corporate records for the operator. And then, there is the matter of a roster, which is pretty much de rigueur for a book such as this.

Complicating matters, the Grand Rapids system used names for their cars instead of numbers, which makes it very difficult to put forward a complete roster.

The names of all such cars as of 1927 are given. Interestingly, though, the one Grand Rapids photo we have posted on this blog is not included in the book. It shows the F. W. Wurtzburg, named after a local department store. Since this photo probably dates to the 1930s, perhaps the name was applied after 1927.

This book should interest anyone who likes streetcars in general, or lives in Michigan in particular. It is available from the publisher. At 304 pages, it is also somewhat larger than the typical 224-page CERA length.

The general approach the authors have taken here could also be applied to other subjects of a similar vintage, such as the Chicago, Ottawa and Peoria, an Illinois interurban which quit in 1934.

It is somewhat ironic that Grand Rapids was at the forefront of innovation in the 1920s, but just a decade later, was also among the first cities of its size to completely replace streetcars with buses.  But there is a connection– the need to innovate was born out of necessity.

Read the book, and you’ll find out why.

-David Sadowski

The "F. W. Wurtzburg," built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

The “F. W. Wurtzburg,” built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

*Please note that The Trolley Dodger is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

Product Review

This picture shows the lightbox with the light turned off.

This picture shows the lightbox with the light turned off.

Tracing Light box Dbmier A4S USB Powered Light Pad Artcraft Tracing LED Light Board for Drawing, Tracing, Sketching, Animation Active Area 8.27″ X 12.20″

Here is a new product that should interest anyone who works with photographic negatives or transparencies. It is a modern version of a lightbox, using LED technology. It is powered by a USB cord that can connect to a computer. I expect you can get an adapter that will allow you to use AC power. Otherwise, you would be limited to using it in the vicinity of your computer.

In years past, there have been various lightboxes on the market. Some had conventional light bulbs, and others used florescent lighting. All were somewhat problematic and all were also bulkier than this ultra-thin model, which has three levels of brightness and puts out white light (which many of the older lightboxes did not).

The old type lightboxes also put out a lot of heat, which this one does not.  It’s a 21st century solution to a 20th century problem, but better late than never!

It is available for a very attractive price. I highly recommend it, and gain nothing financially if anyone does buy one. I only wish a product like this had been available 30 years ago.

-David Sadowski

Recent Correspondence

Bruce Fastow writes:

Perhaps you can guide me. I own a Johnson fare box similar to the one attached. Can you tell me how I can take the top off so I can clean out the hopper? My kids put paper in the unit.

 

Chances are, one of our readers knows the answer and can help, thanks.

Pre-Order Our New Book Chicago Trolleys

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 221 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans Under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping. Shipping within the US is included in the price. Shipping to Canada is just $5 additional, or $10 elsewhere.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

We are pleased to report that selected images from our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will be available on September 25th in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

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street-railwayreview1895-002

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 189th 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 305,000 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.

Remembering Truman Hefner (1926-2017)

This picture was taken prior to September 20, 1953, looking east from the old DesPlaines Avenue station. The eastbound CA&E train is about to cross the B&O, a source of many delays. Due to expressway construction in the city, the CA&E stopped running east of here, and a new terminal facility was constructed to the west of this one, where riders could switch to CTA trains for the trip downtown. (Truman Hefner Photo)

This picture was taken prior to September 20, 1953, looking east from the old DesPlaines Avenue station. The eastbound CA&E train is about to cross the B&O, a source of many delays. Due to expressway construction in the city, the CA&E stopped running east of here, and a new terminal facility was constructed to the west of this one, where riders could switch to CTA trains for the trip downtown. (Truman Hefner Photo)

Recent Correspondence

Stewart Odell writes:

I’m hoping you can help clarify something for me.  A dear family friend of many years passed this weekend in OKC. In searching his official obit I have come across a reference to him in your August 2015 blog. Truman Hefner was from Cook County and lived with his family for many years in OKC, where I met him.

I’m trying to determine how he might have come to be mentioned in your column. The coincidence of 1) his birthplace- 2) His name and- 3) the fact that he was a miniature railroad enthusiast to the point where he built a miniature railroad in his back yard for his children and the neighborhood kids to enjoy, is uncanny to me. It only follows that he might have also been an amateur photographer.

Truman also traveled the state of Oklahoma (and probably the country) pursuing his enthusiasm for both miniature and full-size rail systems and their history.

Have you any idea how the lone reference on your site may have come to be? Not a show-stopper, just sentimental, and interested. Meanwhile, I’ve discovered your amazing site.

Thanks for writing. I am very sorry to hear that Truman Hefner has passed away.

I knew him as one of the very best railfan photographers, whose work has been widely distributed, including any number of books. When I was involved with putting together Central Electric Railfans’ Association bulletin 146, we used several of his color images of Chicago PCC streetcars.

I spoke to him on the phone several times, and he was always very cheerful, upbeat, enthusiastic, and generous.

In September 2014, when CERA held an event called the Chicago Streetcar Pictorial Round Table, we invited him to attend. He bought a plane ticket, but unfortunately there was some sort of computer problem at O’Hare that day that prevented flights from arriving or departing.

Still, he did participate in the meeting by telephone. At the time, he was about 88 or 89 years old.

He told me that he only took railfan photos for a few years, and described his camera to me. It was made in Germany and had an excellent quality lens. He still had the camera, but said it was no longer working.

I would imagine he was excited about the prospect of streetcars returning to Oklahoma City.

My sincere condolences go out to his family.

He’s mentioned in four of my blog posts.
The one titled CA&E Mystery Photos Answers – Part 1 has an image of his in it, taken from an original slide in my collection. The very first picture in the post titled The CTA, the CA&E, and “Political Influence” is Mr. Hefner’s.

He is also mentioned in a few posts on the blog I did before this one. That was in connection to the Chicago Streetcar Pictorial Round Table. For that event, I designed a poster that featured a photo of Mr. Hefner’s. It shows a Chicago PCC at the Museum Loop near Soldier Field, and was taken on April 26, 1951, the day that Gen. Douglas MacArthur spoke to a large crowd there.

From his Legacy remembrance page:

Truman Dale Hefner

October 24, 1926 – May 21, 2017

Truman passed away at his home in Oklahoma City. He was born in Lexington, Illinois to parents, Guy and Ferne Hefner. Most of his early life was in Berwyn, Illinois, where after graduating high school in 1944, he enlisted in the Air Force. He was called into the service in 1945, and was discharged at the end of the war. Truman continued his military service with the Air Force Reserves and reached the rank of first lieutenant. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and went on to work for Motorola and Eureka Williams before transferring to Oklahoma City in 1958 to work for Western Electric where he remained until his retirement in 1989.

Truman’s lifelong interest in trains sparked his other interest of photography. He loved to travel with family and friends, always taking pictures and movies of their journeys. The 1/8 scale model train hobby was his true passion. He enjoyed traveling near and far visiting many club and friend’s tracks. He was one of the founding members of the Locomotive Operators of Central Oklahoma, a member of the Oklahoma Railroad Museum and many more railroad clubs over the years. Truman and his partner, Jim Murray, started a business, Cannonball, to supply hobbyists with railroad equipment.

Truman is survived by his wife of 69 years, Vera (Hoch) Hefner; daughters Trudy Hefner, Nancy and Herb Conley, Susan Carey and Marshall Lee, Barbara and Philo Hatch; daughter-in-law Ellyn Novak Hefner; 9 grandchildren; 6 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Anna Mae Meyer and his only son Jimmy Hefner.

Truman Hefner took many great pictures with a German Karomat camera similar to this one, which has a high-quality Schneider lens.

Truman Hefner took many great pictures with a German Karomat camera similar to this one, which has a high-quality Schneider lens.

CA&E 453 in a winter scene. Here, we are looking east from Halsted. (Truman Hefner Photo)

CA&E 453 in a winter scene. Here, we are looking east from Halsted. (Truman Hefner Photo)

CTA 586 at Milwaukee and Canal on route 56 in October 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)

CTA 586 at Milwaukee and Canal on route 56 in October 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)

This was perhaps Truman Hefner's best-known photograph. Please note, the Trolley Dodger blog is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans' Association.

This was perhaps Truman Hefner’s best-known photograph. Please note, the Trolley Dodger blog is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

I found two videos showing Mr. Hefner and his miniature railroad train.

Over the Years at Mexican Hat (the C&IG RR from April 1986 to May 2009) by Truman Hefner

Over the Years at Zuni by Truman Hefner

He will be missed by everyone in the railfan community.

Genevieve Heydt writes:

Dear Trolley Dodger,
While working on a group history project with some friends, I stumbled upon your website while tracking some train cars from the AE&FRE line that was shut down during the Great Depression and had some questions regarding some of these lines and what was going on with them in certain periods because I struggled to find answers myself online. I noticed a trend of cars being sold from CI/SHRT to Speedrail in 1950 to Speedrail and then being scrapped in 1952. Regarding these trends, I was wondering if you had any information or speculations around these events.

If you could, a response between now and Thursday night would be appreciated because we present on Friday and I would love to learn more before we present.

Thank you,
Genevieve Heydt
Sophomore of the Gifted Academy in Elgin Highschool

Thank you for writing.

To answer your question, it helps to know the history of the various properties involved.

The AE&FRE halted passenger service in 1935, so all their rolling stock would have been put up for sale. Lighweight interurban cars 300-304 and 306 (not sure what happened to 305, perhaps it was involved in a wreck or used for parts) were sold to the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit line, which still exists in Cleveland.

These fine cars (built by St. Louis Car Co.) were just over 10 years old at the time and were well suited for use on the SHRT, which was by then completely grade-separated and did not run in traffic on city streets at all.

SHRT also bought a half-dozen lightweight interurban cars of another type, known as “Cincinnati curved-side cars.” These were built by the Cincinnati Car Co. in 1928-29 and were a popular style, used by many properties across the country.

Between 1947 and 1953, SHRT modernized its fleet by purchasing PCC streetcars, which had become the industry standard. Some were bought new, and others second-hand.

Having newer equipment meant they no longer needed some of these older cars, which were put up for sale. By this time, streetcars and interurbans were getting to be fewer and fewer, and the market for such vehicles was shrinking.

The last new PCC car was built in 1952. It was nearly 25 years before another new American streetcar was built.

Meanwhile, in the Milwaukee area, the once mighty Milwaukee Electric interurban was in decline. Parts were abandoned and replaced by buses. By 1949, the last remaining segment, running from Milwaukee to Waukesha, was sold to Jay Maeder, who renamed it Speedrail.

As much as possible, he wanted to replace their heavyweight equipment with lighter cars that would use less electricity. Speedrail bought several of the Cincinnati curved-side cars from SHRT, and a couple from Lehigh Valley Transit.

These were refurbished and continued in use until 1951, when Speedrail shut down in the aftermath of a horrific head-on collision in which several people were killed. A heavy car struck a lighter one on a fantrip, with Jay Maeder at the controls.

The Speedrail cars were put up for sale, but there were no buyers and all were cut up for scrap in 1952.

In 1954, SHRT sold six cars (300-304, 306) to Gerald E. Brookins, a developer who had built a trailer park in the Cleveland suburbs. He built a streetcar line in this development to take people back and forth from their trailers to his general store.

This development was called Trolleyville, USA and continued in use for many years. The first car ran in 1963.

You could consider this something akin to an operating museum for trolleys.

After Mr. Brookins died, his family kept Trolleyville going for some time, but eventually decided to sell the trailer park. There was an attempt to create a museum operation that would run on the SHRT, and some of the Trolleyville cars did actually operate there briefly, but ultimately the plans came to naught and all their collection was sold to various trolley museums at an auction.

Fortunately, AE&FRE car 304 was purchased by the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin, so it now operates on a small portion of its original tracks.

I have posted pictures of AE&FRE equipment on my blog, including passenger cars in service, and electric freight operations in South Elgin after 1935.

I hope this helps.

Good luck with your presentation.

PS- One of my posts has several pictures from Trolleyville USA.

Jack Bejna has shared more of his wonderful restoration work with us. This time, the pictures feature Chicago, Aurora & Elgin cars built by the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. in 1902.

From Don’s Rail Photos:

Niles Cars 10 thru 28 even

These 10 motor cars were built by Niles Car & Mfg Co. in 1902 and were part of the original stock. 10 was rebuilt with a baggage compartment in 1910. It was later removed, but then reinstalled in April 1933 for funeral service. It was wrecked September 10, 1948, and scrapped. 12 was modernized in April 1940 and retired in 1955. 14 was modernized in December 1939 and retired in 1955. 16 was modernized in December 1939 and retired in 1959. 18 was modernized in March 1941 and retired in 1955. 20 is preserved at the R.E.L.I.C. museum at South Elgin. 22 was wrecked on October 12, 1911, at Waller Avenue, and scrapped. 24 was modernized in July 1943 and retired in 1959. 26 was modernized in June 1943 and retired in 1959. 28 was modernized at an unknown date and retired in 1959.

10 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was rebuilt with a baggage compartment in 1910. It was later removed, but then reinstalled in April 1933 for funeral service. It was wrecked September 10, 1948, and scrapped.

CA&E Car 10 and trailer 5, CERA fantrip #12, August 6, 1939.

CA&E Car 10 and trailer 5, CERA fantrip #12, August 6, 1939.

CA&E Car 12.

CA&E Car 12.

CA&E Car 14.

CA&E Car 14.

CA&E Car 16.

CA&E Car 16.

CA&E Car 18.

CA&E Car 18.

CA&E Car 20.

CA&E Car 20.

CA&E Car 24.

CA&E Car 24.

CA&E Car 26.

CA&E Car 26.

CA&E Car 28 west of DesPlaines Avenue.

CA&E Car 28 west of DesPlaines Avenue.

Joe Kaczynski writes:

Hello David,

I was going thru some things and found the attached photo that I had gotten on E-Bay several years ago. It’s the West Town neighborhood where I grew up. I was born in ’57 and sadly missed the streetcar era. But fondly recall the Marmon-Herrington trolley buses that ran in their place until 1967.

In all probability the photo was taken from the Chicago Ave. El platform on the old Logan Square Line. It’s a westbound streetcar on Route #66 Chicago Ave., just having crossed Paulina St.

On the rear of the photo is written:

“CTA 3165
Chicago-Paulina
8-27-50
T.H. Desnoyers”

I don’t recall ever seeing this photo on your website.

Thanks! Thomas H. Desnoyers (1928-1977) took many great photographs, but unfortunately died before his time.

CTA 3165 at Chicago and Paulina, August 27, 1950. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo)

CTA 3165 at Chicago and Paulina, August 27, 1950. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo)

On a personal note, since this is Memorial Day, I thought I would share a blog post written about my uncle, Frank Sadowski, Jr. (1921-1945). The “Bobbie” mentioned there is my father, Edmund Robert Sadowski (1924-1996). Both served their country during World War II. My aunt Margaret (1922-2004), who drove an ambulance during the war, is also mentioned.

-David Sadowski

Chicago Trolleys

Work continues on our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys, which is now in the layout and proofreading stage. The expected publication date is September 25th of this year. We will keep you advised as things progress.

street-railwayreview1895-002

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Recent Finds

On August 1, 1951, CTA surface system fares were increased to 17 cents. Here, on two-man PCC 4188, Miss Elma Parrssinen dutifully pays her fare to conductor James Long. According to information provided by Andre Kristopans, which we ran in a previous post, car 4188 had a retirement date of June 9, 1953, making it one of the first postwar cars scrapped as part of the so-called "PCC Conversion Program," whereby some parts from these cars were recycled into new 6000-series "L" cars.

On August 1, 1951, CTA surface system fares were increased to 17 cents. Here, on two-man PCC 4188, Miss Elma Parrssinen dutifully pays her fare to conductor James Long. According to information provided by Andre Kristopans, which we ran in a previous post, car 4188 had a retirement date of June 9, 1953, making it one of the first postwar cars scrapped as part of the so-called “PCC Conversion Program,” whereby some parts from these cars were recycled into new 6000-series “L” cars.

Here are lots of “new” old photos that we have recently unearthed for your viewing pleasure. As always, if you have interesting tidbits of information to add, including locations, do not hesitate to drop us a line, either by leaving a Comment on this post, or by writing us directly at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

Thanks.

-David Sadowski


Chicago Transit

This photo of CTA streetcar 6149 was taken from an original red-border Kodachrome, which identifies the location as the "Campbell Avenue barn yard." However, to me it looks like 69th and Ashland. The slide mount is of a type used by Kodak between 1950 and 1955. I would say this is closer in date the the former.

This photo of CTA streetcar 6149 was taken from an original red-border Kodachrome, which identifies the location as the “Campbell Avenue barn yard.” However, to me it looks like 69th and Ashland. The slide mount is of a type used by Kodak between 1950 and 1955. I would say this is closer in date the the former.

M. E. writes:

Regarding https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/dave4891.jpg
which was labelled “Campbell Av. barn yard” but you think it is the 69th and Ashland carbarn:

Campbell is 2500 West, which puts it a block west of Western (2400 West). Suppose the original location statement was a mile off. Paulina is 1700 West, a block west of Ashland (1600 West), and at 69th St., Paulina was just west of the carbarn. So I agree with you that this is probably the 69th and Ashland carbarn.

As confirmation, the 67th-69th-71st St. line (route 67) went right past the carbarn, and the destination sign aboard the route 67 car says 71st and California, the western terminus, where the route 67 car will go after leaving the barn.

However, I cannot explain the presence of route 4 Cottage Grove cars at the 69th and Ashland carbarn. The readable destination sign on car 6149 says Cottage Grove and 79th, which is a lot closer to the big carbarn at 77th and Vincennes than it is to 69th and Ashland.

I consulted my Lind book to find out when the 79th Street line and the 67th-69th-71st Street line were converted to buses. Lind says 79th was converted in September 1951 and 67th-69th-71st was converted in May 1953.

So I think this photo was taken after September 1951 and before May 1953. Somehow Cottage Grove cars were able to get to the 69th and Ashland carbarn, even though the trackage diagrams in the Lind book show no switches at 67th and Cottage Grove. Maybe the CTA built switches at 67th and Cottage Grove after September 1951 just for this purpose.

The 69th and Ashland carbarn also housed Western Ave. cars. But that carbarn must have closed soon after May 1953, because after that date, PCC cars on Western used 69th St. trackage to go east to Wentworth, south to Vincennes, and southwest to the 77th and Vincennes carbarn. That lasted until Western was converted to buses in 1956.

Thanks… I will have to look up the closing date for the 69th station (car house).
M. E. replied:
As I recall, the 69th and Ashland carbarn served these lines in the 1950s:
 9 Ashland
49 Western
63 63rd
67 67th-69th-71stLind says both lines 63 and 67 converted to buses in May 1953. But Ashland did not convert until February 1954. And as I said earlier, Western converted in 1956.Therefore, the 69th and Ashland carbarn closed in February 1954, after which Western cars lived at 77th and Vincennes until 1956.

I looked it up on the Internet, and after streetcars left, 69th and Ashland continued to handle buses for many years:

69TH STREET
1601 W. 69th St. (at Ashland Ave.)
Opened in 1908
Capacity in 1911: 191 cars inside/25 cars outside
Capacity in 1943: 191 cars inside/133 cars outside
First used for buses in 1953
Used for propane buses 1953-1973
Last used for streetcars 1954
First diesel buses 1973
Closed June 18, 1995
Replaced by 74th Street Garage
Building demolished in 1998

Source: www.chicagorailfan.com

M. E.:

I moved out of Englewood in November 1954. I wasn’t aware that the 69th and Ashland carbarn became a bus barn and lasted another four decades. Live and learn.

The fact that the 69th and Ashland barn stayed open after May 1954 begs this question: Why didn’t the Western Ave. streetcars continue to use it, rather than travel all the way to 77th and Vincennes?

I think I have an answer. After May 1954 there were only a few remaining streetcar lines:

4 Cottage Grove
22 Clark-Wentworth
36 Broadway-State
49 Western

The CTA probably wanted to consolidate all streetcar operations in one or two barns. The 22 line ran right past the 77th and Vincennes barn; the 36 line was half a mile away; and the 49 line used 69th St. to reach the 77th and Vincennes barn. The 4 line continued to use the 38th and Cottage Grove barn until the 4 line was converted to bus in June 1955. (I found this on the same Web page you cited: http://chicagorailfan.com/rosctaxh.html .)

But herein lies a further question: If 38th and Cottage Grove was kept open until the Cottage Grove line was converted, then why were Cottage Grove cars in the photo of 69th and Ashland? I already mentioned that I saw no trackage that would allow Cottage Grove cars to reach 69th and Ashland.

I had the radical notion that perhaps the photo was not of 69th and Ashland, but instead of 38th and Cottage Grove. But then why would a 67 route streetcar be there? And the same lack of switches at 67th and Cottage Grove would preclude allowing 67th-69th-71st cars to travel to 38th and Cottage Grove.

All told, a mystery.

A mystery alright, and one that perhaps our readers might help solve, thanks.

CTA red cars 612 and 407 at 95th and Ashland in December 1951.

CTA red cars 612 and 407 at 95th and Ashland in December 1951.

Ashland and 95th today, looking north.

Ashland and 95th today, looking north.

In this September 14, 1960 view, we see a pair of CTA 4000s heading east on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L", running alongside South Boulevard just west of Oak Park Avenue in suburban Oak Park. Just over two years later, this portion of the line would be relocated to the adjacent Chicago & North Western embankment, where it continues to run today as the Green Line. (Clark Frazier Photo)

In this September 14, 1960 view, we see a pair of CTA 4000s heading east on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”, running alongside South Boulevard just west of Oak Park Avenue in suburban Oak Park. Just over two years later, this portion of the line would be relocated to the adjacent Chicago & North Western embankment, where it continues to run today as the Green Line. (Clark Frazier Photo)

Here is what South Boulevard looks like today, at approximately the same spot.

Here is what South Boulevard looks like today, at approximately the same spot.

Here, we see CTA red Pullman 165 heading west on the private right-of-way portion of the 63rd Street route, a few blocks west of Central Avenue. The date is given as August 17, 1951, although some might argue for 1952 instead. These tracks ran in 63rd Place, which is now a completely built-up residential area a short distance south of 63rd Street.

Here, we see CTA red Pullman 165 heading west on the private right-of-way portion of the 63rd Street route, a few blocks west of Central Avenue. The date is given as August 17, 1951, although some might argue for 1952 instead. These tracks ran in 63rd Place, which is now a completely built-up residential area a short distance south of 63rd Street.

63rd Place today. After streetcars quit, the CTA bus was re-routed onto 63rd Street in this area.

63rd Place today. After streetcars quit, the CTA bus was re-routed onto 63rd Street in this area.

This picture of a 1926-vintage Illinois Central Electric suburban train was taken on September 9, 1959. I am not sure of the location, but it is marked as a Randolph Street Express, and the smokestack at right belongs to a laundry. Service continues today under the aegis of Metra Electric with modern bi-level cars. David Vartanoff writes: "The IC Electric pic is likely Kensington. Look at extreme magnification and one sees the r-o-w expand to 4 tracks." Jack Ferry adds: "The IC Suburban Train is heading northbound at 115th St. Kensington." This would be the same station near where the CTA route 4 - Cottage Grove streetcar ended. That was the site of many pictures over the years.(Clark Frazier Photo)

This picture of a 1926-vintage Illinois Central Electric suburban train was taken on September 9, 1959. I am not sure of the location, but it is marked as a Randolph Street Express, and the smokestack at right belongs to a laundry. Service continues today under the aegis of Metra Electric with modern bi-level cars. David Vartanoff writes: “The IC Electric pic is likely Kensington. Look at extreme magnification and one sees the r-o-w expand to 4 tracks.” Jack Ferry adds: “The IC Suburban Train is heading northbound at 115th St. Kensington.” This would be the same station near where the CTA route 4 – Cottage Grove streetcar ended. That was the site of many pictures over the years.(Clark Frazier Photo)

Here, we are at Cottage Grove and 115th, the south end of route 4. CTA red cars 3182 and 660 are visible. The date given is December 1952, but some might argue for an earlier date than that since there are no PCCs in sight here. The line ran parallel to the Illinois Central Electric suburban service embankment.

Here, we are at Cottage Grove and 115th, the south end of route 4. CTA red cars 3182 and 660 are visible. The date given is December 1952, but some might argue for an earlier date than that since there are no PCCs in sight here. The line ran parallel to the Illinois Central Electric suburban service embankment.

Cottage Grove and 115th today.

Cottage Grove and 115th today.

This wintry scene shows CTA red Pullman 636 on Cottage Grove near the 115th Street end of the line. The date is given as December 1952 but some might argue it should be earlier.

This wintry scene shows CTA red Pullman 636 on Cottage Grove near the 115th Street end of the line. The date is given as December 1952 but some might argue it should be earlier.

It's June 10, 1951, and CTA red Pullman 230 is heading west on Chicago Avenue in this view taken from the Ravenswood "L".

It’s June 10, 1951, and CTA red Pullman 230 is heading west on Chicago Avenue in this view taken from the Ravenswood “L”.

A contemporary view of Chicago Avenue looking east from the "L".

A contemporary view of Chicago Avenue looking east from the “L”.

Here, CSL car 19xx is heading eastbound on Chicago Avenue, having passed the north-south "L" and a safety island.

Here, CSL car 19xx is heading eastbound on Chicago Avenue, having passed the north-south “L” and a safety island.

Chicago Avenue looking west toward the "L".

Chicago Avenue looking west toward the “L”.

CSL 1433.

CSL 1433.

CSL 1724. I'm wondering if this is on Wabash, just north of the Chicago River. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1724. I’m wondering if this is on Wabash, just north of the Chicago River. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1856. Not sure of the exact location, but it appears to be one of Chicago's angle streets. Patrick writes: "CSL 1856 looks to be eastbound on Harrison (it appears signed for Harrison), crossing Ogden. The building on the northeast corner is still there." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1856. Not sure of the exact location, but it appears to be one of Chicago’s angle streets. Patrick writes: “CSL 1856 looks to be eastbound on Harrison (it appears signed for Harrison), crossing Ogden. The building on the northeast corner is still there.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The J.L. Higgie building, at Ogden and Harrison, as it appears today.

The J.L. Higgie building, at Ogden and Harrison, as it appears today.

CSL 1300, signed for Cicero Avenue. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1300, signed for Cicero Avenue. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1301 on the 14-16th Street line. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1301 on the 14-16th Street line. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

Madison and Wells in the early 1900s. Not sure if we are looking east or west. Mike Payne writes, "I believe the picture on Madison and Wells is looking west; in the distance you can see Market St, and the weird “L” stub structure ending on the south side of Madison."

Madison and Wells in the early 1900s. Not sure if we are looking east or west. Mike Payne writes, “I believe the picture on Madison and Wells is looking west; in the distance you can see Market St, and the weird “L” stub structure ending on the south side of Madison.”

The old Market Street stub-end "L" terminal, which was used by Lake Street trains until the late 1940s. It was demolished shortly thereafter, and Market Street itself was turned into the north-south portion of Wacker Drive in the 1950s.

The old Market Street stub-end “L” terminal, which was used by Lake Street trains until the late 1940s. It was demolished shortly thereafter, and Market Street itself was turned into the north-south portion of Wacker Drive in the 1950s.

CSL 1371, signed for Taylor-Sedgwick-Sheffield.

CSL 1371, signed for Taylor-Sedgwick-Sheffield.

CTA 1693 on the Division route, probably in the late 1940s. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CTA 1693 on the Division route, probably in the late 1940s. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1885 southbound on the Kedzie line. From the street addresses, I'd say we are on California Avenue. The sign on the from of the car advertises "1275 New Streetcars and Buses - Soon," so perhaps this is circa 1945-46. I recently came across a CTA document advertising the 1275 figure, and it was dated January 1946. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1885 southbound on the Kedzie line. From the street addresses, I’d say we are on California Avenue. The sign on the from of the car advertises “1275 New Streetcars and Buses – Soon,” so perhaps this is circa 1945-46. I recently came across a CTA document advertising the 1275 figure, and it was dated January 1946. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1459. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1459. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1076 is southbound in the 1940s, but on which line? Perhaps the sign, indicating a route via Larrabee and Wells, offers a clue. Phil Oellrich says, "CSL car 1076 is southbound on Damen Avenue about to turn south on Lincoln Avenue at Irving Park Blvd. The route is Lincoln-Rosehill . On August 1, 1948, the CTA discontinued Lincoln-Rosehill service, while extending the North Damen Bus to follow roughly the same route north of Irving Park. The white Terra-Cotta building behind car 1076 housed the North Center Theatre at 4031 N Lincoln, which opened on February 3, 1926 and closed in 1963. The building was demolished in 1966-67." (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 1076 is southbound in the 1940s, but on which line? Perhaps the sign, indicating a route via Larrabee and Wells, offers a clue. Phil Oellrich says, “CSL car 1076 is southbound on Damen Avenue about to turn south on Lincoln Avenue at Irving Park Blvd. The route is Lincoln-Rosehill . On August 1, 1948, the CTA discontinued Lincoln-Rosehill service, while extending the North Damen Bus to follow roughly the same route north of Irving Park. The white Terra-Cotta building behind car 1076 housed the North Center Theatre at 4031 N Lincoln, which opened on February 3, 1926 and closed in 1963. The building was demolished in 1966-67.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

The same corner today. Lincoln is to the left, Damen to the right, and Irving Park would be right behind us. We are looking north.

The same corner today. Lincoln is to the left, Damen to the right, and Irving Park would be right behind us. We are looking north.

CSL 3106. But which line is this, and which "L" is in the background? It's hard to make out for sure, but the side sign may say 18th Street. Patrick writes: "CSL 3106 is on Leavitt, northbound, at 21st Street. The buildings are still there. The Douglas L is in the background." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 3106. But which line is this, and which “L” is in the background? It’s hard to make out for sure, but the side sign may say 18th Street. Patrick writes: “CSL 3106 is on Leavitt, northbound, at 21st Street. The buildings are still there. The Douglas L is in the background.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

21st and Leavitt today.

21st and Leavitt today.

CSL Pullman 620 is southbound on Western Avenue, while some track work goes on nearby. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL Pullman 620 is southbound on Western Avenue, while some track work goes on nearby. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The caption on this photo reads, "Westbound car 2623 passes under the Illinois Central main line at 75th and South Chicago Avenue, over the diagonal tracks of the busy South Chicago line." Bill Shapotkin notes, "Indeed, this car is on 75th St and has just x/o UNDER the IC. The car is W/B (note platform of IC's Grand Crossing station at left atop embankment)." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The caption on this photo reads, “Westbound car 2623 passes under the Illinois Central main line at 75th and South Chicago Avenue, over the diagonal tracks of the busy South Chicago line.” Bill Shapotkin notes, “Indeed, this car is on 75th St and has just x/o UNDER the IC. The car is W/B (note platform of IC’s Grand Crossing station at left atop embankment).” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 2813 on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago line, which was jointly through-routed by both the Surface Lines and the aforementioned Indiana operator. Streetcar service was eliminated on this line in 1940, but this picture looks older than that. Bill Shapotkin: "This picture (of which I have a copy myself) was taken in Exchange (JUST EAST of Indianapolis Blvd) looking west in East Chicago. Note the "Y" in the wire behind the car. As an aside, the tracks in Exchange are still in-place. David Stanley and I JUST HAPPENED to visit here when Exchange was being repaved. The pavement was removed up to the railhead -- with the rails left in-place and (within a few days) paved over AGAIN."

CSL 2813 on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago line, which was jointly through-routed by both the Surface Lines and the aforementioned Indiana operator. Streetcar service was eliminated on this line in 1940, but this picture looks older than that. Bill Shapotkin: “This picture (of which I have a copy myself) was taken in Exchange (JUST EAST of Indianapolis Blvd) looking west in East Chicago. Note the “Y” in the wire behind the car. As an aside, the tracks in Exchange are still in-place. David Stanley and I JUST HAPPENED to visit here when Exchange was being repaved. The pavement was removed up to the railhead — with the rails left in-place and (within a few days) paved over AGAIN.”

The photo caption reads, "The open fields behind car 2701 notwithstanding, the corner of 79th and State was a busy transfer point. This eastbound 79th Street car clatters over the CSL tracks on State." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The photo caption reads, “The open fields behind car 2701 notwithstanding, the corner of 79th and State was a busy transfer point. This eastbound 79th Street car clatters over the CSL tracks on State.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

It's October 1871, shortly after the Great Chicago Fire. The view is of State and Madison, looking northeast. The various horse cars we see are serving the Madison, Blue Island, and State Street lines.

It’s October 1871, shortly after the Great Chicago Fire. The view is of State and Madison, looking northeast. The various horse cars we see are serving the Madison, Blue Island, and State Street lines.

Here, the caption reads, "43rd-Root. Westbound car 3280, about to cross Halsted Street to reach its west terminal at the Stock Yards. This line competed with the Stock Yards "L" and lasted until 1953." Andre Kristopans adds, "3280 turning from nb State into wb Root. Old Bowman dairy bldg still there." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Here, the caption reads, “43rd-Root. Westbound car 3280, about to cross Halsted Street to reach its west terminal at the Stock Yards. This line competed with the Stock Yards “L” and lasted until 1953.” Andre Kristopans adds, “3280 turning from nb State into wb Root. Old Bowman dairy bldg still there.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The old Bowman Dairy building at 43rd and Root as it looks today.

The old Bowman Dairy building at 43rd and Root as it looks today.


Chicago Buses

CTA trolley bus 9713 is shown heading westbound on North Avenue at Cicero on April 26, 1970. The last Chicago trolley bus ran in 1973.

CTA trolley bus 9713 is shown heading westbound on North Avenue at Cicero on April 26, 1970. The last Chicago trolley bus ran in 1973.

CTA Flxible propane bus 8050, shown here on Central Avenue near the end of its service life in 1971, was part of a series delivered in 1956-57. These buses replaced some of the last Chicago streetcars, but they were woefully underpowered for the job they had to do. I believe we are just south of Belmont Avenue. Trolley buses last ran on Central on January 7, 1970. The old street lamps were holdovers from an earlier era, and were retained in some shopping areas of the city for some time, even after more modern lights were installed.

CTA Flxible propane bus 8050, shown here on Central Avenue near the end of its service life in 1971, was part of a series delivered in 1956-57. These buses replaced some of the last Chicago streetcars, but they were woefully underpowered for the job they had to do. I believe we are just south of Belmont Avenue. Trolley buses last ran on Central on January 7, 1970. The old street lamps were holdovers from an earlier era, and were retained in some shopping areas of the city for some time, even after more modern lights were installed.

The same area today. We are looking south on Central Avenue, just south of Belmont.

The same area today. We are looking south on Central Avenue, just south of Belmont.

After the Chicago Cubs won their first world championship since 1908, the Chicago Transit Authority put a special "wrap" on one bus (I think the number is 8305) for a limited time, and ran it on Addison, which passes right by Wrigley Field. The following two pictures were taken there on November 9, 2016. Bill Shapotkin adds, "While the Cub's victory was the first in 108 years, it was also the first since moving to Wrigley Field (formerly Weegman Park). When the Cub's won the 1908 series, they were still playing on the West Side grounds (roughly Wood/Polk, if I recall the location correctly)." Yes, that is also where games for the 1906 WS between the Cubs and White Sox were played (the Sox won, 4 games to 2). Legend has it there was an insane asylum located near West Side Grounds, which is supposedly the origin of the expression, "from out of left field."

After the Chicago Cubs won their first world championship since 1908, the Chicago Transit Authority put a special “wrap” on one bus (I think the number is 8305) for a limited time, and ran it on Addison, which passes right by Wrigley Field. The following two pictures were taken there on November 9, 2016.
Bill Shapotkin adds, “While the Cub’s victory was the first in 108 years, it was also the first since moving to Wrigley Field (formerly Weegman Park). When the Cub’s won the 1908 series, they were still playing on the West Side grounds (roughly Wood/Polk, if I recall the location correctly).” Yes, that is also where games for the 1906 WS between the Cubs and White Sox were played (the Sox won, 4 games to 2). Legend has it there was an insane asylum located near West Side Grounds, which is supposedly the origin of the expression, “from out of left field.”

Here, 8305 heads west on Addison. There is a lot of construction around the ballpark these days, as entire blocks have been cleared, and a couple of large hotels are going up.

Here, 8305 heads west on Addison. There is a lot of construction around the ballpark these days, as entire blocks have been cleared, and a couple of large hotels are going up.

I was lucky to get all of 8305 in the frame here, as it was "at speed" and I had to dodge traffic in the middle of the busy street to get this unobstructed shot.

I was lucky to get all of 8305 in the frame here, as it was “at speed” and I had to dodge traffic in the middle of the busy street to get this unobstructed shot.

CTA bus 700 is powered by Lithium batteries, and is one of two currently owned by the authority, although there are plans for 20 or 30 more. These are the first electric buses the CTA has had since the last trolley bus ran in 1973. I did not board this bus, but would expect it to provide a ride similar to a trolley bus.

CTA bus 700 is powered by Lithium batteries, and is one of two currently owned by the authority, although there are plans for 20 or 30 more. These are the first electric buses the CTA has had since the last trolley bus ran in 1973. I did not board this bus, but would expect it to provide a ride similar to a trolley bus.

CTA electric bus 700 at the west end of route 21 (Cermak), which is the North Riverside Mall, on November 29, 2016.

CTA electric bus 700 at the west end of route 21 (Cermak), which is the North Riverside Mall, on November 29, 2016.


Interurbans

It's June 1962 at Rondout, and we see a North Shore Line freight train, headed up by electric loco 455.

It’s June 1962 at Rondout, and we see a North Shore Line freight train, headed up by electric loco 455.

This June 1962 North Shore Line photo looks like it was taken at about the same time as one in our previous post More Color Restorations (August 9, 2016). As you can see from the sign on car 744, the occasion was a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip. This may be the excursion on June 22, 1962, which was billed as a farewell trip. As it turned out, a few additional fantrips were held before the interurban was abandoned on January 21, 1963. Don's Rail Photos says, "744 was built by Pullman in 1928. It was modernized in 1940." This car is on the wye at the Harrison Street Shops in Milwaukee.

This June 1962 North Shore Line photo looks like it was taken at about the same time as one in our previous post More Color Restorations (August 9, 2016). As you can see from the sign on car 744, the occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. This may be the excursion on June 22, 1962, which was billed as a farewell trip. As it turned out, a few additional fantrips were held before the interurban was abandoned on January 21, 1963. Don’s Rail Photos says, “744 was built by Pullman in 1928. It was modernized in 1940.” This car is on the wye at the Harrison Street Shops in Milwaukee.

cerafantrip2

This photo of North Shore Line 774 plus 3 looks to have been taken where the line shifted from 5th to 6th Street in Milwaukee. The date is January 13, 1963, just eight days before service ended. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

This photo of North Shore Line 774 plus 3 looks to have been taken where the line shifted from 5th to 6th Street in Milwaukee. The date is January 13, 1963, just eight days before service ended. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

A photo stop on the same January 13, 1963 fantrip. Perhaps one of our keen-eyed readers can help identify the location. Don's Rail Photos says, "774 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930, It was rebuilt as Silverliner on May 9, 1950." Joey Morrow writes: "NSL 774 is west of Green Bay Jct. The line to the west leads to the Highwood shops and offices. In the distance you can see the bridge that is currently used by the Metra UP-N. You can still see where the NSL once ran under the bridge. The line to the east leads to The Lake Bluff station just across the street out of the shot. Not totally sure if the cement that once held the catenary supports is still there or not, but the telephone POLES behind the camera man are still there." (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

A photo stop on the same January 13, 1963 fantrip. Perhaps one of our keen-eyed readers can help identify the location. Don’s Rail Photos says, “774 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930, It was rebuilt as Silverliner on May 9, 1950.” Joey Morrow writes: “NSL 774 is west of Green Bay Jct. The line to the west leads to the Highwood shops and offices. In the distance you can see the bridge that is currently used by the Metra UP-N. You can still see where the NSL once ran under the bridge. The line to the east leads to The Lake Bluff station just across the street out of the shot. Not totally sure if the cement that once held the catenary supports is still there or not, but the telephone POLES behind the camera man are still there.” (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

It's April 1964, more than a year after North Shore Line service ended. Car 251 is at the head of the line here, and has already been sold to the Illinois Railway Museum, where she runs today. This may also be a J. W. Vigrass photo, but it is not marked as such.

It’s April 1964, more than a year after North Shore Line service ended. Car 251 is at the head of the line here, and has already been sold to the Illinois Railway Museum, where she runs today. This may also be a J. W. Vigrass photo, but it is not marked as such.

A close-up of the last picture shows a sign: "Acq'd for Ill. Ry. Museum. Do not climb, tamper with, or remove parts from this car." Sound advice, indeed!

A close-up of the last picture shows a sign: “Acq’d for Ill. Ry. Museum. Do not climb, tamper with, or remove parts from this car.” Sound advice, indeed!

Our previous post The Littlest Hobo (November 27, 2016), which featured some pictures of scrapped Pacific Electric “Hollywood” cars stacked up like cordwood, inspired me to run this photo, showing one of the cars that actually was saved:

Pacific Electric "Hollywood" car 5112 in Watts local service on April 9, 1958. By then, the service was being operated by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority. Don's Rail Photos says, "637 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1922. It was rebuilt in 1939 and rebuilt in 1950 as 5112. It became LAMTA 1801 in 1958. It was retired and restored as 637 at Orange Empire Railway Museum in March 1960."

Pacific Electric “Hollywood” car 5112 in Watts local service on April 9, 1958. By then, the service was being operated by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority. Don’s Rail Photos says, “637 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1922. It was rebuilt in 1939 and rebuilt in 1950 as 5112. It became LAMTA 1801 in 1958. It was retired and restored as 637 at Orange Empire Railway Museum in March 1960.”

The following photo has been added to our post Red Arrow in Westchester (September 13, 2016):

Although the late Merritt Taylor, Jr. may have been, in some fashion, a "closet railfan," he was also responsible for the ill-fated Railbus experiment on the Red Arrow Lines in 1967-68. This was an attempt to replace rail with buses that could also run on railroad tracks. Fortunately, the effort proved to be a failure. Taylor had found that he couldn't simply convert all his rail lines to bus service, without losing much of the rights-of-way in turn due to the terms under which rail service had started many years earlier. It turns out that the requirements of a railcar and a bus are too much different to be combined into a single vehicle. Within a couple years of this experiment, Taylor sold Red Arrow to SEPTA, and the Norristown, Media and Sharon Hill lines remain rail to this day.

Although the late Merritt Taylor, Jr. may have been, in some fashion, a “closet railfan,” he was also responsible for the ill-fated Railbus experiment on the Red Arrow Lines in 1967-68. This was an attempt to replace rail with buses that could also run on railroad tracks. Fortunately, the effort proved to be a failure. Taylor had found that he couldn’t simply convert all his rail lines to bus service, without losing much of the rights-of-way in turn due to the terms under which rail service had started many years earlier. It turns out that the requirements of a railcar and a bus are too much different to be combined into a single vehicle. Within a couple years of this experiment, Taylor sold Red Arrow to SEPTA, and the Norristown, Media and Sharon Hill lines remain rail to this day.

PS- Here is a video with many additional pictures of the Red Arrow Railbus:


Recent Correspondence

The experimental Brill-built pre-PCC 7001 as it appeared at 77th and Vincennes on September 10, 1959, shortly before it was scrapped. (Clark Frazier Photo)

The experimental Brill-built pre-PCC 7001 as it appeared at 77th and Vincennes on September 10, 1959, shortly before it was scrapped. (Clark Frazier Photo)

Hampton Wayt writes:

I am trying to research the history of the design (industrial design or “styling”) of the PCC streetcars. Over the years, two different people have independently indicated to me that industrial designer Donald R. Dohner was responsible for the design of the PCC, but I have been unable to verify it. Dohner was the head of design for Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company from 1930 through 1934 and would work on many transportation designs while employed there. He also had an industrial design firm in Pittsburgh after leaving Westinghouse.

Dohner was the unrecognized primary designer of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s iconic GG-1 electric locomotive for which Raymond Loewy got (or should I say, “took”) full credit. For years, retired industrial designers that I met told me that Dohner designed the GG-1 despite what Loewy claimed, and after doing some serious in depth research I was finally able to prove they were right (Loewy made some very minor changes to the GG-1 prior to manufacturing, but would take credit for much, much more than he actually did). Dohner never received credit for the design during his lifetime, and only began to receive recognition for it for the first time 75 years later after the fact, thanks to an article I wrote on the matter for Classic Trains magazine in 2009.

A couple of years ago I was also able to verify that Dohner designed the New Haven Comet Train with the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation, his having worked heavily on the design in 1933. He never received credit for the design of this train either.

Neither of the two individuals who credited Dohner with the PCC design knew the name of the streetcar, but both stated that it was a design that was used universally all over the country. One of the men also stated that the cars were in Brooklyn first and then “all over.” That suggests the PCC to me, but I do not know where to begin to research it.

Do you happen to know if any of the original paperwork for the Presidents Conference Committee exists for researchers? If so, I would love visit the archives and take a close look and see if Dohner’s name appears anywhere in the record as it did in Pennsylvania Railroad paperwork found during my research on the GG-1.

It also occurred to me that Dohner could have been involved in the design of the experimental CSL 4001 car, which was developed with Westinghouse. Do you happen to know if there is any documentation on the development of this unit?

Any guidance you can give me would be greatly appreciated, and I look forward to your response.

Best Regards,
Hampton C. Wayt
http://www.hamptoncwayt.com

Thanks for writing. In one of my previous blog posts, I note the following:

Starting in 1929, CSL* was a very active participant in the Electric Railway Presidents’ Conference Committee, whose work developed the standardized PCC car, which soon dominated the industry.

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

*Chicago Surface Lines

TRC’s successor, in turn, was the Institute for Rapid Transit, which merged with the American Public Transit Association, and is now called the American Public Transportation Association. So, you might try contacting them to see what they may know.

However, if Dr. Harold E. Cox is to be believed, TRC’s main focus was technical patents involving components such as truck and wheel design. (See his 1965 article, “What is a PCC Car?”)

Dr. Cox is, as far as I know, still living, so you might try contacting him as well. However, according to this news story from 2015, Dr. Cox is fighting a courageous public battle with Alzheimer’s.

It may be that a lot of the familiar PCC design “look” came from each individual car manufacturer, building on previous work done by others. The progression would be from the 1934 Brill car 7001, built for the Chicago Surface Lines, to the very similar cars built for Washington, D.C. in 1935 (the order split between Brill and St. Louis Car Company), to the 1936 PCCs from SLCC (Brooklyn, Chicago, et al) and the one car built by the Clark Equipment Co. (which has standee windows, not seen on many cars prior to the end of WWII).

The efforts from various manufacturers to develop a “type car” preceded the PCC effort, as can be seen in the Brill “Master Units” circa 1932. But these efforts were never 100% successful, although the PCC car did come the closest. Still, there were numerous variations between cities, Chicago’s being the most different of them all.

Even after the concept of a “standard” PCC car became the norm for North American cities, the PCCs made by SLCC competitor Pullman have subtle differences in styling, including a somewhat boxier overall appearance. This may have been the result of differences in manufacturing techniques between the two companies.

So, chances are the styling of the PCC cars cannot be ascribed to a single individual, but it is certainly possible that one person, such as your candidate, may have played a very important part.

There is also a complicating factor regarding Brill. While Brill built the CSL 7001, and part of the 1935 order for DC, the company had a policy of not paying any patent royalties to other firms. Thus, they parted ways with the PCC project at this point.

However, they did come up with their own PCC knock-off, which was called the Brilliner. They first started marketing these in 1938, and the last ones were sold in 1941. Very few were sold.

The Brilliner came too late to save Brill. By then, St. Louis Car Company had the bulk of the streetcar market to themselves, with Pullman taking a much smaller share.

Brill exited the streetcar market at this point, and merged with ACF in 1944 to form ACF-Brill. They made buses, including some trolley buses.

I hope other people who read this may be able to offer additional insights of their own. I am assuming you are familiar with the available literature, which includes various books such as PCC From Coast to Coast. There is at least one book about the St. Louis Car Company, written by the late Alan R. Lind. Some of the other PCC books, which you might find for cheap or in public libraries, include PCC: The Car That Fought Back, An American Original: The PCC Car, and Dr. Cox’s PCC Cars of North America.

Thanks.


Jay Maeder, Sr.

John Edward Maeder's 1925 high school yearbook picture. Hawken School is located in Cleveland, Ohio, and was founded in 1915.

John Edward Maeder’s 1925 high school yearbook picture. Hawken School is located in Cleveland, Ohio, and was founded in 1915.

We have written about the short-lived and ill-fated Speedrail project before. This was a 1949-51 attempt to continue interurban service between Milwaukee and Waukesha, Wisconsin, led by Jay Maeder, Sr. (1908-1975).

This was a noble effort. Maeder grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where a former interurban still runs today as the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit line.

Milwaukee’s TMER&L (aka TMER&T) west line was known locally as the “Rapid Transit” line, and with a little less bad luck, could have evolved into something akin to what Cleveland has today. But alas, it was not to be, due to a horrific head-on collision in 1950 that killed several people.

Jay Maeder, Sr. was at the controls of one of the two cars involved in the collision, which remains controversial to this day. The question recently came up on one of the online transit forums I belong to, as to what Maeder’s background was. I did manage to come up with a few things:

His real name was John Edward Maeder. Jay was a nickname. In the 1930 census, the family was living in South Euclid, Ohio.

In a 1949 newspaper article, regarding the Speedrail purchase, Maeder is referred to as a “Cleveland industrial engineer.” Apparently, he was an efficiency expert.

“Jay” probably was a nickname based on his first initial. Perhaps, like many other people, he did not like his first name (cf. James Paul McCartney).

Here is his high school yearbook from 1925:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/k12-prod-us-east-1-media-pub/291/misc/misc_112653.pdf

At that time, John Edward Maeder was nicknamed “Ed,” which is how they had him in some of the census records. Apparently, he did not like his first name.

John Edward Maeder’s birth certificate gives the same date of birth as that given for Jay Edward Maeder (March 11, 1908).

The 1910 US census says there was a two-year-old child named Edward in the household, but does not mention other siblings. Since his father’s name was also John, that may be why they were calling him Edward from an early age.

The 1920 census has him as J. Edward, but again mentions no siblings.

In the 1930 census, they have him as Edward J., but again there are no siblings listed. He was 22 years old then, and his occupation is listed as a newspaper solicitor (salesman?).

So, everything seems to indicate he was an only child. Haven’t found an obit for Jay Maeder Sr. yet though.

Jay Maeder Sr.’s wife Catherine died in Houston, Texas in 2009, aged about 99.

I don’t know if Jay Maeder Sr. ever lived in Texas, or if, sometime after the 1950 crash, he reverted to using John, his real name.  His son, Jay Maeder, Jr. lived from 1947 to 2014, and was the last writer for the Little Orphan Annie cartoon strip before it was retired in 2010.

If Speedrail had survived, it surely would have received a shot in the arm from the opening of County Stadium along its route in 1953. The Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee that year, and had good attendance for several years before moving to Atlanta in 1965. The Braves were in the World Series two years running (1957-58), winning the world championship in 1957 over the New York Yankees.


Bonus Photo

Pictures of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) streetcar system are rare, as it quit in 1935. Creating a roster would be difficult, as the cars had names rather than numbers. Here, we see the "F. W. Wurtzburg," built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)

Pictures of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) streetcar system are rare, as it quit in 1935. Creating a roster would be difficult, as the cars had names rather than numbers. Here, we see the “F. W. Wurtzburg,” built by St. Louis Car Company in 1926. This type of lightweight city car helped the Grand Rapids Railroad win the prestigious Coffin Medal in 1926. (James B. M. Johnson Photo)


New Book Project

We are now working on a new paperback book Chicago Trolleys, that we expect will be published in 2017. Original research does cost money, so please consider making a donation to cover our costs. We will keep you updated as we progress, and thank you in advance for your help.


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Remembering Don L. Leistikow

speedraillogo

Don L. Leistikow (1928-2015)

Noted Wisconsin railfan Don L. Leistikow, a co-founder of both the Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society and East Troy Trolley Museum, passed away on November 4th at age 87. He was also one of the last living links to Milwaukee’s Speedrail interurban, having worked on that ill-fated line as a motorman.

You can read his obituary here.

Perhaps the best way of remembering Don Leistikow is in his own words.  Here is a sampling of his writing, taken from public forums and private correspondence with this author:

About growing up:

I grew up in Wauwatosa, a close suburb of Milwaukee.

68th and Bluemound Road, is midway between the Route 10 and its split destinations in Wauwatosa and West Allis. My Father lost his automobile and never bought another one. Therefore, as a Great Depression child, I grew up riding streetcars. Local Transit was just too good.

My favorite cars were the big 50 foot, Deck Roofed 500’s, weighing in at 59000 lbs. They were assigned to Routes 10, 14 and 15. Base service on Route 10 were cars 530-549, with some variation from time to time, however, supplementing them, were cars 500-510 and 586-599, as rush-hour Trippers.

We knew of the Rapid Transit westside lines but, were unaware of their Local Service until relatives told us of it. So, we began to ride the Rapid Transit with a running time 68th to Downtown in only eleven minutes, compared with the surface lines schedule of some 25 minutes.

Transportation in those days was largely inbound in the morning and outbound in the late afternoon. I once rode downtown on an errand for my Mother and came back on an empty 1100 class car. With only 7 blocks of street running before achieving the private right of way, I disembarked at 68th street, in seven minutes, flat. Those big 1100’s would top out at some 75 mph and did have Field Tappers to achieve that speed.

My stories about the Rapid Transit Lines, and its history, are without end. It was the third fastest scheduled interurban line in the US. Wish it was still around, today!

About being a Speedrail motorman:

My interests are in rolling stock which ran in Milwaukee. I spotted an EASTON LIMITED pix in your email. As you may be aware, two of them (1100 and 1102) came to Milwaukee’s last interurban operation, SPEEDRAIL.

The 1102 was refurbished in the backshop of the Terminal and was repainted at the then TMER&T Cold Spring Shops.

Actually, I did hire out as a motorman during SPEEDRAIL’s operation. As Badge 9 (missing from my home) I was the last Operator to be trained on the old 1100 heavyweights of TMER&L Rapid Transit Lines. I did put in some time on the D 21 Line Car and the then Carload Freight motor, 1142.

Am always looking for more pix, sometimes finding me, in the photo.

About the Speedrail collision:

Briefly, Trackage Rights were held by schedules. Any crew retained those rights for up to, five minutes later than the scheduled time. Being later than that, required the crew to ‘phone-in’, on Company private phone lines. strung along the tracks. All other (Extra) trains, were required to obtain ‘Train Orders’ from the Dispatcher, located in the PSB Terminal in Milwaukee.

Early on, the then popular Nachod Signal Company of Louisville, set up their White and Red illuminated signals, to provide additional protection on single track lines. These were not Block Signals but were Permissive or Stop signal aspects.

This system was in place between passing sidings, which were ‘Home Free’ spaces. Company phones were installed at each and every siding. For the record, these Nachod Signals could hold 12 counts meaning that following cars could enter a WHITE permissive signal block by counting in, and then as each car was counted out at the next Siding, no cars waiting in said siding, could enter in the opposiite direction, until all opposing counts were satisfied.

When no cars were in the single track block, the Nachod Signals were DARK, at both ends.

Such was the setting, on the day of the most horrible accident. Neither train saw the other as they met on a reverse and elevated curve, centered on National Avenue, former STH 15.

As that date was my day off, 9/2/50, I hurried out there to observe the situation. From the Greenfield Avenue bridge over the mainline double tracks, I could see the first Nachod Signal, just past the West Junction landing, where the single track HC line began. It was WHITE.

That meant that the companion opposing signal at Oklahoma Siding was RED.

After the accident was cleaned up, various persons of knowledge were on hand to test the Nachod Signals. They were found to be in perfect working order.

Not generally known, is that when a car enters a RED Nachod Block, a count must be entered. Physically, the RED aspect will drop out, a WHITE aspect will appear as the count was recorded. Then the WHITE aspect will drop out and the former RED aspect will return.

Testimony in court substantiated a WHITE aspect was observed. True, but that WHITE did not stay lit. It dropped out.

Speedrail did have insurance, expensive as it was.

About how interurbans reached Kenosha:

The original Kenosha Electric Street Railway was Chartered in 1892. Although some rail had been laid, the company failed in 1897 and the existing rails were torn up. In 1900, Bion J. Arnold, an electrical engineer, obtained a franchise in the name of the Kenosha Street Railway for a new line, and construction began.

On June 19th, 1901, the Chicago, Kenosha & Milwaukee Electric Railway Company (a subsidiary of C&ME) and B. J. Arnold, President of the Kenosha Street Railway, signed an agreement making KSR a subsidiary of CK&MERy.

In November 1905, the C&ME (North Shore) purchased the Kenosha Electric Railway from Bion J. Arnold, thus securing the Kenosha operation to the parent company. TMER&L then acquired the Kenosha property from the C&ME in 1912, thus securing it as a TMER&L entity and anchoring Kenosha to their system.

This short history is no less complicated. The original MR&K was chartered on January 15th of 1896. Articles of Incorporation were filed on August 8th of 1896 in Racine County. On March 1st of 1899, North American, the holding company which included TMER&L, purchased the line and assigned it to the Milwaukee Light, Heat & Traction Company. This was the entity that was to build the far reaching Interurban lines emanating from Milwaukee. Sometime later, this regional property came under the purview of Wisconsin Gas & Electric Company.

About TMER&L:

As for TMER&L Company, about 1938, they split the operations into Wisconsin Electric Power Company (electric power generation and distribution) and The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Company (TMER&T), a wholly owned subsidiary which, although available for sale, had no buyers.

Said arrangement continued through WW 2 and TMER&T became available again thereafter, finally being sold off to an industrialist operating city transit services in Indianapolis and Louisville. Said property then became the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Company (M&ST).

Somewhere along the line of mergers, the Milwaukee Gas Light Company was acquired by WEPCO.

Today, WEPCO is known as WeEnergies.

About highways and transit:

The attitude up here in Wisconsin about funding for Transit appears to be, “We’ll study it” whereas, funding for Highways appears to be, “How much do you want”?

The ironic part of funding for Highways and Freeways is that there is no way to account for Origin & Destination of all of that traffic. Several times, I have related that Highways/Freeways induce population sprawl. In areas where Rail Transit Systems exist, the findings are that the public is attracted to Central Business Districts which in turn, bring development and monetary flow remaining in the immediate area.

Furthermore, studies of ground traffic have found that the highest cost of surface transportation is; a lone driver, in his automobile, on a Freeway.

Conversely, the cost of transportation by area Rail Transit comes in at 70% of the above and has a life expectancy of some 50 years before replacement.

Wisconsin remains dedicated to the Automobile and Truck vehicles and its fuel supply, as Gasoline and Diesel fuel costs remain uncontrollable. Meanwhile, across America, Rail Transit programs continue to surface as the return on investment is staking their economy.

He continued:

There is an old saying which I quote:

“If all possible objections must first be overcome, nothing will ever be accomplished”.

Cities all across our Country, are moving toward Electric Rail Transit. When will Milwaukee and Wisconsin, join the march of transit progress?

Don’s account of how some North Shore Line cars were saved after the line’s abandonment in 1963:

CNS&M 757 and 763 were purchased off the scrap line at Rondout, Illinois by my longtime friend, Richard Kratsch.

He telephoned me, confirming his activity then stated; “What are we going to do with them”? To which I replied; “What’s this we stuff”?

After some verbal exchanges, I agreed to help and made contact with Wisconsin Electric Power HQ (ex TMER&L) and found assistance for storage at the Cold Spring Shops.

Inclusion in this activity came from Richard Heinbaugh, of the Mid-Continent Railway Museum at North Freedom, Wisconsin. They (he) had purchased CNS&M 715 and were also interested in accompanying the movement of their car to Milwaukee and beyond.

Arrangements were quickly put together to move the now three cars into Milwaukee then sending the 715 onward to North Freedom.  All of this transportation would be ‘on own wheels’.

Of course, no movement of them could be entertained without an inspection by the MILW Railroad, getting their acceptance and notifying the C&NW for their clearance beyond to North Freedom.

Next, I heard from the MILW Car Department that the couplers were too low and that the wide swing of them would have to be restricted for ‘over the road’ transport. A followup conversation with their Car Inspector was to inform me that large blocks of Iron would be bolted to the circle irons and that two idler cars (which turned out to be two elderly Stock Cars, diverted from their scrap line) would be necessary to accommodate the low height of the North Shore cars.

However, an end of each car had to be dropped by four inches to meet the NSL drawbars. This was accomplished by cutting down the truck springs on one end of each Stock Car thus accommodating rules of movement.

All was not in order though, as the Terminal Superintendent in Milwaukee had not been notified of this Hospital Movement and stopped the cut of cars south of the Terminal District. Acceptance was accomplished and the movement continued into Milwaukee’s Davies Yard (the Running Repair Yard) in the Terminal close by the Falk Company in the Valley.

More special movements were made without breaking the five car string. The block of cars was sent to the lower Cold Spring Yard, intact. A cut was made to deliver the 757 and 763 which were then shoved into the entrance hold track. Then the 715 and its companion idler car were reconnected and the now 3 car cut was returned to Davies Yard.

At this point, the MILW confirmed arrangements to deliver the 715 and idler cars to the C&NW via the Menomonee Belt to Mitchell Yard. The balance of the movement to North Freedom was underway. The two idler cars were donated to Mid-Continent by the MILW.

All three cars have been preserved. Here are their histories, from the Branford Electric Railway Association web site:

Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee #715 1926-1963 / 1st preserved by Mid-Continent Railroad Museum 1963-1967 / later preserved by The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society 1967-1988 / Fox River Trolley Museum (South Elgin, Illinois) 1988-present

Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee #757 1930-1963 / 1st preserved by The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society ?-1988 / Illinois Railway Museum (Union, Illinois) 1988-present

Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee #763 1930-1963 / 1st preserved by The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society ?-1988 / Illinois Railway Museum (Union, Illinois) 1988-present

About the North Shore Line abandonment:

As a life-long resident of the greater Milwaukee area, I too wish that somehow, the NSL could have remained in service.

However, passenger traffic was waning. The usual four car trains, in and out of the Milwaukee Terminal, were shrinking dramatically. Off rush-hour trains were shrinking as I was witnessing single car departures, southbound. Passenger counts would attest to that as factual information, if available anywhere by anyone.

Generally, they found it necessary to cut or fill cars at Edison Court, a testimonial that ridership remained strong south of the Wisconsin-Illinois State Line. Why then, was service not retained by simply abandoning the Milwaukee Division?

Another thought; nothing was said about the Carload Freight operation. How much revenue was that service bringing in? As my career was in Industrial Traffic Management, I did route some carload freight onto the North Shore Line via Racine Junction to Waukegan and connections around Chicago, just to buy time to accommodate customer’s delivery specification while balancing production. In example, CMStP&P (Racine) CNS&M (Waukegan) EJ&E – CSS&SB – PRR to destination.

IMHO, I believe that by cutting off the Milwaukee Division, the NSL could have remained profitable, for some additional years though.  Passenger counts and revenue receipts, from Edison Court and Mundelein into Chicago, would be an interesting study, even at this late date.

He continued:

The North Shore Line was literally starving in Wisconsin.

Four car+ trains continued to operate after WW 2 but, as Freeways grew, North Shore revenues declined. However, revenues derived from WW 2, provided a cushion for their post war operations. As time passed, non-rush hour trains were finally operated with but one car hourly to and from Milwaukee.

Enter the Susquahanna Corp., a financial investment group, which bought into the CNS&M line. Eventually controlling the finances, those funds went into S Corp’s coffers and were used for their investment purposes, as I recall. That left day-to-day operations over budget.

Actually, had the CNS&M cut off the Wisconsin segment and continued operations from Edison Court and Mundelein, it could well have remained in business during the foreseeable future.

The final blow was it’s quick demise. As I recall, the CNS&M car 722 was undergoing a General Overhaul at that time in their Highwood Shops. That’s not something that you do, while expecting abandonment.

About the East Troy Electric Railroad:

Some confusion about the East Troy Electric Railroad. It connects with the Canadian National (former Soo Line) at Mukwonago. This is the last remaining segment of the once great TMER&L Rapid Transit Lines that hosted some 250+ miles of track on five lines. Destinations were Sheboygan, Watertown, East Troy, Burlington and Kenosha.

Because of online industries in East Troy which shipped or received Carload Freight, it was operated by ‘TM’ after the passenger service ended in 1939. Box Motor M 15, was refitted with snow plows permanently affixed on each end, plus a wooden platform centered on the roof, to service maintenance of the overhead wire.

A detailed history of the remaining Carload services and the Industries, can be found in the CERA Bulletin 112, titled “TM“.

If it is true that the Canadian National has removed the interchange switch in Mukwonago, that would be a mistake as, the East Troy Industrial Park (on a branch line) hosts several Buildings that would be quite useful as, Industries would find the Labor Market more reasonable for Carloading,  Containerization and/or over the highway Trucking.

Although the East Troy Electric Railroad now owns the property, it must have inherited some form of Interstate and Wisconsin State Commerce authority, to move Freight Shipments on its tracks.

I never met Don in person, but oddly enough, I actually took a picture of him once without even realizing it, fittingly when he was buying a ticket at the East Troy Electric Railroad in 2013. You can see that picture here. He later saw it online and recognized himself.

He will be missed by all who care about the future of railroads and public transit.

-David Sadowski

PS- You can read another of Don’s stories about the classic days of steam railroading here.

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

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

The tragic result of a head-on collision between two Speedrail cars on a blind curve on September 2, 1950. Heavyweight cars 1192-1193, at left, ran into lightweight articulated cars 39-40. Ten people were killed and dozens were injured.

The tragic result of a head-on collision between two Speedrail cars on a blind curve on September 2, 1950. Heavyweight cars 1192-1193, at left, ran into lightweight articulated cars 39-40. Ten people were killed and dozens were injured.

Speedrail car 66, shown here on the Waukesha loop, was a Cincinnati “curved-side” car. It had formerly been used by both Lehigh Valley Transit and the Dayton and Troy. This car, after having been refurbished for Speedrail, was only in service for a short period of time before the line quit in 1951.